Blair Chavis, contributing blogger
It is only fitting that Blair Chavis is an Oy! contributor, as "oy" is one of the most frequently uttered words in her vocabulary, according to her co-workers, friends and family.
Blair is an Editor at Prime Publishing LLC, an online publishing company. She edits and managing several lifestyle Web sites. She also does freelance reporting on the side.
At 18, Blair stepped onto the hippie-filled sidewalks of Madison, WI, to later graduate from the University of Wisconsin in 2006 with a double degree in journalism and English.
Prior to working for Prime Publishing, Blair worked as a reporter at the Chicago Tribune's Triblocal.com, a suburban subsidiary (try saying that three times fast), focused on hyper-local community news and making the Web hip for newspapers. She reported on happenings in the North Shore of Chicago-an ironic twist-because that's where she grew up. Blair also tried her hand at broadcast journalism, first at an NBC affiliate in Madison and then moved back to Chicago to join forces with Chicago Public Radio. First as an intern, and then as a freelance reporter and producer, Blair covered a broad range of stories about local and national politics, immigration, housing, the environment, healthcare, education and the arts.
When she's not wearing her journalist hat, Blair enjoys writing creatively, watching foreign and independent films and eating dessert first. She also has a weakness for Hugh Grant movies and all things Food Network.
ARTICLES BY THIS AUTHOR
As a twenty-something journalist living in Chicago, my daily rush consists of commuting, interviewing, writing and sometimes remembering to eat. Despite the madness, I have a side hobby. I love collecting recipes, and one of my most cherished possessions is a huge cookbook I’ve been compiling over the past year. In fact, some friends poke fun that I bake to de-stress.
As the saying goes: “It’s a small Jewish world.” I say, “Use it.” I was on the phone with a friend the other day, recapping a funny Saturday night we’d had at a party. The hosts were from Deerfield and she and I are from Highland Park. We knew the hosts and a few of their friends. After playing some serious, Jewish geography that evening, it wasn’t long until about 50 of us discovered we were mishpuchah.
There is nothing like a Jewish mother’s love. She loves so deeply that she wants her daughter’s life to be filled with love too—but, he must be Jewish. I was sitting at work late one Tuesday afternoon and my mother called me, her voice filled with adrenaline. She had just come home from the grocery store, and apparently she tried to pick up a little more than milk and eggs.
For a recent article I wrote for Triblocal, I interviewed a Jewish couple living in Highland Park that is about as nontraditional as it gets. The two met later in life after previous marriages, already had their own children and are now enjoying their marriage of only about five years. The husband is an African American male who converted to Judaism in his 30s; the wife was born Jewish and scarcely identified with her roots. Together, they’ve found Judaism in perhaps an unusual place—a comic book.
I’ve been thinking about Halloween a lot lately, and this year I have been a bit stumped about what to wear. When I was little, my idea of the perfect costume was simple. I usually went as some variation on a witch. One year I even went as a baby witch: I wore a witch’s dress and hat and carried around an absurdly large plastic baby bottle.
Just as we do around the High Holidays, I think New Year’s and the subsequent weeks after provide a good time for introspection and goal setting. In fact, I think society might be a whole lot healthier if people took quarterly inventories of their lives.
Perhaps, the Canadians have young Jewish women figured out better than anybody. Recently, I have become enamored with the show, Being Erica—so much so, that it made my highly selective DVR list a couple weeks ago.
Nothing brings religion more prominently to the forefront in a relationship than milestones like marriage and having a baby. The scenario becomes, perhaps, more interesting or complex in a situation of mixed marriage—or so goes the Jewish, parental parable I’ve heard since my emergence from the womb.
I’ve lived around my fair share of dog lovers. One needs only to trace some of the cities and neighborhoods I’ve lived in: Growing up in Highland Park, I saw owners dress their pets in hats, sweaters, dresses and bedazzled collars and serve their dogs in Evian-filled water dishes; in London, where I studied abroad, I found an entire Burberry-for-dogs clothing line in Harrods department store and lived across from a park filled to the brim with Sunday-afternoon dog-walkers.
