Tag Archives: chicago

Smoke on the water, fire in the sky

If you too were stuck in ruthless traffic on 90/94 today, we were right there with you.  Also, if you looked to the right shoulder and saw a white car blocking traffic and thought, “man, that sucks!” let me assure you, it really was not so great.

It seems that I have bad luck with my car and retreats.  Last time I went away I was stalled outside Alton, IL and had to return to the convent for the night.  (just when I thought I’d escaped!…)  This weekend Sandy and I were on our way home from Indiana when amid the stress of Chicago traffic, my car started smoking.  Crap.  I had to forcefully get from the left-most lane to the right “shoulder.”  There was moisture everywhere under the hood.  Crap.  Call my dad?  Nope.  He’s out the the country.  Called Aaron, who, from the other side of the country assured me that it was coolant, not oil.   As we discussed where it was dripping and how much and as my shortness of breath began to subside a car of boys pulled up who were eager to help.  They were Canadian and “didn’t have anything better to do.”  Thanks to Aaron’s help I was able to logically explain what the problem was, and before I was even half-way through they found a hose that had burst.

“Got any electrical tape?”

Heck yes I do!”

They taped it over while I refilled the coolant resevour (thank goodness I’m well stocked on supplies).  All the while cars and semis creeped past us…inching their way toward the city.

After a considerable amount of time an additional car stopped in front of the Canadian one.  It was 2 women who, while driving past said out loud, “man, that is unfortunate,” and then recognized us as fellow retreat particpants.  So they stopped to help.  Praise God.

The Canadian boys would not accept my American money.  I wish I could tell you that they drove off into the distance with the laud that they deserve, but they ended up creeping into traffic with the rest of Chicago, and the women followed us home.  “Don’t drive too fast,” the boys warned. “Don’t worry!”  I said…there wasn’t much of an opportunity to.

Dear Jesus,
Your multiple accounts of causing my car to stop working aren’t funny.
We’re still friends, right?


This Girl



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Please don’t take my metal

It was a week day.  Board daylight.  The landlord was downstairs, likely in his office, getting ready to close up shop for the night.  I can tell when he’s still around because his car is still in the parking lot out behind our place, which consists of a row of spots that empties into an alley.

A man, appearing to be of Mexican origin, wearing baggy jeans and a tight white sleeveless shirt began walking through the parking lot toward the building.  I watched him from my second story with curiosity.  He didn’t look like the type that might want to purchase something downstairs.  Perhaps he was visiting the guy next door?  After he disappeared below he didn’t come up the stairs, and after a few moments I saw him walking away from the building carrying the spare gutters and the metal ice bucket that had been sitting on the back porch.  He casually begins walking out through the parking lot when my land lord runs outside.

The two converse.  Voices are raised.  There is some pointing at the weird house behind us.  The man returns the metal and leaves the property.  I saw him later walking around with an actual shirt on.

Sometime (often, actually) I see trucks driving around with scrap metal thrown into the extended truck bed.  I assume that this is some sort of money making venture that suburbanites such as myself have never before encountered.

City.  You is crazy.


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Watch: “watch out”. Warning: “one has been spotted”.

A little known fact about this girl: when I was little I was deathly afraid of storms. I remember spending a lot of time hiding out with mom and dad and Chris in our unfinished basement and I’m still unsure if it was because it stormed a lot when we were young, or because it was the only thing that could keep me sane during rain.

Yesterday, during a Scrubsfest, the sirens began to sound to alert our little town that tornadoes were eminent. Now, I’m an adult and all, and I’m over that whole deathly-afraid -of-storms thing, but there is still this eeriness that looms. It makes my heart beat fast and my breathing become short. Normally I’d stand outside and watch as the clouds made their way toward us, but being in a new place and having heard that sightings had occurred in towns within 10 miles we decided to descend to the basement. Sandy could tell I was nervous.

Knowing that the rain was to hit us a few minutes after 8pm we shut the windows, and JUST as it started to downpour we made our way to the laundry room…a super creepy place in the underbelly of our building. Halfway down the stairs I worried about the possibility of the lights going out–which would leave us in the creepy basement in the dark. “Should we get a flashlight?” “No,” Sandy said. “Keep going!”

So, we spent the next half-hour chatting with friends from the washing machines. Luckily the power didn’t go out…because then we also would have been without a wireless signal. This was the result.

Hiding from the storms!
Luckily, we are still alive.


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This Girl: Drops her cell phone in the middle of Wells Street while trying to cross on a stale yellow light.

Still works!

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Food for Less, Twice the Experience

I have discovered a new grocery store, thanks to my friend Tracy.  Although Caputo’s is a good 20 minutes away, it is so worth the drive.  Today I bought 1 1/5 weeks worth of produce for $20.  It was nearly as satisfying as those Aldi trips we used to make in Belgium.  But the store is more than just the produce.  Walking in is like a mix between the crazy grocery store I frequented in Manhattan and any of the grocery stores of Europe.

No one is speaking English.  Even the music is unrecognizable to my ears.  There are fresh breads–some so fresh they they steam the bakery cases.  Half of the products have labels in another language and I have to make an educated guess from the picture as to what is contained inside.  The aisles are narrow and the people move too quickly for their own good.  They have Prince Cookies, Nutella, milk in a box, pasta in shapes I’ve never seen, sugar waffles, maria cookies, and strange British teas that make no sense to me.

I love it.  And in some weird way, I feel at home.


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“I have both those things!”

I had a miserable day yesterday due to an error (that was wholly mine) that I made at work.  I was frustrated and embarrassed and knowing that Jake and I had plans for the evening, I sent him a message: “Bad day.  I need you and tiny cakes.”

At 5pm the city was lively and warm and we talked some three miles for cupcakes and ice cold skim milk.  There was also a beer stop somewhere in the walk too.  Amid the joy of it all the knot in my stomach untangled and things were back to good.  We’re so city.

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sshhhh! You’ll wake up the birdies!

This morning a young man barely made the train.  Well, the EL, really.  I’m early on the line so most of the seats were open and he sat down and promptly curled up in his hoodie and laid across two seats.  Over the next half hour I watched the train fill and the commuters eye the seat, believing it to be unoccupied, then pass it by with gruff looks.  After a while the man sat up–likely because he’d grown uncomfortable or his arm was asleep.  Despite the crowded car the seat next to him remained open.  I couldn’t help but wonder how many people’s day he’d ruined.

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