Day 1: Chicago

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For some reason I haven’t been going on and on about my Thanksgiving trip to London and Paris, which, as I’m sure you’re well aware of by now, is terribly unlike me. I brag about everything. It’s a great character flaw, but whatever. I’M GOING TO LONDON AND PARIS! It’s really no surprise, I seem to go every year, but I haven’t been to Europe since last summer. It’s been awful. I need exposure to culture and delicious bakeries with more regularity than once a year. I’m not a peasant.

My mother works with a woman who is from Bosnia. She is building a house there now and is excited to move back. Curious, I researched the Bosnian economy and that place is cheap–perhaps I should build a summer retreat there in Sarajevo? That would be rather chic, wouldn’t it? Going off to Bosnia. Then again, I don’t speak a word of Bosnian and Sarajevo is landlocked. I need the sea. Croatia, then. I hear Croatia is cheap and from the pictures I’ve seen of it, it’s stunning.

Anyway, back to my holiday. We decided we didn’t want to drive to Chicago to pick up our flight for a multitude of reasons I won’t get into here. I was glad as I hate road trips. So, instead we took the MegaBus, which is an international shuttle, but only operates a few places in Iowa. We bought tickets on the midnight express and decided to sleep all the way there. Great plan.

It was freezing cold last night, quite literally, and I wasn’t pleased by that. I don’t really operate when the weather is below seventy degrees. It’s unreasonable to be cold and so once it’s cold out, I don’t go out. I stay in my chambers where I have the heaters cranked. Speaking of my chambers, my lemon tree is finally blossoming–on the day I leave. I’ve been waiting three years now to see that happen. That’s probably some kind of irony, but I haven’t ever understood the rules of irony and I’m too old to learn now. I’ll manage somehow.

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I was cold so I decided to take Jessica for a walk to look at a gorgeous Art Deco building that has been turned into a bank. I had a lovely architecturegasm, and then we went back to the station. For some reason, we turned into Beyonce and gave the hobos quite a stunning rendition of “Single Ladies.” They appreciated it, I’m sure.

Finally, after what felt like hours, but was really only a few minutes (and a few inappropriate jokes later thanks to Jessica–she needs to learn to tailor jokes for her audience) the MegaBus was there, our luggage was stowed, and we were sitting on the top level listening to Jessica bitch about the heat. It was warm, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. She thought it was like an oven and was sure death was imminent for her. No matter, I was comfortable and had soon drifted asleep.

When I woke up, it was bright and sunny and I realized that the roof of the bus was clear so we could see the tall buildings and have the sun shine on our faces. Marvelous, that. Why don’t all cars have glass tops? I refuse to buy a car until it has a glass top and runs on hydrogen. Matter of time, I’m sure.

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Anyway, Chicago was much prettier than I remember it being. I haven’t been in the downtown area for a few years, so perhaps I just misremembered. I don’t know. I seem to recall hating the town for some reason, but for the life of me I can’t think of why. It’s a lovely metropolis. But, even Saint Tropez would be hideous if you had a thirty pound bag on your back. So, because I’m an awfully clever young man (there I go bragging again) I researched where we could rent lockers. Conveniently, lockers were available in Union Station, which was two feet from the bus stop. In a short matter of time, all our luggage was securely locked up for $15 and we didn’t have a care in the world.

We made our way out of the station and started our trek to a restaurant called Yolk. On Trip Advisor, it is the seventh highest rated place in town and serves all kinds of breakfast dishes, so I thought it would be a rather marvelous idea. It was, but it took so long to get there.

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I can’t figure out the map program on my phone, there is a blue arrow that I don’t understand what it’s pointing to. Very frustrating, so we got directions to Michigan Avenue from somebody. It was a way off, but I didn’t mind one bit, the town is pretty. Every time I’m in a city, I remember how much I love big towns. I’m a country boy by birth, but I’m not mentally. I love being in the hustle and bustle, the constant activity, the ease of transportation, the diversity of people and all the lovely things to do. I’m going to live in one some day. Don’t know which big city. I’ve already lived in Paris and loved it. I’m not sure that Chicago would be the city of my dreams, but I see why Oprah lived there for so long.

