Five Chicago Moments

People that follow my blog (or my Facebook posts!) know that my Sweetie and I just took a ridiculous, 60-hour, round-trip weekend to Chicago and back. It was a whirlwind visit, a mix of some annoying business and a lot of fun. My Angel all but walked me to death (but I need to get in better shape anyway, LOL!) I have lots of stuff to share about the visit but, for now, I will be happy to share five (5 – get it?) of my favorite “photos” from our trip. All the images you see here were either taken by my partner Martin or me. Here we go…

1. The Hancock Building – I can’t quite understand why we, as humans, are compelled to visit high places and be scared to death by the height. Anyway, while I have been here a few times before, Martin was a “virgin” and LOVED the 360 degree views of the city. We visited the Hancock Building at dusk, and watch the city lights “come alive.” It was pretty awesome, as is this image of the building itself:

The Hancock Building

2. The Burberry Store on Michigan Avenue – Now, I am not a HUGE Burberry fan but, honestly? This vanity “facade” featuring the company’s signature plaid – I mean, what guy doesn’t recognize this pattern from his own Burberry tie? – is INSPIRED to say the least. We didn’t go in but WOW!, what a statement piece of architecture:

The Burberry Store on Michigan Avenue

3. “The Bean” at Millenium Park – OK, technically it is called “Cloud Gate” and is probably the most obvious choice to be included here but I love it. Roughly the size of my parents’ house, it is a ridiculously impressive thing for many reasons – sheer size, remarkable finish, crazy visual properties and the fact that, no matter who sees it, they SMILE. Like the Hancock Building, I had experienced “The Bean” before but it was amazing to watch my SBF see it for the first time:

Cloud Gate with Chicago Skyline

4. The Field Museum – Definitely traditional, even classical in design, the Field Museum combines the grace and beauty of a Greek or Roman temple – I mean, it has caryatids! – with some high-tech coolness inside. I personally found this museum to be a bit of a snore fest (sorry!) but the Lascaux exhibit was fascinating. Plus, to be honest, the entire time we roamed the dusty halls and exhibits there, I felt like my SBF and I were on the set of one of the “Night at the Museum” movies, so that was kinda’ cool:

The Field Museum5. The “L” – Chicago has an elevated transit system that moves completely above ground. I know you have seen it in countless movies – it’s usually featured in some high-speed car chase under some weird, elevated platform. That is the “L.” My beloved took this image, which is pretty representational of the entire L experience:

Steps to the L

I hope you enjoyed these pics. Watch for more posts about Chicago in the coming days. We LOVED our trip there and will definitely be going back – soon!

 

 

Today I Am 55

Today is my birthday! Happy Birthday to me! Today I turned 55 years old. Five five. Five and a half decades of trudging along thru life, trying to be the best me I can be…

All in all, I have had an outstanding day. Today at work, this happened:

photo (2)That’s right, my business partner Scott and I celebrated my birthday with an old skool, grocery store bakery sheet cake – it was chocolate and delicious! You know, this style of cake isn’t perfect unless you can feel the sugar from the icing “grit-ing” between your teeth as you bite it. This cake definitely did not disappoint. In addition, there was also some Neapolitan Ice Cream. Yummy.

As if that weren’t great enough, today at work a design client bought a sofa, a chair and ottoman and a light fixture. HOORAY! This was hot on the heels of yesterday’s awesomeness when a different design client purchased a rug, two “poufs” (I love that word) and a leather lounge chair. Work has been pretty rockin’ this week and that has been a super birthday gift as well…

After work, I came home at the exact same time as my beloved – his meeting tonight was very brief so he got home the same time I did. HOORAY again! My Angel already made me a delicious berry crumble cake yesterday as my “birthday cake” – it’s one of my favorite things he makes – but I was also greeted with a gift bag and a note when I came in the apartment. Here’s the “haul” –

Tim's Birthday Gifts

Yup – my SBF (Sweet Boyfriend) got me this ridiculous mini garden gnome (I love it!), a red velvet cupcake (I got one more wish!) and a very touching card… I have to share, at the risk of “jinxing” my wish, that I asked the we never, ever spend even one more birthday apart.

I am crazy in love with my SBF; he makes every day feel like it’s my birthday.

