Oooh it's a double entendre, I'm so clever! I've been back in LA from my hometown for nearly a week now, spent mostly in bed with the world's worst souvenir: strep throat (it can't have helped to go from 19 degrees to 90 overnight). Thanks for the germs y'all! While it's lovely to be where it's warm again I do miss everyone back in Chicago.
The last leg of my trip was a random frozen whirlwind. I got to spend time with my great friend Veronica, the very best bit of the worst job I've ever had, back in another life. We'd planned to Ferris Bueller our way around the city like we did when I lived there, but the weather had other plans, namely, freezing rain. So we decided on the spur of the moment to drive up to Milwaukee for the night. Before we left, we grabbed the most perfect breakfast of my life at Nellie's Restaurant in Humboldt Park. If you have never had proper Puerto Rican breakfast, I weep for you. Get to Nellie's and have the avena de coco. Trust Candy. I have no pics of this: we ate it. On the way back to the car I stopped in the freezing rain to snap this fantastic mural.
We endured a sideways sleet/snowstorm on the way, but by the time we got to the Mars Cheese Castle, it was smooth (if cold) sailing. We snagged a tub of pimiento cheese and some curds and blew on up the road.
Total surprise: Milwaukee is way hipstery! I had no idea. I'd only been once for a comedy show and unfairly judged the city on the sea of neckbeards in plaid flannel at the venue. Sorry I had you all wrong, mate. Veronica's only wish was for comfort food, specifically meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I googled up what looked like the spot and we took an uber (that was almost certainly a litterbox in its off time) to the Comet Cafe. I have never before been in any restaurant where I felt so strongly that I was in an indie film. If you're in Milwaukee, get there. I rarely order cocktails off a drink menu, but their Key to Happiness is so close to what I drink at home, I had one. Ok I had two. I can't remember all that's in theirs, but for the curious, my drink is a nice bourbon on ice, couple dashes of spiced cherry bitters, fancy Italian Luxardo cherries, a little cherry syrup and a splash of ginger ale (I call it an Old Cherry). Veronica got her meatloaf and the most decadent cheesy mashed potatoes in America. There was also coconut cream pie. Then a coma.
The next morning was bright and brutally cold. We took a quick driving tour and stopped to grab a few photos of the Milwaukee Art Museum, starting with this orange star, The Calling, by Mark di Suvero.
It closes its wings twice a day and we caught them folding in on the way out.
Burke Brise Soleil The inside of the Quadracci Pavilion is as beautiful as the outside. At the entrance ceiling hangs an Alexander Calder: Red, Black, Blue
Red, Black, Blue Something about this view reminded me of Iceland, that combination of water and cold and so much glass.
Milwaukee Art Museum Milwaukee Art Museum We had clear skies on the ride back to the city, and my last stop before saying goodbye was this incredible mural. Most people stopped to get the Greetings From Chicago, and I did, too, but we were there for the woman in the hard hat. Love her. Veronica wants a print for her new apartment, and I may print one for myself, too.
From the city i headed out to the burbs for dinner with my high school bestie, Allen. We had a fancy tapas dinner at Mesón Sabika in Naperville, a mansion that's been converted into a beautiful restaurant. The food was fantastic. The manager thought we were a couple and sent over free champagne. I blame the hangover on that champagne.
I was so happy to have a few hours afterward to catch up with one of my favorite friends, Taylor, who I met at a wedding a few years back. He's the nephew I never had, and so much fun. We took a tour of the local bars and I realized: I cannot hang with the under-40s. I overslept and missed my window to get to House on the Rock, but there's always next year. The last few days of my trip were spent back at mom's, getting glared at by her cats and learning to crochet.
I feel like crochet is my birthright; I spent my childhood watching my grandmother crochet and my mom has made me the most beautiful blankets throughout my life. I always knew how to make a chain but after that, I was lost. Mom was a patient teacher and I've come home and bought my own hooks and yarn and a how-to book, and I'm hoping to whip up some better things than this first effort to throw into my holiday care packages this Christmas.
The flight back to LA was an hour fast, and I arrived home to summer heat in low winter afternoon light: as surreal as being back in my hometown. The Viking and I put together a late Thanksgiving feast and put up our Christmas tree. Early, like everyone else, it seems. I'd had serious FOMO seeing my friends' and family's posts on facebook of their gorgeous dinners and fairy lights. I've never had a tree up so early, but this is my first Christmas in California and I am happy to have it be a long holiday season. The Swedes do it right: as soon as it the days get short, the lights go up.
As ever, thanks for visiting, and if you hosted me or hung out with me in Chicago, thank you so much! The only real gift we have to give is our time, and I'm so grateful you shared yours with me.
Before the creeping crud sent me to the doctor, I started plotting my December muse. Watch this space for upcoming holiday madness.