Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mandy

Seen on the Purple Line to Linden at about 8:30 a.m. 

I got the tattoo as soon as I healed, the sickly yellow ghost of a bruise still haunting my skin. The artist questioned my decision, told me it might be better to wait a few weeks, but I insisted—the symbol of my triumph would not wait. I had just escaped him, rejected him, that man who made me feel like nothing. Over the years I endured so many of his slaps and punches and kicks and burns. You can still see the scars on my wrist where he dug his fingernails in.

Then one night I found courage and strength. My tattoo shows what happened next: I broke the chains of his shame, rose from the flames of his abuse. My body emerged, new, beautiful and radiant. I left everything of my old life behind, even my clothes, for those clothes of submission would never fit the resilient woman I had become. 

Today I heard "She Blinded Me with Science" again when I was grabbing lunch. It's following me. 

I'm afraid there won't be a story tomorrow, since I'll be in a car on my way to the great state of Minnesota with some friends! But don't worry; when I get back I'm sure there will be a few stories for you from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Neko

Seen on the Red Line to Howard at about 10:40 a.m. 


Neko listens to Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded me with Science” every day during her morning commute. It always makes her feel better.  In high school, her ex-boyfriend Cam used to sing it at her all the time. When she asked him why, he said: “Because of your big dorky glasses, babe. And ‘cause you’re Asian. Everyone knows Asians are smart.”

Cam was an asshole. She still can't believe she’d ever dated such a neanderthal.

She ended their relationship during chemistry class senior year. Neko planned it all very carefully—grabbing the sodium hydroxide “by mistake,” her conveniently untied shoelace. “It was an accident!” she tearfully insisted while dragging him to the emergency eyewash station. But it was too late. Cam would never see again.

Her parents put her in therapy for a few months to help her cope with the guilt she pretended to feel. Cam’s parents sued the school for negligence. It was perfect. 

"She Blinded Me With Science" has been stuck in my head lately thanks to this stupid Target back-to-school commercial. I'd write more, but I have to run--work is insane today. Until tomorrow! 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Phil

Seen at Village Church of Lincolnshire at about 12:00 p.m., Saturday, August 25th, 2012. 

Phil was quiet and unassuming. He was wrinkled and balding and forgettable. The only thing extraordinary about him was his voice—an exact copy of Frank Sinatra’s. Not that this made him more noticeable; when he started to sing people would turn around to make sure it wasn’t a recording. On a good day one or two would smile at him. But Phil didn’t mind. After all, when people turned around it was Ol’ Blue Eyes they expected to see, not him. His voice was only remarkable insofar as that it was familiar. It wasn’t surprising that most of their eyes stopped to register his existence for only a second before moving on. In the long run, it didn’t matter. His not-so-unique voice allowed him to make a living, singing in a band that played weddings and charity events. Phil had a means of survival, and he was grateful. 

This guy was in the band that played at my friend Bethany's wedding. I couldn't believe how much he sounded like Frank Sinatra! I decided that he deserved a story. Speaking of weddings, I am all wedding-ed out, I think. I went to two of them on Saturday, and that was quite enough. I'm glad I don't have any more to go to this year. Yesterday I stayed in my pajamas and read A Game of Thrones literally all day. It was glorious. You are following my Song of Ice & Fire experience on twitter, aren't you?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Rob

Seen at the Rainbo Club at about 10 p.m., August 23rd, 2012. 

If the world were ending, Rob would go to the Rainbo Club. He’d lock his bike up outside—not that it would matter, since it would soon be destroyed in the oncoming disaster. He’d sit on one of the old barstools and drink cans of PBR until it was his time to die. Some people would berate him for not making his last beer a “better” beer, but Rob liked PBR; it was solid, familiar, comforting. Because he’d be wearing his favorite cutoff shorts, his thighs would stick to the stool every time he got up to use the bathroom. Before the end came, he’d take his picture in the photo booth. That way if anyone survived, or if new creatures inherited the dilapidated planet, something of Rob would remain. 

The Hipster Apocalypse. 

