Here in the Midwest, we’ve really just hit the dog days of summer after a very pleasant spring (otherwise known as the month of May), a chilly June (uary) and a barely-there July. But now, something about the sunshine, humidity, smell of suntan lotion and apparent tan lines inspires me.
I think it’s the summer in the city. When I was a kid, we took two week long trips to visit my Grandpa in Brooklyn every July. I associated sort of weird sensations (the smell of garbage, hot concrete, condensation on ceramic tile, melted chocolate on Italian cookies, waking up to honking horns, 10×10 foot backyards) with freedom, newness and curiosity. I will never forget climbing up the rickety 12 foot ladder to the roof of his duplex and sitting with my brother in the twilight haze and city heat peering out over the patchwork of backyards that looked like a life-sized Chutes and Ladders board (though all the chutes led to above-ground pools that sometimes took up entire backyards). I still consider it a daily goal to find my way to the roof of whatever building I inhabit. Sitting in the second-floor window of that postage stamp home in Dyker Heights was one of the first places I ever really wrote where I just let myself be taken in with whatever was around me and wildly, recklessly capture it on paper.
I like to think I’ve reigned in my style a bit since then, but the inspiration remains the same. This summer has been without any formal writing obligations, so I’ve taken to writing all those things that sometimes get hushed in the cold of winter or forgone in the romance of fall. My venue right now is my ChicagoNow blog, ChiU. I’m not sure its future yet, as I am no longer a Chicago college student, but I am taking advantage of its domain name for now all the same. I guess I’m technically not NOT a college student until the next semester starts, right?
But I digress. Here are a couple things I have published so far this summer in a style that I have begun to realize may be “mine” (still working on what that voice exactly is). More to come as summer winds down.
- It is a tough world out there, class of 2013 graduates. The job market is tough for most majors, and even if you have a job, you may be part of the two-thirds of college students saddled with debt and/or the 39 percent of 18-34 year olds who live with their parents.
- This year will be the second year I face Father’s Day without a key ingredient: a dad.
- If you asked me in March how the Blackhawks were doing, I would have replied “Good…right? They’re usually good… I think.”
- I came to Chicago for college four years ago from a suburb of the Twin Cities where the crime rate is essentially non-existent. Once here, even after campus safety warnings of muggings, headlines that report unprecedented shooting rates and El encounters with not-entirely-sane individuals, I generally felt that same sense of security.