i have adventures (sometimes)

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Frozen in the Windy City

The train ride to Chicago was 7 hours long, and I spent most of it either asleep or trying to be, having taken my travel sickness pills, but I definitely heard a woman at one stage asking the person beside her if she knew Jesus. Which made me a. glad I wasn't the person beside her, and b. wonder what my answer would have been. The problem is that - quite apart from it being an uncomfortable question to ask a stranger on a train - it's a question that only 'works' for other Christians, who are presumably not the target of evangelistic overtures. Because for just about everyone else, it rests on a presupposition that's fundamentally unsound, which makes it problematic. Even my hypothetical answer of "Yes, but we don't get on." accepts the presupposition. Maybe a better one would be "Have you accepted Zeus into your heart?"

GOOD DAY, MADAM. (Maybe this is my train phrase.)

I said good day!
I talked about that more than I meant to.

Anyway, Chicago! The Windy City! The one with all that jazz! And where the newspaper arrives a day early! None of this actually has any bearing on my experience of Chicago so far. I might have called it the City Where You Get Your Jeans and Shoes Soaked in the Rain on Your First Night in Town and Can't Wear Them for Two Days, but I can see how that's harder to fit on a bumper sticker.

So yeah, the weather's been pretty grim for most of the time I've been here. My first full day here, I totally underestimated the cold, because I figured I would warm up as I walked, but that turned out to be insufficiently correct, and I ended up retreating to my hostel in the afternoon to avoid hypothermia.

But not before having Chicago adventures! I started off at the main public library. Grand old libraries are definitely my new favourite thing.

Look at it!
It's a winter garden!
The worst title I found. A disappointing offering.
After the library, I set off on a walking tour guided by an app on my phone. I will be very easy to kill when the robot war comes. I'm so used to taking orders from machines.

But this machine gave good advice, leading me first to the Chicago Cultural Centre, where they had great glass domed ceilings and a marble staircase, and an art exhibition I actually enjoyed, by a group called Industry of the Ordinary. They seem to do weird and cool things that explore what it is to be ordinary.

Appropriately enough, taking a photo of myself in the Chamber of Narcissism.
The tour took me past some downtown buildings, many of which were surprised to be architecturally interesting. My two architectural categories are "pretty" and "not pretty", so a large part of the tour was wasted on me.

But there were people dancing inside this not pretty building. That made me happy.
No, this is a bad colour for a fountain. Stop that.
This is by Picasso. So definitely art.
And this is by Chagall! I may not get art, but I do love Chagall.
By the time I finished the tour with a half-hearted visit to the lobby of Willis Tower, my underdressed self was frozen, and I went to warm up at Native Foods, where the staff were unsettlingly friendly and I got a free drink for being a new customer.

Unusually for me on my travels, that night I had evening plans, having been lucky enough to stumble upon Adler After Dark, an evening at the planetarium only for grown ups, which meant we got to run around and do all the fun space stuff, with cocktails and without kids. I approve. Even if said cocktails cost $10. We got to watch space shows and make slime and play with liquid nitrogen, and at one point some hipsters with keyboards played music at us. Perhaps unrelatedly, at some point during the hipster music, I had the sudden realisation that everyone I love is going to die, and then remembered that that's still better than immortality. Then I went and played in a simulator that let me jump like I was on the moon!

Science Man is disappointed that we don't know what polymerisation is.
Smashing frozen sweets with a hammer!
Slime in a vacuum.
I had to exercise all my self-restraint not to buy an earth plushie.
Grown ups love space!
And because I'm at a stage in my life where doing couple things on my own makes me laugh rather than cry, I took great delight in the photo booth.

The next day the weather was still miserable, so I ignored everything on my list of things to do in Chicago as it was all outdoors, and went to the Field Museum instead.

Where they had DINOSAURS!

This is Sue.
I am Sue.
I think maybe I forgot how museums work, or something, because I figured I'd be there a bit and then go and have lunch and more adventures. And instead I was there for 4 hours and barely saw half of it. It's an amazing museum, and even skipping most of the human culture stuff and going straight for the stuff on dinosaurs and evolution and the special exhibits, I felt like I could have been there for days.

Except that I hadn't planned to be there for days, and so by 4pm I had a severe case of the hunger grumps, and had to leave before I ate a baby out of either hunger or bad temper. Luckily for me (and the people around me), there was a hotdog stand just outside the museum selling vegan hotdogs, and that was enough to tide me over until I got back to the hostel.

Then it was off to my new CouchSurfing hosts, who are lovely people who let me eat their food. I declined to join them at what sounded like a party far too cool for me, because I was exhausted. Which turned out to be a pretty great excuse to bundle myself up in blankets and play with their tiny cat.

I once mentioned to Emily that having a cat in my arms made me understand why people have babies. She pointed out, "No, you understand why people have cats."


Post a comment