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                Cold People, Cold Hands - Jan 09

There are a shocking number of grown women reading the Twilight series on the El.  Still, it’s better than being in the suburbs.  There it’s stifling and I sit in my white apartment with a brick wall, empty, without anything to express besides frustration.  That seems to be the general feeling of everyone in the suburbs, anger and frustration, without understandable reason, without a place to direct it.
In the night, sparks from the train light the buildings for a moment.  A girl getting off at California is reading The Illuminatus Trilogy, I see her smile, and I think about saying something.  But I stay in my seat, maybe I would have spoken up if she had been more attractive.  That’s no way to live, I pray it’s only an excuse, but the possibility of it being true scares me.

Riding on the Metra, I wish I were in Prague...or France, or fucking Mexico, anyplace where I can’t understand the passenger’s conversations that are pounding against my temples.  I have no doubt the conversations would be as asinine anywhere else, but ignorance is bliss and it would stay as white noise.  It gets to the point where I put my hood up and pull it tight to my face so I don’t have to see anyone.  I try and get lost in the little space that is left for me on the train.
When I first lived in Chicago three years ago, I thought I would feel small below the skyscrapers, but instead it was hope.  But living in the sprawl, a person gets lost.

01/15/09 - Birthday
On my birthday I try to go into the city, but turn around halfway on the walk to the train station.  The temperature is fifteen below Fahrenheit, not including the wind-chill, the coldest day in a decade.  My body refuses when I turn a corner and the wind starts blowing between my hood and around my skull.  My birthday always falls on the coldest fucking day of the year, or a snow storm- winter days that makes people want to stay bundled in their houses.
The thought of not being out on my birthday, of not having someone around me, scares me.  But I decide to stay home.  As long, I tell myself, I don’t spend the night watching TV.  I realize when I’m home that I’m also hungry and low on groceries.  I scramble four eggs and drink Modelo for a birthday dinner.  They go together surprisingly well, enough so that with groceries I would still eat it again for dinner.

I’ve started renting a room in Logan Square, which is northwest of downtown on the Blue El line.  My roommates are two young African-American lesbians; they’re fun and have dozens of girls over for parties.  It’s a scary and intimidating sight, being around so many swingers that want nothing to do with you.  I leave the parties early, before the girls start to disappear to the bedrooms.  When I come home late there are usually four girls sleeping on the pullout below the sheets.
I’m running late to Union Station, and I take a cab that is parked outside the El station.  The driver is a talkative Palestinian, who goes on and on about the economy, women, and other drivers.
“Nothing in this world is free, even your wife.  If you don’t, she gets headaches instantly when you touch her,” he tells me.

I’m in Peoria, Illinois for a convention.  At night I take clients to ‘World Famous’ Big Al’s’ strip club.  It’s one of the few skin bars I’ve been to in the states where the dancers get fully naked.  #1 Crush is playing over the sound system, and I look for a stripper to talk to about Romeo and Juliet.
After the club closes we go across the river to Cabaret, which is still open.
“Morning,” the girl behind the desk of my hotel says, as I walk into the lobby with the sun rising behind me, a winter sunrise at that.
“Morning,” I say, and I realize what it is to live this life.

In a gentrified flat in West Wicker Park, I find a CD player while taking a piss.  There is a stack of CDs close by, and I find At The Drive-In, and as I try to take it out while pissing, it slips from the case and falls into the toilet.
I fish it out of the toilet, and replace it with the Les Savy Fav that is in the player, but it spins without playing.  I dry it on a towel, put it in, and play track two, but become self-conscious that the people who are on the couch with a Japanese screen around themselves, can hear the screeching guitars.

I had dated a Slovak model named Kate while living in Prague.  She had an Italian boyfriend living in Italy, which kept most of what we did innocent- kissing in parks, walks in the zoo, and occasionally a night spent together.  I felt that she liked me, but didn’t do anything rash because she knew I was leaving.  When I asked her to come visit she became excited, and we scheduled it over the end of January so the two of us could attend a corporate vacation of mine to Jamaica.
I take the beautiful girl through Downtown and Lincoln Park, at night we go to bars where we drink a lot and I get stuck with the tabs.  In Logan Square, while drinking with the roommates, I hit my head on the edge of a cabinet.  I walk around until one of the roommates points out that blood is running down my face.  Kate blots the cut in my hair with Kleenex, and stops the bleeding.  My brown hair is tinged red where the blood soaked in. 
At night, when I hold her I can feel every spike in her spinal cord.  She has lost weight since I last saw her, and she still has her Italian boyfriend, and we don’t have sex for the first few days because of him.

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