The End {St. Louis}

For many the new year was a time of hope, of new beginnings. Usher in Covid-19 showing us that things are not always going to go as planned and then being reminded that racism is still very much a part of the US and watching as Black people have had to fight for basic human rights and dignity again.

I have been astounded by the numbers of people who will not wear a mask to protect the people around them and then I was even more astounded when people I know and love outed themselves as racists on social media.

Protests happened in my neighborhood. Peaceful protesters came out with signs and chanted. The majority of them wore masks. They caused no harm. The police watched them and there was no interaction. A few hours later the peaceful protesters disbursed and left. It was not too long afterwards that people began to file into the parking lot behind where I live. They broke windows and looted businesses that they could. They created havoc wherever they could.

When people asked me if I planned to stay at home the next night I thought about staying with a friend, but wanted to be in my own bed. I can easily leave and go somewhere else. Black people can not simply stop being black. The uncomfortable feelings I had during the night are nothing compared to what BIPOC feel when they are stopped by the police for a traffic infraction or for being in the “wrong” neighborhood.

We all have an obligation to our friends and neighbors and loved ones to make the world a better place. We owe it to the next generation to learn from mistakes and not repeat them.

We are all standing in a historical time and we have to make choices. We can choose to be better. We can choose to be helpers.

In the end, we all leave a legacy. I hope you choose to make yours one of positive actions, one that your great-great-great grandchildren will look at and be proud, but more importantly one that you can look back on and know that you made a difference and that you helped to make the world better.

Chicago

“Chicago is an October sort of city even in spring.”

― Nelson Algren, Chicago: City on the Make

I love visiting Chicago. Even the time I went and forgot to bring pants in the summertime. Everywhere else you can get by with shorts, but not Chicago. Nope. Not even in the summer.

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of my favorite places to visit. You can be there all day and not see everything. Their exhibits are simply amazing. The staff is extraordinary and go above and beyond to help you.

I also have to visit what everyone refers to as “The Bean” when I there. It is a sculpture in Millennium Park in the Loop Community area. The sculpture is actually called “Cloudgate” and is by Indian born British artist Anish Kapoor.

Chicago Riverwalk is always fun to explore as well as Grant Park. I have yet to make it to Brookfield Zoo, but I hope to visit there. Of course, with the restrictions for Covid-19 and the numbers not going down in the US it might be a lot longer than I anticipate.

I miss you Chicago!

Crunden-Martin {St. Louis}

Crunden-Martin was the largest supplier of wooden and metal household goods in Downtown St. Louis for almost 100 years. Their seven building complex was built between 1904 and 1920 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Crunden-Martin made baskets, buckets, tubs, ladles, Christmas tree stands and go Karts.

During World War II they shifted their manufacturing to help the war effort and made helmets, stoves and even 5 gallon gas cans for the military.

In the 1950’s they became the top supplier of paper kites.

They continued to shift their manufacturing based on the needs of consumers, but found their numbers dwindling and they were not able to keep their employees working.

Since the early 1990’s the buildings have been mostly to entirely empty.

St. Roch’s Cemetery {New Orleans}

Visiting St. Roch’s Cemetery was very interesting for me. I arrived on a hot New Orleans day and walked around the cemetery all alone. I enjoyed the quiet, private time inside the gates of the cemetery. I could hear cars as they went by, but no one bothered me. I never heard another person.

St. Roch’s was founded in 1874 by Reverend P.L. Thevis during an outbreak of Yellow Fever. Saint Roch is the patron saint that offers protection from epidemics. Thevis prayed to Saint Roch and asked for protection for the members of his church. They were all spared during the outbreak so Thevis built the cemetery as part of his promise to Saint Roch.

The cemetery is beautiful. It is rustic and ornate all at the same time. It has character and there is much to see.

Sadly for me though, the caretaker decided to close the gates early. It was 1:00 in the afternoon. The gates are high and you can not climb them with camera equipment. I called to try to get help and I ended up requesting the help of the fire department. I moved a rolling ladder to the gate and they brought a ladder to the other side. They were all so nice and wanted to make sure I was ok.

