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Chicago 2006


CHICAGO6 TRIP - November 9-16, 2006

THURSDAY, 11/9/06: 7:45AM: Bed at 10:45PM last night, taking two aspirin for all the wine at MAN. 3:50AM: take Valium and two aspirin, and pee. Up at 7:25, feeling drugged. Type DREAMS:11/9/06. Send a GCT postcard to Robert Gros, maybe earning me $100 and him $50 if he takes a trip. Assume it will also refer to OAT in its e-mail to him. Start this at 7:40, having trouble with headers and trying four or five times before I get rid of them. Weather clear, not raining, but heavy clouds overhead---yet clear in the west. Wake with the clarifying thought to take the black SUIT-case, rather than the green OAT bag, so my suit for dining doesn't get so wrinkled. Hope everything else will fit. Stop now at 7:49AM. Shit, shave, put the dishes away, have breakfast, freeze a bit of milk, finish an old New York magazine, and catch up with this at 8:42AM, leaving in less than two hours! Preternaturally calm. The sky has cleared CONSIDERABLY, though sadly the wind is from the west, against which we're flying for 2.5 hours this afternoon. Replace camera battery once, pack everything into black suit-case, with a lot left over for carry-on bag, and ready to change into traveling clothes at 9:13AM. Get everything packed away nicely, black bag weighing 13 pounds, carry-on at 11, making a total of 24 pounds, with $198.26 in cash. Now 9:25PM and I'm practically ready to go, though ominously smelly in my old flannel shirt, which I'm changing now. In fact CHANGE undershirt, it's so clammy and damp. Totally ready now at 9:45AM, finishing this and putting it under covers until I get back. TOTALLY ready at 10:05, finding I didn't have a LUGGAGE TAG on my check-in bag, and searching through other bags, finally getting an OAT African Adventure tag to put on until I get to the airport and can replace it with an airlines one. VERY clammy inside. Shut off the humidifier, all the lights, but left the computer on. Picking up lint from the floor as last thing to do, taking placemat off dining room table and dusting it by hand, leaving pitcher in sink for John to water plants. Think of phoning someone, but whom, and then I might busy the line when the taxi's trying to call. Gorgeously clear out; I hope the skies are the same between here and Chicago, having NOT checked the seat to make sure I have a window not over the wing. Lots of magazines to catch up with in case there's nothing to watch outside. Hope I have enough cash, but can always write Ken a check or use an ATM machine. Well, maybe Spider now at 10:10 until the phone rings. Call on phone comes at 10:15, in the middle of my first Spider game, so I close it and get downstairs, astounded they're here so quickly, and Ken say he was actually picked up at 10, with no traffic. In the car he says I didn't pay the $199 for airfare, but I think I recorded a check number that I gave him: something to look into. To airport by 10:50, quick check-in while I fill out an American Airlines luggage tag. Bags checked in, get seat 15A (which she says is in FRONT of the wing), and Ken is amazed when I say I brought my cell phone. Onto security line at 10:52, shoes and belt and change and computer in separate basket, and through at 11:01. No food on plane except beverages and what you may buy. Have a large Cubano sandwich and a Tropicana pink lemonade that I charge (having paid $57 and Ken $1 for the car service, Ken saying the tip should have been only $5) for $10.27 on Citi. Eat at the bar 11:15-11:50, Ken reminding me that it's only just before 11AM in Chicago. He goes to john again as I type this to 11:58, going to see if they have my frequent-flyer number. They have to get my zip code first, but she says both flights have now been credited to me. Pee again, and find Ken has gotten no benefits from any of his frequent-flyer miles. Finish this at 12:10, Ken showing headline that Rumsfeld has resigned! And that both Senate seats are probably Democratic, and since one of the two "Independents" is Lieberman from Connecticut, actually a Democrat, Democrats now control BOTH houses of Congress, a definitive slap at Bush. Ken reads Times, which I'll get when he's finished. Should announce boarding any time now. Board 11:34 (my notes are off TWICE as to what hour something was done!), in FACT in front of wing, as is Ken, behind me. Start sudoku in the magazine, plane fairly full, bright sun outside, too bad I'm facing south, into sun. Announce 1:57 flight! Back out at 12:46 and off at 12:58. Roll 1: #1-6 12:58-1:03 of NYC and New Jersey and Sandy Hook into sun and clouds. #7 "mouth of the Danube" of rivers into large lake in Ontario debouching into Lake Erie at 2:04PM. #8 2:05 of two ships (which I think later were more likely two rocks) meeting in river-mouth. #9 2:45 Chicago in haze. #10 2:46 closer. Land at 2:56, changing watch to 1:56. Off plane 2:09, shit a bit, luggage carousel starts 2:20 and he gets his bag quickly and mine follows at 2:24. We walk, following signs to Avis, and it seems to be a LONG way, when Ken looks back and sees a bus behind us, and we go back and find all busses stop there, though there's NO sign indicating that whatsoever. Avis is the last bus to come, we board, find we should have been Preferred Customers, and get on at 2:31 and off at 2:43 to register both of us: $9 extra per day for two drivers and $13 extra per day for liability, in addition to the over-$300 for the car itself. I'm to remind Ken to e-mail Laurence to send Sandi and me Niger information. I ask Ken to drive but he talks endlessly of all the maps and routes, so I figure it's easier for me to drive, and get in and follow his good directions for about half an hour, glad we're not in the heavy traffic going south, and turn down the road to the beach at the river to get to Edgerton, or whatever road they live on, and drive in after passing entrance, and the front door is open, and then Marvin appears about 3:30 and we chat, he pours a drink as I admire his new patio looking over Lake Michigan and watch the birds soaring, small boats docked, and small planes buzzing, enjoying my two gin and tonics while they drink "manly" whiskey and talk, then in to find Sandi in a bathrobe out from her massage, and we chat and Marv sets up his Churchill polar bear slides on his laptop and we watch those appreciatively to 5:30, when we all agree we should start for dinner. Get pills and put on coat and out to drive all of us to Fujiyama for an OK tempura dinner for me with sushi for them, and back at 8, Marv picking up one of their cars, and beating us back, and Ken gets driving instructions from Marv while Sandi goes to bed in preparation for getting up about 6:30 to make us breakfast by 7:15 for our early start into town for a tour. I'm just functional enough to unpack, getting four hangers for clothes, putting all into one drawer, dop kit in bathroom across hall, close blinds and put on eyemask for light outside window, and crawl into small bed at 8:26PM!

