Monday, June 27, 2011

Ike & Maddy; Chester

Ike & Maddy; Seen on the Brown Line to Kimball at around 7:45 p.m., June 21st, 2011

Ike and Maddy hold hands as they pass countless brick apartment buildings. The sunset makes everything look graceful. Maddy turns to him, smiling.

"So my brother is trying to ask this girl out, and he actually said he was thinking of asking her over facebook. Can you believe it?"

"God, that's a terrible idea."

Her eyes narrow, knowing that she has trapped him. "You asked me out over facebook."

"No I didn't!"

"Yes you did! The first time you asked me out to lunch, you asked me over facebook chat."

"Well, chat is different. I was actually talking to you."

"Yeah, sure. Whatever you say." She smiles at the blonde girl who's trying not to laugh at their conversation. Maddy loves playing these little games with Ike. It keeps him on his toes. And he never gets frustrated with her.

They pass one particularly beautiful tiny brick bungalow. She imagines that she and Ike will move in there together. They'll have window-boxes full of flowers, and they'll buy a puppy. Maybe someday they'll have a baby...but puppy first. Definitely.

Ike speaks up. "You are going to tell him that asking a girl out over facebook is a really terrible idea, right?"

"Nope. He'll figure it out on his own. And who knows? It worked on me, after all."

Chester; seen outside the California Blue Line stop at about 9:15 p.m., June 22nd, 2011

People call me crazy, you know? They call me crazy. But they the ones that's crazy! I'm a Philosopher! I'm a Scientist, man! I know how it really is, and everybody's got it all backwards and everything.

Tonight this girl was feelin' me. Her shirt said "space and time," so I knew she'd dig my theories, because they're true, man! Not theories at all. I told her 'bout light speed, and how we'd count to five--one, two, three, four, five--and whoosh! We only been gone fifteen seconds, but we traveled so far and now we back on the same spot! And I told her how I knew about the five--one, two, three, four, five: space, time, smell, touch, and sight. That's where people get it wrong, you know? You got to feel the space and see the time, and then you got it.

Before she left, she said, "good luck on your travels," so I know she was getting what I was sayin' and all. She'll connect her senses to light speed, and then maybe I'll see her up there in the stars.

Hey there! It's July, and my life seems significantly less crazy now. I'm pretty excited about it. In case you were wondering, I am both the blonde girl on the train laughing at Ike & Maddy's conversation, and the girl with the space and time shirt. Ike and Maddy were truly that disgustingly cute, so I felt they deserved a story. And I liked Chester's theories on the five senses. I kind of want to write a short story now where space and time are two of the five senses. We shall see.  

Monday, June 20, 2011


Seen in Evanston standing outside the Metra train.

When Roseanne was a little girl, her family moved around a lot. Her father was a missionary; he felt he had been called to convert people who had been hit by all manner of natural disasters. When he encountered those whose possessions had been lost in a flood, he preached that it was a sign from God to let His Word rush through their hearts like water. When he encountered those whose homes had been consumed by wildfires, he encouraged them to let the light of the Holy Spirit burn in their souls. When he encountered those whose towns and cities had been destroyed by earthquakes, he told them that God had made the foundations of their sinful lives crumble so that they could be born again.

And so Roseanne and her family traveled the nation chasing tragedies. They could never afford to fly, and they didn't own a car; thus, trains were always where Roseanne felt most at home. She slept best when wheels were rumbling over the tracks beneath her pillow. She had a dining car instead of a dining room. Random strangers were her only friends--friends that she would only meet once in a lifetime.

Now Roseanne lives in Evanston and works in a little bookstore. Every morning she walks her dog near the Metra tracks and waves at the trains that go by. She smiles as broadly and cheerfully as she possibly can in an effort to comfort anyone else who might feel alone on a train.

Hey kids. I had a lovely Father's Day boating and watching the original True Grit with my dad. There is a busy week ahead, with much gogo dancing and concerts and such. And I just bought tickets to see Paul McCartney at Wrigley Field today, so I'm a happy camper. Hope you're all doing well, too!

Friday, June 17, 2011


Seen by Ellen on the Metra train this morning.

Junk. Junk! That's all I ever get in the mail. Piles and piles of it. I have it all with me in this bag. 103 letters--I counted. Long, bland envelopes with little plastic windows, all addressed to "Resident" or "To Whom It May Concern." Well guess what? Your advertisements, deals, and scams don't concern me, thank-you very much! And yet they always continue to send them. Endlessly. That's why I have to destroy them.

