Tag Archives: Chicago

Chicago in the Morning

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I wonder how the general twenty-something population spends their Saturday mornings. Not one for nursing hangovers or sleeping until noon, I spend my Saturdays cradling one large cup of coffee and following my Saturday rituals. For a long time, I’ve known that there’s no such thing as normal. I guess this is my normal, Chicago in the morning.

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Chicago’s Indian Summer

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A week ago, I had an entirely different post written for this day of Chicago’s Indian Summer. A solitary, 75-degree January day that ironically evidenced the plausibility of climate change, a day after the inauguration. But as the week turned grey, its sunny disposition did not correlate to internal greyscale. Looking back at these photos and the words associated with them, it is hard to fake warmth and brightness when I feel the opposite. It is nearly impossible to mask this perpetual state of disbelief, pain and frustration given the political climate.

Photography is an expression. An opportunity to compose and dissect and edit the world around me into an image that reflects what I see. I create pictures that are often bright and airy. I am an eternal optimist. Yet, it feels impossible to create an expression of a lie. Especially when freedom of expression is a farce. Freedom of expression is really the opportunity to express yourself in a way that feels familiar. A way that is not too different from others. A familiar dress, a familiar language, a familiar appearance.

I don’t want to create images that are untrue. Images that show the beauty of a place or a nation where the sentiment isn’t quite as beautiful. Especially a nation that lingers in internal conflict. I think I have an obligation to capture more than what is seen – and that is what is felt. In the next year, I am pushing myself to do so.  

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Winter in Lincoln Park

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Some moments from life lately of winter in Lincoln Park. My camera rarely sits in my hands these days with weekdays spent in an office and weekends spent absorbing some 9-mile, long distance friendships. If my excitement to lounge and edit these pictures communicates anything, it says that I miss it and will make a greater effort to do this very thing more often.

In 2016, Chicago was kind with its fall as it was in 2015. It was warm, lengthy and beautiful. Yet, it certainly didn’t ease us into winter. Winter has come blisteringly quick, with negative degrees approaching in the coming days. I’ll admit that I’m a Lorelai Gilmore-type when it comes to snowfall. However, with sub-zero temperatures, I’m already dreaming up about days in May when the sun stays out just a little longer.

I won’t make this a long but here are some of my “to do’s” for Winter 2017, written to hold myself accountable to do more than simplyread in my apartment:

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Humboldt Boat Park

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Humboldt Boat Park screams summer, during this season also known as – wait for it – summer. It’s blossoming and bright and boasts life in the form of people picnicking and ducks doing their water-borne thing. I’ll admit – I’m not the biggest fan of summer. I could arguably write a really persuasive essay about why it is not my favorite season. But photographs like these will surely bring back waves of nostalgia come February.

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For some place so far removed from the lakefront, there was this wonderful breeze at the Park.

Fun Fact! You can actually fish here. Crazy, crazy cool things happening at a city park that feels like it isn’t. 

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Stony Island Arts Bank

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For the past 3 and 1/2 years, I spent any free moment anywhere besides Hyde Park. Going downtown to coffee shops, restaurants and museums was my escape from the stress that I equated with staying. This year, I noticed a remarkable shift in how I spent my time. Currently, weekends are like rituals that I take slowly and calmly, easing into each moment and savoring the calm and quiet. With this mentality, I tend to stay back in Hyde Park on weekends (with the exception of weekend meals). Lately, I am drawn to finding the gems in Hyde Park and the South Side. The Stony Island Arts Bank is one of them.

Chicago artist Theaster Gates saved this empty and dilapidated 1920s bank from the City of Chicago for $1. Following community donations and its refurbishment, Theaster converted the bank into a space for contemporary art and cultural revival. The bank’s walls are flooded with the cleanest light contrasting with the sharp colors of its books. The bank’s character remains in the columned entryway that (during our visit) was undergoing construction. It is such a beautiful find that made me a little bit upset about lacking a full frame camera. For me, that’s when I know something is truly out of the ordinary.

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Apple Picking in Chicago

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 It is November! Can you hardly believe it? While time seems to be passing in the blink of eye, I have happily accomplished many of my seasonal activities such as apple picking in Chicago, visiting a haunted house and baking an assortment of pumpkin items. When it comes to fall, “basic” is the proper term to describe my love for its burnt red and yellow warmth, flustered cheeks and crisp air.

I was sitting in the library today, looking up at the stained-glass windows of Harper Reading Room. Staring and realizing that this was my last fall looking at those windows in that light, my last year of being educated after nearly 16 years of formal education – with teachers and books and class. Student is my identifier. Summer break always met with a sadness to leave for summer and idleness. And for a moment today, I felt a palpable heartbreak at it all ending.

It’s been some time since I’ve shared and created for this space. I love and miss doing it with frequency. Pardon the pause – this fall has been busy. I became a coffee barista (what?!) and spend most of my time daydreaming and planning for next year. Learning to balance it all is a skill that I have yet to master. Yet, I am hoping that these pauses will become less frequent in the coming weeks. So feel free to stick around!


Cloudy Hyde Park

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As of late, Hyde Park seems to be my realm of photographic inspiration. This quarter, I loved taking long walks when I allowed myself a break from the library. Cloudy Hyde Park is rather prevalent in June – on this day, I skipped out on my daily run in favor of a slow and drizzly wander to Promontory point. Hyde Park was largely grey and green, with the other sparse colors thrown in.

