Thursday, March 05, 2009

my kind of town, Chicago is

Oh gosh, I am a horrible blogger. I meant to write while I was in Chicago, really I did, but I forgot my computer power cord in LA and thus my laptop stayed silent for most of the trip. Didn't want to take over Tim's computer too much and all, beyond obsessively checking my email the way that I do. I did write my post Oscars round up sorta thing, but that doesn't count for much.

Anyway! There was Chicago and it was all cold and snowy and lovely and filled with people I hardly ever get to see. I guess in the end I didn't really DO much, but I don't go to Chicago to site-see anymore. Sure, there are things I've never done there, like the Field Museum, which I regret having never done. But when I'm there it seems as though every day brings a new long-lost friend or acquaintance, and they are far more important than museums. Except the Art Institute. The Art Institute is the best.


It snowed in the first couple days I was there. I LOVE snow and I haven't seen any in a good long while, so this made me very happy. I got to wear my Chicago boots and my Tim Burton mittens (which have started to unravel! does anyone know how to DARN?) and holy crap I had forgotten how cold it can be. I love walking through untouched snow and defacing it. I love how it gets all packed up and crunchy under my boots and I love when people toss salt all over the place to try to melt it. And things get so silent when it snows, even in a big city like Chicago and a busy place like Wrigleyville. It always reminds me of that giant unexpected snowstorm sophomore year of college when Martha and I laid on her bed looking out the window and commenting on how cold people looked with their lack of snow clothes.

So, let's see. Fun things that we did. Tim and I saw Waltz With Bashir, which was good but depressing, and we went to the Oscar-nominated animated shorts at the Music Box. The Music Box is so wonderful. I wish there were more theaters like it in LA. I love the star-filled ceiling and the memory of going to see Raiders of the Lost Ark there with Will and Tim and Lummis, and that crazy homeless man who talked to Lummis on the El on the way home. Hee hee. I went and had lunch with Sarah Graber, who was in Wizzer. We went to a Thai place in Belmont and then went back to Tim's and watched BOTH seasons of Wizzer. Wizzer is so strange- we all thought it was really hilariously funny back then, and we pretty much do still, except that now we realize how bizarre and absurdist it all was. There are some very... shall we say, ABSTRACT sketches. I suppose that's what earned it the "sketch dramedy" title. Sarah is doing really well for herself in Chicago- she teaches and does storytelling at schools and always seems to be in one play or another. I really miss seeing her and must make a point of it to see her every time I'm in Chicago.

I saw Mark Kreutzer THREE times, which is insane because I don't think I'd seen him since I was a junior, if not before. He lives near Tim and they do trivia nights together, along with Andrew Linnehan (!) and Josh Elder. I saw Elder very very briefly at Kreutzer's birthday party. These are all people who lived in CRC with us, and I was never particular friends with any of them... Kreutzer was around a lot, but we weren't super close, and I barely even spoke to Andrew Linnehan ever. Now, though, he is someone I legitimately enjoyed hanging out with, especially on Monday night when I went to trivia with them. I guess I have an ability to bond with pretty much anyone who can geek out about inane factoids.

On Thursday I met Jack, Sip and Tim at Panera (Panera!) in Evanston, and then Sip and I went over to visit Brian Perkinson, our old boss at the cage. It's strange how some things never change- Brian is pretty much the same, although he seemed a little less annoyed with life, and the cage itself is just exactly as it always has been. There was even the same giant box of duvetine. I bet if I'd hopped the counter like I wanted to and poked around a bit, I'd even find a few things that are still labeled in my handwriting (or Steve's, or Will's, or Sip's, or Kevin's... etc). The weird thing about being at the cage and at Louis was how I literally don't know anyone there but Brian anymore... there are a few staff members at MSG who are the same, but Caesar and Tony and Cliff are all gone. Still, it's nice that it hasn't changed so much physically. They're even still playing things like Power Surge and Jackson and Have You Seen This Man? on the flat screen TV, presumably because no one has made a good movie since I graduated =)

After that Sip and I went and saw Coraline in 3D, which was AMAZING and that is pretty much all I have to say about it. Easily the best movie I've seen in a good 6 months. Go see it, and see it in 3D. Oh, Henry Selick, I love you.

