Sunday, February 27, 2005

Morning Commute: The Original Entry

I haven't commuted in two weeks. Here is the original journal entry, jotted down on a folded piece of paper intended for an exquisite corpse 12/15/2004...

The commute, journalize the early morning trip from W24th Pl Chicago, IL to 3333 Beverly Rd, Hoffman Estates, IL via the CTA Blue Line from the S. Western stop to Rosemont, then by Pace bus to the Sears Headquarters. Total Distance 40 miles. Total time one hour and fifty minutes. On 12/15/2004, incidentally the day after our 8th wedding anniversary, the fare is $2.00 which includes one transfer. I use a monthly fare card ($75/month - minus ~30% due to pre-tax purchase). I drive two days a week. I am not by nature a morning person. The trip start time is 6:50 AM. Arrival 8:48 AM. Gasoline price currently >$2/gal. MPG for our VW Golf 30 miles/gallon. Toll fares vary depending on route 25 cents one way 65 cents another.

Quiet ride - cold crisp morning - pretty but not distinct sunrise colors bouncing off the steel white dome of the United Center then sharpening the lettering on the Truckers Union Building. Cute frail giggling Asian students on at UIC. Man across sees that I am writing, looks over often. He must assume I am writing about him. He's an older man - his thick wool cap gives rooster dimension to his bird-ish profile.

This time of year, light is dim and streaky before entering downtown subway. When we pop up at Division, Full Light. The day is blue and clear.

People in front: Young black man tucked into padded winter coat with fur lined hood with backpack and printed knit cap. Cute blonde girl with high heeled black leather boots, dressed in black with head cold. Elderly lady in hooded jacket, hood up - possibly Eastern European immigrant. Business man, round, black wool jacket, glasses, black knit cap. Business woman in teal jacket, wavy dirty blonde hair, listens to CD's through headphones. Black man tan jacket glasses knit cap. People dressed for cold but train is warm. Cute blonde's hair strikingly long. Young white man in tight grey wool jacket, black knit cap reads paper back, black side bag, black shoes, crisp



Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Morning Commute: Entry Eleven:

A school boy studies his notes set in the small triangle created by his cross-legged position which he can afford because he is sitting in one of those three position seats at the front of the bus that can't hold more than two average-size people anyway.

His notes are a series of small words set in bubbles, most of which are connected to one another with pen lines. Some bubbles are set in a larger kidney shaped bubble. His notes resemble a population map of the United States, East to West through Utah. Most of the bubbles are crammed together on the right spreading thinner due West with a second congregation in the Chicago area and then much thinner with only a few in the kidney shaped bubble (aka the inhospitable Southwest region).

I am handed a free copy of the Red Eye at the entrance to the N. Western Blue Line train station. The Red Eye is an alternate edition of the Chicago Tribune marketed to younger readers. It is usually 25 cents and as one might expect much thinner than a regular paper. News never adorns the cover. Today it is consumed by Janet Jackson, announcing that she won't be in the SuperBowl half-time show (so in effect, she won't be making any news this week).

On the second page is a commentary by a staffwriter who just turned 36 which happened to me a few months back too. She feels very old and sorry for herself. She tries to fatten her lips with a medicinal product that only makes her cry. She then smears her face with mud but she still isn't satisfied until she seeks advise from her mother who tells her that if she doesn't want to see wrinkles she should stop looking at herself.

The next story is about an Iraqi Rebel group that put a photo of a toy soldier online claiming it was a captured U.S. combatant. I identified with something in the adjacent photo, particularly the little plastic gun up to Commander Cody's little head. I imagine that kids today might play with toy soldiers in such a manner - making them terrorist captives, decapitating them and what not.

The "Need to know" section claims we need to worry about the Pope's successor and Congress' indecency ruling. On the next page, it is announced that dePaul University made a deal so that their students can download mp3's for free.

The international page is called FYI World.

I like the weather icons - each square (1/day + 5 day/forecast) depicts the same chisel-faced winking guy. You can tell the weather by the condition of his quaff. If it's cold he dons a cap; if it's raining, his hair is drooping and soggy; if it's windy his hair blows get the idea.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Morning Commute: Entry Nine:

Special Miami Beach Entry

It's trite to complain about the slowness of the hotel elevators in the context of the morning commute - a difference of one or two minutes to a three minute commute compared to the two hour commute in Chicago...BUT...these elevators are slow.