Lately, I wander around this city with its warm air around me and its glittering skyscrapers above me. I begin to wonder if I should leave or stay at the end of the year. It is a constant tug and pull between what feels familiar, safe and comfortable and what may be scary, difficult but rewarding. I find myself procrastinating more and more with thoughts of the future. Craigslist searches to price compare apartments in different cities. Midnight thoughts adding and subtracting expenses and costs of potential salaries. It is all consuming, this idea of the great unknown.

I think about this city. I know it like the back of my hand. I am a walking Yelp guide that changes recommendations based on each stop off the L. A battle wages on inside me; questioning to stay or to go. On summer days like these, it seems impossible to leave it. 

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Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

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Summer. Summer looks like slow walks and wanders. Long sunsets along our perfect lake. A slight glow on this Irish skin. In complete honesty, summer fails to compare to my favorite seasons. Yet, what it lacks in character it makes up for in its complete lack of academic responsibilities. Guys, this quarter was rough in the most exasperated sense of the word. I clang on to my responsibilities with the utmost fervency and mindlessly returned time and time again to that library and all of the insanity held within. There were moments where I was left incapable of imagining how I would pass or finish or make it to the next responsibility. Moments where I wanted to drop to the ground on the way home and just sit. Right there, on that there ground.

Finally. Finally, we can wander aimlessly through museums like the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. We can do anything without an internal clock ticking away time left unspent in a library. We can explore the new hot air balloon exhibit. We can stand belittled under its red, white and blue. The MCA has a way of allowing you to wander without concern of missing something. It is small in comparison to the infinity of the Art Institute. It is easy to complete in a few hours time. And strolling through its halls feels calm as its seclusion limits its tourist appeal.

Most striking about the MCA is the design of the building itself. Beautiful stairs, simple lighting and the highest ceilings allow a natural flow from piece to piece. For more of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, check back here or here.

Can’t wait to return to regular posts!

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Baker Miller

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Oh, hey there! Remember when I told you that I was in for the toughest academic quarter of my college career? It seems that this was no exaggeration as evidenced by my prolonged absence from this here space. But alas, school is almost out for summer and I promise to again chronicle what I find so captivating about life and its adventures.

I hope this Sunday comes to you as slowly and calmly as possible. With 45 degree weather and sprinkles of rain, Chicago is changing my pace. Today, I wish I could transport myself to this morning from a few weeks back at Baker Miller Chicago. A few weeks ago, when I decided to escape my four-walled cell of studying, I ventured very, very far north to Baker Miller – from the same people who own Bang Bang! Pie.

What makes Baker Miller unique is the fact that it mills its own grains. And thus, everything is unprocessed at their very purest and natural form. Typically, ordering oatmeal at any restaurant is a bold move that leads to a grey bowl of mush. As an expert oatmeal-maker, I am reluctant to experiment beyond my home cooked oatmeal safety net. Yet, Baker Miller exceeded my oatmeal expectations with its wonderful play on texture, flavors and colors. We similarly played with their baked goods in a buttermilk biscuit (not pictured) and rosemary muffin. Also noteworthy menu items are the biscuits + gravy and the toast bar.  

After spending a Saturday night watching Fed Up on Netflix, I am becoming more concerned not only about nutrition but also the process behind how food is made. In my opinion, if I cannot understand the process behind how something is made (or cannot replicate it myself), I probably should not eat it. Baker Miller clearly differentiates itself by processing its oats and flours in house to eliminate the middle man and create better food with the highest quality ingredients. It comes highly recommended as a slow Sunday or Saturday morning spot if you find yourself on the Brown line.

Again – many thanks for coming back here after my continued absence! I am hoping this summer brings new adventures and visual stories as I am preparing to make my potential last year in this city as memorable and palpable as possible.

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Mornings in Hyde Park (Chicago)

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 For all unaware, the University of Chicago is located in a Chicago neighborhood called Hyde Park – located on the South side of the city. Reviews on Hyde Park are often mixed and conflicted but spring time mornings in Hyde Park have a way of erasing those memories of hour-long CTA commutes downtown or brutal winters.

On a Thursday morning, a friend (and a very good friend indeed) met me for an early morning walk to Promontory Point and back again. Complete with surprise golden light and sunrise chills, we walked and talked with scratchy voices that were not quite awake. We ended our walk on my favorite street, where I happen to live.

I live on what I consider to be one of Hyde Park’s most charming streets. Laden with Hyde Park staples such as the Med and Z+H, 57th street silently buzzes with quiet murmurs on weekday mornings as people start their days. I love to see elementary school kids wander after class for a snack – a milkshake if Mom is feeling kind. In a sense, it feels like nostalgia and the perfect kind at that.

If I could write a love letter to Hyde Park, I would include those early mornings sounds. I would include the smell of the Med’s bakery, the silent sound of fresh snow falling on an empty 57th street, the first warm breeze felt on Z+H’s patio. I would write a lot about the Point – and the many, many, many runs and walks that I have accumulated over the past 3 years.

3 Years. I cannot imagine who I would be without this place (and especially its people). As I enter my last year with this place and this school and these people, I feel the need to express gratitude for the things that we all too often forget to appreciate.