Saturday, July 26, 2008

A brief follow-up

I don't like having depressing posts like the previous one at the top of the page, so here's something else. (I meant to fill this post in with the story of my park bicycling trip, but still haven't figured out how to rotate photos to post vertical ones [I'm posting from my files, not Flickr], and the Blogger help is no help. So I changed it again.) I stand by what I said in that post but edited a little bit of it. Oh, and the incident I referred to was being badly harrassed on the street in Detroit, more on that Detroit trip later. Here's a photo of the fantastic pancakes I mentioned making Thursday; they were just as good Friday (I had half the batter left). But Friday ended up being a frightening replay of Thursday (feeling lousy, not getting out of the house till after 4) but the weekend's improved. These pancakes were my first try of the basic pancake recipe in the cookbook Vegan With a Vengeance. I added a cup of fresh blackberries (the package was 33 cents at Stanley's grocery!) and since I hadn't had money to buy many groceries, like soymilk, last week, instead I used soy faux-eggnog I'd had in the pantry. That way I didn't have to add any nutmeg or cinnamon to the batter. I've made many, many pancakes, both nonvegan (buttermilk is a fave) and vegan, and this turned out the best ever, which bodes well for trying more recipes from a cookbook I've neglected. This breakfast, with fresh peaches and real maple syrup, would surely cost you $7-10 at the trendy brunch places in Chicago (though the pancakes would probably be bigger). That reminds me, I haven't checked the Illinois Pancakes blog in a while...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What no one wants to hear.

Hi there, I hoped you liked that photo, because it's all downhill from here. I don't want to write much personal stuff here anymore because, honestly, that tends to get less response than anything else. Or I don't check to see what people said (I still haven't for my March 1, 2008 post), or the guy I was dating at the time leaves a weird, somewhat snide comment on a terribly personal post and hasn't commented since, or...And although I don't expect my readers to be my counselors, or even to recommend one to me (odd that two people in my life say I need to "see someone" nearly every time I talk to them, but no one else seems to think anything's wrong), it still depresses me to get little response to that, so I try to spare you. I don't want to say much about not having a job, a roommate, or a date/boyfriend/whatever, because though I definitely need the first two, and the third would be nice, I've barely been doing anything acquire any of those. Just running away from my problems with trips to decaying cities, mostly. So, then, a prime example of why I don't write too much that's personal, or do a "here's what I did today" blog.

Thursday I woke up and my right leg (the injured one) hurt, but less because I'd biked 20 miles the day before, more because I didn't clear the piles of vacation stuff taking up half the futon off the futon before I went to sleep. I made what were possibly the greatest pancakes (fresh blackberries!) in the history of the universe, oh, they'll be on Flickr. And I should have known that'd be the only happy moment of the day.

Then somehow I wound up less motivated/more obsessed with checking everything online than usual, on possibly the deadest Flickr day I've ever encountered, and didn't take a shower and get out of the house till after 4 pm. I thought not getting outside on beautiful days till 2 pm was bad. It was 4:30 pm.

Then I took a bike ride. It was part of one of my summer projects, taking a particular street. It'll have its own entry. So will my triumphant first bike ride in 2 months after a million obstacles (flat tire, stolen wheel, sprained ankle). I posted a photo on Flickr about it and that's what I kept checking, to almost no response (dead day, I said)...biking again is about the only happy thing that's happened to me all summer. But anyway, the ride was through a very run-down area. Which I'm used to. I got a few good photos. A couple drivers said something to me but I'm not sure what, since I was listening to NPR at the time. Possibly just generic bike-related harrassment.

Then I biked along Cicero Ave., plenty of interesting stuff there including the now-fenced-off abandoned Brach's factory and a plethora of ghost signs. More photos. I kept thinking about a bike ride on Cicero last year and the car with two guys and the bottle that was thrown near me. Not AT me, I think, because they didn't seem to look at or say anything to me, but the fact still remains that a full-size glass bottle came within a foot or two or me.

Then I stopped at Walgreen's. I don't care to discuss my financial situation here, but I'll just say I'm not as broke as I've been the past few days, when I carried around dimes and quarters from a coin jar because that's about all the money I had. I almost didn't put my helmet back on but then I did, even though I was going to take the sidewalk for a while (I know, I know, bad, but a traffic guard was killed across from the Wal-Mart I was biking past).

