Posts tagged chicago
At the weekend: in the burbs

People always ask me when I visit "Chicago" if I actually want to go "into Chicago" and I almost always say of course not. I prefer to leave one large city and immerse myself deep in the burbs of another: it reminds me of many happy former and hopefully future days. Sure the burbs (and America!) are filled with chain stores and strip malls and teens, but there are also good people and wide lawns and cool neighborhoods and tasty tacos and pizza and beer. Obviously, hating on the suburbs or thinking there's only one legitimate place to live a fulfilled life says more about the person doing the hating than it does about any geolocation in question, IMHO. OOO. YMMV! Your life is yours, dummies, live it wherever you want.

So I got to do many of my favorite things in the suburbs this weekend:

  1. Stay in a big hotel room overlooking both a shopping mall and a major expressway
  2. Lie on a hotel room bed for hours drinking free room coffee and enjoying hotel wifi while watching Fixer Upper & Friends & Search Party on an enormous flatscreen TV before meeting my actual friends for actual meals
  3. Drive around the suburbs for hours in a rental car with the air conditioning AND the radio cranked up way past the point of logic and comfort
  4. Purchase a lot of goods I probably don't need but probably won't regret, either, although I just read and loved this whole article about how every single thing you buy is future garbage. I spent my money wisely on quality items/future garbage that will see me through many summers and storms, and most of it was on sale. I'm not really a bargain shopper but this is America! and bargains never hurt.
  5. See actual friends!
  6. Eat in restaurants 3x+ a day
  7. Eat tacos
  8. Shop at Target
  9. Drive thru multiple drive-thrus
  10. See Neil Diamond!
Sorry my feet look so weird but I did move my bra out of the frame

Sorry my feet look so weird but I did move my bra out of the frame

I drove past no fewer than six of my former apartments Saturday morning while listening to XRT and knocking back a tall Starbucks Cold Brew (which isn't half bad!). Then I met CV for tacos at one of my favorite joints, and we each had two carne asada tacos and Diet Coke and shared the medium guacamole, and it was glorious. A family of four came in while we there and one of the little girls ordered her carne asada tacos with just carne asada, no fixin's, which was a bold move for a child who instantly became my hero, and my heartlight faxed hers a silent salute of respect. CV, who is equally bold but in different ways, ordered hers with onion and cilantro/no sour cream and I ordered mine with everything. We all made choices and walked away winners.

Here's a tally of things I've abandoned in hotel rooms over the years, deliberately:

  1. Bridesmaid dresses
  2. Ill-fitting shoes
  3. Useless, too-small luggage
  4. Shirts
  5. Crushed hats

I realize this is shabby behavior, but I can't feel guilty about everything. Sorry I'm not always the world's best person. I did buy a new hat at Nordstrom (America!'s greatest department store) this weekend: it wasn't cheap but it's woven with SPF 50 AND I can wear it with my glasses on (it's harder to find a brim that accommodates both ears and frames than you might think). HOWEVER, even though this hat strenuously advertises itself as packable, my mom is going to have to ship it to me next weekend, and now I'll hear for the next thousand years how expensive it is to mail a box. Sometimes I suspect that I am her albatross, but we both made our choices and walked away winners.

Packable my ass

Packable my ass

New theme city: Chicago

I look at a city like I look at a marriage: Right? Okay, then. I'm ready. I'm ready now.

cf: To change your life, learn how to trust your future self:

Like a worker assembling a gift basket, the brain’s subconscious reward circuitry computes the collective value of all the different benefits that will accrue tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and ties them all together in a package. Even if the future benefits may seem distant and hence hold little value, they collectively can add up to something greater than a single moment of pleasure in the here and now. The mountain will always remain larger than the tree.
Dragged through the garden
That the cradle of wienerology should reside in Chicago is not up for debate. Dating back to the Depression, the hot dog was the food of the Chicago proletariat, a meal born from scarcity. A modest serving of frankfurter and bread would get bulked up by lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers—whatever was around, and cheap—to better satiate the customer. This hot dog looked like it was assaulted by a salad, hence the phrase “dragged through the garden.” Eventually, around the 1970s, the Chicago hot dog would codify into a specific, non-wavering set of components: an all-beef hot dog on a steamed poppyseed bun, dressed with mustard, diced raw onions, neon green relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, and a dash of celery salt. Any modification nulls the “Chicago-style” label void. Adding ketchup, Chicagoans like to remind you, is a seditious act punishable by forty-seven lashings.
Kevin Pang @ Lucky Peach

I finally, finally, FINALLY met anniemcq! I had dinner with her and Suttonhoo, and as you can see, we were meant to be.

photo by Suttonhoo

photo by Suttonhoo

I also had lunch with CV and coffee with CV and a beer with CV and dinner with CV ("You sure ate a lot on this trip!" –CV) and Axe and Groucho and The Old Man. Sometimes I forget what people's real names are.

*When I say "Chicago," I hardly ever mean Chicago. I mean Westmont and Oak Brook and Lombard, where I continued my great tradition of staying in shopping mall parking lot hotels. My room this time looked out over a Target! It was kind of a dream come true.