Thursday, May 24, 2007

I Love Babies

So, about a month and a half ago, feeling determined to start working my way out of the restaurant business, I began scouring every help wanted ad I could find, in print and online. All I knew was I that I didn't want a job with regular business hours, Monday through Friday. It was a very unfocused jobsearch, but I suspected what I was looking for would in the "Other," "Etc" and "General" job wanted categories.

I emailed a resume in response to an ad for music teachers and ended up getting called by the program director of a private pre-school that's not far from Lincoln Park. She asked for an interview and told me to bring my guitar and be prepared to sing. I love interviews that ask you to be prepared to sing.

After two interviews and a month of training, I had my first day as a baby music teacher today. When I say "baby music teacher" I mean that I'm the instructor of a class for babies and their mothers/fathers/nannies/whoever that baby hangs out with during the day. It's actually pretty great. I play guitar and sing songs, or lead songs with body or hand movements (no guitar), urging the grown-ups to sing (damnit) the whole time. The point is to expose the babies to melody, rhythm, movement and touch.

I teach one class for "immobile infants" and one for "crawlers." I love babies. I love saying hi to them and getting them to smile or wave back at me. In general, whenever I'm in public and see a baby, I'll smile and wave for a long time, giving them every chance to interact. They stare. And stare. And stare. And then -- finally -- they smile or move their hand vaguely. Or just move off. Either way, I've had a great time.

Today actually went very well. The mothers/caretakers accepted my authority, the babies looked happy and I didn't blow anything. At one point, I had all these percussion toys out and they were accompanying me as I sang "Oh, Susannah" (there's a song to get stuck in your head). One baby sounded like she was getting fussy at first, crying out in a way that usually means they're getting ready to wail. But then her cries turned into sporadic screams. It was weird. She would go, "Aaaahhhh!!" and then stop. And then a few seconds later she'd go "Ahhhh!!" and then stop. And in between her face looked calm. I'd never heard such screaming coming from a child that was actually completely peaceful. I accepted it as her accompaniment to my song. Later her nanny said, "Rita, I'm going to tell your mother about this screaming." I leaned into Rita's small face and said, "And you know, you can say, 'Well, some people would call it screaming, but others would call it singing.' That's what you can say."

It was a good first day. I feel very lucky to have stumbled on to what could be the perfect way for me to start getting more music into my worklife. I'll be cutting back on my restaurant shifts and dividing my time between both jobs. Just knowing I'm a musician again makes waitressing HUGELY less unpleasant. Twice a week I now walk down the street carrying my guitar. It's great.

(Please don't bother suspecting this means I must be mother material. I don't want my own babies any more than someone who loves ferris wheels wishes they could have one built in their own living room.)

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Ahhhh, chocolate. I started with a plateful of miniature pastries (everything was miniature):

- a cake-like confection that had a layer of chocolate mousse, a layer of strawberry mousse and a very soft chocolate cake,
- an almost-cheesecake with a vanilla-banana flavor (not everything was chocolate),
- a tiny cup of rich chocolate mousse (oh this was the stuff)
- a green tea custard in a cookie crust, and
- a white chocolate-dipped shortbread cookie with milk chocolate chips in it.

My second plate contained:

- the best dark chocolate-covered chewy caramel I've ever tasted (it was salty!)
- a cup of hot white chocolate
- a chocolate-shaving-topped little yellow cake that reminded me of a madeleine cookie
- a chocoate biscotti
- a mini-martini glass with a dollop of delicious lemon, like the best part of a slice of lemon meringue pie. It was my favorite of all!

My third and fourth plates contained some of the above, with a few things added:
- a dark chocolate-covered dried apricot
- a dark chocolate-coated lollipop-looking thing, filled with dark chocolate ganache
- a white chocolate coated pretzel
- a diminutive creme brulee

And I didn't even get to the white and dark chocolate-covered strawberries, the vanilla-honey marshmallows, the little flan or the macademia-nut brittle. I did take my camera, but while it worked fine at home, the damn thing declared its batteries dead when I took it out at the hotel. So I have no photos. Sorry!

Oh, yeah...chocolate buffet at the Peninsula Hotel...

Friday, May 18, 2007


O, check this out: it's the chocolate buffet at Chicago's Peninsula Hotel. Chocolate in every form imaginable: pastries, candies, dipped fruit, liquid hot chocolate, other indescribable forms. I found out about it months ago and tonight my boyfriend is finally taking me. I'm so excited, I can't even tell you. The Peninsula Hotel's "Chocolate Bar" is $32 a person and only happens on Friday and Saturday nights between 8 p.m. and midnight, but oh, I just have to be there. Join me, but make reservations.


Thursday, May 17, 2007


(I'm back online!)


- Have landed my first music job in years: I'm currently training as a baby music teacher.

- Still getting my boyfriend moved into our new place, which isn't easy since his stuff is still an hour's drive from Chicago

- Still working six shifts a week at the restaurant

- Using any free time to learn music required for baby music classes, including playing guitar which isn't easy for me (my instrument is voice)

- Today I led my first baby music class which meant I took my guitar with me which means I actually walked down the street carrying a musical instrument which made me feel like a musician again!

- Am cutting my shifts at the restaurant to accommodate my new baby music teacher career.

- Am moving in the direction of being a musican/teacher again instead of a waitress.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Without Internet Access

I feel so bad for not posting, but I moved into my (our) new apartment on Sunday, April 29th and I haven't had Internet access since then. AT&T told me no one would need to be home when they came by to connect it, but they gave me the wrong information. Early last week the technician came by and left me a note saying someone needs to be there in order for him to connect us. Grrrrr...

Chances are, I won't have Internet access at home for two more weeks. Can anyone recommend public places with Wi-Fi that are in or near Rogers Park in Chicago?