Walking.

One of the best things about our relocation to Chicago is the opportunity for walking. Back in Central New York I would walk up and down our semi-suburban/wanna-be country road for exercise. It was an exercise in flirting with danger as there was a McMansion park up the hill from us and people would often come barreling down the hill way above the posted speed limit. Many would be using their phones, some would be randomly placed in the vehicle and there was always one guy in a European luxury car shaving every morning. When you walk the same 1/2 mile in each direction up and down your road it gets quite boring. To go anywhere interesting involved planning, a vehicle and a drive of at least four hours. It was not a conducive scenario for a quick walk during working hours.


Here in Chicago I have many places to walk. Our neighborhood has both beautiful residential and shopping districts. I can easily hit my goal of 10,000 steps a day without even trying; I usually clock around 13-14k steps a day now. This is a beautiful thing, especially since I can’t start riding a bike again until next spring due to my surgery earlier this year. 

Earl and I have been walking after supper and getting to know our surroundings a little better. I know folks from the old stomping ground were sure we were going to be shot within days of moving to The Windy City but we have little worries when walking around our neighborhood, even after sunset. The streets are well lit but more importantly, the vibe is safe.

Looking for a slight change of pace the other evening after work I took the train down a couple of stops, walked that neighborhood and then walked back home. I logged nearly 22k steps that day and I felt amazing. Walking around, seeing the sights, and being amongst people other than those texting and/or shaving in their vehicle is a beautiful thing.

It’s just another reason why I think this move to Chicago is one of the best things to ever happen to me and to us.

What?

I did a search of Twitter on “Irma Landfall” to see the latest tweets about the strongest hurricane in history. Amongst a wide assortment of charts, facts, and speculation, this little gem of a tweet popped up.

Again, I ask those that think “God will handle this”. ISN’T IT GOD’S HURRICANE TO BEGIN WITH?

It’s CLIMATE CHANGE. The climate is changing and it isn’t for the better.

The Age of Aquarius has morphed into the Age of Idiocracy.

Irma.

So Irma, probably the strongest hurricane ever recorded, is flinging her way through the Caribbean and headed toward Florida. Folks are evacuating key areas and I’m really hoping that the damage will be minimal and lives will be spared. I want everyone to be safe.

I’m noticing a lot of people voicing their prayer activity on various social media outlets. I’m curious as to the reasoning behind this type of prayer. Yes, we all want people and animals to be safe and damage to be minimal. But, praying to the God that allegedly threw this storm onto the face of Earth seems to be a futile effort. If God wants the storm to follow the path that he’s launched this storm along, why would he listen to prayers? Do we think God will reconsider his Irma plan? Was God wrong? Yes, we want people to be safe, but why on Earth would a rational person think God is going to spare someone because of prayer?

Look, I want people to be safe and I want those that are worried to find comfort through any means possible. I would probably do the same thing. But, logically and rationally prayer doesn’t make a lot of sense. Well wishes. Hopeful thoughts. Positive thoughts. Yes, all of those make sense to me. But prayer? OK, I guess….

If you find comfort in prayer then I hope you find comfort in your prayer around Irma. But I have a hard time reconciling rationalization around the effort. But that’s my hang up, I guess.

Dialect.

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I have always been fascinated by regional dialects. I never really had a grasp of the concept until I left Central New York for Western New York to attend my first round of college; until then I knew there were accents (most notably a Southern accent) and that the folks downstate spoke differently than the folks where I grew up but in my mind those were accents. In Western New York they spoke much like we did back home but with a slight twist, for example, “pop instead of “soda”. I actually grew up fairly close to the pop/soda line in New York State, which seems to have drifted west a bit since I was a young lad.  When away at college talking with other students from the area there were other subtle differences that caught my attention, for example, folks from Jamestown would say “ming-ya” when they were irritated or for some sort of emphasis, though the folks were hardly Italian. “Ming-ya, that woman is an idiot.” 

My friend Matt lives in Central Pennsylvania and I noticed that he says “slippy” instead of “slippery”, which I think it kind of cool. I’ve picked up on “slippy” in other parts in that general vicinity. “Slippy” seems to have its roots in Pittsburgh which makes sense to me, because Pittsburgh has it’s own take on the English language and I find it quite endearing.

One of the things that I like about Chicago is that the dialect is fairly close to what I grew up with, albeit with a few twists and indications of local slang. The flat “a” sound reigns supreme, just like back home on the shores of Lake Ontario. Mary, marry, and merry all sound alike. It feels very comfortable. I think it’s the result of growing up at the opposite end of the “Great Lakes Accent” from Chicago. For example, I’ve heard plenty of people say “sammich” instead of “sandwich”. I’ve also picked up on “washroom” instead of “rest room”, which reminds me of Toronto and Kingston, Ontario. (I hardly ever rest in the washroom, my diet doesn’t really allow for a restful experience in there). There’s also slang like “Jewels”, referring to the local grocery chain, Jewel-Osco (though ours is just a Jewel). Sneakers are now gym shoes and apparently we’ll be entertaining in the frunchroom. 

Tonight I might of had a couple two three drinks while we were out and about in Boystown. I like the idea of having a vague count like that. It fits the mood.

Here’s a couple other articles on “Chicago slang”:

http://www.metroseeker.com/chicago/slang

https://giordanos.com/slang-words-used-in-chicago/

 

 

 

 

 

Relaxed.

