Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cicada Watch 2007: First Contact

I spent the long weekend in the suburbs.

As soon as I got there on Friday morning I could hear the cicadas buzzing, but I wouldn't see one until Sunday.

Dead cicada

This is a dead cicada that I saw on LaGrange Road. It was the first cicada I saw. Given that I was going to be leaving early Monday afternoon to head back to the city (where my boyfriend assured me he had yet to hear any cicadas buzzing, let alone see one) I thought I was going to be in the clear. But later Sunday afternoon, while driving, we saw two cicadas flying around. One of them flew into my car. Gross!

I spent Monday morning in my father's house, and only left to throw out the trash and to go home. I knew I would be leaving soon, and again I thought I would be free of cicadas for the rest of my stay.

Then Wrigley started going nuts.

What are you looking at?

This is nothing new. Wrigley and Mac, the other pug, spend most of the day looking out the window and barking at people going by, especially if they are on bicycles or motorcycles. She was barking at the floor, which was odd, so I looked and saw that she was barking at a cicada.

In the house.

I don't like bugs. I don't handle them well. And I hate cicadas. This was a nightmare. Why couldn't Wrigley attack it and deal with it for me? No, I had to take care of it myself.

I am an evil person, so I decided to step on it. I wasn't going to try to get it out of the house alive. So I stepped on it, but it didn't die! It just started limping and buzzing at me. So I stepped on it again, and finally it was dead. I got a paper towel, picked it up (while cringing the whole time) and threw it in the trash.

I felt bad that I had killed it at first. But I just couldn't deal with it. I am glad to be back in the city now. I hope cicadas don't show up here. I hate them.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Instant karma

It doesn't exist. Or does it?

As I stood on the platform waiting for the Red Line after work this evening I was listening to a podcast from the BBC World Service that included a discussion about karma. As packed train after packed train rolled into the station, with me still on the platform as there was no roam for me to board, I started wondering if karma had anything to do with my situation.

A few minutes later some papers fell out of the bag of the man standing next to me on the platform. I immediately bent over to help him pick up his papers. After that, I wondered if my act of kindness would mean that I would be able to get onto the next train.

It was not to be. That train was full, too. However, I could see another train coming directly behind that one. That second train (the sixth to come into the station since I got on the platform) wasn't full, and I was even able to get a seat!

If this is what I have to look forward to regularly it's going to be a long summer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Where did everyone go?

I'm wary of even mentioning this for fear that it will jinx my commute home, but...

The past two days, on my commute to and from work, the Red Line has been surprisingly empty. There are people on the train, but there were seats available during rush hour. Even after the stops where a lot of people board seats were still available.

Where is everyone? Are people not going to work this week? I understand it's a holiday weekend, but still. I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cicada Watch 2007

It has been predicted that the 17-year cicadas will make their appearance today, and thus I am officially on cicada watch. I can report that I did not see any cicadas on my way to work this morning.

I have been dreading this for years because I remember the Great Cicada Infestation of 1990. I lived in a small suburb west of the city, and let me tell you, they were everywhere, and it was disgusting.

My most vivid cicada memory is of walking from my mother's home to my father's home one morning. I didn't have my driver's license yet, and my mom could have dropped me off, but that meant getting up early during summer vacation, so I decided to walk. In my sleepy state I forgot about the cicadas outside.

Now, cicadas are harmless. I knew they wouldn't hurt me, but that didn't stop my 3/4-mile walk from being unpleasant. Cicadas were flying around everywhere. They were dropping from trees. They were hitting me in the head or nearly flying in my face the whole time, so I spent a lot of time ducking and swerving to avoid them. I'm sure people driving down the street probably thought I was on some sort of hallcinogenic drug. Many cicadas were on the ground, and when I stepped on them they made this horrible crunching sound, as if I was walking on popcorn. Oh, and the noise. I was walking through a residential neighborhood on a quiet street with little traffic, but I had to turn my walkman up to 11 in order to hear the music over the cicadas' mating calls.

It's now 17 years later, and I live in the city. I'm certainly hoping that there are fewer cicadas here than there were there. The walk from the 'L' to work is about a half mile, and the thought of dodging cicadas the whole way is really horrifying to me.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

When Tim and I lived apart we saw much more of Rogers Park than we do now that we live together. We lived about a mile apart, and when we ventured to each others' apartments we would see parts of the neighborhood outside of a small perimeter around our own places.

I've always been proud of the fact that I get out and try to experience many parts of the city. I like seeing other neighborhoods, discovering hidden gems of Chicago. In the past week, however, I have realized the degree to which my exploration of the rest of the city leads to the neglect of my own neighborhood. Two things happened this week that made me realize just how much I neglect my neighborhood, so I decided that I want to start exploring my own neighborhood. You would think that someone who has lived in a neighborhood for 10 years wouldn't need to explore it, but clearly I do.

