Revision Street: Abby Smith (IV)

June 23, 2010

In addition to the State Street murder-suicide, in the news again the day I spoke to Abby Smith was the April 21 shooting death of a toddler in the Burnside neighborhood.


(photo by Curtis Locke)

I’m kind of ready for this administration to leave, I was a big fan of Daley’s way back when, and it’s really disheartening to me as I get older. It seems like we are corrupt in every, every arena. Every layer of it. They put in a light over somebody’s pool, this one’s driving drunk in this state car. Is there anybody who’s just in it for the pure good of a city? Every time I turn around now, there’s something else that’s coming up from this administration. For the love of god, I thought we were over this. I’m tired of voting against people. I’d really like to vote for people. Obama was the first person I’ve ever voted for.

When I was much younger, there was a place called Chicagofest at Navy Pier. It used to be all music, and all inclusive. It wasn’t too expensive and it didn’t seem segregated. It just seemed really welcoming, and a party to celebrate Chicago. I feel like this city is extraordinarily segregated and I wish it wasn’t. My best feeling back then was just feeling included. I was in my early twenties. I may have been young and kinda stupid. But it was a much—I wish my son could play outside. I played outside when I was a kid. I wish my son could play outside without me hovering over him.

I long for safety to be back in our lives. I wish people would stop killing each other for no reason. We need to instill an ethic and a standard and a value in our son that will prohibit him from getting involved with people, and to be able to sense whether or not this person is actually good to be with. And try to just keep him on the path of, I’m a decent person and I don’t need to do stupid shit. We need to make sure he’s not that gullible and that he’s self-confident enough that he can walk away from that. That’s kind of scary ‘cause gangs are everywhere. They’re in my neighborhood, they’re in your neighborhood, they’re here, they’re there. I don’t think there’s any getting away from it. But we have to teach this kid to walk away and be safe. It’s really scary, I mean, if you gotta gun in your hand can you be a better shot please? I don’t want these four-year olds getting killed for no reason. And parents, um, could you just put your kids to bed? Your three-year-old shouldn’t be out at eleven, midnight. I don’t mean to be a judgmental shit but there’s some common sense here that we’re not following. We’re not keeping our kids safe.

I would like for people to stop killing each other, ‘cause it’s stupid. You don’t like who you’re with, break up with them. There’s no reason to kill them. You don’t wanna be married, break up with them. Don’t kill them. I’d like the killing to stop, and then I’d like to be able to walk through my neighborhood at any time with my son and not see all the gang stuff and just feel safer and just feel like more of a community like we should be.

I’m not a big proponent of guns, I think we could do a lot more with a lot less. I’m all for talking, obviously. [Laughs.] I take it as far as, like, You want to hunt? Awesome, mano a mano, you roll your sleeves up and you go punch that deer and let’s see what happens. You shoot him from a tree, you coward. You kidding me? I’m sorry, it’s a sport? Ask the fucking deer if that’s a sport. People should just take a deep breath and maybe try more words and less gunshots. Just stop the senseless killing.

When we have space, we put emails out saying, What do you have, I’ll tell you what I’m looking for in order to keep my adoptions flowing. Then I get in my car with ten carriers and bring twenty cats back. We got a phone call not too long ago about a rescue that was finally shut down by the Department of Ag. We took five of their cats who were so incredibly sick and we have two left right now. All the others got adopted. I’m in close daily contact with five different shelters. When I can take cats, I call them up and I say Whatchugot, I’ll take five from you and three from you, and two from you. . . .

To be successful in this you have to look at every single animal as adoptable, and you never say they’re not adoptable. I have cats that I can’t touch. I truly believe if the right person walked in they’re adoptable. We give them an incredible amount of leeway on how much they hate us and why the hate us. No cat is born hating you. Something happened to them. I’ll sit here and smile and be like, Oh this is great, this cat hates me over here but one day she’s gonna let me pet her and it could take five years, it could take five months. Who knows? I’m not sure anybody ever called me patient. I have an enormous amount of patience with them and zero with the person that put them in this position. [Laughs.]

One time after the housing thing really started, two and a half years ago, we got a lot of cats returned from people who lost their homes. I was on Channel 9, which was remarkable. Podunk Indiana, Iowa people sitting there doing nothing all day except for watching Channel 9 news. I hate to be, but I have to be, this generalized ‘cause it’s exactly what it was. I get on tape and I have this cat with me, and the interviewer’s like, So what kind of home is she looking for? And I said, “One with a thirty-year mortgage.” He looked at me and we just started laughing.

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