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Dear Chicago

April 26th, 2014 · No Comments

I remember when I first fell in love with you. I’d come to visit my Dad, who was living out here at the time, and it was like coming home, even though I’d never seen you before. Maybe we were friends in a past life, who knows. But for whatever reason, I felt so connected to you from the start.

In a few days, we part ways, for good as a resident.  For a while as a visitor, at least. But I want you to know, it’s not you, it’s me. It’s my life…it’s the nature of life. This human existence is so transient.  Yesterday I found myself, by chance, standing outside the place where I first lived. It was a cute little blue three-flat with red and white trim, and a little dog by the address. 3228 N Clifton. It was gone. It’d been torn down, replaced by some innocuous-looking greystone building. Very modern. For me, a little sad. It was just a tangible reminder that the things and places we love are here for a flash and then gone without a trace. And, so are we.  So I stood on the street and cried a little. I am sad to be leaving this place I love, this place that has loved me so.

Here I’ve grown up. Here is the town that watched me go from a spunky little 20 year old, to a woman, wife and mother of two. This town has offered me vibrance, opportunity, heartbreaking disappointment, joy, sweat, tears, and a host of experiences that are now woven into the core of my being as snippets of memories – sight, sound, smell, touch, feeling. In this place I’ve met and loved the most incredible friends a girl could ever ask for. People who have changed who I am as a person, and loved me back, flaws and all.

How do I begin to let this place, these wonderful people, slip out of my life? Right now, I’m so many emotions, all mixed up in one bundle.





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PS. You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.

February 3rd, 2013 · No Comments

On February 1st, 2001, I started my online journal.  It’s moved twice, and seen great increases and decreases in activity, but nevertheless…

I have been blogging for almost half my life.

Here’s the first entry, from my old phoenixdragon livejournal account. Don’t laugh, I was 16. A Dragon is Born…

One of the first entries in the journal is a massive to-do list.  I read through it and was totally amused by how much I still do some things, and how much some things really don’t matter anymore.  So, a fun revisiting:

Hannah’s To-Do (2001/2012)

Write grandmother – Probably done. Also, no more doing this, she died. :(
Write a thank you note to pxj’s house – Probably done.
Write my invisible man paper – Well, I graduated.
Own Grosse Point Blank – Done.
Finish covering my god-awful wall – Partially done/cancelled since I don’t live with my parents anymore.
Clean my bathroom – Still to do.
Clean my room – Still to do.
Get rid of my junk – WIP.
Reach enlightenment – WIP.
Read my awakening to the spiritual book – Done.
Own portishead cd – Done, but what’s a CD anymore?
Own boards of Canada cd – See above.
Send pictures to relatives – Still to-do.
Restore my legs to their original, moisturized state – Don’t care anymore.
Move – God, I hope not.
Get some tape – Uh, done?
Remember the whole “source of infinite light” thing when mad at family – WIP…
Write a book – Nope.
Write some short fiction for independent study – Probably done.
Read my 15 unread new Yorkers – Now, unread The Economist & Runner’s Worlds…
Awaken my soul – WIP.
Finish 1984 – George Orwell, I have nothing to prove to you.
Shave my legs – Don’t care.
Vacuum floor, once visible – Still to-do.
Take a class to become a dj – Learned without a class, thanks.
Get healthy – Still to-do.
Balance my checkbook – WIP.
Quit spending so goddamn much – WIP.
See crouching tiger hidden dragon – Done.
Write my friend from 6th grade – Probably done? Couldn’t verify, though, we lost touch.
Figure out what to do with my life for the next year – WIP.
Live – Doing my best, here. :)
Finish my Christmas presents from last year and give them out – Ack! I still do this!
Find out info on living expenses – Oh boy, did I find info.
Quit writing this list and do stuff on it – Well, I’m rewriting the list 12 years later, what do you think?
Study for my test on the awakening – Again, I did graduate. I still <3 that book.
Read my French book – Probably still to-do, I have 5-6 unfinished french books that I can’t bring myself to part with. I’ll do it someday.
Buy a roll of butcher paper. – Hey, done!
Get reincarnated as a pixie. – Still to-do.
Visit the dentist – Still to-do :(
Make peace with my stepdad – Done, sort of.
Something randomly nice for someone – Always to-do!
Get/make baby gift for mom – Melissa now 11. I think this ship has sailed.
Get my shit together—deadline till mama’s d-day, 6 mos and counting – Still to do…
Give peter back his pen that I thought was mine – Kept the fucking pen.
Have a celebrate john cusack night. – Still to-do?
Tan – Don’t care.
Move somewhere hotter – Done. Also colder. Brrr, Chicago.
Write my friends in france – Possibly done?
Call friends and reschedule dinner – New friends, new dinners.
Clean out closet – Still to-do.
Finish wall of cds – Never finished.
Learn html – Done
Learn polish – Nope.
Learn Spanish – Sortof.
Learn Italian – Nope.
Paint my toes – Done, done again.
Acquire a Spanish lover – No, and I think Aaron would frown on that at this point.
Go to a concert – Done – Alanis Morisette, 2004.
finish my todo list – Never. I will stop making to-do lists when I’m dead.