Then one of those weird incidents where I got annoyed at a car who'd stopped for me, after I stopped for them. I pulled my bike up next to a lightpole to cool off and reflect on why I'm a weirdo who always gets angry at drivers who stop for me after I've stopped for them. Seriously, I hate it--I've already interrupted my ride to let YOU go, just freaking turn already!

Then I got hit head-on by a cyclist barreling through the underpass. If only I'd just kept going when the car let me...but no. It wasn't too bad. He was apologetic, said sorry, his brakes didn't work. But I screamed "THAT'S WHY YOU ALWAYS F***** GO SLOWLY THROUGH A TUNNEL! JESUS CHRIST! I JUST SPRAINED MY ANKLE A MONTH AGO!" and took off.

Then I felt bad for having been angry, even though I think he needed to learn to slow down in tunnels/underpasses, as I always do, because I'm terrified of hitting a pedestrian or cyclist. I took photos of my scraped leg but won't post them because my legs look too fat in photos, even though I've lost weight from being broke and depressed. (Um, yay?)

Then I got home. Someone had sort of invited me to something tonight but never called. I gave up on that early. I thought of a nice bike trip I could take to Wicker Park tonight--vegan fast food, browsing city/architecture books at Myopic, booze from 7-11--but couldn't do it. I thought of going to the nearby liquor store and getting a shake at the nearby taqueria. But I felt too depressed to go to the liquor store. Yes, I did. But eventually I prepared to leave.

Then the phone rang and it was my parents. I faced a terrible choice. I knew if I picked up I'd start crying. I knew if I didn't, it'd keep ringing because my machine is full and I'd get another "what's wrong with your phone?" from my mom when I did eventually talk to her. For months I've been getting student loan/collection agency calls, often 5 or 10 or 20 a day, every day but holidays, for "Kristin [my last name]," and sometimes (frequently recently) "Jason Donahue." Even though I've had my phone number for nearly 12 years, and I have no idea who these people are. I get so sick of all the messages, I keep letting my answering machine fill up. I didn't pick up.

Then in the hallway, my neighbor who'd fixed my bike tube asked how the bike was. I said great but I need to put air in the tire. Then my neighbor, who was happy to help--I mean, REALLY seemed enthusiastic about it, and came up and knocked on my door the morning after he fixed it--said "Well, next time you should go to a bike shop. That was a lot of work. I'm not your father." Etc. etc. in a weirdly menacing tone. (If there's one bright spot to this post, besides the BEST PANCAKES EVER, it's that I'm not as moody and volatile as this guy, not at all.)

Then at the liquor store I started crying. I bought beer, got a coconut shake at the taqueria, and went home to ill-advised emails and blogging. Oh, I haven't even mentioned the incident in Detroit Saturday--I told someone something "awful" happened and he didn't ask what. And that my Tiger Stadium photos hardly turned out (but I'm still glad I went). And that I went to Pitchfork and only talked to a couple people and missed a bunch of Flickr people who were there that I really wanted to meet, or meet again. And that when I was out of town, elsewhere on the Internet I was called "nuts" (for my solo abandoned building exploring/bad-neighborhood-going) and it was said something bad would happen to me someday (worse than the sprained ankle?) and though I didn't take it TOO seriously, it still hurts that no one defended me and no one apologized, so I can only assume this is what a lot of people think. Uh, I've said enough...and not a word about the painful situation the past few months I don't talk about here, just keep bottling it up, because I'm far too nice to risk saying anything that would hurt anyone else, and I'm embarrassed at how much the whole thing has hurt me...

"Now I sit down on the sofa and I watch the evening news
There's a half a dozen tragedies from which to pick and choose
The baby that was missing was found in a ditch today
And there's bombs a flyin' and people dyin' not so far away*
I'll take a beer from the 'frigerator and go sit out in the yard**
And with a cold one in my hand, I'm gonna bite down and swallow hard
Because I'm older now and I've got no time to cry***"

If you can identify the song that's from, well, as they say with the political trivia bit on Talk of the Nation, you win the no-prize. It's always a BAD sign when I dig that tape out of my music collection.

*When I watch the news, it's often people a mile or two from me. And people within a few blocks of some of the abandoned places I like to visit. Because I'm nuts, remember?
**I'd do that (go out on the deck, there's no yard), if I wasn't afraid of my neighbors and/or annoyed by their cigarette smoking.
***Some of us have far too much time.

