Friday, December 28, 2012


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

Ivan’s beard had grown back full and frizzy and thick, and he was glad of it. Last winter the weather was so mild that he kept it trimmed close to his face, much to the happy surprise of his mother. Normally, however, he kept it bushy during the colder months, much to the delight of his girlfriend Leila.

They met during the big blizzard of 2011. Snowmageddon, Snowpocalypse, whatever other foreboding portmanteau you wanted to call it. Nobody had to go to work, so Ivan’s friend Greg invited a bunch of people over to get snowed in together. Ivan walked in the door, ice nestled into every curl of his beard. Leila walked right up to him.

“You must be Jack Frost.”

He set the handle of whiskey he’d brought on the ground. “Sorry to disappoint you. I’m Ivan.”

“Leila. I’m Greg’s cousin.”

“Oh, cool.”  

She reached out and stroked his face. The snowflakes melted on her fingertips. “I like your beard. It’s frutescent.”

“What the hell does that mean?”

“It means ‘shrub-like in appearance.’ They actually took it out of the dictionary a few years ago, which is a shame. It’s a great word. Honestly, I’m really excited that I got to use it properly in a sentence.”

“Glad I could help. So is that a compliment then?”

“Yeah, I’d say it is.”

“Good. I’m a sucker for flattery. Want a drink?”

They had spiked apple cider. Ivan watched Leila’s cheeks and lips grow pink. She kissed some of the remaining snow from his sideburns. He gave her his scarf. She never gave it back.

A winter love story for this snowy day. Seriously, it looks like I'm in a snow globe. It's awesome.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Seen on the Metra train to Chicago at about 7:50 a.m.

When I take Grandpa on the train to the city, he barely talks to me. He just presses his spotty nose to the window and watches the world go by. He finally tells me the landscape back home is prettier, and I say “知道,” because he likes it when I practice my Chinese. But the truth is that I don’t know that the landscape back home is prettier. I’ve never been there.

Grandpa is always saying things are better in China. He says it kind of funny, though, because Mandarin has a different structure. You don’t say, “China is better than America.” Instead you say something closer to, “China more than America good”-- 中国比美国更好. So the first time Grandpa saw all the lofty skyscrapers of Chicago, he said, “Beijing more than Chicago impressive.” And the first time he ever had a cheeseburger, he said, “jiaozi more than cheeseburger tasty.” And I always say I know, even though I don’t know, because I’ve never been there.

I really hope I got all that Chinese right. I haven't spoken in a long time. Sorry if anything about this story is screwed up, random Chinese people who may or may not read this! I did my best.

I hope you all had a lovely holidays. I had a nice time chilling with my family and playing with my dogs.  

Friday, December 21, 2012


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

Penny dropped her pink bag on the platform, where it joined the ranks of the more typical black and brown suitcases, duffel bags, and backpacks. Heading home for the holidays had never seemed so ominous; all that luggage made it seem like everyone was trying to escape some great catastrophe. The world was supposed to end today, after all.

Earlier in the week Penny read an article about how the whole Mayan calendar apocalypse prediction thing was nonsense. Our culture decided on a linear calendar, whereas the Mayans used a cyclical one. Today would just mark the end of one cycle. Or something like that. Penny supposed that made a bit of sense, though, even in current society. We’d cycled back to the winter solstice, to Christmas. Everyone was cycling back to their homes. Penny was returning to that small, insignificant speck of a town in Wisconsin where she’d lost all her baby teeth, and she’d been the star of the soccer team, and she’d first kissed a boy. And once the holidays were over, she and everyone else would start anew. Big changes were coming in 2013, and not just New Years’ resolutions. She could feel it.

It was the end of this world, and Penny was okay with it.

Sorry I didn't post yesterday. I worked from home to avoid waiting for the train in the middle of winter storm Draco. The worst of it didn't hit here until the night, anyway, but I didn't want to risk it.

My boss got us all Fitbits for Christmas, and I am now a woman obsessed. It's really fun and easy to use. And it's basically magical. You plug this little USB thing into your computer, and whenever you walk by it syncs with your Fitbit. The future is now. You can log your sleep and food, too. Hopefully this will be a good way to stay healthy.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


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

Darnell leans over the edge of the platform and spits on the tracks that took his brother. He still remembers the look of Ty’s body splayed across the rails, like some sort of giant broken bug. Helpless. Grotesque.

Ty was just trying to grab his phone. It was brand new.

Darnell curses the CTA. Darnell curses the sleepy commuters. Darnell curses Ben Franklin, and Thomas Edison, and George Westinghouse, and everyone else who murdered Ty. Nothing is ever an accident. Someone is always to blame.

A sad little story today. Public Service Announcement: if you do drop something on the CTA tracks, just tell the station attendant. They have these long poles to grab things off the tracks. Don't be stupid and jump down there yourself.

Tonight is my office's holiday party. I'm looking forward to it; we're going to this restaurant called Found. Sounds yummy. Two years ago my boss got us all random grab bags, and last year he got us all Kindles. So I really don't know what to expect in that regard. Hey, I guess that means my Kindle and I are celebrating our one year anniversary. How sweet. Thanks for the stories, you trusty little e-reader. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Seen boarding the Purple Line to the Loop at about 8:30 a.m.

Don’t even think about it, lady. Don’t do it.

“I like your holiday style. Merry Christmas!”

God. Dammit.

I didn’t mean to dress this way. I wasn’t even paying attention. I grabbed my green pants because they were clean, and my red sweater because it was already on the coatrack. I had absolutely no intention of spreading Christmas cheer. I’m Jewish, for God’s sake. Christmas drives me nuts. The tinsel and mistletoe and lights permeate every waking moment from Thanksgiving until New Years’, and I hate it. That’s right. Hate.

I’m your worst nightmare. I’m the motherfuckin’ Grinch, okay? So back off.

Oh look. It's finally snowing in Chicago. How crazy is that? It's only December 18th. Seriously, anybody who has lived in Chicago all their lives and doesn't believe in climate change must be nuts. It starts snowing so much later than it used to, and it snows way less often. Something wonky is going on with the weather.