Tips for living in Chicago, for non-natives

3 Aug

1) Get a bike and get to know the bike routes and side streets. Google has a fantastic feature on their GoogleMaps, highlighting all the bike routes/bike lanes in dark green. The bike path on the lakeshore is like LSD for pedestrians and bikers. Learn the rules of the road for biking, people get shitty if you don’t stay to the right. Lance Armstrong wannabe’s will give you the WHAT-fer if you’re rocking out to your iPod and don’t hear them whisper, “On your left.”
Oh and don’t ever forget your bike chain or lock. It will absolutely be stolen, without a doubt.

2) Find your favorite Asian (Chinese, Thai, Cantonese, ect.) and pizza delivery restaurants and frequently order to keep them open. Also give them stellar reviews on Yelp, Google, so they don’t close and disappear. There is nothing worse than terrible Asian food or pizza. Don’t make the mistake twice.

3) Live near the EL, within walking distance, 5 minutes or less. I think the best line is the Redline, which would put you in close proximity to the Lake and takes you all the way to the heart of downtown. Though, the Blue line runs through great neighborhoods too.

4) Don’t live near a busy street. Yeah, it may be a great apartment, but the noise will make you want to punch babies. Because of the concentration of people, an ambulance/firetruck is something you’ll hear every day, if not more than once. The deeper in a neighborhood the better. Thought it’s a delicate balance between distance from a busy street and proximity to the EL. Another option would be to move vertically, in a highrise to avoid noise, but I know nothing of this, so I will not elaborate.

5) Live south of Wrigleyville, north of 290, and east of 90/94. That’s where all the fun is. And it’s safer.

6) Get pepper spray or a mean looking dog. Walks are interesting at night, but don’t be an idiot and get mugged or raped. Protect yourself.

7) Ask about water pressure and parking when finding a place. Permit parking sucks for your friends who visit. And no one likes a weak ass shower.

8) Learn to wear your clothes until they are truly dirty. Now, this doesn’t go for undies, but absolutely everything else. Laundry is most likely NOT FREE, so wear lots of perfume.

9) And don’t smoke. That shit is expensive ($10 a pack) and stinks up your slightly dirty clothes.

10) The best time to visit the lakefront is Sunrise, and though less so, Sunset. Any other time is terrible. There is no parking, hardly any open shade to lounge in, and packed. I recommend a 5 am arrive time, to watch the sun rise in silence in the city, before the buses start honking and LSD gets too busy. This will be your only moment of Zen.

11) Have a smart phone, or die.

 

I’m moving back to the suburbs. I gave it about a year in the city, but only found myself longing for green, quiet spaces. I want to walk my dog without pepper spray and never hear a bus again. I want to use parking lots and forget how to place my car parallel. The density of people here only makes you feel lonely, since few are friendly unprovoked and most are angry and/or stressed.

For a girl like me who grew up in the country, no air conditioning, no cable, the city was a lure. I bit, was caught in the dazzle of it all, then I released. I’ll visit, in small increments. A weekend, a night, no longer. I’ve learned a little of how and where I want to live. The “where” has yet to be decided, but I can count out the city and appreciate, more so, the country.

I recommend EVERYONE live here once. You learn to be wise, and aware of your surroundings. The culture and arts are vivid and plentiful. One can be exposed to a myriad of different ethnicities in one day, learning to be tolerant and open. Flexible.

Get out of your comfort zone. Explore.

 

Wal-mart has got NOTHING on Graceland…Fashion has died in the south.

21 Mar

I woke up, excited to go to Graceland! No hangover? Amazing! I must have drunk all that shower water. Ryan made breakfast, using a butter knife to cut the potatoes and garlic. I guess it was healthy because there was no salt or pepper on it. This hotel really gives ya what you need to stay there an extended period of time. A real palace. BAH. And forget towels. You have to exchange your towels. Towel for Towel. No exceptions. So carry your dirty towels all the way to the front desk yourself and exchange them for clean ones. Wonderful place this is. Oh and forget toilet paper. You might as well buy that yourself, because you’ll be sitting a long time waiting for it.

 

Anyway, this would be Graceland visit number two, the last time being when I was 8 years old. Oh boy do I love Elvis. Young Elvis, 22-30 years old. Seeexy. I was excited to show Ryan and see all the bits of the house I remembered. 

Graceland used to be in a beautiful part of Memphis. It is now the ghetto. Garbage-y area. Slum looking, worn out, dead. Its like a southern Wisconsin Dells, where instead of water parks, it has Elvis attractions.

It costs about $36 dollars a person for the good tour, and even being expensive, the riff raff sure does turn out. The “People at Wal-Mart” on the internet have nothing on the “People of Graceland.” I shit you not. I saw a woman with sparkly black knock off Uggs, purple calf length print skirt, grey slouchy hoodie, frizzy hair complete with scrunchee, glasses, and all on top of about 280 lbs.

Wal-Mart has got nothing on Graceland.

