Monday, May 23, 2011

Weekend Review Chicago to Oak Park to Berwyn Part III

Saturday, later that day, Berwyn, IL

After being terribly late to my friends' home, I finally arrived around 12:30 pm

Ed and John are friends I know from Ohio.  Ed and I go well back in time.  He was always like my big brother.  He'll tell it like it is, but you know if you have a friend in Ed, you have a friend for life.  I followed them up until about ten years ago when they lived in D.C. and while there with family, I saw them for a short time.  I wasn't able to ever see them again until this last weekend. 

After that, I became terrible at returning emails and that 's when the Illinois bubble ate me, but I tracked them back down and living so close to Oak Park, since I was there, I practically invited myself over.

We had a lovely afternoon.  Their home is just amazing.  I had never seen so many brick homes in my life, and as John told me, they are brick bungalows.  Just street after street after street, rows of brick bungalows.

Here are some photos of their home:

John and Ed

Down their street
Pretty sitting room!

We spent time catching up.  Of course I hogged most of that time dishing on the divorce, but it was just like old times.  Just sitting and talking and relaxing.  I love Ed and John, and always thought there were good peoples.  They have traveled so much too!  OMG the photos of Paris, Italy; the homes (soooo beautiful!) that they've lived in.

They MUST come decorate for me when I get resettled (LOL)...and take me on their next vacation (LOL).

For lunch, we went here:

Camaleon on Lombard in Cicero, IL

I have never eaten at a "real" Mexican place.  Tex Mex is all the rage, you know?  You get used to that Taco Bell stuff and you have NO idea what you are missing out on.  And if you have a conception about true Mexican food, it's a mis...

We started off with shrimp and cream cheese thingies that were to die for.  This place has the real deal going too; everyone is speaking in Spanish, soccer game on the big screen.  I loved it.  It reminded me of how much I LOVE being in new places and experiencing new things.  This place you won't find in Pontiac, IL, that's for sure.

Now this thing... I did not like it.  It is like death.  I'd rather have a gnome shave my legs than try this stuff again! 

This little bowl holds the key to WWIII... atomic hot!!!!
My mouth burned like it never had before.  For.  Two.  Hours.  I was sucking down water and was cursing because it wasn't helping.  John said, "Oh, water makes it worse."  I know he was cracking up at me inside him mind.  I don't blame him.  But after my second glass of water you tell me this? 

I ordered Camarones a al veracruzana:

Could  not finish it.

After lunch, we went into Pierre's Bakery on Cermack.

I wish I had taken photos but there were too many people around, but OMG the cakes and the treats and the sweets.  This place is a divorced woman's best friend!  The strawberries dipped in chocolate were the size of my palm almost.  Nothing like it, I swear.  The cakes were so beautiful and on the other side of the bakery they have a flower shop.  There were vases in cool cases with roses and their petals fanned out, and these roses were huge, like the size of my HAND.

We had gelato for dessert.  Again, another treat I'd never tried before.  Life!  Where have you been?

Seriously though, good time.  We then drove around Berwyn and some of these bungalows in this are just amazing.  Houses like I've never seen.

I am sad that I didn't get up there sooner than I did, but I told Ed and John that I now have someplace to visit!  Again with the inviting myself to their house.

So that was my mini vacay.  Lot done in a day and a half, huh?

What's next?

Weekend Review Chicago to Oak Park to Berwyn Part II

Saturday, Oak Park, May 21, 2011
The next morning, I woke and checked the website for the Hemingway museum in Oak Park.  I made the mistake of thinking they opened at 8.  I had made plans to be in Berwyn by 10 that morning to meet friends who live there, but that’s when the museum opened.  I had to call them and tell them I was going to be late because I screwed up the museum time. 

Since I was up and ready to go at 8 am, I figured I’d check out and head into Oak Park.  That’s where I found the coffee shop I made a quick blog post from. 

That's looking up Oak Park Ave, outside the coffee shop.  It's the photo I couldn't upload on Saturday while I was blogging from the coffee shop.  I love the brickwork of the buildings, and the town has this really old time feel to it.

I was right at the door when the museum opened.

See, for eight years, once I found out I lived so close to Hemingway’s birth place, I had the desire to go to the museum and his childhood home.  I never made it.  The ex would never want to go with me.  It’s sort of funny, but when you are married, I think you are less likely to do things alone; you think or hope that your spouse will want to do things with you.  Getting the ex to do things was hard.  He never wanted to do anything.  It was only at the end of our marriage that he showed perhaps a slight interest in doing things, but by then, I’d spent 8 years in a bubble and had become happy and a bit content in that bubble, so I was less likely to venture out on my own to do anything.  I realize I lost a lot of myself by not continuing to do things I wanted to do, even if they were on my own, but isn’t that the point of marriage, having someone to do things with? Or maybe, it's just creating a false happiness.  And we all know what happens with that...