You know voodoo dolls? The letters are voodoo dolls; the return address in the upper left-hand corner permanently binds them to the senders. And I like to hurt the senders. I take the first envelope, jam my finger under the flap and tear it open, leaving it jagged and gaping. I can hear the paper scream as I do it. Then I remove the contents and tear it into small pieces. One strip, two strips, three, four, five. Then I halve those strips. I decapitate and disembowel the obnoxious words. I remove their meaning.

A woman next to me glares. Well, she'd better get used to it. I have 102 more letters to go, 102 more revenges to be had.

This story was suggested to me by Ellen Prather of 8 Eyes Photography.  She apparently saw this OCD guy loudly tearing up junk mail on the Metra, so I decided to give him a personality. Good times. In other news, I'm going to bake some cookies tonight. Yum yum yum. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ryan; Ray

Ryan; seen at the Empty Bottle at about 10:30 p.m., 6-13-11

Ryan was nervous. During the drive down from Milwaukee, he felt like a bubble had been slowly expanding in his stomach until it pressed against his spine and ribcage, squeezing nerves and sending pulses of anxious energy up and down his body. He wished that they would just play already. Ryan was the lead singer of the band Broken Bottles. More specifically, the lead screamer. The hardcore band had a pretty good following in Wisconsin, but this was their first show in Chicago. If it went well, their fanbase could get a huge boost. The band before them had been awesome, and the band playing after them, Cave Bear, was already seeing a lot of success in the local Chicago scene. Ryan and the rest of Broken Bottles were really feeling the pressure. 

They had been practicing non-stop for the past few weeks. Rob's guitar parts had become much more complicated, and Tim's drumming had become progressively tighter. Ryan had directed the other members to shout a few extra grisly roars at strategic points during the set. He knew the band was better than it had ever been; and yet, he was still nervous. 

Ryan breathed in the warm, beer-scented air and moved his skinny frame against the microphone. Tim counted off, and Ryan screamed his soul out. 

Ray; Seen on the Purple Line to the Loop at about 5:15 p.m.

Ray is having trouble deciding what music to listen to today. The weather is the real problem. It's warm and relatively sunny, but there are enough clouds to confuse a person; looking outside, one would think it's colder than it actually is. This makes a music choice extremely difficult. He can't go with bold, loud, bright music, but he can't play soft, acoustic, pastel music either. 

At first Ray scrolls through his iPhone and selects the modern-day disco sounds of MGMT. "Ooo, girl, shock me like an electic eel; baby girl, turn me on with your electric feel." The smooth electro beats slink into his ears and pulse in his chest, pulling his heartbeat into the groove. But it's not right.

Next he opts for a newer sound--that of Wiz Khalifa. Ray closes his eyes and lets the rhythmic words fall from the rapper's mouth and tumble back and forth behind his eyelids--"Black and yellow black and yellow black and yellow." Wiz Khalifa may be the future of rap music, but his songs aren't correct for today. The track ends, and Ray scrolls yet again. 

Finally, he decides to take it all the way back to 1998 with some Lauryn Hill. The horn section buzzes below his lungs, and he wishes he weren't in public so he could sing along with the soulful Ms. Hill: "Girls, you know you better watch out! Some guys, some guys are only about that thing, that thing, that thiiiing." The girl sitting across from Ray smiles and starts bobbing her head in time with the music. He realizes that the volume must be way too loud. But it's his stop anyway. He smiles back by way of apology and gets off the train, truly satisfied.

Sorry, must fly. I'm going to see Demetri Martin tonight!  Joy of joys. :) 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Jerry; Kat

Jerry; Seen on the Purple Line to the Loop at about 5:18 p.m.

Jerry bustled onto the train car, wedging himself between the other passengers. He spied a seat in the middle of the car, but a young woman intently focused on her phone got there first. He grabbed two of the bars on the backs of the seats and tried to keep his balance as the train unsteadily shuffled down the tracks. He wished he had driven.

He looked at the train map above the doors; the line ran express to Sheridan, his stop. Jerry was on his way to the Cubs game where his daughter, Jessie, would be singing the national anthem. He always went to his daughter's singing performances. He liked to fantasize that he was the perfect father. In reality, he had not spoken to his daughter since she was three years old.

Jerry had always liked to drink, but soon after his marriage began he sank into alcoholism. He would sometimes hit his wife, Wendy, but never Jessie. Just after Jessie's third birthday Wendy left him, and she took their daughter with her. He had been sober for ten years now, but he still couldn't bear to face his little girl. He didn't want to know what she thought about him. Nevertheless, he always made sure he was there to hear her sing.

