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10/16/01 (Page Two)
The Chicago Cityguide (continued)...


Here's why the guy at the Days Inn in Chicago wants to kill me.

We were checking out Sunday (the first of two checkouts for me -- I had to be in two different rooms in the course of the conference) and as I was waiting for a form to print out, I told the guy at the front desk, a youngish bald guy, this:

"So, do you guys ever, like, play softball against the people from the Comfort Inn?" The Comfort Inn was right across the street and I thought it was funny that the two similarly named hotels were so close to each other and are so similar in practically every way. "Do you all have like a league or anything for that?"

He looked me square in the round eye. "Like, uh, no." he said. Just like that. Mean-like.

And I shriveled like a little girly tulip. I signed my receipt and took my bags and went away. Later on, forgetting about Meany McHatesmyjokes, I put a Terribly Happy sticker on the front desk phone. I thought I was all clever for tagging a phone that the people on the business side of the desk couldn't see.

And then after I left Monday I realized that the guy could easily look me up and exact some sort of awful revenge. He could send me some of the anthrax. It's not like he can't find me address.

So, please, Mr. Mean Hotel Guy. Don't send me any anthrax. It's enough that I have to deal with that at my newspaper. By the same understanding, I will attempt to recognize that what I said might have been interpreted as at best silly and at worst mean and sounding like I was making fun of you. I wasn't.

Let's be friends. I can be your ringer in the outfield.



Sunday night I saw Bjork perform at the Chicago Civic Opera House. I may write an entry about it later this week because right now there are too many other things to say and I want to savor the memory for a bit before I uploaded it and file it away as writing.

She had an orchestra. She lit up the stage. She was wonderful and magical and a piece of me is still there, floating three feat about my third-balcony cheap seat.

Here's one thing, though. She wore the Swan Dress. Yeah. That one.

I was kind of aghast, but also secretly pleased.

At the very least, one thing was resolved: I think I know what I'm wearing for Halloween this year.



Everybody took pictures at JournalCon. Everybody but me.

I took my camera. I even bought some extra memory for it so I wouldn't run out of space in the digital camera, as has happened before.

But I left it in my suitcase the whole time. I was too busy having fun, drinking a lot, getting wired and buzzed.

I finally took one picture, just hours before I left for my return flight. Here it is:

This is the lady that served me coffee this morning and a really good cinnamon bagel. I didn't catch her name. But she was really cool.

I drank lots of coffee in addition to the liquor and the Jamba Juice. I also made a revelation -- all that coffee is why the Gilmore Girls talk so fast! I talk fast when I drink lots of coffee, too! Wish I could drink it all the time. In my real life, away from trips to other cities, drinking coffee just leads to not being able to sleep.

So. I talk. Um. What's the word? Slow.





Speaking of coffee, it was just one of the many substances I inserted into my body (hey, shut up) to cause it bodily harm. I smoked a big cigar. I ate lots of food (delicious, but swimming in grease. Even the delicious Spanish olives and the deep dish pizza).

And then the liquor.

Ya'll. I haven't drank like that in two years. On one night, I had:

Two or three gin and tonics

A buttery nipple shot (maybe two. I forget)

Another shot of some sort

Something I don't remember

Something else less memorable than the one drink I don't remember.

A shot of tequila.

A shot of vodka.

A glass of orange juice with vanilla stoli that made it taste like a Dreamsicle.


Miraculously, I didn't have a hangover the next day. It was like my liver said, "Hey, I know we don't do this a lot, and I've been working out and staying healthy, so just this once, BRING IT ON, BITCH!"

Then I did it again the second night. Still no hangover, but my liver called up all the JournalCon people and left angry messages telling them not to let me out drinking anymore.



And then the part where I came home. A lot of Sunday I spend a little sad. It was amplified when I finally did get home, and I was tired and cranky from lack of sleep, food and maybe proper hygeine.

It was such a wonderful time. I was sad to see it end. It was sad that I had to go to work the next day and return to my "normal" life. Which is great right now, but still. I longed for more time in that new, strange and wonderful city.

The night of the concert, I went by myself. I rode in the cab in silence. The skyline of Chicago at night, so still and so vast, was scary to me. I kept wondering how big it was in relation to New York and how vast that must be. It intimidated me even as it enthralled me with its beauty. People built this, I kept thinking, eyeing the way the waterway curved gracefully around the cuts of channels in the earth. How the towers rose, defiant of everything, of gravity, of destruction, of my own ignorance of their existence.

Back home, I wondered why I don't live like that all time. Going out, drinking, meeting people, feeling fun and funny and unencumbered.

Maybe that's not real life.

I was close to tears a lot this weekend. Jessamyn read an entry that made a lot of people weep. Bjork made me cry two or three times with the beauty of her music. The orchestra made it even better.

I'm reading a fantastic book called The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. This passage, also, made me emotional. I know it's not possible to live this way, like this weekend, all this time. But I think there's a way to feel magic a little more often than I do. That's my goal right now. Feel a little more magic a little more often.

Here's the passage. I'll try to make it a little more magical around here, too.

He sat down on the bed and finished reading, and then she asked him about what he did. Joe permitted himself, for the first time in a year, to consider himself, under the pressure of her interest in him and what he did, an artist. He described the hours he had put into his covers, lavishing detail on the flanges and fins of a death-wave generator, distorting and exaggerating his perspectives with mathematic precision, dressing up Sammy and Julie and the others and taking test photographs to get his posees right, painting luscious plumes of fire that, when printed, seemed to burn the slick ink and paper of the cover itself. He told her about his experiments with film vocabulary, his sense of the emotional moment of a panel, and of the infinitely expandable and contractible interslice of time that lay between the panels of a comic book page. Sitting on Rosa's moth-littered bed, he felt a resurgence of the aches and inspirations of those days when his life had revolved around nothing but Art, when snow fell like the opening piano notes of the Emperor Concerto, and feeling horny reminded him of a passage from Nietzsche, and a thick red-streaked dollop of crimson paint in an otherwise uninteresting Velázquez made him hungry for a piece of rare meat.


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