Thursday, May 31, 2012

Jed

Another story from my Memorial Day Weekend Challenge! I asked you to RT PTKY or share it on Facebook, and in exchange I'd write a story on whatever you wanted. My friend Valya Lupescu (a VERY talented author) gave me the most specific request: "Son of Southern IL farmer who had a traumatic experience with a scarecrow, developed corn/corn product phobia, & moved to Chicago." Here's my take on it: 

It’s a lot better in the city, especially on days like today, when the sun shines so hot and bright on the brick buildings that I just want to lick them. Chicago is so comforting, so solid, so free of organic material. I’m fine as long as I don’t go in the produce section of the grocery store. It’s not safe there.

***

When I was six, my parents let me spend the summer on my grandpa’s farm outside Pittsfield. I was so excited to play with all the animals; my cousin Ronnie promised he’d even teach me to ride a horse. It was the happiest I’d ever been in my short life—until the fourth week I was there.

One night, Grandpa Steve and I walked to the middle of the cornfield to fix the scarecrow, who had fallen off its perch. As he shoved the straw-stuffed torso back onto its post, my grandpa grinned and asked, “Jed, you know why the scarecrow stays here and doesn’t wander off, dontcha?” I shook my head. “’Cause all his teeth are covered up by these here corn husks. He doesn’t want anyone to take ‘em, least of all the crows.” His phlegmy laughter gargled in his throat. I turned and ran back to the house as fast as I could. That very evening I called my parents and begged to come home.

***

From that day on, I couldn’t eat corn. I couldn’t even go near it. All I saw were rows and rows of yellow teeth—then the scarecrow’s jagged slash of a mouth, with its flapping, ragged burlap edges.

I always tried to stay in the most populated parts of my town. Whenever we had to drive past a cornfield, I’d close my eyes and hold my breath, the way other kids treat a graveyard. I never saw Grandpa Steve again before he died. It was hard for him to visit us, and I refused to return to the farm, much to my parents’ dismay.

I came to Chicago for college, and this is where I stayed. I studied business, since I knew it could get me a job high up in the steel skyscrapers, far above the soil and the things that grow there. It’s not the easiest way to live—corn’s in everything. I spend a lot of my time at Whole Foods searching for natural soda and grass-fed beef. And I’ve had to become an awfully creative chef. On the other hand, that at least impresses the ladies.

I’ve considered therapy, but I just don’t think I can face it. I never want to be that six-year-old boy again, staring into the blackness of a dead, gaping mouth. I never want to butter up those teeth and tear them from the cob, the stringy bits clinging to the roof of my mouth. 

Hope you like it, Valya! 

Everyone, I'm going to have to ask a favor of you. My super-talented friend Leta made a t-shirt design for the Denver Museum of Nature & Science 2012 Sci-Fi Film Series contest, and she's one of the finalists. In order to vote for her design, all you have to do is like and/or comment on the picture on Facebook. Would you mind helping out? After all, you like things on Facebook every day. Why not like something that's truly fantastic?!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Void; Born to Run

Here are the first stories from the Memorial Day Weekend Challenge! I told you that if you retweeted PTKY or shared it on Facebook, I'd write a story on the subject of your choice. My friend Carl asked me to write a story using the word "void" as inspiration: 

VOID. He scratches it onto the gray check, tears the paper with the pressure of his pen. Void. What a stupid mistake. He had started writing his own last name, which, of course, was no longer hers. It hadn’t been for over a year. She’d gone back to using her maiden name. Apparently she’s seeing some other guy now, a doctor. He suspects she’ll take the doctor’s name soon. If so, he’ll probably make the same mistake again. His checkbook will become a ledger of his loneliness, VOID after VOID after VOID. 

My friend and roommate Lindsey asked me to write a positive story about Bruce Springsteen, since she knows how much I like his music (not at all): 

Remember that time we skipped town for a week and drove down to New Orleans? Remember how we had sex in the backseat of my car on the side of the road, and “Born to Run” was on the radio, and you said you felt like you were in a movie? I never told you, but it wasn’t on the radio. It was a mix CD I made of all the songs that reminded me of you. I put it in the stereo while you were sleeping.

Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is that you were right about that movie thing, because I think that song is the perfect soundtrack for us. That night you taught me that our love is wild, and real. And from that moment on, I’ve loved you with all the madness in my soul. I may not be The Boss, but I know that we were born for each other, born to run, together. Will you marry me?  

Hope these lived up to Lindsey & Carl's expectations. There will be more challenge stories throughout the week! 

Sorry I didn't get around to posting yesterday, but I had kind of a long day. I went to the physical therapist for my headaches, and she jammed some needles into my jaw muscles. Then it took me over an hour to get back to my apartment because there was a fire near the L tracks. Then I had gogo practice with Becki because we have our first 2012 show with The Fortunate Sons on Saturday (you should come). Then a longtime friend of mine called me up because he was very drunk and very lost, so I found him and escorted him back to the train so he could get downtown. Needless to say, I couldn't seem to find the energy to blog after that. Instead I drank wine and watched the X-Files. It was awesome. 

In other news, you should donate some money to help The Fullmers, a prominent couple in the Chicago literary scene. Their apartment burned down, and their first child is due in June. Not a good situation. If you can spare a few dollars, I'm sure they'd appreciate it.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Omar

Seen on the Brown Line to the Loop at about 10:15 p.m., May 24th, 2012 

Omar sprained his ankle while he was stealing an iPhone. It was supposed to be simple. He’d pull her hair, hard, so her head snapped back. He’d snatch the phone from her hand, make a run for it. He’d sell it up on Devon, get a few hundred bucks. First, he’d buy himself a strong drink. Or two. Then he’d buy his son that new video game he kept going on about. Val hadn’t let Omar in the house for a while, and he was hoping her son’s happy face might soften her up.

Everything went according to plan until Omar tripped on the L platform stairs. He felt a painful heat pluck through his muscles as his ankle bent too far in the wrong direction. He heard the iPhone shatter on the concrete. Omar grasped the railing and pulled himself up; he hobbled away as far and as fast as he could, leaving his ruined prize behind. He did have one bit of luck that day—he found a crutch in a dumpster near his apartment. Ultimately, though, what good is a crutch to a life that’s as broken as Omar’s? 

Thanks to everyone who voted for me in The Reader's contest! I appreciate it. The winners are announced sometime in June. We shall see...

I, for one, am very excited about this holiday weekend. There will hopefully be blues dancing tonight, and there will DEFINITELY be soul dancing tomorrow night. My cousin's baby is being baptized on Sunday, so there will be some time spent with the fam. There will probably not be a story on Monday, because I will be enjoying my day off. I hope you have exciting weekend plans, too.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Aisha

Seen transferring from a Brown Line train to a Red Line train to Howard at about 8:35 a.m. 

Aisha comes for the little ones when their time is up too soon. Children fear the tall, black-robed man; but when Aisha extends her hand they grasp it eagerly, happy to have found a new friend. Mothers are reluctant to hand their babies over to a dark angel with hollow eyes, but they cannot resist the sweet smile of a young girl.

Aisha is too young to perform her task unaccompanied. She travels with Mortimer, a wizened old man, and her quiet little sister Eternity. When Aisha embraces the children destined for death, she puts her lips to their ears and whispers:

“Do you see this man? You will never have to become like him. Do you see this girl? Her serenity is yours now.”

They appear to be a normal family. Nobody takes particular notice of them as they journey to hospitals, playgrounds, schools, beaches, cribsides. The faded skulls on Aisha’s backpack are the only indication of her true purpose. 

I mainly wrote this story because of the skulls on her backpack. They weren't like cutesy, punk rock skull-and-crossbones. They were really creepy and faded, almost like they were looking at you from underwater. It was weird. 

You have until MIDNIGHT TONIGHT to vote "Pretending to Know You" as Best Local Blog in the Chicago Reader's Best of Chicago 2012 Contest! Don't just vote for PTKY--vote for all your favorite things in Chi-Town! It's a good deal.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Violet

Seen on the Purple Line to Linden at about 8:20 a.m. 

