Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Seen waiting for the Purple Line to Linden at about 8:15 a.m.

The almanac predicted a storm, so Patience dressed to meet it. Thick boots with her summer skirt, a jacket to deflect the breeze. She had never gone in for Doppler radars or weather apps. Her father had trusted the almanac back on the farm in Nebraska, and he’d almost always grown a bumper crop.

On the day she was born, the almanac warned of twisters, so her mother labored for hours beneath the heavy iron lid of the underground shelter. Patience was delivered safely into the damp, dark earth, unable to see the sky glowing green or hear the wind howling its dangerous song.

The almanac saved her life, right at its beginning. Now she wouldn’t trust anything else.

It's my last day at work! I can't believe it. It seems like I only applied to grad school yesterday, and now I'm leaving for Vegas in a week. My blogging may be a little spotty for the next few weeks, but I'll try to write as regularly as possible. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Seen waiting for the Purple Line to Linden at about 8:15 a.m.

Countless studies, one conclusion: wealth decreases a person’s empathy. Wealthy people feel entitled. Wealthy people approve of greed.

Having recently come into some money (RIP Grandma Ida), I’m worried that I’ll become that guy: avaricious, Wall Street-loving Republican douchebag with luxury cars and a big home in the suburbs with a pool. To avoid this fate, I’m making a list of ways I can stay in touch with the common man:

            Take the CTA                                     X
            Eat at McDonald’s                              X
            Watch reality TV
            Read Buzzfeed articles                       X
            Rent don’t buy                                    X
            Shop at Aldi
            See movies during matinee                X
            Dunkin’ Donuts not Starbucks                                  

It’s still a work in progress; I add new criteria every day. I’m trying my best, but I regularly encounter a few problems. For instance, I live closer to a Whole Foods than an Aldi, and it’s difficult to resist the temptation of convenience, especially since I can afford it. No matter how hard I try, I simply prefer Starbucks to Dunkin’. And reality TV just sucks. 
Despite these setbacks, I will continue to fight the influence of my money. I won't let it go to my head.

Sorry I didn't write a story yesterday--my dad drove me in from the burbs. I managed to fit all my clothes in only two suitcases because I'm magical. To make up for it, you should check out the other story I wrote for All Together Now today. Magic Erasers are rad.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Annie & Cris

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

Cris wrapped his arms around her waist and leaned in, but before their lips could meet:

“Don’t kiss me here.”

He didn’t let go. “Why the hell not?”

“It’s dirty.” Her eyes flicked to the ground and back, as if she thoroughly disdained the platform.

“You mean…just here? Or the CTA in general?”

“Yes, here! The CTA! All of it. Just think of the billions of germs squirming their way up our legs right now, crossing the bridge of our arms, mingling on our bodies. Ew. I’ve just grossed myself out. I don’t even want to touch you.” Annie shoved Cris’ arms away.

“But there are plenty of places just as filthy as—”

“Oh, really? Yesterday I literally walked through a gauntlet of four pissing men to get to the train. It wasn’t even in a proper alley! It was right next to—”

“I’m pretty sure urine is sanitary.”

“Gee, that’s so great, Cris. I’m so glad urine is sanitary.”

Cris stepped back to have a look at his girlfriend. Annie had her arms crossed and her shoulders hunched, as if she were trying to force her bones to fuse into a protective shell. Her jaw was clenched and her lips had gone white with nerves and contempt. She never used to be this way. Her anxiety was a new development.

“Holy shit. You’re really serious.” Annie only shivered in response. “Look, I’m sorry, but I can’t make the CTA any cleaner. And when you think about it, it can’t be much worse than other places we’ve been together. I mean, what about our bed? We sleep in there naked a lot, and we don’t wash the sheets all that often—”

“That’s just us, though.” Annie wormed her way back into his arms and leaned her head against his chest. “I don’t mind your germs. I love your germs.”

“You know what?” Cris rummaged through his backpack and pulled out a small plastic bottle. “Here. Purell.” He squeezed some onto Annie’s hands. “Don’t ever say that I don’t get you.”

I truly did walk through a gauntlet of peeing men yesterday, on the way back from Molly's show. And they say women go to the bathroom in packs. Tonight: packing. Tomorrow: moving and a gogo show. Exciting stuff. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Seen waiting for the Red Line to 95th

In Siri’s line of work, the most important aspect of her outfit is a comfy pair of shoes. She stands while fixing up the bodies, she stands while meeting their families, she stands in the back of the parlor during every service. Each day is steeped in the juxtaposition of her toil and her clients’ eternal rest.

