Life at an Intersection

Chicago Phoenix, indemnity bonds, journaling, really really really want a zigazig ah, travel, books, travel books, relationships, values. It is hard to pinpoint precisely, but I'd say about 82% of what you read here is true. The rest is fictional nonfiction.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Southern Man

My bank manager goes to the mosque every Friday afternoon for a weekly prayer service. Today when he came back, he told us that there had been a special ceremony because a guy there had, in his words, "accepted Islam." Then he told us that the man had converted from Christianity. I said, "She must be really beautiful," and Mohammad said, "No, he." And then I explained my joke, that the man must be becoming a Muslim so that he can marry some beautiful woman. Don't tell him that I said so, but Mohammad's wife is a total knock-out. I'd convert for her.

But really, at the words accepted Islam, I became very uncomfortable with the whole conversation. I can't say that it was because I am unfamiliar with that sort of terminology or usage; I'm very familiar with it. Only from a Christian perspective, of course. It took me four-tenths of a second to realize how very off-putting and cultish a lot of our Christian verbiage and nounage must seem to those with limited knowledge of faithspeak and Bibletalk.


I joined Facebook yesterday. I think that I'll probably come to regret that, but for now I'm finding it a profitable exercise, reconnecting with some really nice people from my past and connecting differently with some really nice people from my present. I'm adding friends slowly so that I can try to be personable and write a message to folks that I may not have talked with in six or eight years instead of just adding people to some silly roll call friends list.

A moment of unfettered honesty, I hope: I think that one reason I'm doing this is to prove to myself that I have friends. And I do have friends! Lovely, nice people. But I'm not the kind of person that collects connections or flaunts friendliness, and I don't have many friends in the here and now. So I'm reminding myself that I like people and people like me. I'm getting better about this in the real world, too, attending this Sunday night church service the last three weeks and meeting some nice and funny people. Making conversation and laughing, I can do it!


But do I sabotage myself? Do I wait until I have my flight booked and my exit from the scene staged before I really try to love and embrace the place where I am? I've been accused of that, but I don't think it is necessarily fair. Sure, it is easier to try meeting new people and getting involved in new things now that my calendar says T-minus three months to liftoff. If something doesn't work out, no sweat, I'm leaving anyway. But I'm no commitment-phobe, and I've managed to make great new friends in lots of places that I've been in the world.

I guess the truth is that things really start coming together after a year of living somewhere. Stuff becomes second nature, and you get to know people, even the incidental little people in your life, on a deeper level. Opportunities arise, things grow and change, and life becomes easier and better. Sadly for me, that is also the time that I am itching to move along to somewhere else, something new and exciting and different. So while there are some really positive and advantageous changes coming at my work, and while I may have just met some really cool new people, and while I may be totally digging this new church service, and while they may be building a Trader Joe's - I couldn't dream this up if I wanted - at the end of the block where I live, I am still getting ready to leave. Again.


I got some papers in the mail yesterday from my building managers asking me to renew my lease - which expires at the end of next month - for another year. I was kind of sweating it, then: what if they won't let me stay for just a few months, what if they want another year commitment or I have to be out? Moving to a new, temporary place in Chicago just isn't an option; way too much expense, work, and hassel to justify a three month stay. So I was trying to mentally prepare myself for the possibility of moving to Savannah at the end of April instead of the end of July. That would be so soon!

I called today on my lunch break, and they are letting me go month-to-month, just asking for a month's notice before I move out. Dodged a bullet on that one.

Currently Listening to:
Neil Young, Greatest Hits

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Éirinn go brách

Today is pretty much the low point of the Chicago social calendar as far as I'm concerned. The Saturday of or just before St. Patrick's Day is certifiably insane around here. It seems to be especially bad here in my neighborhood, as there are a large concentration of Irish-themed pubs in a very short walking distance from my apartment. This morning I went to catch my bus to work at about 8:30, and I was amazed at the number of people who were already staggering down the street in their bright green tee shirts and Mardi-Gras-with-clover plastic bead necklaces. It took me a few hours to realize that those people probably just never went home last night, but still, 8:30 am is impressive either way, starting or finishing. On the ride home this afternoon I saw the police dragging some guy out of this one pub just down the block, handcuffing him on the back of the unmarked squad car while the line up of eager DePaul students waiting to get in the door for some green beer watched idly by. That was about 3 pm, so the party's really just begun.

