Dienstag, 31. Mai 2011

From Logan Airport to Logan Square

We've made our first official stop on RT 66!
We are happily arrived in Chicago,  Il and everything that I've ever heard about the city is running through my head. Wind does blow garbage through the air ("What state's Chicago in? I'd say Il!") and grit painfully against my legs. Our hosts say that "Chicago-style pizza is disgusting and nothing but butter and cheese" ("....A toddlin' town") etc.
Our hotel is lovely. Chosen for it's proximity to our friend here, we're totally charmed by it. We had a wonderful lunch in the nasty heat, after a skinny hostess swayed away, burdened with our back-packs and saying "...it's no problem..." to put them aside until their 3 pm check-in.
A walking tour with Ivo's old college buddies led us through a veritable globe of segregated communities. A neighborhood resided in by Orthodox jewish and Iraqi communities led to a Korean neighborhood. (There was a deli that offered Korean-Mexican food.) We stopped in Little India for delicious milk-based refreshment and then continued down back down the road for Ivo's first experience with Korean Barbeque. (I had a buckwheat vegetable pancake.)
We're back at the hotel early, due to "jet-lag" and "meat coma" and will forgo using our "whisky tokens" that we've been given, to be used at the bar downstairs. For now, we can choose from provided reading material that includes "9 Stories" by Salinger or "The Missing Piece Meets the Big O" by Silverstein; in this hotel room that very much resembles that of a teenager in a by-gone decade (there is an old cassette player with pre-made mixed-tapes; a comforter that I swear could be an exact copy of my brother's from years ago and one accent papered-wall that a 16 year old would find intensely creative.)

Tomorrow, the Trib building and a Great Lake swim.

Samstag, 7. Mai 2011

cultural nouse

When Ivo was in Russia, I got him a book: Unsung Cultural Icons of the Soviet Union. I saw it in the book store, opened it, flipped through and instantly saw a "Beveled Glass." This is just a normal, bog-standard juice glass, but Ivo had shown me one in one of our video chats and the coincidence made me chuckle.
Turns out, he loves the book. He's been reading it in bed and sometimes reads it aloud. This doesn't totally work, because he'll say "See?" just as I'm drifting off, trying to show me a photo from the book. A couple nights ago, closing my eyes to the proffered book, Ivo read about a popular toy that tips and teeters but doesn't fall over. "Like Weeble Wobbles?" I sleepily asked. "Huh?" "You know, 'Weeble Wobbles wobble but they won't fall down?" Ivo doesn't know this toy and it's now added to the list of things that are different about our childhoods. It's the small less obvious cultural norms that we forget about but that are so important. I think thats what makes this book so much fun and always gives us something to chit-chat about.
One cultural difference here is the chat in the street. In Zürich, I can't be in a rush, because I'll have to stop and chat to anyone I know if I run into them. Strangely, if I have friends with me when I run into someone, there is no obligation to introduce the different friends. If I'm with a group of friends and run into a friend with their own group of friends, the two groups will remain their own entities, while my friend and I do the obligatory stop-and-chat.
Last week I was rushing down the road in San Francisco and saw a friend approaching in her own rush, with bags on each shoulder and buds in her ears. I removed my own earbuds and we waved at each other and, without slpwing our paces, waved and said, "You good? - Yeah!  - Later!" and continued on our ways. I don't know which is better, but the differences strike me as comical.