Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<





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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?


"50 First Dates"






Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
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or Search by State

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Contact The Media
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Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)

Quasar
Hyperbole
Amenable
Taciturn
Ennui
Prophetic
Tawdry
Hubris
Ethereal
Syzygy
Umbrageous
Twerp
Sluice
Omnipotent
Sanctuary
Malevolent
Maelstrom
Luddite
Subterfuge
Akimbo
Hoosegow
Dodecahedron
Visceral
Soupçon
Truculent
Vitriol
Mercurial
Kerfuffle
Sangfroid




























 







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Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue

Slanglish

It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations


Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"


















 
Mail Trillian here





Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)

CellStories

Alliance for the Great Lakes


Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras


The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.



Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.

Shag

Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto

Jotto




Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.





Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"







Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains





























Life(?) of Trillian
Single/Zero

 
Tuesday, July 31, 2007  
The wheels on the bus go round and round...

So, my "new" place is too far from my office to walk to work. I can still ride my bike, which I generally do, but, sometimes I have to take public transportation to work.

I'm "lucky." For now, I have the option of the train or two different express buses. Depending on what happens in September. (big scary reverb sound effect, the implications of which will be well understood, scoffed and lamented by citizens of Chicago.) Us Chicagoans are living under the threat of enormous service cutbacks and fare increases on public transportation due to, um, why is it again? Budget problems? State funding? I dunno, there are so many allegations and threats I can't even remember what the actual problem was which started all of this. The doomsday plan, as it's come to be known, is so ingrained in me in terms of service cutbacks and fare increases that the particulars of the budget problems have become secondary to sorting out a personal doomsday plan. Everyone's preoccupied with it, forming car pools, buying bikes, changing jobs or apartments to make their commute walking distance, one woman in my office didn't renew her lease because she lives on a train line slated to be cut so she moved to a neighborhood where service by two buses and a train are not threatened, another person in my office did the worst case scenario math and bought a parking space and hybrid car. For him and his wife, the tax break on the mortgage for the parking spot and credit for the green car outweigh the proposed fare increases for he and his wife to continue to commute on public transportation. I raise a dubious eyebrow at his math, but, come September I may find myself envious of his doomsday preparations. All this Henny Pennying seems a bit, well, much, to me, but I've lived in the luxury of not relying on public transportation for a few years. I haven't endured the daily pain, agony, delays and price gouging the way they have. I understand, I do ride public transportation, now more than in recent years, but I'm not moving or buying a car. Yet. We'll see what happens in September. For now, though, unless and until they cut one of the bus lines which takes me and many, many other people from home to work, I'm "lucky" to have transportation options. I guess. If you call paying $3.50/day for the luxury of waiting sometimes almost an hour for a bus or train and then being packed like a sardine with complete strangers into a confined, cramped space which may or may not have functioning air conditioning or heat lucky, then, I'm truly, truly lucky. Oh boy. Lucky me. Lucky, lucky me.

I have not missed riding on public transportation to and from work. I mean, I like the concept and theory behind public transportation, I'm all for it environmentally speaking. Really. I'm a long time supporter and user of public transportation. It just makes sense - financially, environmentally, civically, socially, it's just the right thing to do. Discomfort and delays aside, it's a good commuting choice.

However, the obvious drawback to public transportation is that you have to share transportation with the public. A bunch of strangers thrown together for a ride around the city.

You can learn a lot about your neighbors by riding public transportation to and from work. I've learned my new neighborhood is inhabited by a lot of professionals who work at a university or one of the big hospitals, college students, senior citizens and professional working stiffs like me who have to or want to take public transportation to work. Most of us, even some of the senior citizens, have iPods. Most of us read books or newspapers. Most of us bathe and wear clean clothes and carry a satchel or briefcase. Most of us are polite and say good morning or good evening or at least "hi" to the bus driver (I used to get chastised about this, I always greet the bus driver and people told me that marked me out as "not from here" or "tourist." I just thought it was the polite and proper thing to do. And now I share my bus ride with a lot of other people who are also either not from here or are polite. I like that. I like that people who are my neighbors have at least a shred of decency, enough to acknowledge the person who's driving them to work.)

