The Long Walk Home

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In the dead of winter when I walk through city streets, I often forget that I do indeed love summer in Chicago. I’m in a hurry for it to get dark, to get home. But tonight, a wonderfully warm evening, my walk home from the El served as the reminder I had been waiting for.

My favorite time of day in the summer is the time between the afternoon and sunset. For a few years I have been convinced this is only a time I can enjoy on the beach in Michigan—the stillness, all the families gone up to dinner, crumbled sandcastles, the sun slipping slowly, the lake, likely still, unable to produce the slightest wave.

Immediately after I descended the El platform, I could smell a winters worth of piss baking on the concrete. I thought perhaps I should be lazy and take the bus the rest of the way home. But the muted activity around me relaxed me in a way that those moments on the beach do. Even the drug dealers that hang out beneath and near the station seemed renewed in a non-chemical way.

And so I walked. I passed two girls talking about boys (idiots, to be sure) in their class. I passed a group of boys at that stereotypical rowdy age when they love to be loud and noticed. But tonight, they were gingerly holding water balloons in their hands and tiptoeing across the street. I thought how nice it was to see a balloon fight, as opposed to the recent gun fights. I passed tree-lined streets, the greenery seeming to have burst into bloom overnight. I smiled at the struggling restaurants—their patios full with patrons.

I passed the tuxedo rental place I have always cringed at. But I didn’t notice the garish dresses in the window which I always assume are meant for events I’ve never attended, such as quinceañeras. Instead, I saw a group of boys no older than seventeen smiling as they picked out tuxedos. I imagined the delight on their date’s faces a few days from now on prom night.

And I thought how I’ve always loved this time of day in the city—didn’t I used to wait with my brother until our dad walked down our block, home from work? It was only then that we knew it was dinnertime and soon, we would have to eat and then beg our parents to go back out until we saw fireflies. Then we’d round up the cats from the yard, determined that they not have a later curfew than us, determined that though it was dark now, the next day was nearer.

I approached the final block of my journey and smelled something that I first thought was pot. But the sweetness overtook the muskiness and I thought I know this smell. I couldn’t place it. And then it smells like grandma’s kitchen. I don’t know what that means, I don’t know how to describe it, I have no idea what it could have been—I was just relieved to be able to place it. I hadn’t smelled that smell in fifteen years and I’m sure if I’d hurried down the block in my usual pace, I would have missed it. The beach in Michigan was far away and I couldn’t have been happier to be tucked into a city neighborhood.

Nearing the end of the block, I maintained eye contact for a moment too long with a man coming my way. His eyes couldn’t focus and although he was not near enough, I could smell a days worth of booze. As we passed each other, he said, in the surliest of ways that only these types of men can achieve: “hey big girl.” I turned onto my block, and just like that, I was home.

Things I Live For: Reunions

Quote of the Day: “Took all winter to get through the summer.” –Tom Petty

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I have quite the dilemma. At the off-ramp of the highway I get off at everyday, I see my fair share of homeless beggars. Recently, I have been really in a pickle as I try to discern which of 2 guys is really homeless.

This is why it’s tricky: one wears a 2010 Blackhawks Stanley Cup Champions shirt, the other wears a Chicago Bulls 3-Peat shirt.

At first, I called bullshit on the Stanley Cup guy–that win is pretty recent so he obviously had the 20 bones a month ago to purchase that shirt. But what if they were passing those shirts out like candy and I just happened to miss it? Maybe they had a lot of extras after they realized no one in Chicago *really* likes hockey.

So then you’re telling me the guy in the 15+year old shirt isn’t the real homeless guy? That shirt has a lot of miles on it, a lot of beggin’ miles–it’s a part of the classic homeless look. OR IS IT?

Because if I had a Bulls 3-Peat shirt that I could find, you bet your ass I wouldn’t be parading it around everyday. That shit would be worn only on special occasions. That shirt is an ANTIQUE. Worth millions. A RARE antique that this guy obviously had enough money to buy because clearly he was over in ‘Nam when the first 3-peat happened.

