November 24, 2013
Sunday, November 24, 2013
To the City of Chicago’s Residents
Written by: Anonymous
I am a 40 year old woman that was born and raised in the northwest side of Chicago. The first time I heard about Chicago Park District is when my oldest son, Julio was 4 years old. One of my oldest friends, Maria told about Preschool that the Park District offers. I remember when I first went and enrolled my son at Riis Park; I was very impressed with the field house. The exterior of the field house was well maintained. The grass was green and there was no litter around. The interior of the field house was clean; one could see the shine from the waxed hardwood floors. The employees took pride in their work by being well educated about the different programs and they were well groomed. As my children grew they attended summer camp each year until the age of 11; now they are over 17 and haven’t been in a field house in many years. We currently live in Elmwood Park, Illinois and rarely go into the city except to visit family or friends. Last month I decided to join my boyfriend to watch a basketball game in one of Chicago’s field houses (LeClaire Park).
LeClaire Park is located in the Chicago’s south side in the neighborhood of Garfield Ridge. LeClaire Park is one of the Chicago Park Districts field houses. According to ChicagoParkDistrict.com “LeClaire-Hearst Park has 12.33 acres and features a gymnasium, kitchen and meeting rooms. Outside, the park offers, basketball courts, baseball fields, an athletic field for football or soccer, a playground and tennis courts. LeClaire also has a community garden”. Chicago Park District field houses give children in every neighborhood a place to play sports and stay out of trouble.
As I drove down the street to go to LeClaire’s Park field house on a Saturday afternoon, I was in stock to see how bad this neighborhood looked. It was like they were living in poverty. All of the houses were filthy, dingy, and just plan dirty. I remember I kept thinking that I had to miss one house, they all cannot be dirty or can they? This neighborhood is apparently dirty and it doesn’t seem to bother the residents. As I continued to drive I noticed 2 African Americans teenagers that were dressed similar they both had on t-shirts, jean shorts, and gym shoes walking in the opposite direction from the field house. I remember wondering why they are not going to the field house. I knew that the field house was just around the corner; my memory of the field house that my children attended were children having a great time playing different types of games. It was somewhere they could go to go to say out of trouble, so I was puzzled why the 2 boys weren’t headed to this field house?
I finally arrived to the field house to realize that it is located on a dead end street. The street was fenced up with a metal fence. I remember feeling unsafe because I do not normally feel safe at a dead end street. I parked my clean and not crashed car in between two cars that needed serious body work done and that looked like they hadn’t been washed for a while. One of the cars had 2 African American men in it; they were just talking until I parked my car. Then they just looked at me and my car. That moment I felt scared and decided to arm my car alarm, I then heard one of the two men laugh. I don’t know why he laughed, but I honestly thought he was laughing at me because I armed my car alarm. It was clear to me I definitely did not fit in this neighborhood. I began walking toward the field house and noticed its appearance. The landscaping was horrible. There was not much grass on the yard; it was mostly patches of dirt. The little grass it had was brown. It looked like they do not water the grass. It is apparent that the employees at this location do not maintain the landscaping; at the very least the front yard should have beautiful green grass throughout the front of the field house. The Chicago Park district does have a job posting for landscaper for a different field house. The starting salary for this one job is $47199.82(Chicago Park District.com).
As I walked into the field house, I immediately smelled something foul. The smell was a combination of musk and urine. After smelling the musty, urine smell, I felt like I was going to vomit. I then grabbed my pink north face sweater and covered my noise hoping that it would prevent me from smelling the nasty odor. I continued to walk into the gym and was happy because the smelly odor was gone. It was just in the area by the front doors. The floors had green, red, and black lines painted on the dull wooden floors. As I walked through the gym there were two sets of bleachers. In the middle of the bleachers there was a small wooden table where the score keeper sat. I walked quickly all the way down to the end of the bleachers. The bleachers reminded me of my high school gym except these bleachers were brown, dusty, and the wood looked warped. My high school bleachers had a nice shinny coat of gloss on the wood. While looking at ChicagoParkDistrict.com under the jobs tab, I seen that a custodial workers salary starts at $37943.00.