For the most part, at least on public transportation, it's a pretty good crowd. Not the hippest, coolest, wealthiest, people in town, but, you know, regular people who go to work every day. There are a few standouts, a few people who are on the same schedule as I am, the people I see when I take public transportation. There's a woman at my bus stop who has casual Friday. I know this becuase on days other than Friday she wears suits or dresses or skirts and blouses. But on Friday she cuts loose and wears baggy jeans, Keds sneakers and a t-shirt with a funny saying, like, "Eat Right, Exercise, Die Anyway!" I'm certain she owns a "Hang in there Baby, Friday's Coming" t-shirt with a cat hanging by one paw from a tree branch. I haven't seen her wear it yet, but I know she has one. I'm not mocking her, that's cool, I like her. She seems nice. Friendly. Quick with a funny comment about how bad the CTA service is. It's just that she's, you know, a type. A good type. There's a woman about my age who has a young son she drops off at (I presume) day care on her way to work. He finds new and inventive ways to entertain himself on the bus, his mother finds new and inventive ways to try to get him to behave. There's one guy, I've seen him twice on the morning train commute, who, when the train goes down a hill, from elevated level to subway, puts his arms in the air and waves them around as if he's going down a steep hill on a roller coaster. It's possible he lives in one of the mental health half-way houses down the street from me, but, casual observation would mark him as a middle aged professional, maybe a financial officer or systems analyst in a big corporation. He has an air of Dilbert about him. The first time I saw him do this I assumed he was joking around with a friend seated next to him. I chuckled at his early morning antics. The next time we were seated in the same car at the same time on our morning commute he was seated alone several seats ahead of me. I didn't recognize him until we hit the decline to go underground and up went his arms, waving in the air a la roller coaster rider. This is apparently something he does all the time. Hey, gotta make your own fun in this life. If going down the hill from elevated to subway is the most fun part of your day, well then, make the most of it. Rock on, roller coaster dude.

Most of us are quick to help the handicapped people (and there are many in my new neighborhood) who attempt to use public transportation. Silly them. Hoping to get around town on CTA. There are ~80 (depending on state of disrepair) handicap accessible train stations on the CTA. That's not many. If you don't live or work close to one of the sparsely placed handicapped stations you're SOL. I spent several months on crutches. I'm extremely familiar with the shortcomings in terms of accessibility on the CTA. Some buses are handicap equipped, but, more often than not the equipment doesn't work or the handicapper is put in risky situations while boarding and exiting the bus. Taking the train was out of the question. The two rickety, ridiculously, perilously pitched and sloped flights of stairs to and from the boarding platform were out of the question with crutches and a cast over my knee. They're difficult to manage under the healthiest of conditions. So it was a two-bus ride for me. I nearly re-injured myself on many occasions trying to board and exit a bus on crutches. On my old route, people were rude and intolerant of handicappers. I'm happy to report that my new routes, and my new neighbors, are generally quick to help a handicapper.

And then there are The Others. Some of the people on the train and bus bring their lattacrappachino with them on their morning commute. The rules of the CTA are clearly posted and blared over a speaker, "No smoking, eating, drinking, loud music or loitering on the CTA trains buses or stations." But apparently the rules don't apply to some commuters because they slurp, slurp, slurp away on their morning beverage and contaminate the air of the bus or train with smell of whatever is brewed and concocted in those cups. I get contact caffeine buzzes just by sitting in the vicinity of the slurpers. I still can't decide which I find more annoying: The loud and incessant slurping or the pungent smell wafting around the train or bus. I think I hate them both equally, and I think they're a tandom offense. My working theory is that people who drink smelly coffee drinks on public transportation by default are people who loudly slurp their beverages.

As bad as the slurping riders, but for entirely different reasons, are the riders who cough and sneeze and blow their noses during the entire journey. I thoroughly wash my hands at the appropriate times throughout the day, use the handi-wipes on the cart at the grocery and use the seat protectors in bathrooms. But I'm not a germophobe. However. After riding on a bus or train I am filled with an urgent longing for one of those showers like in sci-fi or mass destruction movies. The kind the few agents allowed to travel between the outside world and the inner sanctum of the lab or underground society have to use as they enter and exit the core. The first thing I do when I arrive at work or home after a fun-filled ride with humanity on the train or bus is race to the bathroom to wash my hands. I scrub up to my elbows like I'm going into ER. I make a point of touching nothing, or at least as very little as possible on the trains, buses and stations. I have seriously contemplated wearing a nose and mouth mask. I wonder about my childhood vaccinations and whether I should get booster shots. There are times I move away from someone coughing or sneezing on the bus or train. But I know it's inevitable. Sooner or later, no matter how swift and good my hygiene, I am going to catch something.

There’s nothing like the putrid smell of urine and dirty standing water mingling with an odd faintly metallic odor wafting around a confined, enclosed space on a 90 degee 99% humidity day. It’s such a welcoming and lovely start and end to the work day. When I lived in my old-old place, and rode the train more than I do now, one particularly humid morning the smell of urine was so strong and so foul I felt even more nauseous than normal, so it was no surprise that a pregnant woman, upon reaching the platform, gasping for fresh air, didn’t make it to the trash can and vomited all over the platform. Someone called for assistance from the CTA workers in the station below, yet, surprise, surprise, no one arrived. We boarded the train and left the puke behind. The smell on the trains is of a different putrid, vomit inducing nature than the stations. Usually food, coffee, sweat, burning plastic, dust, mud, corrosion, urine always urine, I will always associate a whiff of stale litter box with the CTA, and other unidentifiable smells wafting around the trains and buses. (The buses are, in fact, slightly better because there is more “fresh” air from windows and boarding and exiting passengers, but, there is a smell, an unpleasant smell, a smell of humanity and diesel on buses.) Anyway, on my return trip home the day the pregnant woman vomited on the platform, I was surprised, yes, really, surprised that the vomit remained, still, 10 hours later, on the platform. Someone had put a McDonald’s wrapper over some of it and someone had then stepped on the wrapper, and other people had stepped in it, but it was still there, still obviously vomit. It was gone the next morning, to be fair, someone finally cleaned off the platform. And no, I wouldn’t want that job, and yes, I’m sure whoever finally cleaned it is woefully underpaid. But. On a hot, humid summer day, on an already dirty and smell infested, rat infested (and obviously germ infested) train platform, bodily fluids really should not be left rotting and standing for all to inhale and step in.

