cafe bacci

i tried hanging out at the cafe bacci on madison near lasalle street about this time last year, and even though the place was clean, and the food good, it was such an unhappy place that i rarely stopped by after the spring was over.

about this time last year i tried to take better care of myself by detoxing on coffee and bread. i ate like a rabbit. i bought tea from cafe bacci because i wanted to try out the new place. they opened earlier this year, about the same time i changed my diet.

i succeeded in maintaining the new diet only until my birthday, that is, the first half of last year, ahaha.

so i guess that's why the cafe seems sad to me - it was where i bought my daily tea, instead of coffee. it was a new place and i was also trying out something new in my life. i had to make the change because the routine was killing me and making me unhappy.

the cafe is still there. there's a branch on michigan avenue that i like better because it faces the millennium park's cloud gate "bean" sculpture, and the light there seems brighter and better. the one on madison avenue appears sadder because it's nestled in the ground of "the canyon," chicago's financial district. skyscrapers cast shadows on each other over there. sunlight still hits the sidewalks, but only in certain times of day.

there's au bon pain and caribou coffee across the street from cafe bacci - and those, actually, are a lot more fun, for some reason. there's a tiny plaza that caribou coffee and au bon pain share that in the summertime tables and chairs are laid out for people to use. they're chained to each other in the evening, and i suppose security guards are sent from time to time to watch so no one hauls away the iron merchandise.

i sat at one of those iron seats and tables one afternoon before starting work and finally completed "katipunera: and other poems" by filipina writer elsa martinez coscolluela. the weather was absolutely perfect and the wind blew cigarette smoke away from me. i wished there was more time to reread the book and possibly write a reaction in my journal.

i closed the book and prepared to leave. i suppose i felt happier in that tiny plaza in the midst of the financial district with the suffocating skyscrapers because of that bit of sunlight and blue sky, that bit of air. coscolluela subverted the usual images of greek mythology and cast them in a filipina light - the minotaurs became tikbalangs and kidnapped filipina girls, the nymphs became inhabitants of rural countryside, fighting for their land that's slowly encroached by the city.

sometimes, coscolluela extracts a heroine from my own philippine past and casts her in her rightful light. nameless women turned their houses into headquarters for an underground insurrection movement against the spanish by admitting wives to party with them while husbands gathered in the basement to cement oaths by blood compact. gatherings like these always end up segregated, anyways. if i remember my high school history well enough, these parties became the basis for the philippine revolution of the 1800s.

i stood and left the plaza. and so around this time last year i was changing. i'm reminded of my own strengths, frayed at the beginning of 2005. i carefully tucked "katipunera" in my bag. i should fight for them, in the distinct way i learned how all throughout this year.
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