Chicago is big. I mean really really big as in it takes forever to get anywhere and there are so many damn freeways. Luckily I Mapquested all my expeditions before I left home. Hotel to Ikea. Ikea to Paper Source. Paper Source to Hotel. No room for error that way. Lots of the roads are toll ways. John had warned me to have change ready, which I did, but I didn’t realize the majority of them were the unattended kind meaning no people or change making ability. I was doing great with the whole system until the exit before Ikea. Out of quarters by then, I threw 3 dimes into the little basket. I anticipated the green light and rolled forward but the light never turned green. I had no idea what to do and was then too far forward; tried to back up but the car behind me was right on my butt plus there were other cars behind him. So I got another dime and heaved it at the basket but of course I missed. And finally I said, fuck it, and just drove through. There was a loud alarm going off and my heart started palpitating as I kept driving and waiting for something to happen, like gates to come down out of the sky and encircle my car or the toll booth police to appear out of nowhere and cuff me. Truly I had paid the correct amount so I am not certain what happened except dimes are so little maybe the machine missed counting one of them? I have this ridiculous compulsion to try to contact the Toll booth people to see what I should do. I bet they photograph license plates but I don’t know if they track out of state people or not. Or maybe they track us even more diligently and I’ll have to serve a term in a 3rd world prison for a toll violation.
Friday night – Misbehavior Reigns
Got a little crazy and drank too much at the Mill Race Inn which is a lovely place on the river, a truly idyllic setting. They have 3 restaurants and I chose the outdoor one since it was such a glorious evening. I sat at the bar because it feels more acceptable to be alone that way. Of course there was some freak several bar stools down. I had seen him when I entered and purposely left a lot of space between us but he was not to be deterred. Now I should first say I have a special knack for attracting freaks, I don’t know what it is about my face that says talk to me, freak, but it always happens. Like the guy during my freshman year of college, the one who had been hit by a train (like literally hit by a train, it was on the news) and his brains spilled out of his head and weren’t put back in right according to campus rumor. Or the guy in high school, the one I actually went to a dance with just because I felt bad for him. I attract these people. Here’s the thing, I try to be polite but it sometimes (read ALL THE TIME) gets me in to trouble. I mean this guy started talking to me and I didn’t want to be flat out rude, so I answered his question but he thought everything I said was hysterically funny and he had a very loud distinctive laugh. One of those laughs where you instantly know, this person is not right in the head. He took my polite but non-engaging answer as his opening and just wouldn’t leave me alone. By this time the band was setting up and a woman came over to get some beer for the musicians. She started talking to me or actually I might have started with her to avoid the freak. Anyway, she brought a guitar player over to hang with me before they got started and between sets. Turns out he is also a sculptor who worked in the movies for many years until he was seriously injured on the job. He sculpted all kinds of things in well known movies such as the ice sculpture in My Best Friend’s Wedding. He was a very nice man and interesting to talk with. The freak, thank goodness, was cut off from drinking and left the bar only to be replaced by a Lounge Lizard who moved to sit on the other side of me. He was cute but still a lounge lizard. Between the Lizard and Sculptor, I had drinks (oh yay, just what I needed) all night long until I slapped myself in the head and finally toddled back to my hotel.
The good news is I didn’t dance.
The bad news is that John had been trying to reach me for several hours, naturally I didn’t hear the phone because of the loud music. He had been cooking dinner, this being one major league difference between me and John……he cooks for himself. Now me, if I was on my own, I might cook something as exotic as a Boca burger but I would more likely eat cereal and yogurt. Or hard boiled eggs. But John cooks and he sliced the end of his finger off which necessitated several hours in Urgent Care to make the bleeding stop. Good Lord, talk about guilt. Wife hanging in a bar, husband at Urgent Care. I am still flogging myself.
Saturday – Who is Stalking Who?
I spent the early part of the morning trying to get sober; I swear to God I was still drunk when I woke up and the very insipid coffee here at the hotel was simply not going to cut it. So I went over to Starbucks and got some real coffee before I headed to Burger King for some grease, a sure cure in Mary Beth's book of hangover remedies. Instantly felt better.
I arrived at the Flea Market early, having been told that is the best strategy but it meant I had to stand in line for about a half hour. There was a “regular” in front of me and we got to talking and he decided to take me under his wing and show me the ropes. So he shared his strategies going so far as to lead me to his favorite first stop, the “everything is one dollar, that’s one dollar folks” spot. We then went our separate ways but I bumped into him later on and he once again shared a good place for photos with me. Way cool of him to be so generous.
And then it happened. I ran in to my stalker. If you have been reading since the Xanga days you might remember my stalker, Beth, who followed me up to Wisconsin for a show. Well, not really, I think she was actually visiting family but it makes a better story the other way around. Oddly, Beth is the person who told me about this Flea Market in the first place. And damned if she wasn’t there! I thought I was delusional when I first saw her. She and her husband are nice and funny and just so adorable, like you want to be their neighbors and have martinis on the terrace with them.
All in all, the Flea Market was a total hit with me. I got tons of interesting items, photos especially. And some other paper stuff, some ribbons, buttons, the usual suspects, but they are all fresh and new and therefore very exciting to me. I am seriously invigorated and can’t wait to get back to work. I've just got this pesky little five hour drive to tackle first.