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07/04/2005: "The Only Living Boy in New York"

I was balancing my bank account (yuck. a months worth of spending) and for some odd reason today I came up 100 dollars short. I went back and checked the statement... Midphase billed me automatically for 95.40$. So guess what? The Brak Blog is going to keep going for another year.

I can tell you're all just bursting with excitement.

Towards the end of this month (July 24th) we'll be celebrating our two-year anniversary on this server, 3 year aniversery of the blog as a whole. Iím going to try to revamp the look of the site by then, and itíll be a taste of whatís going to happen next. Iíve always said that the BrakBlog was strictly a high school experiment/success/failure, and that Iím going to do similar but distinctly different things afterward. The next, and presumably final re-vamp is going to be the testing grounds for my blogging beyond high school.

I just got back from Chicago where we were up looking at colleges. Iíll get to that at a later date though. I didn't figure out the topic of this blog though until midway through the drive home from the airport. We were talking on the way back about how creepy this one guy was on the subway that was bothering people for change. That kinda made the mass transit thing less cool. I then remembered having to trek through a crappy part of town to get to the University of Chicago. I also remembered my dad talking about how the Cubs hadn't won a world series in the crap of ever. It then occurred to me that Chicago's not that great of a city. And neither is New York. And neither is L.A., or Houston, or Philadelphia, or Kansas City for that mater. After the initial grandeur wears off, youíve just got a bunch of big buildings, tourist attractions, strip malls, and poverty.

Everywhere pretty much is not that awesome. And don't get me wrong, it's not that I didn't enjoy going to all those places, because I did. But there's something wrong with every damn town in this country, and probably on this planet. I noticed with Chicago though that people were still having a good time. People still wore Cubs shirts, and people still rode the elevated train. People in New York ignore the honking, and people in L.A. get over the gang violence, and people in Houston get over living in Texas, and people in Philadelphia get over the fact that their downtown makes one want to induce vomiting. And people in KC get over the fact that that the inner city is having its life sucked out by the 'burbs.

People get over these things because they love their homes. Example: I don't mind the potholes all down Wornall road, but I'll bet Lizz does. Lizz doesn't mind living in the suburbs with cookie cutter houses, but it drives me nuts. Itís something about where you were raised. There's something to be said for that bond that you forge with your home turf; that no mater what happens to it or what anyone says about it, you're still going to love it. You'll love it in spite of its glaring imperfections simply because you're so comfortable with it. Familiarity breeds attachment.

On the more human level, the same can be said for your family. On this past trip I got annoyed with my parents and sister almost hourly. Sometimes I even got angry. (In all honesty, only about 50% of that was probably justified) And yet still on that drive home I realized I love them a lot. I spent the past two days reading Death of a Salesman where the protagonist Willy fights with his son Biff for about half of the play. I fight with my dad a lot. I fight with my mom less. I fight with my sister least of all now that we have kind of come to understand each other. I expect that when/if I have kids eventually, I'll come to fully understand my parents. I love them all though, and I know that, despite the fact that I can be and usually am the biggest ass around (and more recently not around), they love me back.

That's family.
Like your hometown.
Flawed beyond oblivion, but so important it's like they're a part of you.

I donít understand that at all. Imagine though that you were able to capture that type of bonding energy, and apply it to other stuff. Imagine being able to honestly trust a total stranger with your life. Why are we all so suspicious of one another? Inherently we are fearful. What if we were all inherently trusting? I donít know. I suppose thatís what makes loneliness so terrible. The feeling that youíve lost that bond with any of your fellow humans has to be devastating.

Iím not trying to get you down or anything. Promise.

But I honestly think people do not think enough today. If we all thought more about the repercussions of our actions, entirely considering all of their effects, I think weíd all be better off.

In any case, Iím rambling. Iíll just close in saying that Iím continually amazed by how little I understand about this world and these people in it. If youíve got any additional insight, Iíd love to hear it.

[And if anyoneís seen my debate box, Iím looking for it.]

