Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Traumatizing Moments From My Present, Volume Five: Deaths and the City

 Hullo there. This is another old post that I forgot to post. But I think it needs to be HEARD. The part about YA, that is. The part about Chicago is shockingly bitter, even for me, so you can ignore it. But listen, I wrote it in a very cold winter month called May when I felt like I would never see a drop of sunlight again. It's finally summer, so I feel less inclined to stomp on Chicago's soul. I'm still bitter that we didn't get a real spring, though.

This traumatizing "moment" is actually a traumatizing nine years.

Nine years of living in Chicago.

Do you like what I did there? I employed a literary technique called the Young Adult Novel's Desperate Grab For Your Attention. It's when you set a sentence fragment apart from the rest of the text.

Like this.

The YANDGFYA is useful for entrapping "reluctant readers" deep within the snare of your twisted I-owe-a-massive-debt-to-Twilight genius. Reluctant readers see a big scary block of text and they're like AHHH WORDZ WILL EAT ME! But then, like a ray of sunlight breaking through a storm cloud, they see the YANDGFYA.

And they feel hope.

Hope...and the ability to read on, on past the next pun, past the next makeover scene in which the protagonist pretends to know nothing about makeup because she's a charming tomboy ("Then my bff Patricia put some sparkly stuff on my eyes. I looked into the mirror and a different girl was looking out at me. She was...she was pretty."), past the next tense scene filled with sexual innuendo intended to go over the heads of younger readers ("So," I said, "What do you want to do to me? I mean, do with me?"), past the clunky character development until they reach the next YANDGFYA.

It's beautiful.

ANYWAY, sorry for being so chock-full of literary references that I can't even talk about the weather (YES THE WEATHER) without talking about books. Ah! Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird! (wipes a trembling tear from bottom eyelash.)

What I meant to say before going on a rant about YA literature is that I'm not the world's biggest fan of Chicago. It's a cold industrial city with a vapid soul. But even more than Chicago, I can't stand it when people  are like "BUT CHICAGO IS SO _____" Look, I'm glad you have fun strolling around Wrigleyville with your pick of ten thousand and five different Asian restaurants and WOW, THERE'S A JEWEL! HOW CONVENIENT IS THAT? Just please, go to one of the grimy public buildings (libraries, museums, they're all gross) and drincessorize with a McDonalds coffee and I hope you feel happy pretending that there is something meaningful about living next to a fake ocean in a sea of fake art.

But I know it's not Chicago's fault that it's landlocked like this. And I do love the lake. Despite how disgusting it is. I don't think I could live without a large body of water nearby. A large body of water like the pool of tears that is my heart when I read YA literature.


  1. After 9 months out of Chicago, I have forgotten every bad thing and now can only romanticize the shit out of its broad shoulders. So I must put in a rebuttal:

    1. Chicago may be industrial but not coldly so (as in, lifeless, not as in unseasonable and hellish May frosts). When I interned at StreetWise four years ago (HAAA HAAA) I kind of really liked walking around all the meatpacking factories. It was a Francis Bacon kind of turn-on.

    2. The Harold Washington Library and the AIC are sooo not grimy! Also, have you ever been to the atrium in the Cultural Center? No one with a soul can't be moved by it. And yeah, Millennium Park is kind of like a giant futuristic spider full of tourists/annoying families, but in the summertime you can hear music there for FREE while drinking booze and eating snacks!

    3. Wrigleyville is often really annoying, and Wicker Park makes me want to stab my eyes out with shards of hip vinyl records, And Chris told me something about a Wal-Mart in Lakeview? Uhhh.... BUT the cool thing about Chicago is that it does have a lot of distinct neighborhoods with not necessarily gross hipster/drunk bro vibes. I know Pilsen is like the new hipster mecca but I still really like it. Same for Andersonville - I JUST LIKE BRUNCH AND LESBIANS SO MUCH.

    I'm really sorry to attack your blog with my hysteria, but I have so much nostalgia in my heart (a lot of which is due to missing Chicago's sparkling intelligentsia such as yourself) and I don't know where to put it down.

  2. Oh A...I understand the Chi-town nostalgia. But the Harold Washington Library? Really? I almost got killed by a homeless woman in one of their bathrooms (which reek of urine in a way that no bathroom should reek). Half of their books are "missing" and if you try to check one out, well, too bad, maybe it'll turn up. Likewise with the Cultural Center--conceptually it's great (and the Atrium is beautiful, but that's thanks to Chicago Past, really), but it's PACKED with homeless people and it's just GRIMY. I'm sorry but I will not recant. I'm always at one or the other for work so the gleam is long gone.

    And of course I love the non-hipster/bro neighborhoods and they are the salvation of Chicago...that's why I just moved to one!

  3. Understood, T. Looking at things sidewise or from a distance is how I deal with reality. Even while living in Chicago I often looked at it through "Chicago Past" art-nouveau goggles. I hope summer in your new digs improves your mood!


You are truly great.