When we were searching for Michigan Avenue, I saw something that made my heart go all aflutter and I gasped in joy, “LAVAZZA!” This is my favorite brand of coffee, and I practically floated across the street and in the door. I ordered an espresso from a kooky fellow and waited excitedly for my brew. He really was crazy. I admire people who live firmly in their own world. It’s probably much more fun there than here. The coffee was even better than I thought it could possibly have been. What a joyous occasion. If I lived here, I’d be there every single day. Marvelous.

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It was quite a long ways to Yolk, so Jessica and I amused ourselves by repeating the “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That” video a million times.

“I got bronchitis!”

“Then the smoke got me!”

“I woke up to get me a cold pop.”

“I didn’t grab no shoes or nothing, Jesus!”

“I thought somebody was barbecuing.”

“I ran for my life!”

“Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

The citizens loved us, I’ve no doubt. Sweet Brown is kind of my hero. I want to meet her.

Finally we arrived at Yolk, which seemed quite far removed from everything. We were promptly seated and we ordered. I had a skillet with potatoes, mushrooms, onions, spinach, and two eggs. Fabulous. I also had a glass of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, which was equally fabulous. I’m just crazy for grapefruits. It was all very good and I’m happy to recommend it to you.

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Once out of the restaurant, we went back out into the cold and decided to walk along the lake. I need more big bodies of water in my life. It’s so relaxing to promenade along, watching the birds, listening to the gentle waves, and wishing it were summer so that I could sunbathe. It’s also fun to model along the water. Enjoy the following:

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We strolled along and then finally made our way downtown to do some shopping. Jessica and I still wanted iPad Minis, so we decided to look at the Apple store to see if they had any in stock. Only the one Jessica wanted was available, so now, I’m the only one without this marvelous bit of tiny technology. I still have a lovely full sized iPad that I’m typing this on…but it’s just not as adorable. I have the top of the line, but it’s so heavy. #firstworldproblems They had trouble using the check we wrote out, so we were in that store for what felt like forever. I tried out the computers. I’m in desperate need of a new one. When I say desperate, I don’t actually mean that, I exaggerate, of course, but I want one. My old laptop is so slow. I fell in love with the eleven inch MacBook Air. It’s so tiny!

Once out of the Apple store, we began our journey back to Union Station to pick up our bags. We made several interesting stops along the way. One was the Cultural Center, which used to be the public library and houses the world’s largest Tiffany Dome. It’s unbelievably gorgeous. I wanted to live in Chicago just so that I could come here and sit around whenever I like.

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There is a little inlet of water that cuts through the city. I’m pretty sure it’s manmade. I don’t know that for certain, though. Whatever it is, it’s gorgeous and I’d want to love above it. It looks so nice!

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As we continued to stroll along, I saw a very strange building that seemed to be peppered with bits of stone. It was almost as if an asteroid had smashed into it and left chunks. Intrigued, I took a closer look and discovered that they were rocks and stones from important places like churches and temples and ancient ruins. I saw a bit of the Great Pyramid and about choked on my own happiness. I’m just crazy about ancient Egypt.

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Then, we stopped at a place called Toni Patisserie, because I can’t turn down a good bakery. I was not fond of the staff, but the pastries and espresso were good. I had something called a chocolate dome which was filled with custard and mousse. They didn’t bring out the espresso I ordered, so they gave that to me for free with a complimentary macaron. Pistachio, though. I hate pistachios. I try and I try, but I just hate them.

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Right before we were back at the station, I stopped in at Books A Million to buy a Moleskine since I forgot mine back home. I need my Moleskine to take ridiculously detailed notes so that I can write these long posts for you. I really should make them shorter. I bought a Moleskine brand mechanical pencil, too. I don’t know why, I really didn’t need a $15 pencil, but whatever, I’m on vacation. At the register, they were selling Le Pen, so I should have bought one of them. It’s Martha’s favorite pen–she uses a matching one for all of her book signings. She’s so chic.