We went to the Hopleaf that night, with Mike DePilla and Mike Sippel and Jack and Som. I don't think I'd seen Som since the days I lived with MDep at Ridge and Church- he's Mike's friend from high school and was around a lot back then. He's a lawyer now, which is insane. Oh, the Hopleaf! I haven't spent ALL that much time there, but the times I was there I had a grand time and it always seems like the quintessential Chicago bar experience. The fact that it's in Andersonville, where everyone seemed to move after graduation, makes it stand out in my mind, I guess. It was like the first grown-up bar- that is, the first bar we went to outside of Evanston. This isn't true, obviously, but that's how I think of it. Anyway, we had mead and beer and all stayed out later than we were supposed to, even Jack.



On Friday night, after Tim left with his parents to go to the opera, I went on a walk around Wrigleyville. I was sort of looking for a bookstore, but I gave up on that thought pretty quickly when I realized how far away it was. It was nice to get out in the cold and stretch my legs though, even if it was starting to get dark. I walked through the giant graveyard near Tim's house, the one that you pass near the Sheridan stop on the Red Line. I always like cemeteries, but Chicago seems to do them better than most cities. I don't know why- maybe there are a lot of religious people in Chicago? In any case, there are tons of graveyards filled with huge monuments to the people buried there, and I really like them. I was at this one just as the sun was setting, and it was beautiful.



Oh gosh, let's see. What else. On Saturday Pat King and Sip and Tim and I went to Hot Doug's, which is this famous hot dog place, or "encased meats" place, as they say. They make crazy sausages like "Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Sauce Moutard and Sel Gris," as seen here (the one in the lower left):


Also exhibited above are the famous Duck Fat Fries, which were pretty damn good. I guess anything's good if you fry it in duck fat. Anyway, it was snowing like crazy while we waited in line for a solid hour, and by the time we got into the restaurant we were frozen solid. Nothing like a Chicago hot dog (for that is all I had, no crazy sausages for me) and Duck Fat Fries to warm you up!


After Hot Doug's Sip drove me over to Logan Square, which was not far, to hang out with David, Jessica, and Willa Marie for awhile. Willa and I played Spaceships for awhile and then she showed me her room and then she did water colors. Dave and Jessica and I caught up with everything. Things are always nice and relaxed at their house. They always have tea and the dogs lie around and no one is ever rushing anywhere. Sometimes I feel a little awkward, cause we never really DO anything when I'm there and I'm not really much of a talker, but it's always nice to see them. And I do like checking in on Willa Marie as she grows up- I can't believe how big she is.


Speaking of being all grown up- on Sunday I went up to Evanston to spend some time with Natalie, Alec, and Jill, the family I babysat for all throughout college. It's insane how big they are now. Granted, they're still kids- I don't know what I'm going to do when Nat starts going to high school. I'll probably just throw in the towel and assume I'm over the hill. Natalie just turned 13 and Alec just turned 10- they're in 7th and 4th grade, and are just about the sweetest kids you could imagine. The trippy thing is that I've known them for 8 years now; I started sitting for them in the fall of my freshman year, when Nat was 5 and Alec was 2. Crazy. Anyway, they are doing really really well. Their dad died 3 years ago, in January 2006, and while they are always in the back of my mind, I'm never really WORRIED about them. Jill is just about the bravest woman I know, and I know she's doing all the right things for the kids. I love visiting them. They're always lots of fun- we played the same game we played the last time I was there, which involves guessing what each person playing likes best out of a given set of things. The kids wanted to play it to see how well we still knew each other, and the answer was pretty well, but not as well as I would like. A lot of things are the same- Alec still drinks soy milk, the kids still squabble as they eat lunch, Jill still cooks yummy-smelling things and the house looks pretty much the same- but a lot of things are different, too. I have to do a better job keeping in touch with them, my Evanston family:


Sunday night, of course, was the Oscars, and it was also Jack's birthday. He had just gotten back from Atlanta earlier that day, so he wasn't up for much celebration, but he did come over to Tim's house for guacamole and Oscar watching. Jamie and John McGlothlin came, which was great and astounding, because I hadn't seen John McGlothlin in, oh, five years. Maybe longer. He looks exactly the same. Sip came too, and a friend of Tim's named Stephanie. See previous post for thoughts on the Oscars. It was awfully nice to watch it with old friends. Nothing against my new friends- I would be dead without them- but this harkened back to the olden days in strange, not quite accurate ways.

