Stream of Consciousness: The Kennedy

Spring is always a whirlwind. But the last few weeks have been exceptionally whirly. I’m in the last quarter of my Master’s program. (I hand in my final paper in a mere 20 days – not that I’m counting.) Spring fever and senioritis are taunting me. The yard needs work – especially since my neighbors keep beating me in the mower wars. It’s Preservation Month here in Elgin, replete with too many activities. I work full time. And I try – usually somewhat successfully – to balance it all with a social life.

Hence, my thoughts have been a bit disjointed, to say the least. I have scraps of ideas for blog posts, but no time or concentration to actually finish them.

While driving to class two weeks ago, I had yet another idea – I should just jot down all the random thoughts that spring to mind while stuck in traffic. I grabbed a couple of gas receipts from the console and started taking notes.

I hate driving into Chicago when there’s traffic. I’ve always been a train girl and prefer to use commuting time to read or write or just think. But my Thursday class is at an odd time and on the main downtown Northwestern campus near Water Tower. If I took the train, I’d get home at midnight. By driving, I’m usually home by 10:30. This is (mostly) worth the 90-120 minute drive into the city on Thursday afternoons. I make a big mug of tea, turn on the radio, and get comfortable. So here’s a sampling of what flitted through my head (and portions of the soundtrack) for 41 miles and 105 minutes between Elgin and Chicago.

I hate the stop lights along State Street in downtown Elgin. Can’t we synchronize them?

Ugh. Radio traffic people are saying the Kennedy between O’Hare and downtown is 50 minutes. Can’t wait to see how long it takes by the time I get there. No more talk radio for me.

Whoa. Is that a tank? Like a tank-tank? WTF?

Man, this tea is hot. Scalding. I really need to remember to let it cool before I put the lid on.

I’m kind of hungry.

Blunderbuss – Jack White’s new solo album just came out. I keep hearing it’s great, and the first single isn’t bad. I should download it.

I always wonder about the people whose houses back up to 90. Especially at night.

Sometimes I wish Elgin was closer to Chicago. But then it might be Schaumburg, and that wouldn’t be good. At all. Schaumburg is what’s wrong with suburbia.

REM – What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?

That little A4 is cute.

Planes – launching into the wild blue yonder. Where are they going? I always try to read the insignia and figure out the airline, and extrapolate from there. And then I make up stories about their journeys. Such a travel nerd.

Tom Petty – American Girl

Cook County gas prices – suckers.

Those almonds are supposed to be for after class.

Tea finally cooled enough to drink. But apparently I didn’t rinse the  travel mug lid out well enough – quite the coffee influence. Yech.

The Grand Victoria’s billboards are very blah. No wonder they’re losing market share. I wonder if they do their marketing in-house.

Stone Poneys – Different Drum. I never knew who sang that song. Huh.

That little package of almonds didn’t have many nuts.

Hey look! The gray A4 again!

MGMT – Time to Pretend – “Get jobs in offices and wake up for the morning commute?” Reverse commute, my ass.

Does anyone else flip off the IPASS sensors? At least the “Rod Blagojevich, Governor” signs are gone. I hope he’s enjoying prison.

Why do I only ever see Porsches on the expressway and never on surface streets? Other than the one that parks at the National Street train station.

The United electronic billboard always lists “serving 370 destinations.” I wonder how many I’ve been to. And how many more I’ll get to. Too much world, too little free time.

Grouplove – Tongue Tied

I really need a new pair of glasses. But maybe I can just repurpose my old, post-college pair. They’re suspiciously similar to the hipster Warby Parker ones everyone’s getting now. Maybe I was just 8 years ahead of the curve.

I’ve never seen the “Special Alert When Flashing” traffic light actually flash. I wonder what merits that. And whose job it is to flip a switch. Are there criteria? Who monitors them?

Semisonic – Closing Time – oh, high school

It was so dreary when I left the house, and now there’s full sunshine. Glad I have the old sunglasses in the car, even if they are rose-tinted. They rather fit my Pollyanna side.

