Justin Skolnick lives and works in Portland.


Originally posted to blockquote.org on in Chicago, Illinois

A 15 minute walk to the bus stop then 15 minutes back home in shoes twice their weight with slop too wet to be snow and too viscous to rush the gutters. Inside I peeled off my socks and raised my bare feet to a radiator that doesn’t reason the conditions worth counterbalance, but a draft from the windows does the work of drying me off, knees to toes.

The apartment stays dark even with the blinds raised. The windows all face east — not the lake or trees or a street but the windows of the apartment 25 feet away, and the identical windows of the four floors above and four below.

So many of the buildings are tall and so few of them hold interesting things beside people who don’t go anywhere but campus, because there’s nowhere else to go. It’s as though the buildings stand against things like light, air, and each other, but not for things to compensate for what they take up.

One CTA fare card kiosk at the Museum of Science and Industry serves me and my thousands of neighbors. The Metra tracks end in the Loop and its fares don’t transfer to CTA lines. The choice is expense or inconvenience.

It’d be enough for Hyde Park to be narrow without also being self centered, but it’s both. And it’s like the powers that be don’t know there are prospective students coming to campus on Friday and that my honesty is blunt and unsparing when I’m in a foul mood. I’ve tried to get somewhere this morning and the neighborhood as designed — and it has been designed — does its best to prevent that.

And that puts me in a pretty foul mood. This was to be one last day of rest before the new quarter. I can tell you it’s not just winter that’s threatened to spoil it.