A few weeks ago, my friend invited me to a costume party. There were no witches or vampires. Instead, our task was to dress as a stereotype. Ironically, while many of us seek slutty versions of everyday professionals for our Halloween costumes in October, my friends and I all went maternal in April.
As for many Chicagoans in their mid-20s, for me, this past spring and early summer has meant two things: weddings and moving…and, well, more weddings. While moving is a time when one must decide which memories to hold onto, weddings are a time to make new ones.
While the Chavis family is one of Eastern European descent, my sister and I have a running joke in which we affectionately refer to ourselves as The Sisters Chavez—a wordplay on the novel called The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The joke, however, has nothing to do with the novel. I am, if nothing else, an English major nerd at heart.
America’s gone mad for Mad Men. I admit that I, too, have gone mad. My madness for the show has been one of anger, love, resignation and finally—ambivalence, and love, still. The show leaves me with more questions than answers, and somewhat ambivalent, because I think the show echoes and mirrors back to us much of the “post-feminist” era ambivalence our generation faces today.
I used to think even the most horrific dates were at least worth the story. Perhaps it’s the writer in me, but I always loved a good, “terrible” story I could write home about—or rather, recall with tears and/or laughter over the telephone with my friends. I’ve begun to grow weary of the bad dates with the funny stories—but I’ll admit that I haven’t completely lost my sense of humor.
The best Jewish Christmas I ever had was when I was 16. My sister was going to New York University for graduate school at the time and my parents gave me their blessing to visit her during my winter break and see New York City for the first time.
Old Man Winter, you are no longer my boyfriend. Year after year you seduce me with your promise of cozy nights spent by the fire with hot drinks, while you dust the streets, rooftops and trees with silent drops of lace.
In the same week, Charlie Sheen (born named Carlos Irwin Estévez, according to IMDB) declared he’s Jewish, and there’s been talk of a possible McDonald’s “McWinning” menu item in Sheen’s honor in time for St. Patrick’s Day. I am for once, without words. I lied—I have many.
People’s neuroses truly reveal themselves in the bathroom. For such a dirty place, it is quite sacred. The bathroom is a temple where the walls have ears and people go for confession.
My sister’s favorite dinner conversation topic of late consists of her explaining to me, with an air of elitism, that she’s a member of “Generation X” and I’m a “Millennial.”
It’s been a difficult and busy couple of months, with an intense work schedule and a death in the family after long-term illness. Without boring you or falling into shameless self-indulgence, I’m merely a bit tired.
I had a Blackberry on death row after getting the battery wet and needed a new phone desperately. I'd been waiting for countless months until the new iPhone came out. But, I contemplated buying an iPhone with trepidation, because I've killed nearly every phone I've owned with water, by way of sewer grate, washing machine and the list goes on.
I named my car "Lois" when I bought her. The reasons for her naming are two-fold. One, I thought it would be cute to play on the whole Superman (Clark Kent) and Lois Lane idea—a tribute to my childhood love of Superman movies—because I've been working as reporter for a majority of the time I've lived in Chicago. Two, I happen to be a huge fan of the TV series, Family Guy.
A few years ago I'd sampled online dating and the experience left a bad taste in mouth—so rancid, I swore I'd never try it again.
I found myself deep-sighing on the phone with my sister recently about some of the annual inevitabilities of spring—namely moving season and wedding season.
In college, my roommates and I made an annual practice of exchanging Hanukkah gifts before we went home for winter break. My roommates were both in serious relationships for a majority of the time we were in college, whereas I dated around. One year, my roommate bought me "Mr. Wonderful."
I bid farewell to one of my oldest and dearest friends. He could not speak, but he had a mighty roar. He held no grudges, but carried a world’s worth of love in his eyes. In the end, he could not hear, but always trusted his nose. He could not cry, but we knew it was time. My family made the painful decision to lay our dog, Archie, to rest this week.
I miss the idyllic summers of my youth. I long for the lazy summers I spent as a kid splashing around swimming pools, erecting sculptures in sandy beaches, painting “masterpieces” in summer art classes and picnicking at Ravinia Festival while listening to Peter, Paul and Mary.
From a young age, our parents teach us to be joiners. When I had scarcely learned to walk, my mom enrolled me in a group ice skating class—complete with ice show participation (I recall wearing a sequined frog costume). Along with that, came piano lessons, art classes, swimming classes, summer camp, carpool groups and more.