So, all in all, I have had a pretty spectacular day/week. I received a number of calls and texts, have like over 150+ birthday wishes on Facebook and have just had an amazing day. Is my life exactly what I imagined it would be like at 55? Not exactly, but in most ways, it is even better and in one way in particular, it is beyond my wildest dreams…

I used to joke that my birthday was like every other day, but today was not. Today has been a blessing and I thank The Universe for giving it to me. I have a great family, a super circle of friends – both those I talk with regularly and those I have never even met in person (that makes sense if you are one of those friends!) and a partner and companion that I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams. I am a very lucky guy… Happy Birthday to me…

Stargazer

As I was flipping through the “camera roll” on my iPhone today, I happened upon a group of pics taken probably three years ago, or longer, on an outing to The Cleveland Museum of Art with my beloved. This pic made me pause and smile:

"Stargazer" from The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio. Permanent Collection.

“Stargazer” – The Cleveland Museum of Art, Permanent Collection. Image by Tim Kempf.

This beautiful statuette was always the very first thing one encountered as you entered the museum’s hallowed halls to tour the permanent galleries. Nicknamed “Stargazer,” I believe this piece is the oldest piece of art in the museum’s collection. She – I’m not sure why I think this figure is a “she” but I do! – is an example of Cycladic Art, a product of one of the oldest civilizations in history. I’m not sure exactly why, but I have always been drawn to Cycladic Art in general and this figure in particular. No matter what show or artist is being featured at the museum, every time I go, I seek this figure out. Her transcendent beauty actually makes me happy and at peace when I gaze upon her.

I know – weird, right?

Anyway, it was fate that I should see this image today. For the past 24 hours or so I have been experiencing a weird, anxious feeling – my Mom used to call it “ouchiness” – and for whatever reason, when I happened upon this pic of Stargazer today, I smiled and instantly felt more calm. It’s hard to explain the effect “things” can have on our well-being but I am glad she helped me with mine today. Maybe I am one of the children of the stars; maybe we all are…

The figure itself is lovely, and so tiny – I bet this piece is less than five inches tall. But her posture and demeanor – the way she is looking up and waiting, suggests big hope and promise to me. And who couldn’t use a little of that today…

Another One Bites the Dust…

I have to say, my beloved is perfect in virtually every way but he does seem to be having a bit of a bad run with our coffee cup collection lately. Here is today’s latest casualty…

Broken B&F 2003 Mug(to hear Queen, “Another One Bites the Dust,” click above)

So yeah, for those keeping track, that’s two mugs in roughly thirty days (we “lost” Hoops & Yoyo on 09 March 2013). This time, it was our 2003  Brunschwig & Fils “collector” mug in cornflower blue. For those unaware, B & F is a venerable textile house that (at least use to) give away coffee mugs every year in their “new” featured color. This one simply split in half as my Sweetie was wiping off the bottom to put it away. I suspect a decade of cabinet knocks and heavy placement into the dish rack produced some stress cracks in the cup not visible to the naked eye. Anyway, it broke and my Angel seemed kinda’ upset.

I told him not to be sad; we have like three dozen coffee cups. I think he was sad mostly because this was “my” cup that paired with “his” 1993 B&F cup in “coral berry.” My Sweetie is adorably sentimental about stuff like that…

I long ago learned that things are just that – things. It made me more upset to see my Angel sad that the silly mug had broken. I gave him a hug and told him to forget about it. I suspect this weekend we might go buy a new “pair of mugs” for our coffee times together. I’d like that…

Coffee-Foam-Art-32

“He’s Making a List, He’s Checkin’ it Twice” – or more!

O.M.G. When did life get so complicated and I-N-T-E-N-S-E?

You may or may not remember that I am co-owner of an interior design practice attached to a small, retail home furnishings and accessories boutique called duoHOME. After 5.5 years in our current location, duoHOME is moving to a new office/storefront in about a month. Seems exciting, right? Well, it is – and I am excited! – but the things that need to be done!

to-do-list

It seems like there is a “list” like the one above – only filled in! – that needs to be addressed every day! Now, I am blessed in my life with TWO fantastic partners, my Life Partner Martin (I love him!) and my Business Partner Scott (I am fond of him as well, only in a different way, LOL!). Both these guys will have their hands full with me and the “lists” over the next four weeks or so. Martin will be largely in charge of managing my mental and emotional health every day (like that is different from any other day – are you ready, babe?) and Scott will be my super-organized partner in crime as we navigate the endless task lists. We have a list for transferring utilities, coordinating the renovation of our new space (think painting, cleaning, etc.), closing down our existing space, updating our website and Facebook page, and just about every other major and minuscule task you can imagine. And all of this is happening while the day-to-day operation of our design business keeps rolling on.

