Friday, September 5, 2014

September 5th

Once again I am riding the train, and once again the train is delayed, but right now I don't mind, because when the train is still I can look out my window and count the grazing deer. It is the first week of September and it is going to be fall soon. When I woke up Wednesday morning, I went running, and the air smelled like smoke. On Wednesday, the sun came up on my third mile instead of my first. But right now it is summer, that last spin and hurl of it, and I am on a train. I am going, as always, to Michigan.

My grandmas live in Michigan. I am on my way to see them. One lives in a neat little condo on the north side of a very small town in which she was born and raised and will likely die in. She sleeps in silk pajamas, and the leather couch she's had since the divorce more than 30 years ago is always cool when I lay my cheek upon it. The other one lives in an old home on the edge of a swamp in a city that lives half full. The backyard is full of crabapples and broken dolls' heads and my great-grandmother's ashes lie under a sundial. It was on the side porch where this grandma poured me my first homemade lemonade. This grandmother drinks tea, slowly. 

A few miles from the swamp lies a lake, and over that lake stands a bridge lacing together an American shore with a Canadian one. Twenty seven years ago this past July, my mom and dad rode across its length on a 1986 Yamaha Radian for their first date. The towns of my grandmas are approximately half an hour apart. 

When I look out my window on the train, I see a cemetery and then a viaduct with graffiti that screams SATAN SAYS KILL THE POOR. When I look out a second time, I see a junkyard graveyard full of what I always think of as "Baptist busses," a thought vaguely related to a church camp I went to one elementary school summer.  There are rows and rows of vehicles, pale blue with black lettering, that used to carry kids and now just sit on the earth and sigh. 

I used to be very angry with somebody. Decades before I was born, she was unable to protect someone I love. I was furious with her in my late teen years, when I had hurts of my own. I thought I could be saved from these hurts by turning my unfocused anger upon someone other than myself. I do remember the first time I really forgave her, writing alone in my shoebox bedroom senior year of college, how good it felt and how utterly relieving. It seems all silly to tell you now, indulgent or somehow stereotypical--the small room, the dim light, my journal and my underage tears, but it was important. The next morning I woke up, remembered something stupid, and got mad all over again. Forgiveness isn't something I can just do once and be done. I have to do it again and again and again. It is infuriating, but each time I feel a little better, a little calmer, for a little longer. I guess forgiveness is a constant, if it is to be anything at all.

Inside the train, it's raining. The cars are freezer box cold, but the space in-between that links them is as humid as a greenhouse. It is here, on my way to the bathroom, where I feel drops hit my head. The window on the train door has fogged from the inside. Outside, everything is lush and wet. 

When I sit back down, the conductor announces that the train is running 45 minutes late and counting. I need to face my editing work. I need to stand back up and go buy the shitty cafe car food and shitty cafe car coffee so I can sit back down and get paid to do something I theoretically wouldn't mind making a full time job, but when I look out my window at farmhouses and rain and cornfields bowing down under the weight of that rain, I remember running through a field. I was eleven, and playing outside with my grandfather and my brothers and my sister during a deep June storm. I remember now how good it felt for all of us to see each other muddy and panting while the corn lit green and the sky poured down. Later that evening, while the rest of the kids scurried into the car and moths wove overhead, my grandpa stood with my mother on a porch and told his daughter he loved her for the first time in my hearing. I know I have written about this memory before, but I will write about it now and forever until I die. He was a difficult man. We are all difficult, men and women alike, but trains still move, and motorcycles still ride across international bridges in blue collar towns. My birthday is coming up. I sure am glad to be going home. 


Monday, June 30, 2014

I spent Pride 2014 in the medical tent so you don't have to

Yesterday, I blacked out in a crowd of several hundred wearing nothing but a tiny striped sailor shirt and a pair of shorts with an inseam that definitely reached my cervix, and nobody sexually assaulted me. In fact, me and my bicycle were more or less crowd surfed over the safety barrier to the nearest cop, an old white dude sporting the mysteriously unstylish haircut of a lesser Backstreet Boy. He cradled me in one arm while pulling my bike with the other. After we took a few steps away from the crowd, I could peel my sweaty head off his shoulder; he set me down and half carried, half led me to the medical tent on Halsted and Belmont, where I sat down and drank a red Gatorade on a cot across from two wild-eyed middle-aged women the blonde of fried eggs who took turns mouthing things behind the attendant's back, while a dude in handcuffs sat glumly outside the tent in the sun.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"[Y]ou must find some way of using this to connect you with everyone else alive."

I don't really know shit about policy or statistics. I know stories, and my own experience, and the experience of every woman I have ever spoken to in my life. I do know that a lot of people are really eager to say Elliot was mentally ill and/or a twisted, bad misogynist, which makes me mad for two reasons. Mental illness, while a huge problem in this country, does not let misogyny and poor gun control off the hook; and you don't have to kill a woman to hurt a woman. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Brief History of the Previous Two Months, as Told in Lists

Things I am good at:

No-bake cookies
Flossing
Crying in the work bathroom
Asking personal questions
Always smelling a little bit like vagina
Not saying the r word
Worrying what other people think of my sexual choices
Riding my bike
Going to Home Depot
Going to Trader Joe’s
Generalized anxiety disorders
Buying incense 
Being a Virgo
Asking the sweet-faced doctor if, as she pulls out my IUD, my friend can come in the room and watch
Wondering if everyone is hanging out without me
Wearing little almost-training bras in a weird but not sexually inappropriate way
Watching Soul Train
Making myself at home

Saturday, February 1, 2014

On running and inside rooms

Sometimes when I’m running I get to see people’s inside rooms. One morning on 17th Street, just past Carpenter, a woman cut her daughter’s hair before school with the front door open. The morning was very dark and cool, and the light from the room was very warm. It caught on the scissors and winked, which made me slow my pace to turn my head and see. The hair of the girl was black: she sat still in a chair and looked east.

Another morning I woke earlier than normal because I had to take the bus to Madison, so when I came around the curve of Archer Ave to run underneath the long overpass between Halsted and Canal, it wasn’t yet six. I passed by fire after fire in the dark, set back from the sidewalk and the fly of cars, surrounded by blue shadows shaped like men. They were talking to each other in low voices but I didn't stop to listen, even though I wanted to, because these are private spaces and eavesdropping is rude.

Monday, January 13, 2014

On dating, Part 2


The last time I went on a date it was mid September. I took the bus down Western to take another bus so I could make it to a Brain Frame event in the Co-Prosperity Sphere. I want to say here that I resent things with names that mean nothing but hint at peace and wellness, but I was trying to be Well Behaved because I was On A Date, so I didn’t make fun of the CS. Before arriving at the Sphere, my date and I met over at Maria’s. The gentlemen in question was very nice, although rather pallid, and we were really close to understanding each other’s sense of humor, so I’d say it was a fine and reasonable date. On our walk from Maria’s to the Sphere, I only noticed his lisp once or twice.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The things I think about on a Chicago-bound train on Christmas night.


I'm riding the 355 back to Chicago on Christmas night and everyone on the cafe car is shaped like an ornament. The exception is the gentleman wearing the purple cammo bandana and a mustache like a stain of chocolate milk if chocolate milk was made of pubic hair. He looks a lot like Pornstache from Orange is the New Black so I automatically want to push him off the train. 

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