This One’s For You, Baby.

posted in: Chicago, Day In The Life, Family 1
Unidentified man with unidentified object that is too cute to be human, puppy, or kitten. Photo: Me, carefully.
Unidentified man with unidentified object that is too cute to be human, puppy, or kitten. Photo: Me, carefully.

My mom is in town for the lighting of the first (or “beta”) test of The Wabash Lights. We had plans to meet at the new Maggie Daley Park Ice Skating Ribbon. Mom and I love to skate; we both love it enough and are good enough to have our own skates. Stand in line for rentals? Not these girls. We just lace up and go.

Mom lost her phone, though (first time in her life), so she had to deal with that this afternoon. The last time we communicated was earlier in the day via email; as of then, the plan stood. So I went to the Ribbon at the appointed time, but no Mom. I couldn’t call her. She couldn’t call me. So I skated by myself until she showed up. For an hour, with no headphones, no pal to chat with, I skated round and round that magnificent ribbon. It’s less of a “view” you get than a “movie” you get on that thing. You get a moving picture and you’re the thing moving and the air is crisp as can be. The city of Chicago is the sky below the sky and the endless blue of Lake Michigan rounds out the whole world. They did a really, really good job with this thing.

I love this city so much. The Ribbon is one more reason to be a jerk about how much better this city is than any other city now or ever. But what I really want to talk about is that baby.

There is good in the world. Because nothing could be cuter or more wonderful than this baby. Strapped tight into its little snuggly, winging around on its dad’s back as he deftly — and carefully, I assure you — maneuvered the Ribbon, this baby is everything. I have other pictures. I tried so hard to not be weird, but I had to take pictures of this baby. This is the best one I got, I think. I’m on Instagram, so follow me for more of the Perfect Ribbon Baby images that I cannot stop looking at. You will not be disappointed.

Sometimes, I do want a kid.

“Why’s It Called ‘PaperGirl,’ Grandma?”

WWII propaganda poster by Fougasse; ironic appropriation by me.
WWII propaganda poster by Fougasse; ironic appropriation by me.

“Why’s it called ‘PaperGirl,’ grandma?”

“Sit on my knee, child, and I’ll tell you.”

“Can I have a another cooky first? You tell long stories.”

“Here. Anything else?”


“Good. Okay, then, PaperGirl. Well, once upon a time, long ago, I wrote a poem.”

“What was it called?”

“I’m getting to it. It was called ‘The Paper Poem,’ and it was an extended metaphor about the nature of existence being fragile like paper, but beautiful, too, like paper is beautiful.”

“What’s paper?”

“Before your time.”

“Oh. Your poem sounds cool, grandma.”

“I liked it. Other people liked it, too, and I performed it in many places all over the country.”

“Like in Bismark?”

“No, never actually in Bismark, I don’t think. Maybe. It was a long time ago. Anyway, there’s a verse where I say ‘I will be your paper girl,’ and that’s where ‘PaperGirl’ comes from.”

“What’s the verse?”

“You want to hear the whole verse?”

“Is it long?”

“No, it’s not long. It’s the second-to-last verse of the poem and it goes like this:

But if you are a paper doll, too, then I shall know you on sight,
And if you are with me, come with me tonight; I will match up our bodies
by the tears in our arms —
We will form paper barricades against matchstick harm;
I will make paper love to you for as long as I can in this shreddable world;
I will be your paper girl.

“That’s nice, grandma.”


“And you named your blog that because of that poem?”

“Yes. And PaperGirl is the name of my LLC, too. And that small island I bought. And the Beaux Arts building you like so much in Paris. And my foundation in Dubai and all the vineyards in Spain. Everything in my empire, it’s all under the PaperGirl umbrella.”

“I wanna go to the zoo and see a rhinoceros.”

“Get your coat.”