Tuesday, September 5: I had a bit of a time getting to Chinatown to catch one of the cheap buses to Philadelphia. Instead of taking the extra second to find my usual bus company, I jumped at the first person who responded yes to me asking “Philadelphia?” as I ran down the street. Though the cost of a ticket was the same, the smell on the bus was unpleasant. Not quite urine, not quite flamin’ hot Cheetos. And there were no windows to open, so I read. And read some while I held my breath for two whole hours. It was raining all over the mid-Atlantic, or it felt like it anyway. Nadine collected me from the bus station, and we drove home to have a lovely afternoon of doing very little. Nick came home from work, Nadine made dinner, and we watched “V for Vendetta” on DVD. Which I thoroughly enjoyed, and goes on the list of movies I regret not seeing in the theater (along with “House of Flying Daggers”, “Finding Nemo”, and many many more).
Wednesday, September 6: Nadine and I visited Washington Crossing in the morning, where we took a long walk around the park we *thought* was the place where General George Washington crossed the Delaware River but was, in fact, just a park. There was a visitor’s center, an adorable gift shop, and a very narrow bridge to New Jersey. We stood mid-bridge, considering the sunshine and the cars slowly passing each other on the bridge. When we got back to town, I took what was supposed to be a quick nap before we nipped down to Center City to run errands. I got up in time for dinner and a few rounds of Mille Bornes before we trooped over to see a monologue slam a few blocks away. The monologues… were not good, so we left after a “winner” was crowned but before we could be subjected to more spoken wordy monologue goodness.
Thursday, September 7: Nadine decided to come up to New York with me! Hurrah! We went to lunch to Olivia in Chinatown before we left, talking about boys and Hello Kitty over unbelieveably delicious bowls of pho. The bus ride up to Chinatown is uneventful, though I was expecting fireworks from the two girl passengers who fought before the bus departed north. I couldn’t tell what had gone wrong — some girl had left the other girl’s purse on another bus, maybe — as I was distracted by the fact that the girl who felt she was the offended party flung gnawed chicken wings into the parking lot adjacent to the bus ticket office. When we got to New York, Nadine and I met Michelle at Joe’s Shanghai for dinner. The soup dumplings were a revelation — delicious, piping hot, and cheap! I must have some in Chicago very soon. Or learn to make my own. After dinner we had dessert (read: $4 lychee martinis at Verlaine) before a field trip of sorts to Babeland. I won’t get into details over who got what, if anybody got anything at all, but I will say we all left satisfied. I caught the train home to my parents in Queens, and my dad picked me up in Flushing on his way home from his second job at the discount store in College Point. We talked about my parents moving back to the Philippines in a few years and I thought “Oh my God, they’re really going to do it” and made a note to start saving money for plane fare now.
Friday, September 8: I got out the door early to get my nails done for the first time in what seemed like forever (two weeks). On Michelle’s recommendation, I went to SoHo Nails where a mani/pedi was a very reasonable-for-the-city $23, not including tip. It was a kinda girly day when I met Michelle and Nadine for lunch. We repaired to Cafe Reggio, where we ate cheap delicious pasta, and talked, at length, about men. Men we knew and sometimes loved and sometimes hated and always thought about because they were men and they confused us perpetually. I thought this stuff would have gotten easier to negotiate once I graduated from an all girls school but that was 12 years ago and still — I am befuddled. The only conclusion I came to was that there is something about the U of C undergrad experience that provides its students with the skills necessary to become ones own cockblocker. Seriously — there was something about college so, if not un-sexy then certainly not sexual (if that makes any sense), that leaves alumni who aren’t already settled with no clue about how to get a leg over. It’s sad.
But where was I?
We walked off our befuddlement on a ramble through the Village, pausing in Washington Square Park to hula hoop, checking out stalls on Astor Place, and ogling the toys at Giant Robot, before catching the train down to Ground Zero so Nadine could do research for her novel. She took pictures while Michelle and I considered the tourists at the Winter Garden, then at Ground Zero itself, and lastly in Century 21 where people wearing 9/11 memorial t-shirts shopped competitively for brand name handbags and shoes. That evening, I left the girls to meet some of the boys — Sean, Gabe, Kevin — for dinner at Krystal’s. We ate a lot of meat. The table next to us had a gorgeous female transsexual who was as blonde as an Asian person could look without looking like an asshole. We went around the corner to Veneiro for miniature cheesecakes. In the throes of food happiness, Sean and I went back to his neighborhood for a quick beer before I joined Michelle, Nadine, and Michelle’s roommate at the time Jen at Michelle’s place for homemade mojitos and “Lost” on telly. A great end to a great day.
Even if the bathroom was not working, and we all had to pee in the bathtub.