FRIDAY, 11/10/06: Pee at 4:05AM, glad for almost eight hours' uninterrupted sleep (it must have been the tension of the flight and trip that I hardly felt?), when I remember to take night pills, and two vitamin C because I feel like I might be coming down with a cold. Back to bed with inchoate DREAMS:11/10/06 of sucking my own cock and enjoying it VERY much, and come to consciousness at 5:30AM and at 5:50AM I figure I have to get up soon to catch up with this, and get up at 6:28, looking out to see that it's NOT raining, as predicted, and shit yellowly and wash my face in water that only after about five minutes gets vaguely up to body temperature for rinsing my face, and start typing at 6:45, sitting on bed with the only light in the room shining over my lap, putting on clothes from yesterday, and at 7:03 hear Ken's bathroom door close, and feel happy to be up-to-date, perversely counting that I have only FIVE full days of this vacation left: Saturday through Wednesday, then home Thursday, catch up on Friday, and leave Saturday for La Paz. Put on slippers, finish this at 7:05, and will go out to see what Sandi's gotten us for breakfast. She's marvelous: muffins or bagels, butter and raspberry jam; when I ask for cereal with the blueberries, she comes up with Cheerios, which I comment is the oats I usually have as oatmeal. Ask for sugar, she has only sweetener, but then FINDS sugar in a fine china bowl, with milk from a china pitcher, and fancy plates, knives, glasses for orange juice, coffee for Ken, and linen napkins. She goes back to bed and Marv joins us, whose ear Ken bends with tales while I type this and put on shoes and take care, as Ken warns, to take raingear for this evening: we'll be back---Marv says, getting a key for the house---between 8 and 9PM (they're celebrating a son's 30th anniversary and a birthday with a bunch of family this evening). By 7:50 Ken STILL hasn't "adjusted [his] digestive system," by which I ASSUME he means he shits, and he walks by clearing his throat now at 7:51. Leave just after 8, since he won't stop talking to Marv as I get ready to go, and drive the winding Sheraton Road, which I barely remember except for one church at an intersection, and get confused on Lakeside Drive but manage to exit onto Michigan, but have to drive around a circle to find the entry to the Parking Lot South right in the middle of the street. No apparent parking spaces, except for one I see that I insist, over Ken's doubts, is NOT only for the disabled. Park at 9:10, aisle 1C with a Taurus with license starting with 643. Up elevator, cross street in middle of block, and Architectona is right there. Buy tours (Ken, over 55, getting senior discount also), and pay with credit card. Ken buys a bottle of water, we get key to pee upstairs, look at Atrium exhibit at 9:30, pick up lots of brochures, see lots of stuff in shop. Tour starts of Historic Skyscrapers at 10 in Atrium, group of 14 divided into two, and we end up with a couple from the West Coast, one from Austria, and one from Germany, so we're eight, plus two people from nearby. Banker is good guide, talking too long outside before taking us into lobbies for warmth. #11 Sears Tower at 10:30. #12 Marquette Building Indian Mosaic in restored lobby 10:45, now owned by MacArthur (genius) Foundation. #13 Rookery 11:12, 1886, hydraulic elevators, at 12 stories tallest in the world at that time. #14 Rookery lobby 11:17, with #15. #16 Board of Trade (for grains, euros, bonds), 75 years old, at 11:22. Ceres, goddess of grain, on top, 30 feet high, aluminum. #17 Sears Tower from another angle 11:27, getting tired and not so cold. #18 Chicago Board of Trade 11:28. #19 Fisher Building opposite Monadnock. #20 Monadnock Building at 11:41, tallest all-brick building, they went to steel afterward. 64 feet wide at base, but six-foot walls on each side reduced footprint to 52 feet wide, never done again, long time to build (2.5 years) and one next door went up in less than a year. #22 Old Colony, spandrels THROUGH on WIDE side, and IN on narrow, for lightness and balance. #23 new Chicago City Library roof 11:51. #24 Adler and Sullivan Auditorium, tallest tower at 17 stories, Opera and Hotel and theater, their office on top "so we know it won't fall down," 1889, at 12:05. Tour ends at 12:21, tiring, and to Atwood's Cafe in Burnham Hotel in Reliance Building at 12:35, to be told it's a 30-minute wait for a table, so we pee, Ken has a Polar Bear with rum and brandy and spices, bitter, and I have a Pink Panther of lemonade and vodka, bland. Seated at 12:55, my maple shrimp appetizer and banana-caramel dessert said to be at the same time as Ken's chicken pot pie, and share late dessert with Gene Tierney-mentioning woman next to Ken. Leave after $77.27 bill at 1:35. Start out driving at 2PM after searching for how to pay and how to exit. To Mexico Museum 2:20, #24 Day of Dead woman without flash at 3:13. Not that great, though interesting; some homoerotic bodies, and stop looking in order to sit at 4:05 and read New Yorker to 4:45 and out to HEAVY rain and AWFUL inner-window fogging that I at last wipe with tissues and maybe it was fogged by my hand-cream-rinse at the lunch john. Turn and turn and get to Hotel James in POURING rain and TERRIBLE traffic and AWFUL uncertainty about where to go, but valet comes instantly, calling after me to get keys to car, and around to Pizzeria Uno at 5:55 (so much for worrying about eating too early!), to be told it's a 40-minute wait. Pleasant chats with people marveling about my tiny writing (with Ken's pen, since I left mine in the car with my camera and money, which were there when