Siri is as pale as a corpse, and her entire wardrobe is somber black—never will you see her in an ashy gray or a respectful navy blue. Despite her pallor—or perhaps because of it—Siri has mastered the art of breathing life into the dead. With her brushes and creams and powders, she smears the blood back into their cheeks and smooths away the wrinkles that betray the pain and fear her clients felt in their last moments. She transforms lifelessness into peaceful slumber.

Sometimes her clients’ friends and relatives compliment Siri on her work. Sometimes they ask about her unusual name, but she never feels like giving a full Egyptian mythology lesson. She simply tells them it’s a nickname, which is true.

We came *so close* to winning trivia last night. But since it was my last night there, we simply named our team "Becky's Last Trivia So Give Us Shots." It worked.

If you're in Chicago, you should see my sister's band Bittersweet Drive play The Original Mother's tonight. Folky goodness.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Seen at the Wilson Red Line Station at about 6:30 p.m., July 23rd, 2013

“You’ll get stepped on, Squeaky,” said my sister Marcia, all smug as usual, “and then Mom will cry.”

“Bullshit. She’ll probably cry for like a second and then have another goddamn litter.”

I knew I shouldn’t have said it, but I said it anyway. Sure enough, my little brother Billy piped up. “You said a bad word! I’m telling Mom.”

“Tell her, then. What do I care?” Billy started crying.

I don’t know why I got stuck with a stupid name like Squeaky when all my other brothers and sisters have totally normal names. I mean, Squeaky’s not my real name. It’s Jacob, to tell you the truth. It really is, if you can believe it. Jacob. How funny is that? I’ve heard lots of different stories about why I’m called Squeaky. Mom says it’s because I was so cute—which I have a hard time believing, honestly. I imagine that I probably just looked like all other babies look, shriveled and pink and hairless. Babies are kind of gross, when you think about it. You can’t really blame them, though. It’s not their fault they look so weird. And they can be nice to have around. I liked it when all my little siblings were born. It was fun to watch their whiskers grow in and all. But they’re still kind of gross.

Marcia says I’m called Squeaky because when I was little I was scared all the time and I squealed a lot. Goddamn Marcia. She’s always saying stuff like that, trying to make you feel bad about yourself. She wants to be perfect, but she’s not, and the only way she can make herself believe that she’s perfect is by being a real bitch to everybody. Which is so stupid, really, because she’s close to perfect anyway. I mean it. She’s got all this pretty gray hair that never seems to get dirty, and her nose is rosy pink, and she’s damn intelligent. She’s right about me, too—I was scared a lot as a kid. But that doesn’t mean she has to go reminding me about it all the time.

She can’t say I’m scared now, though. There’s no way, because I’m the only one that’s brave enough to go out and have a look at them. The humans, that is. That’s what we were talking about that day. I wanted to see the big ugly things for real. Humans—how funny are they? In all their stories and stuff, mice are all cute. I’ve heard of Cinderella, mice helping her out and all that. But then when they actually see us, they go nuts. Absolutely nuts. They scream, and they lay out all these traps. They’re such hypocrites. It makes me sick.

I wanted to see one even though they make me sick. I’d seen them from far away, of course, lots of times. But Mom usually keeps us inside the walls, and we’re only allowed on the track sometimes. From down there you can look up and see them waiting for the trains. I always think it’d be crazy fun to crawl up one of their legs and totally freak them out, but then they’d probably kick me off and I’d get hurt. I’d probably deserve it.

I got myself into this big mess, though, because I wanted to see a human, and I wanted to make Marcia angry because she’s such a snob. So I snuck out through this little hole and started running around the stairs. They have all these little crossed lines in them, I guess because the humans are bad at walking, or something. So I was running around, minding my own business, having a blast, and then there she was. This lady, this human lady, coming up the stairs right in front of me. She had on these sandals, and I could see her toes wiggling around—some of them were bigger than my head! I was a little disappointed, because she didn’t scream. She just sort of gasped. I squealed, though, and ran back inside the hole. I don’t know why I got so scared, honestly. There I was, seeing what I wanted to see, and I got scared. Maybe I was worried she’d step on me. I don’t know. I’m a lunatic. I swear I am.

I've been re-reading The Catcher in the Rye, so when I saw a mouse yesterday I started picturing a mouse-as-Holden-Caulfield. My brain does bizarre things sometimes.