It’s times like these I think about my history classes. Classes where I was taught about the Black Plague and typhoid outbreaks and dysentery deaths. In those classes we were all grossed out and appalled at the lack of hygiene and intelligence to put two and two together and come up with penicillin and regular bathing and ridding surfaces of body fluids and dirt. One visit to any random CTA train station will serve as a living history lesson in communicable diseases.

I was thinking this again, last week, and sure enough, in the middle of Summer, a few days after standing next to a woman who sneezed and coughed the entire bus ride, I awoke with a sore throat, head congestion, fever, night sweats and pounding headache usually associated with colds which make the rounds in the office in the Winter months. You know, when all the cold remedy advertising is at its yearly height? You know, when most people catch colds? Yeah, middle of Summer and thanks to my neighbors who ride the CTA I've already gone through two boxes of Kleenex, two boxes of Sucrets, a bottle of Rubitussin, a carton of Alka Seltzer Cold fizzes, half bottle of Vicks and several gallons of Gatorade. I've done serious research on the symptoms of TB because the cough won't subside. My coworkers, who have so far escaped this disease, are aghast that I'm suffering with such a bad cold, for so long, at this time of year. Well. The coworkers who don't ride the CTA, that is. Those who do ride the CTA look at me knowingly, and suspiciously. They know where I picked up this disease and consequently they're wary. They know this isn't just some random cold. They've seen and heard people coughing on trains and buses, sick people, people carrying and spreading biowarfare to commuters. They know. And, from a far, far distance, behind a surgical mask and rubber gloves, they give me sympathetic looks. "Poor Trill. Rode a bus to work one day, and dying of some strange, uncurable disease known only to exist in dark corners of the Third World the next."

Sometimes on my commute my iPod, set on random, will launch into a funnily incongruous song. This is one of the reasons I am a strong supporter of iPods. The huge collection of music and random choices of songs offers unlimited possibilites for a very funny, apt or ironic soundtrack to life. One morning, when I was dosed up on cold remedies and feeling tired and spaced out, I sat there gazing at other people boarding the bus. Maybe it was my drug induced stupor, but they all seemed to be moving in slow motion with glazed eyes. Were they also suffering with my disease and stoned on cough medicine? Or was it something more sinister? Were they in fact the undead, zombies? As I sat there watching the zombie people board the bus bursting from my iPod came the opening bars of Lust for Life. It's the little things that make the commute tolerable. iPods. All hail the mighty iPod. And Iggy Pop. When they make a documentary on this disease I am currently battling, and they show how it was spread, on public transportation, I really hope some young film maker has the sense of humor to use Lust for Life in the background as the contagious zombie people board the bus while unwitting people aboard the bus have no clue what fate is about to befall them on their commute to work.

I've ridden public transportation in a lot of cities. Some are sterling, shining examples of efficiency, reliability, cleanliness and value. Others, well, not so much. The CTA isn't the worst I've ridden, but it's far from the best. But one universal behavior unites every transit system in every city I've used: Spit.

I don't generally have an urge or need to spit therefore I can't understand or identify with a "need" to spit. So maybe I should just shut up about this because I can't understand what it's like to have to spit. But I think it's safe to assume that even if I were suddenly overcome with the need or urge to spit I would find a way to refrain until was off the train/bus, away from the platform and station, or, very worst case, use the trash can in the station or on the platform. But I'm, you know, polite. Other people don't share this outlook. I know this because I see people spitting on train platforms, train tracks, train station stairs, bus stops, and yes, on buses and trains. Not only do I see them spitting, more frequently I see the, um, spit. The proof left behind. The loogies. Big, gross puddles of spit all over public transportation. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm uptight. Maybe I'm overly sensitive regarding bodily fluids. But. This is one of the main reasons I never, ever wear sandals when I'm going to ride CTA. CTA stations, stairs, platforms and trains and loogie minefields. What was I saying about communicable diseases? Gross, you say? Why is Trillian sharing this with us, you ask? Just attempting to paint an accurate picture of 21st century urban life. And to prove what an extraordinary commuting value the CTA is and why we should happily hand over more money for the privilege and luxury of riding the CTA.