A few months ago, I attended a going-away party for a colleague who was changing cities for a job. We’d met during an early-career, news internship, and I was flattered to be included in his “goodbyes” after all of these years. I found myself in a noisy bar, surrounded by a bushel of people I’d known for years but hadn’t seen for some time. Some of these re-connections felt awkward, but many of them also surprised me—because they weren’t.
Valentine's Day is more than a month away, but I am hating on love a little early this year. Love songs are like audible reminders of lovers past. If I hear a song that frequented the radio waves while I was dating a certain guy, it sticks. I will always think of him years later when I hear that song. Just like Selena Gomez's Love You Like a Love Song, it's painfully hard to forget.
As American grocery stores and pharmacies continue to inundate consumers with pastel eggs and bunnies in anticipation of Easter, Israel has just ushered in a new bunny of its own. Playboy magazine launched its first Hebrew-language edition March 5 in Tel Aviv.
I began mentally preparing myself for 30 the minute I turned 26. The further I climb into my 20s, the more I find myself looking back. I recently spent an evening out with old high school friends at the J. Parker, a tiny but trendy bar-restaurant atop the Hotel Lincoln, trading memories and exchanging tidbits about old classmates' whereabouts.
I was born with a full head of hair. My mop of curls grew before I learned to talk. The curls waved out during my elementary school years and then sprang back into action when I was in junior high. It should have been no surprise that my curls would return with a vengeance, as I grew up in a household of curly-haired Jews.
During my first week of college freshman year, I received a plethora of campus maps, activity and club lists, some guidance on picking courses, condoms and a rape whistle. For four years, I dutifully carried the whistle on my key ring.
Some might call me a bit of a curmudgeon. I don't like change, and I'll shake my fist at you like a kvetchy Jewish grandmother and let you know what I think. I don't like self-checkout at the grocery; I won't throw out a well-worn pair of shoes until I find an absolutely perfect replacement; and I refuse to buy an electronic reading tablet.
Resolutions. What can I say? Every year I make ‘em. Usually, I break ‘em. This year, I nearly resolved not to make any resolutions. I didn’t stick to that either. In my lack of commitment to resolve to do nothing, I somehow resolved to do something, and it appears to be having a ripple effect!
The most memorable and “glamorous” moment of the Oscars show this year can be summed up by a mundane, movie-star-packed “selfie,” which host Ellen DeGeneres snapped on her phone with several of the stars in the first few rows of the audience and tweeted out to the world.
From infancy to adulthood, Jewish mothers school their children in the art of wooing their future mates, but even the feistiest of Jewish mothers might find it difficult to keep up with the rapidly-changing, multimedia landscape that continues to shape modern, dating culture.
During my undergraduate years, online dating was in its relative infancy and I thought a person would have to be crazy to answer a personal ad via a newspaper, let alone online. I knew a couple of bold friends who had tried meeting fellow students through local personal ads and I figured they’d be dead somewhere in an alley if they kept up these shenanigans.
Between the High Holidays, many of us are reminded to apologize to our loved ones for our wrong-doings. This fall, I also find myself ruminating over whether we, women, should apologize less in our everyday lives.
When spring rolls around, we all get that itch to clean, spruce and purge our clutter. I’m so busy these days, I scarcely have time to update my spring wardrobe, let alone clean out my already too-packed closet.
Summer Mitzvah Mania offers one-time volunteer opportunities during June, July, and August. Projects vary in scope with plenty of family-friendly and inter-generational options. Whether you come as a group or on your own, there is something for everyone! Join TOV to make a difference in your community. Space is limited.
To sign up for a project, call TOV at (312) 357-4762 or register online.
Stanton Park, 618 W. Scott St.
Tuesday evenings starting at 6:30 p.m.
Join YLD for a Co-Ed Softball League! This league is about playing a sport AND supporting a great cause, the Jewish United Fund. The season will include 6 regular season games and 2 weeks of playoffs. After the games, teams can walk over to the sponsor bar for drinks, socializing and fun!
Regular season games:
July 14, 21, 28
August 4, 11, 18
August 25, September 1