Chicago State of Mind

Back when the weather wasn't quite so crisp and the leaves had yet to shed themselves from their branches, I was fortunate enough to take a weekend trip to Chicago with my dear friend Alison. She had recently had a birthday AND graduated from grad school so a bit of a celebration was in order. Us being us, we obviously ate all the food, drank all the dranks, and hit up every bookstore we stumbled across. We're a specific breed of human that combines the appetite of a fifteen year-old boy with the literary interests of a feminist librarian. You'd like us.

After some delicious southern fare for our Saturday brunch-fest at Longman & Eagle, we wandered around Logan Square, popping into a few boutiques (and of course Uncharted Books) and snapping pics of my favorite subject matter: sticker-vandals and urban graffiti. I don't know where this obsession stems from; maybe my failed attempts at becoming a skater punk, but ever since high school, I've always been struck by the textures, colors, and patterns that crop up from distressed graffiti art. It's almost impossible for me to pass a sticker-ed street sign or peeling poster without immortalizing it forever with my Canon, as most of my friends and travel companions would attest to (with a knowing smirk).

Alison and I had originally met and trained as baristas in Milwaukee so tracking down a quality coffee shop is usually at the top of our travel to-do lists. This being Chicago (and Logan Square) we couldn't not stop in at Intelligentsia. This was surprisingly my first experience at an Intelligentsia cafe and was therefore having a hard time deciding between just straight espresso or a macchiato. The barista I consulted with my dilemma was fairly pretentious but he did deliver unto me one of my new favorite quotes ("Um, I don't really split my shots but there is a guy here who does a deconstructed cappuccino"), so I guess it all evened out. Plus, the 'spro was pretty excellent.

One of our last stops in the area before heading back to our hotel downtown was at this adorable little flower shop, appropriately named Fleur. I wanted to buy everything (go figure) and ship it back to my little Milwaukee flat but sadly I had to submit to the reality that I am not a rich, urban socialite, and furthermore, would never be able to keep all those plants alive with my somewhat-elusive green thumb (or lack entirely thereof). Regardless, white and blue china plus emerald-colored leaves equal my new favorite color combo. Win.

We had a pup staying with us (a Weimaraner named Skyler to be exact) at our dog-friendly, home-away-from-home, so once we got back to the room, we set off for another stroll through the Chicago streets. Highlights include flashing our middle-fingers at Trump Tower, and spotting this perfectly retro, Pepto-Bismol pink automobile that looked like a prop leftover from a Wes Anderson movie.

The rest of the evening was a blur of perfectly Instagram-able cocktails and exquisitely hand-crafted desserts (that we just so happened to stumble upon on our way out of Unabridged Bookstore). We were staying at the Hotel Palomar which has this swanky little cocktail lounge downstairs that we posted up in most nights, ordering rounds of the most gorgeous gin and tonics I had ever seen. They were touted as Spanish Gin-Tonics, calling on the lost art of pairing certain gins with particular tonics, always complementing each other as well as the extravagant garnishes, served whole and submerged in the glass goblet. My two favorites were the Rose-Cucumber and the Lavender-Lemon. I am now obsessed. 

After a rainy night spent giggling in the hot-tub and dancing to Tom Jones, we said goodbye to the Windy City, and shortly, each other. Sad as we were to depart from one another's company, we knew it wouldn't be long till we were back in each other's arms and boarding a plane for our next adventure in January.