US scramble (DC, Chicago, South Bend, DC and WVa) April 2013

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I’ve just finished a breakneck trip back to the US. I went to Washington, DC first for an international law conference; flew to Chicago and took about 4 days off to visit with friends; took the train to South Bend for a few nights of meetings; flew back from Chicago to DC to meet my parents; squeezed one more work day in at GWU; then had a small family reunion on the Deery side and a 36 hour visit to Shepherdstown, WVa to see my cousin, aunt & uncle and help out at their farmer’s market stand my last morning. Doozy. (As an aside, doozy is such a strange, meaningless word. About the same as saying ‘that’s really something!’ because it’s completely contextual.)

IMG_1239 IMG_1236 IMG_1218 IMG_1202There’s far too much to recap, so a few highlights!

Chicago
Was wonderful. I finally got a nice, long break with Liz and got to meet her boo, Al, for the first time ever. We spent time in Andersonville, Lincoln Park, Clark Avenue, etc. Superhighlights:

  • Juicin’! Cucumber, carrot, ginger, lemon, orange, grapefruit juice.
  • Frankie’s, ladies-only tea party
  • Catching up with Vanessa (my childhood friend from age 0!) at the MCA for the first time in possibly a decade?
  • Catching up with Gabbie over deepdish pizza and beeritas and – most importantly – meeting her adorable babyboy Edmund, finally.
  • Mexican brunch at Cousin’s and a day at the Art Institute
  • Carnitas, Apples to Apples and endless L Word marathon
  • DAVID’S. TEA.

South Bend
Although I’ve never really thought about it, in the back of my mind I’ve always assumed that Notre Dame would be in a college town like Chapel Hill or Ann Arbor. Nope. Northern Indiana. From the train, and from some photojournalism, it seems like there’s just been a complete exodus and no investment in the people or businesses in this area. It was a booming city back in the Studebaker days, but now is a decaying, industrial city. (Click for link)

DC
During the conference, I got some great friend time in the evenings. Eva, out in her new Virginia neck of the woods. Jane for *three* wonderful nights (BBQ, fancy Mexican cocktails, karaoke).

For the other DC story, scroll down…

Liz throwing down some adjectives. Yeah, Apples to Apples.

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Pre-tea party!

IMG_1196How cute are you guys, dressing up IMG_1194Looking at taxidermy in Andersonville

IMG_1190LOVE

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“I <3 Various Things”

Okay, and now for the other story. See: this picture. Okay.

So I had one full day with my parents this visit. We had the night before, but that day was the only truly, wide open one. For lunch the next day, we were looking for somewhere to eat outside and eventually found this sports bar that had an open table. There was a 6-top open that we started moving towards, but then this dude came from another angle and plopped down at the table just when we were getting to it. There was a momentary stand-off but he was like, “oh – no worries – we can share” and moved to the end of the table with his book. He was roughly my age (a little older) and attractive, so of course my mom (sitting across the table from the empty seat in between the two of us) is very obviously looking at him, looking at me, looking at him, looking at me, and grinning maniacally. I die.) The server comes to take orders and there’s an awkward moment where she takes my dad’s order, takes my mom’s order, takes this guy’s order – “but I’m separate” -, takes my order… and of course my mom uses this as a segue to start talking to him. He had an accent, so she’s immediately in there trying to guess what it is (Australian? No, New Zealand? South Africa?) and he very politely is like, “Actually, yes, I’m South African but I live in Australia.” She then asks, “So how has your day been? What’d you do this morning?” And he says he went to the Library of Congress, which is what we were planning on doing. She makes flaps about how we’re going there, he went there, what’d he think and he makes it sound not that nice: “Well, there’s plexiglass between you and the actual library, so you can’t really see the interesting stuff.” Then she segues into this gem: “So, you like libraries? Do you… work in the publishing industry?” GOD, MOM. She does this constantly: volunteer information about me in the most heavy handed of ways.

Anyway, he’s a gent and actually not put off by my intense parents, which is nice. He was visiting the US for two months, just travelling around (first the West coast, then Florida, then up the East towards NYC). Our checks arrive and when he’s dealing with his my mom looks straight at me then just says, “I think I’ll invite him to the baseball game.” We were planning on going to see the Atlanta Braves & Washington Nationals later that night, and she decides to invite this guy! Essentially on a date with me and my parents.

“This might be a bit out of the blue, but we were planning on going to a major league baseball game tonight. Would you like to come with us?”

This: “I would love to.”

Baseball games are at least a three, four hour commitment. I am dying. So? This dude comes to the baseball game with us! It was actually really fun, but how typical.

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IMG_1313 And the next day, at the National Gallery of Art

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