Which is one of the predominant arguments emerging as the CTA doomsday approaches. People, even actual CTA riders, insist it's a great value, even with the increased fares. Um. Yeah. Sure. It's a great deal. Yeah. I guess. If you say so. It takes me at least an hour and a half to travel 6.5 miles from my home to my office on a direct, no transfer, train. If traffic is running smoothly, an express bus takes me an hour in the morning, and as much as two hours at night. If there's a Cubs game or if it's raining, add another 45 minutes to an hour to that schedule. When I ride my bike it takes, at a leisurely pace, 40 minutes. And that's including a stop at 7-11. I could easily push myself, play Tour-de-France and make the commute in a half hour. On a bike. And I am not Lance Armstrong. And yet a train, a direct, door-to-door train, no traffic involved, train, takes 1.5 hours. More if there's a Cubs game. And that's assuming I can squeeze into the first train which appears. More usually I have to wait for at least two trains to arrive. Two or three completely packed trains without room for anyone to board will chug into the station, open doors, no one exits, people try to squeeze on and then fights ensue, the doors close, most of us are left behind waiting, hoping, that the greatest lie of all will, in this case, be true: "There's another train directly behind this one." I don't know why I get my hopes up that this time, this CTA train driver, will be the one who tells the truth. "There's another train directly behind this one." "I did not have sex with that woman." And yet I stand there, hoping, looking down the train, squinting into the distance for the promised train. Eventually, two or three trains and as much as 45 minutes later, we can finally squeeze into a train car full of humanity. And despair. And filth. And disease. And rudeness. Yeah, it's a great commuting value. If you're from the third world I'm sure the CTA seems like a gleaming model of efficiency and cleanliness.



There is a segment, a splinter group of Others, who have embraced all the features of their mobile phones. Even the features which harken back to a simpler time. A time when mobile phones didn't even exist. Gasp! I know, can you imagine such a horrible inconvenience? No mobile phones?! It's like, the Dark Ages, or precivilization. And children, children, young children, were given communication devices as toys, presents from Santa or for their birthdays. And these toys were often not even the most anticipated or played with toys. In fact they were often quickly cast aside and drifted to the bottom of the toy box. These toys were called walkie talkies. Some were better than others, some had a range of about 20 feet and didn't work if there was a brick or plaster wall between the talkers. But the better ones had a decent range. If you took a set of good walkie talkies to summer camp, at night, from the safety and confines of your tent, you could talk to your friends in other units or maybe even at the other camp across the lake. The problem with them was that they were too loud or too quiet. You ended up having to yell to be heard in a raspy whisper at the other end, and everyone on your end could hear you loud and clear, or, you'd talk in a whisper and it would be received so loudly that the person on the other end would spend the entire conversation saying, "shush! shush! not so loud! don't yell! everyone can hear you!" And you'd whisper back, "I am whispering" and the other person would shhhh you again and finally you'd give up the amateur spying and war games and go play MouseTrap instead. Children's toys! Playthings!

And now we've come full circle. Adults, grown people, are walkie talkie-ing all over the place. Except now it's called chirping. Cute. This is perhaps more polite than regular mobile phoning because everyone around you gets to hear the full conversation, not just one side of the conversation, so no one's left wondering or guessing about any details. The chirpers put it all out there for everyone to hear. They've got nothing to hide. They're happy, even eager, to share both sides of their conversation. Full disclosure. I notice a lot of these conversations are very similar to the walkie talkie conversations from childhood.
"What?"
beeep
"What'd you say?"
beeeeep
"Huh?"
beeeeeep
"What? I can't hear you."
beeeep
"I said kchhhhhstch hhisssstch."
beeeep
"What?"
beeeeeep
"Huh?"
beeeeep
"kchhhhhhhhstch hhhhsssssisstch"
beeeeep
"Wait, what?"
beeeeep
"Huh? I can't hear you."
beeeeeep
"I SAID SCHCHTTITTTTTTTCH KCCCHHTCH!"
beeep
"What?"
beeeeeep
"Huh?"

I love technology. Don't you? We've come so far, so fast.

And some of the people on the train and bus have really loud and obnoxious mobile phone ring tones. Seriously. When was the Macarena a big sensation? Like, 10, 12 years ago? So why would anyone have that as their ringtone? Still, it's kind of apt, the tinny audio of mobile phones does appropriate justice to the Macarena. However, the tinny audio of mobile phones does not do appropriate justice to Brahms' Concerto #2 in D Major. I was particularly bothered by one woman's nonstop mobile phone ringing one morning. It was blaring a painfully loud, tinny and distorted passage of La Gazza Ladra every time she had an incoming call. After she hung up the, I'm not kidding, sixth call in 15 minutes, I lifted my eyes from my book and said, "Big fan of Rossini, eh?"

"Huh? I don't know no Rossini. Who's Rossini? Is he that new guy on the Sox?" (Only a Chicagoan or Bostonian would understand that last phrase and accept it as a perfectly normal statement. To anyone else it would sound like, "Is he that new guy on the socks?")

I just smirked and said, "yeah," then paused thoughtfully for a moment and said, "Ever watch Bugs Bunny?"

She just gave me a weird look.

