Festival of Lights Parade for Beginners

I have never used this platform as a means to endorse or promote a particular brand or product and I take this very seriously.  You all don’t come here to find out what car to drive or broom to use.  You come here to read about life and love and hope and family and all those kinds of good things.  Chevy didn’t ask me to write this and I waffled about whether or not I should.  In the end, I am so floored and grateful to have been given this opportunity that here I am.  I guess I found my line in the mommy blogger sand.  

Chicago’s Festival of Lights Parade down Michigan Avenue has always been something I have wondered about, but never actually been.  It seemed like a cool thing, but a “thing,” you know, where lots and lots and lots of folks not from Chicago come in to enjoy the sights and sounds.  If you live here, you become a city snob and avoid those things like the plague.  You can add the air show, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and Taste of Chicago to this mix, too.

Shhhhhh.  Don’t tell anyone I told you that.  Us city dwellers have an unspoken code that I just breached.

All that changed a few weeks ago when I got an email from a new acquaintance at GM.  In September I had been awarded the “Our Town, Our Heroes” award that GM sponsors.  Every month they pick a local person that has been nominated for their community service to others.  I was nominated for the things our charity, Donna’s Good Things, does.  Specifically, funding dance education and scholarships in our Rogers Park community and providing programming at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago in partnership with the Old Town School of Folk Music.

SHAMELESS PLUG:  This year we started funding weekly dance education at Rogers Elementary — that’s 700+ kids getting arts education on a weekly basis for the course of the school year.  Considering that there is minimal or no arts education in the average CPS neighborhood school, we are pretty damn proud of this.

Enough tooting my own horn, though!

Fred wrote with one of the most generous invitations I have ever received.  Would my family like to participate, as a guest of Chevy, in the Festival of Lights parade?  Oh, yeah, and we would be IN the parade, riding in the pace car.  Um, yes, Fred, why yes we would like to ride in the pace car of the Festival of Lights parade, thank you very much!

It was AMAZING.  Honestly, the experience of a lifetime and something I am so proud to have been able to share with my family.  Mary Tyler Son and Mary Tyler Dad both had a blast and were wowed by all of the things we saw.  No parade will ever be quite the same.  Donna taught me the importance of moments, the necessity of seeking out the wonders in everyday life, the need to go to the joy.

Thanks to Chevy and Donna, as I think both had a hand in helping my family make this memory.

Prince in Chicago: Date Night with Royalty

Chicago is segregated.  True story.

There is tremendous diversity within the city, but more often than not, those diverse peoples don’t mix.  As Mary Tyler Dad and I walked into the United Center last Wednesday night, one of the things we were both struck by was how amazingly, wonderfully diverse the Prince audience was.


Gay, straight, young, old, rich, not so rich, black, white, and everything in between.  There were wealthy North Shore power couples sitting next to South Side teens.  There were Harley Davidson tees and pony tails next to Sean Jean jackets.  There were hookers (at least they sure looked like hookers) next to old ladies in their Sunday finest.  It was beautiful, people, beautiful.

The other thing that struck us was that people dressed for this.  It was an event and people paid attention to what they were wearing.  We don’t do that enough.  Men and women were turned out.  Turned out — black velvet, purple stockings, brocade shoes, fedoras, heels, lace, spandex, animal prints, and pearls.  It was a thing of beauty, like Sunday church, but on a random Wednesday night.

Hooker Shoes
Green Fedora

I’ve been a fan of Prince for many, many years.  1999 was released shortly after my 13th birthday, Purple Rain released when I was 15.  The music you listen to as a teen, when angst runs high and identities change like underwear, is the music that sticks with you.  At 42, I still believe Purple Rain is some of the best music ever made and sounds as relevant to me today as it did to my 15 year old self.

I once heard that the true definition of a Prince fan is someone who knows where they were the first time they heard “When Doves Cry.”  Check and check.  Me?  I was sitting in my Dad’s used Cadillac, driving around Minneapolis (Prince’s home town), visiting my oldest sister.  Some radio station was playing an early copy. I was mesmerized.  Transfixed.  We had stopped to park and I begged my Dad to let it play out.  He was not one to indulge his kids’ requests, but he did.  Maybe the old goat was a bit transfixed himself.


That power to transfix is why Prince draws such an all encompassing crowd.  We all want to be transfixed, don’t we?  His music is full of life and joy and grit.  And, let’s be real, sex.  Life is dirty and so is Prince’s music.

His show was amazing.  Just as I had hoped it would be.

I had never seen Prince live.  I would see him on TV and be amazed.  The guy is so damn mesmerizing.  Do you remember the Superbowl halftime show he did in 2007?  Hands down, best thing about football that night.  Anyways.  I had never seen the man and wanted to, badly.  He did not disappoint.  He came out in yellow yoga pants.  Yellow yoga pants, folks.  Think about that.  Who on earth looks good in yellow yoga pants?  I’ll tell you who — Prince does.  Damn, that man is sexy.

The show was a lot like Prince himself — short and full of awesome.  It clocked in at 90 minutes, minus encores.  Too short, but every moment of it was on the money.  In the end, 90 minutes of perfection, 90 minutes of forgetting your sorrows, 90 minutes of dancing with my man and 23,000 other Chicagoans.  It was all good.  So very good.

The encores were also good.  The concert ended with the most democratic of dance parties to some of Prince’s protege’s hits from the 80s — Morris Day and the Time and Sheila E.  I wrote in Donna’s Cancer Story, “You have not fully lived until you have danced with young and old alike.”  There on Prince’s stage were folks as old as 70 and as young as 5 or 6 singing and dancing and laughing and so damn full of life.

It was a privilege to be there.  Thank you, Prince.  You sexy motherfucker.

Brocade Jacket
Photo Op
Purple Rain

Please tell me you recycle. Please.

Did you know I was an equestrienne?  For reals.  I’ve never actually been on a horse, but indeed, am an equestrienne.  I own a high horse.  It’s very high.  I like to get on it.  And when I’m on that high horse I pontificate.  Mary Tyler Mom has provided a whole new venue – – my high horse has a new stable, if you will. 

Today, high on my high horse, Imma talk about recycling in Chicago.  It is a sorry state of affairs, folks, recycling in Chicago.  There is much to pontificate about.  I could kvetch about living in the “greenest city in America” and still needing to deposit my recyclables at a local blue bin drop center.  I can complain endlessly about living in a condo that does not recycle.  I could go on and on and on, but that is boring and you don’t want to read that. 

Instead, I’ll just post a picture of my local drop center.  Sigh.  What a freaking shame.  Please, Chicago, Urbus en Horto, City in a Garden, Mary Tyler Mom needs you to do better.  This is unacceptable.  If I gave Mary Tyler Son some cartons to put in our recycling bin and saw this debacle in our pantry my toddler would be getting a time out.  And he would learn and he would do better.   Chicago?  Not so much.

If I were a glass half full kind of gal, I suppose I could rejoice at the abundance of plastic and cardboard spillng out of these blue bins.  But at the end of a long day, at the end of a long weekend, I’m not really feeling glass half full.  I’m tired, Chicago, I’m busy and over extended.  And know that when I say that if I go through the trouble of memorizing which numbers are recycled and which are not, when I diligently wash each and every soda can, yogurt container, and freaking peanut butter jar, is it too much to ask to have a place to put it?

Help me help us, Chicago.  Be true to your Latin nom.  Empty the freaking blue bins.  Please.