Sunday, April 29, 2012


So I went to Chicago...

As I took this picture someone said something about muggers and I laughed nervously and they said, "no, really".

It's a beautiful day in the Chicago hood - wait, that didn't sound as bad in my mind.
This is Layne (who blogs at Librarian Hot) and her partner Nate. They live in Chicago, and are lovely people. I've known Layne since freshman year of college, when I was intimidated by how smart and pretty she was but quickly got over that fear to discover that she is incredibly awesome. We have a long history of consuming entire packages of double-stuf oreos (I am ashamed that I didn't even have to look up how to spell 'stuf') and watching lots of trashy tv. Such is the basis for a great friendship.

Circa 2005? Layne and I in college, dressed up for Halloween - as each other.

Nate and Layne were gracious enough to allow me (nay - INVITE me - fools) to hang out at their Magical Dream Apartment for a week. Seriously, if this was my apartment, I'd be inviting random people in off the street just so I could be smug at them about my good fortune.

Ever notice how it's your friends that always have the Magical Dream Apartments? Where's my MDA?

I am totally allowed to be on the bed. Totally.
I was welcomed by a room decked out in ECU colors, and by a dog on the bed. Note that the dog is not supposed to be on the bed, which is why she's giving the camera that unique doggy look, the am-I-in-trouble-or-can-I-bluff-my-way-out-of-this look. I feel at home already!

Yes, the Magical Dream Apartment allows pit bulls. Magical! I was pretty much constantly concerned that Miss Roxie, the pit in question, was going to eat me. She is, after all, a fearsome beast.

Fearsome beast... in a hoodie. See, hoodies mean danger!

Roxie and her fellow pitties were on patrol one lovely morning as part of the SociaBulls, a group of mostly pit bulls and their owners that meet regularly to have a group walk throughout different parts of town.

Getting ready for the walk
Roxie says, "you can keep scratching there... if you want"
Breaking stereotypes, one well-behaved pit at a time.
It was AWESOME to see so many well behaved pit bulls in the same place.

Part of the reason I visited when I did was because the Field Museum was having Member's Night. Because - obviously. Field Museum. Behind the scenes Member's Night with beaver dissections and free reign (kind of) in the Anthropology Large Items Collection.

View from the steps of the Field. Ahh.
Anthropology large items, what whaaaat!

We all faced our fears! Layne faced her fear of snakes by bravely heading down an aisle filled on both sides with jars of preserved snakes.

Now we have reaching the unsettling part of our tour
And Nate and I faced our fears of creepy things with too many legs.

Unfortunately, one of the etymologists staffing the creepy-crawlies table was a total ass. I hate spiders, but I hate cockroaches more. They make me feel like things are crawling on my head. Too many legs! As we passed the table, the woman held out one of those giant hissing Madagascar cockroaches out to me and I RESISTED my urge to knock the thing to the ground and slam it into eternity with the sole of my shoe, screaming all the while. That's how we deal with roaches in the south, Ma'am.

Instead, I smiled through the fear paralyzing my face and said, "no thanks."

She shot me a look of disgust and said something disparaging, then turned to the folks behind me in line and said, "this girl's crazy."

Ok, lady. Never mind that it took some courage just to go into the room with your stupid insect, and that I in fact intended to do something I'd never had the guts to do so before - actually touch a tarantula. So thanks for shaming me in public and making it even less likely that I will ever touch a cockroach. Maybe next time you could keep your excellent people skills and your judgey-judge-pants to yourself.

Oh, and I did touch the tarantula. So there.

That is my finger. Bitch.

She was actually very fuzzy and soft and much nicer than her human "spokesperson". Maybe next time I'll try to hold one. And for the record, I think Nate held both a cockroach and a tarantula.

We then headed into the bowels of the Field to check out the animal dissections.

This sign is For Serious
I was actually surprised at how much I reacted to the smells in the dissection lab. I've never reacted to the sight of blood and guts, and I've done plenty of formaldehyde dissections, but never had been next to something quite so... fresh. But not really fresh, since it had been shipped from somewhere else. A few of the specimens were a little bit ripe. My brain wanted to stay, but my tummy wanted to go...

Go to where the bones were!

We got to see a new mummy exhibit with several CT scans and resin reproductions of skulls. That's what this guy up here was holding. He was so impressed by my enthusiasm that - totally unbidden - he started talking about erect mummy penises.

I bet you talk to all the girls that way
The photo also shows the magnificent, insane-child grin I had on my face for the entire evening. It's amazing that anyone puts up with me, really.

In the mummy exhibit, I pushed some little kid out of the way to get down on my knees and examine one of these skulls more closely. As I got up, an older gentleman with a British accent said, "did you find what you were looking for?"

"Oh, um - I just wanted to see it more closely," I mumbled. And then I saw his nametag - Head Curator for Biological Anthropology.

Holy shit!!!!!

As we chatted, I found a way to shoehorn into the conversation that I had a degree in Bio Anth, and then he showed me a deformation on the top of the skull that he thinks is due to artificial cranial deformation. "But the Egyptian government doesn't accept that, of course!" he said, and we chuckled knowingly together.

And if this had been a movie, he'd have been so impressed by my wicked mad bones skillz that he would instantly offer me a job. But this is reality, so instead I just get to write about it on my blog.

Besides the Field, there was something else that drew me to Chicago that weekend... the Chicago Comic Entertainment Expo - C2E2.

Oh yes. There was cosplay.
And now, to be totally honest, I have to admit that while I am a nerd of significant standing, I've never been a comics person and was really drawn to this event because I would be able to hang out with this Nerd First Class:

I have known Lisa since I was a freshman in high school. Our friendship is based on hating math, many nights of bad decision making in her apartment (hookah + trampoline = bye-bye security deposit), and long aimless drives around Minneapolis and the surrounding countryside, during which time Lisa would put in one cd after the next, listening to half of a single song on every disc before exchanging it for a new one.

I spent a lot of time trailing happily along in Lisa's wake as we plowed through the many offerings of nerd culture on parade. Our friend Tom was also there, and as he and I have similar viewpoints on The Nerds, it was very fun to have someone to make fun of Lisa with.

Book signing with my FAVORITE fantasy author, Robin Hobb
We met some great artists, stood in line for some signatures, checked out a few panels, and basically exhausted ourselves (Lisa more than anyone else).

The official C2E2 DJ
I texted Leland "we're watching Quidditch". He texted back "how is that possible?"
Quidditch was... well, it looked like they were all having fun. Running around holding the broom between your legs seems mighty silly to me. But when they invent actual flying brooms, sign me up.

We also bought a souvenir or two.

Winter is coming...

And as Layne and Nate are ranking high-level nerds themselves, we all were able to hang out together on the last day of the convention.

For America!

One of the best parts of the convention was just seeing people in costume. There were some amazing, and no doubt expensive, get-ups there.

Spiderman has a backpack?
Watch out, zombies
These are not the droids you're looking for
And then, after lots of nerds and great food and good times and hanging out with friends, it was time to go.

But I'll always have the memories...

of Layne's cat Byron (aka Captain Naughtypants) throwing up in my suitcase.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for coming to visit! I'll let you know when I get tickets to NC - no way are we going over two years without seeing each other again!

    I think that Halloween pic of us is circa almost a decade ago, because we are ANCIENT.

    P.S. Sorry my cat is disgusting. :-)