And that’s what kills me. Killed my magic. I loved Graceland when I was little. It was awesome. I was in love. I cried at his grave. And now its just some ridiculous audio tour where everyone looks like a nerd with headphones on. Forget tour guides and asking questions, you are pushed through like a cattle call. I’ll never go again. Never.

I went home, feeling a bit defeated and worked on the puzzle all night while Ryan fiddled with his XBOX trying to hook it up to the lagging free hotel Wifi.

 The time changed happened the next day, so we snoozed til 11am. Craving Mexican food for breakfast, I yelped a bar/grill that had chimichungas, though was thoroughly disappointed. Instead of the deep fried crispy goodness we are used to, they served us the chimi’s swimming in a cheese sauce. I later found out that this is another traditional way to serve chimichungas, so next time I will know to ask – crispy or soupy?

After we finally won the towel battle, we headed up to Meemen State Park, a little to the north of Memphis. Very back woods Memphis, this park

YOU SHALL NOT PASS

is super green, hilly, with confusing trail markers. Not many great vistas, but a ridiculous cardio hiking experience. The hills were awesome, though after we got lost back there, they turned treacherous. Ryan was a trooper though. He only whined a little.

I wanted to show Ryan Mud Island, so we drove back downtown, only to find that Mud Island is a seasonal attraction. My bad.  Still, to seize the opportunity best, I wanted to see  more beyond Beale street, so I begged to just drive about to get a better feel for downtown Memphis.

It must have been meant to be, because we started smelling chicken. Starving from our hike, I remembered that during a bit of research I had done on must visit restaurants in Memphis there was a chicken joint downtown that boasted the BEST chicken. Well, bust open the YELP app, and BOOM, it was the place! Gus’s chicken. Our noses had led us there!

The place was hopping! A long queue of people waiting for a table kinda intimidated me, but since we were a group of two, we only had to wait 15 mins. You can order either white or dark meat, or even chicken tenders. The plates come with beans, sweet coleslaw, and white bread. The beers, 24 oz cans of course, came with chilled glasses. And don’t forget to finish it off with a brownie. Though in my opinion, the brownie could have been skipped.

We signed the receipt “Colonel Mud Butt.” Don’t ask.

Overall, I like Memphis. The downtown is alive, which is different from downtown Saint Louis or Dallas. Though fashion has died in the south. I missed the chic-ly dressed people of Chicago. Hardly a hoodie or scrunchie to be seen at home, and in Memphis, it’s the uniform. I felt a bit overdressed everywhere I went, and got the stares to prove it. I must say though, that the people of Memphis are friendly, nice, always welcoming. I didn’t encounter one mean person while there, though only a short time.

The very last day in Memphis, a Monday, I puzzled until the puzzle was done. Then snoozed, packed and waited for Ryan to be done with work. We had some time to burn until my 10pm train, so we headed again downtown to have some more dinner.

Rizzos Diner had positive reviews and a category of Cajun/Creole, so we gave it a try. I am so glad we did, because the food was awesome. I had the chicken pot pie. He had the brisket. We drank like 6 cups of coffee combined as we waited a long time for our food, but it was well worth it. We almost died laughing over our chicken and brisket when a group of vegans came in, requesting special plates. Of course, we signed the receipt “Vegan Haters.”

I hope the waiter got a laugh.

We crossed the street to Max’s Sports bar to chill before the train. A Monday night at a bar is usually reserved for the regulars, so I was happy to be welcomed in, and included in the conversation. We finally got the details about the giant Pyramid in the middle of downtown. It used to be where the basketball team played. They called it the “Tomb of Doom,” but now its nothing since they built a brand new stadium on the south side of the downtown area. It sits vacant, though now to be converted into a Bass Pro Shop. Not kidding. A Bass Pro shaped like a pyramid.

We kept talking with he barflies, bragging about Chicago while the bulls played on TV. Hooting and hollering about D ROSE, like he was our neighbor or something.

Then it was time to get on the train.

The horrible, horrible train.

Now the goodbye scene was one from the movies. Long kisses, tears. A last look over the shoulder, as I walked to the conductor. If only a film crew could have caught it, they audience would be swimming.

But then you get on the train.

And all that magic you just created is gone.

It’s easy to be excited about the leg room and outlets, having been traveling only by air. But then you realize how LONG you will actually be in this seat, and all the whimsy floats away.  10 to 11 hours! Yikes, though I figured I would sleep. The seats recline really far, and there is a foot bar so you can prop your feet up, but there are drawbacks.

No pillows. Its freezing cold. Who knows whom you will sit next to. It was the worst attempt at sleep of my life. Next time, if there is, I will spring for a sleeper car and bring blankets and pillows galore.

Oh but was I happy to arrive in Chicago. Good ol’ Chicago. Always happy to come home…

Beale St., MYTHBUSTERS, and fully clothed showers. Day two in Memphis

15 Mar

With Ryan off to work, I got all housewife on the hotel room.  I hiked to the grocery store two blocks uphill, both ways, and bought some goods. While there, I did have an encounter with a few of the friendly locals. A older woman standing in front of the salsas, asked me, in very genuine southern accent, “Should I get the Mild or the Hot Picante?”

