Saturday, February 15, 2014

Stories from the Mission... bit 47

   I've been running loops around the Loop for a few days now. I'm in the transportation department at the mission now and my route sticks mainly to the very center of the city of Chicago, and I am loving it! Down there, most of the time, all you can see of the sky is a slot of blue in front of you, the people stick to the bottom edges of the towering canyons of sky scrapers like dirt along walls. It's been a new information overload for me, so much to take in. From the now familiar homeless sleeping in the dark places, a blanket between them and the old, cold cement to the almost other worldly beauty of the expensively attired, long legged, flowing haired fashion modelesque women sitting in the Merchandise mart. Stoic businessmen in fitted grey suits and hair live in a different reality to the two adorable Asian girls in wild outfits speaking a language I've never heard at the Starbucks under the L on Lake street. I don't know how anyone can know where they are there is so much distraction happening, you're not on the outside of the city where you can see the landmarks, but in the dense roots of it all. To those that have lived here long enough, they become jaded I'm sure, but I'm like Dorthy, going from the black and white farm to this Techno color vibrancy of life, steel and stone. Luckily, I am not driving, but I am busy running. My driver, Dean, is really laid back, grew up on the west side and is a lot of fun. I think he understands how overwhelming it is for me, so is cool about me not remembering where everything is right away. Some of the places I go are in one door, head to the right, up the stairs, then to the back, ask at the counter, then stand by the doorway to the back till they bring it out to you. On that way in and out I'm weaving between the swarms of people in their own busy lives. The crowds in the Starbucks are all pretty much the same, screens, skinny and beards. I've seen couples sitting facing eachother, laptop screens touching at the top like they are playing a game of Battleship. I thought by now everyone would be using Tabs and iPads, but like radio, laptops just work right for what they where designed for.
   Revolving doors suck. Well, I should say the old ones do... heck, most old doors of all types do down in the old Loop buildings. With the revolving doors, it's like a gymnastic event, they aren't like the big comfy ones I grew up with out in the Burbs, but small phone booth sized ones that don't spin easy. I am carrying a donation tray, light blue, hard plastic, about 2 and half feet long, foot and a half wide and 7 inches deep under my arm. It's filled with donated pastries as I look at the door, getting the timing just right as it's spinning, you jump in and start shuffling hoping the tray doesn't get jammed behind you and then jumping out quick or you'll be in the way of the person trying to get into your wedge. Then, as it flicks you out, you have the cross currents of people on the sidewalk that don't care if you couldn't see them coming as you play frogger to the van waiting for you to open the back door, place the tray in, close it and climb into the passenger seat to head to the next stop.
   Then there are those behemoth slabs of strangely hinged architecture made in the 30's that look really cool, but weigh as much as a Studebaker. They are very pretty, made of solid brass and steel but move as stubbornly as a garbage dumpster. There is one that I have learned to get my footing just right as I approach it and brace myself to get it open. Maybe times I'll see people struggling with it and help them and as I go in I can feel the wind pull through, blowing peoples newspapers and hair.
   Driving along under the L on Wells is cool. The weather has been good enough to have the windows down and feel like a part of the city. So many pretty girls! Don't bother twisting your head if you missed one, there are a lot more just ahead! Dean plays V105, loud, and I'm loving it. In the van you ride a bit higher than the peoples heads on the side walks, great for taking in the expressions. My favorite so far is the glow of new folks, "I'm in the city" eyes looking upward.
1/21/12<--- Wow, A Rush album, lol.
   Part of the struggle that I was going through during the 'gap' in my journal was when I progressed from dorm 3026 to the next level dorm 3014. They always give you an upper bunk in a new dorm for a few weeks till lower ones open up, so it can be rough. The lower bunks have more privacy, the uppers leave you exposed to the world and I always feel like I am intruding on the guy in the lower bunk when on top. Sleep tends to come through exhaustion. My new lower bunk is nice as it is up against an outside wall, so at least one side should be quieter, lol. I grabbed two milk crates to make shelves over my feet to put my books on, and I made some shelves behind the lockers at my head. Under the bunks are drawers to put stuff in and a space that most guys slide a pair of shoes into next to it. I made a cardboard box that extends as far back as possible to be able to fit more shoes in. I'm still making those red Crosses for guys to brighten their bunks. One nice thing about this newer dorm is that all the guys in it have been here for 6 months. In 3026 you had a lot of new guys coming in all the time that had nothing, so anything you left out might disappear. To the man with only pennies, your dime looks awfully good. By this time I know the different personalities in this dorm, who to say hi to and who to just avoid. Unfortunately, one of the louder, opinionated, arrogant and loud power hungry I.C.s, J.W. is in the bunk towards my feet. He loves to gossip for hours after lights out and there is nothing you can do about it, he is the one I heard say he likes to step on mens necks. Ah well... I did this to myself.
   I saw that Kurtis took the red Cross I made for him, put it on a beat up Bible and trashed it. Hard to believe by the looks of it that it is only a week old.
   Now that I am out of the building more, the more I notice the smell downstairs... kind of a cross between smelly feet, Fritos and ass. It's hard for them not having a laundry. The guys in the Program get stuff done once a week, which is one of the major benefits of being in the program. Eventually I'll be looking for a job and can't imagine how hard it would be wearing dirty clothes. Thank God there are places like this to help us get back on our feet!

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