Friday, August 1, 2008

The Lost Weekend

via: rjseg1

It is so fucking hot outside right now that I think I might combust. Lollapalooza is also going on in Grant Park and the thought of being out there with all those hot-sweaties makes me want to wretch. This, despite the fact that I spent most of my Friday thinking about how I was stuck inside a climate controlled high rise and couldn't go to Lollapalooza which was happening mere blocks from my job.

No surprise here too, that this is also the weekend in which my roommate moved out and took the living room air conditioner with her. Now I'm contemplating taking a jaunt down to Home Depot so I might drop a cool $200 on a brand new unit. Strike that... I placed a period on the end of that last sentence, got on the Halsted bus, and high-tailed it to Home Depot.

I am now the owner of a shiny new LG air conditioner that, I'm convinced, will improve my life in innumerable ways. I'm so convinced of this fact that I think it should be in the addendum to How To Win Friends and Influence People: "Move to Chicago, rent an apartment, buy an air conditioner." Really... you'd be surprised the friends you'd make.

But then again, I'm not entertaining this weekend. The old roommate's gone, the new roommate's yet to come, and the boyfriend's out of town. I am, in a word, sad. I am getting more shit done in one afternoon/evening than I have in the last week in toto, but I still feel vaguely empty inside. Yeah, I know... boo, friggin' hoo, but I'm just sayin'. Maybe it's a little buyer's remorse mixed in with the sheer pleasure of not having to address the fact that you live in a city that has essentially become a sauna... or maybe it's the fact that everywhere I look, crazy-bad shit is happening.

Let's start from the beginning.

A couple of weeks ago some friends and I were en route to a Pitchfork afterparty at Sonotheque. We're less than a block away and we start to hear gunfire. Okay, not the biggest deal in the world - especially in Chicago - but not good either. There's a lull of about fifteen seconds, and then there's another round going off. Next thing we know, we're crossing a side street that empties onto Chicago Ave, and at least a dozen people are streaming/running out of a building that we can see is down the street.

The next day or the day after I read in the Trib that a waitress at the bar where the shooting occurred had died. She wasn't the target. It was probably gang related. Another patron was also injured, but survived. This particular waitress lived in Edgewater and had three children.

I thought about how awful it must be for that woman's kids, and how fucking senseless it is that this same woman had to die while she was serving a bunch of boozers. Then I thought about how, when it was all happening, I just sort of watched some guy at the head of the mob running away from the bar jump into an SUV in the middle of Chicago Ave and speed off. Not that I took down a licence plate number or anything since I was on my way to an afterparty.

Then yesterday the gods decided to punish me for my apathy by providing me with an intense case of Right Eye Is Irritated And Sensitive To Light And Cannot Be Opened Long Enough To Perform One's Job Duties. Left eye? Totally fine, but I felt like I was going to rip my right one from its socket. Not to mention the fact that my right eye's vision had become noticeably blurred. Going blind is a real worst case scenario fear for me - and probably a large part of the reason I read Blindness - so I took the drastic measure of going to the doctor.

At my "emergency" appointment after work, the doctor poked and prodded and literally touched my eyeball, and then told me that it was inflamed which, I'm sorry, but a retarded Panda could've told me. What a retarded Panda could not have done was write me a prescription for a steroid/antibiotic eyedrop combo that is supposed to make me all better if I dump that shit in my eye four times a day. Also, had a retarded Panda told me not to wear my contacts home, I would not have listened, but since it was an imposing Opthamologist - who is ostensibly not retarded - I listened.

I got on the 145 on Michigan Ave, basically blind as a fucking bat - I had to ask someone which bus I was getting on - and thanked my lucky stars that I found a seat so I could close my eyes and forget about the vaguely shitty day I'd had. The trip was quick and we reached my stop at Roscoe in what I'd say is record time, but since we hadn't reached the official stop zone our bus driver didn't release the doors.

For anyone not in Chicago, the 145 runs on Inner Lake Shore Drive (a less busy, more street-like road), directly adjacent to Lake Shore Drive (a more busy, clusterfuck of a highway). While I'm waiting I begin to see cars swerving and screeching to a halt. Then people on the bus start to gasp and there are a few screams. When I look outside, I don't exactly know what's going on, but another passenger informs us that a man was hit by a car on "big" Lake Shore Drive. Our bus driver gets off the bus, and so do I as do a majority of passengers. I press against the bars that separate me from roadway, and all I can see is the hazy image of a young-ish looking man in the middle of the road lying in an unnatural position. His bike is mangled and thrown some twenty feet behind him. The carnage is obvious, but I can't see it and in that moment I'm thankful... and irritated... and thankful... because I'm able to walk away. And no one is walking the fuck away!

I wonder if it's more helpful to stay - and if it would've been more helpful to stay the night that woman died, or at least have tried to have talked to police - but there are literally over a hundred people surrounding the scene at this point. Cars stop and people get out. Buses are stopping and rush-hour passengers are streaming out. It's a nightmare for so many reasons and I want no part of it. But then again, the choice has sort of already been made for me - blessing and a curse - since I can't see a goddamn thing.

Like with the Bucktown shooting, I read in the Trib this morning what happened. This time it was a Glenview man who lived in a non-profit group home operated by a mental health service. I suppose you could say the two cases are different, but I don't really think so. They both make my stomach churn.

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