A guy seated across from us laughed and leaned over, caught my eye and gave me a knowing thumbs up. Hey, it was some small progress. A small victory for our side. There is an "our" side, it's not singular, not my side. It's a good feeling to know you're not alone in your disdain, misery, loathing and contempt. I wasn't alone. I take a lot of comfort in that. I am not alone. Oh be quiet. If mocking someone for not knowing the composer of their obnoxious ring tone is the most fun part of the day, well, then, make the most of it. Go ahead. Call me a snob. Call me a music snob. But if defending the honor of genius musical masterpieces and raising public awareness on great composers (and Bugs Bunny) is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Some of the people on the train and bus like to talk really loud on their mobile phones. They also like to share intimate details of their lives with everyone on the bus. Hey, we're all neighbors, right? Why not share the details of Saturday night's fight with the boyfriend and subsequent "revenge fuck" in the bathroom of a club? I never really thought about that concept, "revenge fucking," until I heard the lengthy and highly descriptive details of one of my neighbor's plans to get even with her boyfriend after he went out with the guys instead of going out with her on Saturday night. She showed him. She went with Melissa and Kelly to CroBar and hooked up with a guy there and, boy did she get the last word in the fight with her boyfriend, she "revenge fucked" the CroBar guy at the club. "While he was out with his buddies I was fucking a totally hot stranger in CroBar!" She really likes to say the word fuck. I notice a lot of people use the f-word these days. Especially when they're talking on their mobile phones. If you think she's a "certain type" of woman, wipe that skanky vision out of your head. This was a polished, professional looking woman in her early thirties. She exited the bus at one of the big hospitals so I'm guessing she's on the professional staff at the hospital. Or going in for an appointment to be tested for STDs. And thanks to her loud conversation in a crowded public space, shared by her neighbors, on her mobile phone, we're all free to speculate about the status of her sexual health. She made it our business. It would be unusual if we didn't speculate about it, at least in passing. When someone talks, no, shouts, the details of their one night stand with a total stranger at a dance club in front of a crowd of people, the obvious expectation and result is that that crowd of people will speculate, maybe even wager, on your STD status. Especially when you exit the bus at a hospital, still shouting details of the encounter down your phone. Did we want to know any of this? Of course not. And yet we were forced to learn the sordid details. I was playing my iPod for crying out loud and I could still hear her.

Speaking of STDs, I "met" an interesting guy on the bus! Woo hoo! The old love life's turning a corner! Things are looking up for Trill's romantic options! The ride home was absolutely packed on the bus. Shoulder to shoulder, bum to bum. The guy behind me had to lean into me to hold onto the overhead handrail. In doing so he was crammed so close to me that I could feel his hip and, um, "groin" on my bum. And every time the bus went over a bump (frequently on Chicago streets) he was jostled into me. So as we bumped along Lake Shore Drive he was a few layers of clothes and penetration shy of sodomizing me. Bump, jostle, hip in right cheek, "groin" in the crack, jostle away, bump, jostle, hip in right cheek, "groin" in the crack, jostle away, bump... you get the idea. Pretty much in-out-up-down-in-out.

Okay, the bus was super, super crowded and thanks to the coincidence of our relative heights and random (I hope) positioning, this unfortunate forced intimacy was pretty much unavoidable. I kept trying to move forward or over or somewhere out of reach of his, um, "groin" but I was already smooshed against the baggage shelf and sandwiched like peanut butter on bread between the people on either side of me. I fought for every centimeter away from the guy behind me I could get. But, I was no match for the bumpy roads.

Okay, you know, we're all adults, right? This will be over soon (just relax and enjoy it, you might feel a slight tingling sensation, it will all be over soon) just try to put as much space as possible between your bum and his, um, "groin" and deal with it. The thing is, as the ride continued there was less hip contact (I thought due to my finagling of space away from him) but more um, "groin" contact. And with each passing bump-jostle it became increasingly obvious that the, um, pressure point of contact from him was decreasing in its "general groin area-ness" and increasingly, um, hard. And direct. One specific pressure point jabbing into my bum.

You heard me. The guy had what I hope was an involuntary erection and with each bump and jostle he was effectively thrusting it into my ass. I guess I can understand that, the steady vibration of the bus, the sharing of personal, and I mean personal space. But. Still. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Okay. I'm making two assumptions for the preservation of my emotional well being. 1) I've still got something positive going on in the bum department which can cause a "stirring" in at least one man, and 2) his erection was involuntary and he was embarrassed or unaware of what was happening below our waists. I've since consulted a couple of guys who told me it's possible, though not probable, that he didn't even realize he had an erection and/or, likely, he was aware of his erection but unaware that he was thrusting it into my bum. I have to make these assumptions because the alternatives make me feel, well, not very good. Violated. Used. Disgusted. Scared.

Making the alternative scary assumptions, he's a creepy pervert who purposely rides overcrowded buses and positions himself behind women's bums for the sole purpose of some sort of "doing it in public with a complete stranger" fantasy. I have no doubt there are people who fantasize about having sex on public transportation and I have no doubt that it happens every day. I'm certain I've seen it happen a few times, once on a train to O'Hare a college aged couple were obivously having sex in the back of the train car, and once I witnessed a guy getting a hand job by a woman, who, not to make assumptions, appeared to have been, perhaps, a hooker. People tell me certain train lines are known to have riders willing to perform services for other riders. I didn't believe it, thought it was an urban myth, but when I saw that display one night after a long day in the office, I had to admit there might be some credibility to the legend.

