Walk This Way

August 7, 2013 at 11:16 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Apologies for the sparseness of my blog posts recently…I’ve just been busy.  There’s no other excuse.  I did manage to get my trip pictures on my laptop so that’s a big step in writing a wrap up post, but it’s just the first step.  It’ll happen eventually, I promise!

One thing that kept me busy all this last weekend was the fact that my father came in town.  He’s only been in Chicago twice before (and once doesn’t count because he left like 8 hrs after he got here) and this was the first time he got to see the new (to him, I’ve been there 3 years) neighborhood Scott and I live in and our apartment.  He also go to meet the Dude for the first time and since he’s not too fond of cats, that was fun.  Anyway, he came in town Friday and left Monday morning.  I picked him up from and dropped him off at the airport and even made friends with an 81-year-old immigrant who was waiting on his grandkids to arrive while I was waiting on Dad.  He told me I was beautiful and I should hurry up and give my parents grandkids of their own.  Thanks, old guy, because it’s not like I don’t get enough of that from my family already.  Anyway, Dad and I had a good visit and I showed him around my office and The Field Museum, plus we took him to the beach, the park and quiet a few restaurants as well.  I planned things as I normally do when visitors arrive but there’s something I often forget to take into consideration – and that’s that not everyone is used to walking as much as I am.  I kind of wore my dad out without really even trying and the poor guy took more naps over the weekend than I have over the last few months.

Southern-styled deliciousness!

For example, the day I took him to my office we walked to the train (15 minutes, since we walked slower than I normally do) and then navigated the two elevators and escalator to get up to my floor.  After that we walked to the train stop by the library (10 minutes) and then we walked home from the train after that (15 minutes).  We were going to walk to dinner that night (25 minutes each way) but dad was simply not having it.  Which was okay actually because that actually is a lot of walking.  But instead of walking to the trains and the museum the next day, I just drove us and used my special super awesome Field badge to get into the parking lot.  I was worried Lollapalooza was going to cause downtown driving nightmares but we managed to get around relatively unscathed.

One of the places Scott and I took Dad was the Wishbone restaurant.  And it was amazing – as in, I’m kind of ashamed I’ve walked by it so often without ever really going there before.  I think I went in one night after a street fest when we got caught in the rain but all I remember eating were the hush puppies, which were admittedly great.  Anyway, I may do a review of that place on its own sometime.  If not, take my word for it that it was awesome.

It was a good visit with Dad and he was here on his actual birthday, so we got to celebrate together.  It was also my actual half-birthday, but I’m trying not to think about how close to 30 I’m really getting.  But as long as I’m able to continue to walk around Chicago as much as I do now, I guess I’ll be okay!

 

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Tourist Season

August 23, 2011 at 10:24 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

As I walked through the alley from Sears Tower to the train station yesterday after work, reflecting on how happy I was that the Monday work-day was over, I noticed a group of maybe 7 or 8 girls roughly my age huddled around the large train map on the platform.  It briefly registered that they were probably tourists and then I started thinking about the amazing pizza smells coming from the nearby restaurants.  Unfortunately those smells often mix with the cigarette smoke and garbage smells of the alley and form a truly nasty concoction that I only put up with because it walking through there prevents me from dealing with the crowds of people in the loop.  That was also on my mind.  But I digress.

Wait, I don't see it...

As I climbed the stairs to catch my train, I again saw these girls and I could plainly see they were very confused.  I heard one whisper to another “Just ask someone” and before they could say anything else, I asked them if they needed any help.  One girl said “Willis Tower” while the other said “Sears” and I had to laugh.  I took a step to the left and simply pointed, as we were directly across from one of the main entrances with huge lettering reading WILLIS TOWER above the revolving doors.  That’s when the girls looked up and I was treated to all of the surprised exclamations I’ve heard before (yup, it’s tall).  They thanked me (with their British accents, which made the whole experience just a tad more understandable) and after I gave them specific instructions on how to enter the building for the tours and not the offices, they went on their merry way.

Part of me wanted to roll my eyes but the other part remembers how turned around I would get (ahem…still do) in this city and I had to cut them some slack.  I was once a tourist here too and it wasn’t that long ago.  But as nice as I am, I still laughed all the way to the train.

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Move it or Lose it…

January 12, 2011 at 2:58 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

…is what to I think to myself numerous times every day during my walks around downtown.  Don’t get me wrong, working in the Loop is infinitely better than working in the suburbs 25 miles north of the Loop, but it’s caused me to evolve in ways I hadn’t formerly considered.  For instance, dodging and diving around the countless other suits and tourists has become an art all in itself and I have to admit that I’ve gotten pretty good at it.  Which is important, because when summer rolls around and the tourists really invade the city my skills are going to have to be incredibly honed.

However, no matter how swiftly I’m dodging foot traffic, it never fails that I soon wind up behind someone stopping in the

Watch where you're going!

middle of a sidewalk to check their cell phone, take a picture of some building or point and stare at the nearest body of water.  This is especially irksome when I’m hauling ass at my top speed – my feet don’t come with insurance or brakes, although perhaps they should.  I’ve come thisclose to knocking out unsuspecting slowpokes in a single bound.  I understand the draw of the city and I know I should probably slow down to enjoy the skyline a little more often but when I have a very short amount of time to navigate busy and snowy streets, I become a woman on a mission.  The mission is usually just to get to where I’m trying to be within a decent amount of time and without causing serious injury to myself but the whole navigating crowds thing tends to hinder even my most Herculean of efforts.  And having to worry about causing injury to others while I run around downtown just leeches more of my time and energy.