Last night Lindsey, Gena, Felipe, and I went to the Bowie Ball. Heaven Malone's DJing was delightful (he actually played "Diamond Dogs" when I came in dressed as Halloween Jack), but next time I think perhaps he should do it in a different bar. This was my first time at Rainbo Club, and it wasn't the greatest first impression. Normally I'm all for dive bars, but this particular place seemed to be a ridiculous hipster stereotype. They were literally all dressed the same--black t-shirts or plaid button-downs, cutoff shorts, carabiners with their keys clipped to their back pockets. Everyone was drinking PBRs, and they mostly just seemed extremely unfriendly. So we stayed for a while, then moved the party to Delilah's, where, within the first five minutes, we were complimented on our outfits. And really, how could you NOT compliment outfits this fabulous?

   
Anyway, it was still a really fun evening. Tonight: Improv Shakespeare! Then I have to go to the burbs so I can attend TWO weddings tomorrow. Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Naomi

Seen on the Purple Line to Linden at about 8:45 a.m. 

Naomi knew she was too hot for Epic Burger. A girl like her deserved a retail job, at least. But times were tough. Every day she’d come into work wearing her Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses and carrying her Louis Vuitton purse; normally she wouldn’t want to risk them being sullied or stolen, but she needed to remind her coworkers of their place. Every evening she’d scrub the ground beef and condiments from beneath her fingernails with contempt. She avoided her own gaze in the mirror; she never wanted to see herself looking so common. 

Just a little story today. Tonight I'm dressing up in my glam rock finest and heading to the Bowie Ball! If you're in Chicago, you should join me. Let's all put on our red shoes and dance the blues... 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Devlin


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

Devlin took the job because they didn’t mind his tattoos. He kept it because of Virginia.

He was the office building handyman. She was the secretary for the physical therapists in suite 303. Every day she’d walk past him, on her way to the bathroom or to grab lunch, her hips swaying beneath her endless supply of floral skirts. She always smiled at him. He couldn’t take his eyes off her. One day she stopped to introduce herself, and Devlin almost tripped over his toolbox. Virginia was the most beautiful creature he had ever beheld.

Devlin had been trying to work up the nerve to ask Virginia to Riot Fest for weeks. He had two tickets, and there was going to be a carnival this year. They could ride the Ferris wheel and eat cotton candy. The perfect first date—except for the music. Would a girl like Virginia want to accompany a blue-collar punk rock boy to see Iggy and the Stooges? Had she ever even heard of Iggy Pop? If she wasn’t into the music, all Devlin’s dreams of happiness could shatter. Was he willing to take that risk? Or would it be better to forever love her from afar, pressing his hand against the fingerprints she left on door handles? 

Who doesn't enjoy a good love story?

On another note, are any of you George R. R. Martin fans? I just started reading A Game of Thrones yesterday, and I've decided to live tweet my journey into the world of Westeros and Essos. You can laugh at my naivety. It'll be hilarious. Follow me at @dameofthrones. Winter is coming, whatever that means. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Kyle

Seen at the Fullerton station waiting for the Red Line to 95th at about 8:20 a.m. 

I don’t believe it. I just don’t believe it. It’s going to be almost 80 degrees today, and this girl is dressed like it’s the middle of October. God, one cold front (if you could even call this a cold front) and girls cover it all up. I mean, not that they shouldn’t cover up if they want to. Obviously.

But boots? Jeans? A sweater? Isn’t she hot? I have to wear these stupid long pants for work, but if I had it my way I’d be rocking shorts and a t-shirt. It’s a shame that she’s wasting a gorgeous day like today wearing clothes that she’ll be forced to wear all winter anyway.

Shit! She caught me staring. I hope she doesn’t think I’m into her. You’d have to be crazy to date someone who has so little regard for summertime.

I don’t know. It seems like she’s jinxing it, that’s all. Like her desire to dress for fall is going to bring bad weather for all of us. 

I can't believe I've never named someone Kyle before. It's crazy.

I had a pretty bad day yesterday. My reaction to this was to work out, sign up for some gogo auditions, and buy a dress on ModCloth. My body makes some interesting decisions. Also, I watched the pilot of the BBC America show "Copper" last night. Verdict: I'll keep watching. I'm interested to see where this goes...

Monday, August 20, 2012

J.B.