But, this guy behind me, well, I didn't know him and he didn't ask me for money, or offer me any. So let's just go with the assumption that it wasn't as creepy as it could seem. The couple of guys I told about this asked me if I said something to him. Huh? What would I say? What should I say? "Erm, excuse me, yeah, hi, could you please stop thrusting your penis on my ass?" "Dude, stick your erection somewhere else?" "oooooh, baby, oh yeah, oh yeah, baby, yes, such a big boy and such a baaaad girl, spank the bad girl big boy, oooo yes, yes, don't stop, oooo oooo oooo?"

The problem with telling off a guy who might be literally getting off on your ass while riding a crowded bus is that eventually you reach your stop and have to walk home. Especially on crowded buses with a lot of people exiting and boarding at each stop, it's difficult to keep track of who exits the bus with you. I didn't like what happened on the bus. (though it is kind of funny, you know, if you can take a step back from the disgusting implications of the whole thing) I didn't like it. But, and this is what I was thinking about the entire time: I have to exit this bus. When I do, is this guy going to follow me? If I say something now, he could get mad, either sincerely or pretend to be offended at my accusation, and then what? The retribution scared me most. I did everything I could to get away from the guy as soon as I could. As soon as there was a spare four inches of standing space down the aisle of the bus I squeezed and pushed my way to that space, three feet away and a world apart from his either unwitting embarrassing predicament or creepy perversion. And when I exited the bus I stood on the corner through two lights to be sure he didn't exit with me and the bus was way, way down the street with no way for him to catch up to me or see where I live. Overly cautious? Maybe. But. I'd had enough intimate contact with a complete stranger for one day.

And speaking of intimate behavior, gotta hand it to the woman who, while standing near the front of a crowded bus, pulled a new shirt out of a shopping bag and, right there on the bus, changed her shirt. She did it so deftly that only those of us in the immediate area noticed what she was doing. She clearly had a lot of practice at this because there was only a slight flash of bra as she switched from old shirt to new. Maybe this happens all the time. I mean, really, what's the big deal? Date after work, stop to do a little shopping on the way, change into new clothes on the bus and voila! Ready for that hot date. Oh. And. So adept was she that she also managed to apply a fresh coat of deodorant. But that's nothing. I've seen that maneuver several times on the bus and train. I dunno. I guess I'm weird. I apply deodorant before I get dressed. In the bathroom. In the privacy of my own home. It's not generally something I forget to do. And I don't think. "Oh no, I'm running late! I know! I can save time by putting on my deodorant on the bus! That'll save me loads of time!" Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful they are thoughtful enough to bother to wear deodorant. (Which, in my public transportation experience, is not the status quo. Spend time standing or sitting thisclose to complete strangers and you realize how few people bother with deodorant.)

I could, I guess, tolerate some of this (though I’m not sure why I feel unworthy of basic cleaning efforts and basic polite, adult behavior), I could tolerate it at a bargain price. But for as much as $4/trip and service cutbacks, I have a right to expect to not have to worry about figuring out if that putrid smell is truly rotting flesh or just someone’s lunch vomited up on the platform a few days ago. For as much as $4/trip I have a right to not be afraid of what I may be infecting myself with by just breathing in the foul air. $4/ride gives me the right to not have to watch rats scavenge for their breakfast or dinner while I wait for a train. $4/ride makes it a reasonable expectation to not have to wonder if that puddle I had to step over (or in, if I wasn’t watchful enough as I climbed the steps to the platform) was “just water” or if that strong urine smell wafting around the station was in fact emanating from that puddle. One thing I’m concerned about regarding the proposed fare increases is the increased sense of entitlement riders will have. I expect more litter, more rudeness, more inappropriate behaviors as a result of the increased fares. I can hear it already, “I paid $4 for this ride, I can leave my trash wherever I want,” “I paid $4, I can talk on my cell phone as much and as loudly as I want.” “I paid $4 to ride this bus, and my backpack is going to sit on the seat next to me.” “I paid $4 and they’re making me wait an hour for a train/bus, I’ll piss/spit/litter/jerk off on the track if I want to…” And yes, putting the fare increases aside, most of us already endure long waits for trains and buses. With service cutbacks those waits are going to be even longer. People, lots of people, are going to be spending a lot more time at the stations. There will be more litter, more coffee, more public urination, more loud cell phone conversations, more creepy perverts hanging around looking for trapped prey, more angry outbursts and fights among passengers, more of all the unpleasantness already associated with public transportation. I don’t think the CTA has thought through the social implications and ramifications of their doomsday plan. But I have. And I’m scared.