we got back), and seated at 6:21 in jammed place. Ken insists on salad (which I have three forks of---and he leaves lots), the pan-pizza Uno with onions and green peppers (which I give him), and sausage that's too much like meatballs, and a few slices of pepperoni that are lost in mush of tomato sauce soaking into cake-like crust (making a tasteless moosh), and too little mediocre cheese, but we finish except for crust, his mango Lipton tea and my MUG root beer refilled for only $1.99 each, and pay with my Visa and out at 7:15, to inner bar and out to outer empty J-Bar to 7:55 for his blue-iced drink and my sweet Vanilla Sky, tasty, and maybe-gay clientele at other bar, and wait for car, finding valet and Ken giving only $13, start about 8:05, again troubles with windshield and traffic, and back at 9:10PM following Marv and Sandi into driveway! Lock car, and in to chat about day with Sandi, making arrangements for 7AM breakfast for our 9:30 bus tour tomorrow, and Ken shows me his "65 and over" senior bill, and I'm to bed at 10:05 after arguing with Ken about jiggling his toilet handle to make it stop running, saying he should use mine. Take blankets off, eyemask on, sleep fairly quickly, though not as tired as last night.

SATURDAY, 11/11/06: Pee at 4:20, doze and think, up at 6:04 and pee again, running water whole time to get it warm to wash my face, and type from 6:26-6:52, ready to sort through stuff to take today, already loaded with two extra rolls of film, which I was afraid of running out of yesterday if we HAD taken the second walking tour, which we have to take Sunday, and glad to look outside to see no rain at this moment. Dress and out to breakfast at 7, peeing again at 6:59. Sandi gives me Ken's glass of milk, Ken complains about my using all the milk in the pitcher for my cereal, I go back to the kitchen for the jam, Sandi fusses around until Marv comes out with the papers, in which Ken looks up the rain-filled weather forecast, with even some snow possible today, and rain on Tuesday, when we have more tours. Sandi says the Lake is an "inland sea" that can get VERY rough, thus the rocks along the edge. She advises us to go inside Bloomingdale's, which wasn't a mosque but something else, and Ken continues to jabber while I eat half his muffin and brush my teeth and finish this at 7:30, Ken coughing past in the hall. Then he SNEEZES a dozen times, and I pee for the fourth time, remember to take out my single glove for holding a possible umbrella, and type this at 7:33AM. Start 7:40, Ken driving, and I get to see the good views of the houses and chateaux along the lakefront. Park at 8:45, lane 1G, to Chicago Architecture Foundation, which opens at 9AM, so we go to Corner Bakery to pee at 8:53 and I read New Yorker while Ken is told to check with Ticketmaster for a refund on his senior-less ticket after our tour. Board front seat for tour at 9:26. 35 on bus. Syma starts talking at 9:28 and doesn't stop. Off at Rookery again and Board of Trade at 9:45. #25 Rookery top close-up 9:50. #26 window washer at Board of Trade 9:52. #27 Wright staircase 10:01, no flash. #28 Phillip Johnson's (only) Chicago top 10:09. #29 lobby at 190 LaSalle 10:11. #30 Sears on boarding bus at 10:15. Told that Bloomingdale's was MASONIC Temple. #31 a statue that was 1000 feet tall (she MUST mean 100 feet, since this is 1/3 the size and is about 30 feet tall) during 1898 Exposition 10:35. 10:40 to Robie House, no photos inside; #32 and #33 of front door area (hidden for no surprise visitors) 10:42. To #37 Robie House to 11:09, really broken up for reconstruction, many pieces stolen, lost, or appropriated; no bedrooms or basement visible, and I don't remember lower playroom and billiards room. Leave 11:12. Roll 2: #1 Henry Moore sculpture where Stagg Field was, where in 1942 the first nuclear chain reaction was sustained. #2 Loredo Taft "Fountain of Life" from 1922 11:25. #3 Rockefeller Memorial Chapel 11:29. #4 Mies Crown Hall 1956 12:11. Across many neighborhoods and rebuildings and tearings-down, constant talk and names. To #9 from Shedd Aquarium point, and Adler Planetarium, to 12:30. Back to north side to rich houses, historic sites, and tour is over precisely at 1PM. To Corner Bakery for brownie appetizer, ham on pretzel-bread-half and black bean soup for $16.73 with $1.71 "Mall/Build Employee's" discount. Into car 1:47 and easy ride back on highway when Ken says I'll have to instruct him backward, and back 2:37, Sandi in kitchen and we chat a bit, then I'm out to look at brown waves and feel cold chill off Lake Michigan, back in to start typing at 2:57, aware of shit-smell from me, and type to 3:15, ready for shower, preparing to leave for Charlie Trotter's at 4:45. Incredible shit-stains on shorts that I wash out before showering, finishing by 3:48. Talk planning with Ken to 4:26, when I go to dress. Dress by 4:40, leave 5:10, ten minutes after Sandi thinks we should because Marv dawdles, and we get stopped in traffic a few times, but he knows where to go, and we get there to flag down a valet parker at 6:08, and get seated immediately at a loud table and find only two menus, vegetarian (which Sandi briefly thinks of taking, for $125) and the regular (for $145, with seven courses). Talk about wine for a while, but I finally go with Ken for the $85 flight of matched wines when I see there are 7, some with good names like Montrachet-Chassagne, and they agree to sharing a flight, though Marv gets kind of nasty and Sandi sort of beggy. Amuse bouche of nearly raw tuna with a foam that doesn't taste like much, and the starting champagne isn't the best to my taste, but Ken likes