Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Week 6, Day 3 - Chicago Reprise

Week 6, Day 3 Outfit: J Crew wool blazer, Ann Taylor Loft beige sleeveless tee, BR striped black skirt with (too difficult to see from my lame self portrait) beige diagonal lines, Nine West knee length boots

I spent today mostly in a remote suburb away from the city that I have developed a bit of an obsession over in the past week - Chicago (sigh). Perhaps it's the good eating I've been doing, the energy generated from buzz of outside foot traffic on the city streets now that the weather is better, or just the sheer fact that the mid-size town life that I've lived in the past 10 years is finally making me crave city-life. Regardless, I love Chicago and will make it a point to venture into the city whenever possible - even if my hotel is booked way off in the outskirts!

My reunion with Mimi (my highschool pal) last night was surreal! It's as if we never lost touch! We met up around 9pm yesterday at her hotel and went across the street to a sparkling wine bar named Pops and feasted on truffle salt sprinkled french fries (since I'm still doing my veggie kick). She and I traded stories of what various friends that we've kept in touch with are up to and reminisced about past acquaintances. It's fuzzy to me when Mimi and I were closest in high school - but clearly there were years when we either didn't know each other or spent more time apart as there were names she mentioned that I vaguely recall but can't put a face to.

My rental car yesterday was a Toyota Prius - wow, what a neat car...though it does take a little getting used to pushing a button to turn a 2 ton vehicle on (actually, it probably weighs less in order to get the crazy mpg that it does - I didn't even have to fill the tank up before returning the vehicle to the rental car agency). I asked the Enterprise representative if I need to be trained on how to turn the car off should it decide to unexpectedly accelerate...and he quickly shot back that the car has already been "fixed" (he must get that a lot...and is probably pretty fed up with remarks such as mine).
I'm entering into a month of crazy travel again, starting with yesterday and today's travel to and from Chicago (which will be followed by a trip to Keystone, CO, Knoxville, TN, Pittsburgh, PA, Atlanta, GA - all in a month's time!). I had a couple hours to kill at the Midway airport, so I decided to treat myself to a sitdown meal at a Chicago favorite - Harry Carey's @ the airport. Funny I should choose that restaurant given my vow to a week of being vegetarian (except for my co-worker's St. Patty's Day dinner tomorrow - yummm, corned beef!). I ordered the bruschetta and decided to ask for no cheese (I'm trying to be Vegan when I can). The restaurant was overstuffed with tables that were so close that other lone business travelers like me were confined to a section of two-seaters that were placed close together so as to encourage socialization. This, I believe, is a restaurant ploy to get one-partied people talking so they feel comfortable enough to share a table, thereby allowing the restaurant to accommodate "real" parties that would make full use of the two or four seaters that they had originally planned to fill. Well, it worked. I was typing away on my computer (actually intending to work on my blog at Harry Carey's - how neat would that have been?) when a gentleman next to me asked if there was free WiFi (which is business travel code for, "I have a lot of spare time and wouldn't mind a little company...and am throwing out an innocent question to gauge if you'd be obliged to have a conversation with me to pass the time"). And, my answer was "no (to the WiFi question, not to the question in code), but I'm only purchasing it to do personal things - and download my email so I have less to sift through when I'm back in the office tomorrow"). After nibbling on a couple of pieces of my bruschetta, and feeling the awkward distance between myself and the business traveler grow even more awkward, he broke the silence by asking if I was Korean...and quickly followed that question with "because my girlfriend is Korean" (my guess to put me at ease and let me know that he was not trying to hit on me). So, thus began our conversation about why we were both in Chicago, me finding out that he went to school in Tennessee (which is where I was born) and every 5 minutes or so finding out that we were in the same city at the same time or had some weird thing in common. This kept up for about 20 minutes until a waitress - seeing that the restaurant's ploy to get us to share a table was backfiring and was instead keeping us at our individual tables longer - came to my table and reminded me that there was a line of people waiting to be seated. I glanced at my watch and realized that I best be heading to my gate anyway, so my new temporary friend and I said our goodbyes. Ahhhh...such is the life of a business traveler (and no, for those of you who saw Up in the Air, I am not the Vera woman and this guy was not George Clooney)!

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