Nano-Vacation: Chicago

I have previously used the term "micro-vacation" to describe small trips that I take as "an event"--like up to Bird and Jen's in NH. I previously expounded on the topic here:

I realized that the way I schedule my vacations currently is pretty unconventional—I often take a few days here-and-there while on business travel, when work sends me to places that are either interesting or where friends live. For instance, I have made use of business trips to San Francisco, Cleveland, Denver, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Seattle, Waterloo, DC, and many other towns to see friends, which has been absolutely wonderful.

But the end of this week was more of a "nano-vacation": work sent me to Chicago, so instead of doing a fly-out-in-the-morning/fly-back-in-the-evening/have-a-15-hour-day plan, I spent the night in Chicago on my own dime after I wrapped up. Also, my sweetie was out of town this week, so there was no rush to get back.

This job was out in the western exurbs of Chicagoland... and amusingly, right near the development where my thesis field research site was located--I've been here 8+ times. It was odd to be back in that neck of the woods, where I whiled away many days down in a basement.

First lesson learned from this trip: when the job is to look at a basement that consistently floods, it might be flooding when you go there... so you might want to bring more than one pair of shoes (or galoshes).

Ugh. So yeah, after splashing around the basement for several hours, I ended up spending the rest of the trip in sodden boots.

After the job, I drove back to O'Hare, checked into my hotel, and dropped off the rental car. I thought, "Huh... Google Maps says I'm 1.5 miles from my hotel... maybe I'll walk it, instead of [Avis shuttle to ORD] -> [Hotel shuttle to hotel]."

Man... an airport is definitely a place inhospitable to pedestrians. I pretty much walked from the bottom of this map to the top:

Also, I realized that anyone walking in that environment is easily mistaken for someone who is homeless, mentally ill, or destitute... I was fully expecting to get stopped by the police during my walk.

Then holy cats... time to get my butt into the city. Hopped CTA in (I was staying at an airport hotel)... maybe it's just how I'm made up, but I get a bit of a thrill, coming in and seeing the skyline of a cool town. Blue Line in, Brown Line out...

... in order to get to Second City e.t.c., to see their new show, "The Absolute Best Friggin' Time of Your Life." Second City was one of those things that Sarah and I wanted to do when we were vacationing here last winter, but couldn't schedule in. I thought it would be neat to catch a show--to go to such a storied comedy club, as well as the possibility that I'm seeing the next generation's Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, John Belushi, etc. before he/she makes it big.

The show was great--lots of short sketches, plus songs... they did a great job keeping the material tight, and ending it before it went flat (i.e., the Saturday Night Live problem). Too many great moments to describe... but as a one liner... "Dinner at Olive Garden... ahhh... it's just like Italy... if Italy SUCKED." Also, I was amused that they use the same technique as crock writers--profanity in the right place often gets a good laugh when applied correctly. Check out the preview video if you have a moment. Some of it veered off into social commentary... which wasn't comedic, but it kept all of our attention really well. And some of it was fun mocking of Tea Party types.

The last set was an improv session... it's really impressive to watch good improv comedy folks work. There are definitely hits and misses, and moments when you can see things are sliding off the rails, nobody's coming up with anything, and you pray they cue the lights and end it soon. But when they knock one out of the park, it's really impressive to see humor that impressive arrive so spontaneously.

Sadly, I didn't schedule enough time for a dinner in the city, which would have made the evening... alas. Hopped CTA back... it's odd going late enough that you have an entire subway car to yourself.

My flight back the next morning was after 10 AM--very nice, as I noted on Facebook:

Kohta Ueno finds that taking a flight home *not* at the crack of dawn kinda rocks. No panicked wakeup, a leisurely breakfast, and a calm shuttle ride to the airport. And time for postcards.

Anyway, a fun trip. And off to Maine with Sarah for 4th of July weekend!


At 11:44 PM, Blogger j4 said...

I bet they sell shoes in Chicago. You could have bought a second pair. Sometimes it's worth it.

At 11:44 PM, Blogger j4 said...

But I forgot to mention that I'm super jealous you got to Second City. That sounds awesome.


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