Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chicago Postcard, Day 1

I’ve come to Chicago to write. That’s the simple answer. I’m going to museums and I’m going to shop and visit friends, but I’m also planning a lot of time working on unfinished projects. This is my third trip to the city. My first was a weekend stay when I was in high school, because I thought I wanted to attend the School at the Art Institute of Chicago. More on that later. My second trip was in 2007, when one of Noah’s plays was produced here. During that trip I got to see the cool Chicago, which was not the one I saw when I was considering colleges, and I began to think that maybe I was a bit too hasty about the decision to go to school in Massachusetts.

I’m staying in the guest studio in my friend Jill’s building. Jill and I went to MassArt together and shared an apartment for one tumultuous year after I graduated. When I arrived at the building to check in, it was raining. Not outside. A pipe had burst in the building and water was dripping from the lobby ceiling. The building manager was nice enough to let me leave my things in her (dry) office, and I went out to explore.

I didn’t have a destination in mind, so I got off the subway at a stop that looked interesting and started walking. I thought I recognized the Art Institute, but when I got closer I found out it was the Aquarium. Oh well, fish are pretty too, so I bought a ticket.
Geez, Al, my head is killing me!
You too? I can't get rid of my headache.
Moray Eels look like they're from a horrible nightmare. They live in caves and stare at you, and when you see the whole body they look like unfinished sock puppets with sharp teeth.I spent a long time sitting in front of the newly renovated dolphin and whale tanks. These are underground, with piped-in whale sounds, and the glow from the glass is ethereal. Every now and then a dolphin would speed by, then disappear. When I'm a criminal mastermind, my hideout will be in an abandoned aquarium. (I still reserve the right to make fun of dolphin tattoos.)Anemones, also the stuff of nightmares. If a doctor showed me this picture and said this was growing inside of me and needed to be removed, I'd believe him.

The gift shop does not sell the home version of this game. I checked.

Back at the apartment, I learned that the burst pipe had been right next to Jill's apartment, and her place was a wreck because they had to rip down walls to get to the problem. She'd planned on us going out and spending the night on the town, but once she'd called the insurance company and the building manager found her a new apartment to stay in for the night, take-out was a better option. We stayed up too late catching up and playing with her cats. When I got back to the studio I fired up the computer... and promptly fell asleep.