With the number of cemeteries I visit, it was only a matter of time before I ended up locked in one. At least now I know that the fire department will come and help you get out!

Here we are….

Tomorrow St. Louis City and County both begin their reopening. While I understand that they want to get people back to work, I am also worried for the people headed back to work during these uncertain times.

The thoughts of our scientific experts were dismissed in favor of the economy and getting people off unemployment. The country is divided over the effectiveness of wearing masks. So many things are in the air, so many opinions to weigh and so many lies, miscommunications, and distorted facts to sort through.

I hope everyone uses common sense and thinks about others when they head out to work. Your minor inconvenience could be saving someone else from getting Covid-19. I would prefer an inconvenience in my own life over causing an illness or death to someone else.

Defining Yourself

“I wanna be defined by the things that I love

Not the things I hate

Not the things I’m afraid of”

Taylor Swift

When our friends are sad we are so quick to talk to them and build them up. We tell them all the wonderful and unique things that make them so special. We tell them how amazing or awesome they are. We give them a glimpse into how we see them.

We always believe the worst things about ourselves. The things people say that cut us to the bone are the words that stick with us through our lives. Their words tear us down and break us. In our worst moments they come back to haunt us and to make us doubt ourselves.

We learn to conquer our fears and take chances. When we let fear get the best of us we miss out on new opportunities. We grow as people, as friends, as partners when we learn to face ourselves and live who we are.

I have been trying to let go of the fear of the unknown, the worry of what people think about me and the weight of carrying around their judgement of me.

Maybe in doing so, I become more me than I was the day before. My flaws and insecurities should only make me want to try harder and to be the best, most authentic version of myself. The only person who should define me…is me. Like one of these abandoned buildings, we all still have beauty and worth no matter what other people k or feel about us.

Cloud Gate State of Mind

..a city that was to live by night after the wilderness had passed. A city that was to forge out of steel and blood-red neon its own peculiar wilderness.

Nelson Algren

Even when it is cold and windy, you still want to explore in Chicago. It is one of those cities with layers and as you peel them away you find more things to love. From the art museum and the Bean to shops to the Pier to Downtown, you can find anything to do.

Chicago is like a city within a city. There are cool, artsy things to do and then there are things that make you feel like you might be more in NYC than in Illinois.

I am a warm weather kind of girl so for me to be so enchanted with Chicago, you know that it has to be special. I have learned even in the summertime to be prepared for it to be a little chilly.

Come to Chicago prepared to walk around, eat a lot and just be amazed at how wonderful this city truly is.

Missing the Old Normal

Travel has always been a great passion of mine. I would devour books about different places and cultures. I longed to get out and experience the world around me.

I remember family trips and all of the planning and micro management that went into planning all of the stops and activities. I so wanted to be able to just go until I got tired and to see the things that caught my eye.

I wanted to experience the world as a part of it, not as a visitor. I wanted to see the spots that locals went to and eat the food that was what made certain places stand out.

In the travels I have done as an adult I made some rules for myself. I always ask locals about foods, drinks, restaurants and bars. If they recommend a place and it is in my budget then I try it. I love the dive bars that only locals go to instead of the usual chain restaurants and bars kind of places.

I try to take my camera with me, but sometimes I just enjoy being able to have the experience. Besides, as long as I have my phone with me I can take a photo of something.

New Orleans holds a special place in my heart for a variety of reasons. There is actually no other place I have been that even comes close to it. If you have ever been, you know what I am talking about. If you have never been, once quarantine is over and life resumes, please go there!

I miss the sounds of jazz music coming from Jackson Square. I miss the people walking down Bourbon Street. I miss the little eclectic shops and the doors that were always open so you could have just walk in and browse.

New Orleand is more than just a place on the map, it is life and feelings and just so much more. I close my eyes sometimes and can see it so clearly. I am glad I took photos and had the experiences I had there. It was and will always be a part of me and when I die I will take it with me.