I smiled, stifling a laugh, and helped her choose the safe option. Mild.

Then, lost in the unfamiliar Kroger, I drew attention to myself searching in circles for the couscous and tabbouleh. A black man stocking asked me if I needed help, and when given my query, Tabbouleh, he says, “What’s Tabbouleh?”

“Like cous cous, kinda. You know it?”

“OH yeah! I know couscous.”

As I read over this, it really isn’t as funny as in was person. It’s the accent that tears it up. Say cous cous in a southern accent, and try not to feel funny.

I hiked back, uphill again, of course, with about 10lbs of groceries. Exercise completed for day 2. I worked on my sick puzzle while listening to WBEZ Chicago/ NPR. The window was open and the sun was shining in the room. A good 65 degrees, with a slight chill, I waited for Ryan to get back.

And when he did, we napped.

The plan for that evening was to get BBQ and hit Beale street. Both of our destinations were downtown, so we dressed up. Parking is reasonable downtown, about 10 bucks right off of Beale. Though, just like Vegas, the people who show you where to park expect you to pay them 10 dollars and then tip them. Ridiculous. Never carry singles for situations such as this.

Then, we whipped out the GPS, headed for CharlesVergos’ Rendezvous. (find my review on Yelp) Of course the GPS location was off, and we were standing on a corner, “like Korean tourists looking for the joint,” when a man yells at us, calling us that, asking if we were looking for Rendezvous. Yes! Oh thank you for directions. Oh…. Really? No I have no dollars. Sorry man.

He seriously asked for compensation. Those were his words. To be fair, we were going to try that alleyway anyway.

Anyway, Ryan had heard from his coworkers, born and raised in Memphis, that all the people who worked at this restaurant also work at the post office. Well, I asked and our waiter, looked at me like I was crazy. He said that he had worked there for 8 years, and he’d never known anyone to work at the post office.

MYTH BUSTED.

Now Ryan and I always have a really good banter going over food. We always have something to talk about, something to joke about. Though it seems the people surrounding us either are enthralled with listening to our conversation, or just plain hate each other, because the three couples within our section at Rendezvous were silent. Hardly looking at each other. Never talking. I don’t get it. Why go to dinner? Go date someone else if you hate whom you are with. Jeeze.

We signed the receipt ‘D. Rose. I double dog dare ya,“ after we scratched out Shamus O’Toole, and headed to Beale.

Now by this time it had gotten a bit chilly, but after an entire pitcher of beer, I was slightly warm. Ryan always runs about 110, so no worries. And I was distracted from the cold by the numerous horse drawn carriages. Not distracted by the horses, but by the DOGS sitting with the drivers. And in one of the carriages, a BUNNY in a BASKET. I love animals. I love animals even more when I’m buzzed. “You want a carriage ride?’
Oh you tricky cabbies. NO. I want to pet your dog/bunny.

Beale street is famous for Blues music. And lights! Lots of lights. Like a mini Vegas Strip, each bar has its own neon light adding to the party feel. Everyone is walking around on the closed street with giant beers in plastic cups in their hands. Going freely from one bar to the next without having to ditch the drinks before the next place. Blues was streaming into the street and I was DYING to start dancing.

But first we bought 2 of those giant cups from a bar with a window on the street, followed those up with some Jager bombs. Then headed into the bar with the most dancing space available. There was a $3 dollar cover, not bad considering I’ve paid 20 before in Chicago for blues. And there is space! Space to dance and stand comfortably, a bar on the wall to set your drink while you dance. I used the bar mainly to balance, on my part, but still…Oh and you can still smoke inside in Memphis. FYI. Oh the novelty of it.

The blues band was good. Brandon something, basic blues music. All rhythms we’ve heard before, but cant get enough of. Ryan said it would be inappropriate if I asked him to play “Sweet Home Chicago” so I didn’t…

This is where it gets fuzzy. I drank copious amounts of beer that night, and when the music started to wane, we headed out to the street looking for our next thrill. It was close to about 1 A.M when  Ryan went off to the bathroom, leaving me alone, which is always a bad idea. So I met some Canadians. Ryan says I started screaming at him “THEY’RE GOOD PEOPLE. THEY’RE FROM CANADA.”   LOLLL

I don’t remember the girl’s name, but I do remember that she wants to bang her work friend, but he’s engaged. Really, lady? I think I told her to go for it. Life is too short. And then I bought her some 190 proof liquor shots.  The only reason I remember that was the receipt I found in my purse for $15.00. Ryan, all the while, was talking to the guy this Canadian girl wanted to bang. Ryan says  the guy was full of shit and told him he used to play for the NHL until he tore his ACL. Says he was the fastest on the ice. Shit, he could have been. Who cares about hockey? Lol


Man oh man, was I drunk. It was time to go home. Ryan drove, while I slept, and then got sick in the parking lot.

I am fairly certain this is where I got into the shower with my dress on… calling for Ryan to come join the fun. And when he got there, I kicked him out because I didn’t feel good.

