Sunday, December 30, 2012


 I only see them when it's noisy.

The first time I saw one, I was walking back to my hotel from a train station in Chicago. They have the big, suspended-in-midair trains – I guess the locals all call it the El – that make this incredible sound when they go by overhead, and for a minute or two as it passes you can't hear anything except this enormous racket. It's a whole body kind of sound, and you can even feel the sidewalk vibrate under your feet when it goes by.

Anyway, this train is coming by above me, which I'm not used to. The Chicago natives seem totally unperturbed, but me and a couple of other tourists all look up to gawk at it. I look down after a couple seconds, and that's when I notice him staring at me. Well, staring, I guess. I don't know the verb for when something is looking at you without eyes.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


It's quiet out here when I wake up, like always. Sometimes you can hear the quiet pneumatic hiss of a door opening somewhere else, but that's the extent of it. It's not like there are any neighbors to keep us awake at night, after all. I slap the alarm button to stop that painfully annoying beep that all alarm clocks seem to share.

I swing off the small bed and land on the metal floor with a dull thump. Thankfully, it's not cold; the engineer must have managed to fix that problem with the heating today. I walk to the door and press a keypad to open it, and it does as its told with a quiet slurp of pressurized air. I look out into the hall before I step into it, but there's no one coming from either direction. With only the three of us up here, it's pretty uncommon to run into someone else.

The walls are a sort of dull gray metal, closer to white than black, but still pretty ugly to look at. The monotony of the walls is broken up by a few tiny, shaded portholes to the outside, but even those seem to blend in once you've walked by them enough times. A year of living in the same place tends to do that to you, I've found.