I believe the main reason the City of Chicago has field houses throughout each neighborhood is to keep our children safe and out of trouble. According to ChicagoTribune.com “between the dates Aug. 8 and Sept. 7, 2013 there were 129 report crimes in the Garfield Ridge area”. These field houses should be filled with teenagers that live in the neighborhood playing ball on a Saturday afternoon, not grown men. There were about 25 adults total in the gym; mostly Hispanics, only 3 African Americans, and 2 Caucasian men. I found that odd because the Garfield Ridge neighborhood is mostly African Americans. I also noticed that the two teams that were playing basketball were all adults one team’s age ranged from thirties to forties and the other team age ranged was twenties to thirties.
At the end of the day, I realized that a neighborhood is what the people that live there make out it. If they want to represent themselves and their neighborhood as clean individuals they will. Unfortunately, the residents of the Garfield Ridge neighborhood represent themselves as dirty, smelly, and careless about the appearance of the houses. The Chicago Park District does employ individuals to do landscaping and custodial work for their field houses. Whether or not LeClaire Park has employees doing landscaping and custodial work is yet too been seen.
The Chicago Park District should focus on first having the field houses cleaned and then who is using their field houses and strongly recommend that it should only be used by teenagers in their neighborhood. I do understand that there are financial restraints that contribute to the field houses not being well maintained or clean, but according to “Chicago Park District Superintendent Michael Kelly today released recommendations for the District's 2014 budget. The $425.6 million plan includes a balanced budget that increases programming at neighborhood parks while investing in the children and families of Chicago. The 2014 spending plan is approximately $14.6 million higher than the FY2013 budget. Some highlights of the 2014 budget include the expansion of Chicago Park District programs, including an expansion of the summer Night Out in the Parks series, growth in aquatics programming and increased staffing to meet the demands of expanding programs. The Park District works with residents to ensure that programming is affordable regardless of income level through discounts and scholarship opportunities. "Thousands of families count on park programs each day for sports, cultural and social enrichment,” said General Superintendent & CEO Michael Kelly. “This budget invests in those families by expanding existing and creating new programming that keep the young people of our communities safe, and engaged”(ChicagoParkDistrict.com). My question is why are they not mentioning any cleaning or maintaining the field houses? It is great that they are going to be able to provide the resources to keep the activities that the neighborhood could afford, but will the children want to go if it’s dirty? Is the Parks District Superintendent Michael Kelly aware of LeClaire Park current condition? LeClaire Park is a part of Chicago Park District so why the landscaping not maintained, or the inside of the gym dirty and smelly, and not being utilized by teenagers during a Saturday afternoon? I am curious to know if all field houses are maintained in the same manner as this one. If so, why can’t some of the money used to renovate the field houses that desperately need it? Here is a thought maybe if the field house was in a clean well maintained building the residents of Garfield area will take pride of their neighborhood and keep their houses well maintained?
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on the Chicago Park Districts Field Houses.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Private Spaces in Public Places
November 22, 2013
When walking down a busy street, I will often hear people discuss immensely personal things. I, myself, am guilty of these discussions and have chatted about everything, from family to legal issues. I found this to be particularly true on my neighborhood trip. I had not expected as many personal conversations as I heard. When I walked down Southport Corridor, I had expected it to be like every other weekend, busy with people window shopping and walking around. My plan was to go directly to David’s Tea and observe from there. What I actually discovered that Sunday was quite a bit more. Southport Corridor was in full neighborhood festival mode. I found out later, according to chicagoevents.com, it was a Sam Adams Lakeview Taco Festival featuring specialty tacos from seven local vendors. As I bypassed the $5 suggested entry fee, I see that the festival stretches from Newport to Addison on Southport. There were people in line for tacos that stretched across several tents. The entertainment was a Mariachi band playing traditional and lively Mexican songs. There were craft and other unique goods being sold in tents. Thanks to this festival, I was able to observe more people in a sedentary setting than a normal weekend on Southport.
Through my field trip, I find that these personal discussions are like windows into each person’s lives. It does not really matter if these discussions take place with someone on the phone for if that person is right in front of them. It seems that as long as there is the constant of someone familiar, they will spill their deepest and darkest secrets no matter who else could be listening close by. I found this to be particularly true with my neighborhood field trip, specifically with the mother singing to her baby, the couple on the seesaw, and two girlfriends discussing a recent breakup. Though all three instances are different, they all share very personal moments in public places.
