This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Urban Narratives/City Stories

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked if Shana and I would like to help his friend out with her degree by taking part in her investigation of urban mapping and city geography. This entails making some sort of "journal"[...] about our travels through the city for a week. - Ammie
I began my participation in this project last Thursday, 2/26, the same day that Ammie wrote the above post. I was pretty excited at first because it presented an opportunity to be creative for someone other than myself for the first time in a long while (unless you want to count creative spreadsheet creation). I nicked a little notepad from the office and began to journal my travels every day for a week. The author of the project described the opportunity this way:
[chronicle] you every day life in your city...for example: where you go, how you get there, how long it takes, who you interact with (even non-verbally), for what purpose, memories triggered by your environment, why something in the urban / your personal environment(s) is(are) significant...and anything else you can think of.
When another friend of mine read the description she expressed some sense of it being an overwhelming task. I like that the artist presents so many options. I don't think she intends for any one person to accomplish all the things she lays out. I think she made her description of this work broad so that as many people as possible can participate and have an experience that is personal. While doing my urban mapping I filled 3/4 of my notepad and a plastic baggie of the contents that get tossed in my bag(s) as I pass through the city each week. I collect bits of paper habitually, there are notes to myself, fliers about neat sounding events, gum wrappers, poems written on receipts, etc. I plan to make a sort of diorama or collage, including the notepad, the paper bits and mapped routes of travel.

Herewith are some of my favorite musings from my weekly travelogue.

To X3 SB - Man in blue windbreaker, leaning on a side of Red Roof Inn smoking, gives eyes at me

X3 bus at Erie waits as I run the block to catch it. I thank the unimpressed bus driver. It's silly that they call this an express up here where we crawl, feet at a time, from the Mag Mile (past the Wrigley & Tribune buildings, over the river) to the Loop.

A cap top ad sign: "When was the last time you took a zip line downtown? Jamaica" I am skeptical

I inform a woman...that she's about to sit in a wet seat. "I was wondering why nobody's sitting here," she says.
"Thank you," she says. Her dark lipstick is pretty.

Arrived @ [a restaurant] and opened door - a "Chad" walked right out, I stared @ him, he bumped my arm and mumbled "Thanks." I said, after he passed, "I wasn't holding it for you." God, I'm such a hater sometimes.

Some people rise to get off at Damen/Clybourn. The Lathrop Homes are here. My mom used to lock our car doors when we drove by these buildings. I was always embarrassed by the racism I perceived in that act and am smug at the memory when I pass them now.

Tuffy's Auto Service: this place always makes me think of an old co-worker, Shatondria. Everyone called her man Tuffy. All her friends called her Precious. She told me I could call her that too, but I never felt comfortable at that point. I lived, unhappily, in the suburbs at the time and still didn't know how to act (normal) around Black people.

Someone - the lady next to me? - is wearing a Crab tree & Evelyn perfume that I had when I was 16. I stole it from the store at the mall with my cousin. Smells lovely still.

Woke up early with Ammie and went for breakfast. Couldn't decide if we wanted to take 56 Milwaukee SE bound or Blue Line (SE toward the Loop). We rock/paper/scissorsed to decide while walking S on Albany at 9 am. Ammie's win meant train. Rock over scissors. [I love playing R/P/S with someone for the first time because you have to ask "do you 'shoot' on 3, or after 3?"]

Taking blue line again, SE bound to Jackson stop. Going 30 minutes out of my way to support "local" small business Loopy Yarns.

Printer's Row with lovely old-Chicago buildings: Monadnock, Fisher, Old Colony buildings.

Got a ride to Hyde Park last night for a dinner party at the Haymarket Co-op and back. Today walked 7 houses S to my best friend's house for a cigarette. Came home and realized I was late for a 3 PM appointment in Lincoln Park. Hoped to get a cab but the bus came first. Have to distract myself from watching clock.

Followed directions to and fro, not too interesting. My train car smelled like poo. We all noticed it.

I notice the Women & Children First bookmark stuck out of the book a bearded young professional reads next to me. It makes me like him.

Some things I like: not hurrying, getting a seat, when 2 trains and a bus have arrived and there are streams of crisscrossing people and no one bumps into anyone else, 2 seats to myself, efficient commuter unspoken laws, punk kids (unless they hassle me), Antony & the Johnsons

Going through Lincoln Park. 3 women walk a dozen bundled preschoolers southward. They hold a long rope between "teachers". All bundled and toddling in wonder. So cute!

Got a slow start yesterday morning, didn't want to say goodbye. Ammie told me to go right out of her building because I could get the 147 SB @ Foster & Marine Dr. @ the end of her street I saw a bus stop, but no 147 on the sign. I waited a minute and became unsure. Ammie told me, on the phone, I needed to walk 1 block N. I groaned about missing my bus but she told me the Bus Tracker said I still had 4 minutes. I ran there, to be sure. Bus came a minute later, an accordion bus with, apparently, no seats. I squeezed through toward the back and saw the last available seat in the "way back" row in between 2 men. I decided, "yes." Squeezing in was uncomfortable at first, but then I got my music playing and my shoulders angled right and I felt satisfied and sassy.

Beautiful day today. Really wanted to ride my bike to work, but haven't ridden or tuned up all winter. Riding down LSD feeling fine.


ammie said...

Okay, now you've actually inspired me to do mine up right... I think I have to start over, because I was a slacker.

ShanaRose said...

It's ok, I still have a baggie of, what is essentially, trash (for now) and notebook of scribbles sitting on my kitchen table.