I hate drunk people, so I'm gonna be holed up at home for the rest of the evening, waiting for this storm of cod-Irish alcoholism to pass me by. At least tonight I'll feel like I have some excuse.

Currently Reading:
At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O'Neill

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Can't Go Back Now


I've never seen white people drinking beer on the bus before. So I had to take a picture.

Before I decided that it was okay to post that, I made a flowchart of how to determine is a comment like that is racist or not. Is is true? Yes. Then, is it funny? Yes. Then, is it mean-spirited? No. Then, is it outright offensive? No. Then say it.

It is snowing here today, tiny, sparkling snow somewhere between glitter and the tiniest down feathers that escape from my insulated vest. It swirls and shines and falls and disappears.

I sat at Starbucks for several hours earlier today, one up in the Andersonville neighborhood that I chose specifically because it gets several Missed Connections a week on Craigslist. I think that all of the attractive coffee drinkers must have been taking the day off from being attractive coffee drinkers today, though.

Whenever I get a drink at Starbucks or Caribou or wherever, I have to have the opening of the lid positioned directly above the cup's main logo before I take a drink. Then I adjust the sleeve so that it is centered as well.

Also, did you notice that Starbucks is calling its new product Via "ready brew"? It is instant coffee, folks. I hate manipulative marketing word play like that.

Last night I watched No Country for Old Men. It is a jarring movie. Some great, priceless dialogue and populated with wonderful incidental characters, but the violence was too much. I haven't jumped that many times while watching a movie in a long time.

I've been thinking about getting a dog once I make my big move to Savannah later this year. There was a cover story in our commuter newspaper earlier this week on this popular-in-Chicago breed called Vizsla (pronounced veez-shlah). What a beautiful dog! It is an active breed, too, so that would have to motivate me to get outside and exercise a bit. Space is always an issue though in the micro-apartments where I seem to find myself living. Dogs need a yard, too.

Speaking of Savannah, I'm dreading the thought of getting a car and dealing with all those hassels and expenses once again, but it is a foregone conclusion that I'll need one once I leave Chicago. What a difficult modern world we've made for ourselves.

And one final Savannah note, one of my favorite singers, Ryan Adams, just married that interesting former teen pop star Mandy Moore in a wedding ceremony there. I thought that was surprising, but I'm not sure why since I don't really know either of them.

And I was reading in an old issue of Paste the other day that The Weepies and Mandy Moore collaborated on some songwriting for her most recent record. Which leads me to say once again that I simply can't get enough of The Weepies CD Hideaway. What a fantastic group of songs that is.

This is the most interesting thing that I've read about Christianity, religion, or faith in a long time. How different our country will be if even parts of it come true. I'm interested to hear what you think about it, and my dad, too.

Once upon a time, I took a very nice Spring Break trip to the beach, half of which I spent in lovely solitary repose, and half of which I shared with two wonderful friends. You know how the late night conversation tends to stray to the outlyings of ridiculousness when you are with certain people, and eventually there's no accounting for where it goes? Well, one friend asked a legendarily mind-numbing question that went something like this: if you could have sex with someone's voice, with what person's voice would you attempt carnal relations? My answer was Chris Cornell, former lead singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave, a man who released a solo album this week titled, Scream. From what I can tell, though, that new album is terrible. Some sort of wanna-be techno, hip-hop, new wave synthetic mess. I couldn't even cough up the $2.99 that the Amazon mp3 Store wanted for it this week. Judging by the equal number of 1-star and 5-star user ratings that it has received, I'm glad that I didn't.

I've started planning my annual Memorial Day getaway this week. I think I'm going to strech it into a full week's vacation this year. There is one really exciting option that I have my sights set on at this moment, but I'm not sure of the wisdom of taking such a trip at this juncture when I should be saving pennies for going back to school and the poor student life that lies ahead. But then again, airfares may not be this cheap again any time soon, and it is a place that I've wanted to go for quite a while now. For the time being, I'll probably just keep an eye on it.

Women and Children First is a terrible name for a bookstore or establishment of any kind, other than the possible exception of a lifeboat manufacturing company. Half of your potential customer base is alienated right from the get-go. Boo.

