Urban Ingrate

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(Photo: Ornate lobby ceiling of downtown Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton. Are you bored yet? Credit: Looper.)

Everyone gets bored sometimes with the place that they live. But, honestly, some days I just need to check myself for sense. In England, they say of their world city, “He who is tired of London is tired of life.” Sometimes, I admit, it does get wearying to live in the heart of the world city of the American midwest. But usually it’s too much of a good thing, and too little reality checking on my part.

What gets to me? Construction noise, careless drivers, sirens (sirens, sirens). Visitors who forget that people actually live down here. The (insert expletive here) bucket boys. These are not deal breakers, much as they may all conspire to come together to drive you mad all on the same day.

Last week I had one of those evil, awful days. My current lease is coming up for renewal, and, just for a moment (I promise), I considered just how attached I was to the concept of living in the hoary heart of downtown Chicago. Whether I might enjoy a more bucolic, suburban life somewhere up in the wilds of Old Town, or Lincoln Park, or (get out your passports, folks) Boystown.

Right. More telling for me than my above moment of abject insanity was the reality check I got out of the rest of the week. It’s funny, sometimes disturbingly so, what a person can come to take for granted.

I work from home and have my afternoons free, and I’m generally only tenuously tethered to work anyway via Macbook and Blackberry in (pick an) Intelligentsia. So I already have a leg up on enjoying downtown in terms of mobility and free time (consultant fear of where the next contract is coming from is a topic better saved for another day). Last week, my down time was spent:

-Over several afternoons at the Art Institute of Chicago (I could live in there) with an audio-guide wrapped around my neck;

Interviewing an artist-in-residence at the Art Institute;

-At the (alleged) Museum of Contemporary Art, goofing on inscription errors;

-Getting a groovy haircut from Terri at Frank’s in the historic Monadnock Building;

-Shopping at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Jewel, Dominick’s, and passing on the expensive Fox and Obel to feed my gourmet cooking hobby;

-Walking aimlessly among the best urban architecture in the country;

-And all on foot within a comfy walk from my house.

I also called the CTA into play a couple of times for trips to the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen and the Lincoln Park Zoo, with the added benefit that, if visited in the afternoon, while I’m comfortably riding back home downtown, the rest of the world is packed like sardines onto trains and buses heading in the other direction.

And then there were the warm days when I spent some time doing nothing at all but standing at the railing on Marina City‘s roofdeck, 550 feet in the air, gazing out at the city I’m lucky enough to live smack in the middle of. The sirens are a lot quieter from up there.

So are the bucket boys.

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