Tag Archives: public transportation

Poland, place of rest

I’ve been asked to comment on my travels abroad. So here it is. Sorry for the delay Mr. Parkinson.

First of all, why Poland?
Well, my friend Elizabeth had been suggesting I come visit her in Paris for a number of months. But as the year went on time and money began to dwindle and I’d brushed it off. Unfortunately, after sitting around with my parents and a bottle of wine (a bottle? make that 2) sometime back in the spring I started to get the travel bug. Liz said, “pick the place. I’ll meet you there.” Poland: relatively inexpensive, holy, and wouldn’t be mobbed by beach-crazed Americans. Poland it was.

I arrived a few hours late and was met at the airport by my friend Jake, who I’d met a few months earlier in Pennsylvania at the Theology of the Body course. He was a bit confused as to where my luggage was–as was I. Amsterdam, supposedly. My layover there had been interesting, it was the one place in the world where my limited Dutch skillz came in handy. Everything was also in English as well, so really, Dutch continues to be a useless language. Lekker!

I met the travel-weary Elizabeth at the hostel and we spent the evening eating perogies in Old Town Warsaw.

After our visit with the very helpful reference librarian, we took a few moments to show our apreciation.

Day 2 we ventured to the library to attempt to find out where Liz would go to do family research. The reference librarian was VERY helpful, despite the old school computer catalogs and our lack of Polish.

Still not quite sure what this cake actually was...we dedcided coconut and goodness.

The afternoons (this one being no exception) were often spent going to mass and having a cappuccino. Jake drove us to Krakow via Częstochowa–in which lies the Black Madonna and Polish National Shrine. This place is a big deal, but I felt completely stupid as I 1) don’t speak Polish and 2) don’t really know anything about the Black Madonna. But, I was able to stand about 20 feet from her for mass–which I presume has some sort of special graces attached to it.

Day 3 was spent milling around the Old Town of Krakow. Eating the usual picnic lunch (large pretzel looking things, cheese, fruit), shopping and mass. On this particular day I made friends with the cute security guard at the Cathedral, who snuck me into the sanctuary for free to pray before mass. It is a good thing he didn’t ask for my number because my grandma made it very clear I was not to fall in love with a Polish boy and get married. Whew. Close call.

Day 5. Sunday. Papal Tour.
Jake had told us to catch a train to Wadowice, birth place of Karol Wojtyla, and on the route back we’d also be able to stop at the convent of St. Faustina. So Liz and I ventured to the train station about 40 minutes before the scheduled departure (the train station was across the street). Despite our best efforts at Polish and pointing at the printed email from Jake, the ticket ladies kept telling us to go “Hall” “down there” “left!” After about 5 tries to buy tickets we were eventually brought to a tiny office where we bought official PAPAL TRAIN tickets. And once on the platform this disneyworld ride pulled up:

more to come..



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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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Something so small is so very big

He never really wanted to be a dad.  Especially not now, after he’d worked so hard to get his life in order and things, though difficult, were finally going right.  He’d been more vocal about this lately–to the point that it had ended a relationship he’d deeply given himself in.  And feeling even more empty now, he was continually affirmed that it was the right thing.  They wanted different things, and parenthood was one he wasn’t willing to compromise upon.

He rode the train alone, thinking about how meaningful his life was in this city; this place that he finally felt like he could call his home.  It was late and there was little sound aside from the rumbling car, cutting its way through the city.  At the other end of car a man stood up as the train approached a stop and progressivly slowed.  He took his son’s hand and the little boy, backpack tightly strapped to his back, jumped to his feet.  He craned his neck, looking up at his father lovingly with complete trust and the hint of a smile.  His dad looked back and returned the smile.  They both seemed to glow a little.

And in that moment, the man at the other end of the car changed his mind and his heart melted a little.  He wanted to be a father after all.


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i *heart* MG 4eva

I was on the train this morning, coming from out in the ‘burbs, when I looked over at the attractive man in the seat next to me. Another glance made me wonder if it was the very boy that made my junior-high heart flutter with glee. After a few more glances (is it? isn’t it?) he started talking on his phone and his voice confirmed it. It was totally Matt. I was determined to talk to him because just the week before Ashley and I had been discussing whether we would be making an appearance at our “Five-Year High School Reunion” (I know, right!?). Matt’s name had come up. Where was he now? Did he make it in the world or was he still living at home?

