the system

14 Jan

It always makes things a bit tricky when I go home to Chicago by plane rather than by car. It seems that, when home, I’m frequently on the move, and if I don’t have my car moving around the city and its surrounding suburbs entails a lot of bumming rides off of people, and more often than that, gaining even more intimate knowledge of the CTA and Metra rails that snake in and out and around the area.

My most recent trip home consisted of many such adventures on public transportation, which included—but was not limited to—witnessing:

*Buskers on one end of an EL platform, and an evangelist named Phillip at the other end of the platform. Phillip had cornered two young men and essentially told them they could do nothing right and they were going to hell. I wondered if Phillip had once taught at my high school?

*An awesome amount of bedazzled jewels on an Eminem look-a-like’s shirt


*A musician who played a follow up “BONG-Boooonggg!” in tune with the EL’s closing door chimes (at the blue line Monroe stop, if I’m not mistaken).

I also had the pleasure of navigating the underground maze that is the Pedway in Sweet Home. Because let me tell you something: In Chicago in December it is motherfucking cold. And This Girl, while she may be part polar bear, can only handle so much of the motherfucking cold before her skin starts to chap and break off in chunks. So to the underground tunnels and thruways I go.

Which is where I discovered that Chicago and its people seem to have an inordinate amount of love for Subway sandwiches. They must. Why else would there be no less than four (4!) Subway stores in the Pedway between the Washington blue line stop and Millennium Station, which is all of a maybe four-block stretch, if that. If I’m doing the math correctly (add the 6, carry the 12….equals M…) that is one Subway shop per block.

Look at me! I can count!

Even without the multitude of shops schilling the ubiquitous $5 foot long (and I do love a foot long BLT on wheat), the Pedway is kind of a trippy little universe underneath the city, especially now that Block 37* is mostly up and running. You could go weeks traipsing back and forth between train stations and, say, your office building, and the gym, and Subway, without ever having to go outside. Which, what with my previous mention of motherfucking cold and skin falling off, might not be a bad thing. The twists and the turns and the tunnels, though…they can turn you around and screw with your head, if you’re not careful. (And then, instead of Subway, you’d end up at Au Bon Pain. Quelle horreur!)

While I was home this last time, trotting here and there and everywhere, I began, at least a little bit, to get a feel for the Pedway, to get my bearings, which is REALLY a feat for This Girl, because usually I can only do that when above ground and by thinking hard about Where Is The Lake?. It was a good feeling, kind of like when you figure out how to make full use of the wonder that is Lower Wacker Drive.** (Which, to be honest, I’ve never figured out completely. I have high hopes, though. High hopes indeed.)

But would it be so wonderful, after awhile? Wouldn’t I get sick of not seeing even a smidge of sunshine? Of not even feeling a small breath of the icy fresh air on my face to wake me up? Wouldn’t I get sick of the Subway Club? Entirely possible.

Then again, when it’s negative degrees below motherfucking below with a wind chill of Holy Shit, Are You Kidding Me It’s Chicago, Not Ant-freaking-Arctica, were I a commuter in Sweet Home, maybe not.

*Don’t I sound smart and all hip to Chicago knowledge and whatnot? Yeah….I had no clue what Block 37 was until my dad mentioned it in one of the traipses through the Pedway from the Grant Park North parking garage to the Chicago Theatre to see Banana Shpeel. Which is awesome, by the way. Laugh-out-loud funny, two thumbs up, seriously, go see it if it comes to a town near you. If you like vaudeville-esque comedy combined with Cirque du Soleil.

**Let’s see how many references to Chicago-y things that only those who have spent a lot of time in Chicago will understand! That won’t alienate 80% of my four readers at all! Woo!


2 Responses to “the system”

  1. AR January 15, 2010 at 8:33 AM #

    I have to admit to an unnatural attachment to Lower Wacker. It’s possibly one of my very favorite places in the city, and I keep begging Sam to take some very *artistic* photos of it, so I can hang them in my house. Why I’m attached to a place attached to my commute, I really can’t say. I just love it.

  2. Stephanie Y. January 15, 2010 at 8:57 AM #

    I’ve only been twice, but I swear both times I was there, that was the inevitable question, “where is the lake?” It really is a good reference point!

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