Gas station neon sign, orange and white
Winks an eye and it whispers 'Goodnight'
Drunk on the train to Chicago, I feel alright
Half-pint of Dewar's white label still half full
The train lurches left, lurches right
Drunk on the train to Chicago, I feel alright
--Drink Me, “Train to Chicago”
So I suppose I should write something. It’s been a while, after all. I mean, I have been in Chicago for three weeks. Even though I began to despair of ever making it here at all.
I actually began to worry with about two weeks left. A notice given at the end of May for a job that starts on July 5th leaves a lot of time for the possibility it won’t happen to creep in. At least, it does if you’re me. I started having these crazy dreams that the whole thing had fallen apart and I was trying to get my Dallas job back and it wasn’t working. So then I’d wake up and be in a low-level panic for the rest of the day.
I greeted Friday, July 1st with relief as much as excitement. I went to work in the morning, then went to pick up the truck. It wasn’t there yet. This would be the best thing about the next two days of my life.
See, I’d lined up a couple friends to help me load the truck. I figured it would just be a few hours of work and I’d be headed out of town first thing on Saturday morning. I forgot to factor in two things. 1. I’m an idiot. 2. I lived on the third floor.
I gave up working at 11 PM on Friday evening with the belief that I would be getting out of there some time between 10 and noon the next morning. At 6 am I crawled out of bed. Then I left Dallas at seven.
That’s seven o’clock at night.
That was when I learned that Daisy does not like trucks. She doesn’t like being next to them. She doesn’t like being in them. She sure as hell doesn’t like getting in and out of them. Okay, she was fine with the truck when it wasn’t moving. But that was about it.
I rolled in to Muskogee, OK at about midnight on Saturday and had to call a guy out to fix the fender on the tow dolly, which was awesome. It had been out of alignment and it seemed dangerously close to the tire for reasons I couldn’t understand.
Still, Sunday went well. Other than that part where I thought I was in imminent danger of running out of fuel and on the verge of panic. Turned out that the truck had a 55 gallon tank but thought it had a 34 gallon tank. So the good news was that I got much, much better gas mileage than I thought.
I stopped for fuel in Bloomington, IL. The tow strap had fallen off my left tire. That was…worrisome.
As I finally rolled up I-55 in to Chicagoland the skies all around to the north exploded with fireworks. I assumed Chicago was welcoming me back.
We unloaded the truck in to a storage locker on the Fourth and left the tow dolly in my neighbors’ driveway. I was doing something in the truck and my dad called me over. He pointed at the left tire on the tow dolly. The tread was cupped and the inner sidewall bowed out. I walked over and saw where the tire had been rubbing up against the fender. The tire hadn’t been tracking straight. Turned out I was lucky I didn’t lose my car. Yeah, I’d bought the insurance, but it’s usually easier to not have to deal with catastrophic car accidents out in the middle of the cornfields of central Illinois…
Anyway, there was one thing I was really worried about: how would Daisy and Oscar get along? Oscar is “my” dog, too, but since I moved out he’s been my parents’ dog. They’ve been good, though. Daisy just wants to play and Oscar mostly wants to be left alone, but they get along.
Now Daisy and Butters, my sister and bro-in-law’s dog, well, the first meeting didn’t go so well. We haven’t gone for the second just yet.
So, either way, I’ve been safely ensconced in Chicago. I’m back with my old company, but in a new office in the Loop, which is pretty goddamn sweet. I made a pretty important investment in my commute before I left.
I’m a big fan of my new Nookcolor on pretty much every level.
Meanwhile, my company had been a suburban company. As part of their switch to the new offices in the Loop they upgraded to new laptops. There was a Toshiba Portege R700 waiting for me at my desk. My first thought was, “Is this a netbook?” My next thought was, “Chicklet keys? WTF?”
The next morning I was standing on the train platform waiting for my train. All of the sudden I thought, “Holy shit! I forgot my computer!”
My two previous work laptops were a Lenovo T60 and a Lenovo T500. My personal laptop is an Asus G50VT. Before that I had a Toshiba laptop from the late ‘90s that was approximately as heavy and durable as a cinder block. So, basically, what I’m saying is that the laptops I’ve had in my life have been heavy-ass motherfuckers. Also, the laptop bag I had in Dallas had these big ol’ rubber stoppers that made the bag itself extremely heavy.
The Toshiba Portege R700 weighs three pounds. My Nookcolor is almost as heavy. Those two devices weigh nearly as much as my old computer bag did with nothing in it. I’ve come to love this little sucker in the past three weeks and that moment was the first point of appreciation.
This, by the way, is one of the reasons I was more than happy to head back to my company. They, like all companies, get things wrong and screw up from time to time. But they get the little things right way more often than not. And in those times when they don’t they will usually do what it takes to correct their mistakes. Realizing that they’re moving in to the city, which means most people will be taking trains, which means they should pick new laptops for weight and portability is one of those little things that’s really easy to screw up.
Anyway, I get to be in the city every day. Which is pretty fucking cool. And the view ain’t bad, either. Especially when storms roll in from the west.
I had tickets for U2 at Soldier Field my first day at work, so I stayed downtown. I grabbed dinner at a bar and nearly cried when I saw the row of taps.
Two Brothers. Metropolitan. Great Lakes. Bell’s. I’d missed the Midwest.
Then, of course, there’s the Chicago style hot dog…
And, for shits and giggles, a macaroni and cheese truck. I’ve also seen a gumbo truck a couple times.
Oh, and the world ended.
Either that or the iPhone is terrible for taking pictures at things like Soundgarden concerts.
Yeah, that’s right. Since moving back to Chicago I’ve seen U2 and Soundgarden. Also, the Wheeler Brothers. And Mike Doughty and Soul Asylum. Next weekend: Scott Lucas & the Married Men and Toad the Wet Sprocket.
You wish you were me, I’ll bet…