I started my exporation by hitting up Common Cup, a new cafe, on Friday. Tim ordered a mocha, and it was perfect. The staff was friendly. I'm sure we'll be going back at some point. Not only is there local art on the walls, but that art is of local places! It appeared that some work was being done in a second room, so I hope to get back in a few weeks to see how that comes together.

It was nice to go back up toward where Tim used to live and look around at the places that have come and gone. We found a new Jamaican restaurant and some bars we want to try. I'm hoping to spend more time in my own neighborhood and visit some of these places.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The hounds were out

It was nice out at lunchtime yesterday (before it started raining and the temperature plummeted), so I decided to go out during my lunch break. I went to the bank, then picked up some food. On my way to the bank I decided to take a street I don't normally walk down. I've been in a mood for discovery lately, and I wanted to see a new street with new buildings.

Instead, I saw this:

Yankees fans

Okay, I was actually coming from the opposite direction, so I saw those people from the front. What you can't see are many more fans on the other side, cops on Segways, and the New York Yankees bus. I made the mistake of walking down the street while the Yankees were boarding their team bus. There were quite a few children there. Shouldn't they have been at school? I know that a lot of universities are done for the year, but aren't most of the elementary and high schools still in session? It would have been a cold day in hell before my mom took me out of school so I could get some baseball players' autographs.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The smart kids were here

sidewalk math

Taken 5/15/07 where the Northwestern University shuttle bus stops at the Chicago campus. I wish I had arrived just a little bit sooner, before the rain started washing it away.

Waiting has its privileges

brass band

Today I received an email from the Chicago Cubs. Because I'm on the wait list for season tickets (yes, I'm number 42,763 in line, maybe by the time I retire and have time to go to all of those day games my season tickets will come through) I have the opportunity to purchase half-price tickets to the June 11 makeup game between the Cubs and Astros. You know, the game that was snowed out.

Good things come to those who wait?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Now that's good news reporting

I was watching CLTV this morning for the first time in forever. I tuned in during a story about a missing woman. The first full story I saw was about Tank Johnson being let out of Cook County Jail today. Then there was another story, and then after that was a story about how Tank Johnson was *supposed to* be let out of jail today. So, at 7:30 this morning, was he out, or about to be let out? Which is it? Hmmm?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sweet surprise

Tim went down to Argyle yesterday to do some shopping, and he returned home with some goodies from Thai Pastry (he went without me... again!).

This is where he purchased last night's dessert, pumpkin custard, which came in an actual piece of pumpkin!
Pumpkin custard
Purchasing this for me was a risk on Tim's part. I love pumpkin, but I have a love/hate relationship with custard. If the consistency isn't to my liking I don't like it, even if it tastes good. But this custard was just my type. It was very smooth, and had no sponginess.

I've been wanting to eat at Thai Pastry for a while, but after these goodies I have a feeling I will end up eating only desserts!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Public transportation character: The Prince fan

Prince's biggest fan got on the train on my way to work this morning. He was a tall, big guy. He wore slashed up blue jeans with bleach stains that were popular in the '80s, a Prince t-shirt, and a hat that was similar to a fedora but not quite there. His wallet chain had the symbol Prince went by when he was known as The Artist Formally Known As Prince. This guy was decked out. It reminded me of when I went to NKOTB concerts back in the day (yeah, I was young, shut up). He looked like a New Kids fangirl, only a guy. It was exactly like that even! This dude walked out of 1989 and onto the Red Line this morning. Good for him for showing his personality, though.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Everything tastes better at the ballpark

chilling at Wrigley

On Tuesday night I went to my second Cubs game of the season. It was a marathon 15 inning game, and yes, I stayed for the whole thing, even though I should have been in bed when the game ended.

Conflciting thoughts filled my head as inning after inning went by with no runs. I started to think, "Someone just score a run already so I can go home. I don't care what team you are on, score a run already!" Then when the Pirates scored a run, and the Cubs had two out in the bottom of the 15th, instead of being glad that I might get to finally go home and go to bed, I was upset that I stayed that long just to see a loss. But let's face it. I'm not just a Cubs fan, but I'm a baseball fan, and it's rare that I leave a game early.

The cuisine for the evening included a hot dog, a smokey link, 3 cups of Bud Light (which I normally never drink because I hate it) and a cup of Old Style. Everyone in my party agree that there is some sort of magic in the air at a ballpark that makes everything taste better than they would if you had consumed them anywhere else. Especially the Bud Light. The last few times I tried that I could barely swallow it, and yet it tasted great in the sixth row at Wrigley Field. Why is that? Is it the atmosphere? I've had Bud Light at other events where it still tasted like crap.