Basically, what we have here at the Kennedy off-ramp at Irving Park is an antique enthusiast and the only hockey fan in the city of Chicago.

So I ask: Will the real homeless person please stand up?

Pet Peeve of the Day: Fall not being here soon enough

Quote of the Day: “You can look back but it’s best not to stare.” –Tom Petty

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There are many versions of songs that I like the cover of better than the original.  Is this sacriligious?  Or does it have something to do with my absolute love of cover songs?  I mean, I could be at any show in the world, and if any band plays any song that is not originally theirs, I will likely go nuts. 

So here’s a list of covers I like better than the original (also note, you must have heard the original in order to like the cover better.  Obvious right?  Well, when I was out at college in Ithaca some loser at the paper wrote an article about how Rusted Root had covered Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” at a concert on campus the night before.  Needless to say, I raged and wrote a strongly worded letter to the editor.  Which I think is still online if you google my name). 


Phish’s “Loving Cup” always beats The Stones version.

Further, Phish’s “Cities” is on my iPod, while the Talking Heads version is not.  Nor will it ever be.

I dig me some John Prine, but “Angel From Montgomery” will always belong to Dave Matthews in my mind.

Now, this might be really bad–I love Joaquin Phoenix’s “Cry, Cry, Cry” way better than J.R. Cash’s.

And some songs whose covers absolutely blow dogs:

“A” for effort Eric Clapton, but “I Shot the Sheriff” belongs not in the hands of a Brit, but in the hands of a black dreadlocked man named Bob Marley

The Counting Crows absolutely ruined Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi.”

The Byrd’s “My Back Pages” isn’t really that bad but it’s hard to outdo Bobby D on this one…

Are there any cover songs you like better than the originals?

Pet Peeve of the Day: See paragraph two above.

Quote of the Day: “It took a world of trouble, it took a world of tears, yeah it took a long time to get back here.” –Tom Petty

Bonus quote since we’re talking music: “She comes back to tell me she’s gone,
As if I didn’t know that, as if I didn’t know my own bed, as if I’d never noticed, the way she brushed her hair from her forehead, and she said losing love is like a window in your heart, Everybody sees you’re blown apart, Everybody sees the wind blow.” –Paul Simon

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…if you want my respect.  (In honor of opening day at Wrigley today, woo hoo!!)

1) A knowledge of baseball 

2) Clever heckling lines (read: not “you suck”)

3) A willingness to boo the home team

4) A thirst for beer (read: not mai tais)

5) A hate for any unofficial mascot (read: Ronnie “Woo Woo” Wickers)

6) A couple quarters to use the payphone (read: because you will not need to be on your mobile during the game, standing up and waving at people across the field)

7) A jersey in which you commit to a team member (read: not blank, and not your last name)

8 ) An interest in baseball

9) Sticky hands (read: if you catch a ball in the bleachers you will not throw it back)

10) A pen (to keep score with)

And bonus points if you bring the day’s sports section! 🙂

Pet Peeve of the Day:My incessant need for socks because otherwise my feet become ice

Quote of the Day: “I don’t wanna end up in a room alone–don’t wanna end up someone I don’t even know.” –Tom Petty

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Census 2010

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I got my census form in the mail the other day– this is my first census ever and I am verrrrrry excited!  I also contemplated being a census taker because they pay good money, you can work part-time, and pretty much any American can qualify… but alas I never got around to it, and turns out I wouldn’t have time anyway.  My hope was to stumble upon a household such as this:


“Don’t push your politics on me pal!”  Love it!

Things I Live For: Ludacris on the Martha Stewart show (honestly I think he is one of the most common guests); Having had my windows open for three days straight

Quote of the Day: “Oh baby don’t it feel like heaven right now, don’t it feel like something from a dream — Yeah I’ve never known nothing quite like this don’t it feel like tonight might never be again.” –Tom Petty

*Don’t forget to enter my giveaway HERE*

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