Wednesday, February 22, 2012


So it's 1:15 in the morning, and I'm desperately swimming through Sleigh Bells songs, trying to find something that will rock my fucking shit. My music sensors are too tender right now, perhaps I've been resting on my library's laurels this month, and now my ears are in heat and dying to hear something that fulfills this hungry silence.

I haven't showered today. I drank grape soda yesterday and ate jalapeno chips, which I double-dated with a shitty chicken slider and some slimy barbecue brisket. I woke up sick, with a leaky nose and mouth slogged full of mucus. I got up at two today and went over to the tenant union, dripping from the nose and mouth, to talk to some lady who told me to check Craigslist. I had a microwaved egg and bacon and melty cheesy Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich and Papa John's pizza for food. I then had a ham salad (mayo, sugar and tomatoes) sandwich and a peanut butter and jelly wrap, which was overall the color of dead people's skin. I slept through my class today because, hell, I edit enough already. I had some warm Pibb Xtra to wash it down and I left my toothbrush somewhere over the weekend. Blare that damn Sleigh Bells. 

I wrote an essay for my creative writing class about my family and it sucked. I took a law test last week and completely forgot to implement Strict Scrutiny. I think my belly's getting bigger, probably because I've stopped working out, probably because I'm sick and looking for an excuse like "I'm sick." I have canker sores in my mouth, and they taste awful. I'm tired of Final Fantasy XIII-2 because I feel like it's worthless to play. Brian's handling most of that by himself now. Sorry Brian.

I haven't touched a piano or a cat since January. I forget what my dog even looks like. I haven't changed my sheets at all because they feel the same every time. I'm toiling my way through Mad Men while keeping pace with The Walking Dead {You Gotta March!} and waiting to start Firefly. I haven't felt fresh since I came home from Rend Lake. Rend Lake is great you guys.

Favorite places —

Butler Elementary, Springfield, Ill. -- This is so weird and I feel like such a traitor even acknowledging it as a great place. But simply put, this is where my friends and I spent most of our time loafing in Springfield, and therein lies the value. The place itself is not amazing. A really average elementary school, with a hint of antiquity. Across the street there's Sno-Bizz, which sounds really good right about now. As opposed to the muck in my chest.

Owen Marsh Elementary, Springfield, Ill. -- While we're on it, this is where I loafed by myself throughout my entire life. Owen Marsh is my stem, my origin, my foster parent of thought. I would be a different dude if I grew up anywhere else. I played baseball in its backyard field Schlitt Park, climbed trees, broke down a Pac-Man arcade machine by the generic factory lying just beyond its wake, and formed most of my friends within its walls. I run there when I go running. I sit there and I look at it and I try to think things, thinking that if I think enough things while looking at the building, it will know that I mean to thank it, and it will nod in appreciation. Owen Marsh, less conventional than its lesser cross-town rival, is shaped like a pair of glasses, with to circular classroom areas bridged by a tiny gymnasium.

I think she's saying, "Here, have this world."

Undetermined place in Champaign-Urbana, Ill. -- I don't have a go to spot yet. No building I climb atop to go and think. I guess if I had to choose a spot right now it'd be the Illini Media building, but that's such a reminder of difficult higher learning and my industrious work life that I don't know if I can feel relaxed when I go there, which is a thing. I'd like to say the Communications Library, but I only really go there when I have a huge test ready to destroy me that I have to study against. We'll see. Two more years here, I'm sure I'll find a nice niche for me. I like the campus as a whole, like, the whole campus is abso-worthy of being on this list. But, I'd like to narrow it down. Perhaps if Carrie was here (she's not) we could go to that bookstore in downtown Champaign, but seeing as how it's real cold always nowadays, I don't feel any urge to take my goopy ass out there alone on a bus.

North Beach, Racine, Wis. -- I don't have any real recent memories of this place, but this was "the beach" when I was little. If we were going to "the beach," it meant we were going here. Lake Michigan kissing against this otherwise shitty-but-quaint Wisconsin town (that I might actually like if I were to visit today) provided my relief when I went to visit (ALL) the grandparents up north. We could go to the beach and dig holes and hit water after six feet and not care at all that one of the biggest lakes in America was staring us in the face because we were 12 years old. I always loved a visit to the beach, and it showed me Wisconsin's nonfarmy side, which is small. About the size of Lake Michigan, in fact.

