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9 FRIDAY Local dancer and choreographer Melissa Thodos is a twin, and in July she gave birth to her own set of twin girls. She's incorporated their voices and fetal heartbeats into the soundscape for her new ensemble piece, Lossfound, "an exploration of the cycle of life." It premieres at this weekend's performances by Melissa Thodos & Dancers, tonight and tomorrow at 8 and Sunday at 2 at the Harold Washington Library Auditorium, 400 S. State (Plymouth Court entrance). Tickets are $25, $20 for students and seniors. Call 773-404-6871.

10 SATURDAY Thursday, March 8, was International Women's Day, but that hasn't stopped organizers from putting together today's IWD conference, with workshops covering everything from racism in the LGBT community to emergency contraception to the effects of globalization on women. The opening plenary session runs from 9:45 to 10:45 and features Indian film star Nandita Das, Student Labor Action activist Migdalia Jiminez, and Toni Bond from the Chicago Abortion Fund and African-American Women Evolving. The conference is from 9 to 6 on the eighth floor of the DePaul Center, 1 E. Jackson. Suggested donation is $5; call 773-728-1969 or 312-805-1503 for more information. There will be an unrelated IWD fund-raiser for a new women's group, Sisters Organizing for a United Leadership (SOUL), today from 11 to 3 at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo. It includes a fashion show, music, dance, poetry, food, and a silent auction and is open to women and girls only. The suggested donation is $20, $10 for teens, and it's free for kids (child care will be provided). Call 773-278-6706 for more.

Today is Tibetan National Uprising Day, which marks the 42nd anniversary of the Tibetan revolt against the Chinese army. The Tibetan Alliance of Chicago will gather at 11:30 at Water Tower Place, 845 N. Michigan, for its annual demonstration against the continued Chinese occupation of Tibet, then will march to the Chinese consulate at 100 W. Erie. Call 773-275-7454 for more information.

11 SUNDAY Hipsters are hipsters are hipsters...until they have kids. But now you can add artist Tony Fitzpatrick to the list of happening dads (like Tim Rutili and Jeff Tweedy) who are doing creative work for the city's young 'uns. His new book and exhibit, Max and Gaby's Alphabet, is named for his kids and uses cool words--like "atomic" and "robot"--and 26 four-color etchings to teach the ABCs. The opening coincides with the MCA's annual Family Day Festival; in the fall Fitzpatrick plans to launch the Children's Art Initiative, a program designed to put art supplies into the hands of Chicago public school students. The exhibit opened yesterday and runs through May 13 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago, which is open today from 10 to 5. Admission to the MCA is $8, $5 for students, seniors, and children over 12. Family Day takes place today from 10 to 2, includes lots of hands-on activities, and is free with museum admission. Reservations are recommended; call 312-397-4061 for more.

A conceptual fusion of "permanent agriculture" and "permanent culture," the term "permaculture" was coined in 1978 by Australian ecologist Bill Mollison and his student David Holmgren. A holistic design movement that aims to create sustainable living environments integrating human dwellings with plants, animals, and the land, it's mostly been attempted in rural areas, but that doesn't mean it can't work in the city. "We might take a stab at creating an urban demonstration of permaculture design...if the group is interested in going that direction," says Serenity Wehrenberg, organizer of tonight's free permaculture discussion group. It's at 7:30 at the Catholic Worker House, 4652 N. Kenmore; call 773-761-6796.

12 MONDAY "I saw Jack Kerouac last night / at the bar in Polly's, downstairs. / He was doing shooters and shots, / toking on some pot. / He looked pretty good considering / he's been dead for how long? / A little thin, real pale, / worn away and crumbled / like old blacktop." So goes Michael Koehler's poem "Over Polly's." Koehler, who lives above a bar in Appleton, Wisconsin, is the featured poet at tonight's installment of River Oak Arts' monthly open mike, which is emceed by Charlie Rossiter. It starts at 7:30 at Healy's Westside, 7217 Madison in Forest Park. Admission is a $2 donation to ROA; all ages are welcome. Call 708-524-8725 for more information.

13 TUESDAY For the past few years the Lyric Opera has been trying to attract a younger crowd by offering customized events such as Lounge Night, an annual cabaret-style evening at the opera house. This year's installment will feature "a unique, opera-inspired improvisational performance" by members of the Second City, a raffle with prizes from Pottery Barn, an open bar, snacks from Lettuce Entertain You, and plenty of mingling. It's tonight from 6 to 10 at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker (312-827-5673). Tickets are $45 in advance, $55 at the door.

14 WEDNESDAY Former City Colleges chancellor Nelvia Brady cribbed the title of her self-published book This Mother's Daughter from a Nancy Wilson song; the inspiration came from interviews with women that she planned to use for a collection of African-American maternal wit and wisdom. Instead, she turned the complex minimemoirs of nearly two dozen women into this volume of vignettes, poems, and stories. She'll discuss the book tonight from 5 to 6:30 in the Chicago Authors Room of the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State. It's free; call 312-747-4600.

15 THURSDAY After American suffragists won women the right to vote in 1920, they didn't just go home and resume their knitting. Many became leaders in the labor movement, including organizer and civil rights activist Florence Criley, Alice Peurala, the first woman to head a steelworkers local, and Sylvia Woods, who fought sex discrimination in the UAW and later helped found the National Alliance Against Racism. Their lives are the subject of the new play Women of Heart and Steel: The Story of Three Trade Union Women. It'll be performed at tonight's Women and Labor History Project gala, which includes a keynote address by Rima Lunin Schultz, coeditor of the forthcoming Women Building Chicago 1790-1990: A Biographical Dictionary and winner of the WLHP's 2001 Mother Jones award. It's from 7 to 9:30 at Roosevelt University's Congress Lounge, 430 S. Michigan, second floor. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door, or $12.50 for students. Call 708-488-9552.

When Nathaniel Kleitman came to the University of Chicago in the 1920s, the scientific community dismissed sleep as a state of dormancy. Convinced it was something more, Kleitman established the world's first sleep laboratory on the Hyde Park campus and used himself as a guinea pig. He once kept himself awake for 180 hours to study the effects of sleep deprivation. Later he spent more than a month in Mammoth Cave, free from the influences of sunlight and daily schedules. In 1953 he and a student discovered rapid eye movement (REM). With similar self-reflection, author Bill Hayes weaves his own experiences as a lifelong insomniac into Sleep Demons, a book that also tackles Kleitman and the history of sleep research, disorders like sleepwalking and narcolepsy, the marketing of the waterbed, and living in San Francisco during the onset of the AIDS crisis. Hayes will discuss his book tonight at 7:30 at Borders Books & Music, 2817 N. Clark (773-935-3909); it's free. He'll also appear Friday, March 16, at Barbara's Bookstore, 1100 Lake, Oak Park (708-848-9140).

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