 

Perhaps I should just forget the niceties and shove people out of my way.  That’s what hardened city girls are supposed to do, right?  No more polite and demure “Excuse me”, it’ll be expletives and hardcore threats from here on out.  Then physical violence.  That’ll get me to my destination safely and soundly, I’m sure of it.

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Yes, I Live Here

August 5, 2010 at 2:08 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Ah, the Chicago Tourist

Nothing makes me feel like a true Chicagoan more than helping confused and befuddled tourists find their way around the city.  It’s not often that I happen to know exactly where I’m at and how to get someone else to their place of interest so I’m always excited when it happens.  Yesterday provided me with two opportunities to help out those new to the area and I must admit, I felt pretty proud for getting them to where they needed to go.

The first couple in question followed me off the Metra train as I made my way to the bus for my doctor’s appointment.  They were going to the Cubs game and since my stop was on their way, we chatted as we waited for the bus.  They were more than impressed with the bus tracker on my phone (ooooo, ahhhhh) and asked a few questions about my life in the “big city”.  They were from the far north ‘burbs and had never been to Wrigley Field before, so I was excited for them.  We talked until I got off the bus and they thanked me profusely for helping them on their merry way.

Which way?

After my appointment, I stopped by my apartment for a quick wardrobe change and then met up with a lovely lady friend at Blue Line Lounge and Grill.  I know I’ve mentioned this place one or twice and their $5 martini’s and half off appetizers on Wednesday nights are very nice indeed.  After my friend and I caught up over a few drinks, it was time to make my way home.  As I stepped on the L, an extremely inebriated couple got on behind me.   The guy was a little worse for the wear than his lady counterpart and they looked as intimidated as a little boy lost in the lingerie section of a department store.  They weren’t even sure what train they were on but somehow they had managed to stumble into the one they needed and after I informed them of that they started asking me the first typical tourist question, “Do you live here?”  This was their first time on any sort of public transit and I could tell the guy was regretting his last few drinks as the train swerved and dipped along.  After they asked me the same set of questions a few times in a row and memorized the directions I gave them that would get them home, they both went to that state of half-consciousness that drunks on the L are so often in.  They woke up enough to tell me thanks when I departed and I can only hope they made it home from there.

Yup, I mentally patted myself on the back for getting these fine tourists around.  And yes, I did so correctly and without any mean city-girl bullshitting.  If I know enough to help a tourist out then I’m more than happy to do so, especially because I still sometimes ask people on the street for directions myself.  I will probably continue to get myself turned around here for years but every time I can help a tourist I feel a bit more confident in my navigating abilities, and an angel gets its wings.  Win win all around!

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Tourists

May 17, 2010 at 1:14 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I love living in a city that is a popular destination point for tourists.

It makes me happy to walk by the Willis Sears Tower on my way to the chiropractor and see groups milling around outside, staring up and pointing.  I still stare up too, so I get it.  There’s just something about living in a place that people vacation to that makes me feel…well, lucky is a good word.  Nothing beats knowing that I can do all the fun stuff in the city anytime I want, and not just once a year.

Tourists are also funny.  They express amazement over the fact that someone can live in the city year-round and they seem bewildered when you tell them how you get around using public transit.  They can also get really drunk, which is funny too.  Case in point: plastered guy in bar Saturday night.

I went barhopping with a lady friend of mine Saturday evening and we wound up at Nicks Beer Garden in Wicker Park (this place had some killer live music, by the way).  We were there early enough that the place wasn’t packed and we grabbed a table in a corner.  As we sat, conversing and drinking, this wasted guy walked up and sat down with us.  He was so drunk that it took us a minute to realize he was speaking English.  He told us he was from Alabama (he did have the accent to prove it) and went on and on about how much he loved Chicago and all the people in it.  He asked if we lived here and when we said we did, his eyes got real big and he looked amazed.  He then asked if we liked it, and of course we said we did again.  At that point, he mentioned (again) that he was from Alabama and my friend told him that she was from Atlanta herself.  He got so excited and his face lit up upon hearing this.  He then proudly told us that he knows where Atlanta is.  He must have been valedictorian in his senior class, with that kind of geographical knowledge.  After sitting with us for a few more awkward minutes, he thanked us for our time and stumbled over to another table.

You can see why I love the tourists.  I also love that I still sometimes feel like one myself, even though I’ve lived in Chicago for over a year now.  Sunday was a nice, warm day and I wanted to take advantage of it so I decided to pick a direction I hadn’t walked in before and set out.  I walked about 2.5 miles towards downtown before turning around and walking back, and I found some great spots along the way.  One in particular is the Dragonlady Lounge, which is a Korean/American Vegan/Vegetarian place.  Yelp gives it some great reviews and I’m excited to actually know where it’s at (and even more excited that it’s only a 15 minute walk from home).  I also found a Target, a bowling alley, a thrift store where everything was $3, two delicious looking bakeries, an indie theater and countless other little restaurants and dive type bars.

There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist in your own city, and I plan on touring as much as I can while the weather is warm.  If you want to go tourist with me, just let me know!  We can get drunk and tell people we’re familiar with their hometowns, or we can just check out cool new places all summer long.  And if you’re nice, I won’t make you wear a fanny-pack.

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