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July 25, 2010

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Chicago is flat. Yesterday was too hot. Today was just right.
Spent most of it inside filling in little rectangles. Rectangles within rectangles. New opportunities and deadlines. Felt good to finally get outside on a borrowed bike. Every east-west increment of 800 equals one mile. I pedaled on a too-small 10-speed with no padding on the seat from 1600 to 5600, an even five. The sun was blazing but humidity was a relatively low 50%. 80 degrees at 4:30. Most people here don't wear helmets and it was too hot to be an exception. One surmises there is no helmet law, but it wasn't long before a fellow cyclist rolled up beside me as I waited for cross-traffic to pass. "Scofflaw?" she asked, indicating my lack of helmet. The difference between this encounter and one in Seattle is she wasn't wearing one either. "I didn't think it was a law," I said. "I rode right by two bike cops and they ignored me." She wasn't sure; had just assumed it was. We rode along together and chatted all the while until our paths diverged. I've had more conversations with random strangers in two days here than I have all year in Seattle. Why is that? Sarah and I were to housesit Dan and Lori's pets--Hub (cat), Merritt (dog), Franny (cat). I introduced myself to their neighbor Mikey, who asked if they'd left me enough to eat. He was grilling every day, feeding two insatiable boys, 10 and 13. Cicadas whirred as the sun slipped low. I kicked back on the front porch reading The Grapes of Wrath:
"How can we live without our lives? How will we know it is us without our past?"