Thursday, June 27, 2013


Seen waiting for the Red Line to 95th at about 8:45 a.m.

She has packed her suitcase and donned her puffy winter vest. Rebekah is ready for her trip to The Cold Place. The name is misleading; though it is colder there in June than in Chicago, Chicago is colder for much of the year. The name has less to do with the weather and more to do with the people she visits—her cousins, her older brother, her ailing grandmother.

In The Cold Place, Rebekah’s relatives are hospitable. They welcome her with smoked snoek and home-brewed umqombothi. They let her hold their newborn babies. They offer her their couches to sleep on. They are never rude.

In The Cold Place, Rebekah’s relatives are nothing more than hospitable. She can hear the ice in her brother’s voice, a frosty resentment that she leads her own life, a chilly judgment passed upon her—he believes she does not do enough for the family. Her grandmother’s voice is sharp and cool like metal. Whenever she speaks, her words dig barbs into Rebekah’s skin. Whatever the topic, she knows her grandmother is truly saying “why do you go so far away?”

Rebekah’s family is so pointedly not rude that it makes her sick. She prefers to spend most of her time in The Cold Place at West Park Cemetery, sitting near her parents’ graves, telling them about Chicago.

I guess it should say "Red Line to Ashland/63rd" at the top thanks to the construction, but whatever. I hope I got these details about South Africa correct. I did some quick research before I typed it up, but I wouldn't be surprised if I screwed up somehow. Sorry, any South Africans reading this!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


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

“Girl, what’s with your hair?”

“I dunno, Nana. It’s red.”

“Yes, I can see that, Zadie-Lou. I have eyes, don’t I?”

“I like it. Rihanna dyed her hair like this.”

“Is that what they teach you in beauty school? To dye your hair like every star that’s popular for five minutes?”

“Rihanna’s pretty popular.”

“I see. You look like Bozo the Clown.”


“No, girl, you listen to me. I may not have gone to beauty school or college or nothing like that. But I don’t need any school to know that red hair doesn’t mean fire-engine-red—”





“Nana! Stop it. Maybe you’re just too old to get it, but this look is sick.”

“I’d say so.”

“No, I meant sick like—”

“Have you ever seen Grease?”


“The movie Grease.”


“Really? It has Olivia Newton-John, and John Travolta when he was a fine young thing.”

“Gee, a movie with a bunch of old white people I’ve never heard of. Sounds great.”

“How do you know they’re white if you’ve never heard of them?”

“Nana, I don’t—”

“It’s a musical! Anyway, it has this song you should listen to called ‘Beauty School Dropout.’”


“You could learn a thing or two from it.”

“Nana, why you gotta be so cruel?”

“I’m only looking out for you, Zadie-Lou. When I’m dead and gone and eating pancakes with the Lord Jesus up in Heaven, you’ll wish you’d listened to your Nana about that hair.”

Fun with dialogue. It's a good day for America! No more DOMA! No more Prop 8! Good riddance. Now if only they hadn't gutted the Voting Rights Act yesterday...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Seen exiting the Fullerton Station at about 8:40 a.m.

There he is, coming down the stairs: dirty knees, flushed cheeks, the slightest tinge of gray beneath his eyes. This is the face of youth at its happiest, a boy who has just spent the whole night celebrating his city and his team. He has not slept. He has consumed many beers, beers in plastic cups, beers that sloshed over onto his hands and into the street. His sandal is broken, but his jersey is just as vibrant as it was when he slipped it over his head the previous evening. His mother would say, “Ashton, what have you done?” But his mother isn’t here; she’s four whole states away, and to him that’s the biggest win of all.

As a Chicagoan, I felt obligated to write a Blackhawks-related story today. That was one hell of an exciting game. Coincidentally, my most recent story for All Together Now is about punching somebody in the face. So, you know, not technically hockey-related, but close.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Seen on the Purple Line to Linden at about 9 a.m.

Why do you write your poems in bright blue ink? is what everybody asks and I’d like to pretend it’s something esoteric because chicks dig that shit but mostly it’s because I’m left handed and the bright blue ink doesn’t smear as much when my hand moves over the page. I know it’s a pen for little girls because it has sparkles but hell who’s to say what what’s for whom anyway? They say publishing is for people with talent but on the internet anyone can publish anything and does that mean everyone’s talented? My mom thinks I’m talented and my girlfriends all start out thinking I’m talented but then they start doubting me which is a real kick in the nuts actually a metaphorical kick in the nuts but you know what I mean. They say I shouldn’t use run-on sentences and so did my teachers but I don’t buy into that bullshit because teachers are old tired bitches and also because I’m a run-on sentence and so are you and so is life and maybe people should just figure that out already.

Fun with run-on sentences. I had a lovely weekend. Hope you did, too. I really need to find a way to incorporate gogo dancing into my life when I move to Vegas. I'm going to miss my Old Town School & Buffy-a-Gogo ladies so much...

Friday, June 21, 2013


Seen walking to the Fullerton stop at about 8:30 a.m.

Tatyana decided to carry it around as a good luck charm, but she hadn’t anticipated how much trouble it would be. She knew it’d start to stink eventually, but even now keeping it around was a pain. It barely fit in her biggest bag. She had to keep twisting it one way or another so the nose wouldn’t poke out the side. And, worst of all, it was heavy. She pulled out her phone and Googled it: the average human head weighs between eight and twelve pounds. That wouldn’t normally be too bad, but with all the other shit in her purse—wallet, phone, makeup, can of Diet Coke—it was enough to tug her shoulder down pretty hard.

Besides, she thought, he was so stubborn and conceited that it must be a particularly big head. She opened the bag and gazed into the eyes she’d hated so thoroughly, eyes that were slowly becoming pale and filmy. It seemed to Tatyana that he was as much a problem in death as he was in life.

Last night was a lovely gogo graduation. Only three of us showed up, so I got to be Diana Ross, and we got to improv with Disco Ensemble, and also there were cupcakes. A good time was had by all. Speaking of gogo, I'm dancing with The Fortunate Sons on Saturday in Homer Glen if anyone's interested. American English is also playing, so there will be all the fantastic tunes of CCR AND The Beatles.

In other news, Gena's most recent post on All Together Now is up. You should read it. It will make your Friday better.