Once he hung up his phone I leaned over and got his attention. I could see in his face that he had slightly recognized me as well but hadn’t yet said anything. We exchanged our life stories and then when the train pulled into the station we went our separate ways. I, for one, was happy to finally learn what college he went to and what he does now. Being that he doesn’t seem to be hip to the Facebook I’d lost track of him entirely–thought it was a lost cause and my curiosity would never be satisfied. Not that I needed to know. I am just intrigued by what has become of so many of us.
I immediately called Ashley to relay the news. I screamed a little.

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begging, or something like it

I was riding the L home and a guy got on the train.  He began making an announcement to the packed car as soon as the doors closed.  “Good evening ladies and gentlemen.”  You know any speech that starts like that is a ploy for money.  Everyone continues what they are doing, pretending to ignore him but actually listening.  He had a loud, nasal voice and balled up his hand suggesting some sort of deformity.  “I do not mean to cause offense, but I am a good man trying to make the best of a bad situation.”

Honestly, my heart broke, as it always does underneath my skepticism.  The bums here aren’t nearly as good at their speeches as they are in the Big Apple, but this one got me.

If it weren’t for the fact that in the middle of his speech he coughed and under his breath said, “excuse me” in a nearly inaudible tone–a tone that did not match the voice with which he spoke–I might have looked in my bag for an uneaten Kashi bar.  Oh, that and the fact that his clothes, bag, shoes, and leather coat all looked decent.  I always check the shoes.  Those are key.  Not that I should be judging anyone…sigh.

About 10 minutes later, after he’d left our car for another, he came back and started the same speech over–word for word–with the same inflection.  This time adding an uncontrollable footstomp for dramatic affect.  I wanted to say, “dude, you’ve already hit this car.  And none of us fell for it.  Move on.”

But I kept quiet, nose in my book, as I always do.

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If you eat it fast you can trick your body into thinking there are less calories involved

Knowing that I needed to pick up a few things for dinner, I tried to do the urban-girl thing and head to Whole Foods after getting off the train.  I don’t go there on a regular basis because, as much as I love it, I simply cannot afford it.  Plus, although everything might be organic, it certainly doesn’t have the low-fat selection I’m used to.

I was just about to leave when I rounded the corner of the bakery.  They had a sample of some sort of pumpkin spice bread out that I kind of pushed someone out of the way for.

While enjoying this I spotted crushed up scones that were also for the taking sampling.  Not one to pass up free food, I figured a bit of scone would do me (and Whole Foods for that matter!) a bit of good.  As I was attempting to push my cart and chow down on…I don’t even know, but it was delicious, when I saw the angel food cake.  I flipped out a little.  And then I picked up the biggest peace.  I had a hard time deciding which thing to finish first.  I simply could not put them down, but I also realized that–O MY STARS ARE THOSE CARAMEL APPLES?!?!?!?! Pardon the interruption, I just got a little distracted.  On my way over to the caramel apple deliciousness I finished the scone.  Thank goodness, cause otherwise I would have looked like a total pig with THREE samples in my hands.  I surely hope no one was watching me.

I bought 2 tomatoes and a bag of chips.


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NY sleeps alone tonight

I’ve been thinking about New York lately.  Wondering if she misses me and feels a bit replaced.

Chicago is a great city.  A fabulous city.  But it is not New York.  I miss the corner grocers with endless fruit and flowers that made my face light up, no matter how hard the day had been.  I miss that awful smell that came when descending into the subway.  I miss the substantial transfers that only seem to exist here at Clark/Lake.  I. miss. the cupcakes.  And the black-and-white cookies.  I miss the hobos that sing and do acrobatics on the subway cars.

In choosing a place to live I remember saying that if New York was in my future it would make itself known.  “I could always get an internship for the summer.”  “I could still look into a second masters.”  “There are jobs in New York.”  I said.  But I also knew that my “yes” to Chicago was a “no” to the Big Apple.  Not that I still can’t go–but my life has direction and meaning here now.  I’d rather finish grad school than take a summer off.  I’m pretty antsy not to be in school anymore and the thought of another degree is much less appealing than a job.  Let’s be serious–there aren’t really library jobs anywhere, most especially New York.

Plus.  New York doesn’t have Deutschs.

And worst of all, I’m happy here.


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