Laura Adamczyk

This summer ran long, and winter came early, but there were maybe a couple weeks in there when Chicago got a real fall. Around then I took these pictures, which span the course of a week or so. The week felt full, yet ordinary. My friend had a birthday, I played cards, I went to work, I waited for the train, I wore my favorite coat—a nubby, dark blue thing with a rounded collar that’s too thin to wear when it actually gets cold. It’s a narrow window in which I get to wear that coat. Another small window: the aperture of this camera. My father was a photographer, yet I couldn’t remember to use the flash nearly as often as I needed. Perhaps it’s fitting. Just a little bit of light to accompany some dark short stories.

Palmer Square Park.

What kind of person would I be to make the easy, crass joke? Probably a pretty cool one.

Karaoke bar—TV screen.

I’m sad to report they didn’t have the Patti Smith version of “Because the Night.” I had to settle for the one by 10,000 Maniacs. It was fine. I don’t know why I’m being a little baby about it.

Karaoke bar—neon window.

Somewhere in the shadow is me.

Karaoke bar—neon window.

Somewhere in the shadow is a friend.

Karaoke bar—lights.

Somewhere within the snaking Christmas lights of the stage at Sidekicks on Chicago’s northwest side is my friend singing “Every 1’s a Winner” by Hot Chocolate. This friend is a bit of a karaoke nut. Once, when a karaoke outing was delayed by an hour, he, unbeknownst to the rest of us, went to another bar down the street to pre-karaoke by himself.

Elevator + mirror.

This is what I get when I try to take a picture of myself: sharp angles, dim lighting, confusion all around.

Soap on a pumice stone.

The saddest day in the life of a bar of soap is when it relinquishes its borders and gives over to the newer, bigger soap.

El + buildings.

Here’s a Brown Line train, as seen from the seventh floor of my office building, very slowly peacing out on its way north. People who live here know not to take the Brown Line if they want to get anywhere with anything that resembles speed. The Brown Line is not my line.

Construction beneath the El.

I was chased out when I walked onto this construction site to photograph the ginormous tarp covering it up. I had to settle for taking this picture through a hole in the tarp. I feel like I can’t quite describe the magnificence of this tarp.

Poetry Foundation?

I want to say this is at the Poetry Foundation. There were three poets who recited three poems a piece that night. It was the perfect amount. I have two sisters, and I often feel most comfortable hanging out with two people at a time. That night I shared a car back to the neighborhood with two friends.

Poetry Foundation.

Me, flashless, sitting on a thing in the Poetry Foundation library. You can’t see it very well, but trust me that this rather accurately captures my general posture: folded over, like I haven’t been watered in a while.

Work desk.

I receive a lot of books at work. I’d like to see a video of me whenever I do try to shorten the stacks: I pick up a book, put it in the discard pile, take it out fifteen minutes later, return it to my desk to a different stack than the one it was on fifteen minutes before, take another book from my desk, put it in the discard pile, take a different book from the discard pile, put it on my desk, then later pick up my holds at the library. And yes, I know one day I’ll be dead.


Every neighborhood should have a sandwich place where they’ll make any sandwich you want and it is always perfectly fine to eat.


Not gonna even pretend with this one. What are you gonna do? Life is mysterious, especially when you don’t turn the danged flash on.

Poker night—Matt + Zach.

I grew up in a small town in Illinois. When I was in high school and my older sister and I would play euchre with my friend and her older brother, my friend’s dad would get in on a hand or two. He’d call the trump suits like, “Spades are. Diamonds are.” That he’d put on CCR was a given. The other night, it was easier than I thought to convince these guys that even city dwellers could use a little Creedence now and then.

Poker night—Caity.

I like how my friend Caity’s earrings match the red on the rules book—that’s a real host for you. I also like the lighting on that bowl of snack mix. It’s the most appropriate lighting for a bowl of snack mix I’ve ever seen.

Poker night—circles and triangles.

Pizza and chips—not the healthiest dinner. This is not my worst joke.

Poker night—me with beer.

Feel like my Polish dad would have liked this one. When I bought the beer at the bodega, the clerk started talking to me in Polish. All I could say was thank you, but in English.

Poker night—Caity and Alex.

Friends! Smiling! Totally fine with me taking their picture!

Poker night—dining room light.

I fear I made the chandelier a little self-conscious as well.

Poker night—Jimmy’s chips.

Jimmy was the big winner of the night, in no small part due to me going all-in on a straight, which he beat with a better straight. I don’t really talk to Jimmy anymore.


It was Halloween when I took this picture, but that’s all over now.

Laura Adamczyk’s fiction has won awards from the Union League Civic & Arts Foundation of Chicago and has appeared in Hobart, Chicago Reader, PANK, Salt Hill, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Bellevue Literary Review, Necessary Fiction, and elsewhere. Her story “Girls,” published in Guernica, won the 2014 Dzanc Books / Disquiet International Literary Program Award. Hardly Children is her first book.