When you decide at the last minute to rush off on vacation you will wanna check and see if your passport is still valid, as I did, and mine was, just barely. It expires at the end of April. So I booked my trip. Mexico City. Groovy boutique hotel, Frida Kahlo, markets, ruins, museums, pyramids….la la la lalalala la, serapes, huaraches, sombreros, ponchos, Estoy dentro!
Here’s an interesting tip. You cannot travel with a passport that is going to expire in less than 30 days…checking the math on Saturday morning (when I discovered this fact), once I had peeled myself off the ceiling and began the process of sweating profusely, I discovered that yes indeed my passport expired in a mere 27 days. So there was that.
I can be pretty cool in the face of adversity. High pitched whine/screaming interspersed with hyperventilating as I google-searched the solution, words searches like “JESUS H CHRST HELP ME GET A PASSPORT ASAP” tend not as useful as one might imagine even if one might find them inventive. Eventually, after I calmed down to a gentle eye bulging-vibrating level of anxiety I discovered that all I had to do was take the train to Chicago at the buttcrack of dawn to the US Immigration and Passport Service, go through airport-like security and stand in line with, well, let’s say the dregs of humanity—other people who let their passports expire, you know, people like me.
It all got done with relative ease, I’m sure my cool demeanor had a lot to do with it. You put in your application and then you wait for 5 hours and pick it up. So now it is 9:30 with 5 hours of nothing and it’s freezing cold in Chicago. I am sitting in a Starbucks drinking coffee and being blasted with icy air every time the door opens (It’s, of course, a tiny Starbucks with none of the luxurious couches and chaises longues that all the other Starbucks on Earth seem to have). Sitting in this corner (see below) on an uncomfortable metal stool listening to 50 conversations and some music that in better circumstances I might put ear plugs in to avoid, but it doesn’t make any difference here with all the clatter.
The Art Institute opens in 45 minutes and I will kill some time there before I decide what else to complain about.
For Christmas, the Royal Indian Mounted Food Control Police made the trek from Oslo to Chicago returning to these United States after 7, almost 8, months. Because this flight got in late, and because of the capriciousness of the US Customs agents (It took well over 3 hours to get though the gauntlet of immigration the last time) I booked a hotel near the airport so I’d be ready to pick him up when he arrived, be comfortable in the meantime, and then we’d stay, rather than drive back, he’d avoid more travel after 12 hours of it, and we’d go eat somewhere nearby for dinner. When I asked him where or what he’d like to have for dinner, he decided after a .021 second pause, on pizza. Apparently they do not have pizza, or at least American-style pizza, in Norway.
I made the leisurely drive down to Chicago listening to Gloria Vanderbilt (great book) and checked in to the hotel expecting to spend the afternoon lounging listlessly, possibly taking a bath (no bathtub, so thankfully was spared that misery) and reading a book for one of my book clubs, Underground Railroad (ugh). And then, after a tearful reunion we’d head off to a sumptuous repast at a local and highly recommended Chicago-pizza place, Giordano’s. That was the plan. I arrived just fine. Got into my lounging attire and took out my book…fire alarm went off. I waited about 5 minutes to see if the alarm was going to stop, and it wasn’t, and firetrucks arrived although I didn’t see or smell smoke, I got dressed and commenced the trek down (9th floor). When I made it to the bottom the siren stopped. So I went out into the lobby to take the elevator back up but there was a huge crowd who’d already had that thought waiting so I walked back up. When I got to about the 8th floor the alarm sounded again, this time with a man’s voice urgently telling me to evacuate. So back down…to the 3rd floor when the man changed his mind and we got the all clear. So back up the stairs.
I barely had time to fluff a pillow when I got the text that The Royal Indian Mount Food Control Police had arrived and sailed through immigration. So that was that. We went out for pizza.
My experience with deep dish pizza is limited to Uno’s and Edwardo’s. Both of which I love unconditionally. Whoever thinks Giordano’s is the best ought to try Uno’s. I can tell you honestly Giordano’s was nothing to fly home for.
Theoretically I shouldn’t mind this. It’s in Chicago. It’s not like it’s been plunked down in the heart of Italy robbing real Italians of their jobs and income, and instead lining the pockets of the plaid shorts that Mario Batali insists on wearing.
It’s Chicago, and therefore not Italy nor, for that matter, Milwaukee but I was not any more happy to see it there than I was in Florence.