it. Then two whites with the skate with a tiny oyster to the side, OK texture, and a pillow-soft halibut with crosnes and a new-named Japanese seaweed flake that's mildly interesting. The waiter serves us more when we complain about the smallness of the first white pour of an Albarino Ken doesn't care he doesn't have more of. Then a set of squab with a gritty foie gras piece put in the shade by a fabulously overdone leg piece that's richer than anything else in the meal. The reds aren't smashing, but the Indian axis venison, imported from India in the 30s and raised in Texas, is chewy and tasty, and there's a date-fig granité that's cold and good between. Then Marv gets a fabulous platter of cheeses and date-nut breads, while we have some nuggets of something and an intense chocolate cake that Ken gets a naked supplement of because it's supposed to be under a shower of red-beet crisps. Two dessert wines, one a good California Rising Sun, or something, with an OK sherry, and then a tiny plate of mignardises while they have coffee and I have nothing, and including the endlessly poured Fiji water, which isn't bad, the bill comes to $1086.29, including an 18% tip of $150.30 on the four menus of $580 and three wines of $255, and the tax is $100.99, so I figure our meals were $299 and theirs were $243.15, of which I convince Sandi (Marv has gone to the john---where they had menus from Boyer le Crayere, which Sandi loved; two from Moulin de Mougin---where they hope to get Bergé for Marv's birthday celebration; one from Pierre Gagnaire and one from Lagiole and one from the James Beard among the dozens of Charlie Trotter's awards). Two bathrooms upstairs for the double-size dining rooms up there, one next to a wine wall, quieter than downstairs, where Marv could hear only when he turned off one hearing aid, and we leave to a crowd in the lobby, someone complaining they had to wait a half-hour, and we had finished at 9:35, so maybe we took extra time, though we ate when we were served, the last waiter a doll-faced cutie. Get the car, squeeze into the back seat, and home at 10:20 and bed at 10:40, or 10:44 after a frantic search for my eyemask, which was to one side of the bedclothes. Sleep fairly quickly with my night pills and two aspirin, and comfortable in bed.

SUNDAY, 11/12/06: Wake at 5:40 and pee and type DREAMS:11/12/06, and look at watch at 6 and 7:15 and get up about 7:35 to type to 7:46, ready for day, counting only five days left of this trip, sighing to be back home already, my yesterday-washed shorts thankfully dry. Wash and shit to 8:01, reading Thursday's Wall Street Journal about the glorious Democratic win in the elections, and dress and go out to the living area at 8:10. Breakfast, Times, Ken's Apple-computer directions fuss, and others fussing around by 9:52, when they leave. Decide to wear black pullover rather than dress shirt, for warmth. Leave house 10:40AM after reading all of Sunday's Times, I driving to allow Ken to look at the passing views, and to direct me to Portillo's, where I see the parking lot for McDonald's and say we can have dessert there to pay for our parking; he complaining all the while. Good Portillo's jumbo hotdog and lemonade for $4.19 in huge place with lots of people even on a Sunday morning. Look at menu at McDonald's, and the only thing to get is 3 cookies for $1.50, so for $6 I want 12 cookies, but they're 13 for $5, and with tax it comes to $5.50, but they validate my parking stub and the guy accepts it! Eat a number of cookies through the day, both oatmeal and chocolate chip pretty good, even though I really don't need the food! Start walking toward the Sears Tower at 12:41, longer than he thought, but I knew it was far, and find a long line outside lobby! He says we can't possibly wait, so we walk the long way back in the cold, to Corner Bakery at 1:18, where Ken orders coffee and has none of the cookies, while I have more and look at some dynamite guys passing. I finish the Times Doublecrostic and put cookies AWAY! #10 Palmer House lobby-roof at 2:35 with tour started at 2PM of Cultural Chicago with same map and 9 of us. #11 Carson Pirie Scott corner 2:42. #12 Gehry Concert roof in Millennium Park 3:35. Tour to 3:55 with GORGEOUS tall Netherlands Delft-blue-eyed, long-gazing doll with LONG feet; and a good-looking big-nosed ex-New Yorker with lovely eyes and teeth. Ken goes back to Architecture to check something and I say we can go to Sears Tower tomorrow morning, but as I sit and rest a bit, I figure it's bright NOW, so I go across and call to Ken and we walk back to empty lobby and up elevator 4:15PM to see signs that it's a 45-minute wait, which Ken can't believe, but we're through the metal detector and into a waiting room, where we're let into a movie (from the History Channel) about building the tower (from 4:48-4:55), Ken paying with a credit card $9.95 for seniors over 65 and $11.95 for adults---they make a LOT of money! Up to roof at 5PM, JUST 45 minutes, and it's dark already, hardly even a line of sunset, just lit streets going off to the horizon in all directions except the lake, dotted above with plane's lights, apparently far above Aon and Hancock towers, with a nearby church steeple the highest church tower in the world at 565 feet. Bright-topped tower just to the north of us unidentified. Smoke from 7 floors above our 103 observation tower ominous. Look out in all directions, take a few pictures, read the inner text, and down at 5:48 and to car by 6:12. He directs and leaves car with valet at Alinea at 6:45 and we order the 23-course dinner with matching 12 wines, chatting with three doctors to my