I have now lived in Chicago again for nearly three months, and life seems somewhat normal again. I will continue to be subleasing my condo out until through next March. A good friend of mine likes to recount one of Nietzsche's comments about criminals being transformed into law-abiding citizens if only they had the environment that would properly stimulate them. He often brought this up when discussing my need to move to Sweden. Environment, the underlying truth seems to suggest, allows us to become better. Nurture over nature. Chicago has allowed me to develop in ways that may never have happened in Sweden, and Sweden, no matter how brief the time, had allowed me to spread wings and simultaneously leave behind/revisit roots that kept me grounded/grounded me from flight. This push-pull provided me the pain to beget growth but also the distance to create perspective. For instance, I recently stumbled upon the following Web page that culls Chicago-speak into one list, albeit not one I would consider comprehensive, even if it makes up for it with a depth in local color. My experience teaching English in Sweden made me slightly self-conscious of my American English and this site underscores certain local tones that some of my students picked up on. Yet now finding myself on this side of the Atlantic after having spent an extended period of time there, I find myself looking at Sweden with different eyes. At The Local they recently ran a story that highlighted the Web cameras set up around the country. I see these images anew as of late. Stockholm still makes me feel warm and fuzzy and yet it also has a hard reality behind it now of economics, social relationships, weather, and albeit to a lesser degree, civic life. I guess this needed to happen. Some (and perhaps all?) allusions are meant to be wiped away, so one can see reality for itself again. Eventually it's going to catch up to you in most cases anyways. Why not embrace it?
In completely unrelated news, my sister and I attempted to walk the Why Me? Breast Cancer Walk last week. But as you can see, the Chicago weather, in all it's gloomy potential, made it's claim on the day:
We made the best of it and had a hearty brunch.