11:18 AM, Dec 12, 2008
Naperville and Chicago
I wandered into downtown Naperville and found a shopping district akin to the Country Club Plaza, Zona Rosa, or parts of Village West, back home. Brian had told me a little bit about a new beer bar therein, called the Grumpy Bulldog. I found it without a great deal of trouble, and found that it's actually a pretty great place. Twelve carefully-selected draughts and about 100 bottles make for a very nice selection in a place where such things largely go unnoticed and unappreciated. Nick behind the bar was happy to answer any questions I had, and to make enthusiastic recommendations. I spent perhaps two hours there before Brian came to pick me up.
While I was doing my thing, I got a call from my grandcentral
number. That's my "home" number; the number I give to people I don't know. I give it out without hesitation, and it's the number attached to all my accounts and services. It's also the number on my resume. So, if I ever receive a call on that phone it either means that I owe someone money, or someone wants to talk about a job. Since all my accounts are in order at the moment, I had to assume the call was about the latter, so I hastened outside in my rolled-up sleeves and shivered through a call in which an interview was set up for the Wednesday after I get back home. So here's to hope!
Anyway, Brian and I went back to the apartment and waited for Kathleen to get home, which turned out to happen about five minutes later. We gathered ourselves up and made what speed we could to the Bavarian Lodge
in Lisle. I had a fantastic chicken paprikash, along with a draught of Furious, a delicious pale ale from Minnesota's Surly Brewing Company. Filled to our gastronomic brims, we retired to the apartment and slept heavily. My visit with Brian and Kathleen was wonderful.
The next morning I caught the Metra into the city. Seventy minutes later, I was doing laps at Union Station, looking for a CTA machine from which I might be able to purchase a day pass. No such luck did I have. So, I walked over to State Street, underneath which is the miles-long red line station. I promptly found come CTA machines, but none that would dispense a day pass. So, I slipped a twenty into a normal machine, and never got any prompts of any kind as to what dollar amount I wished to purchase. It had been a while since I'd ridden the CTA, and I assumed that some semblance of modern convenience would have infiltrated its automated systems in the intervening time. I assumed wrong.
Putting a twenty into a machine gives you a $20 card. If you want a smaller amount on your card, then don't put so much money in, stupid! Feeling slightly sorry for myself, I walked over to some hot dog place and got a soft, cheap hamburger. After lunch I walked back over to State Street, and caught the 146 or 156 bus- something like that -and rode it to the Field Museum, where Kathleen works. She gave me a fantastic behind-the scenes tour of one of the world's foremost natural history museums, complete with a walk through their specimen stacks. She enlisted my help in opening a immense tank containing two fully preserved, full-grown Komodo dragons. It was a great experience.
I said good-bye, picked my increasingly heavy bags back up, and hopped on the first bus that arrived. I took that back to State Street, where I took the red line to Jackson, and walked down the long tunnel to the blue line, which I then took to Western. I walked outside, turned right on Armitage, and walked the half mile to my second favorite bar in the world: The Map Room. I was meeting some people there, but I was still about an hour early for any of them to arrive. So I did what I came to do: drink beer and talk to people. I struck up a conversation with Kevin, two stools down, and we talked about baseball until Todd arrived. Todd and I grabbed a table, and then Craig came in. Soon afterward, Margie came in, followed shortly by Amber. We had a nice group around a table at the Map Room, and it was exactly what I always wish for when I'm at a bar I love: good friends, good beer, and good conversation.
It was a school night, so everyone dispersed by about 9:30pm. Amber and Craig and I drove up to their apartment near Lincoln Square, and talked some more while they gave me the dime tour of their place. They showed me to my room- yes, I had my own room -and I fell asleep with a book on my face.