Cowboys hardly ever see their families.
In all honesty it's kind of a crappy gig.

[P.S.: When I get the rolls of film from the trip developed I'll actually give you a whole run-down of the lighter and more entertaining points of Chicago]

Replies: 10 Buddies Neglected Their Oral Hygine

i havent gotten over the fact that my downtown is dying.
i want my city back. she was my family when i didnt realize how much i love my family and how much they love me.
and thats why i stick around kansas city, and why i loved chicago so much. the buildings are taller (maybe, or maybe its just because theres more of them) there and it reminded me of how it felt to drive through downtown every morning with my dad when i was a little girl. it reminded me how much i loved being surrounded by those buildings when i was 16 and i was surrounded by friendly people all the time. i didnt know how to have a bad night downtown then.
i dont want my city to die.

Said [rachel] on Monday, July 4th

If your dad named you biff, I think you'd be a little more justified in fighting every day.

Although, I'm kind of surprised its not Happy who's throwing a fit.

Said [Lizz] on Monday, July 4th

downtown has been dying for years.
honestly, i don't know how they're going to fix that. i don't think an arena or a performing arts center or hot dog vendors or anything else is going to change anything. there are some bright spots (first fridays, for example), and there's some really neat stuff downtown - like loft apartments and resturaunts and stuff. but now every business is locating itself in overland park rather than in KCMO. and that's sad.
urban development is such a crap shoot. and suburban sprawl in our area is god-awful, it just exacerbates the poverty and fucks the environment (both by ripping up more and more land unnecessarially, and because you have to drive everywhere). It's a goddamned mess, and I don't know what the hell we're going to do about it.
i read somewhere that olathe is like in the top five fastest growing cities in the country. and that makes me sick.

Said [ethan] on Monday, July 4th

and i think biff is a perfectly lovely name.
and i'm changing my first name to gatsby.

Said [ethan] on Monday, July 4th

Gatsby's first name is Jay, you doof.

Said [Becca] on Monday, July 4th

chicago, in my opinion, is really one of the best cities in this country. granted, i've only been there 3 times, but in the span of my adventures, i've seen it from every angle. i've seen the tourist side. i've seen the hunger, poverty, lonliness, and violence. and i've seen the culture. but there's something chicago has that i haven't found in new york or st louis or kansas city or any other place. chicago pulls itself together, no matter what. the rich give a little here to help the homeless, the druggies give up a corner there to build a playground. chicagonians (?)just love their city. i think thats what KC lacks. yeah, we've got people like rachel and even myself who still love KC for what it used to be, but for the most part, the general population doesn't give a damn: as long as they have their nice pretty house in their nice pretty suburb, downtown can whither into oblivion. the people have got no vision.

Said [emily] on Monday, July 4th

i just used a double negative.


Said [emily] on Monday, July 4th

how many times have you heard, "don't go downtown, its dangerous, people will shoot you," instead of, "there's safety in numbers, make sure youre in a group"?
terrified parents watch the news and forbid their children to go downtown or to midtown. the fear perpetuates when those children grow up and forbid their children to go to the poverty stricken areas. what johnson county lacks in violence we more than make up for in drugs.
i didnt grow up in a terrible neighborhood, but it wasnt that great either. i wasnt allowed to walk to the park down the street by myself until i was 12. robert berdella, the murder "bizarre bazaar" was made about, lived around the corner from me. a roommate of my dads was one of his victims. while researching him just now to make sure i spelled his name correctly, i found out that i lived around the corner from him until i was a year old.
kansas city is not that fucking bad. i guess im crossing over, though, to what tom was talking about when he said its all about where you grow up.

Said [rachel] on Wednesday, July 6th

Look At Me I Am A Chipmunk With A Disease

Said [Keenan Hogan] on Sunday, July 17th

Wow... this is the most exciting blog i have ever written on... though i guess it is probably the only blog i have ever written on... so i don't have much for comparison

Said [keenan] on Wednesday, July 20th