Oh man, either I am a lightweight, or Beale street was awesome. You call it.

No asshole. It’s hot, and smells like farts and dog puke. LETS GET WILD and head to Olive Garden. My first day in Memphis, TN.

14 Mar

Headed down to Memphis, that’s where he was called off to next. A job over in Germantown, TN, fixing up the siding on an apartment complex, that doesn’t really need any fixing up. From the pictures of it, it looked pretty nice. Germantown, TN = Naperville, IL. Corporate restaurant chains, beautiful houses with equally beautiful manicured lawns, just outside of Memphis city limits.

The drive down was a bunch fun. Ryan had spent a good solid week in Chicago with me and the Doze. Pretty much doing all the chores as I worked 3 twelve’s in a row. We procured our Monster drinks, mine being Low-carb, his the Full-carb. We binged on Girl Scout Samoas and stopped to get garbage McDonalds, after a ten minute drive-thru wait. Oh, and of note….spotted a black cat under a pickup truck at a gas station. Screamed  “TEEeETS!!!!” at it, like crazies.

Thank Anubis that Ryan sprung for SIRIUS radio. Stand up comedy all the way down.

The drive wasn’t bad, Memphis is about 4 hours past St. Louis, which we drove last summer for the American Idol tryouts. We did see A LOT of cars pulled over by the PO-lice. Last time Ryan drove though Missouri on route 55, (which goes all the way down to Memphis) he got pulled over for speeding and asked, “Do you have any Marijuana in the car, boy?” I guess route 55 is a serious drug trafficking channel. Big ol’ Ryan, the drug trafficker.

The rain was fun. On and off all the way to Memphis, but we didn’t get to see a lightning show until the southernmost part of Missouri.

When you arrive in Memphis, it’s not much to speak of at 4:30am. Quiet, dark, still. The downtown area is asleep, with two large bridges over the big ol’ Mightly Missisippi lit up like Christmas.

Giddy from lack of sleep, I start screaming BIG OL’ MUDDY MISS-SIPPY! TOM SAWYER AND HUCKLEBERRY FINN! DOWN ON YE OL’ RIVERBOAT! Late night psychosis.

Now, before I tell you the kicker, let me give you a bit of background on Mr. Anderson and his luck. Well, to say the least, he has NONE. There is always some sort of issue. Some hitch. Some catch. In any type of situation. Be it parking and tickets, to losing his wallet, to checking in to a hotel with surprise fees. He is, how do you say, “Born under a bad sign.”

Ryan confirmed his hotel room at 5:30pm. Assured me there would be no problems, because he didn’t want “any bullshit.” No hitches. No catches. No surprises. Well bullshit there be!

At 5 am, we arrive exhausted. Burnt out from that long ass 10 hour drive, but surrounded by warm, humid air and the birds chirping, dawn creeping up on us. Ryan storms out of the hotel lobby…

“You’re not going to believe this, but they gave my room away. There is no room.”
At 6pm right after he confirmed the room, they cancelled his reservation. Though failed to tell him.

“Did you talk to the supervisor?”
“The manager wont be in until 7 A.M, but what is he going to do? There are no rooms available until people check out today at 11AM.”

I was too tired to be super upset, so I just sighed at first. Trying to push my sleep-deprived brain to start thinking of a solution. After Ryan went back and forth with the night clerk, through a phone in the entryway, not even face to face, we decided we would pay for 6 hours of sleep. Only if it was cheap enough, and close enough.

I busted out my Yelp app, called around. Found a cheap hotel, 57 dollars, with a 1P.M. late check out, and GPS’ed our way there.

When we got to the La Quinta they told us it was 87 dollars and we had to check out at 11am. WTF are you talking about lady? You said on the phone it would be 57 dollars? She claimed it wasn’t her. She never talked to anyone.

I, exhaustedly and rudely, put my phone on speaker and called the number to that hotel from the Yelp app.

“Hello, Thank you for calling Budget Inn.”

Fuck my life. The number on Yelp was wrong. When has that ever happened? Never. In all my Yelping history. NEVER.

By this time it was 6 AM, going on 630 A.M. What do we do? Save our cash and sleep in the car? Or try to find this Budget Inn?”

So we found ourselves a Walgreens, and tried to sleep a wink. We spent most of the time trying to fall asleep, talking about if this was legal or not. I think its called loitering. I’m not sure.

We had a few ridiculous conversations, giddy, weird, sleep deprived conversations with crazy ideas.  One of them being Ryan being a huge giant retarded man, angry, unable to calm down, so they have to call in someone with a tranquilizer gun, like they have to do for large Gorillas. LOLLLLLLLL Lots of silly jokes, farts, and telling each other we have a quite the story for our kids someday.

Ryan wasn’t able to sleep as much as me, since I can curl up just about anywhere, so he drove us back to the hotel parking lot to sleep there. We could probably get away with loitering there, since they fucking gave away our room and all.