As they say in our business, “Clients wait for no one.”

We will be fine, of course. And I am SUPER excited about the move – I just wish it were over already. As my close friends know, I have a mild case of adult ADHD and I often joke that I am a Franklin Covey failure. I am pretty good at creating and organizing task lists, I just have to remember at some point this needs to be happening:

list

Fortunately for me, BOTH my partners will be great support and help during this transition time, and I hope I can be the same for them. I also plan on keeping in mind a great piece of advice I learned three decades ago when I was a restaurant manager…

Years ago, I used to be a front of the house manager for a huge, national chain of Mexican restaurants. During one particularly bad Tuesday Margaritaville shift, as our quoted wait time for tables was spiraling out of control and I had to have several loud drunks “escorted” from our cantina by the police, a tiny, sweet hostess – probably no more than sixteen or seventeen years old at the time – squeezed my hand, smiled at me serenely and said,“Tim you just have to remember, no matter how bad it may seem now, the dining room closes at 11PM and it will all be over then…” 

I’d like to thank that hostess for that bit of wisdom; it has guided me almost every day since she shared it with me. Sure, it has morphed into a slightly more universal message, something like, “No matter how daunting a task may seem, know that every challenge has an ending” or something like that but it is great advice.

Our upcoming move? As long as we stay focused, committed and on task (the lists!), we will be fine. I better make sure I have a good supply of pens and pencils on hand – I can see a lot of check marks in my immediate future!

(insert your own title here)

Some days I have trouble deciding on a blog subject, you know, “what to write about.” I struggle to have a clear idea or concept in mind when I sit down here at the keyboard. Today it is quite the opposite – I have SO many ideas running through my brain that I cannot crystallize one, I cannot “pin one down.” I have started three different posts, each one rambling off first in this then in that direction, none clear or defined. I keep trying to focus but in my mind I see this:

ntscbars

That’s right, in my head it’s all one big test pattern. It’s like my mind has overloaded and kinda’ shut down for the day. I have a LOT of things on my mind, both work and personal things. They are all GOOD so no worries. It’s just that I have so many ideas and thoughts today that they actually are all combining to make one big “swirly mess” in my head…

I’m sorry.

I actually asked my beloved SBF today if he thought I was getting forgetful or maybe displaying symptoms of early onset dementia. He just laughed and told me I was silly, that I had a lot on my mind lately and that I wasn’t “going senile.” Whew – that is a relief to me.

I think I shall go watch some mindless TV and give the old noggin a rest tonight. I apologize for my “lack of focus and creativity” today. Just like old TV stations, I ask that you please stand by; normal “blogging” will resume as quickly as possible. Thank you.

At least the test pattern has pretty colors to look at…   😉

“I belong with you, you belong on teeth…” Ugh.

I was off work today and had a pretty full schedule of errands to run. I actually do not mind running errands; the completion of short-term, immediate tasks gives me some great positive reinforcement. Anyway,

I started my day by dropping off my beloved at class around 8:30AM. And so it began…

On the radio (96.5 KISS FM in Cleveland) comes the MOST annoying song ever recorded, “Ho. Hey” by some Irish-folk-wanna-be-jug-playing band called The Lumineers. You know the song – it is endless repetitions of the same basic four bars of music, punctuated by “Ho” then “Hey” for a maddening 2:42 minutes.

I saw The Lumineers perform on Saturday Night Live – they had like ten band members on stage to play the same four wimpy musical phrases over and over endlessly…

The Lumineers

 Click image above to experience the most mindless song ever recorded.

Anyway, I kinda’ shut those crooning country folk out and drove home. I did a couple quick things around the house and left for a client appointment at a lighting showroom.  I had been in the car for five minutes – really, five minutes – and here they come again. “Ho. Hey.”

Now I realize radio is a pretty mindless medium (think Ryan Seacrest) so I just ignored them and went on my way. About an hour later I was back in my car on my way to the grocery for a quick stop when – AGAIN –  I hear “Ho. Hey.”

I swear to God, I am NOT  making this up…

I leave the grocery store, on my way to therapy (I need more therapy after today) and AGAIN – no BS – “Ho. Hey.” In frustration, I changed the station. “Ho. Hey.”