Oftentimes singing in front of friends and family can already be intimidating, much less singing in public. And even though the mother was only singing to her baby, it was still in a space for others to clearly hear. Singing for her baby was so significant because it not only represented a personal tender moment between a mother and her child, but also that moment might not have happened elsewhere without them being in the environment they were in. The Mariachi band just happened to be playing songs that the mother knew. They were sitting on the curb to my left towards the front of the stage where I could see and hear them. I was, at first, just fascinated by the Mariachi band and all the instruments on stage. Then I started to hear a soft echo. As I turned to look at where the echo was coming from, I saw the mother leaning tenderly over her baby and singing along. The possibility of that moment occurred only because of who she was with to make her comfortable enough to sing in the first place and the Mariachi band playing the familiar songs that she knew. Furthermore, her baby represented to her the familiarity of a personal space that she knew and was comfortable in.
As I explored the other side of the festival, I decided to go to David’s Tea. As I walked in, I smell the familiar smell of light herbal tea. The store was empty and I was greeted by two employees who seemed happy to have finally gotten a customer. As I chose my usual tea and sat down, I listened to some meaningless employee banter. It was while seated by the window that I saw the second instance of a personal moment in a public space occurred. I saw the couple on a mustached shaped seesaw. The seesaw was located in the middle of the festival, just outside of David’s Tea. It was almost the dividing line between the taco tents and the craft goods tents. I felt that this moment was more personal than the other two because there were no words involved. I found myself almost embarrassed to be looking at them. It was as if I did not want to get caught peeping into someone else’s home. The couple definitely created a barrier around them that was their own even though they were surrounded by people. The phrase “actions speak louder than words” really applied to this couple. I was able to understand all her emotions from her facial expressions alone. I know her emotions went from vulnerable to scared to proud. Those emotions, especially her vulnerability and fear, were private and meant only for her significant other, yet they were easily readable for all to see. Wordless communication is often more private and this couple was definitely having a nonverbal personal moment. The boyfriend was able to give her reassurance every step of the way. I think he also knew when it was enough for his girlfriend as they did not stay on the seesaw for very long. This personal moment was possible by how safe and trusting she felt towards her boyfriend. He created a private space for her to express her emotions openly. Her expressions and his responses made me feel like they were a couple that have been dating for a while and were already perfectly in tune with each other.
David’s Tea is also where I overheard my final instance of personal space. I had almost given up and decided to rejoin the festival outside when two girls walked in. The two girls sat down at the only other booth available in the tea shop. I decided to give them a chance and it turned out to be a conversation so personal that I even got to know the girl and her ex-boyfriend’s names. Her name is Jess and her ex-boyfriend’s name is Mikey. Being able to put a name to a stranger’s face no longer makes them a stranger to me. They will no longer be described as the girl with short hair or a lady with a baby. They were much more tangible to me. The girls got right into details of a recent breakup that Jess had. As I listened in, I felt as if Jess could have been my friend and I could have been the one giving her advice on her breakup. Perhaps it was because I had been through it also and could connect with her loss. However, the closeness and empathy I felt towards Jess was not replicated for her friend because I never learned her name. She could have been replaced by anyone for all I cared, but clearly not for Jess. For Jess, that friend was her confidant that she decided to tell her troubles to.
Along with Jess’ name, I learned about the depressing after effects of her breakup and even a bit about her relationship history. These are details that are so intimate that I would never share outside of someone’s home. To know that she not only suffered from lack of appetite and sleep, but that she does not even know how she felt was alarming to hear. I felt both sorry for her and at the same time wanted her to snap out of it. One of my first thoughts was she was clearly well into her twenties and should have been matured enough to not be this distraught over a guy. But my feelings did not matter at all in this personal moment between two girlfriends. No matter what I or anyone else who could have overheard the conversation thought, this was not our business or place to put our two cents in. There were moments when I felt as if I was intruding on their conversation even though they did not know it, especially when I heard Jess’ voice crack a couple times. It is interesting that in a public tea house, two girlfriends have made their private conversation public, yet the public cannot say anything.
My field trip was full of very exciting and memorable things, but being able to see and overhear people’s more intimate moments were the most interesting to me. Just the fact that each of those examples was both so personal and public at the same time was a very unique experience. I am glad at the unexpected turn of events on an otherwise normal Sunday. I am grateful that I was able to see through the windows into each of their lives and be able to take a small lesson from each of them. For all three, it was the constant of having someone to make them feel safe to share their feelings with. More specifically, in each case, it was the love for the baby, the trust in the boyfriend, and the confidant in the friend over a cup of tea. Even though people are in public, they all each have a very personal space that they feel completely safe in. This field trip has made me more aware of what I will say or do next time in public and just who might be secretly listening.