Violet bought the shoes because they reminded her of Cinderella. Obviously, they weren’t glass slippers. They were gold, sparkly ballet flats. They weren’t sparkly in an offensive way—not stitched with rows of garish sequins or encrusted in craft store glitter. Rather, the shoes looked like they had been lightly sprinkled with fairy dust. She had the notion that she would someday leave one behind at the apartment of a handsome, charming man.

This wasn’t the first time Violet had tried to incorporate fairy tales into her life. When she was twelve, she attempted to grow her blonde, wavy hair as long as Rapunzel’s. Unfortunately, her mother insisted it looked messy and she finally dragged Violet to a salon to have it chopped.
On her first day of high school, Violet stuck pieces of chewing gum down the hallway floors so she could find her way back to her locker. This did earn her the nickname “Gretel,” but it also earned her three detentions. When she was five, Violet refused to eat apples for fear that they were poisoned. Her parents banned her from watching Snow White, which eventually put an end to that. She never could understand why her family disliked her affinity for the stories so much. All Violet wanted was a little magic in her life. 

Hey internet--THERE'S ONLY ONE MORE DAY TO VOTE "PRETENDING TO KNOW YOU" AS BEST LOCAL BLOG IN THE CIVIC LIFE SECTION OF THE CHICAGO READER'S BEST OF CHICAGO 2012 CONTEST! Show some love to PTKY and all your other favorite things in the Windy City! Also, get other people to vote PTKY on twitter by using the hashtag #bestofchi.

Now that I've shamelessly promoted myself, how about I shamelessly promote someone else? My friend Gena has started a blog, aptly named "Letters from Gena." Here's the idea: you email her with a topic. She'll write you a personal letter. Who doesn't love friendly correspondence?! Check it out. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rock; Eddie

Rock: Seen at Fizz Bar & Grill at about 11 p.m., May 21st, 2012

The light shimmered and slid over Rock’s tan chest when he laughed. He had unbuttoned his shirt more than was conventional in a non-tropical setting, but that was his intention. The lower the V, the higher his confidence. His ex-girlfriend said it made him look smarmy. He didn’t care; she was entitled to her opinion. Rock felt that his fashion choice helped to expose his deepest desires. When those girls on the dance floor glanced his way, with their strong legs and their bouncing breasts, he hoped they’d be able to see his heart beating for them beneath his skin. 

Eddie: Seen on the Brown Line to the Loop at about 11:40 p.m., May 21st, 2012

I told him it was because I just moved here, but really it’s because I hate hearing about all that stuff. War, anti-war demonstrations, political violence in general. It makes me sick. I think people get off on it. Even the protesters. They want things to turn violent. It’s exciting for them. You wanna know the secret to world peace? Don’t talk about any of that crap. Don’t give credit to it with your words, or even your thoughts. Burn all the books and articles about it. Then we can all move on, and it’ll be like it never existed.   

Did you notice that both these stories are drabbles? I am on a roll today! 

You should probably read my guest post about Chicago's swing dancing scene on Cheap Dish Pizza. You should probably just read that blog in general. So many fun, inexpensive things to do in the Windy City!

Vote for Pretending to Know You as "Best Local Blog" in the Civic Life section of the Chicago Reader's Best of Chicago 2012 Contest before it's too late! Voting ends Thursday. You wouldn't want to miss your opportunity to tell the world how great all your favorite things in Chicago are, would you?

Her Noise

Here's my entry for Cherie Reich's 2nd Annual Flash Fiction Blogfest! It's called "Her Noise." Hope you enjoy it. 

Lightning flashed from her throat, a primal shriek-song, her body slick and strained, her fingernails piercing my palm. It was terrible and magnificent. My ears worshipped it. My whole life was humbled before it. I don’t deserve to be a father, I thought.  

Check back soon for a regular post!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Nomar

Seen patrolling the streets of downtown Chicago at about 3:30 p.m., May 20th, 2012 

On the one hand, there’ll be things I miss when it’s over. There’s the strong sense of purpose—we’ve been training for this for months. And a lot of the guys they’ve sent in from other parts of the country are great. I don’t really want ‘em to leave. Last night after my shift, I went and had a few beers with two new guys: Carlos from Philly and Patrick from Milwaukee. I have to say, it was a lot of fun. It makes me feel like we’re all connected, like a real brotherhood.

