Chicago is a very cold place. At one point I had hail sticking to my eyelashes, but when you're with people you love -- you don't even notice.
I bought a plane ticket to meet some friends in the windy city. On Saturday night, I closed my eyes, pulled out my credit card and typed in the faded silver numbers until I had a Sunday morning boarding pass with my name on it.
I packed three days worth of clothes and toiletries in my beat up Anthro backpack. All my girly essentials in one small bag....? Huge accomplishment.
After four hours on a plane listening to the girls in front of me talk in detail about the Jonas Brothers, (which was very entertaining) I landed at Midway airport. I hopped in a cab and 40 minutes and 40 bucks later, I was standing in front of a dilapidated bar/music venue called the Beat Kitchen.
Dashing inside to stay dry, I was greeted first by a Bitter Bald Bouncer (BBB) that refused to make my life easy. I promise you, not every young adult under the age of 21 has a life goal of illegal bar hopping. I just want to hear some music. After a significant search of my backpack...
BBB: "Why do you have an aerosol hairspray bottle?"
ME: "Cuz I just got off a plane?!"
...my hands were eventually decorated with two black "Xs" and I was received by the wonderful Brian Dales.
I watched soundcheck and caught up with some of my favorite "Guys, Guys, Guys." "Sing It Loud" came armed with smiles and hugs and "The Summer Set" never disappoints on the fun factor. These talented young musicians are touring the country in 15 passenger vans away from families and any sense of normality. Standing under the blue twinkle lights of the venue with them made me hope they achieve every ounce of success they could ever dream of.
The best part of my night was meeting a Chicago native named Kristen. I first became "friends" with Kristen on MySpace. She emailed me after seeing "Minutemen" and her sense of humor caught my attention. We became cyber pen pals as she updated me on her school, her crushes and the ludicrous situations she would get herself into. She started sending me funny videos and even an awesome Notre Dame T-shirt that I wore in my website photo shoot. Anyway, she came down to the show and we finally met in person! She's sweet and adorable and I truly consider her a friend now. Meeting fans is always flattering and surreal. It's a nice reminder as to why I love this business. Acting is my ecstasy, but it would kind of suck if people hated it. So, to anyone that said "hi" in Illinois...thanks. It meant a lot to me.
After a night of pop rock and a hilarious "A Milli" cover from the bass player of "The Morning Light," we were off to a much anticipated night of zzzzz's.
Noon, next day. Awoke to a breakfast of Gino's East deep dish pizza. The perfection of the cheese and the pound of dough I was consuming literally brought tears to my eyes. Or maybe it just tasted better because it took 45 minutes to prepare. It was completely over priced and completely worth it. You can also draw on the walls there, so if you ever sit upstairs in the second to last booth on the right, look for me.
Brian refused to wear a jacket and I loved saying "I told you so" when we had to walk back to the hotel an hour later because he was shaking.
We saw a freeway under another freeway. Woah. It made me want to watch Batman. We saw the Wrigley Building and Wrigley Square, which was cool because back in Arizona, William Wrigley's great granddaughter used to be my babysitter.
We wandered down to Millennium Park and imagined what the Jay Pritzker Pavilion must be like in the summer. The green lawn, that seats thousands for free concerts, was empty and inviting. I tried to do a cartwheel, but it was roped off and I was afraid that the BBB from the night before would somehow catch me.
The Crown Fountain became a quick obsession. The fountain is made up of two glass towers projecting close up video images of faces. Researching it, I learned it was designed by an artist named Jaume Plensa. The faces are a throw back to "olden days" when gargoyles and mythological creatures were sculpted with open mouths allowing water to flow out of them. The water is a symbol of life. Now these 50 foot faces are spewing water onto cement in the middle of a city. Totally rad. Wouldn't it be weird to walk to work and see a picture of yourself spitting on people?
My favorite piece -- The Cloud Gate Sculpture. A giant stainless steel coffee bean that reflects, well, the clouds. And everything else. It's random and sleek, like liquid mercury, and it makes me happy. Due to its undeniable shape, it's only fitting that we headed for a cup of java.
While waiting for the light to change, we got caught in a pounding hail storm. It was completely unexpected and attacked without warning. We ran in circles for about thirty seconds looking for sanctuary and with no refuge in sight, we busted out laughing and held each other. Hail, yes.
With wet boots and bangs, we finished our day with soup and Sponge Bob. Looking out the 23rd floor window, I could see Lake Michigan. Okay, at first I thought it was the ocean and I will never live that down. It was a great 48 hours. I can't wait to go back.