When Sacred Isn’t Sacred
By Karla Mans Giroux
November 22, 2013
It’s 1:00 pm on Monday and I enter the exercise studio at the company sponsored fitness center where I work. I have looked forward to this all day. It’s the bright spot in an otherwise tedious Monday that begins with a really hard to get out of bed kind of feeling. Monday’s are rough days because they always begin an endless stream of back to back meetings and an overflowing inbox of other peoples’ requests of me. So the 1:00 yoga class is the one place I know I can find peace and contentment. It’s the one hour of the week when I know I will get out of my head and experience the present moment so easily and so fully that it calms and clears my mind and sets the tone for the rest of the day and even the week. This is my sacred space. This is where the sacred happens for me. But as it turns out on this Monday it’s not about the sacred.
Today was a Monday like all others, a slow difficult start but a fast and furious on-rush of meetings and email. As usual I’m really looking forward to my sacred space. I quickly change into my workout clothes and head into the exercise studio. The studio is inviting with its bright lights, clean and shiny mirrors and floor, and shelves stocked with all the things one needs for proper exercise classes. There is only one other student already here and she is sitting on her mat calmly waiting. I see another mat already laid out at the “front” of the room where instructors typically place themselves. But my favorite yoga instructor would not do this. First of all she almost always arrives right on time, never early. Secondly, she does not even use a mat, she demonstrates from wherever she happens to be.
As I lay out my mat, the regular Pilates instructor enters the room along with some other students and explains that she was called on short notice to fill in for the regular yoga instructor. I hide my disappointment and resolve to make the best of this. After all, I like this instructor and always enjoy her Pilates class on Wednesday. She connects her music to the sound system as more students arrive. I think I see looks of disappointment in their eyes when they hear the news but perhaps I’m imagining it. The other students place their mats in line with the rows that have begun and we start the class.
The music plays, but music at a lower volume does not necessarily make it calm and peaceful music. This is just a slower paced Pilates play list turned down to a lower volume. The yoga music never distracts, it is a backdrop that enhances rather than distracts from the practice. This is not the same soothing instrumental music that is nearly unnoticeable and sets the tone for a peaceful and focused yoga practice. I can only hope that she doesn’t start to sing along like she does in Pilates!
She tells us to start at the end of our mats and gives the first instruction but quickly stops us and says “oops, I meant the front of your mat”. We all adjust our positions and begin again. She tells us she just loves the sun salutation, that it is her favorite yoga “move”. I think she means “asana” or at least “pose”, oh well. We move from mountain, to forward fold, to downward dog, and back up again three or four times. What happened to the lunge, plank, and cobra? Where is the fluid, flowing transition from one pose to the next? This is going to be a long hour I think to myself.
We do tree pose but remain facing front into the mirrors that line the wall. Normally we face the windows when we do tree pose so that we have a view of the trees to inspire and ground us. The studio windows enjoy a view of the large grassy area where there are a few small young trees planted along the far side lining the sidewalk that runs parallel to the parking lot. Beyond the parking lot is another large natural area of grass, plants and a pond with a water fountain. It’s always a lovely view for tree pose if you ignore the lot full of cars. Today however it is a lot full of cars and I’m stuck looking at myself and my classmates in the mirror.
I struggle to get out of my head and just be here in this moment. I’m distracted and I’m not feeling the same serenity I do with the flow of yoga poses. It feels good to move my body and I’m able to do all the poses easily but it’s almost too easy. There is no real challenge in following along with the poses and there is no sacred practice here for me today.
After only 40 minutes our substitute instructor announces that she has reached the end of the manual she has been following and since she doesn’t really know yoga she will now move into Pilates exercises to fill the remaining 20 minutes. Oh well, at least I got away from my desk and moved my body.
According to the “Wellness Workbook” by John W. Travis, Anusara yoga focuses on the alignment of the body but also encourages spiritual awareness. “It is a discipline that seeks to unite the body, mind, heart and spirit”. My favorite yoga instructor always encourages us to listen to our bodies, to do only what we are comfortable doing or what we feel like doing. She reminds us to let go of our thoughts and to focus on our practice and the poses, to connect with something greater than ourselves. She allows, perhaps even creates, a sacred space for each of us to experience a truly spiritual practice.