Hannah of 16, you’re come a long way, baby.


Hannah, 28

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Begin again.

December 30th, 2012 · No Comments

Quitting smoking again. I was fine for November, then fell off the wagon again in December. Now it’s January, and I can’t abide this decision. There are plenty of rationalizations, see Heinlein: “Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal.”

I purchased an herbal smoker cleanse kit. The reviews were (mostly) good, and I hope it works as well for me.

I hope this is the last time I need to write a post like this.


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The bittersweet sorrow of being 4.

December 26th, 2012 · No Comments

Ari looked at me this morning as she was getting dressed. She was still shirtless, but wearing some rainbow striped black pants..

“Guess what, Mommy”
I’m starting to grow my boobs out! See? This part [Pulls her nipple outward] is getting longer!”
At this point I cracked up laughing. I couldn’t help myself. But then I put on a serious face, and explained that this wouldn’t happen until 13 or so. She was crushed, and I hugged her and asked why that mattered. Her response?

“Because I really want to be your age.”

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Christmas Success

December 25th, 2012 · No Comments

The best present is watching my kids open theirs. It really is. Ari got a loft/bunk bed from Santa, as well as some modular bins for toys, and a small table and chair set. Those bins were sortof a present to us, too. :)

Knox got one of those fun bead/wire toys, a baby table with buttons/lights/sounds, etc, and a truck that has magnetized crane and block system.

Both kids got more play food and pans for the little kitchen, and more trains and tracks.

All in all, Christmas Success.

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Why Europe is Awesome, a short list

November 30th, 2012 · No Comments

I am traveling to Berlin for work and SO excited to be here.  I would, in a heartbeat, take a job at this office.  Someday, someday…

Here is my list:

1. FOOD.  I think it goes without saying that the food here is so vastly superior to what passes as fit for human consumption in the US.  The cheese, the meat, the coffee.  Just being in a culture that prioritizes food over what is the very cheapest crap we can subsist on is so huge.  Everything is delicious.  I feel bad for people from the Berlin office who have to visit the US offices.

2. Multiple languages everywhere.  How just about everyone here speaks at least 2 languages with some passable competence.  Today I ordered a sandwich in a cafe, in English (because I speak no German, alas…:().  The guy behind me ordered in French.  The woman behind the counter – bless her – took both of our orders without blinking.

3. German efficiency.  Okay, cliche, sure.  But some things here are just so damn efficient.  Like how I have to put my hotel key card into a small holder near the light switch for the lights to turn on or off. Now, I also never misplace my card in my room. Or how the coat check at the opera was staffed and organized so well that it took about 10 min to clear out the whole building, in coats.  Amazing.

4. Cigarettes in vending machines.  All the pleasure, none of the guilt. Or translation issues.  Or having anyone in line behind me while I try to figure out what unfamiliar pack I’d like, thanks.

5. Did I mention the food?

Yeah. :)  Tomorrow to Kriskindle markets, Checkpoint Charlie, and more.



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Holiday, a follow up

November 24th, 2012 · No Comments

We had our “holiday dinner” yesterday.  In keeping with our tradition of being a little lazy and celebrating a day late.  It was delicious.  Aaron made turkey drumsticks – seasoned with curry, garam masala, rosemary, salt, etc.  And then some browned butter mashed potatoes that were to DIE for out of the SK cookbook.  And, we might all very well die from cholesterol they contained with that amount of butter.  But, delicious.

