So, a post from the windy city, eh? I know, you guys are annoyed. You’re annoyed that I don’t update the old blog-0 very often. I am sorry… I really am… Maybe I will get it together. How bad do you feel about Nico, like for serious.
In any case, it has been relatively uneventful here in Chicago. I am staying in Pilsen, which is near the Lower West Side of Chicago. I have started using Air BNB when I travel by myself, mostly because it gets me out of the same old same old hotels- like Best Westerns and Holiday Inns. But Jessi, you could stay at nicer hotels, you say. “Ain’t nobody got money for that!!” With Air BNB, you can rent just a room or a couch or a futon, or you could rent the whole place. Its cool because it hinges on my favorite thing about traveling, which is stepping into life in a place. It’s hard to get that in a hotel. The place I am staying at is an artist loft. The person who owns the place actually manages 3 other places on Air BNB… I had originally booked at another place, but she put me in this place because it is nicer. The walls in the place are covered with art… It’s not very good. Can I say that? I know, who died and made me an art critic? As it turns out, I am an art snob. It is what it is.
Wikipedia says: In the late 19th century, At Pilsen was inhabited by Czech immigrants who named the district after Plzeň, the fourth largest city in what is now the Czech Republic. They replaced the Germans and Irish who had settled there first, in the mid-nineteenth century. The population also included smaller numbers of other ethnic groups from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, such as Slovaks, Slovenes, Croats and Austrians, as well as immigrants of Polish and Lithuanian heritage. Many of the immigrants worked in the stockyards and surrounding factories. Like many early 20th century American urban neighborhoods, however, Pilsen was home to both wealthy professionals and the working class, with the whole area knitted together based on the ethnicities, mostly of Slavic descent, who were not readily welcome in other areas of the city.
Since the 1950s and 1960s, many of the old Europeans had died off or were pushed out of the neighborhood by Hispanics (mostly Mexicans) immigrating to the US and deciding to settle near Chicago. In the last 10 years or so, it has been re-gentrifying, so hipster artists and bike afficianados have been moving in, displacing Hispanics. As it is in big urban areas. Today, Pilsen still has a strong Hispanic influence, as evidenced by the sheer number of bodegas and Mexican restaurants You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a place selling tacos and margaritas. Seriously, I tried. There was a dead cat on the ground outside my place. I picked it up and swung it. I hit a mexican restaurant.
If you know me, you know I am not really that big a fan of Mexican food. Mostly because I don’t know what everything is… seriously, I know what a quesadlla is, as well as a taco and a burrito. But I don’t know what a chimichanga is or a sopapilla. On Sunday when I got in, I didnt feel like traipsing all over the city looking for suitable edables. So I popped into a bodega and got: rice, garbanzos, a can of salmon, a can of soup, some hot pockets, bread, margarine, and cookies. On Tuesday when I started at my job-job (Monday I did training at the Loop Campus), a co-worker took me across the way to a grocery store, where I got the basics for this week (fruit, milk, cheese, bagels, etc). So I have been eating mostly at home. So not exciting.
I have been experimenting with different methods of transporting myself. On Monday, I took the 18 Bus to the Roosevelt Metro station, where I took the red line north to the Loop campus. It was an easy ride and relatively relaxing. Tuesday I took the 18 bus in the wrong direction, got the red line and panicked because I was packed into a subway car like cattle with 2654654 other people. So I ended up on the purple line, taking it to Lincoln park. Wednesday, I found that the 8 bus took me along Halstead, through Pilsen, West Loop, River West, Goose Island, Greek Town, Ranch Triangle, Sheffield Neighbors, and Lincoln Park to a stop about .25 miles away from campus. The bus ride was easy and enjoyable, about 40 minutes long.
Its been cold here. Dave told me that as long as we are going to be in Chicago, that I am never, ever, never allowed to complain about the cold weather. So, I make the statement that it’s cold, so that you can get some context for what its like. Apparently, the winter has been relatively mild, so no one is complaining about the cold. When I got in on Sunday, it wasnt too bad. Tuesday, when I went to leave the loft, I slid on some ice and fell on my ass. Hard. It was starting to snow and I was mesmerized the winter wonderland I was walking out into. Coincidentally, the patch of ice that I slid on is still there. And I now give it wide berth.
Everyone is bundled up against the cold weather, which actually suits me just fine. Because I like being bundled up. Despite the fact that I have 8 different pairs of gloves/mittens and hats, I managed to bring only two pair knit gloves and no hats. Duh…. I think yesterday was the coldest weather I have ever been in… it was 11 degrees farenheit and with the wind, it felt like -8. Again, I love it. Especially if it means fewer days in June, July, and August that are oppressively hot.