Years ago when I ventured off to a big city for the first time on my own my dad gave me a bit of advice about public transportation, "Never, ever board an empty train car, always board the car with people already in it. If it empties out and it's just you and one other person, leave that car and board a more crowded car." This is good safety advice, on some levels, and I have heard about victims who've been assualted in empty train cars, trapped, no one to help, no one to call for help, no way out until the next station. But given my current city of residence I have to laugh, too. Empty train car?! I think those of us in Chicago are relatively safe from that particular form of stranger danger. I cannot remember when, if ever, since I've lived in Chicago, anyway, there's been a time when I've had to avoid an empty train car.

Just when I thought I'd seen and heard it all on public transportation, a guy seated next to me had a heart attack and I think, presume, died. Right there on the bus. Next to me. It was during a very, very and humid spell. At 7 AM it was already 85° and 99% humidity. The sun was already unable to burn off the haze which was still hanging in the air from the day prior. I was seated in the rear of the bus next to a window. I had my iPod on and was reading a book. We stopped at one of the stops prior to the express portion of the ride. A bunch of people boarded the bus and a guy sat down next to me. He was well groomed, but had his dress shirt unbuttoned over his undershirt and his tie draped around his neck. Hey, it was really, really hot and I totally understand he was trying to keep cool and fresh for work. He was kind of chubby and when he sat down he bumped into me. He apologized. I smiled a "that's okay, no biggie" smile. I noticed he was sweating profusely. He squirmed in the seat. I thought he was having difficulty getting comfortable, and, it was really hot and uncomfortable, so, you know, it seemed normal and he was apologetic about the disturbance. I squeezed more tightly into the side of the bus to give him more room. I said, "really a scorcher today," to try to make him less self conscious about his sweating and discomfort from what I thought was the heat. "Yeah," he said in agreement, out of breath, "a real scorcher."

As we started the express portion of the ride he started kicking my foot. I looked over at him and noticed even more sweat. He was clearly very uncomfortable and maybe in pain. He looked at me, a weird look, a look that said, "something's not right." I asked him if he was okay. (Okay, duh, of course he wasn't okay, but you just always ask that, don't you? Are you okay? I mean, I didn't know this guy, for all I know this might be normal behavior for him. You don't go around launching into something like CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver on a total stranger without first asking "Are you okay?" and confirming that they are in fact not okay. And, asking the question also shows that you are concerned and this gives a green light to the person in distress who might otherwise not want to bother a complete stranger with their health problem. When you ask someone if they're okay you're inviting them to unburden any of their problems onto you, you're showing that you're the person in the crowd concerned for them and they can turn to you for help rather than worrying about bothering someone and potentially risking further pain, anguish or death. It also gives the person the option to suffer alone or at least without your help. If you ask, "Are you okay?" and the person says yes and gives a "leave me alone" look, you're relieved of civic and social responsibility. "Hey, he said he was okay. So I didn't call a paramedic to remove the knife from his throat. He said he was okay." You're absolved. The person may not be okay but not want your help, either. So really, asking, "are you okay?" no mater how obvious it is that they're not okay, stupid as it may seem to ask in certain situations, is really the polite thing to do.)

He kept kicking my foot, looked at me, pleadingly, and his body started spasming. I took that as a no to my are you okay question. But went in for confirmation.

"Sir, sir, are you okay?" He was still focusing his pleading eyes on me and trying to say something and then his body jerked and convulsed. As this happened, the top half of his body fell off the bus seat, across the aisle onto the lap of the woman seated across the aisle, then onto the floor of the bus. His legs were all caught and twisted on the seat so I couldn't move to do anything to try to help him without stepping on his legs. Not that I would have known the right thing to do anyway. During Girl Scout Red Cross First Aid Training Day they never told us what to do for a person who's having a heart attack in the close confines of a bus.

This is where everything went into that slow motion effect they use in movies, except instead of everything being blurry it was all in ultra vivid sharpness. Simultaneously the woman across the aisle and I yelled out "Stop the bus! Stop the bus!" I think I also yelled, "There's an emergency! is there a doctor? I think he's having a heart attack!" I think it was me who said that. I thought it and heard it but I don't know if I'm the one who actually yelled it because I was dialing 9-1-1, trying to help the guy and trying to communicate to entire rush hour bus full of people at the same time.

Gotta give huge, huge, HUGE credit to the bus driver. Everything other than the guy dying in front of me ceased to exist at that point. However, I did notice it was only a matter of seconds that the driver had the bus pulled over to the shoulder and apparently radioed someone for help and was coming up the aisle to assess and help the passenger. I, and several other people, were on our phones to 9-1-1. But I think the bus driver had some code red button on his CTA walkie talkie thing because a CTA emergency services van appeared in like, I dunno, three minutes.

