Skip to main content


I HAVE RETURNED. With more books. And having learned a little something about this crazy mess some people call "life."

If you'd seen my face there it would've been a lot funnier.

OKAY. What happened? I went to New York City and

1. Saw an opera at the Met for the second time. The Met is amazing and beautiful and the best opera house in the world. I don't care about ancient European theatres with their incredible ornateness. I love the Met more than all of them.

I saw Elixir of Love, which is incredibly silly and fun and starred a German soprano, singing Italian with a Peruvian tenor in America. Did I mention I love opera? I love opera.

2. Saw all the history. I decided to walk around the Battery, and I basically went to every historical thing ever. Meaning the Elizabeth Ann Seton house, the Fraunces Tavern, the Custom House, Federal Hall, Trinity Church, Wall Street, the Bowling Green, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Cannon's Walk. This was the day where I had nothing but half a bottle of ginger ale and 15 gummi bears as of 5 pm. "She says she is an adult, but she is not."

3. Participated in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire remembrance. I can't even try to be funny about this, because there's nothing funny about it. In 1911, 146 people, mostly immigrant women between the ages of 14 and 25, died in a fire on the eighth and ninth floors of a building a block east of Washington Square Park. You know Washington Square. The place Henry James set one of his novels; the place Edith Wharton was intimately familiar with.

This place
The fire broke out on the eighth floor. There were essentially no fire codes at the time, meaning no sprinklers (which had been newly invented), the staircases were too narrow; one of the exits was kept locked; the sewing machines were crammed together, preventing escape; and when some girls found the fire escape and crowded onto it, it collapsed. Many ended up jumping from the ninth floor windows, which is what put this tragedy so much in the public eye and ended up leading to massive labor reforms in New York.

I read about this last year to an almost obsessive degree (I recommend Leon Stein's The Triangle Fire). Walking up to the Asch Building for the first time ever last Friday morning, the main thing that struck me was How Close it was. The ninth floor was so close to the street. I hadn't been right in my guesses from looking at buildings in Chicago. It was horrifying, but I realized you would have been able to see the faces of the girls from the street. There were details from eyewitness accounts that had puzzled me, but when I saw the building in person, I understood.

The bottom floor you see is the 2nd
Being there was important to me, and I met some wonderful people, all of whom are still fighting for better conditions for workers. Along with the 146 white carnations laid down for the Triangle Factory victims, a bundle of red carnations was placed to honor the memory of the workers killed in a garment factory fire in Bangladesh last year. The factory, owned by The Gap, had similarly horrible conditions to those in New York a hundred years ago.
There was a lot of crying on the trip. I cried at the Triangle remembrance. I cried at The Hunger Games. And I cried when I went to the Fraunces Tavern and saw some floorboards George Washington might've stepped on.

I saw some plays. I went to a few awesome bookstores, which I'll talk about in another post. And I thoroughly exhausted myself, falling asleep with my contacts in three nights in a row. Chicago, I love you and I will stay with you until I go drinking in Canada this May.


Popular posts from this blog

Harry Potter 2013 Readalong Signup Post of Amazingness and Jollity

Okay, people. Here it is. Where you sign up to read the entire Harry Potter series (or to reminisce fondly), starting January 2013, assuming we all survive the Mayan apocalypse. I don't think I'm even going to get to Tina and Bette's reunion on The L Word until after Christmas, so here's hopin'.

You guys know how this works. Sign up if you want to. If you're new to the blog, know that we are mostly not going to take this seriously. And when we do take it seriously, it's going to be all Monty Python quotes when we disagree on something like the other person's opinion on Draco Malfoy. So be prepared for your parents being likened to hamsters.

If you want to write lengthy, heartfelt essays, that is SWELL. But this is maybe not the readalong for you. It's gonna be more posts with this sort of thing:

We're starting Sorceror's/Philosopher's Stone January 4th. Posts will be on Fridays. The first post will be some sort of hilarious/awesome que…

How to Build a Girl Introductory Post, which is full of wonderful things you probably want to read

Acclaimed (in England mostly) lady Caitlin Moran has a novel coming out. A NOVEL. Where before she has primarily stuck to essays. Curious as we obviously were about this, I and a group of bloggers are having a READALONG of said novel, probably rife with spoilers (maybe they don't really matter for this book, though, so you should totally still read my posts). This is all hosted/cared for/lovingly nursed to health by Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads) because she has a lovely fancy job at an actual bookshop (Odyssey Books, where you can in fact pre-order this book and then feel delightful about yourself for helping an independent store). Emily and I have negotiated the wonders of Sri Lankan cuisine and wandered the Javits Center together. Would that I could drink with her more often than I have.

INTRODUCTION-wise (I might've tipped back a little something this evening, thus the constant asides), I am Alice. I enjoy the Pleistocene era of megafauna and drinking Shirley Templ…

The Women's March 2018: Be Seen, Be Heard, Stay Angry

On January 20th, 2018, Chicago will host a second Women’s March. Those who attended the first remember the astounding numbers, miraculously warm weather, and surge of energy across the nation as America’s women stood up and said “we are here and we are angry.” 

So we did it. Our elected leader who bragged about sexual assault and who has made countless denigrating remarks about women is still in charge. Why are we marching again? 

 There is a tendency in any movement for things to lag. People become complacent, they accept their new reality, and think they can make no change. It makes sense that after the draining year that 2017 turned out to be — a year where one could constantly feel buffeted on all sides by waves of racism, misogyny, cruelty, and disregard for the planet — after that exhausting year, why should people come out in January weather to stand in the streets once again and say “We are still here and we are still angry”? 

 The answer is because without that voice, and withou…