Saturday, September 9: I found my way back to my parents’ after a morning of eating crepes and using Michelle’s upstairs neighbor’s bathroom to pee. I was in need of a shower and (ideally) a blowout, but I could only manage the shower at home. I was all about sitting on my ass but I was excited to see Kevin and Gabe’s new apartment. Especially since it was only one bus — no transfers or running for trains. K & G live in my great-aunt’s neighborhood, all frame houses and non-descript brick apartment buildings full of great apartments. K & G’s place was no exception — a spacious 1-bedroom, sparsely furnished with loads of potential. Every time I go home to New York I spend a fair amount of time imagining what my life might be like if I lived there, and I was figuring out where to put my couch and television in K & G’s place when the conversation really began to flow. Gabe’s pals Jason and Elissa, also recent arrivals in New York, joined the festivities, and we chatted happily about real estate, development, and disguising chin fat in photographs.
Thursday, September 14: Back home in Chicago. I organized an outing to karaoke at Carol’s Pub only to discover that people flaked out on me. Was it me? Was it the karaoke? Was it the venue? That’s idiotic. Jacinda, a true friend joined me at the Beachwood for a few drinks and many tamales. Over the course of 3? 4? hours, we talked about everything (and most everyone) we know. Do not be alarmed — no gossip. It went more like this:
Jacinda: “I’m almost done with the bunny ears hat for Nathan.”
Jasmine: “Oh so cute. Could you pass the hot sauce?”
Friday, September 15: Khloe and I went to a members party at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The Massive Change show curated by Bruce Mao, and it was so crowded by the smart cars that I hung back and pondered going back for more food (grilled cheese sandwiches, really spicy red cabbage salad, noodles) instead of *appreciating the art*. Lots of beautiful though possibly vapid types fiddled with their impossibly tiny cell phones or expensive handbags while wondering why they weren’t at Japonais. Afterwards, Khloe and I headed up north to see Jeremy’s band The Dundrearies play the Horseshoe. It was a fun time, though I was concerned that we would get thrown out because of our friend Chris and his wife Linda heckling the second band. Which, okay, needed it, but I was feeling like a bit of a wuss.
Saturday, September 16: Errands. Renegade Craft Fair with Jeremy, Helen, and Khloe. Wicker Park was full of twee girls selling iPod cases decorated with kittens or cherry blossoms. Vaguely mod A-line skirts and jewelry made from bottle caps. It was so cute I could hardly stand it. But don’t get me wrong — I had a great time, but there are only so many variations on “Sassy Kitten” or “Saucy Grrrl” or “Sparkly Duck” that you can use when naming your business selling hand-crocheted book cozies. Somebody needs to put the ass in “crafts” and that person ought to be me. The sex came courtesy of one Jean Le, who you Chicagoans might recognize as the Asian guy who spent all summer dancing in a pair of hotpants all over Wicker Park. In front of the American Apparel store on Milwaukee, or on the little island near the Double Door, with a PA or headphones, he wiggles his ass for one and all. While waiting for my friends to show up, I had the pleasure of seeing him perform in front of Francesco’s Forno Saturday afternoon. He had his music blasting until some bicycle cops rode up and shut him down. They also made him put on a stitch more clothing, which in case was a brown suede vest with 3′ long fringe. Lovely. He shook his ass at the cops as they left him to his own devices.
After the fair, I had lunch at the Pontiac with jeremy, Helen, and Khloe when we saw Jean again. Not long after he reappeared there was a very minor car accident on Damen. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
The rest of the day went as follows: downtown with Khloe to look at fall jackets. Lakeview to return something to TJ Maxx and to look at shoe’s at Hanig’s Slipper box on Diversey. Eggs at the Golden Nugget. Fullerton bus home. Quick rest, then drinks with Molly and Lisa W. at Nick’s Beer Garden. Live music + no cover = ass wiggling for all. We stayed out until 1:30 when Lisa and I walked home, picking up a weepy girl named Laurel who was remorseful after having left an angry message for an ex-boyfriend whose grandmother, unbeknownst to her, had just passed. Lisa hugged her in front of City Soles on North Ave., then we walked North to the Green Eye to make sure Laurel found her friends okay. Home for about 30 minutes of “The Full Monty” before we all fell asleep with our makeup still on.
Sunday, September 17: Firsts for Lisa (a recent transplant from Detroit) as we breakfasted at Arturo’s and had dessert at Margie’s. There was some talk of getting one of the big sundaes meant to be shared by nine people but we were feeling ambitious and not quite up to the challenge of seeing if we could eat $35 worth of ice cream, whipped cream, and hot fudge.
“I’d be lying if I said my life had turned out exactly as I’d expected. My old school recently had a reunion, which I didn’t go to, but one girl in my class it turns out, right, she is now running her own Internet auction website, making a fortune, and is happily married to a marine biologist. She used to eat chalk.” [The Office]
Mos Def – Ms. Fat Booty; Depeche Mode – Never Let Me Down Again; Velvet Underground – I’m Waiting For The Man;