On the other hand, there’s something spooky about it. Yesterday Daley Plaza was packed to the brim with protesters. Today this whole part of the city is dead. Except for us, patrolling the street corners with our billy clubs. I dunno, it feels like we’re running a police state or something. And as proud as I am to protect and serve, this isn’t exactly how I imagined I’d do it. It just feels wrong.

I’ll tell you one thing, though. I’m glad I’m not down by McCormick Place. I’ve only had to wear the riot gear a few times, but I don’t like it. Makes me feel less like a human. I think maybe it’s better that I get to watch over an empty city, so I don’t have to see their young, angry faces. So I don’t have to stop them. At least for now. 

Nomar is, of course, a Chicago police officer. I went for a walk yesterday, and went all the way from Lincoln Park to Jackson & Michigan (almost 5 miles!). I didn't see a single protester--I guess they were marching closer to McCormick Place and had an ugly clash with police (see these photos). But I did see TONS of police officers. They were just walking around with practically nothing to do, since the whole area was pretty dead. There were tourists on Michigan, but that was it. Here's a creepy picture I took of empty Daley Plaza: 


Totally bizarre. Anyway, I felt like had to write SOMETHING about the NATO summit, since it's such a big historic event going on in my own city. 

In other news, you only have until Thursday to vote for PTKY in the Chicago Reader's Best of Chicago 2012 Contest! Every time someone votes for my blog, a puppy is born. Okay, that's probably not true, but let's pretend like it's true. A world with more puppies is always a better world.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bowie; Not James Dean

Bowie: Seen on the Brown Line to the Loop at about 10:10 p.m., May 17th, 2012 

Q: Why is your name Bowie?

A: My mom named me after that stupid androgynous asshole because she loved his song “China Girl” and we’re Chinese. Somehow she thought it was a fucking cool song instead of a fucking racist song, which is what I think.

Q: Does your mother still like David Bowie?

A: I’m sure she would if she weren’t dead. My dad made my sister and I sing “Heroes” at her funeral.

Q: How did she die?

A: Cancer. It ate through her lungs, which isn’t all that surprising considering she smoked all the time. Idiot. Bad taste in music. Bad taste in life choices.

Q: Why don’t you change your name?

A: I’m not legally old enough, and my dad won’t let me.

Q: You could ask people to call you something else, couldn’t you?

A: I’ve tried. But everybody thinks it’s such a great name. So hip. Or at least that’s what they think now. When I was little they made fun of me.

Q: If you could change your name, what would your new name be?

A: Lynn.

Q: Why Lynn?

A: That was my mother’s name. 

Not James Dean: Seen in Lincoln Park at about 12:15 p.m., May 17th, 2012 

The text message said, “I’m out front,” but when she peeked her head out the door she didn’t see anybody.

“Hello?”

Then she heard it growling up the street—a motorcycle. It pulled into view, and the driver waved. She felt like she was in some kind of 1960’s teen movie. Like he was James Dean, or something.

He didn’t look like James Dean when he took off the helmet. He was older, maybe 40, and he had one of those goatees that inevitably makes a person look like an asshole. He was dressed head to toe in black riding gear. She, on the other hand, was just out of the shower. With her wet hair, t-shirt, and short jean skirt, she felt sticky-fresh and exposed.

All in all, the encounter only lasted a few minutes. He showed her the tickets, she handed over the money. He counted it too slowly for her liking, as though she was not to be trusted. What could she possibly hide from him? The sun was too bright for secrecy, and she wasn’t wearing any make-up.

“Nice doing business with you,” he said as he drove away. She suspected he didn’t really feel that way. Still, she was glad he was not James Dean. 

Two stories, since I didn't update yesterday. Once I read a story by Kelly Link that was in Q&A format, so I decided to try it. Hooray for experimentation! Hope you like it. The second piece is actually sort of creative non-fiction, since that actually happened to me. But I changed some details--so does that make it fiction? I don't know. Blurring the lines. More experimentation.

