#882: The Germans Have a Word for It

January 29th, 2018 § permalink

I mean, I’m sure they have a word for it. They have a word for everything. It’s like a whole… language.

I’m sure the German word for it is guttural and 14 feet long. I’m sure it’s made of slapping different word particles together into a monstrosity meaning something like the-anger-of-realizing-your-childhood-joys-no-longer-entertain-even-in-a-nostalgic fashion or the-unthinking-sigh-you-give-at-the-moment-you-learn-a-mother’s-love-is-and-always-has-been-conditional.

I’m sure the French have a phrase for it, something elegant, pithy and too clever by half. » Read the rest of this entry «

#878: 10 Straight Days

January 19th, 2018 § permalink

“Good morning, good morning, good morning,” the voice came from overhead.

It was a velvety voice made tinny by the CTA loudspeakers rattling through the morning riders and silty, road-salt floor smears of a morning train.

“Although it’s warming up, I need some sun so I’m going to be taking vacation next month in Florida. Who’s with me?” the velvet-voice conductor continued as the shriek of the long, black tunnel rose Doppler to drown his words. » Read the rest of this entry «

#871: Caesura

January 3rd, 2018 § permalink

It’s a tired city smeared white with road salt.

The cold always takes a lot out of the town. It’s an effort to move, to pack yourself thick with swaddle. Coats that go to the knees, scarves, gloves, hats we’d all agree were hideous in a better world than ours.

Breathing is sharp, noses drip, backs ache, and it feels a workout for legs just going up and down road-salt stairs down to the subway hub to head elsewhere.

Everything’s been slow in the cold. People aren’t going out when they don’t have to. “When they don’t have to” is becoming a larger category each dropped degree.

So down empty white-smeared streets, down huddled penguin hallways even the smiling Jehovah’s Witnesses have abandoned, down into the city’s railway belly, we have a rest. We have a caesura. » Read the rest of this entry «

#859: Two Women

December 6th, 2017 § permalink

Last night, I met a woman.

She was short, with either vintage style or a winter coat and hat — at a certain temperature, the indicators of “retro” and “just very warm” start to blur. But on a chill, dark train platform at Belmont, frantic rivulets of bleached orange hair crept at odd angles from under a jaunty cap.

And she held before her a cluster of dowel rods. » Read the rest of this entry «

#855: Glass and Rust

November 27th, 2017 § permalink

Dawn is odd to colorblind eyes. It’s a mixture of orange and green, a color pairing that makes perfect sense to my particular visual defects but earns blinks and confusion when described.

It’s OK. My version of reality is prettier than yours. Even when seen from a 6 a.m. train rumbling toward a city of glass. » Read the rest of this entry «

#853: Scream

November 22nd, 2017 § permalink

I hate the smart ones the most.

Hate is the wrong word. I don’t hate them. I hate that they exist, that there are crazy screaming men out there savvy enough to include notes about the Federal Reserve Bank and on the Bears’ handling of Jay Cutler in their hobo screed. I hate that I can’t reach them. I hate that there’s nothing I can do.

He started so good too. » Read the rest of this entry «

#847: Making It

November 8th, 2017 § permalink

He didn’t talk for as long as he could.

You could tell he wanted to. You could tell he had comments to add, things to say in our conversation that he was not a part of. He’d chuckle silently at a joke one of us made, his body quivering a little behind the wheel. Or he’d nod along at a point as he flicked on the turn signal or merged into traffic.

But he held out from the moment he picked us up at the 26th and California courthouse in Little Village up until the pre-rush hour glut by the Ogilvie train station when he just couldn’t take it any more. » Read the rest of this entry «

#822: 7 Lies I Intend to Tell at Tonight’s High School Reunion

July 28th, 2017 § permalink

As mentioned earlier this week, I will be attending my 20th high school reunion this evening.

In advance of what is sure to be a night of memories, revelry and conversations about which teachers were gay, I have prepared seven lies to tell my former classmates.

These lies are not intended to impress the Class of ’97 — what a sad slog that would be, to care about a virtual stranger’s judgment of your life because you sat near each other in fifth-period Econ — but rather for the sheer love of lying to people I kinda sorta know.

Let us begin. » Read the rest of this entry «

#821: The Man in Gray

July 26th, 2017 § permalink

He stepped out of the black SUV by the train station, and I was pretty sure.

His back was to me, though, so I couldn’t be certain. The small man in the gray suit and the two large men in black were consulting over an iPad, so I couldn’t catch a face. The man in gray and one of the men in black broke off to enter the station, leaving the other bodyguard, the SUV and me behind.

I was a step behind the man through the turnstile — I got through, the sensor didn’t beep his Ventra so he did that embarrassing thing where you clonk into the bar. The momentary clonk let me catch up enough to see his face. » Read the rest of this entry «

#810: Guilt Trip

June 30th, 2017 § permalink

I’m on a train now, heading south.

I’m scribbling into a little red notebook to transcribe later at work hoping the boss doesn’t notice. My destination isn’t far into the South Side. 1600 South, a toe past Roosevelt, on a section of Michigan that’s nice and built up but on a mile no one would call magnificent.

It’s for work, but this trip is my biggest dip into an entire half of the city in months. This four-blocks-past-Roosevelt jaunt is another reminder in my constant humiliation: My Chicago blog sucks at covering the South Side. » Read the rest of this entry «

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