If I’m facing east on the Brown Line (and not looking down at my phone), I see the green glass building on the north side of the river next to the Westin Hotel. The building used to be called Quaker Tower, due to the Quaker company occupying many floors and having a display in the main lobby. My father sold his travel company in 2001 – he had worked in that building since 1986.

In 7th grade, my class at Hubble Middle School (where John Belushi went to high school and is now a Mariano’s) took a field trip to downtown Chicago. I grew up in Wheaton, a western suburb with the most churches per square mile and a local video store next to a Dairy Queen. On this field trip, our class got to visit the Museum of Science and Industry and watch an IMAX presentation on volcanoes. I can’t remember much about that day, but I do remember someone throwing up in the IMAX theater and leaving my favorite yellow cardigan in the bathroom stall at the museum. I loved that cardigan.

We finished the field trip on a cruise down the Chicago River. When we passed the green glass building on the north side of the river just before Clark, my teacher told me to look up at the 4th floor windows. On white pieces of paper, spread out over multiple windows, my father had written, “Hi Dana and her class. Have fun today in the city!” If this is what celebrity feels like, trust me, I was riding high. I was genuinely surprised and filled with a sense of love that I still feel every time I look up at that building, lingering too long on the 4th floor windows as I try and make that banner appear again in my mind and in doing so bring back a small joy from my childhood.


I didn’t have sex until I was 23. I mean, I had a few “in and out” moments with men and good old fashioned rounding of the naked bases, but not technical sex. After my blissful, creative, and safe 4 years at a small liberal arts college in upstate New York, I found myself in a studio apartment at the corner of Halsted and Cornelia, next to a now-defunct gay bar, The Manhole, known for its “backroom” and its pithy, sexual innuendo-laden marquee. “Looks like rain! Grab your raincoats, gentlemen!” My refrigerator opened out into my so-called living room, and my windows looked out onto a brick wall. It was a classic first city apartment, complete with a rat inside a bag of bread, IKEA, a dead neighbor…oh, and also where I found out I was pregnant. (more…)