Tonight is my good friend and fellow writer Gena's birthday party, so that should be lovely. For all those of you who also live in the city of Chicago, stay safe this weekend during NATO!  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Giselle

Seen waiting for the Red Line to 95th at about 8:30 a.m. 

“Leggings aren’t pants.”

Shrill giggling.

In a whisper: “She probably can’t fit a pair of jeans over that ass!”

***

I can’t believe that just happened. I can’t believe some skinny white bitches from DePaul had the nerve to say that to me. Or to anyone, for that matter. And they weren’t even drunk! At least, I hope they weren’t drunk this early in the morning. I guess it wouldn’t surprise me that much.

Fact is, I love my ass. I want to show it off all the time. It’s like a perfect round globe, and my muscly legs are Atlas. It’s like a soft pillow; it cushions wherever I sit. And when I dance, this booty shakes like nothing you’ve ever seen. It’s beautiful to behold, a natural wonder of the world. Bitches are just jealous that their bland, two-by-four plank bodies blend into the background. They are forgettable. They’ll never pop like me.  

Today is National Flash Fiction Day in the UK! I don't know why we don't have one in the U.S., but I'm going to celebrate anyway. Here are some flash fiction blogs I like (all of which can be found on my "Links" page):
Also, you have LESS THAN TEN DAYS to vote PTKY as "Best Local Blog" in the Chicago Reader's Best of Chicago 2012 Contest! It's in the "Civic Life" section. All the cool kids are doing it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Roberta

Seen on the Union Pacific North Metra Line heading into Chicago at about 8:00 a.m. 

I get the sense that the young lady behind me in the ticket line was irritated at me for counting out the correct change. Now she’s sitting a few seats back from me. I can feel her petulant gaze rubbing against my neck. Oh well. I’m 70 years old, so I’ve earned the right to move as slowly as I please. And young people like her are always going to be impatient, anyway. She’s at an impatient age. I was that way, once.

If I could, I’d tell her a few things: first, I’d tell her to sit up straight; second, I’d tell her that life will figure itself out, and she shouldn’t be so desperate to push it in one direction or another; third, I’d tell her never to compromise her dreams for a man—women of my generation learned that the hard way.

However, I expect advice from an old, outdated, slow-moving stranger like me would be unwelcome. I’ll just finish this crossword puzzle. Maybe take a nap. I still have many stops to go. 

Oh man. What a lovely weekend it was. So many mojitos. So much Andrew Bird. So much happiness.

I bought tickets to Riot Fest today! I just couldn't resist--the lineup was too good. And a 3-day pass that gets you into all the shows AND all the after-parties for $90? What a deal. Between that and Lollapalooza, you're going to get quite a few music-festival-related stories. 

I have a new blog recommendation for you! My friends Lindsey & Catalina have started a blog called Cheap Dish Pizza. Read it and you can learn the secrets of how to have a great time in Chicago on a budget. Also, if you check out the Memorial Day Weekend events post, you will see some super sexy pictures of yours truly. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Byron

Seen waiting for the Red Line to Howard at about 8:05 p.m. 

I dyed my hair pink so they’d have to look at me. All my life I’ve made them uncomfortable. They detect movement below. Their eyes move down. They expect a child, or perhaps a dog. Instead they see me, a grown man of tiny proportions, incorrect. Their eyes bounce away immediately, afraid that I’ll somehow realize the inevitable associations they’re making (though I always do anyway)—leprechauns, munchkins, the Seven Dwarfs, Mini-Me. It’s impossible for them to think of me as a person.

Dying my hair altered the pattern to my advantage. Its color is unexpected and alarming. Their gaze gets stuck in it, tangled in it, like when you can’t stop staring at a car wreck. In those few moments, I have power over them. I make them pay attention to me. I make them wallow in their prejudice. 

I'd like to dedicate this post to my sister, Molly Robison. She'll know why. 

