Friday, August 31, 2012

the secret

Are you rolling your eyes already?  Rosetta, isn't this that 2006 woo-woo movie that made the rounds of "change your life" talk tv?  Wasn't it the butt of jokes about wishing expensive necklaces and BMWs into being?

But.  Have you actually watched this movie and applied some of its principles?  This is an easy system of reframing experiences and adjusting your attitudes to focus not on worst-case scenarios or conventional wisdom (that most often makes life challenges seem much more insurmountable than they actually are).

Why should it be less sensible to focus attention on the outcome that you would like to have in any given situation, and take steps to get to that outcome? 

Perhaps I'm especially sensitive to this because of my Catholic background, in which almost every event and action was an occasion to blame oneself and think about how one could have done better.  This is a no-win situation, since, hypothetically, one can always have done better.

A smart alternative is to think about what you've learned from any situation, how that wisdom can be incorporated as you go forward in life, and how it can actually assist you in living the life of your dreams.

It's not over until it's over.  So, if you're in a difficult life transition, take a look at The Secret, or watch it again with new eyes.  It's a very practical toolkit to use in picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and seeing the great value that you have for your world and for yourself.  Give it a sincere try before you scoff.  There's nothing to lose but the dark cloud : ).

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Film of the week: Alice

Here's my home-alone pick of the week:  Woody Allen's 1990 film Alice, with the ever-irritatingly milquetoasty Mia Farrow as our heroine.

With the help of traditional Chinese medicine practitioner Dr. Yang, Alice Tate navigates the crumbling of illusions that comprise her pampered New York society lifestyle.

By the end of the film, Dr. Yang, says, "I think Mrs. Tate has better idea of who is is than before she came to Dr. Yang. Who her friends are and are not. Who is husband, lover, sister, mother.  What are her needs, her limits, her gifts.  What are her innermost feelings.  May not know all answers, but.  Has better idea.  Now must decide which road her life will take."

If you're over age 40, you've probably had a moment like this, in which you realize that your previous reality wasn't really real : ) .  Great movie for a Sunday afternoon.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Don't forget family :)

Dad and me in 2010.
This Friday, my dad, aunt, and I celebrated the 100th anniversary of my maternal grandma's birth.  So, I thought I'd do a little post to remind singles to include family on some of those solo weekends :) .

I don't have too many family members left, and they are very different from me in terms of political orientation, world view, and . . . well, just about everything.  And they live an hour or more away (depending on traffic).

But, when we keep our visits focused on the things we have in common -- shared background, memories, and love for each other -- we have a wonderful time.

We went out to a Thai restaurant near my aunt's gated retirement community, and ended up back at her place for tea and cake, and several hours of reminiscing and loving to be in each other's company.  Lots of old stories emerged (my favorite part of these visits).  One of the sweetest:  her memory of my dad and uncle, in overcoats and fedoras, riding through the winter chill on a shared bicycle to spend the evening with their sweethearts in the parlour of the guys' future inlaws.  Below-zero temperatures and coattails flying, according to my aunt.  This was bargain dating as only kids who had survived the Depression could do it.

So . . . facing another ho-hum weekend?  Find out what your family is up to :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

This Sunday, it's sushi :)

Today's solo Sunday brunch was sushi and sake at Hot Woks Cool Sushi, 2032 W.Roscoe St.  Perfect solo brunch spot:  Not crowded at all, soft techno playing in the background, surprisingly upscale service for a neighborhood Asian restaurant, and great decor (which this photo doesn't show -- trust me, it's cool, elegant, and restores your spirits).

While it's an intimate space, you'll still feel a sense of urban retreat:  plenty of space between tables and an unhurried vibe.  And there's cute sidewalk dining, too.

Full menu of typical Chinese dishes in addition to sushi -- plus lunch specials, such as two maki rolls with a bowl of miso soup for $8.95.  I tried The Confusion Roll ($13.95):  asparagus and sweet potato tempura folded in a maki topped with diced super white tuna and salmon drizzled with mandarin orange aioli.  Everything is beautifully plated, and there's quite a good sake list as well as signature cocktails.

After your meal, wander along Roscoe St. and window shop, or visit Black Dog Gelato, 1955 W. Belmont (just blocks away), with its menu of amazing unique flavors -- a current favorite of mine is basil strawberry sorbet -- or, have their Turkish iced coffee infused with cardamom pods.  Plus, adorable decor and friendly staff who will let you taste everything :) .

Saturday, August 18, 2012

italki Saturday night

Saturday night is the loneliest night of the week . . . or so Frank Sinatra sang.  Although I may change my ways at some point, I've never ventured out solo this night -- it just feels too weird.

But, I've found a great use for it . . . honing my Spanish language skills on  Even on Saturday night, you'll find lots of people online, writing and correcting each other's essays and making appointments to chat via Skype.  No reason to feel left out when all of your facebook friends are checking in from the fabulous parties, clubs, and other events they're enjoying with their SOs and families.  On italki, people are getting busy learning something :) .  It's fun!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bombon Cafe

Today I started the solo weekend early, with a Friday lunch at Bombon Cafe, 38 S. Ashland Ave., before heading over to Cardinal Fitness on Madison (only $19.95 per month) to walk my torta off on the treadmill.

I had the Piolin Torta ($8.95), an unbelievably yummy combination of chicken marinated in adobo sauce, mixed greens, tomatoes, grilled red onions, avocado, Chihuahua cheese, and poblano peppers.

Bombon Cafe has a bright, airy atmosphere, a fun variety of Latin music, attentive counter staff, and it's a great place to dine alone and leave with a song in your heart and the mild sting of salsa verde on your lips.

It's a top-notch bakery, too, and has one of the best tres leches cakes in the city :) .   Mmmmmmm, ready for more single-girl solo weekend now.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Last weekend's netflix viewing . . .

Check out this beautiful Argentinian film from 2008:  El Nido Vacio/Empty Nest with the luminous Cecilia Roth.

After decades of marriage, things change when the couple's three children leave the nest.  Martha is reborn, while her husband . . .

Quiet, insightful, and delightful cinematography (one camera angle in particular made it impossible for me to imagine how it was achieved).

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Solo Sunday Brunch

I love brunch, but when it's Sunday, dining alone can make you feel very, very single.

Today, I spent an hour or so cruising neighborhood brunch spots, packed to the walls with noisy, happy throngs of families and friends, and thought, nah . . . .   I'm looking for a pleasant, low-key atmosphere. Interesting food and drinks. Maybe a spot where I can eat at the bar and read a book. And not feel like an exotic zoo animal.

Here it is:  Yusho at 2853 N. Kedzie Ave. in Logan Square.

It's not exactly a brunch: You get a bowl of noodles (I had grilled shrimp, bonito, kimchi, and bamboo shoots), a draught cocktail (tequila punch with Herencia Blanco, Leopold Three Pines, salers, lemon, roasted kombu), and a cup of soft-serve with basil and coconut croutons for $20.

Atmosphere and music were great, the place wasn't crowded, bar staff was friendly, and it felt fine to be dining solo.

From their website, here's more about Yusho: Street food is the great equalizer—no glamour required. Yakitori, when well-executed, is about the simple flavors of authentic street food. A hot grill provides intense flavors from seasonal proteins and vegetables, grilled to order over a chattering, hissing fire. Beer, wine and sake selections complement the fresh-grilled flavors. Craft cocktails, wines and spirits are chosen for customized meal pairings. Experiment and discover!