right, awkward-in-body main waiter but two DOLLS also serve us: one an all-American square face with wonderfully clear and steady wide-spaced blue eyes, but with a wide ass (did I say this somewhere before? [yes, in DREAMS]) and a second like the guy [Seann William Scott] with The Rock with a FABULOUS smile and AGAIN steady gaze that's totally seductive. Ask for a second blini and eat TWO when Ken doesn't eat his! An extra course with foie gras! An extra pour when I don't remember a wine is supposed to last for two courses. Incredible presentations: a pin that you pull to plop potato, cheese, and butter into a vichyssoise that Ken's willing to have a cup of by itself, a hot-bar with three lovely pieces of lamb taken off with boxwood chopsticks very sensual to touch, a ludicrous disk-on-needle with food at the end that you snap off with your mouth like a fish from the end of a rod, and a finale with a "Two-ey" Canadian 2-dollar-like piece, silver around edge, gold in middle, into which is placed an inverted cylinder with five prongs holding a cinnamon stick with a dessert on the end that you pull off with your mouth, and another tiny packet you take off the edge of a proffered ruler. We didn't get the inverted trapeze-roller with a strip of bacon in the center and two other things on a wire between the rockers. Totally outrageous! And memorable! And delicious! The smell of burning maple leaves from upended glasses over the MOST intense mushroom essence. Lots of talk, lots of wine, we're both stuffed, Ken more than me. Out at 11:55PM, over 5 hours and 10 minutes, with KNOWN figures recorded from the $725.45 bill, and gal refused to take tip for the coats. Drive back in some rain and with windshield problems to 12:39, bed at 12:54AM with two aspirin and night pills. Sleep right away.

MONDAY, 11/13/06: 7:02AM: I wake coughing, hoping to clear whatever it was I swallowed into my lungs that caused my coughing last night at dinner, trying fruitlessly to remember a homoerotic dream, pining for the four beautiful men encountered yesterday, sitting with the third and fourth aspirin trying to equilibrate my body to all the food and wine in the more than five-hour (6:45-11:55) dinner last night, thankfully preserved in print, happy for the experience, miserable in the impossibility of repeating or elaborating on some of them, maybe just wanting to be held affectionately so I can gaze into their beautiful faces without hope of consummation or fear of refusal. Enough now, still exhausted from walking and driving and consuming sights and food and drink, ready for 2-3 hours more rest in bed. Shit (after recording above text in file 3 at 7:22AM), and up at 8:53, just under eight hours, still feeling full. Out at 9:07 to tell Marv about it, then Sandi, then breakfast without cereal, just muffin and orange juice and pills, and do puzzle until Ken's ready for car at 10:20, he driving this time to park with me DEMANDING we exit on side of museum, not where he wants to go, and in at 11:28; and he wants to pee and have lunch! I say we wait, he "compromises" at noon, so we look at all the Thorne miniature rooms, go to the Garden Cafe (where I have Crab Three Ways, small but OK, and he has a Caesar salad and garlic cloves and bread), we eat from 12:15-12:45, then see some things together, I take some pictures of Italian bronzes of Hercules and other bodies, and of "Grand Jatte" and maybe another to #18, not having my notebook with me, and I go upstairs, downstairs, and in middle, seeing two special exhibits for which I take brochures, and to shop at 4:50 to find they're open till 5:30, so buy a book for $19.95 discounted $2 with Sandi's membership card that got both of us in FREE, and Ken shops for Albright's "Dorian Gray" but can't find it, and we're out after he asks clerk in Museum and guy in Architecture for exit for Shedd Aquarium tomorrow, and he dawdles at the car at 5:20 so that by the time we get to Blackbird, parking in a lot for only $5 rather than Blackbird's valet charge of $10, we're on time. We start at 5:50 when it's almost empty, but it gets busier and louder and VERY much more crowded. He loves his fish soup, I consent to a mediocre Roederer champagne for $54, my sweetbread appetizer isn't bad but it's too WET, and then he likes his rabbit, but my short ribs aren't special, and my semifreddo is bizarre (with waffles under maple syrup atop chocolate ice cream with very sweet whipped cream on side), and his cup of schlag with chocolate on the bottom isn't very good either, with its meringue cookies. I pee, try getting a freebie saying we're Beard members, but get nothing, out at 7:56, relieved to be early, home at 8:33, a new record, and I pee, counting only 8 meals left, only Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday left to drive, Arun's tomorrow and Carlos's on Wednesday, beginning at the edges to think about the trip FOLLOWING. Finish the puzzle after Sandi comes out and welcomes us, and I thank her again for the Museum membership card. She's up early tomorrow, so she goes to bed at 8PM; Ken goes to talk to Marv in the back computer room. I finish the Sunday Times main puzzle by 8:55, but can't go to bed YET, so I type this by 9:52 (maybe I started later) and tired enough to get to sleep, if anything before 10, even to 6AM will give me eight much-needed hours. Got to start thinking of sorting stuff out. Stop now at 9:54PM. Forgot it RAINED a bit after we ate and were driving back, but then it stopped. Shit very smellily and sit and feel dazed with longing for trip to be over, and bring over morning's pills and type this at 10:07PM and get to bed. Quickly to sleep.