The Taco Bell Dorito thing looks so gross. Like stomach-turning gross. But man, am I hungry.

Why do Mini Cooper drivers always look vaguely British?

Touhy – why is it pronounced “too-ee”?

Ravinia tickets went on sale today. I wonder if there’s anything worth attending. I hope Elgin’s budget cuts don’t hit the summer outdoor concerts too hard. When’s the first one?

The Killers – Spaceman

Korea Town… I’ll bet there’s good Korean BBQ somewhere in Korea Town. There’s supposedly a pretty good place in Schaumburg, too. I should investigate.

Central Avenue? Central to what?

Naked and Famous – Punching in a Dream

What’s the first impression people have of Chicago? If they’re coming from O’Hare and get stuck in this traffic…

Brilliant, if a bit mean.

Damn you, Blue Line. And you too, Metra. Mockers.

Though the Montana ad campaign is smart. Get people thinking about wide open spaces during their smelly urban commute, standing in the middle of the expressway. I’ve heard Montana is kind of magical in that sense.

Radiohead – Karma Police

Hello again, little gray A4.


When traffic finally starts to free up a bit – just past where 90/94 merge – I feel like we drivers get greedy with the sudden movement and try to do too much, too fast. Which actually forces us to slow down again. If only we could just agree: “Yes, it will suck to go 20 miles/hour for the last 10 miles of the commute, but it will be a nice, steady speed,  with none of this braking nonsense.”

I wonder if the other group members in my class actually did the reading for tonight. It’s kind of hard to have group discussions when they don’t. Wish I was in a better group. I’m 7 years older than most of them.

Offspring – Why Don’t You Get a Job

The express lanes are never in my favor.

Ohio feeder ramp, I love you and your blissful lack of traffic. Even if it feels like going through the Disney-fied part of downtown. How long has it been since DisneyQuest, or whatever it was called, closed? Still, tourists, ye gads.

Soundgarden – Burden in My Hand

Michigan Avenue! Almost there! I can tolerate these stoplights. But the cabbies are fearless. Please don’t hit me.

I love how the city nearly falls into the Lake. I loved living so close to the lakefront, even on those awful bitter blustery January days, waiting for the 146 bus. It just stretches into infinity, beyond the horizon, especially on those crystalline summer days. Summer. Soon.

Parking garages still make me nervous, but I’m getting better. And Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” is actually kind of perfect for subterranean driving…

And…park. Thank goodness. Now to find dinner.


4 responses to “Stream of Consciousness: The Kennedy

  1. A tank? You saw a tank? WTF?!

    I hope you weren’t writing actual notes while driving.

    I wonder is Crysta knows about voice recording on her phone?

    Oh, and ‘hands free’ Bluetooth.

    What’s the deal with those WTMX Eric and Kathy billboards? Stupid concept.

    Hey! “Tongue Tied” just came on! While I was reading this! Weird.

    We drove into Chicago this weekend and at one point crossed Paulina Street. It always makes me smile, thinking of that classic joke about Chicago street names.

    I like visiting the small neighborhoods of Chicago proper, but GOD I’m glad I don’t have to live there!

    Wouldn’t it be more fun if Touhy were spelled “Ptooie”?

  2. Janelle Walker

    I love how your mind works.
    Agree Turtle about Voice Recording on your phone.
    You say Schaumburg is what is wrong with the suburbs, yet you want to go get Korean BBQ there? Hmm. But let me know, I’d be in on going too.
    Really? A tank? WTF?
    How do you do the tea/drive without having to stop at the Oasis facilities?
    Yeah on graduating, too. T-minus three days?
    100 percent agree on the lights on State Street/31. I’ve been told they are synchronized to get drivers across the river/train tracks, but they seem to do that very poorly as well.
    Remind me to tell you about how I used my magical powers for evil and got the potholes on my street filled. Never mind, just did.
    You know, we really should just get lunch or dinner 🙂

  3. Every day of my damn life.

    Or former life… never again.

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