Yesterday I saw Denise on the train again! She was still wearing her black heart purse, but her hair is orange now. It's always weird when I see my PTKY subjects more than once, but it happens from time to time.

Tonight: mojitos on the deck. Yessssssss. Weekend.  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Vanessa

Seen walking away from the Fullerton Station at about 1:30 p.m.

The badge is unnecessary. The blackness of her clothing says "official," and the pointiness of her nose says "inspection." She is an older woman; her hair is dyed and meticulously styled. But her lack of roots and her small waist are testaments to her belief that all things should be kept in tip-top shape. One thing is certain: whoever or whatever she is coming for will probably not be ready. They will be smashed to pieces beneath the hammer of her high standards, and then she will reform them in her image.


So I ended up working from home today because, after I turned my alarm off, I put my head down for what I THOUGHT was about 5 minutes. Turns out it was more like an hour and a half. When I woke up it was exactly 9. Oops. I usually don't write stories when I work from home since I'm not on the CTA, but I decided to do one anyway, just because I felt like it. I can do that. It's my blog. I saw "Vanessa" when I was on my way to the grocery store to grab something for lunch. She looked intimidating, to say the least.


My friend Leta wrote this amazing post today about how she lost her religious faith but found a great deal of faith in science and friendship and love and the universe. It's a beautiful piece, and you should definitely read it.


Remember to vote PTKY as best local blog!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Madison

Seen on the Purple Line to Linden at about 8:35 a.m. 

Madison never bought into those earbud headphones. She wanted to keep foreign, plastic objects as far from the inside of her body as possible. She also never bought into skinny jeans, or Ray-Ban sunglasses, or make-up. Sure, she was wearing the same khaki pants she’d bought at Old Navy in 1999—so what? That showed she was frugal, and that she valued her possessions. No sense in ditching something that works perfectly well for a newer model.

It wasn’t just clothes and accessories. Madison never bought into sushi, or Logan Square, or online dating. What was wrong with grilled cheese, or Uptown, or being single? No sense in trading something familiar for something you might hate. No sense in risking a life that’s perfectly adequate for a life that only might be better.

Can I just reiterate how happy I am that I started Drivel & Wit Chicago? I love the people in the group with me. I love the stories and poems that they're writing. It's wonderful. As Felipe said earlier today when I mentioned this to him, "Yay, initiative!"

Trivia tonight. I haven't been in two weeks because of couchsurfers and busyness. Our trivia host actually wrote on my facebook wall and ordered me to return. One of the categories this week is 90's hip hop, though, so I suspect we're not going to do very well...

Have you voted PTKY "Best Local Blog" in the Civic Life section of the Chicago Reader's 2012 Best of Chicago Contest yet? You probably should. It'll be fun. I promise.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Gerd

Seen at the Fullerton Station scurrying from the Red Line to the Brown Line at about 8:30 a.m. 

I am afraid it is difficult to be an archetype these days. It makes men too uncomfortable to drink with you, women too uncomfortable to sleep with you. It makes you odd, too precise, like something that peeled itself off the pages of an old picture book. This is, of course, a reasonable argument. We archetypes did inspire those pictures, and the characters in films.

I thought that if I left Germany, abandoned my home in The Alps, I could start a new life. I traded in my lederhosen for a green rain jacket and gray slacks. I plucked the feather from my hat and replaced the band with something more modern. I kept my soft leather boots—they’re so comfortable. But none of this helped me. It must be written in my face, carved into my eyes. I may be living in Chicago, but the people here cannot imagine me on anything besides a snow-covered mountaintop, beer stein in my hand. I am trapped there. 

I was scrolling through twitter, and a thought occurred to me. I saw a post for The Chicago Reader's Best of Chicago 2012 contest, and I realized that they have a local blog category.... I don't suppose you would want to vote for Pretending to Know You, would you? The ballot is here. (The local blog category is in the "Civic Life" section.) You have until May 24th to vote. The best part is that you can ALSO vote for so many other wonderful things in Chicago, from your favorite bands to your favorite bars to your favorite place to get a manicure, etc. It's an easy way to support the places/people/things you love! You know you want to do it...

