Saturday, January 29, 2005

Morning Commute: Entry Four:

A Lady gets on at N. Western Blue Line stop with me. She wears narrow black rimmed glasses, a large fur cap, a burgundy knit scarf, tweed jacket - she is not small, and her attire gives her a big presence, particularly her cap...and the fact that she is listening to something through head phones that gives her great risible pleasure.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Morning Commute: Entry Three:

A strikingly beautiful tall girl slowly makes her way towards me. She has high cheek bones, smooth unblemished skin, thick lips, big brown eyes. She stands out in the pack of inner-city high school kids clamoring onto the bus - fake dis-colored hair extensions not withstanding.

She puts her hand on the support bar near me. A scrawny boy with almost identical hands places his hand above hers but touching. He's at least a foot smaller and the juxtaposition is funny. He gives her a look and he has the face of a natural comic. She starts to laugh. He teases her about a boy she's been talking to at school. "He's just a friend." He continues to make her laugh. He wears an earring, a fashionable shirt, a big furry jacket (humorously too big), a nice cap and immaculate white tennis shoes - particularly impressive since the streets are sludgey with melting snow. Just before my stop, he brings me into their conversation. He's just told her that he's not going to put up with any funny business (or something along those lines). He seeks my support. "You gotta do what you can." They laugh. I get off.

In the back of the train, somewhat obscured sits an Indian. His skin is dark. His hair straggley and he has thin patchy whiskers. He wears a fleece hoody decorated with Native American designs and Indian Chiefs in head dress, around him is a serape. Near end of journey, he packs his things into a blue bag. He gets off with me but goes directly to the inbound track and waits.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Morning Commute: Entry Two:

It is cold and wet. The windows of the day laborers office are obscurred by condensation. Inside, I can see the huddled hooded men drowsy and dark. It is dark outside too and misty. From the platform it is not possible to see downtown.

A man and a woman get on downtown. They are dressed in thick black jackets with red insignias that read "securitas." They lead german shepherds, muzzled with red body garments. The man and woman speak in the dialect of inner-city youth. Telling the dogs to "get yo ass ova here" and peppering their speech with "mothafucka" this and that. They lead their dogs off after a few stops.

A middle-aged Chinese woman gets on. She wears a grey jacket with wide patches, the hood buttoned to itself, the elbows have circular patches; also a white knit cap with a rainbow of dots, stripes of color on the bottom and a ball of colored threads on top. She holds a pen and I am curious to see what she's writing but I have to wait a while. She makes notes in Chinese on a 2000-2001 sample test, probably a US citizenship exam. It has questions and answers in Chinese and English. Stuff like:

How many senators are there in the US Congress?
Who is the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?
(William Rehnquist - this answer in Chinese is only six characters)
If the President and the Vice President die, who becomes President?
(Speaker of the House)
Who elects Congress?
Name the thirteen original states?
(come on you can do it)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Morning Commute. Entry One:

Couldn't sleep last night even after three glasses of wine. Restless and grumpy from work holiday party which I left early feeling lost and unsociable. Woke up late; stared at the computer too long; had Tricia drive me to the North Western stop.Pass expired, had to dig for change. First, ran out to try and catch Tricia - don't exactly know why, would have stayed home I guess. Waved frantically as she drove by yawning. She didn't see me. Arrived at Rosemont several minutes early. Train uneventful, not many passengers since I skipped the downtown stops. Girl behind, very black hair against pale round face, sneezes. I whisper "bless you." Whispers back "thanks." I read Sun-Times Real Estate section someone left on seat. Mostly about new homes/developments in Chicago suburbs. Mason buys home in new development that he was already working on. Believes houses are of better design - points to external kitchen exhaust and window sills for examples. He's building his own fireplace. 300k 2-3 bath. I'm early; so it appears, is the quick moving rastafarian homemade-crown wearing doomsday sign holding man who gets on inbound. Runs, hops by me.Young French man in urban business fashion discusses sugar with black American friend who puts a lot of it in his coffee. French man suggests that Americans can no longer taste sugar, it's so ubiquitous (not his words). Also explains that cold things imbibed cause body to heat up and reverse. "Zat ees why desert people, zey are drinking hot things."
Bus is warm, quiet. Day is clear and crisp. Reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez story in Spanish with parallel English text - library book, from which this page is stolen! Book checked out often.