Oh, right, the photos. Taken July 1, 2008, Belmont & Central area, Chicago, one of the very few intersections where all four beautiful old corner buildings are still standing, though I haven't included photos of all of them. I actually went that day because I thought there'd be lots of great terrazzo entryways. I saw four, but nothing too exciting. Not as many as I expected. Jack Robbins (a men's clothing store) had a terrific neon sign that got covered up by a banner for a new store, which has since closed. That was too depressing to post, but my writing apparently isn't. The area's worth a visit for the buildings and the "vintage" Walgreens and the huge relatively-new multi-ethnic grocery.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Tiger Stadium at night
Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

If you'd told me a year ago I'd make four trips to Detroit (all by bus) in the space of two months, I wouldn't have believed it, and if you'd told me that I'd be in a hurry to get there because of the demolition of a baseball stadium (where I never even saw a game) I REALLY wouldn't have believed it. But this is a glimpse from trip 4, wedged in between a week of being kind of housebound and miserable except for going through my 3000 photos from my previous trip (which included Detroit), and a kind of miserable day (not because of the music, however) at Pitchfork on Sunday. Perhaps a proper set of this later.

With trips to Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, New York, Pittsburgh recently, and Buffalo, Cleveland, Baltimore hopefully soon, I feel I've neglected Chicagoland recently (Hammond and Des Plaines and the far South Side, I've missed you!), and since I'm on the verge of biking again, that's where my adventures will be for a bit. If uploading photos to Blogger wasn't such a chore, I'd actually be TELLING you about all these adventures here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

the post-vacation blues

I think this photo would be much better if someone else had taken it for me.
Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

I'll allow this blogged-from-Flickr post, because I thought it'd be okay to do that while I was on my trip. Well, I could have used the internet fairly cheaply during my 4 days/3 nights at the hostel in New York, but I was too distracted by actually seeing the city to sit at a computer. My one time online on the trip--Sunday the 7th, at a Flickr friend's in Ann Arbor--turned up photos of this ilk (not directed at me, obviously) and I just didn't want to deal with that while on vacation. But, those are the things I don't write about here, at least not yet. So I went an entire week without being online...amazing.

Anyway...fantastic trip despite my injured ankle and the weather (about 85-90 degrees and humid in all 3 cities I visited). I took almost 3000 photos and surely many must have prompted a "what is she photographing that for?" response like this one might have (it's K-Mart in Herald Square). Now I'm back to the malaise of my real life, oh joy, My kitchen table is covered with dirty clothes, alternative weeklies, and souvenirs. More soon, but I should go outside now that there's actually bearable weather again.

Friday, July 04, 2008


I don't mean anything in particular by this image, it's just an intriguing scene I saw on the sidewalk around Lawrence and Broadway in June. I had a great idea for where to see fireworks last night (nowhere near downtown Chicago) but didn't definitively make plans with anyone else, and ran late because of an extremely stressful family situation, and it was colder than I'd like, and I couldn't risk going to the place alone while I'm still not at 100% physically (or whatever percentage I was at before the accident).

I did my volunteer shift at the Architecture Foundation today because I won't be here for my regular shift Monday, I'm about to leave to visit three cities and see lots of abandoned buildings, old signs, ballparks, public transit, etc. I may blog-from-Flickr a few times while I'm gone, I hope. I had longer photo pieces I wanted to put up today, but--I'm not kidding--I don't know how to rotate photos here. I have to upload from the original file, and if they're sideways, I have no idea what to do. I don't want to just copy URLs from Flickr, the idea for this blog was to supplement my Flickr photos. Quite an embarrassing admission for the so-called best local blog, but there you go.

I hope you had a wonderful 4th. Fireworks are all over the place outside as I type, and there's a huge loud party downstairs I guess I wasn't invited to. I didn't know of any social events today, kind of bad considering the 100s of people I sort of know in real life and online now. But I wouldn't have had time for any anyway; I need to leave for Greyhound in a half-hour.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

something better

There appears to be a theme here.

And it's my new obsession: reflective self-portraits in CTA bus shelters with ads that seem particularly ironic if you see my splint and/or cane in the photo. Legs, bicycling, hope...

If those are too depressing, how about this?

Photos taken Sunday June 29-Thursday July 3 in various neighborhoods. (None posted to Flickr yet!) Ads are for: iPod, Bikes Belong campaign (note the "lovely legs"--uh, I actually think it's kind of weird to encourage bike riding among women in the city by reminding them that guys will stare at their legs), "The Cleaner" TV show, U.S. Cellular? I think. And the happy car is in front of the Jewel around Roosevelt and State.