I take the stairs which are right by my room. The stairs have a sense of mystery and are not without their own set of frustrations. The first I tried only went up one flight. The second put me in the kitchen. I wandered around for three minutes trying in broken Spanish to ask the way out. The exit doors were right in front of me but I was hesitant because of the signs "Quiet! Meeting Taking Place." One more flight down drops you out on the street (I use this exit to run on the boardwalk, go to the pool, or head into dee da). On the second floor you have to walk down a winding hall - nothing fancy, just white concrete with spare stage lighting parts strewn about. It reminds me of the scene in Spinal Tap when the band gets lost behind the stage trying to get to it.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Morning Commute: Entry Eight:

Special Miami Beach Entry

The morning commute (if you can call it that this week) consists of walking about 20 yards from my hotel room to the elevators, taking them down six floors and walking however many paces to the ballrooms and conference rooms of the Hummingbird Summit held in the Loews Miami Beach Hotel.

Today I made one slight diversion, pushed *L instead of 2 in the elevator, turned right in the lobby, left out the door and walked about 100 yards down the palm lined steps, past the heated pool and spa, over the boardwalk to the Atlantic coast to watch the sunrise, which (though the breeze was easy, the water lovely, and the beach quiet) wasn't much to look at.

I am now being harassed by a flock of seagulls, not the Flock of Seagulls - they never harassed me, but these birds are and I'm worried they are interested in my coffee.

A Sly tune is running through my head - different strokes for different folks. If I could invert my life and live on the 7th floor of this hotel and work on the 2nd floor for 360 days of the year and live in Chicago for the other I would tell you, yes that would be nice.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Morning Commute: Entry Seven:

The sunrise is striking this morning. It is cloudy and the colors don't last long and are limited to a small space above the Pilsen skyline, bordered by a billowing smoke stack and the tall twin steeples of St. Paul's Catholic Church on Hoyne. I move to the end of the platform to better appreciate the sunrise but no sooner do I get there, the deep amber and purples fade to a bluish grey. Any residual colors are obscured by the shadowy row houses.

A stream of audio commentary flows through the train. A man stands near the door in a decorated purple hoody with shaped hip line. He is obviously talking to himself but with such clarity and calm that I look around to see if he has a voluntary audience. From my seat I cannot see him and it is easy to forget that he is schizo-phrenic. His soft voice is drowned out by that of the engineer who in a similarly soothing tone tells us that the train must wait until 7:07 to depart this station. She implores us to call a certain number and complain about the delay. She views the slow schedule as the residue of construction work that is complete. She is tired of going slow. She is cut-off by the shimmering announcer voice who tells us that the doors are closing and that they open on the left at Damen. This is followed by the trebly music emitted from my neighbor's head phones - a fast and furious norteno music.

I am not calling that number if it means I have to get up earlier to catch her. I hope she doesn't take it upon herself to speed things up, afterall we merge with the other blue line at Racine - that could prove disastrous, don't you think?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Morning Commute: Entry Five:

Six people get on at the Cermak Blue Line stop, ranging in size 2' to 4'5." The mean height of the smallest four is 3 feet. These four bounce around in the aisle looking like Easter marshmallows in their puffy jackets while mother (4'5") pays fare. Receiving soft dictates from mom, little by little they find seats. The least mini lifts mini-est into a seat that she then shares. Pink mini with finger puppets on her mitten tips finds a seat across from mom. Mom, in red jacket, hood and gloves, sits down next to me holding breakfast remnants between paper plates. She directs the last standing, a 3' winter ninja, to a cozy seat between strangers. He does not object. His feet dangle between the adult legs of his neighbors. By mid-journey, he is practically snuggling with a Mexican Burl Ives.

The four minis are good travelers, except for Pinkie who maintains a steady moan for most of the trip - crabbiness veiled as indignation because she had to shift her legs for another passenger. When mom heads to the exit with scarcely a word, Pinkie remains seated with pout. Without one look back, mom and three minis proceed out the door. I gently nudge Pinkie. She springs to life, and door. Goodbye minis.

A young woman (4'4") who entered with minis, sees my act and gives me the little smile of a girl who wants it known that motherhood is not even a tiny speck in her mind.