The Daily Grind

1:15 PM- I am standing in the Barnes and Noble bookstore’s coffee shop buying a coffee after wandering around downtown. An Asian man with a navy blue backpack and a white shirt is standing uncomfortably close to me.

1:25 PM- He sat down at a table with a blonde woman also wearing a white shirt. I feel better now.

1:30 -I have my coffee and sit on a bench outside.

1:32- There is a man near the crosswalk dancing with headphones in. I assume it must be a killer song considering he’s full out dancing to a beat no one can hear. He’s wearing a bucket hat with pictures of weed leaves on it. It seems fitting for the situation.

1:35- This seems to be a prime spot for smoking. I’m reminded of home where both of my parents’ smoke. The smells converge until I can’t tell if the smoke smell is a pleasant reminder of home or a gross reminder of impending lung cancer.

1:40- I see a girl from my last class at a bench nearby. We make eye contact but make no other move to acknowledge each other. I don’t know her name. I think she may have been a cat person in our introductory ice-breaker game.

1:41- A man with graying hair has made eye contact with me. I put my sunglasses on to avoid him the contact. He looks away.

1:45- I shift benches to get a different perspective

1:47- The pigeons are out and about today and I feel slightly guilty that I don’t have anything to give them. I saw a pigeon the other day with only one leg hopping around. I feel sad thinking about it.

1:49- I see a few men seemingly arguing with no one. They’re really loud and aggressive. It takes me a second to release they’re on the phone through their headphones.

1:51- It’s much cooler today than I thought it would be. I wore leggings and a long sleeve shirt in preparation for chilly classrooms, but fully expected to be hot outside. The breeze I’m receiving in the shade counteracts my initial idea, giving me a slight chill. I’m excited for fall.

1:55- Many mothers with strollers today. Sometimes I wonder if I looked inside the carriage, I would find a dog circa a comedy film. I hope someone actually does that in real life.

2:00- I have the desire to buy some candy from the nearest 7/11 and decide to abandon my post.

2:05- I got some Jolly Ranchers.

Does a walk through Chicago’s streets soothe you, induce stress, or produce some other emotional response? Why? Put differently, how does your embodied experience affect the way you walk in the city? Are there certain kinds of streets or places in the city that provoke these emotional responses? Where, when, how, and why?

I think walking through Chicago’s streets always gives me a sense of wariness. This response then increases at night to full blown anxiety. These emotional responses definitely affect how I walk in the city. My wariness when alone causes me to walk rather quickly at all times, making little to no stops. I don’t see much of what’s around me because I’m focused on getting to a singular destination. I’m mostly afraid of a stranger trying to talk to me. At night I most likely don’t see anything at all. Being alone in the dark in the city at night is probably one of my worst nightmares. Just the other night a friend of mine was on the L back to campus when she was assaulted on the train by a complete stranger. This occurrence really affirmed and cemented my fear of being alone in the city at night. This is definitely a gender related issue. As a woman, being catcalled on the street is nothing new. However, when it gets dark strangers tend to get bolder and care less about who sees them when they harass someone. It’s much easier for people to hide in the shadows, and much harder for me to feel safe.