I had woken during the drive, and started dying laughing, CRYING, when a man got into his car next to ours. I could just imagine what he was thinking. What a sight we were to see. Two kids, with 3 body pillows and luggage, curled up in a bright orange Dodge Charger, laughing so hard they are crying.

I yell, “Don’t worry, they cancelled our room.”

He says, “Oh, I thought you liked sleeping in your car.”

No asshole.

 

I don’t.

It’s hot.

And it smells like dog puke and farts. Did I mention that when we took Dozer to my parent’s house, he puked, like always, in the back seat?

I fall back asleep, and Ryan finally got the room figured out.  The hotel was shitty. A Motel 8 with a kitchenette, big box tube TV with no red-yellow-white  A/V connections on the back. Ahhh fack, so you know Ryan was cryin’ about his XBOX.

We slept ‘til 7pm. When we woke, starving, we headed on down the Olive Garden. Now usually I love to research restaurants, only choosing the privately owned, staying away from chains. But today, today was a throw away day. LETS GET WILD, and head to the OG.

Now, it hadn’t really dawned on us that we were pretty deep south until we sat down. The accents were unmistakable. The waitress, a large woman, about screamed when she looked at my birthday on my ID and told me it was the same as her son’s. Her son, she continued, had died, few years back. YEEsH.

We got into a lengthy conversation with her regarding what “straight up,” “on the rocks”, “neat” and “dirty” meant. This after Ryan asked for a “Coke, straight up.”

Finished the night with some Starbucks, Grande Mocha please. The drive thru guy was super flirty, even with Ryan in the car with me, driving. But he surprised me with a sweet/salty treat, his favorite. We went to Target, bought a puzzle and Brita pitcher.

Hilary called, telling me she met Rick Baliss.

Home. Puzzle. Sleep. And that’s only day one…

Dallas, Texas, the breakdown…

1 Feb

Had to go to Dallas. My lover was there. And why pass up the opportunity to visit a US city I had yet to explore?

I love to do research, especially online, prior to traveling. It builds the excitement before getting on the plane, knowing what to expect when you land. I had a short list since I was staying a short time, but all the bullet points were pretty cool. If you read my previous blog, you’d know my number one reason was Ryan, the second the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art. I bought a couple of postcards for keeping and a poster of a wedding dress I’d wear. A bit nontraditional, but show stopping.

While downtown, I hoofed it in a miniskirt on the 70 degree day (in January, a Midwesterners dream) over to the Sixth Floor Museum. I got a few strange looks, probably because most of the townies were still wearing winter coats, but I was practically in a tropical destination.

Now, I didn’t actually go into the museum, since I was all museum-ed out from my hours submerged in the DMA, but I was not disappointed. Two guys on the street approached me separately peddling (Chicago streetwise peddling style) a newspaper detailing the JFK assassination. They do

The X, view from the Grassy Knoll

the thing where they shove the paper in your hand then ask for a $5 “donation.” My experience from getting off the train at Union Station in Chicago has taught me to tell them straight away, “Sorry, I have no cash.” They always quickly take the paper away, but no worries, I had already done the research. One of the thickly-southern accented guys pointed out the X’s on the street showing where each of the two bullets had hit. He also pointed out the 6th floor window where Oswald had allegedly shot the great president.  I hung out on the Grassy Knoll where the infamous footage was shot.

6th floor window...

I was on such a high from the Museum, I forgot how horrible it really was. I started to hate the street. I got so sickened, and angry. The 50′s and early 60′s were a very peaceful time,a naive time. I wish he’d never rode in that convertible. Maybe the world would have been a different place. I know it was a conspiracy. I uploaded the pictures of the X’s on to Facebook and my sister commented, “Tacky.” And that’s exactly how it felt. Just tacky, and “sideshow.” Like a progressive President getting assasinated was the one and only highlight of that area. I took my pictures, like a good tourist would, and left. Stomped away. Glaring at the shady characters standing, and sleeping on the park benches.

I headed over to the JFK memorial. I wanted to cry. My heart hurt.

It was lunchtime so I headed to Eclaire’s, a small diner across the street from the memorial. And I met the owner, Claudia, a former Chicagoan! We talked of Chicago, her youth there and why she moved to Dallas for family and the business. She compared living in Dallas and Chicago, saying that its hard to find friends in Dallas because everyone is so concerned with what kind of car, or bag you own, or who you know. She remembered fondly hanging with her wealthy friends and poor starving artist friends without anyone commenting on their cars or phones. She swears she’ll visit, but airfare ain’t cheap. Quite the talker, that Claudia. Wonderful place. She has interns from the culinary school downtown cook for her, and the result is good. She’ll soon change the name and decor, once again having student interior decorators redesign the space. She even let me come back into the kitchen, showing me the back dining room…I noticed it had a familiar sandwich bar still built in the kitchen. The restaurant used to be a Quiznos.

Not all of downtown is shady, but its definitely nothing like downtown Chicago. The skyline is beautiful, tall buildings, a few interesting to look at. All of them are business, very few residential. A good number of the restaurants are corporate and most of the streets are empty during the daytime, minus the sleeping bums. it is similar to Milwaukee in that aspect, but unlike Milwaukee, most all the buildings are new. The West End, where JFK was shot and where Claudia has her cafe, is where you can find all the old buildings with character.

