Friday, March 05, 2010

I've been living in Chicago since July, which is long enough to take for granted the stuff that I thought was weird about it when I first came here. I wanna keep that perspective on this place though, and keep reminding myself that this is a unique place to live, so I guess I'll have to write about things that make Chicago Chicago.

I thought the hardest thing about living here would be the cold, but I've gotten used to that. The environmental factor that's actually the hardest to live with, and in fact is the most terrifying, is actually how diabolically flat this place is. The fact that it's so flat here actually lends itself to the streets being laid out in a neverending and seldomly interrupted grid that stretches out for I don't know how long. Standing on Chicago Avenue where I live, about 20-some blocks from the lake, and looking in either direction, you will never see the end or even any change of direction of the street. It's a little mind-numbing, and I try not to think about it cause it can be sort of depressing. I mean, if you drive down Chicago, through some dangerous and dilapidated neighborhoods of the West side you'll eventually go past a super nice suburb where Frank Lloyd Wright and Earnest Hemingway used to live called Oak Park, and then you'll I guess continue on to some other suburbs, past where Wayne's World took place, and then I don't know what suburb you'll be in after that. And the road probably won't ever even change directions. I used to feel dwarfed by the size of New York, but here I feel dwarfed just by the structure of this place.

That same structure does make this place a pretty convenient place to live though. Easy to get around, easy to find stuff, easy to know where you are, bla bla bla. And it wouldn't make sense to make the roads go off in a bunch of jangled intersections and changes in direction just to keep things interesting. That would've been crazy. So I'm glad the streets are like that too. I guess the whole thing with the streets being straight is the same as the whole dizzying blankness of the prarie that existed here before the city did.

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