Today however was about the body and about exercise. Perhaps this is what some people came here for, to exercise and strengthen the body, but that is not what I came for. I came seeking the spiritual connection, the heart centered connection that comes from being in the moment, being in the flow, being in the grace. I came to connect with my sense of the sacred.
This disappointing sacred space/ yoga class was a good lesson for me today. A lesson in understanding that sacred space is important to me and that I should not depend on someone else to create it. Sacred space is definitely about the “space” that is allowed, or created, rather than the physical location. The sacred can happen anywhere at any time as long as it is created.
I must learn to manifest the sacred regardless of the instructor or time or place of a yoga class. After all, what would I do if my favorite yoga instructor moved to another state? Would I never experience the sacred again? I think not. I create sacred space for myself in other places and other times so this awareness now provides me with the necessary insight to create my own sacred yoga practice at 1:00 on Monday or any time I need it!
I was disappointed that my sacred space was not sacred today but I’ll just make the best of it and call it exercise!
Thursday, November 21, 2013
For those of you who don't know, I am a full time student at DePaul University in Chicago. One of the classes I am currently taking is an Advanced Elective class called, "Write Where You Are." This is a writing course about where we live. This subject requires students to investigate how events of personal significance are affected by location and the disciplines. I was challenged with either writing a compare/contrast essay or writing a creative short story. I chose to write a the latter, which is what I have posted below. I was also required to publish this story and was happy to see that my personal blog was an acceptable place to publish.
I hope you enjoy, and please leave feedback so I can improve it even more.
The Girl on the Corner
The day begins like any other day for Ravi, the main bartender at the Green Mill. He wakes up alone after dreaming that he met a mysterious dream girl. He didn’t know if this dream girl was going to be the next love of his life, or just bring a great opportunity into his life. He never sees her face in the dream, which is why he considers her a mystery girl. What does this dream mean? Does it mean anything at all, or is it just that he’s unsatisfied with his romantic life, professional life, and home life?
Ravi lives in a studio apartment that leaves a lot to be desired. His bed is next to the only window in his apartment. There is peeling paint on the windowsill that has flaked onto the blanket. Ravi stretches as he sits up and sees the paint chips on the bed and is not surprised and swipes them off as he has done every day before. With a heavy sigh, he looks around the small room and sees his dirty white walls with holes in them. There is a small kitchenette with dishes in the sink and food spilled on the top of the small stove. Laundry is strewn about the floor in piles that are as high as the bed.
Ravi gets out of bed and turns on the shower to heat it up before getting in. He puts a pot of water on the stove to heat up to make a cup of instant coffee. Ravi gets in the shower and finishes in a few minutes. He wraps a towel around his waist and quickly heads over to the stove to turn off the pot of water, puts a spoonful of coffee in a mug and then pours the water into the mug. The coffee is steaming and Ravi closes his eyes, takes a whiff and then sips it. He makes a face that is telling of how much he needed that sip of coffee. Ravi looks out the window and sees the Green Mill; did I mention that his apartment is across the street from his job?
Out the window, Ravi sees the usual characters hanging out on the street corners. On the northwest corner he sees the homeless man who stands there asking passersby for money. This man holds a sign that says, “Not a criminal or drug addict, just need money for food.” Ravi knew this wasn’t the case, since he had previously seen this man using drugs in the alley behind the Green Mill. There were various business people waiting for the bus to get to work, and a mysterious woman who is out there on many days on the southeast corner of the intersection. Ravi assumes she is a prostitute and feels bad for her because he knows she could be so much more than she is. He has brought her coffee before and has exchanged pleasantries with her, but never asked her name. This woman who always wears sunglasses and seems to be wearing a blonde wig intrigues him.
Ravi realizes that he’s been staring out the window at this woman for quite some time now, and has to get ready for work. He steps over the piles of clothes and comes to a closet. He opens the door to the closet and it is full of neatly pressed items in plastic bags from the dry cleaner. He rips off the plastic from a shirt and pair of jeans and puts them on. Ravi goes into the bathroom to brush his teeth, he puts gel in his hair and brushes it. On go his shoes and he is out the door.