On Saturday night, the eve of my departure, Ryan and I headed downtown after a good solid nap to check out a hat and boot store. Wild Bill’s Western Store popped up on my Yelp. Since Ryan had yet to head downtown, this was a perfect place to go! Near restaurants for dinner! Our first choice was Five Sixty, the restaraunt in the rotating ball atop the reunion tower, but no reservations available.  Our second choice was City Tavern, but they were playing the blues upstairs, so no tables to be found. We ended up at the Iron Cactus, but nothing to even write home about. Cool building, mediocre food.

Walking from Wild Bills to Iron Cactus, we encountered the bus stop, filled with shady characters, milling about, ready to mug us. Good thing I was with Giant Beardman Ryan. Otherwise, you’d never see me again. We were followed for a while  by a stranly dressed man making animal noises and rooting around. I suspect he had schizophrenia. Who said my psych nursing rotation wouldn’t help me? A less educated person might be offended by his stank and just may say something to his gyrations. I, on the other hand, know better than to provoke a schizophrenic.

A few other things to note about Dallas. The airport, while inside is organized with many signs for your navigation, the outside is kind of ridiculous. It has the same loop around like O’hare does, but the roads are one-lanes and veer up and off like Whizzer at 6 Flags Great America. And it doesn’t end there. Their whole highway system in Dallas is just like that! With weird forks in the road, less signage than inside the airport, and strange “service roads” that run along side the interstate, only created to confuse your Google Maps GPS navigation.

Boy, oh Boy, was I homesick for the 4 lane massive I-290 in Chicago.

When finally picked up the Doze from my parents in Yorkville and made it to my apartment in Chicago, I was at ease. Oh how I love Chicago, and Illinois at that matter. But Dallas was good to me. Good because it as only in a small dose. Now only if that LoverBoy of mine would come home.

Dozer, awaiting my arrival

Down in Dallas, getting Flights and Fashion Fancy…

28 Jan

So I find myself in the Lone Star State. Down in Dallas. Chasing my man ,of course. I bought the ticket in the wee early morning hours on Wednesday, and after I dropped the baby Doze off at my parents, flew out on Thursday.

The flight was uneventful, though I’d never fly with SPIRIT Airlines again. First, they charge you for a CARRYON, $40 dollars!!! A checked bag is $38. WTF right? Had I known this, I would have brought my good shampoo and conditioner, instead of the travel size I jammed into a quart sandwich bag. This is bullshit. I’m thinking of wearing the top to the left… Then, as I approached my gate, (L7 weenie) I was approached by a SPIRIT airline employee pushing a SPIRIT airline credit card. No, No thank you. THEN on the plane, the stewardesses pushed the credit card. Blatant advertising, and I can’t even change the channel! I’m stuck in a flying tin can 35,000 feet above the surface of the earth! NO! I DON’T WANT YOUR GODDAMN CREDIT CARD. Wait, well, can I charge this $3 water? Ugh, I’ve been spoiled by flying on British Airways.

Ryan is such a sight for sore eyes. Even though we talk every day, multiple times, I was still a nervous Nelly to see him. It was like a first encounter with that guy you’ve been chatting up online. Awkward, but super-cute and fun. Boy oh boy, did I miss the beard man.

Friday, Ryan had to work, so I took the keys and bumped gangster rap all the way to Downtown Dallas. The Dallas Art Museum was my 1st stop, since the headlining exhibit was calling my name. Little did I know I would almost pee my pants when I saw what I did.

 

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From  the Sidewalk to the Catwalk

 

I dressed up for this. How could you not? Couture Fashion by one of the world’s fashion icons inches from your face? You must dress up. The place was hopping. It’s a magical set of rooms. You are just drawn to every piece, every mannequin. The music is trendy, but pretentious. You are welcomed into his fashion world, surrounded by about 40 or 50 pieces of ridiculous high couture. Amazing.

 I tried to take pictures but they almost tackled me when I did. I’m so accustomed to doing so, taking pictures of everything.  I felt like a ‘tard. I did get one good shot of a mermaid get-up.  You can see on her mannequin head the projection of a face, that actually spoke and moved. It was surreal. Some strange short man actually asked me if it was a real person sitting on the pedestal. Not moving, for hours. Yes dear sir, you are an idiot.

The first of the rooms shows his beginnings; where he came from, why he was so inspired to create such beautiful corset-based garments. His grandmother, a huge inspiration of his, once told him that women should drink vinegar, and while their stomach is cramping, tighten the strings.  They even had his teddy bear, which boasted the first cone’s for a brassiere he had ever made.

There were corsets spinning, slowly, so you can view all the intricate details of each one, including a piece made form Nile Crocodile Skin.  Another with wheat grass.  Another designed for a man. Around the corner, in a hidden little area, without much fanfare, I found a corset so famous I about peed my pantaloons.

