Gardening

Ritual

For the majority of my life, as much as I have lived anywhere, it has been in Chicago and its surroundings.

Sometimes I will say I am, if I am "from" anywhere, from Chicago, but this is simply not true, and any "real" Chicagoan would scoff hard at hearing it. Hell, two of my major boyfriends, both "burbies"* would never let me say that. I don't even have the accent. (Chicagoans don't think they have an accent unless they're from the west or certain portions of the south side. They do, though.)

Here is what happens when two Chicago natives meet:

Native the second will challenge with: "Oh yeah? What suburb?"

Native the first will spit back the countersign, their location on the city grid: "2400 north, 3400 west."

2 will do some mental math and come up with a surprised naming of the nearby cross streets and a perjorative nickname for the neighborhood punctuated with rapid affection for the same: "Kimball and Fullerton? Murder Alley, no shit? West side represent!" and point to their sternum, following up with their neighborhood, coordinates, and the high school they went to, the high school they were supposed to go to, whether the neighborhood has gentrified or gotten "worse," and where they got Italian ices growing up (even though, AFAICT, all Italian ices came from the same distributor. I think it was a way to further distance from suburbanites and non-natives: you didn't walk to get Italian ices on humid summer nights in the suburbs, you went for Homer's or Rainbo Cone or Al Gelato, all ice cream places, and you had to be exposed to it young for it to have emotional weight). "[sternum point]Rogers Park! I was supposed to go to Senn, but I went to ETHS. Except for my junior year. Junior year I went to St. Gregory's. Man, I tell you, ten years ago... oh, right. Calo's, but not the Calo's by Saint..."

Native son # 1 will then run his tongue over his teeth and ask the real question: "What hospital were you born at?" (Chicagoans are born "at", never "in" hospitals.)

And by some surreal miracle of time, space, and the Dunbar sphere, it will turn out that native # 1's mom knows one of the labor nurses present at #2's birth, who will, if pressed, remember some odd detail about it, usually some sartorial quirk of the father.

I'd say that this prevents moles from entering Chicago society, but I suspect the nurses are the moles.

If this is a sim, hats off to the designer. That's quality world-building, that. (I love to see to see this sort of exchange in spec fic universes, even to the "Brooklyn/ Queens" in the ACW movie...)



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*I don't think anyone would ever say the word "burbie" in front of an actual person from suburban Chicagoland. It would be too cruel, as the image that evokes for Chicago natives are the party girls from Pivot Point beauty school or denizens of John Hughes movies bitching about parking at Ravinia, and if that isn't the most depressing damn thing...
Gardening

This is a story about you.

No news I care to mention, but in case you forgot, here is a story I would have told many times before:

Maia, goddess of young blossoms, gave birth to her father's son, Zagreus, the baby god of spring. Too young to care for the baby, she wandered off, picking flowers. Her mother, Demeter, furious at her brother Zeus for seducing this child, could not bear to see her grandson, and gave the boy up to Zeus to look after.

(Later, Maia will wander into the realm of the dead, and eat the seeds of a pomegranate. There, finally free of the loving-but-smothering gaze of the earth goddess, she will grow up to become Persephone, and warn Eurydice that she will not be able to leave the underworld unless she can get Orpheus to turn around and look at her. Accounts vary as to why or how Maia ended up in the Underworld. There are those who say she heard crying and went to comfort it... or maybe she was looking for something she lost. She is now the mother of justice and all the lost and lonely dead.)

Zeus had, at some point, tricked his wife Metis, the goddess of diplomacy, into becoming small enough to swallow, and ate her alive. Remember that, the next time you see nervous looks and pregnant pauses around a powerful man everyone describes as "jovial." Metis may yet survive. I don't know. Thunder without diplomacy is... noise.

Her baby survived, though, and burst out of Zeus's head with the blow of Haephestus' hammer. Her name was Athena.

Yeah, you've heard that story before. Maybe not all of it.

So Zeus said to his youngish daughter Athena, "You're a girl. Girls like babies, right? Mind your baby brother. Here is a lightning bolt to defend him, because there are horrible cannibal giants hanging about and they would love to eat tender immortal baby godflesh."

And Athena hated girlie things. Hated hated hated. All that drama! All the fuss! And they acted like they were so essential! Why, she hadn't needed a girl to be born, did she? (Athena had also not gotten the full story of her birth yet.)

But the lightning bolt was so cool. She drew a magic circle around the baby, so nothing harmful could get in, gave him a rusk soaked in ambrosia to gum on, and proceeded to practice with the new weapon.

And when she left, the giants came, as giants will. They could not get into the circle, but they could dangle pretty toys just out of the baby's reach and tempt him out of the circle and

And THERE was Athena, full of fire, and true of aim. But the child was already pulled to pieces and being turned into grisly feast. And after the lighting, faithful to Athena's hands, stuck them, he was ashes, just the same as the terrible ogres, just the same as you or I, someday, if we're lucky.

But he was a god, and his heart was immortal. Snatched from the ashes like Percy Bysshe Shelley's, it was given to Zeus, who gave it to his lover, Semele, who... well. The heart beats now in the breast of Dionysos, whose body is bread, whose blood is wine, whose followers consume both in a holy communion and mystery, who descended into the Underworld to rescue the undeservedly condemned and returned after three... well, you've probably heard that one, too. I'm told that Dionysos is the one who is borrowing that story, but not by anyone I would trust within the range of my spittle.

And you're puzzled by now, trying to see where you fit in the story, archetypically, or what?

But the place where god dies is a holy place, and it wasn't too much longer before Prometheus happened by and found that this ash-mingled clay was perfect for a project he'd been working on. He called the wee, vulnerable things "humans," and from that day to this, you and I and every human are part earth, part monster, and part god, and every human owes its existence to a momentary lapse of wisdom.

I have this told you this story before, and I will keep telling you until you remember.