Food For Ze German.

posted in: Chicago, Day In The Life, Luv 1
German pastry, because there are no good pictures of weiner schnitzel. Photo: Wikipedia
German pastry, because there are no good pictures of weiner schnitzel. Photo: Wikipedia

When you spend significant quality time with someone from another country — a country that lies on the other side of an absolutely enormous body of water — there is an invisible clock in the relationship and the clock doesn’t leave you be. It’s there when you have have tea in the morning together. It’s there when you’re trying to get under one umbrella. It’s there when you have an argument about…I can’t remember what it was about, but the clock was there.

What happens when the research project ends? What’s the visa status, again? What’s gonna happen next? More specifically, what’s gonna happen with this German philosophy professor I have come to care about quite a bit when Germany calls?

I don’t know. Plans have changed a few times and they’ll change again and again as we both sort out what’s going on with work, life, the two of us. I’ve said before that I’m frequently surprised that I’m an adult and let me tell you: nothing makes you feel more like an adult (or a character in a Woody Allen movie) than rescheduling flights to Europe.

While I bide my time, I’ve been making German food. Like spaetzle, which was a lot of work and mostly worth it. I said to Claus, “I made spaetzle!” and I said it like an Iowan girl would: “I made shh-PAYT-zul!” He looked at me like, “You are so acutely American but I like you very much in spite of this fact.” He then corrected me in an attractive way, pronouncing spaetzle properly and my name like it’s French:

“Marie, no. It is ‘shh-PET-zluh.”


Little Girl, Big Book.

posted in: Chicago, Day In The Life 0
She's actually looking up at Grandma for a chocolate shake, but let's say it's a shelf of books. Photo: John Trainor, courtesy Wikipedia.
She’s actually looking up at Grandma for a chocolate shake, but let’s say it’s a shelf of books. Photo: John Trainor, courtesy Wikipedia.

My neighborhood is the South Loop (that’s the bottom of the Loop Loop) but I’m a block over from Printer’s Row. Printer’s Row is a short stretch of Dearborn St. that many years ago was the heart of the Chicago robust publishing and printing industry.

Not much is left of that era; most everything is pretty condo buildings and storefront business and restaurants — but there is Sandmeyer’s Books. It’s a snuggly, warm bookshop and though I have promised myself that I cannot, shall not buy any more books until I read all the books I have, I should go give Sandmeyer’s Books some money because I don’t want it to go away. I’ll go there tomorrow and let you know what I buy.

Claus and I passed by the bookshop today and smiled when we saw the most adorable child in the Milky Way. She was maybe four. Cute little cap with blonde hair poking out. Nice warm jacket. And she had a book in a Sandmeyer’s Bookstore bag clutched to her chest. I was enchanted. Kids with books, man; they could steal my purse and I’d tell them to go have fun and be careful. In a very friendly-not-weird way, I stopped and said “Well, hello there! Did you get a book today?”

The girl looked up at me with big blue eyes. Her nanny said, “She found a ten-dollar bill on the street.”

If I found ten bucks on the street, I would freak out. I said to the little girl that that was really cool and very lucky. And she wanted a book, eh? Her nanny nodded and told me the little girl was going to give the rest of the money to her mommy and daddy. Yeah, right.

“And what book did you get little Miss?” I asked.

Her nanny helped produce the book. It was Home for a Bunny, a Big Little Golden Book by Margaret Wise Brown. A favorite of mine as a child and for my sisters, too. I told the little girl she had made a excellent choice. Claus and I waved goodbye and headed home, past old Dearborn Station, which was a passenger train hub from 1885 to 1971. Many, many people arrived in Chicago through that station; plenty of them bought their first book in this city.