Wednesday, August 20, 2008

from Chicago

I’m off for the week-end! I toss this out to the condo concierge, feeling very New York about both the idea of the weekend starting on a Wednesday and that I have a concierge who'll pretend to care as I make my way out. An aura of urban-cool is precisely what Ed dislikes about the condo. Me, I like having someone (the "concierge") sign for deliveries. Besides, our man in the lobby (the "concierge") does not open doors. You’re on your own with that one.

And now, I am scaling down on the goodlife and taking the common form of public transportation to Chicago – the bus. I sit up front, near the driver, so that I can keep an eye on him and give advice, should he ask for it.

He doesn’t seek driving input, but he is a friendly fellow and as we make our way out of the city, he remarks – yep, it’s going to be an early and long winter.
I ask, genuinely curious.
My dog’s coat is already growing extra thick. The farmers are also noting signs of an early cold spell.
I mull this one over. It seems so preordained. And how is it that a dog’s fur is privy to something I do not know? How fair is that?
It must be hard on you, driving as you do no matter what the weather.
Oh, these buses run easy. We know where the road is supposed to be even if we don’t see it.

Another comment that makes me worry that everyone else has powers that have passed me by.
Anyway, it’s always great once you hit Illinois. They lay an inch of salt before there’s even a half inch of snow. And they plow with three trucks, side by side.
Don’t we do a good job in Wisconsin?
He laughs. In Beloit, they wont bother until the last flake is down. In Janesville, they keep saying it’s a federal problem and in Madison they wait to do what is environmentally correct, which usually means letting the sun melt it all. When they do go out, they plow one lane, wait for an hour and go after the other. Meaning, they sort of push the snow around from one side to the next.

Sounds dismal. I distract myself from the sad denouncement of my state’s plowing habits with a book. About New York, to get in the urban mood.


I’m on the blue line from O’Hare. Nice. Back when I lived in Chicago, the train didn’t make it all the way out here. Chug chug chug, I zip along in the direction of the Loop. Did I say zip? Is this the only subway in the world that moves more slowly than the congested Kennedy Expressway?


The final leg, this one on the city bus. Not too many people with issues on board. One who talks loudly about her dating situation, but so what. She’s bullish and brassy and interesting. Oh, there is the other one. The Asian woman clutching an old doll whose clothes and hair are beyond disgusting. People move away, just to keep their distance. From the doll.

We stop and a disabled person attempts to board on the drawn down platform. The platform gets stuck. The disabled elderly passanger wants somehow to climb over the ramp. The driver will have none of it. She tells us all that the damn bus is broken. Platform and all. We all get off. She stands there, surveying the bus, as if a good staring session will cure it of its malfunctioning.

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A new bus comes. We all climb on board. The disabled man finds a spot on the new bus, but not a secure spot, because as the bus lurches, he falls down. The bus stops. An accident report must be filed. We all get off. The old bus, now cured of its malfunctioning picks us up. Except for the diabled guy. But he is so traumatized that nothing makes much of an impression on him by now.


My daughters and I take a long walk, all the way down to the Ukrainian neighborhood. We walk past meatpacking plants, across bridges where few ever choose to walk.

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Purchase photo 1975

Ukrainian Chicago. Or, is it a partly Polish neighborhood?

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Is every neighborhood here partly Polish? Is Chicago the one city on the planet where I do not want to admit to being Polish? Oh, Chicago. You're a handful.


For superdad (in comments), more from the "Ukrainian village:" (Keeping in mind that neighborhoods are intractable these days. Though I did indeed hear Russian tossed around in a back yard. And Polish.)

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Purchase photo 1974

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Purchase photo 1973

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