When did Under Armour become the new North Face? Everything that I see is Under Armour.

Currently Listening to:
The Weepies, Hideaway

Thursday, March 5, 2009


The moving walkway at Midway Airport. It never, ever works. This might be a sad blog. Don't read it.

Do you know what I miss the most right now? I miss sharing life with someone. I miss the pronouns we and our and us. I actively avoid using them. Now I talk about my time in Taiwan, and when I went to Costa Rica, and the last time that I lived in Chicago. But I miss living life together, collaborating, consorting, and conspiring in tandem. There's something about being a pair that is really nice. Always having a buddy, a friend, a partner.

For the years after college I was a very independent guy, moving and travelling and living on my own. Making my own way, etc. It wasn't by choice, but it was my life, and I became deeply used to it. Honestly, I wasn't sure that I'd ever be able to be half of a couple after all of that time alone, that I could find a complement to my personality that would click into place. After being with Kevin for a while, though, I was happy to find that it was in fact very nice to share life with him, to look out for each other and help each other, and that this really worked for me and I loved it.

Perhaps I got too complacent with this nascent partnership. Perhaps that U mark that he got on his kindergarten report card for Sharing with Classmates was a harbinger of things to come. I know that I would do a zillion things differently if I could go back and do it all again, but this isn't a terribly profitable enterprise, this compulsive hindsight rehashing, and I'm trying to give it up.

All that I want to say today is that I miss living life together with him, and that I miss my buddy.

Currently Listening to:
The Damnwells, One Last Century
Download it free from Paste

Monday, March 2, 2009

Raised on Robbery

Another day, another robbery. If I wasn't already planning a career field change before, I sure would be thinking about it now.

It was a busy afternoon, and we had just taken a series of large deposits from one of our bank's biggest business customers. I had my back to the front door, counting cash that was being sent to the vault as our end of business day was quickly approaching. Sofia was balancing her drawer, Tuyet getting ready to go home. Suddenly I heard our bank manager's voice: "Hey, HEy, HEY! HEY!!!" I turned around in time to see this little black man reaching across the counter towards Tuyet, then pulling himself up onto the counter. It all - you knew I was going to say this - happened really fast. As I saw him getting up onto the counter, I realized that I was holding a lot of cash, in the broad light of day, just standing there with this money ready to take back to the vault. The progression of his movement meant that he was about to jump over the counter onto our side and take all of our money. I took two steps toward my teller window and chucked that three thousand dollars right into my trash can like it was a flopping fish or a scorching hot brick. So, the dude's on the counter, and Tuyet has, naturally taken a couple of steps away. He grabs what he can out of her drawer, slides off, and heads for the door. Quick as that.

It is pretty interesting the way that a day can go from frustrating and bad to better to what-the-fuck in the course of a few hours. For ridiculous and complicated reasons, I had spent most of the morning feeling like I work with the biggest bunch of idiots on the planet. But armed robberies (he showed her a knife, I should have mentioned), 911 calls, hot Latina CPD officers, and chats with the FBI have a way of getting you to rally around your coworkers. Craziness. Two robberies in two weeks. I'll try to post some pictures if I get them tomorrow.

Currently Listening to:
The Weepies, Hideaway

UPDATE 3/3/09 - Here's the Chicago Tribune story from this afternoon; this time it is entirely accurate! Pretty cool story, really. Our messenger, DJ, is a hero! Apparently they have filed charges against the guy, too. Sorry, no pictures.

Twitter / Davie_St

Words That I'm Living By - 5/2/2010

Time, as I've known it
Doesn't take much time to pass by me
Minutes into days, turn into months
Turn into years, they hurry by me
But still I love to see the sun go down
And the world go around

Dreams full of promises
Hopes for the future, I've had many
Dreams I can't remember now
Hopes that I've forgotten,
faded memories
But still I love to see the sun go down
And the world go around

And I love to see the morning
as it steals across the sky
I love to remember and
I love to wonder why
And I hope that I'm around
so I can be there when I die
When I'm gone

I hope that you will think of me
In moments when you're happy and you're smiling
That the thought will comfort you
On cold and cloudy days
if you are crying
And that you'll love to see
the sun go down
And the world go around
And around and around

"Around and Around" by Mark Kozelek

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