In that time the driver got everyone safely off the bus - everyone who could get off the bus, that is. There were a few of us who were stuck behind or around the patient. At this point I was kind of kneeling/standing on the seat trying to get the guy's legs untangled from the seat so at the very least if anything was still circulating he wouldn't get cramps or clots or pinched veins or a million other health problems I imagined happening to him as a result of his legs being twisted and caught on the seat. Turns out there was a nurse on the bus. She'd made her way to the back of the bus and tried to get a pulse on the guy as best as she could given that his arms were splayed under the seats and he filled the small aisle. She attempted to get in the proper position for CPR. The problem was that the bus aisles are narrow and the guy was kind of big. And all twisted up in the seats. And those of us remaining on the bus were at awkward positions to help move him into a better position for CPR. Basically, the few of us remaining were at a loss. Once the paramedics arrived they were able to quickly get him off the bus and loaded into an ambulance.

The rest of us boarded a bus which had pulled up behind our original bus. And off we rode, continued on our way to work. You could have heard a pin drop on that bus. Everyone had a dazed, what the heck just happened, that could have been me, poor guy, holy swutting cow what a way to start a day look on their faces. We were all stunned into a silent reverie. I noticed a woman counting her rosary beads.

The thing that kept playing over in my mind was the nurse saying she couldn't get a pulse. She had that look on her face like, "it's too late."

What got to me was the normacly of the rest of the day once I left the bus. We'd all shared that experience so even on the second bus, after the incident, it was still "happening" to all of us, we were all dealing with it in our own ways, together. We all witnessed it, we all experienced it. We all have that in common. But one by one, we exited the bus, stepped out into the city and resumed our normal lives, away and apart from all the people with whom we just watched a man die. It was as if we were turning off the television or putting down a book. We were engaged with the characters in the story, but then turned off the television or set down the book and the were gone, or at least trapped in their television or book world, waiting for us to return and pick up the story where we left it. The difference is that this time there's no resuming the story. That was the story, we were the characters. Away from each other there's no longer commonality or at least no continuity. To say the rest of that day, and most of the days since, have felt surreal and slightly disjointed is an understatement.

I think I watched a man die. I hope he was saved, I hope and beg the Universe to let him be okay, that the paramedics knew what to do and got there fast enough to help him, save him. But the pleading look in the guy's eyes haunts me. It's not like on TV or in movies where people grab their chest, keel over, close their eyes and go still. The eyes stay open and the tongue hangs out, frozen in the moment of pain and realization that this is the last stop on the bus of life. The body spasms. I keep hoping, keep trying to be optimistic that because everyone acted so quickly and efficiently that the guy survived the attack. Heck, maybe it wasn't even a heart attack, maybe it was something like a seizure or something treatable. Hopefully not contagious. But that look in his eyes... and the nurse's words, "I can't find a pulse..." keep nagging at me. I was with my cat when he died. I saw the life go out of his eyes. I know that look.

I have thought about emergencies on public transportation. Once I saw a woman fall when a train lurched to a sudden stop. She hit her head on the hand rail and fell to the aisle and it looked like she broke her arm. She limped off the train at the next stop. That was, you know, scary and sad and made me think about what you do when there's a health emergency on public transportation. But I never thought about what would happen, or what I would do if someone seated next to me keeled over and died on my morning commute. Have you ever thought about that? You might want to give it some thought because it's swutting freaking me out. I think I did all I could, I guess. I'm not sure. But I feel responsible for him. If he died I was the last person he saw. "Yeah, a real scorcher" were possibly his last words. And the last person he spoke to was me. I keep making myself will him to health and life. If he did die, he died on my watch. Oh sure, his health is not my responsibility, not really. But. We're neighbors. He was sitting next to me on the bus. And in my mind that puts him on my watch, just as I was on his. If the situation were reversed I would have been on his watch. He seemed like a nice guy, I think, hope, he would have asked me if I was okay and tried to help me.

I'll never know what happened to that guy, but, when I do ride the bus to work I'm on the lookout for him. I have a hunch I always will - every time I ride the bus and pull up to "his" stop I will look for him, hoping to see him standing there, iPod and newspaper, waiting to board the bus for just another daily commute. And I keep wondering, if he hadn't been forced to wait 45 minutes for an overcrowded bus, if there'd been better (or any) air conditioning on the bus, if he'd been commuting in a city with clean, efficient, reliable, sanitary, air conditioned public transportation, would he have been spared his life? Or, at least, could have have suffered his mortal blow someplace more, well, comfortable, or at least more clean. To die on a CTA bus floor, breathing in that putrid, humid air, is more insult than anyone should have to endure. What I learned from this is that, again, I don't mind dying, but I do not want my final breaths to be drawn on CTA and I do not want my body flailed onto any CTA surface. I can hear the ER doctor consoling my parents, "We could have saved her, you know, could have got her through the heart attack/stroke/brain seizure/whatever, but modern medicine is no match for whatever disease she picked up when she fell onto the CTA bus/train floor/platform." And that is not worth $4.

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10:00 PM

Sunday, July 29, 2007  
Yeah, so, um, there were some technical difficulties with the music file sharing. I think we're back up to speed, now. I loaded some new old stuff for your listening and downloading pleasure and will keep at the trial run by loaing more stuff this week. Take a look and a listen, you might find something you like. Apparently I'm feeling troubled. Or something. What's new there, you ask? Yeah, not much, I answer.

11:19 AM

 
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