As Ravi walks out of his building he looks to his left to see if the girl is still out there; she’s gone. He wonders if she got in the car with someone, or if she had gone home. On he treks across the street to his job at the Green Mill. Ravi pulls out his key for the front door, unlocks it and he goes in. He closes the door behind him and locks it. He continues through his every day procedures to get the place ready for opening. He turns on the lights to see that the floors needed to be swept and there are still a few glasses at the curved end of the bar, closest to the stage. Ravi sighs in frustration and proceeds to walk in. The rest of the staff starts to arrive and Ravi begins a conversation with the bouncer who would be working the door that evening. The bouncer’s name is Andre, and he has been working that door for the last eight years. He is an extremely good looking man who is about six feet tall and is around 300 pounds of pure muscle. Andre is the kind of guy who uses as few words as possible, but would protect the patrons with his life. All the regulars know him and are comfortable with him. Carla walks in; she is a sassy twenty something server with tattoos all over both arms. She’s wearing cat frame glasses and a bandana on her head. Carla has a thing for Ravi but the feelings are not returned. Akira arrives next; she is another server and is just as sassy as Carla, but a bit more quirky. She has long blonde hair with blue and pink streaks in it; it is spun into a tight bun on top of her head.
As Ravi is wiping down the bar and making sure the glasses are clean, he seems to be in a trance. He goes back to wiping down the bar and his circular strokes seem to go on and on in the same spot. Ravi is thinking about that girl from the street corner. He’s wondering why such a beautiful girl is out there every day and wonders if his dream has anything to do with her. Ravi noticed when he brought her coffee that she is well spoken and her grammar is perfect. Her teeth are stark white and her face is clear and almost glows. “What could have happened in her life to get her to this place?” He wondered to himself. The other bartender, Pete, slaps Ravi on the back, and startles him. “Hey dude! What’s on your mind?” Pete asks. “Nothin’ man.” Ravi says. Pete knew whom Ravi was thinking about. They talked about this girl on many occasions, but since Pete told him to forget about her and called her a loser, Ravi doesn’t talk about her anymore.
As the night went on, Ravi became busier and busier, and forgot about the girl from the corner for a bit. When the music began, the entire place went silent, as that is the rule at the Green Mill. As the music played, Ravi looked around the room at all the couples listening to the music. He wondered what it would be like to be sitting at one of those booths under the Capone artifacts and discussing them as if were the first time he’d seen them. He wondered if the girl from the corner knew about the history of the Green Mill. Could he potentially impress her with his knowledge of the entire history of this place? He goes on cleaning up the bar area.
It was intermission time and a couple who was sitting at the bar decided to leave. He cleaned up their glasses and took his tip off the bar. Ravi turned around to put the tip in the jar, and when he turned back around, there was a girl sitting in one of the seats. There was something familiar about her, but he wasn’t certain why she was familiar. This girl had long, wavy auburn hair; smart looking rectangular glasses and a pretty floral blouse. Her makeup was light, but seemed to be applied perfectly. He greets her with a smile and asks what he can get her. She smiles back and says, “I’ll just have a diet coke.” “Just a diet Coke?” He asks. “Yes.” She says with a smile. “What brings you in?” He asks. She says she has always wanted to come inside, but couldn’t bring herself to do it. When he asked why, she said, “It’s a family thing.” Ravi didn’t understand, but he didn’t care. He was just glad she decided to come in on this night while he was working.
He walks to the back to get some more bar supplies with a smile on his face. Pete asks him what his deal is. He said, “There’s this girl at the bar that’s just, mesmerizing.” Pete says, “Finally! Maybe you’ll get over that loser from the corner.” “Shut the F*** up dude! She’s not a loser." Ravi says, and walks back out to the bar and the girl was gone. She left the money for the soda on the bar along with a tip. He runs over to Andre to find out if she left, and with all the people going in and out to smoke during intermission, he hadn’t noticed her. Ravi was devastated that he hadn’t even gotten her name. Who was this girl and why did she only stay a few minutes? What did she mean the reason she hadn’t come in was that it was a family thing? He had so many unanswered questions. Ravi goes on about his night serving drinks to many people. He couldn’t stop thinking about the mysterious girl at the bar. He hoped she would come in again while he was working.
For the next few nights Ravi looked for this mysterious woman and she didn’t return. Similarly, he noticed that the girl from the corner had gone missing. He wondered why the only women he seemed interested in were mysterious and almost non-existent. Why couldn’t he be interested in someone like Carla? She’s nice enough, but he just didn’t have anything in common with her, no attraction whatsoever.