So, I go for a ninety minute therapy session and, on my way back down to campus to pick up my SBF, “HO. HEY!” (Now it’s like The Lumineers are YELLING at me, personally.) In total frustration, I turn the radio completely off.  My SBF appears, we run to the campus bookstore to peruse the sale table and then are on our way back home for the day. Innocently, Martin reaches over and clicks on the radio…

“Ho. Hey.”

By this time, I have been in and out of the car five times over the course of about six hours and I have heard that STUPID song seven times. SEVEN. TIMES. What, doesn’t Taylor Swift have a new break-up song? Nothing new for The Little Monsters from Lady Gaga? Doesn’t J-Lo have some song to promote?

Anyway, I am finally home for the day. No more radio for me. No more annoying, “haunting” love songs from the latest one-hit wonder band (remember Dexy’s Midnight Runners?)  So, my beloved and I sit down to relax for a few minutes and turn on the TV.

Ironically, here is the first TV commercial I see:

Lumineers teeth

It’s like I am in Lumineer HELL…

Why are days only twenty-four hours long?

I find I am constantly challenged by time, and time management  It is a daily struggle for me, and I think I have finally figured out why – every day is too “short.”

I mean, who decided days should only be twenty-four hours long? At the end of every day, I find myself wondering what I could have done differently to have made the day more “productive” – how could I have been more efficient? Then I got to thinking and actually analyzing the whole “day” thing and came to the realization/conclusion that it’s not me, it is the length of the day itself – it’s just too short!!! Let me elaborate…

Image

Every day is twenty-four hours long (twenty-four hours and a few minutes, I think, technically). Anyway, if I do “everything I should” and try to “be my personal best,” every day should look something like this for me:

Sleep – Dr. Oz says we all need at least seven (7) hours of sleep every day. Minus seven…

Exercise – Dr. H of The Biggest Loser fame says we should all “be active” (exercise) at least sixty minutes a day, or one hour. That makes eight hours of every day gone already…

Work – I typically work between seven and nine hours a day, when one factors in blogging, Facebook-ing and and managing the business I co-own. Let’s use eight (8) hours as an average. Sixteen hours have been allocated; now I am left with only eight hours a day.

Travel – On the days I work, I have approximately a 30 minute commute each way. That deducts another hour from my day. Now I am down to seven.

Personal Hygiene – Without going into any details, I figure I spend about an hour a day with “bathroom-related” activities. Bathing, other stuff – I know, but it’s true… Only six hours left.

Eating – If I eat the way I should according to Weight Watchers, I need to budget about 30 minutes per meal for planning, tracking, preparing and actually consuming my food. That’s another 90 minutes gone. I am down to only four and half hours left…

Mental Wellness and Spirituality – According to my therapist Jessie, I should try and spend about some time every day “…being with myself, alone in my thoughts.” It helps me lead a spiritually-balanced and mentally-healthy life. I try and schedule about an hour a day, 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes before bedtime. Three and a half hours left.

Family – I call my Dad every night before bedtime. This is a routine I have followed since my Mom passed away a few years ago. Most nights, the call averages about ten minutes (we talk a lot about the weather) but sometimes my Dad gets an a jag about gun reform or medicare reform or penal reform (he is big to discussing reform) and he can go for maybe thirty minutes. I’ll budget a quarter hour here. Three hours and fifteen minutes left.

Activism – I am involved with a few political and social causes, but immigration reform is one area I am particularly involved in. To make it easy, let’s say I just average fifteen minutes a day in this category. Three hours left per day…

Now, in the three hours I have left every day, I need to schedule in paying bills, doing laundry, buying groceries, stopping for gas, my weekly Weight Watchers weigh-ins/meetings (every Saturday at 8AM for thirty minutes!) and maybe catching a movie  or watching some TV. By the time I factor in all the wild card variables, every day I am in the red… Then I think about Martin.

Image

Martin. My beloved partner, the man that makes every day worth getting up for. Martin, who never asks me for any time; in fact, he is watching TV quietly in another room while I am hammering out this blog post. He never says “I feel ignored” or “I wish you would pay more attention to me.” He is happy when we spend three or four hours together, taking down the Christmas tree or doing laundry and housework (some dates, huh?)

Martin supports all I do, sweetly and completely, and is honestly and unquestionably the best person I have ever known. I am lucky to have him in my life.

I know there is little I can do to make days longer but, in the future, I think I shall try and use each day to its best advantage. And I know that for sure, the best way to make every day worthwhile and memorable is to be sure to “budget” more time with my SBF, Martin…