That sand is as Wisconsiny as cows eating grass. It's funny, despite how alike all beaches look, I can tell this one's North.

Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill. -- This is a small campus, or at least the portion I'm familiar with is small enough to lump into one without specifying. Summer after senior year was the one summer since my post-sixth-grade summer that I didn't go to Augustana for a week for church camp. I went back last year, and finally the campus was familiar to me. I've stayed in Ericson dorms for about four weeks out of my life, and walked the Slough Path as many times as Augie students have this semester. Maybe more. Leadership Lab, and thus Augie, was my first preview of a college lifestyle. When I say "college lifestyle," I'm referring to the freedom from parents and self-accountability, and not the excessive drinking. The place screams summer, and I associate it with feeling free, and connected with God, which can't hurt.

Don't be fooled by this pretty picture; the Slough Path is disgusting. Side note: I love it.

Millennium Park, Chicago, Ill. -- This was my favorite place in the world for a while. And I've been there twice. Once this past September, another time in September of my 8th grade year when my dad took me to Chicago with him on a business trip. That's when I fell in love. It was hot, and there was water on the ground, and in the middle of the industrium that is Chicago, these two towers were spitting water out and I was walking around barefooted and I just felt happy. It was the most psychologically pleasing park I had ever seen. Going back there this year was awesome. I want to go there sometime when it's hot and spend a whole day there. Then drink a bunch and cry for my dead youth.

A world without shoes... One can dream.

Rend Lake Resort, Ill. -- This place. God bless this place. Rend Lake sits out there alone in southern Illinois with the stoical presence of a wolf, breathing and respirating February air, nurturing without boasting its wildlife. Even with dead trees lining the lake, it's so beautiful and so lifelike. I go here one weekend a year every February, and have since my 8th grade year. Each year at Windjammer, I sit on the back balcony, marveling at its graceful shape and picturesque warmth. The sun hangs in the sky just where it wants to be, channeling God's eyes to lay upon it with admiration. And I feel like God and I are both looking at the lake, admiring it, too in love to say a word. I soak up its placid splendor by taking some time with Rend Lake during the dance. I go out into the crisp but providing night air and take time to really think about myself and what I'm doing with my life. For some reason or another it seems I always need to around this time. Last year I spent it thinking how crazy I was about a particular person who happened to not be there that year. This year I spent it thinking how crazy it was that I was with that person, who was waiting inside. She didn't ask where I went. She understands the whole concept completely. Rend Lake is like a friend I can talk about anything to. I love it as such.

Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis. -- I've already written about my love affair with Green Bay, and specifically Lambeau Field. But still, there's never enough to be said. I feel home at Lambeau, I feel warm at Lambeau even when it's not warm, I feel wanted at Lambeau, I feel loved at Lambeau and I feel like I love those around me, even though I don't know them. I feel community unlike at any other place. It's bigger and more united. And at Lambeau Field, the gods walk the earth. They will sign your hat if you're polite enough and catch them at a good enough time. The surrounding area pays homage to the place, and those who filled its hallowed grounds. You never feel out of place, and you feel as though every sight is important. I wrote that the security staff were more like aunts and uncles than anything else, and I miss my extended family. How cool it would be to see a game there. Yeah, I've never even been.

The crowd you see isn't watching a game. They're saying thanks.

Observe the above picture. This is from the Return to Titletown, a post-Super Bowl celebration in Green Bay. It's 19 below, the season's over, the quota met, and these fans aren't ready to stop giving. I've never been as cold as I was, gloveless on the aluminum bleachers in that wind. Nor have I ever felt like I was in as perfect a place. Within life, we create our own joys. This was our joy: of loving a football team and having experienced it reach the fullest of its potential. To celebrate by coming together with the sole purpose of sharing ecstasy was to glorify the core difference between humans and animals — the love of the game.

The problem with loving places is that you don't want to leave them. Same with people I guess. So when a weekend at Rend Lake with my LYO family comes to a close, it's only natural that I feel a little bit like binging on gross and turning myself into a total wad.

--Eliot Sill


  1. I really like this post. Feel better.

  2. I liked this post a lot. Especially the first half because, well, those are some of my favorite places too. Also I was mentioned. AND I liked the descriptive opener. That was fun to read. Turn it into a book.

  3. I wish I had a relationship like the one you have.

    "Then drink a bunch and cry for my dead youth."
    This is the best line in the piece.