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

J.B. got a lot of dates because he told women he was in the army. Actually, he didn’t even tell them. Not at first. All he had to do was cover his laptop with stickers that said “U.S. Army” and “Proud to Serve,” or wear his “An Army of One” baseball cap. Once the women started talking to him, J.B. would invent tales of valor. But initially he’d always just let them assume. Fact is, no matter how independent they claim to be, most women want nothing more than a strong, honorable man to sweep them off their feet.

Of course, J.B. was not at all an honorable man, so these relationships would not last long. At some point he’d be confronted with a pull-up bar, or a book like “Jarhead,” or a veteran relative of one of his dates, and the messy truth would come out. The women would scream, they would call him sick and disgusting and psychotic. He had endured countless slaps across the face. But in the end it didn’t matter; he’d simply leave one woman sobbing and find another beautiful, gullible woman the next day. She’d place her hand on his arm and coo, “thank-you for your service.” 

My apologies to the man who inspired "J.B." He's probably a perfectly honorable veteran who deserves a great deal of respect. But this is a better story.

I had a very nice weekend. Friday night I gogo danced with The Fortunate Sons in Grand Ridge; there I befriended the head of a motorcycle gang and his girlfriend. They bought me a beer. I like to think this means I have protection now. Don't mess with me--I'll send a vicious motorcycle gang after you. Saturday Lindsey and I hung out with our French couchsurfer Lara. We saw some of the Air & Water Show, we walked through Lincoln Park Zoo, we drank sangria at Moody's, and we ended our day at Glenwood Arts Festival in Rogers Park. Yesterday was super lazy, except for the part where Lindsey and I went to Vintage Garage. I picked up a great retro fall dress, but it's not cold enough to wear it yet. I'm okay with this. I also re-watched the miniseries "The 10th Kingdom" this weekend, which I was obsessed with when I was 12. You can instant stream it on Netflix now; I highly recommend it if you enjoy things that are so-bad-they're-good. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bryce

Seen at the Davis St. station in Evanston waiting for the Purple Line to the Loop at about 5:40 p.m., August 15th, 2012

Potential Universities:
  • Oxford
  • Cambridge
  • Harvard
  • Yale
  • Princeton
  • Dartmouth
  • Northwestern (safety school)
  • University of Chicago (safety school)
  • Notre Dame (safety school)
  • Stanford (safety school)
Potential Majors:
  • English Literature (concentration: Romantic Period or Postcolonial)
  • Poetry
  • History (concentration: 18th & 19th Century British History or Dynastic China)
  • Architecture
  • Philosophy (concentration: Enlightenment Thinkers)
  • Greek (classical)
  • Anthropology (if none of the above work out)
  • Political Science (if none of the above work out)
  • Sociology (if none of the above work out)
  • Physics (last resort)
Potential Future Places of Residence:
  • London
  • Bologna
  • Florence
  • Rome
  • Amsterdam
  • Edinburgh
  • Tokyo
  • Shanghai
  • Boston
  • San Francisco (if none of the above work out)
  • New York City (if none of the above work out)
  • Berlin (if none of the above work out)
  • Los Angeles (last resort)
Potential Names of Future Wife:
  • Eleanor
  • Cecilia
  • Renee
  • Elizabeth
  • Eloise
  • Lillian
  • Genevieve
  • Victoria
Potential Future Awards/Accolades/Titles 
  • Poet Laureate
  • Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
  • Pulitzer Prize for History
  • National Book Award
  • Nobel Prize in Literature
  • Man Booker Prize
  • PEN/Faulkner Award
  • American Academy of Arts & Letters Gold Medal in History & Architecture
  • American Academy of Arts & Letters Gold Medal in Fiction & Sculpture
  • American Academy of Arts & Letters Gold Medal in Belles Lettres & Criticism
  • American Academy of Arts & Letters Gold Medal in Poetry & Music
  • Newbery Medal (if none of the above work out)
  • Nobel Prize in Physics (last resort)
Potential Future Deaths
  • Drowning
  • Plane crash (private jet)
  • Slumped over desk, pen in hand, pages of unfinished work scattered (heart attack?)
  • Assassination
  • Suicide (preferably by hanging—last resort)  
Yay for experimental story structures! It was a pain to type out though. Usually I type up my stories in Word and then just copy and paste them over, but the blogger format made the bullet points all wonky so I had to fix them. Gross. Anyway, this guy just looked like he had some seriously lofty ambitions.