I bought a turkey, also in tradition.  I couldn’t help myself. I mean really.   A 20 lb happy turkey for $20.  Ridiculous.

Today, I am enjoying a day at home reading In the Time of Butterflies and lounging in my pjs. Aaron took both kids to the Chicago Children’s Museum, which is a place we love so much that we actually bought a membership there. He posted this picture of Ari:

This is how I see her.  When I close my eyes, and imagine my daughter, this is the kind of image that comes to mind. So unshy, sparkling, luminous. She is radiant, and I love her with an intensity that makes me a little nervous.  Like maybe I shouldn’t be allowed to have something that I love this much.  Like it’s just inviting tragedy in to love so unabashedly. Temper it down, Hannah.  Settle.  She’s just…so great.  There is really no limit on the feelings, sometimes.  Like she could ask me to please hand her the moon and I would stumble over myself trying to do it.

To be fair to Knox, I was thinking of him earlier this morning, in much the same way.

Knox is a quieter dude.  I get the impression that he’s the more subdued of the two. I was reading, and reminiscing on his birth (since the book was talking about pregnancy, babies, etc.)  I don’t think I will ever get over that moment, when they put him on my chest and I said “A son, Oh My God, I have a son.”  I cry just thinking about it.  He has yet to really define his personhood in the same way, still in that “baby” form of personality.  But I catch glimpses of it every now and then and I think to myself, “Here is a child that’s mine.” I just get the sense that he’s like a little boy version of me in there.  Not vanity, just…the sensing of a kindred spirit.

Okay, journal. Thanks for listening.  I feel like I can pour some of this love into you, sometimes, without dispersing.  Like keeping a little pocket of warmth for later.



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Thanksgiving 2012

November 22nd, 2012 · No Comments

Hi, journal, old friend.  Happy Thanksgiving.  Hi, future self possibly reading this.  Remember to be grateful for the things you do, too. :)

This holiday season has been a little lonely.  I actually wished I could go home, just it’s too much hassle and stress.  If it didn’t mean a bunch of family drama about who got an hour more of time, I would have been inclined to buy tickets on a whim.  Oh well.

So, I was feeling blue and sad and generally un-holiday-like.  But, I took some time to clean the kitchen, living room, and turned on some holiday jazz music.  Now I feel better.  Because you make your own happiness.

Ari and Aaron are making biscotti, and I’ve been invited to go see them.  <3


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October 7th, 2012 · No Comments

I’m a smoker again. It started with more of those “have a cigarette with friends while drinking” and progressed to buying a pack – just for the weekend, and finally to being unable to go past the end of the pack without buying another.

The key difference, of course, between now and the last time that happened would be children. I can’t even really enjoy it because I don’t want to do it around them, and they live here. What’s worse is that I’ve tried several times to stop and failed.  So, in another attempt, a list of reasons why I don’t want to do this.


I breastfeed my baby.
I set a bad example for my little girl.
Every time I buy a pack I convince myself more that I am not in control of my life.
I am constantly choosing to go smoke instead of spend time with my children.
I’ve quit running.
I have a great life that I shouldn’t shorten with a crappy habit.
I feel more tired all the time.
I have lowered the bar for what I consider to be a healthy choice.
Secondhand smoke is bad for my family.
I’m not breastfeeding as much and I risk weaning as a result.
It’s expensive, and things are tight right now.
I am ashamed to do it in front of people whose opinion matters to me.
It makes me irritable.
It breaks my day into “time between cigarettes” instead of letting life flow naturally.
It makes my hands cold all the time.
It’s cold outside and I don’t like going to stand out there.
It controls my thoughts.

These are just a few, and Knox is awake now so I need to go get him.  But I will add more to the list as I go.


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Pretty much had it with people.

September 8th, 2012 · No Comments

Yep.  I don’t think I could buy a friend, if I wanted one. Not one I could count on, anyway. I realize that I probably shouldn’t take it so personally, but you know what?  It’s really kindof hard not to when you watch everyone prioritize other people, consistently.  Because that’s kinda what it gets down to – prioritizing.

So mope about it.  Seriously, Hannah.

I am just frustrated because I don’t think there’s anything I could be doing differently to improve this scenario.  I can’t perform some kind of personality transplant.

What I can do is figure out how to enjoy solitude more. So, here’s to my new plan.

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