Why I Love A City

I spent several years in Toronto (for a relationship that tanked) and now, every movie-going experience is fraught. Do you know how often Toronto stands in for New York? I used to be trying to get somewhere and then — NUTS, they’re filming downtown; I gotta go all the way up to High Park station and streetcar it back instead of just getting off at Bloor and Bay.

These days, back in the States, I’ll often turn to my theater companion and say, “LOOK LOOK, that’s Toronto” — because there it is, all its chilly dirty city air and metal laid out in HD: my doctor’s office!* the place with that incredible dark sipping chocolate! — and my theater companion will say “Oh?” as I sit alone in the experience just like I did when it was real. I was lonely in Toronto, but today– because we’re going into Chicago — I’m thinking about what I loved.

Everyone has to at least PRETEND they’re liberal in a city. Even a cab driver from the most viciously backward, woman-hating nation on Earth has to pretend he’s cool with it when six tipsy dykes pile into his backseat and giggle, “We’re going to 420 Fest, hee hee hee!” He might be thinking, May your uncleanness be cleft with a mighty sword, or, more benignly, These crazy white people, who can understand them? but all he’s going to do is roll his eyes and say, “OK, put on seat belt.”

Also, in a city, you never know who you’re interacing with. The woman working security in the subway could easily be a Pakistani doctor who fled a forced marriage/honor killing acid/attack; the man next to you at the museum could be wanted for war crimes in Bosnia. Almost no one in a city is originally from there, so you’re always surrounded by three or four or eight million stories.

I love city food. I used to go to a place in Koreatown called something like “Enjoyable Restaurant.” It had no English menus, so I’d just point, and usually whatever I got was delicious.

I think crazy people in cities are sometimes prophets.

And everything stays open late.

And museums.

*Where bloodwork that would have cost $600 in the States was…free. Oh, how I love socialized medicine.

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Visiting Lake Michigan

At the lake yesterday, I saw the worst fish in the world. There were at least 100 of them — green-grey, fleshy fish that looked to weigh anywhere from  8 to 25 pounds each. They dwarfed the baby ducks. They were capable of direct, sustained eye contact.

Tourists were feeding them slices of bread, which they sucked with alacrity into their gaping maws, but you could tell by their facial expressions that they’d rather have meat. Big chunks of meat. Preferably fingers. I observed them rising muscularly up out of the water to catch the bread, shoving each other with raw, battle-scarred snouts, and I thought, something is not right in the U.S. of A. 

These fish are one genetic uptick away from evolving feet and disporting themselves on the Northwestern campus. What’s more, they’re constantly exposed to birth-control hormones via women peeing out the Pill, so they’ve got to be endocrinologically-confused at best; sexually violent at worst. THEY DO NOT BELONG IN THE LAKE. In any lake. They belong on the ocean floor, where even National Geographic cameras cannot go.

I went directly back to the dorm where D. and I are staying, in order to Google “horrible fish” + “Lake Michigan” + “fucked up,” and got this:

Asian Carp!

As it turns out, many people are concerned about the influx of Asian carp, because Asian carp do not respect boundaries of any kind. They are an invasive species that eats everything in sight, strips the ecology of its resources, and starves out the native fish and birds. I’d really like to weave this into a sharp feminist narrative regarding MichFest, safe space, and Internet pornography — it’s the world’s easiest metaphor — but we’re meeting friends for Chicago pizza in 30 minutes.  I was made to understand something about stuffed crust.