I studied Hemingway pretty extensively in grad school, but I didn’t get through all of his works, just select ones that my evaluator and I had agreed on, but over the years I have collected just about all of his books.  I am fascinated by his life and by his writing, and I was so mad at myself that I became one of the women who stopped doing things because I would have to do it alone.  When did I become so scared?  Is that what marriage did to me?  Ah, that’s a topic for another time.  So, there I was, on my own in Oak Park, and I wasn’t bothered by it, and enjoyed every minute of it.

The museum was put together very well.  It covered every aspect of Hemingway’s life and writing. Connie (no photo), operating the gift shop, was very friendly and seemed to know her stuff when it came to Hemingway.

I appreciated seeing photos of Hemingway through the years, and personal possessions.  Anything and everything you could imagine that showcases his life was in this museum.  I'd love to go back again before I leave the state, but with four weeks and counting, not sure I can swing it.  Seeing his photos and books and the highlights of his life from a young boy to on up really resonated with me the fact that I couldn't be happier with myself that I did make the trip.

See photos below.

Hemingway's high school report card

I have more photos if anyone wants to see them!

I didn’t spend too long there because I knew the kicker for me was going to be his home and was it ever.  

They only gave tours on the hour, and it was almost 11 am, so I hoofed it to the meter to put in more money and then back up the street a few blocks just in time to make the 11 am showing.  All the while, my feet were screaming in the second pair of sandals I selected for the weekend.  Two wonderful tour guides, in the photo, John and Julia (who was a guide in training), led me through the house.  They were the nicest kids.  Believe it or not, I learned so much, much more than I ever knew about Hemingway AND his family.  

When I had arrived, my feet hurt so much, and I made a comment about walking around and wearing the wrong kind of shoes.  Another nice guide (who’s name I did not get) said hey, take your shoes off!  I said, really? She said, sure!  I was OMG.  Not only was I delighted at the fact to remove my heeled sandals, but I almost well you know what a brick.  I got to tour Hemingway's house barefoot!  I danced in the foyer.  The tour guides laughed.

*side note: I seem to have this fascination with my bare feet, and the lack there of of NOT wearing shoes if I can help it.  I got married barefoot.  I ran around as a kid with no shoes on, ever!  Still do.  This tops the bare feet thing for me though.*

We began the tour and while many things in the home have been refurbished over the years, the foundation has worked very hard to try to recreate furniture and other things in the home to be how they were back in Hemingway's young days.  While he lived there just for a short time, but the essence his family left behind is just... powerful.  I won't bore anyone with the details of the home and such, but if you are curious just let me know.  Here are a few photos.

This is the sitting room, off the foyer.  The photo in the right hand corner is of Grace Hemingway, Ernest's mother.  It is placed just as it was when her father placed it when she moved in with him after her mother passed away, and before I think, she married Mr. Hemingway.  

Dining room table, replicated

Hemingway's birth certificate
Again, I have a lot more photos of the home.  Let me know if you want to see them!

There's just lots of coolness that goes with the home, the rooms, the family that lived there.  This weekend I'm off for 4 days in a row, and while I'll be busy packing last minute things, and job hunting (yes, still doing that) I might just create like a Hemingway blog or an extended post and toss in everything in more detail.

Oh, here's one last photo:

John and Julie, the awesome tour guides, in the library, with the stuffed owls 


Weekend Review Chicago to Oak Park to Berwyn Part I

Part I: Friday, Chicago, May 20, 2011

So I drove into Chicago this past Friday morning to meet a writer friend at Union Station.  They have been in the states since Feb and was riding the train up from Southern Illinois to catch their flight from O’Hare, back to Germany.  Their train got in at 1 pm, their flight left at 1030 pm. 

We met and had lunch and just killed time really.  Not much to do in that time span that won’t have you fighting traffic, getting lost, or missing a flight; so we stayed in the general down town area.  We took a cab to the Hard Rock CafĂ©, then a cab to Poag Mahone’s, where we had a drink and some food (lil two bite baby cheeseburgers… I did ask for them well done, which to me means NO PINK, yet they were pink, but the Cosmopolitan made up for it… I guess).

My friend actually met a friend of a friend and his friends there and they chatted for a while.  Before long, it was time to hoof it back to the Union Station parking garage and head out to the airport.  I figured it was going to be about an hour drive, maybe 45 minutes from downtown to O’Hare and I was right.  Traffic was stop and go; and more stop and go.

