With one final flick of the wrist, with one last song, with one last walk, and with one last train ride my days as a street performer ended. For this summer anyway. The next coming weeks will bring chaos, as I move out of one dwelling and never really settle into another one until school starts. I’ll also be crisscrossing the nation, from Chicago to Detroit to Green Bay to Kansas—and back again, before finally settling in St. Paul, Minnesota.
A grimace of pain clouds his face.
A child’s simple smile as she looks over her shoulder, being dragged along by a parent in a hurry.
An unexpected yet extremely welcome gift from less than an acquaintance.
One friendly face in a sea of thousands.
A common occupation draws strangers together as music and a toy cross culture and language barriers.
A woman in wheel chair, pushing with every ounce of strength in her just to get across the street.
These are my days, snippets and snapshots from a sea of memories, pictures of an adventure in the city, learning what it’s like to be alive and what it really means to be a person.
Another day on the streets of Chicago, proof that life isn’t always easy. Today was a pretty rough day. My body ached, my bruised palm hurt, and my fingers bled. And you thought a yo-yo was a toy. Yesterday I was hustled by some kids, today I was robbed. Well, not really. They tried to. Four eight year old kids decided it would be fun to spend their Saturday running up and down Michigan Avenue harassing people. First they tried to use my spare yo-yo’s, against my will of course. Then they took off with the yo-yo’s. I trusted they’d come back, and they did. Next they tried to take off with my money. They grudgingly came back. For the next hour and a half they kept coming back and bugging me. Sometimes you just want to strangle kids.
Life is hard on the streets. A hard days work for a hard day’s money. For everybody but me! I spent the day yo-yoing at the corner of Michigan and Pearson in downtown Chicago. But it’s not all fun and games. I did have to figure out the Chicago Transit Authority bus system, which is never an easy thing to figure out. But you know what I learned? It’s almost faster to walk. After waiting for the bus, and then considering that the bus stops at every stinkin’ corner, it takes just as much time to walk. I also earned myself a few cuts and bruises today. You think yo-yo’s are nice, safe toys, do ya? Well, I got news for you. I usually wrap three of my fingers to save them from string burns and blisters, and today I had to bandage a fourth. I also managed to bruise the palm of my hand. And as if the yo-yo wasn’t giving me enough trouble, I was hustled by a group of kids. They were determined to show me how good they could yo-yo, and were adamant that I pay them for their trouble. Kids. But to be serious, I did receive a few comments that me stop and think. One lady described my yo-yoing as, “real pretty,” which I think says a lot for the yo-yo itself (I can assure you the sweaty kid attached to the yo-yo wasn’t too pretty). Another kid asked what I was majoring in (the sign on my box says, “College Student”). I replied, “Writing.” He tossed a buck in my box and said, “Well write me a book.”
I’m also still loving the public transportation system here in Chicago. Rather than fight traffic for over an hour, I curl up with a book on the Metra. I’ve been reading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. Rather than try to recapitulate what Lewis said and really mess it up, I’m just going to tell you to go read his book. It’s a very practical, very honest, and very logical defense of Christianity. Sometimes it’s a little too logical for me, but if you can wade through the deep mental waters, he says some very powerful stuff. Add it to your summer reading list. Oh wait, it is summer. Silly me. Go pick up the book now and read it.
Welcome to life in the Real world. Today my internship at Real Media began, and things went pretty well. I learned that publishing isn’t always writing, editing, and layout. Sometimes you have to do some tedious stuff. Today I learned phone etiquette and how to use the fax machine. But it went well. I had fun.
Life on my own continues to be fun. I spent most of my evening trying to figure out how to make local phone calls and get on the internet. It turns out Judson makes you pay for local calls. How nice. So getting on the internet has been a little difficult lately. I must apologize for the lack of updates to these ponderings. But at least I’m still writing them. They’ll get uploaded eventually, you’ll just have to be patient.
Tonight I cooked for myself. I never thought you could mess up grilled cheese, but I found a way. Now stop laughing, I didn’t ruin it. It came out just fine, and when the RD came to introduce herself, she commented that it smelled good in here. So there. Anyway, this place has one of those gas stoves. So I turned it on, and the knob has three settings: OFF, HI, and LITE. So I fired it up, and turned it down a little and set the pan on the burner, you know, let it warm up a little. Not even a minute later I slapped my cheese and bread on there (yes, butter side down), and that puppy started frying! Wow! In two seconds flat half my grilled cheese was nearly burnt cheese. With the flip of a spatula I had it saved, and one side was done. But the other side took a little longer, so the cheese actually had time to melt and it all came out okay. It was pretty good eatin’ if I do say so myself. Certainly not mother’s cooking, but food you can live on. See, the boy can feed himself. And you had doubts.
The stress and craziness and hecticness of finals is deafening. It’s starting to weigh me down, and it makes you want to crawl back into bed. It makes me want to bury my head in someone’s lap and ignore it all. But the end is almost here. Almost.
I put out my last Table Tent of the year today. It feels good to be done, one less thing I have to do in this crazy week. I have had a blast doing it though. Today I was quite surprised to find two boxes of cookies in my P.O. People actually listened to my plea for “comments, suggestions, or cookies.” I suppose I did beg a little bit. I’ve received a lot of encouraging comments about the Table Tent in the past week, and it really helps. It’s so nice to have a place to ‘show off’ your writing. Which I suppose is what this is.
Sorry it’s not too deep today. It’s the end of the semester, you’re lucky I’m still here.
“Come on, oh baba don’t you want to go / Oh come on, oh baba don’t you want to go / Back to that same old place / Sweet home Chicago” (The Blues Brothers)
Hey, guess who’s going to Chicago for the summer? That’d be me. Seems like I landed myself an internship in the windy city. Of course the pay is nonexistent, so I’ll be finding myself another job, but the housing’s free. So if anybody reading these ponderings is gonna be anywhere near Chicagoland this summer, give me a call. You can buy me lunch.
It’s really amazing how things work out sometimes. It only bolsters my faith that God watches out for us and has things planned so well.