I found, in front of me, unexpectedly, the Cone Bra Corset from Madonna’s Blond Ambition World Tour 1989-1990, from the Like a Virgin song. Oh my. Oh MY. Oh MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!

In the next room, titled “Skin Deep,” I found, yet another Madonna costume. Though this one, I had actually seen in action. In person in 2006 at the Confessions tour at the United Center. I paid $93 dollars for nosebleeds, but still cried when she came out. Wearing a Riding crop and top hat, whipping her dancers who were in cagelike costumes, with an S&M feel. 

Another of my favorite pieces in this room was a bodysuit with a bloodstream motif. A nude colored, fully body suit with a heart and radiating arteries all down the arms and legs. The purse she was holding was a heart, though anatomically correct. A bit dark, strange, but beaded and crafted beautifully. In the same collection was the skeleton-bone corset that Dita Von Teese had worn.

The next room was stunning, a catwalk with mannequins on rollers, slowly rolling by as if they were doing the strutting themselves. The collection on the catwalk was based on Paris, at least each of them showing some sort of Eiffel tower motif or bearing the name of the city in a creative way. On the floor around the catwalk was about 15 mannequins bearing the grunge, punk looking collection, complete with leather jackets and yellow plaid miniskirts, jazzed up with spikes and sparkles.  My favorite of this group was the camouflage gown that Sarah Jessica Parker had worn to the MTV awards in 2000.

Talk about retro, I was 12. Impressionable, a sponge, soaking up any Vogue, any Seventeen, any fashion I could get my hands on. I was hooked. I remember making lists and lists of “To Buy.” Thankfully, at some times, never pulling the trigger. I had really wanted some patchwork jeans. Oh the horror…

The final two rooms had famous pieces from movies that he had designed for, such as the 5th element, and others.  The walls had photos of Lady GaGa wearing his gear, probably a good friend of hers. And a wedding dress, that I bought a poster of, that was topped off with a Indian chief’s headdress.

I walked out of the exhibit exhausted, smiling ear to ear. I’m a huge project runway fan. I get excited watching each show. Loving when there is a piece I would wear, imagining what I’d sport it with. I am just waiting for summertime to find gorgeous stuff in Chicago.

I left the Dallas Art Museum, to explore downtown. Taking in the city, trying to get a feel for it. I thought I’d get a bit of a twang, but surprisingly I didn’t hear too much of it. Though, I’ll get into more detail in the next installment of….The Travels of Hayley Hawk

I’ve had writers block. But now that he’s gone…

9 Jan

I’ve had writers block. The kind caused by huge life events and holidays. NYE 2012, X-mas, the love of your life taking a job literally 1000 miles away.

I’ve had lots to do. Not to mention a new job, that is actually pretty challenging and tiring. 12-hour shifts can be pretty rough when its nonstop the entire time. Down time? Umm, keep dreaming.

I’m being a bit of a complainer. It’s not all bad. I’ve had great preceptors at Loyola, who are legit and real with me, telling me how things “should” be done and how they are “really” done.

I skipped X-mas this year, no shopping for anyone but Mikey, my little brother. We actually went shopping together, on the eve of x-mas eve. The mall was a madhouse, but no other stores were worse than Champs and Footlocker. I guess SWAG is on the top of every kid’s list this year. I got a crash course in Jordan and Addidas wear. Plus who knew creases in your Jordans were such a problem? I bought him crease blockers just in case he got a new pair from his other sister for x-mas. (wink, wink)

I had a lot of fun shopping with Mikey and Hil. It was stress free. He picked out exactly what he wanted, and we went drove home jamming to 80’s tunes. We even saw Tupak Shakur’s car. The point of it all was to spend time with my family, without worrying about if they like their presents or not. I didn’t receive any presents, and how refreshing it was to not lug them all home. Usually I get like 2 crockpots and a stockpile of ornaments.

Even Ryan and I didn’t exchange gifts this year. The first year we bought presents for each other, 3-4 years ago, he got me a playboy lamp and a poster of Chicago’s skyline. I got him a Charger keychain and lots of clothes from the XLT line from OldNavy.com. We were so in love, the bright fresh kind, the hold-your-tounge “I love it!” kind, even though you hate it.

This year we made a promise to spend x-mas and new years on a beach next year. I’d say that’s a present in itself.

I’m about to cry writing this.

He moved to Dallas, that jerk. (Just kidding.) He had the opportunity to stay here, make less money. He asked me if he should. He would have stayed had I said so. So I kept my mouth shut. For a better future for the both of us, I let him go. I pushed him to go. I’ll support him all the while.

I made him this sick CD with songs about Dallas, a personalized breakdown of each song, making references to inside jokes and love. I’m going to see him on the 25th of this month, but that is just too long. I’m aching for him.

TRACK ONE

Goin’ through the Big D- Mark Chestnut

This was a shoo in! How could I not include this song? When I think of Dallas, this was the first song I though of. And Hilary singing it,  LOL. If we did get divorced, you’d get the Jeep, and I’d get the palace… Sorry, that’s just how it is. Lets just never break up.