TUESDAY, 11/14/06: Pee at 3:16. Type DREAMS:11/14/06 at 6:24AM to 6:28, feeling pretty rested after more than 8 hours' sleep with only one pee interrupting. Pee again. Up at 7:05AM just to stop thinking (and possibly starting to obsess) and start doing things. Dress a bit and read articles on restaurants and Millennium Park---mainly the band shell, "fountains" (the two glass cubes the water of which doesn't function in the winter), and "Bean" (the mirrored shape)---to 7:28, ready to sort souvenirs and bills. Sort out souvenirs by sizes and bills by person and date and put two bags away by 8AM. Shit and run the warm water for washing face, and put on pullover and comb hair and ready for breakfast at 8:12AM. Eat, scan Times, do puzzle, argue with Ken about my asking if he wanted to eat breakfast with me, and leave 9:30AM. 10:42AM park in Shedd, I running out of things to look at as he drives in, glad we have only one more time to come this way. Into Shedd for $10 at 10:50. Lots of kids. Fuss with lockers after Ken loses 75¢ in one, pee at end of long hall, and head for Oceanarium, where he engages in an endless set of questions about how to arrange things before lunch. To the lizards, monitor being larger than Komodo, but no large one on view, Komodo being motionless. Some gorgeous ones, some even in motion. #19 Madagascar blue tree monitor 12:26. Then to dolphin-training show 11:31-11:47, sitting in front. #20 Madagascar panther chameleon 11:58 on return to lizards, then he insists on lunch, moving from one child-filled table to another, looking over Chicago skyline, and he orders Asian chicken salad that comes out otherwise and takes a long time to switch, and I have spicy chicken wings with blue cheese and celery and carrots and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, all really quite good. #22 Caiman lizard 3:12. Couple of sea dragons without flash to #25. Reef downstairs had the largest, most colorful aquaria, but some of the upstairs exhibits were good, mainly those about the Amazon, which I'll be seeing at LOW tide next week, though it says rainy season starts in November, heaviest in west first! NOT a good precursor! Out exhausted with no places to sit at 4:56, drive to usual South Parking Garage and walk in drizzle to Palmer House Hilton at 5:25 for my two gin and tonics and his two mai tais, all at $9, for a rather surprising $45.24 bill, which, added to the $14 parking, made almost $60 for four drinks! Leave at 6:35, drive to Arun's 7:10 after Ken endlessly tries to second-guess turns and possibilities. Good-to-fabulous 12-course dinner: 6 appetizers, 4 main courses served together, family-style, and two desserts, with a $40 Gruner Vieltliner that changed to tasting like water after some fiery curries, but back to tasty after food got milder. I don't want scallops, so my first 1) appetizer comes with a slice of zucchini over a crab cake, while Ken has scallops. 2) a leaf with coconut and crunchies and added sweet sauce and one pepper to his three, put in mouth at once, 3) shrimp with another sauce, maybe this one on a long narrow dish with many parts to it, 4) rice-flour crepe with tofu and carrots and a cucumber salad, wonderful crepe texture, 5) salad with a peanut sauce that, when I asked if it was Massaman, that I said I liked, she said she'd serve us a Massaman main course. 6) beef tenderloin, maybe with a tomato floret and cucumber fan on the side, 7) fish in a donut ring with lettuce on a sauce, 8) Massaman beef, wonderful, 9) chicken diced like mushu pork, even more wonderful, 10) lobster tail in curry sauce with winter melon slice, 11) chocolate/tapioca cup, 12) poached pear alongside lichee sorbet in a thin-dough cup, all for a bill of $264.42. Out at 9:10, Ken in love with a few servers; get gas for $36.71 in rain locally at 9:45, home at 9:57 to chat with Sandi about Salome and the Oriental Institute for tomorrow, and brush my teeth, change earplugs, and fuss to 10:25, bed at 10:30, feeling still full and still tired from all the standing and walking.