In other news, you should totally donate to this campaign to build a Tesla museum!  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Manuel

Seen on the Purple Line to Linden at about 8:50 a.m. 

Manuel has always struggled with the language of his ancestors. It’s almost as though learning English in school purged his blood of his Mexican heritage. He looks Latino, but he feels like his body is merely a shell for a Caucasian American male. When he can’t understand something his relatives are saying, he can see the pain and doubt simmering in his mother’s pupils. ¿En verdad es mi hijo? 

Now Manuel is trying to work his way through La Muerte de Artemio Cruz, but the Spanish paragraphs are like thorny briar patches—his gaze gets all tangled up and the words sting his eyes. He closes the book and stares out the window, wondering where to search for his lost identity. 

Many thanks to my wonderful friend Felipe for helping me with the Spanish. I can do reasonably well with French and Chinese, but my Spanish is virtually nonexistent. I'll have to learn someday. 

I am sleepy. Story of my life. French couchsurfers arrive tomorrow. Gogo show with The Fortunate Sons on Friday. Hope your life is as fun and as busy as mine!  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Hand

Seen in the women's bathroom of my office at about 1 p.m., August 7th, 2012. 

She first hears the rattling when she tugs on the roll of cheap, too-thin toilet paper. Her eyes leap to the floor just in time to see the metal drain cover scrape across the tile. Then it emerges: a human hand. It’s big and calloused, male, grimy. Dirt sticks beneath its nails and in the grooves of its fingerprints. The hand gropes around the rim of the drain, searching for—what? It doesn’t matter. She flushes and flees the bathroom, flees the horror-film-worthy scenario that has her flustered and afraid of her own bladder. When will she have to go again? She can’t go back in there...  

Yeah, it's not a tale from the CTA, but a) I didn't ride the CTA today and b) it really happened to me last week and I thought it'd make a good story. It turned out to be a construction worker; nevertheless, it was still hugely creepy. You'd think they could post signs when some strange dude is planning on sticking his hand up the women's bathroom drain, wouldn't you? 

I returned from Florida yesterday, where my sister and I sang at my Aunt's funeral. It was very sad, but I'm glad I got to see my family, and that I got to meet all my new little baby cousins. They are buttons. This is me and my cousin's 1-year-old son Henry: 


 Yeah, that's right. Vomit-inducing cuteness. Be jealous. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dennis & Bea

Seen during At the Drive-In's set at Lollapalooza 2012. 

The middle-aged man plops himself down next to the twenty-something girl. Their cheeks are flushed; their eyes are watery but bright. They look like they adore everything they see and hear and feel. She turns to face him.

“How did you find me?”

“I dunno. I just did.”

“But I’m a shapeshifter. You shouldn’t be able to find me.”

“No, I know. I’m a shapeshifter, too.”

She plucks at the grass beneath her thighs. “How funny, that we should find each other here. Both shapeshifters.”

He removes his baseball cap and wipes the sweat from his wrinkled forehead. “Yeah! And it’s so crowded! And we’ve never told anyone else! But here we are.”

He grins at her, then rolls down the hill like a child. She laughs, then shrieks like a banshee. 

I literally heard these two people discussing how they were shapeshifters. More drugs, I suspect. I don't really like At the Drive In, but Lindsey and I wanted to be close to the Red Bull stage so we could be super close for the mind-bogglingly awesome Jack White (which we were). Here's a video of him performing "Sixteen Saltines." We were jumping around like crazy, and we brought Tamby (our light-up tambourine), so that was fun.

And that concludes my week of stories from Lolla! Next week I'll return to writing about strangers on the CTA. Although I have some family business to attend to in Florida this weekend, so there probably won't be a story on Monday. Until Tuesday! 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Brianna

Seen during Gaslight Anthem's set at Lollapalooza 2012. 

