Okay, so... I've openly acknowledged that I'm a geek, especially when it comes to movies. I said as much in my last journal entry. And now that I'm back from my vacation (and fully recovered from not just the travel, but also two weeks spent at home here sick with allergies), I'm happy to report that, on my Cinephiliac's Tour of Chicago, I got to cross off pretty much every item on my wishlist, and then some:
Like The Fugitive, I got to ride the el and disappear into the crowds at Chicago's St. Patrick's Day parade. And I even got to see the river dyed green and make that remark about it being dyed blue the other 364 days of the year.
Like Ferris Bueller's Day Off, I got to visit the Art Institute and stare deeply at Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
And, as a bonus, while Mandy and I were driving around Aurora, we listened to "Bohemian Rhapsody", just like in Wayne's World!
I owe mandy-kun and her family a heartfelt thanks for their hospitality, for showing me a wonderful time, and for indulging me in living out all my favorite Chicago-centric movies. XP
As a bit of a rewind-- the trip started off on a pretty good note. The shuttle to Seattle, and my stay in Seattle overnight, were pretty nice. Gave me an opportunity to catch up on my reading (I've been reading "Siddhartha" by Hermann Hesse), and my hotel room was nice. I had room service that night-- a really nice turkey dinner with a freaking amazing chocolate cake/vanilla ice cream combo for dessert. While I was at the airport in Seattle, I got a chance to snag a copy of Nirvana's Bleach from the Sub Pop store (yes, there's a Sub Pop record store in the terminal-- that is so freaking Seattle), and the young woman at the register told me all about how surprised she was when Dave Grohl showed up at the store last year to do one of his interviews for Sonic Highways. And the flight from Seattle to Tampa was pretty nice too-- shorter than I expected, and it gave me a chance to finally see The Imitation Game and listen to Steven Wilson's new album (which I just barely managed to download onto my phone before takeoff).
Florida was... Florida. It's nice to see my parents, and get a chance to lounge around the house, but as always it's too freaking hot. I got to spend a week and a half with my family in Florida. It wasn't as relaxing as I had hoped it would be, because there were a lot of things that needed to be done. We went to the IKEA in Tampa on my first day and got a new bed for my bedroom, and I was the one who had to disassemble the old one and assemble the new one. My parents (who are both in their seventies now) needed my help with some things around the house. And there were some holiday activities which we had been putting off since December. Compared to Christmas, though, "Marchmas" turned out to be a relatively relaxed affair-- there was some gift exchange and some cookies and a tree, but it was all on a smaller scale than usual because none of us really wanted to put a ton of effort into it. XP I got some new movies to add to my collection, and at least one new art book.
And when my time with my parents was over, I parted ways with them at the airport in Sarasota and I was on to the next leg of my trip to Chicago. Mandy and her father picked me up at O'Hare, and I checked into my hotel, and that night her entire family and I went out for deep dish pizza. (And yes, Mandy, I did really enjoy it-- admittedly, I still think I prefer New York-style, but it's just because I'm more accustomed to it.) We capped off the night with a joint Livestream which included some art from her, some running commentary from me, and some two-player sessions of 8-bit Left 4 Dead and Contra. That's the first time I've ever actually played all the way through Contra.
The next day, Friday, was when Mandy and I drove around Aurora and Naperville. She took me to an awesome candy shop, and an awesome comic shop, and we had lunch at a great sushi place. And then we went back to my hotel room and watched The Fugitive.
Saturday was a long day. I was up at 5:30. We had a two-hour train ride into Chicago to catch the river dyeing. Afterwards, we went to another comic shop in the Loop, and then to the parade, which lasted two hours. We had a quick lunch at Red Robin before going to the top of the Sears... er... Willis Tower (whatever). It was a long wait, but worth it. They took one of those souvenir photos that you get whenever you go to a landmark or something, but unfortunately ours didn't turn out very well; they shoot people with a green screen in the background so they can insert the Chicago skyline digitally, but... since it was the day of the St. Patrick's Parade, I happened to be wearing a green shirt that was exactly the wrong shade, so I kinda... disappeared. XD I wasn't the only one, either! St. Patrick's Day (and the day of the parade) must be a waking nightmare for those photographers-- none of those photos come out right.
Sunday was another day in the city, at a pace that was much more manageable. Mandy and I both had gotten a bit sunburned at the parade, and the next day, I tripped on a pothole and fell on the asphalt while crossing one of the streets. I was a bit rattled after that, but the only things that were really bruised were my left knee and my ego. Mandy took me to Millennium Park, and I got to see the Cloud Gate. And then we spent the rest of our time at the Art Institute. After MoMA, I have to say I think the collection at the Art Institute is the second best I've ever seen-- that Seurat painting is there, and Picasso's The Old Guitarist, and some of Monet's Water Lilies, and Hopper's Nighthawks, Grant Wood's American Gothic, Dali, Calder, Pollock, Magritte, O'Keeffe, Malevich, Kandinsky, Chagall, Matisse, Mondrian, Homer... The only ones I was hoping to see but didn't were The Child's Bath by Mary Cassatt (which was out on loan) and a print of Hokusai's Great Wave. But I did manage to get a matted reproduction of the Hokusai print at the gift shop, so I was happy. And then Mandy and I went across the street for lunch at Potbelly's.
Monday... was hell on earth for me, I'm sorry to say. I spent Sunday night at Mandy's house to avoid paying an extra night of hotel expenses; to be clear, I am very grateful to Mandy and her family for letting me stay there that night. And Mandy made a wonderful pancake breakfast. Unfortunately, shortly after breakfast, I began to get a sore throat, and I recognized it instantly as my allergies flaring up. Mandy and her father dropped me off at O'Hare, and we said our goodbyes. But the whole rest of the day was complete agony-- I was dealing with the simultaneous sunburned face/bruised knee/sore throat trifecta, plus a 4-hour flight back to Seattle in a window seat that didn't give me any space for my left arm. The entire flight, the little kid behind me was kicking my seat. And then the flight landed 30 minutes late, so I had to make a mad dash through the airport, pick up my checked bag, and sprint all the way to the other end of the baggage claim to connect with my shuttle back home. As a result, I didn't get lunch or dinner that day (although, it's not like I could have swallowed anything solid at that point anyway). And then the shuttle turned out to be much more crowded going northward, and the mother and child sitting in front of me kept their seats back the whole 3-hour ride, which meant I didn't have enough leg room and made it impossible to avoid having my bruised knee pressed the entire time. I spent about 20 minutes at the bus depot waiting for a taxi, and finally got back to my apartment around 10:30 at night, completely ready to collapse. And I've spent the past two weeks going through all the usual stages of my allergies and getting better. Another vacation behind me.
As Tommy Lee Jones said at the end of The Fugitive, "You know, I'm glad. I need the rest."