Chicago’s “most common” contribution to architecture deserves a tour

In the dozen or so years I’ve been a Chicago Greeter, my tours have stayed near the lakefront — the Loop, the South Loop, Prairie Avenue, Andersonville, Argyle Street, Graceland Cemetery, Lincoln Park Zoo. It’s familiar territory, since I’ve lived within walking distance of the lake for nearly 30 years and rarely venture west of... Read more »

Surprising parallels to today in novels about the plague

Judging from the number of reading lists returned by googling “pandemic books,” many readers aren’t looking for escapism during COVID. A pandemic read was not my object on my first trip into the Harold Washington Library Center after it reopened a few weeks ago. Browsing in the Popular Library on the first floor, I noticed... Read more »

Every conversation gets into assessing the risk

When I volunteered to give my first Chicago Greeter tour in four months, I didn’t know that I’d be taking out a Washington Post travel writer. After we met, she let me know that she was writing a story about the new normal of travel. In between seeing Chicago’s first residential loft district and the... Read more »
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In a timely change, publications start capitalizing Black

It’s unlikely that many readers noticed, or cared, when news outlets started using % instead of percent after a numeral — a change prescribed by the Associate Press Stylebook last year. Many newspaper readers have probably noticed, and applaud, a change made in the last month, however. AP, along with many news organizations, now recommends... Read more »

Making masks more comfortable

Let’s stipulate that it’s important and respectful to continue wearing masks as long as the coronavirus is out there. I wear a mask because I should, not to align with a political position. Okay, that’s established. Now I can complain about masks. It’s harder to breathe wearing a mask. It’s harder to hear, and harder... Read more »

Self-examination of a white liberal

The message that this white liberal heard the loudest the last few weeks is that “Do no harm” is not enough. It’s not enough to try to treat everyone decently. Antiracism requires more than passivity. African Americans are understandably tired of whites asking them for suggestions of what to do. Yet it can be hard... Read more »
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Chatting with a locked-down parent

Many of us likely make lists before important conversations. As a journalist, I would jot down points before interviewing someone to make sure everything important would be covered. But a list to talk to your mother? My mother has been in coronavirus lockdown in an assisted living residence for 11 weeks. No visitors, no leaving... Read more »

Rudeness or cultural difference?

As George Floyd’s murder has laid bare America’s persistent racism, I’ve been grappling with an incident closer to home. I’m second-guessing complaining to an African American postal clerk about what I considered rude customer service. Seeking to learn from the experience, I found a relevant article in The Guardian in which writer Kimberly Foster condemned “needlessly hassling... Read more »

Heartbreak on top of isolation: losing a pet during coronavirus

Heartbreak on top of isolation: losing a pet during coronavirus
“So glad to have Lizzy now,” I wrote in my journal in early April as the second week of Illinois’s stay-at-home order was ending. Human company and touch were off limits for the indefinite future, but I had my sweet kitty. Now Lizzy is gone, and I’m writing through tears. In my last post I... Read more »
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How long can I live like this? I'm not talking about the pandemic.

This is really looking for a silver lining: If there was ever a good time for isolation, it’s now for me because it coincides with a worsening of my cat’s inflammatory bowel disease. For both health and aesthetic reasons, it’s best to not have visitors. Lizzy has chronic diarrhea. She also doesn’t always use the... Read more »