TRACK TWO

The Yellow Rose of Texas/The Eyes of Texas- Elvis Presley from the movie Viva Las Vegas

This was the second song I thought of when I heard Texas. There are, of course, a bunch of songs in this movie that make me think of you, since we went to Vegas and all, but this is just fitting for the current trip.  “Cus I know I was her first love, and I want to be her last.”
And you are my first true love, darling, adorable, giant, beard man. I’d love you to be my last.

TRACK THREE

Dallas- Johnny Winter

This is the kind of music I want to go see when I’m down visiting. Bluesy, country music, how can it get any better?  We should buy some cowboy hats, boots, and a gun. When in Dallas, do as the Dallas-ians do. “You know that I’m evil, just wanna have some fun. There’s so much shit in Texas, I’m bound to step in some.”

TRACK FOUR

Texas Has a Whorehouse In It – from the musical “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”

Lets go to one.  “Bodies close together, arms and legs all rearranged.” “Mean eyed juiced up brillitene honkytonk cowboys. Mixing with green eyed thin lipped hard as nails peroxide blonds.” Loveless copulation…I don’t think so. I love you babe. And would love to copulate with you.

TRACK FIVE

Dallas – Jimmie Dale Gilmore and the Flatlanders.

Have you ever seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night? I will, when I come to see you, scabies.

One of the best songs about Dallas, as found out by a Google search of “best songs about Dallas.” My favorite part of this song is the musical saw they are playing in the background.  

TRACK SIX           

Trudy – The Charlie Daniels band

Try not to call me from a Dallas jail please? It will be very hard to get you out. I hope I can pay over the phone. I know you love whiskey and women, but take it easy ok? Don’t let those southern twang accents and giant hair-dos make your dick move.

TRACK SEVEN

Dallas-Jimmy Buffet

I hope no one does you wrong in Dallas, like they did to Jimmy. And like he says:

“I’m leaving this town as soon as I can.
Gonna stop off for a while and see my woman”

I hope you come and see and the Baby Doze soon.

TRACK EIGHT

People in Dallas got hair – Waylon Jennings

I guess they have hair, and they are kind. He mentions Chicago and says he got beat up. So if you can handle me up here, you will love that southern hospitality down there.

TRACK NINE

Dallas – Big Geminii

I know how much you love rap babe. You bein’ gansta and all. Turn up that base and try to listen to the whole song please. Just picture my “uppercut” move. Ok?  They mention a Spanish girl giving good brain. LOL That’s enough to be the best song ever.  “If you want it, come and get it, bitch, you know where I be. I’m out in Dallas”

TRACK TEN

This Ain’t Dallas – Hank Williams, JR

This Ain’t Dallas, and its definitely not Dynasty, the 80’s soap opera about an oil tycoon about to marry his secretary. His family doesn’t like her, she starts to not like him, and starts to slut around. Sounds like a show our friend Kristin would love to watch. Big hair, lots of money. Same plot as the Real Housewives. 

TRACK ELEVEN

Swing it around – dallas cowboys

These people love their football team. You love rock music. You now must forget your Bears loyalty and take on the Cowboys. Bo Jungles will be happy, he wants you to take him to a game. See if you can guess what he is saying and you might even have some fun.

TRACK TWELVE

Texas in my Soul – Willie Nelson

I gotta go! Texas in my Soul! Oh babe, I wanna jimmy-jank around the room with you to this song. The more and more I hear this music, I want you to stay there longer than just a month or so. I want to see a real tumbleweed. I want to line dance and wear ugly boots. And keep ‘em on when we get Texas crazy later. If ya know what I mean….

TRACK THIRTEEN

Dallas – Alan Jackson

Ryan packed his suitcase, drove off in the brand new car, I bought him…

He made leaving me look easy, I wish he made it look a little harder…

I took him out of Platteville, when he was just a boy.

But old Illinois and me couldn’t take Platteville outta him

Oh how I wish Dallas was in Illinois …

TRACK FOURTEEN

Texas Cookin’ – Guy Clark

Food! Oh BBQ, chicken fried steaks, and chili, we gonna eat ‘til we get silly!

I don’t know if I’ll eat a cute ‘lil Armadillo, but if its on the menu, I wont be able to resist.

TRACK FIFTEEN

All my Ex’s live in Texas- George Straight

Please don’t become my ex babe. I’d die if you weren’t my beard man.

TRACK SIXTEEN

She South Dallas Swag- T-Wayne

If ya miss me, and my ghetto side, please play this song, and remember the uppercuts. I’m south Dallas Swag. By the way, lets never go to South Dallas.

By the way I shake it for ‘em,  I make ‘em wanna throw some cash.

TRACK SEVENTEEN

Dallas – Poco

Dallas Grand Hotel, is actually a mid-century-modern architecture in downtown Dallas. My favorite! I did some research and it stood empty and vacant for a long time, though someone just reopened it, I think. They used to boast 21 inch TV’s when it first opened. Nice.

Bye Bye Dallas – please say that soon, and come home to me

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