Thursday, March 01, 2007

Thoughts on Chicago.

For the past two days, Rich and I have been in Chicago, where he gave a paper, and I played.

To me, Chicago means museums. We were staying in a hotel near Michigan Avenue, and to most females, the obvious activity is shopping. And there is alot of shopping one can do; however, this seems like a fruitless way to spend my time, since 1. none of the fashion gets close to anything I would wear, and 2. even if I liked anything that's for sale, I couldn't afford it, not even on sale. Lord and Taylor is having a liquidation sale, and even with 75% off some things, I couldn't find a good excuse to buy a thing.

I did, however, duck into a fourth floor closet in a building on Oak Street, where I found two delightful little old Jewish ladies running a knitting shop. Bought a couple of circular needles I haven't been able to find anywhere else, and had a nice long conversation with one of them. She spoke in a heavy accent, and told me she had been born in Ukraine. This is the sort of person I love to talk to...ladies like this are living novels of experience. I could have sat there all day talking to her about Ukraine-- which she says is not as pretty as the United States ("Well, there's New Jersey," said I. And she dipped her head and said, "Yeh..there is New Jersey.")

From there I went to the bus stop where I could have stood all day waiting for the #10 bus that the concierge told me would take me to the Museum of Science and Industry. After about ten minutes I asked a man who was also standing there how often the #10 comes by. "Never, at this time of year," he said. Then he asked me where I needed to go, and I told him. The next thing I know he not only tells me what bus to get on, but gets on with me, and shows me where to get off and what bus to take from there. That kind of thing hasn't happened to me since we were in Prague, so I am happy to report that the manners of the big city may finally be catching up with the Eastern Bloc. He could not have been nicer. Oh....and it just so happened that he was an off-duty bus driver. Or an angel, maybe.

The MSI is only open for five hours a day, but I hadn't been there since going with DW last year to see a medical imaging exhibit. At that time I realised I'd never seen the place and made a mental note to get there ASAP. But you have to get the bus if you don't drive or take a (very) expensive taxi. But one of the things I wanted to do was get a foothold on the CTA bus system, which I did. Anyway, the MSI was a wonderful place. My favorite exhibit was in one of the stairwells, sections taken of a human body at varying levels. It was an amazing sectioning job, and extremely instructive. I also went to an Omnimax show on the human body which was pretty good too. And when I came out of that museum, I realised that I was finished as a medical illustrator. I've long missed the boat-- should have pursued computer graphics years ago. But it's all right, after all. If I had done that, my family life and travels most likely would not have been as wonderful as they have been-- and I wouldn't trade those for a sparkling career. Not even in a Chicago museum. And of you know me, that's saying something.

Today I went all the way down to the Adler Planetarium on the bus, which was easy-- no transfers. I only had a couple of hours but it was worth every penny of the $20 I spent to see two of the planetarium shows and a bit of the museum. If you're in Chicago and you don't see the Adler, you've missed something very good.

Chicago is a neat place. It's ethnic and not quite so high-powered as New York, though I have no desire to learn how to drive into the city. Rich can do that; or I'll take the train. I'm proud of myself for learning how the bus system works. Several years ago, I learned how to see what I wanted to see in a foreign country. I even got lost in a city in China once, and discovered it wasn't so bad. That was an important experience to have, I I figure that if I can find my way back to home base in China, I can most likely do it in whatever city I find myself in the US.

I just need enough time. Like the monkey with the typewriter.
(Note: None of these are my own pictures. The weather was pretty foul.)


Blogger The Clinging Vine said...

I was impressed to death with your photos until that last sentence!

We didn't get to the Adler either time we were up there. Did the Fielder Museum and I think the MSI.

Really, really wanted to go to that planetarium. :^(

Glad you had such a super time!

Even if you did stomp all over my email.


11:30 PM  

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