Sunday, January 5, 2014

Still in Chicago. . .

As I write this we are still in Chicago. We were going to leave today to visit Indianapolis and Ohio, but a severe weather advisory has kept us from traveling. We're waiting for the weather to clear up before we leave, and we are thankful to our gracious and kind hosts who said, "Be safe, just stay here."

So our last scheduled week in Chicago, we hurried up and did a few things we wanted to do. There's so much to do here that we feel that we barely scratched the surface of this unique city. On Monday, I went to the Art Institute, which is pretty much impossible to see completely in one visit. I love art but I hit a wall after about two and a half hours. I chose to tour the contemporary art, modern art, and impressionists.

I also visited the special exhibit--designed just for Sweetie Pie, "The Art of the Appetite." The Art of the Appetite displayed a history of food and eating in American art. No photographs were allowed in that exhibit, but here's the link that shows many of the works displayed:

A European piece that reminded me of Art of the Appetite
Probably the most powerful piece I saw was by Felix Gonzalez-Torress. There was a pile of hard candy in the corner of the gallery. The guard invited us to take a piece. And then he explained the piece to us. The amount of candy of in the pile is 175 pounds--the weight that the artist's now-dead lover's healthy weight would be. The candy is continually replenished to stay at that weight. His lover died of AIDS-related illnesses.

Our time in the evenings this week was largely breaking into the Christmas game-gifts. We played several rounds of Bananagrams and In a Pickle, and started up on Gin Rummy.

Happy New Year! 

Tuesday was New Year's Eve--we went to the gym and then went out to a dance at an art gallery in the Haymarket District. The snow was pouring down, the plows hadn't come out, and the traffic on the freeway wasn't crowded but moving along very slowly to stay safe. I'm grateful to my Michigan-bred partner who can drive in the snow safely.

But we're usually asleep about an hour before midnight and we kind of were ready to head home before ten o'clock. I know, it sounds lame, but we got our dance on for awhile--were the first couple on the dance floor--and were ready for a quiet New Year's eve at home. I also don't know how to dress to go out dancing when you have to go out in the snow, so I had leggings and a thermal shirt on under my dress and quickly became too warm to keep dancing at the pace I prefer. Later, I saw women changing into their outfits in the coatroom, so I'll know for next time! So, we threw in the towel, got home before people were back on the roads, and played some cards. I was so tired at 11:15 that I started crying over some confusion about the rules of the card game and decided I needed to go to bed. We were asleep by 11:30. I woke up at midnight to the firecrackers going off, but Larry slept through it all.

Our street New Year's Eve coming home
New Year's Day we'd wanted to go ice skating as we'd skated in Yosemite last New Year's Day and thought it would be a nice tradition. However, it was just so cold out and we didn't feel like trudging the 20 minutes to the L train and then being cold on the ice, so we stayed in. We lasted about ten minutes on the Rose Parade, but Larry did watch football. He was happy to to see Michigan State University win the Rose bowl. Go Spartans!  I'm not even sure what I did. I might have napped all afternoon. . .

After we went to the gym on Thursday, we mostly did housecleaning. Our friends were coming home Friday, so Thursday we spent a good amount of the day cleaning and clearing our belongings out of the living areas of the house.  It felt kind of good just to be engaging in normal human routines.

View of the skyline from our gym parking lot
However, Thursday night, we had tickets for Steppenwolf Theater's "Tribes." I have had an idea bout taking the summer intensive at Steppenwolf for several years. My original plan was probably cooked up ten years ago, so I was super excited to go. The play grew on us. A comedy about a family obsessed with words, "Tribes" starts with a lot of aggressive banter which was a little too much for me to take, but slowly it unfolds to be about family dynamics. They have a son who is deaf who they won't teach sign language or learn sign language for, who they teach to speak and lipread to they can protect him from the disability. The play revolves around him meeting a woman who was raised by deaf parents and who is slowly going deaf. It has to do with family dysfunction, disability and ability, and it was pretty powerful and moving in the end. It didn't really stick with us the way "The Normal Heart" did, but it was still a well-written and beautifully acted play.
Downtown Chicago outside the Art Institute

Friday, we were back to normal time, cleaning, cooking, working out, and greeting Kendra and Kapil when they arrived home in the afternoon. We were happy to hear about their honeymoon in India and Paris.

The next day Kendra and I talked about our time together in Marfa and discussed education. I was excited to be introduced to Khan Academy, an online learning tool that is potentially revolutionizing learning. It affirms a lot of what I've been feeling about my work at the university, that the model of teacher in front of the classroom has to change. It helped inspire me as I consider going back to teaching after this trip.

Now we lay in wait. We don't know where we will be traveling to next. Larry is out shoveling the truck out of the snow and we are thinking that Tuesday, the weather might open up and allow us to hit the open road again.

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