Finally back at Union Station, we of course had problems with the lockers. Everybody did, though, so it wasn’t just our sorrow. They wouldn’t accept our codes, so the computer had to be overridden and then we could take our valises. There were a lot of Amish people there. I don’t know why. Can they ride trains? I saw some Amish people sitting around by the lake. Doesn’t that go against their religion? I was enjoying myself and I know they aren’t allowed to have any fun, so I’m sure they weren’t supposed to have been there.

With my heavy bag, we found the subway station and were soon on our way to the airport. It was an awfully long ride, but we finally made it. It took longer than the train ride to find our terminal. There were only signs for Terminal 5 for about half the time. It was illogical, but we finally made it there, too. Jessica was, as she so often is, determined to eat, and since there is not one restaurant (another baffling thing about this airport) inside the terminal, we ate some crap food before going through security. I had a falafel. It was probably one of the worst I’ve ever had.

Jessica and Ma were fixing their bags, so I decided to go through security quick and get it over with. I’m so good at this now, I speed right though. I had a few moments to kill, so I made my costume change. I came in casual, but I left the restroom as the chicest person in the airport. I’m determined to make my way to First Class eventually, so I need to look the part. New pants, Indochino blazer, tie, shoes, gorgeously coiffed hair. Everybody was envious. To complete the look, I purchased a glass of wine and casually sauntered into our waiting area. Pretty sure they were wondering why I wasn’t in the First Class Lounge. I really don’t know either.

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We were in that stupid airport forever. I walked from one end of the terminal to the other. From the busy end to the creepy abandoned end where there were two other people sitting around. They looked creepy, so I left that place quite quickly. Really, though, what could happen in an airport past security? Maybe they were just tired?

Back at our loading zone, I went to the check in counter to make polite conversation. I’ve been reading that you want to be seen as a charming, amusing person worthy of First Class. So, I discussed time zones with the agent. I also casually dropped that Mother and Jessica need to sit by each other, but I can sit anywhere. She didn’t pick up on it. Rude.

Still more hours of sitting around. I looked around me, what happened to the elegance of flying? Why are these people in sweat pants? I single handedly brought a bit of glamour back. It’s exhausting to be me.

FINALLY IT WAS TIME TO BOARD! Going through checkin, the gentleman thought that my passport was my sisters. That was rather annoying. I do have long hair in the picture. I do look ridiculous. But I don’t look like her! That should have been grounds for a First Class upgrade right there, no? Methinks a letter will be written.

So, now I was seated on the plane almost in the back. My grand scheme for First Class greatness was a tragic failure. I’m in the middle of two strangers, cramped, my model legs are too long and my shoulders are too broad. Le sigh. It aches to be me.

Once the plane takes off, all I can think about is eating. There’s nothing else to do on a flight. I think it makes people insane. We wouldn’t normally be caught dead eating a frozen meal, but now there will be a rebellion if we don’t get one. They brought wine, so that was a good thing. I always get red wine on planes–I don’t like it on land, but in the air, it tastes marvelous. What kind of wizardry is this? It was a Spanish wine, I should have written it down.

Since I’m vegetarian, I order a special meal and I always try to pick something interesting. I picked an Indian meal this time and it wasn’t as good as before. Nothing is better than Swiss Air, though, they’re my favorite carriers. Marvelous time when you’re on a Swiss plane. Sadly, we were on British Airways. I had some kind of curry made of lemon rice, yellow lentils, and okra. I ate okra. I can’t believe I ate okra. I find the idea of okra repulsive. But it was stewed down and tasted of nothing, so I wasn’t bothered. The second course was nasty. I tried to like it, but it was not happening. Ricotta balls covered with sweet milk and spices. Vile. Absolutely disgusting. Then they brought me more wine–Australian white, this time. I also ate a salad. Balsamic vinaigrette isn’t awful. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. I don’t like lettuce salads. I didn’t mind this one.

Well, I’m very relaxed now after three glasses of wine. Uh oh…Beyonce just came on. I’d better not sing. Don’t make me sing!

Evening.

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