Interview with Alene Baron, Dru’s Book Musings

Alene Baron sits down with dru’s book musings responding to a few questions so that we can learn more about her. Are you ready? Let’s get to know Alene.

My name is Alene Melanie Baron. I’m 38-years-old (although everyone says I look younger), and I own the Whipped and Sipped Café located in Chicago’s East Lakeview neighborhood. I’m divorced and have three children: 12-year-old Sierra, 10-year-old Quinn, and 8-year-old Noah. We are lucky to live with my 72-year-old father, Calvin Baron, in the building in which my sister and I grew up.

I know that sounds weird but hear me out – my mother died just before I graduated from college, and my dad never left their four-bedroom condo with its spectacular view of the Belmont Harbor. If I didn’t own a café, I’d sit in front of the window and watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan every morning. So, when Neal, the father of my children, asked for an open marriage, my father said, “An open marriage? To hell with that! How about an open invitation to move in with someone who really loves you?” Even though my dad refuses to let me pay rent, the kids and I wasted no time in taking him up on his offer. I do all the grocery shopping and make dinner every night – he loves my cooking and baking, especially anything chocolate, and always says that he gets the better end of the bargain.

Lydia, my younger sister, who lives 15 minutes away, represented me during the divorce. She’s a killer attorney – if Neal hadn’t been such a jerk, I’d have been embarrassed by how much money she got him to fork over in the divorce settlement. Some went to college funds, some into savings, and the rest went into the Whipped and Sipped Café, which I run with my best friend and pastry chef, Ruthie Rosin. We met freshman year at Northwestern. I love her to death, but she’s kind of religious, and sometimes a little preachy, even though she has a heart of gold.

I’ve dated since the divorce, but nobody was right until Frank Shaw came along. He’s a homicide detective for the Chicago Police Department, one of the good ones. We’re taking it slow – he was also divorced – and between his job and mine, we treasure every moment we can be in the same place at the same time. We do a lot of walking, a fair amount of beer-drinking, and we both love the lake. I dream about being out on a boat with him – we’ve only been dating for six weeks, and there’s a lot of summer left, so I’ll keep dreaming.

I hate to tell anyone that I met Frank at a murder scene, first because yuck, and second because we’d actually met eight years before and only ran into each other a second time, at the murder scene. I’d hoped to never see another dead body, and I already had enough on my plate – my father’s autoimmune disease, my ex-husband’s attitude, my employees and all their issues, and my pre-adolescent daughter’s behavior. The first dead body was in our building. The second one was found next door to my café.

If I just keep up the running three times a week, make time to listen to some of my mother’s favorite singers, like Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, and manage to read a few pages of a good mystery before bed – I can maybe sleep through the night. I know I have a lot to be grateful for despite life’s challenges, but if I ever wrote a memoir, I’d call it either: “Who Needs Me Now?” or “Just Trying to Do My Best.”