Kat; Seen on the Purple Line Train to the Loop at about 5:30 p.m. 

Kat pushes her blonde bangs away from her eyes and re-reads Dumbledore's words about the Mirror of Erised: "'It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. ...Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible.'" Her mission for The Believers is to attempt to locate the Mirror of Erised, or any mirrors like it. She has scoured the internet, and has talked to some experts from the Corning Museum of Glass, but she hasn't had much luck. She's also looked up information about magic mirrors, but she still can't seem to find any evidence that the Mirror of Erised ever existed. Obviously, Kat is not looking forward to giving her report at Moody's tomorrow night.

She looks up from the page and sees her reflection in the train window. If she were to ever stare into the Mirror of Erised, she knows that she would see what any of the other Believers would see--hard evidence that the wizarding world exists. Perhaps she would be at a Quidditch game, or maybe she'd be browsing the books of the Hogwarts library. Either way, she'd be so happy she couldn't stand it. Maybe it's better, then, that none of them ever find the Mirror, lest they waste away in fantasies of something that may truly be only literary.

As you can probably tell from the minimal posts, my life has exploded. And it's not getting less busy, by any means. My go-go dancing skills have been in high demand lately. Here are some pictures of me dancing as a member of Buffy-a-Gogo at the Wells Street Art Festival yesterday with The Fortunate Sons (Chicago's premiere Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute band):

It was oodles of fun! Can't wait to do it again. And then tonight is Cave Bear's CD release show, which everyone should probably attend. Just sayin'. So anyway, I'm going to try to get better at posting again. I'm working on it. I promise. Please keep reading. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Elsie; Abigail & Francois

Elsie: Seen on the #74 Fullerton Bus May 30th, 2011

Elsie bounces Jerome up and down on her lap as he plays with a doll of Woody from Toy Story. Bryan stands in front of them looking on, holding onto the gray plastic loops at the top of the bus. It appears that everyone in Chicago is trying to get to the beach on this sweltering, 90-degree Memorial Day. The traffic inches forward in a seemingly infinite, exhausted parade.

Bryan decides that it's time for Jerome to stop playing with his toy. He takes it and puts it in Jerome's little blue backpack. Inevitably, Jerome starts squalling. Elsie swiftly stands him up and turns him around. "Look out the window." Almost immediately his crying stops. His tiny fists smudge up the glass as he marvels at the ordinary people in their cars outside.

Elsie realizes that she's become pretty good at this parenting thing. She is only 21, and she had no intention of becoming a mother until she was much older. Her resentment towards Bryan has been growing ever since for putting her in this position. For Jerome's sake, however, she never lets it show. She loves Jerome, that little screaming laughing ecstatic bundle of life that came from inside her. She is proud of him, and of herself for raising him.

Abigail & Francois: Seen in Lincoln Park during the last weeks of May 2011.

Tired of their quiet country life, Abigail and Francois moved to the big city in May. Though they were somewhat overwhelmed by the tall, cramped buildings and the hurried crowds of people, they still felt they had made the right decision. It had been raining quite a bit, and they found a roomy puddle on a quiet, tree-lined street where they made their home. Francois' blue and green feathers glistened when the sun reflected off the water, and Abigail's noble brown and gray feathers blended in with the woodchips and mulch beneath the bushes. They were a handsome couple.

The other ducks had protested when the newlyweds decided to move to Chicago. They felt that Francois and Abigail were too naive about the dangers of city living. "What if you get hit by a car?" Abigail's mother chastised. "And what happens when your puddle dries up? Where do you go?"

But Francois and Abigail were convinced that they would find their way. They'd happily move from puddle to puddle, exploring the city's diverse neighborhoods. Perhaps, if they wanted to settle down someday, they could find a nice pond in a green park. Or, if they wanted a more adventurous life, they could always dodge tour boats and kayaks on the Chicago River, or even brave the choppy waters of Lake Michigan. Abigail and Francois felt right at home in Chicago, and they intended to stay.

Things have been busy, as you can probably tell. I won't explain it all.  This second story is about the ducks that were, until recently, living on our street. My roommate Lindsey named them.  You can read her blog here. Anyway, I just saw Midnight in Paris. It was really fun, especially if you like literature and history. I'd recommend it. Also, X-Men First Class was awesome if you are a sucker for big summer superhero blockbusters like me. I feel like I haven't slept in forever. Who needs sleep? Haha...