WEDNESDAY, 11/15/06: Pee at 3:08 and type DREAMS:11/15/06 to 3:28. Another dream at 5:41, much more elaborate. Lie, and up at 7:37 to shit, but decide to shower right now, and water gets hot quickly and I do last shower here to 8:14, and out to dry off and type to here by 8:36AM, ready to change into clean underwear and get out to (sigh) breakfast, only five more meals left on this trip; mentally counting 1) today Chicago, 2) fly to NYC, 3) NYC, 4) fly to Florida, 5) fly to La Paz. Dress and fuss and to breakfast at 8:46AM. Ken's not up when I finish, so I go to my room and do two airline sudoku, "moderate" much easier than "gentle," "diabolical" difficult so far to 10:50AM after Ken dropped by and said he wanted to "digest a bit" before leaving, and I said, "I'm ready when you are," so I pee and Vicks nose and put shoes on and type this at 10:51, ready to come back early if he wants to: it's daylight and HE can drive back. Leave at 10:55, park at 11:52 after harrowing drive down with Ken yelling at me at one point, and into Oriental Institute Museum at 12:04, passing up an embroidery tour, fascinated by the enormous #26 woman-wall from Sargon's palace in Khorsabad, Iraq, with Sennacherib on the left at 12:23. #28 men towing a boat at 12:28, from Sargon's throne room. #29 Ken and Tut: at 17 feet 4 inches, the tallest Egyptian statue in the Western Hemisphere, weighing 6 tons. #30, #31, and #32 Assyrian reliefs at 1:33, again from Khorsabad. Leave 1:43, back to car 1:51, impossible to tell if we're late at the 2-hour parking meter or not: display is just blank. Ken directs me the wrong way---I thought I might direct him back, but I predicted more disaster if I tried to direct him---so I drive, miss the express lanes once---hectic drive of which I'm glad this is the last---and get gas for $5 at 2:50, back to house at 2:58, Sandi napping. We have a snack, I finish the McDonald's cookies with a half-bagel and cream cheese and orange juice while looking at Marv's rather boring slides of the same Japanese trip (on the same boat!) we'll be taking at the same time they did, when it rained a lot but they also had cherry blossoms. Then check some additions to the Arun menu with Ken and get back to finish typing this at 4:08, being told that we have to wear jackets at Carlos's, and I'm feeling so antsy that I take a Valium just to be safe. Not made better by Ken's hoping the awful weather predicted for tomorrow won't hold up our flight to New York! Nothing to do at 4:12. Cheat on airlines "diabolical" sudoku to end it, finishing fairly easy crossword, too, by 6:19PM, fighting sleep, and I think everyone else is napping! Pee. Wash face and start on New Yorker 6:28. Ken FORCES me to vacate my seat next to Sandi to get dressed at 6:49 for our 7:30 reservation to a place Sandi says is 5 minutes away! Sit and talk about travel, looking at 1000 Places You Must Visit---to find that many, many too many are expensive hotels or resorts or golf courses, so scratch THAT. Leave about 7:05 and get there 7:40, hugely greeted by Carlos and his wife Debbie, and get the tasting (for which I ask for the menu), except I paid $15 extra for the double hot/cold foie gras in place of the scallop; Ken gets filet mignon rather than venison, which Sandi replaces with foie gras; and Marv has cheese rather than the dessert; and with the wine pairing the half-bill comes to $269.91. Many mess-ups: they forgot two wine degustation orders, gave me the wrong wine when I asked for more of the delicious first wine for the foie gras, and waited much too long with some of the wines. The chef talked endlessly with our neighbors. Sandi and Marv in a good mood, lots of stories exchanged, and we're out, I paying the $5 for coats, forgetting to take my copy of the menu (but it wasn't that great, though more expensive by two dollars and change than superior Arun's); drive back by 10:15, stuffed, and pee and type this to 10:32PM, figuring to leave about 10AM for O'Hare: one day left, two meals left, trip coming to an end with the cushion of Valium---I'm thinking almost not at all. Stuffed with food again like last night. Almost forget night pills. Brush teeth and pee again and bed 10:43PM. Sleep quickly.

