Everything Else - the heart of the matter, really.

We stayed with some dear friends while in Chicago. Since we stayed with them for fall break last year, I'm gonna go ahead and call it a tradition. I haven't come up with something I don't love about them yet. And since we were only in Chicago together for one year, I feel like we're still getting to know one another, even if I sometimes feel like I've known them forever.

Matt is working on getting a new business going. I hope it takes off and soars. And not just because I want this success for him - it's a really good idea. On our last day, we stopped by his office which is located in Merchandise Mart and part of an AMAZING space called 1871. Within 1871 there are hundreds of people working on different startups. It was started by a few people who wanted to give small businesses a place to grow. Each member of the business (Matt's has 2) pays a small "rental" fee to use the space. As one can imagine, there are wonderful networking opportunities in a place like that. We heard just a few ideas from some of the other individuals working on businesses, and I am still caught up in the creativity that happens in so many ways, but especially in making intangible information useful on a large scale.

Lisa graduated from law school earlier this year, and is currently working on a masters in policy. When we got there, she was just about to send off her resume and cover letter for a fellowship. We proofread before she hit send, and I was glad to do so. I love what she wants her life to be about. In a super teeny tiny speck of a nutshell: finding ways to lessen the impact and scope of poverty especially where women and children are concerned. I enjoy our conversations, and I especially value her insights and honesty about questions of faith and doubt.

They recently moved into a new building that once had a theatre with 3,000+ seats. The theatre was torn down several years ago to make way for a parking lot, but the lobby of theatre is still intact, just closed off from the rest of the building. The idea of velvet curtains and chandeliers hanging for no one to see makes me sad. On a very adventurous night, Matt hoisted himself up on a fire escape to access a door with a mystery on the other side. The reality ended up being more fire escapes, but it was thrilling thinking that we might be able to make our way into the lobby. I must see it someday. There is also a ballroom on the top floor of their building that is locked up (with a super boring and very frustrating padlock). I could easily develop a tic brought on by amazing spaces that aren't being used. I get really sort of obsessed with things.

Jake and I went to the Art Institute. It was at the top of my list as I've never been able to go without a child. The Art Institute is one of my favorite places in the world. I always say if I had it to do over, my undergrad would have been in Art History. It was one of two textbooks I loved to read. The other was psychology. I also really loved my human rights texts. After being in Chicago, I decided that my career path should have included something like a PhD in the History of Art and Architecture. My very favorite part of my gigantic Art History text was the little snippet on Green Architecture - a movement that takes old structures and transforms them into useful spaces in the 'modern' world (see above obsession with old theatre lobby and ballroom). Aside from all of the pieces I enjoy seeing at the Art Institute, I was especially overcome when viewing three pieces/installations. All were in the contemporary wing. The first was an overwhelming collection of items with a singular thread of music running throughout. It's called No Time to Start Again by Allen Ruppersberg, and it was really one of the most complex exhibits I've ever seen, and I would need to spend much more time with it to write anything adequate, but I was touched by the faces in the images, all living their lives in a time, all connected to one another by collective experiences human beings can't avoid. It was when I read the line Everything is collected, nothing is saved that I felt the power of the collection and its relevance in my life and being. It was powerful. [Click on the picture to read more about it.]

When I came across Hinoki by Charles Ray, I was first caught by the scale of the sculpture. The picture doesn't do it justice. It's so big, and something that I've seen before, a fallen, decaying tree. But because this was a model of a fallen tree, it was naked. Every little mark was exposed, and the middle of the trunk was hollow. I could have spent an hour or so just staring through it. I felt transported, like all of the answers to life's mysteries were waiting on the other side. 

The last piece was Sanctuary by Martin Puryear. I loved its story, so I'll just share what I read at the Art Institute.
In 1977 a fire destroyed a vast body of Martin Puryear’s sculpture, as well as many of the artist’s wordly possessions. Resulting in what he called “a period of grieving followed by an incredible lightness and freedom,” the event proved pivotal in directing the artist’s subsequent work. One year later, Puryear began a series of sculptures around the themes of movement and shelter. Sanctuary embodies what he described as “mobility with a kind of escapism, of survival through flight.” The sculpture appears to be in a state of arrested motion. This whimsical and sophisticated work reconciles a longing for stability with a need for change. By pairing the wild tree saplings with a carefully fashioned shelter, Puryear celebrated the beauty of wood in both its natural and refined states.
"A longing for stability with a need for change." Yes, that's exactly right.

Lastly, I've got to give a shout out to The Chicago Diner and public transportation. Before going to Chicago, a friend asked what I was most looking forward to. While I forgot to mention it, public transportation is always at the top of my list. I love the ease of trains and busses and arriving where I need to be in collaboration with good old-fashioned walking. It makes me feel all kinds of free. I love seeing all of the people, and sharing a cramped space, and rubbing shoulders with strangers. There were two random points of excitement. One was on a very crowded bus on our way home from downtown. A woman got on at the stop after we did, and I didn't catch how it started, but she started fighting with the driver. One stop later, he was honking for some police officers on bikes, and she was escorted off. The second was waiting for a train in the loop. A man passed by Jake and I and just started talking to us. His size was intimidating, but when he spoke, he was like a child. He explained that the [very clearly marked] on-coming train was the brown line, he said a few more things I didn't quite catch, and then he started saying I was pretty and going over points of my physical appearance. "You have blonde hair. And blue eyes. And a nice coat. And..." And then the train came, and I was glad. He got onto the same car we did, but went through a different door. I slouched next to Jake so if he turned around he couldn't see me. Even though Jake was next to me, and even though I'm almost certain he was harmless, situations like those start a sort of panic inside of me. We got off at Merchandise Mart, visited with Matt, and then made our way to The Chicago Diner.

The Chicago Diner is all vegan. And all good. We had the Gyoza salad, and then I ordered a BBQ bacon cheezeburger with macaroni and cheeze and a cookie dough shake. Ummm, WOW! I am still blown away. I was telling Jake, it's not just that it's a good burger or that it's vegan, it's like the best BBQ bacon cheeseburger I've ever had. The same with the shake. The mac and cheese was not the best mac and cheese I've ever had, but it was by far the best vegan mac and cheese. Jake got a Ruben. I was almost sure we were being duped. We don't normally eat things that imitate meat, nor food that is so "heavy," but having something so old timey in our dietary evolution was fun. If you live in Chicago and you haven't been there yet, or if you go to Chicago and want some awesome food that will surprise and amaze you, go to The Chicago Diner.


Post a Comment


Powered by Blogger.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Back to Top