Journal of the Grad Planet: (Vol 6)

The kind of depression that one gets during the week of finals is a depression unlike any other. I’m having trouble dealing with this stress, particularly because it’s a weird kind. You have all this free time but you are supposed to be doing things. However, throughout the entire quarter I’ve been racing and uncontrollable speeds, and… well. Now I have five whole days to complete a few tasks? My mind can’t get in gear to do it! I’ve got plenty of time.

The stress of knowing that big tasks are coming, but mostly unnecessary at this very instant, then mixes with the feeling that everybody is busy, and/or about to leave for the break. It always upset me when all my friends would disappear right after finals, because apparently everyone has somewhere else they’d like to be?

But, I am looking forward to spring break, which I am going to attempt to make “Spring Break Chicago”, so that I can get out and do the Chicago touristy things and enjoy this city. I made a big adult-life step last week and did my taxes all by myself this year. It was pretty liberating to finally get it done, and to see that the government owes me lots and LOTS of money. (Horray for paying student loan interest!!) However I didn’t actually qualify for the full credit because my tax liability was so small, haha, so when I make more money then I will get more repaid to me on that note.

My new job with Jumpstart has finally gotten totally off the ground, and now I’m working at Wadsworth Elementary School with their preschool classroom. It’s a public school, so preschool is not really a priority, but there is one preschool class there and the teachers are seasoned forces of nature. I’m glad to be working with kids again. It keeps my perspective in check. I’m going to write about it for my paper in Public Church.

Whenever I go there, or when I walk in this neighborhood, it just seems like endlessly flat, open lots with wind rushing across it. There are boarded up apartments from a hundred years ago, some buildings that are otherwise just barely hanging together. Baptist Temples and attempted student housing, and then one odd coffee shop that looks like it’s dropped down from space. (Though it does serve some excellent coffee.) The land is flat and the wind is it’s primary feature. This is something intriguing about the American “slum”. The slums of Mumbai, Accra, and the other cities I’ve visited have been tiny patches of ignored land where thousands of poor people cram into haphazard constructions. They are contained and people ignore them, and they are above all else, crowded. The South Side of Chicago doesn’t necessary warrant that title–though I think in the majority of the American imagination that word is what they think of first. But it isn’t anything like these images that one gets of Kibera or Dharavi. The striking feature of this is its openness, the wideness of the sky, the emptiness, the scrubby lots and squat broken and old apartments, shopping carts and discarded tires, bus shelters. It is distinctly American.

That is all. For now.


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