Journal Entry: October 6, 2008

So, I normally don’t post on my days off, but none of you knew today was going to be a day off for me, so I decided out of merciful kindheartedness to update after all.

Friday was my last day of classes in Chicago. There was one afternoon flight out of O’Hare to get me back to OKC on before Saturday, but it was so early in the day that class would have had to end ridiculously early for me to make the flight. I mean, hours and hours early. Classes usually end early on the last day, particularly when the last day is a Friday, but still — it was extremely unlikely, so I booked my return flight for Saturday. Then I spent all day Friday hoping the class would end early enough for me to make it out, absurd or not.

Class ended exactly half an hour too late for me to make it out. Ugh.

While I was waiting to find that out, though, I checked out Digg at some point and found an article about the top 13 barbecue joints in the country. I clicked through them all, and one happened to be in Chicago. Not only that, but it happened to be within about ten miles of my hotel, so reasonable, even. I decided to check it out.

So about six o’clock I headed east. Went about a mile down, got on the interstate, and stopped. During rush hour, on a Friday, I was headed into Chicago proper. I hadn’t really thought about it like that. So it took me a solid hour to go ten miles or so. Maybe fifteen. I also knew from the article about the place that it was takeout only, so I was pretty sure my food was going to be totally cold and inedible if I had to make an hour drive back to my hotel room to eat it.

Luckily that wasn’t the case. I was able to find a parking spot not far from the restaurant, walked down to buy the food, walked back to my car and then made it back to my hotel room in less than fifteen minutes. Part of the difference was that rush hour had ended, but most of it was that I was heading out of town instead of into it.

Anyway, I spent most of the rest of the night eating the basket of ribs. It was phenomenal, and way too much food. Just damn delicious, though.

I chatted with D– and Jeff, and watched most of Michael Clayton (which is basically this: imagine someone decided to do a remake of Pelican Brief except they wanted three incredibly awkward five-minute scenes, scattered throughout, where George Clooney drives around in a car making serious faces and not saying anything (or having anything said to him) — that’s Michael Clayton), and also got packed for my trip home.

Saturday morning I woke up at 6:00 so I could be at the car rental place two hours before my flight. That’s what they requested, which seemed a little overboard to me, but I was at the mercy of their shuttle and I had no idea how often it ran, so I was there two hours early.

Turns out the shuttle runs every ten minutes, so I was at the airport an hour and forty-eight minutes early, which is a little more than the thirty minutes they recommend. So I got to spend some time reading. Between that time and the flight home I finally finished my French book (which I’ll write more about in a separate post). The flight home was uneventful. Once again I got a row all to myself, so it was pretty comfortable, and I still adore direct flights.

D– was waiting for me curbside, so I threw my bags in his trunk, and we headed straight to Wichita. We stopped at Pops for lunch, because D– had never been and it was early enough in the day that we thought we could get seated quickly, so he thought it might be a good time to check it out. His analysis was the same as mine: not worth the hassle. I had a decent chili burger, he got an orange soda with a picture of an Indian chief on it, and then we headed north again.

I got to T–‘s parents’ place around 1:30, and selfishly roused AB from her nap because I’d missed her for a week, and then played with her and talked with the in-laws for a couple hours before we had to head to Topeka.

Julie’s wedding was amazing. The setting was beautiful and elegantly decorated, the poetry reading in the middle of the ceremony was resplendent and transcendent at the same time, and two folks got hitched. Then the reception took place at an old train station that had been converted into a fancy hall for exactly that sort of purpose. They had a literary theme for everything (we were seated at the Neil Gaiman table, and went home with a couple books from the Topeka library as keepsakes). Instead of a groom’s cake they had huge jars full of candy — colorful and whimsical as decorations, but with little plastic baggies a la the candy story in the mall, for guests to take home. Awesome. Hot tamales and jelly bellies are so much better than cake (although apparently there was also a cake). Also: open bar. First wedding I’ve been to with one of those, and they were using Grey Goose for the vodka coctails. Hell yes.

So T– drove us home.

We didn’t get back to Wichita until after 1:00, and I absolutely crashed. Sunday morning I slept through church, then we had lunch at her parents house, and shortly after that we got our stuff packed up and headed home in time to catch the Cowboys game. We were about an hour late for kickoff, but thanks to the magic of TiVo, that wasn’t a problem.

Except our TiVo apparently had reruns of Law and Order and King of the Hill set to higher priority than Cowboys games, so I did miss the first hour. Lame. Still, D– got into town around 4:00 and he came over and we watched the last three quarters. It was an intense game, mostly in a bad way. Still, glad I got to see most of it. I’ve seen way too little football this year.

T– grilled up some bacon-wrapped fillets for dinner, and after the game we played Rock Band until the wee hours (by which I mean 11-ish). I was exhausted, though, so I finally sent D– home and went to bed.

Today I got to take off work on comp time for the hours I spent traveling to and fro. I slept in, then got up and finished the paint job on the garage. It looks good, but mostly it’s just nice to have it done.

I don’t have much planned for the rest of the day. Going to relax and enjoy being back with my family. Tomorrow, it’s back to the old grind, but I’m really glad I got to take today off. I’m glad to be home, too. It’s amazing how long one week can be.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.