Write Now: Stress in the City

Stress in the City | By Katherine Murphy

I live in the most stressful city in America.


According to Forbes, Chicago, for the second year in a row, is the “Most Stressful City in America.” Citing pollution, long commute drives, high unemployment and “free-falling home values,” the editors at Forbes don’t think there is a place more stressful than the Windy City.

Almost exactly four years ago, we moved to Chicago from our calm, idyllic suburban life. Moving to Chicago, we decided to take a chance on “city life” and found a “spacious” (by Chicago standards) condo in a high-rise on Lake Shore Drive.

So while I’m not a Chicago native or any sort of expert on the city, I think the Forbes editors overlooked a few things. Here are the reasons why I think Chicago is the most stressful city in America.

Walkin’ the Dog

You mean I have to pick up the poop?


It’s true: a condo is really just a bipolar blend of a dorm, a nursing home and a PTA meeting gone awry. If you really want to see fireworks, go to a condo board meeting – especially if Crazy Lady shows up and spends 10 minutes complaining about the cable wires in the basement. If you really want to get people fired up, just mutter the words “assessment increase.”


Part man. Part woman. One-hundred percent “fabulous.”

I really don’t mind seeing an occasional transvestite strutting his/her stuff in the neighborhood. What really bothers me, though, is that some of these damsels look better in a skirt than I do! They’ve got those bony legs (that only men and pre-pubescent girls have) and muscle tone that only five-inch heels can sculpt. So please, ladies, can you try sporting a pantsuit every now and then for those of us who are a little more traditionally-built?


I thought I knew how to drive until I moved to Chicago. Then I spent some time driving in the Loop and getting slapped around by cabs in the city. Once I discovered my horn and realized that downtown driving is really just a glorified game of “chicken,” these taxicabs started to dread the sight of a white Toyota Camry with out-of-state license plates.

No Grannys

I’m not ashamed to admit it: I miss my mom and dad. But my sobs grow louder when I hear other parents talk about spending $20 an hour (!!!) for a babysitter.


Growing up, I took for granted the basic freedoms: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the right to park your car in a parking lot for free. Today, the choices are simple: walk, drive to the suburbs (if you want a free parking space), pay $25 just to go to Macy’s for a few hours, take the bus (Ew!) or take the “El” train (Double ew!). Or, my favorite option: shop online.

“Mom, What’s That?!?”

My sister and brother-in-law came to visit, bringing with them their three kids, including a four-month-old baby. Deciding to take the “El” train, my sister was sitting comfortably in her own seat with the baby sleeping in a baby carrier and my nephew sitting quietly next to her. Suddenly, she jumped up with the kids and opted to stand, instead of sitting the rest of the trip. I asked her what happened and she replied, “Uh, there’s a, um…something on the floor.” I looked and, sure enough, right next to where her feet would have been, sat a used condom, looking a little … uh … used and … full.

So, sure, there’s plenty that Chicago has to offer: it’s a great, diverse city with lots to do, shopping galore, great food, a gorgeous lakefront and more.

But, dude, this place is stressing me out!

About Katherine Murphy
When she’s not vacuuming dog hair or craving cupcakes, Katherine Murphy can be found online at http://lakeshoredrive.wordpress.com. Katherine’s interests include finding a stain treatment that works on baby onesies, tricking a baby into taking a nap and eating frosting from the secret stash in the freezer. She lives in Chicago with her husband, son and shed-o-matic dog.

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