One morning while in his apartment, Ravi made a decision. “That settles it, I should just go to one of those online dating sites and put in all my requirements for the perfect woman. What should they be? Well, I seem to like mysterious women, with blonde wigs and auburn hair. UGH! Why is this so hard? Okay, maybe an online dating site isn’t the right place. Maybe I should place an ad in one of those “I saw you” sections of the free newspaper. Forget it! I should just resolve myself to the fact that I will spend the rest of my life alone or with someone I am not even really attracted to just so I won’t be alone. Ravi pulls himself out of bed to get to his morning routine. After getting out of the shower, he goes over to the window with hopeful anticipation that he will see the girl on the corner; he did not. He get’s dressed and heads out of his building. Ravi takes one last look to the left to see if the girl was there; she was not. On to the Green Mill he goes to open up.
The night proceeds like any other and Ravi is into his regular routine at the bar. Suddenly, time seems to slow down as he sees the auburn-haired beauty walk in. She is wearing a stunning red dress; high heels and she seems to be glowing as she walks. He notices she isn’t wearing her glasses and she seems more familiar than before. His heart is beating so hard he thinks it's going to come out of his chest. Ravi begins to perspire and his eyes are fixed on this perfect specimen. She looks at him and flashes a huge smile. This time Pete is there and cannot believe how beautiful this woman is. He sees Ravi’s reaction and instantly knows this is the woman from the other night. Pete tells Ravi he’ll take over the bar so he can talk to her during intermission.
Ravi walks over to the auburn-haired beauty and asks where she had gone the other night. He said, “I didn’t even get your name.” She answers, “It’s Francesca.” He is mesmerized by her name; her face and her smile…that smile. He knows that smile; it is the girl from the corner! He said, “Oh my God, I know you. You’re the girl from the corner.” She said, “I’ve never been referred to in that way before. I’m not sure how I feel about that.” He said, “But I thought you were, um, you know.” With a quizzical look, she said, “No, I don’t know.” “Never mind.” He says. “I shouldn’t be here, I just had to come in one last time before I leave town.” She said. “Leave town? No! I mean, we just met and I thought we could maybe go out on a date!” Ravi says in a raised, almost panicked voice. She smiles and says, “Please walk me to my car.” He walks her out to a black Rolls Royce and is stunned. He says, “I’m so confused. I have so many questions about you. Let me just take a breath.” His breath turns to two breaths, then three, and then he begins to hyperventilate. She rubs his back and he looks into her eyes and quickly calms down.
Okay, I’m ready, “Why were you standing on that corner so many days?” She said, “I was trying to work up the courage to go inside. I couldn’t bring myself to walk into the Green Mill for a long time. I told you, it’s a family thing.” “What does that mean?” Ravi asks. “It means that my name is Francesca, Francesca Capone. My grandfather was Al Capone and he brought much shame to my family for so many years. This was my final step in ridding my life of all the demons. The Green Mill is as beautiful as the pictures I’ve seen on the Internet. The music is perfection and the patrons are eclectic, which I love. I see that having my grandfather’s things hanging here is part of the draw, the history, and I won’t change a thing. Now that I know that this place is not filled with evil, I can go on with my life and run my club in Italy.” “Capone? You’re a Capone? And you’re going to Italy? Just when I've learned your name, you’re leaving?” Ravi says. "Yes, I am leaving, but I am comforted in the fact that you, a very capable man, will be running the club and will be under my direct supervision.” Francesca says. “I don’t run the club, I’m just a bartender.” He says. Francesca puts her hand on his shoulder and says, “You are the new General Manager of the Green Mill, and we will be in direct contact on a regular basis. You will be given a stipend for a nice apartment and a car that suits the standards of someone in your position.” Ravi is taken aback and cannot speak for a moment. Francesca says, “I’ve got to go. Please take care of our place and I’ll be in touch. Here’s the offer letter for the GM position.” Ravi takes it and watches Francesca as she gets in the back of the Rolls and gets taken away.
As Ravi walks back inside, he realizes what just happened. His dream girl was the girl from the corner and Francesca together. He opens the promotion letter and sees the offer in writing. On the bottom was a handwritten note that said, “Thanks for the coffee.” Ravi smiles and walks toward the bar. Pete asks, “Who was she?” That was my dream girl; the girl from the corner.”
Link to: The Green Mill Jazz Club-Chicago