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Yeah that’s right, I haven’t written anything for this newsletter in a week or two, mostly because I am busy (as usual) and also needed to write something with an actual deadline—a piece for the newest Chicago zine, Deep Dish! This week, instead of giving you something new and fresh and just for the newsletter, I’m just going to repost this thing I wrote for a zine. A zine!
LOCAL RAT EATS PIZZA STRAIGHT FROM THE TRASH CAN
In 2022 only, like, half the scheduled blue line trains actually ran. I don’t take the blue line really at all but I care enough about public transit to get mad about it. I frequent the train, mostly because I don’t drive and also need to get to places somewhat quickly and a train can do that for me. It’s the peak way to commute to work if you have to commute to work—the only person who has to be fully conscious on a train is the operator themself and I think that’s beautiful.
A train is the perfect place to fall in love, packed full of strangers who you might see again but you most likely will never see again. There is always someone hot reading a book and I end up falling in love with them. I started reading books on the train so that people could see me and be like, “Oh! A hot girl reading on the train! I am in love with her.” I don’t think it worked.
To function like a regular person, science tells us that we need about eight affectionate human touches a day. This does not seem realistic. I’m at an affectionate human touch deficit—maybe I’ll get eight in a week, or even a month if it’s really bad. But a day? To get that many you’d have to be on someone like it’s a full-time job. I have a full-time job already and it is the equivalent of negative eight touches a day. Who do these scientists think we are? Living with partners who love and cherish us for who we are? Unrealistic.
For those of us who are scientifically worse off due to lack of affectionate human touch, we have to make do with what we have. At my lowest point, I’ve held hands with myself while trying to fall asleep. At my highest point, I just use my environment to my advantage. So we’re back to talking about trains again. During peak hours, they can get pretty packed. Sometimes they’re so packed you’re squished together next to four or five other bodies, all touching shoulders and swaying every time the train gets a little rickety.
Most people hate this part about rush hour commuting but I love it. I love being packed in a metal box like a sardine. When someone’s hand accidentally touches my butt during the commotion I don’t mind at all. If I try hard enough I can transport myself to my bedroom, where some imaginary person is intentionally grabbing my ass. If just for a second, I can imagine my life as something different than it is.
Winter during busy times is the best. If I’m sitting down on the train with my puffy jacket on, sitting next to other people with puffy jackets on, it almost feels like the warm hugs my mom used to give me when she had use of both her arms. I feel secure, I feel warm, even if those next to me probably hate the same squished feeling that I love. Someone 2on the other end of the car is smoking a cigarette. Everyone looks pissed.
I actually like the smell of cigarettes being smoked in an enclosed space. It reminds me of my childhood, back to simpler times. Some of the best memories I have with my dad are sitting with him in the garage while he chain smokes and explains to eleven year-old me why the war in Iraq was good, actually. “Sure, Dad. Whatever you say.” He was so happy then. The key to living a long life is actually smoking a whole pack of cigarettes a day. Marlboro Lights to be exact. I didn’t say a good life, but long. If that’s what you’re into.
On minute fifteen of waiting for my train back home I saw a rat scurrying along the tracks. He was big, as Chicago rats are known to be. We have the most rats in the whole country. The rat seems to be looking for something. I hope he finds something good.
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