As the weather slowly warms in Chicago, people gradually shed their various layers. It is now commonplace to see people without hats, scarves and gloves.

As I walk to my office in the morning, I notice peoples’ bare hands as they walk. Their fingers curve inward as their arms swing. I wonder what those hands did this morning, what they will be doing at work today, and what they will do tonight to celebrate the weekend. I wonder if they are the hands of happy people. Sometimes I have an almost overwhelming urge to slip my hand into a stranger’s hand, squeeze, and tell them it will be all right.

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I live in a very large metropolitan area.  I didn’t grow up in a city this large, and I have a lot of mixed feelings about living and working in such a big place.

There are so many positives: the fantastic museums and fine arts opportunities, the fact that I hear people speaking foreign languages almost every day, the liberalness, the stunningly beautiful skyline.

And then there are things that drive me insane.

Revolving doors.  People, revolving doors are a GROUP EFFORT.  We are all supposed to push reasonably hard for our designated period of time.  When I was hugely pregnant last year, I lost count of the number of times big, buff men would step into a revolving door immediately before or after me, but allow me to do all the pushing.

Umbrellas.  I don’t even own one.  I have a tendency to leave them places, and only ever feel they are even remotely useful in a torrential downpour.  But people here, they unsheath their gigantic golf umbrellas at the sight of the slightest sprinkle or a single snowflake.  The sidewalks become a tight mosaic of huge umbrellas, poking me in the face and snagging my clothes and hair.

Commuting.  I commute on public transportation, and you can add a wonderful public transportation system to one of the things I love about this place.  But even on public transit, with people shouting into their cell phones about their most embarrassing personal details, seat-mates who do not respect the invisible line running down the middle of the seat, and eager beavers who get up to depart the train/bus/whatever ten full minutes before it even comes to a stop at the final station, it could grate on the nerves of Gandhi himself.  I spend about two hours a day commuting.

Summer stink.  Plain and simple, every big city smells foul and pissy during the summer.  My city is no exception.

I’ve lived in towns and cities of all sizes.  There is much to be said for just about any kind of environment.  I live where I live now because my circumstances require it.  I don’t know that I’m a “lifer” here, but you can bet that while I’m here, I will take advantage of what this city has to offer, even on my shoestring budget.