Ha! The stares I’m getting are ridiculous. Pregnant lady with a Bud Light. I look like a horrible human being. If they’d just reserve their judgment for just one fucking second and ask me, I’d tell them the truth. I needed water, but I didn’t wanna pay $3 for a bottle—it’s crazy to me that these idiots will pay that much—so my boyfriend chugged a beer and I refilled the can at the water fountain. Everyone’s waiting forever in those CamelBak filling station lines, but nobody even notices the water fountains. It’s hysterical. But anyway, I don’t even care. They can stare all they want. I’m gonna stay hydrated, especially for the sake of the little parasite inside me. The one they think I’m harming. It’s just too funny. Let me tell you, though, I can taste the few drops of beer in the bottom of the can, and it’s delicious! Even if it is something as shitty as Bud Light. I can’t wait for this brat to get out of me. Then nobody will stare, or judge, or whatever. And I can drink. 

I really hope she wasn't pregnant and drinking a beer. I'm hoping she was just wearing a way-too-clingy dress. It was hard to tell, though. 

Also, this is my 100th post of 2012! And it's only August! Milestones are fun.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

This Friendly Stranger

Seen during Franz Ferdinand's set at Lollapalooza 2012. 

What if your love for a band manifested itself in a man? An avatar of your passion. He would listen patiently as you babble about your obsession: “I first heard them when…”; “The last time they came to Chicago was….” He would find your inane stories charming. Would he be attractive? No. It’s too obvious—and besides, good looks might distract you from the band itself. Would he be strong? Yes. He would become your protector, your advocate. He would move people out of the way so you could get to the front of the crowd. So you could get close enough to see every flick of a tongue, every drop of sweat, every spontaneous smile. That is what this friendly stranger would do. 

I guess this is more like creative non-fiction. I am mildly obsessed with Franz Ferdinand, and while I was waiting for their set to begin I did indeed meet a delightful Scottish man who helped me get right up to the front. I am very grateful to him, so he gets a story. Here's a video of Franz singing "Ulysses" during their actual Lolla set. I really like that Lolla did a webcast of the shows this year! Such a great idea. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kylie

Seen during Red Hot Chili Peppers' set at Lollapalooza 2012. 

The lights of the skyline are bright and beautiful, and they twinkle in the muddy water that comes up to my ankles, and I dance in the mud, I twirl and twist, and I stomp, and the mud gets on my clothes, and I think it’s good, and I think they look better that way, and there’s a girl, an alone girl, and I hold my fan-mask up to her face, and she looks silly with a mustache, and I laugh, and she smiles, and we’re happy, and the whole crowd is cooing that song, that slower one, that “Under the Bridge” song, and everyone is together, and everyone is happy, and everyone is bright and beautiful. 

This girl was on a lot of drugs. That is what I was trying to convey, if you couldn't tell. I was the girl she held the mustache mask up to--I had one as well. Here's a lovely picture, courtesy of my delightful roommate Lindsey:


You should also click the "Under the Bridge" link--it's their actual performance from Lolla. More Lolla stories tomorrow!  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Marty

Seen during Black Sabbath's set at Lollapalooza 2012. 

God, I swear this ring is burning a hole in my pocket. I just wanna get this over with! But Rose’s mom is so into it right now. I knew she was a Sabbath fan—I mean, who isn’t? But I never realized she was this into it. She knows all the words to every song, even the less popular ones. It’s kinda hilarious, actually. She looks so clean-cut.

That’s the other problem. I thought asking her mom’s permission while we were all together at Lolla would be a good idea, but maybe I shouldn’t have waited until Black Sabbath. There’s something a little fucked up about expressing my eternal love for Rose during a lyric like “Satan laughing spreads his wings.” Even though Rose and her mom both love that song so much. The first time I met Rose she was singing along with “War Pigs” on her iPod. She didn’t even care that nobody else could hear the music. I think I loved her right then.

Maybe I’ll do it on the way out. Right by Buckingham Fountain or something romantic like that. Yeah, that seems like a better idea. Besides, I don’t think I could tear her mom’s attention away from Ozzy even if I wanted to. If Rose and I stay as obsessed with each other as her mom is with Sabbath, I think our marriage will be just fine.  

All this week I'll be pretending to know people I saw during Lollapalooza! It was a great weekend full of awesome music. All in all I ended up seeing Metric, Die Antwoord, DJ Zebo, Black Sabbath, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, Delta Spirit, Franz Ferdinand, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Trampled by Turtles, Dum Dum Girls, Gaslight Anthem, and Jack White

Black Sabbath was super fun. Ozzy might be the cutest little old man on the planet. And when I say old I apparently mean 63. Kids, stay in school and don't do drugs.