THURSDAY, 11/16/06: 3:59AM: Wake with a dream at 3:49 and pee and take a Valium and two aspirin and type dream. Last day! Finish typing at 4:06AM, somewhat flat-feeling in affect. 6:40AM: Type dream fragment and pee again. Wake at 8:10 with an incredible dream and finish typing DREAMS:11/16/06 and this by 8:22AM. Wash face and dress and to breakfast at 8:30, penultimate meal of trip! Finish at 8:53, glancing through the Times, and REALLY getting tired of Ken clearing his throat! Pack essentially everything but this away by 9:21AM. ALL ready by 9:30. Shit and find Ken reading in living room at 9:40, saying we're not leaving at 10 but at 10:30. He checked online, which didn't give him any information, so he PHONED to find that the flight was leaving on time. Leave 10:27, Ken driving under duress, and the toll road signs go from I-Pass ONLY to $1 cash, and when we get to the machine, it and the last sign specify 80¢ exactly, which happens to be EXACTLY the change I have in my coin purse. Give Ken's single back to him, and we commiserate with foreign tourists who happen not to have 80¢ in coins handy. To Avis, after lots of traffic jams on interstates, at 11:12. Effortless check-in. Pee. Bus leaves 11:15, to Terminal C for American to 11:25. Ken e-tickets BOTH of us. Luggage checked in at 11:30, and we see that 1:35 departure has been delayed to 2:15! Waiting for carry-on check, I exclaim "Oh shit," because I forgot to put my scissors from my dop kit into my checked-in baggage, but then remember that I carried my dop kit, with scissors, through LGA on the way here, and, thankfully, they say nothing about them. Ken insists he's going to the john and then to breakfast, which is totally absurd because it isn't even 11:45AM yet, and he doesn't (yet) think of advancing the argument that it IS 12:45PM in New York. I say I'll meet him at gate H6, which I take a long time to locate signs to, and get there at 11:45 and save a seat next to me for him, and finish this at 11:57, ready to finish 10/30-dated New Yorker. Buy good beef burrito for $6.16 at 1:50PM, eating just a tiny bit until I feel still hungry, so I eat more. Ken gets a HUGE chocolate-chip peanut-butter pie (with chocolate sauce yet!) for $5. Flight now scheduled for 3:15, wind problems delaying landings at LaGuardia airport! We board at 3PM, but with the announcement that "wheels up" time is 5:08PM! We move back at 3:16 for 1:47 flight, 60° in NYC! At 3:37 we're still holding and they turn off seatbelt sign, so I climb over the couple to my right again and shit. Read New Yorker, giving it to Ken for the article on Stoppard's trilogy, which he's already bought tickets for, but I tell him Charles and Mildred hated the first part. Then do puzzles and sudoku. Finally off at 5:03, and at 5:05 above clouds with bit of sunset in the right rear. Do sudoku when view gets boring and dark, and at 6:08 there are lights below, but at 6:26 it's dark again, so I finish burrito, feeling full, want to be DOWN, but delay, and I STILL fear we might not even be able to land if the wind doesn't stop and we'll be rerouted somewhere ELSE, like that awful time from Texas when Fred and I had to return to NYC from Washington by a train that the airline refused to pay for. At 6:37 the pilot announces a "bumpy landing at 7:05." At 7:05 we're below clouds, over Long Island? Land at 7:11, very hard rain streaking outside in wing-lights. Change watch to 8:11PM, weary, having been in plane for 4:11 for a 2:08 flight. Off plane at 8:15, pee, and Ken's bag is already on the floor, off the carousel. Look for mine nearby but it's not there, then spot another group on the OTHER side of the carousel and it's there. Into taxi at 8:40 in driving rain, Ken cursing me for wanting to stay on MY side of the cab when he fusses with umbrella trying to get his leviathan suitcase into the cab trunk. Home at 9PM, he "nyah-nyahing" me when driver goes down Henry, leaving me off across the street from the 101 entrance. Gather mail, look through it all to 9:55, noting that it's 63° out! Do puzzles in various magazines to 10:50, when I'm tired enough to call it a day; take pills and wash face and make list for tomorrow and get to bed at 11:04PM, taking a long time to get to sleep, with facemask on.

FRIDAY, 11/17/06: Pee at 4:20, up at 7:30 to jerk off longly until about 8:45, do more puzzles, get a call from Paul that I'm to taxi to his place for dinner tomorrow, since he can't check in his luggage until 4 hours before takeoff, or 7:15, and he doesn't want to lug his baggage around. Have breakfast and do more puzzles until 11:30, when I call Spartacus---still in bed---who will call me back, and leave word with Shelley, asking about how she'd like to handle my Visa problem. It's $3250.30 and they'll charge me $14.95 to make a personal-check payment by phone after I get back. Proof and print the dream pages, and finish typing and proofing this by 12:55PM, running sort of late. Room for summary here?


THU,11/9: Fly LGA-OHR 12:50-2:56,rent Avis car, Fujiyama dinner for 4, MARV pays.
FRI,11/10: Historic Skyscraper tour 10-12:21, Atwood Cafe lunch in Reliance Building, Mexico Museum 2:20-4:45, Pizzeria Uno dinner 6:21-7:15, J-Bar drinks.
SAT,11/11: Chicago bus tour 9:28-1 (Robie House), Corner Bakery lunch, Charlie Trotter's dinner for 4, we treat, for $1086.29! They accept reluctantly.
SUN,11/12: Portillo's hotdog lunch, McDonald's cookies, Cultural Chicago tour 2-3:55, Sears Tower 5-5:40, Alinea 6:45-11:55, 24 courses at $725.45 INCREDIBLE.
MON,11/13: Chicago Art Institute 11:28, Garden Cafe lunch, leave after I buy guidebook at 5:10, Blackbird dinner 5:50-7:56 for $209.56, mediocre.
TUE,11/14: Shedd Aquarium 10:50, lunch, to 4:56, to Palmer House Hilton for drinks 5:25-6:35 for $45.24, Arun's 12-course dinner 7:10-9:10 for $264.42.
WED,11/15: Oriental Institute Museum 12:04-1:43, lunch snack, Carlos' 7:40-9:55 for $269.91, not really that great; I'm getting tired of Chicago!
THU,11/16: Leave for airport 10:27, delay, burrito and peanut-butter cake lunch, fly OHR-LGA 5:03-7:11 [8:11 in NYC], home 9PM, bed 11:04, long time to sleep.
FRI,11/17: Up 7:30, jerk off, do more mail, catch up, type this 1:25PM, tired.