Chicago

As most of the people who would read this probably know, last week I celebrated my 19th birthday. Many thanks to anyone who wished me well! There were a lot of you, so if I haven’t gotten back to you quite yet, I really will, I promise. I worked that night and then went out to a really cool restaurant and a few other places with some of my work friends from work. Thanks for the night out, everyone.

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Picture taken by Brian, fiancé of Mandi (next to me, far left).

Anyways, I decided that I was finally going to make good on my plans to visit friends in Chicago this weekend. Worked a quick lunch host on Saturday morning, and then hopped into my car and zipped down I-90. First observation: even with the perpetual road construction on the Illinois Tollway, the trip takes under three hours, closer to two and a half. Super easy. Plus, my car burns just over a quarter-tank going that distance, meaning it costs about $23 to drive there and back.

Using an awesome parking website I was able to leave my car in the South Loop for $20 all weekend. Great way to do it, because then I could leave stuff in my trunk and walk to and from all L and Metra lines with ease. Would definitely recommend this route to anyone driving to Chicago in the future.

Saturday night, after a quick Metra ride down to the South Side, I stayed in Hyde Park with my friend Ellie back from Silver Spring at the University of Chicago. Definitely a rigorous, academic environment, but I also saw that Hyde Park is decidedly not the “place where fun goes to die,” contrary to popular belief – even if Ellie happens to be more fun than the average UChicago student.

Sunday morning was spent studying, as I had a few papers to get done by 5:30 Monday. Clearly a common way to spend a Sunday morning UChicago – Ellie told me that, even with nightlife, they still go to bed earlier on the weekends because of the workload.

After lunch, I rode the Metra back up to my car and hopped on the L up to Wicker Park. Wicker Park is most comparable to Shaw or Adams-Morgan in DC, except way less pretentious or expensive. There was an 80s-themed coffee shop that made great drinks and had a Nintendo in the back, so I went there to finish my homework at Ellie’s suggestion. Wicker Park was definitely my kind of neighborhood, so I can see why everyone told me to get up there. As if I need another big city to fall in love with… I could sure see living in Wicker Park for a few years.

By the way, the L really is a great way to get around Chicago. I’m sure it gets sketchy in the outer neighborhoods later at night, but it’s almost as clean as the Metro, and almost as efficient/cheap as the New York Subway. I was impressed. One of my friends up in Madison actually knows the guy who does the super-informative voiceovers. “State and Lake is next. Doors open on the right and State at Lake. Transfer to Brown, Purple, Orange, Green, and Pink lines at State and Lake.” For spending less than 48 hours in the city, I spent a lot of time listening to the “CTA Guy.”

I took the L back to the South Loop to meet up with Michael, another guy I know from Maryland. He is taking some time off from music school at Columbia College. We hopped in my car with his groceries and headed to his apartment in Bronzeville, also on the South Side. After playing music for a while, we went back up to Belmont on the L and chowed down at a Cubs-oriented 24 hour diner. I do miss the big city. Did some music stuff in Belmont, and then went back to his apartment with some friends and jammed some more. Overall a great night. The next day, I headed back to Madison.

After turning in those papers Monday and going to class just now, I am done with 2/3 of my first semester of college. All that’s left is two more math meetings and an exam a week from tomorrow. By all accountable measures, it went pretty well. I can’t say that I love MATC, but I can say that it serves my needs right now better than anywhere else could – and for that, I’m very happy.

As for coming home – I’ve shifted plans a little bit, planning now to come home for a longer stretch around the 4th, and a shorter weekend for Lola and Lolopop’s 50th. The first trip might be a drive. We shall see.

 

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