Earl and I ventured to Pratt’s Beach in Rogers Park for a relaxing Labor Day at the beach. Jamie and Chris joined us for a while. We sat on blankets on the ground and ate homemade sandwiches. 


One of the things I love about Chicago is the blend of so many cultures without strife. Skin color, language spoken, styles of clothing, none of this makes a difference. In our short time here I’ve witnessed more blending than segregation. 


This beach is reachable by the ‘L’, Chicago’s version of the subway. We take the Brown Line to the Red Line and here we are. We drove today because we were bringing our picnic supplies. If I want to come here to clear my mind during the week, it’s easily reachable. 


The varying types of music filling the air is interesting to me. I’m using the Shazam a lot to identify songs I would not normally hear. I like being exposed to new things. It’s part of what makes life great. 


Since today is the unofficial end of summer, Mother Nature is starting to show just a hint of color in her leaves. For the first time in nearly two decades I am not feeling a sense of dread nor the “closing in” of the change of seasons. 

I’m excited about the continuing adventure. 

Cars.

Many of my early memories involve cars. I can easily remember sitting in the front seat of a mid 1960s Chevy Caprice with my maternal grandparents. The ignition key was directly in front of me and I remember reaching for the ring of keys. Grandpa City gave me a ring of keys to play with as he sat in the driver’s seat, “are you gonna drive with me?” I can still hear his voice as plain as day. Grandma City sat to my right and off we went. I want to say the car was a dark blue.

I remember walking in the driveway of my paternal grandparents towards my father’s VW Beetle, which was parked along the barn (which was actually called ‘the hen house’). Everyone was happy that I was walking. It wasn’t long after that the Beetle was gone and he had a green muscle car sitting in the same spot. I remember Mom not being happy about the new car. “We should have talked about it first.”  A non-auto related memory from around the same era was when our mobile home was moved from a trailer park in town to the lot next to my grandparents’ farm. Grandma Country and I looked out the bedroom window at the lot where the mobile home would be parked. Shortly afterward Dad started building an addition onto the mobile home to add a bedroom, half a laundry room (dryer only), and a living room. I’m a little hazy on this but I think it was right before my sister was born. 

Earl and I constantly go on road trips. It is a very relaxing and grounding activity for me and I’m sure that’s because of the memories I have surrounding cars. As we drive along, chatting,  I’m always reminded of the excitement and awe I felt on our first family road trip in 1976, when we took Grandma City’s oldest sister, my great-Aunt Ruby, back to Blackstone, Virginia after the annual family reunion. We took the 14 hour trek from the shores of Lake Ontario to Blackstone in my grandparent’s 1973 Buick Electra 225. It was a boat of a car and my sister, Aunt Ruby and I were easily able to sit in the back seat together. Aunt Ruby nodded off. I looked out the window in all directions. I remember spotting an exit sign for “P.A. 106” and I was confused as to why Pennsylvania was abbreviated that way. (Many years later I discovered it used to be “U.S. 106” and they changed out the letters but left the periods in place when the route designation was changed). I remember being excited about passing through Maryland on Interstate 81 in less than 10 minutes. We ate at a truck-stop diner just inside Virginia before finishing out trek to Blackstone. Aunt Ruby and Uncle Archie lived on a big farm in the woods with no electricity, aside from some car batteries wired together. She cooked on a wood-fired stove. There was a cuckoo clock in every room. They were very friendly. We ate a late supper after the farm chores were done for the day. Aunt Ruby talked to her vegetables on the stove as they cooked. “C’mon little peas. Let’s get cooking.”

When we pass cars on our road trips and I see children in the back seat watching a monitor or playing a game, or I see parents in the front seat intent on their phones, oblivious to the world whizzing by, I can’t help but wonder if they’re being robbed of future memories. I have watched the world around me for nearly half a century. I have no intention of stopping.

I will keeping adding to the memory bank and smiling as I watch the world around me.

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PDA.

Jamie and Chris hold hands in public like it’s nobody’s business. If you think about it, it really is nobody’s business. I admire them both for being so open about their relationship.

I’ve never been a public displays of affection kind of guy. This is because I’m an old gay and I’ve always been terrified that the people with pitchforks and torches would descend from the heavens and throw stones at us like that poor woman in the lottery, simply because my husband and I stole a whimsical glance that made us seem, well, gay. I know this is my own problem and that I am riddled with some sort of internal homophobia and quite frankly, I know it’s a big fault of mine, it’s a big hang up of mine and I’m desperately trying to get past it. There’s a lot of things I’m working on getting beyond, like eating scrambled eggs, but the open displays of affection is a biggie for me.

Tonight we attended a wedding reception populated with a lot of military folks. The son of one of my best friends married his bride. The son is in the Air Force, comes from an Air Force family and subsequently there were a lot of military uniforms with people wearing them and folks that looked obviously retired military. The ceremony was beautiful. The reception was lovely and when the DJ called for all the married couples to get on the floor I froze, I hesitated and I withdrew until several people convinced me to slow dance with my husband amongst all this brass.

Once I held Earl and danced with him, as the DJ weeded down the dancing crowd by the number of years of marriage, I was in heaven. The predictable fireworks flew around in my head and I fell in love with him all over again. It happens everyday and this time it happened in public.

No pitchforks. No torches. Not even a tiki lamp.

The world did not end. My eyes were opened and I felt like I stepped into a whole new existence.