New Orleans doesn’t feel like any other American city I’ve been to. It has an atmosphere like Rome or Istanbul, a sense of the veil being very thin between this world and the world of the fictional and the dead. It is an eerie, haunted, and beautiful place – as any port should be.

Craig Ferguson
Jackson Square

Strange and Beautiful

“It’s the kind of human junk that deepens the landscape, makes it sadder and lonelier and places a vague sad subjective regret at the edge of your response—not regret so much as a sense of time’s own esthetic, how strange and still and beautiful a chunk of concrete can be, lived in fleetingly and abandoned, the soul of wilderness signed by men and women passing through.”
Don DeLillo

I have always loved abandoned places. As a kid, my siblings and cousins and I would find old buildings and barns and explore them. It never occurred to us that it could be dangerous or scary. I always marveled at the things left behind and wondered why they left those things. Some were like tiny treasures that had been buried only for me to find.

As an adult, I still love the things that are abandoned and discarded. When people ask my why I never really had an answer. One evening I was in my bathtub soaking for hours and my mind ventured to a building I had explored when I was little.I could see the piles of discarded belongings and it suddenly hit me of why I love them all so much.

We all have those pieces of ourselves that we hide. We all parts of ourselves we discard in order to fit in to society, to groups of people, to fit in at work or school and we have those pieces of ourselves that are ugly that we hide. We hide the mean things we think and the wrongs we have done. We have a justice system of our own to justify what we did and or what we said and to sentence the people who wronged us.

The parts of these buildings that I find beautiful are raw, exposed and discarded. Sometimes the buildings can be down to the exposed brick and beams. I look at those parts and I am amazed every time at the beauty I see. Even when it is dirty and disgusting, there is a beauty in it.

People deface those areas with graffiti. I am not anti-graffiti by any means, I actually enjoy looking at it. I love the pop up of art from those places, but I like to see art. I don’t want to see a tag of someone’s name over and over. )Unless you are Cher or Beyonce, your name is not art).

A lot of abandoned places are in areas people don’t want to go to. They are afraid they will get robbed or robbed. I stay safe, but there is still that part of me that has been there since I was little that just tells me to keep an eye out and explore.

Look around you. There is beauty everywhere, but you have to open your eyes and your heart to see it.


2020 – The Year We Got Quarantined

On New Year’s Eve we all anticipated the beginning of a new year. A chance to start over and a giant re-do of the previous year. We made resolutions and plans. We dreamt of starting anew. Whether it was business and career goals or getting into shape, no task was too small.

It wasn’t long into the year when we started getting reports about Coronavirus (Covid-19) in China. Soon it had spread to Italy and to other parts of the world. We all believed that we were invincible. We believed that somehow or some way that we would escape what was going on in the rest of the world.

But soon our everyday normal changed. Covid-19 was here in the United States and people were finding out that their tests were positive. We still held out hope that we were invincible.

Sadly, just as in other countries, the number of cases increased. People died. The news was flooded with stories and finding good and uplifting stories that didn’t involve Covid-19 were few and far between.

Cities started shelter-in-place orders or stay at home orders. Schools closed. Businesses closed. People began to hoard toilet paper and cleaning products. You began to see people wearing gloves and masks in stores. We still felt invincible.

Days turned into weeks and we realized we were not so invincible.

I wish people had taken the stay at home order more seriously. I wish they had realized that wearing a mask correctly might have minimized the risks to other people. We all long for a normal that is gone. Our hopes for a new year have disintegrated into dust as we navigate each new day. We wear our masks in public. We don’t go to restaurants and bars. We work from home if we can and make trips out in public only if we need to.

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We have no idea what the rest of this year is going to bring, but it certainly is going to be a challenging one. We have social distanced and disconnected ourselves from what we knew and are slowly trying to figure out what our new normal is going to be.

Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Take care of yourself, not only physically, but spiritually and mentally as well. Let yourself figure this out in your own way and in your own time. When it gets overwhelming, take a step back and be kind to yourself.

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