Yesterday my sister graduated from Columbia College. It was the craziest graduation ceremony I've ever attended. It was in the Chicago Theater. They processed in to Aerosmith's "Walk this Way." Mavis Staples was there receiving an honorary doctorate. I have to say, I have graduation envy. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I'm so proud of you, Molly! Everyone go check out her awesome music RIGHT NOW.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Denise

Seen on the Brown Line to the Loop at about 10:05 p.m., May 3rd, 2012 

Denise doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve; she wears it on her hip. It’s black and leathery, and it sits right below her belt made of bullets. That’s one way she does it, one way she’ll break your heart. She might take your bloody and beating heart, stuff it inside her own, and use her bullets to hold it ransom. That’s if you’re lucky. She could shoot right through it, or crush it beneath her heavy boots. Then she’ll drink the blood, but it doesn’t stay inside her veins—you can tell because her skin is paper pale. Instead it grows out in her hair, pink and appealing. 

So this is what goes through my brain when I see someone with a heart-shaped purse. Perfectly normal.

Weekend! My little sister is graduating from college on Sunday, which makes me feel very old. What else am I going to do over the next few days? Well, everything in the store is 50% off tonight at Clothes Optional Vintage, so I'll probably hit that up. There are rumors of dinner at Moody's. Soul DJs are spinning at Late Bar tonight, so there could be some dancing involved. Tomorrow is Savoy Stomp at Lucky Number Grill, so there will definitely be some swing dancing involved. All in all it sounds like another busy weekend for me. Hope you have a fun one, too! 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Zhou

Seen on the Purple Line to Linden at about 8:40 a.m. 

Zhou squeezes his earbuds in as far as they will go, and he turns up the music so loud it hurts—but that’s the way he likes it. Hot Chip, Daft Punk, Skrillex, and others pulse against his cochlea; the tiny bones jump to the beat, as if they were in their own miniature nightclub.

This is what Zhou imagines:

The bass seeps into his throat and rattles his vocal cords, pumps into his heart behind the neon colors of his t-shirt and regulates its rhythm, travels through his bones all the way to his feet and taps out the tempo on the floor for all to hear.

This is what Zhou hopes:

If he loses himself in the noise, if he practices this disco meditation, he will be able to create similar music, for it will live inside him. 

I don't believe I've mentioned my friend Shannon's webcomic lately. It's called Wighthouse, and it's the wonderful story of a man who inherits a haunted lighthouse. I really like that she integrates so much Chicago history into her work. It's been going on for a few years, but most of the entries are fairly short, so it's easy to catch up. Check it out!

In other news, I tried Malort for the first time last night at Handlebar with our French couchsurfers; it was their last night, so the amazing Handlebar staff decided they shouldn't leave without trying something that is unique to Chicago. Quite frankly, I didn't think it was as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Try baijiu sometime. Now THAT'S a disgusting liquor. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Martha

Seen heading East on the Fullerton bus at about 3:50 p.m., May 1st, 2012 

Martha’s cheeks are flushed, and her eyes flash with fever—a fever for all the things she’s not. A crazed grin smears her lips upward, exposing her buck teeth. The sickness makes her sluggish body move faster than it ever has before, and with each step she hacks up foamy phlegm and her inadequacies. Martha can no longer stand being herself—slow, heavy, ugly, sweaty, boring, insignificant. The other passengers on the bus may recoil from her in disgust, but at least they notice her. She would like nothing more than to expel her wet, germy life all over them. 

Yet another almost-accidental drabble! It was 99 words, so I added one more. I must be getting used to the feeling of writing about 100 words, or something. Hm.

Sorry I didn't write yesterday--I was working from home. I had to get my haircut (which is when I saw Martha), and I was also recovering. Monday night with the French couchsurfers ended up being a little later and more alcohol-fueled than I expected...oh well. It was a lot of fun, anyway. Lindsey and I are going to have dinner with them again tonight before they leave for Detroit tomorrow. I love hosting couchsurfers. I truly feel like meeting people from all around the world enriches my life. If you haven't checked out the couchsurfing website, you probably should. I highly recommend joining.