Monday I devoted entirely to wandering around Evanston. I had been up there twice already, but I hadn't gotten to revisit all my old favorite spots on campus, or walk contemplatively along the Lakefill, or any of that. So I took the El up and had lunch with Jack at Al's Deli on Noyes, and then walked over to campus. He had to go back to work, so I said bye to him for possibly the last time in awhile, and went on my merry way wandering around. I love the Northwestern campus so much. It's so unpredictable, with it's melange of strange buildings and gothic towers hidden gardens and pathways. It doesn't look one bit like an east coast school, and that is one of the things that drew me there in the first place- I was never a fan of the "Giant Squares of Grass" method of designing colleges. So I walked past CRC and Louis and AMS and wandered the Lakefill and went to the Shakespeare Garden and went in the tiny chapel near the Shakespeare Garden that I've always inexplicably loved, and went to Norris and the arch and the Rock and all that. I will never get sick of remembering the good times on that campus. Call me sappy, but... well, I am sappy.

After that I walked through town and over to our old apartment, where a woman was standing on the corner and asked if I was there to look at apartments. She was showing 1703 and 1707, but sadly not 1705 Ridge or I could have gone inside. Although, maybe that would have been weird. Maybe I just want to remember it how it was, with its yellow walls and my green room and the perpetually dirty kitchen floor and the built-in china hutch that had things in it from so many past occupants that opening the drawers was like an archaeological dig. God I loved that apartment. It was perfect... for college, that is. Then I went to look at the Childcare Center, where I'm sure no one remembers me. It looks the same, although the playground has been updated and looks a lot less fun. I also walked through the alley at Ridge and Davis and pas Tom Thumb, and actually went in and purchased something at EV1 (a bottle of wine for Tim for letting me stay with him), which was very rare occurrence for me. So it was a very Evanstonian sort of day. Perhaps not as much as I would have liked-- I would really like one of these trips to just wander around Evanston for like TWO solid days so I could go past all the old film locations and visit Lighthouse Beach and actually EAT at Mustard's Last Stand, all that. Oh well. Next time.

Monday night I had coffee with Matt Cozza, who is someone I really wish I kept better in touch with. He's doing really well and doing freelance shooting and editing. He won that Heinz 57 Ketchup contest a year or so ago and with the money he and his girlfriend went to New Zealand and Australia, and I was incredibly jealous. It was good to see him and catch up. Then I went to the bar where Tim/Kreutzer/Linnehand were waiting to do trivia night. We did really badly, just out of a few sheer bad guesses, but I got a couple questions right that I was proud of. I love trivia nights. There's really no better time to revel in your own geekery.

Tuesday morning, before my flight, Tim and I went to the Art Institute, which as I've said before is pretty much my favorite museum ever. They have added a few rooms for the Impressionist collection and a new Modern Art wing, so it felt a lot bigger than it used to. I could stay at the Art Institute all day, but sadly we only had a couple hours, so I limited myself to paintings, photography and the miniature rooms. They had an exhibit of Edvard Munch paintings that I didn't go in because it cost extra, and a great photography exhibit of portraits by a guy named Yousuf Karsh, which were amazing. I'd seen a lot of them before and not known whom they were by, and this guy is incredibly talented. Consider me a fan.

And then it was time to go, sadly, but it was a most excellent trip in my opinion. I wish I could have seen Kat (she was sick most of the time, and working), and more of Jack, and more of Pat, but for the most part I was very happy with what I accomplished- a whole lot of visiting and very little that was actually productive.

Sorry this is so long- it's mostly for me to remember everything. If you actually read all this, well... you must think I'm very interesting =)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

this is just to say

A giant post about my Chicago trip is coming tomorrow, I swear, as long as I'm not too tired to write it after driving home to San Francisco. Tomorrow or Wednesday, for sure.

But for now- can I just say how incredibly proud I am of all my friends? I must have the greatest, most ambitious, smartest friends in the world. Seriously.

Larkin just got into a doctoral program at Columbia University. Sure, this means she is moving to New York in the fall and I will lose another of my best friends to that overly-hyped city, but- holy crap. Go Larkinsas.

Jack got offered some crazy amazing job in Washington DC working for a company that starts with a G and of course I can't remember the name of, but it's exactly what he wants to be doing. And yes, this means he and Kat will be moving there, and I'll probably never see them again, but again- holy crap.

Arielle has gotten into multiple law schools. She got into UCLA, which I think is where she wants to go, so that's all that matters, but I know there were others too. I hope she stays in LA...

Jennifer Welch is about to graduate from nursing school and get some awesome job delivering babies.

And these are on top of all the other friends I have who are busy doing amazing things, making amazing movies, saving the world, etc. Not to sound too sappy, but- it's really an honor to be surrounded (however distantly) by these people.

That's all.