I wasn’t even really sure what terminal or parking I would need.  I was going to drop my friend off in the departure area, but once we got close, I didn’t know what exit to really take, knew it was the International Terminal we needed, and it just seemed easier to park in short term parking and get her inside.  Besides, her bags were heavy and I wouldn’t have felt right just dropping off at a curb and saying see ya!

We went into terminal one and that was the wrong one.  We then took the train, yeah, the train that goes just around the airport, to terminal 5.  After getting my friend checked in and to the area where she’d go through security, I headed back down to terminal one and the parking lot.

From there, I made my way to my hotel for the night.  It was nice, quiet, and soon I was asleep.  My feet hurt from walking around all day.  I wore the cutest sandals, but they had no soles, so I might have been barefoot walking around Chicago all day. 

I had made the comment in an earlier post I think, that I loved the sound and sites of the big city.  I used to want to live in Chicago.  I decided after visiting it a few times that I was better off just visiting; I seem to appreciate it more.  I wouldn't mind living there if I could work there; but to work there and commute... uh no.  I don't think I could hack it.  


Saturday, May 21, 2011

The true writer's life: blogging on the run!

Wi fi, such a cool thing! Lets you blog and sip raspberry mochas at the same time. Ah, times have come a long way since the days of college.

I'm at the Caribou coffee shop now, on the corner of Oak Park Av and Lake St. The Hemingway museum is just down the street, opens at ten. I thought it was eight!

Regardless, soaking in the atmosphere of a Saturday morning in this charming Chicago suburb.

Have a photo of the famous Hard Rock sign, and one of the corner at the coffee shop, but blogger seems to be sticking!  I'll try one more time before heading to the museum, otherwise, will post them when I return home this evening.


THEE best thing about this moment?  I'm totally happy and content, alone, with me, with the strangers on the street.  I am... me.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Writers and the City

Spent the day in Chicago. I met a fellow writer at Union Station. Two meals, a few iced mochas, one Cosmopolitan, and a few pieces of Hard Rock gear and she is on her way to Germany and I'm tucked in a pretty decent Holiday Inn Express room, preparing to rest up for my day tomorrow to Hemingway's birth home and then the rest of the day with friends.

I really like Chicago. I fell in love it the first time I visited, which was years ago. I drove out here one summer with my parents and friends of the family to see the Cubs play and tour the city.

I returned again a few years after that with a friend and we spent our time getting drunk at the Navy Pier and trying to figure out what subway to get on to get back to our hotel.

The next time I was in Chicago, was in 2006, when I came up here to shop on Michigan Ave for a dress to wear when I got married. Another trip was just this past summer when I came up with a friend to go to a Cubs game. We rode the train back and that was different.

This trip might just be my last for a while, like the other trips were oh so close together; but really, I won't be back here for a long time, so in one short afternoon, I tried to absorb all I could.

I like the traffic, the horns, the people on the street, the cops on the ATVs. I couldn't live here though, work here. I'd get run over, the people move so fast! You have to, I suppose. It just moves that fast here. I guess every really big city is like that.

O'Hare is truly a masterpiece of an airport. That place is so big that if you blink, you'll forget where you are.

My company was great for the day. Theresa, my new writer friend is really just a gem. I wish we'd had more time to chat and explore the city, but she said she wasn't much of a big city gal, and I guess I could be a bit but more so just in the moment, since I'm there, I want to see it all, but eh, I'd seen my share of the town more than once. I hope I was able to make her trip to her plane as smooth as possible.

I miss Daisy, she's at home with the ex. I'm sure she's fine, and truth be told, I needed a night out of there. While the end of June will be here soon, I just needed to get away. I would have left a while back, but circumstances prompted otherwise. Regardless, it's nice to get away. There won't be much getting away for a while to come once I do move, so I guess it's okay to do it know.

I always loved traveling. We traveled very often when I was a kid. I loved staying in hotels. Each place we went was new and exciting. I'll have to think about some favorite places I've been and get back to you.

I'll be reconnecting with some old friends tomorrow and maybe they can become an option for coming out to visit the area again. I also reconnected with a few family members this week. They might just be on the summer "who to visit" list. Okay, so maybe that getting away thing was false. I might just have some places to go this summer, but visiting family and friends, I mean, you don't have to stay in a hotel, you have a place to sleep if they are kind enough to have you. But I guess that's still "getting away."

Long day, early day tomorrow. I'll post about Hemingway's museum for anyone who might be a fan of his. Maybe more on the whole travel thing. I like writing about the places I've been, the things I've seen. It reminds me of the good things life and this country have to offer.