Wednesday, September 17, 2008

visitor [viz-i-ter]
a person who visits, as for reasons of friendship, business, duty, travel, or the like
Synonyms include: sightseer, tourist, vacationer

Chicago – Day 2
I had to drag myself out of an enchanting unconsciousness this morning. I was so woven into the warmth of every thread in that bed that I felt like a big fat abandoner ripping away from the seams. But the thought of seeing the city in the morning proved too convincing for even the groggy. Besides, I had something important to do this morning.
I made an appointment with the administrative director of the MFA Writing Program at the School of Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). I figured that since I was already here, why not take advantage and kill the proverbial second bird. The SAIC “campus” is made up of 5-6 buildings around downtown Chicago and the MFAW office is in a building on Wabash Avenue. I could’ve walked there, but I ran late so I took a cab.

I entered the building with a slew of students who scanned their ID’s while two watchful security guards made sure the scanners beeped each time. When I got my visitor’s pass, I went up to the 7th floor, waited rather nervously in the hallway for the office to open up, and sooner than later, Amber (the admin director) had arrived. She hadn’t even settled in before she invited me into her office to talk. I’ve been to info sessions before, and I have a stack of graduate program brochures sitting in my room, but actually making an appointment to talk to someone one-on-one is the most proactive thing I’ve done about my still uncertain future in grad school. It’s not the easiest program to get into (what grad program is?), but it’s the most unique I’ve encountered and Amber brought me more comfort than intimidation. Still, I have a lot to do. I walked back to the hotel after the meeting. It’s less than a mile away so I bought some iced latte, turned on my iPod and walked through the city as if it was my own. “Miss Independent” by Ne-yo happened to be the first song on the playlist. I felt like a music video…

When I got back to my hotel, I gathered some stuff and walked across the street to the Hyatt Regency to set up our booth for the conference. The exhibit starts tomorrow so I had to get everything ready. It only took me 2 ½ hours thanks to Jovi and Lisa who always have everything ready when we rip open all the freakin’ boxes! I went back to my room soon after, typed a bit, and then spent the afternoon with Reyna. She picked me up, gave me an unintentional tour of the city after the TWO sushi places she was planning to take me to were 1) Closed for business and 2) Closed for the afternoon. We ended up at Grand Luxe on Michigan Avenue, where we stuffed ourselves…again.
After lunch, we walked a couple of blocks up and down the Magnificent mile; with a quick stop at the GAP. Reyna dropped me off at the hotel, I took a quick nap, and then my Kuya Dan and nephew, Daniel, picked me up for dinner.
I love having family all over the place! A cluster of cousins live here in Chicago so I wasted no time emailing them that I’d be visiting. Ate Jenny invited us over to her place for dinner and I had so much fun just hanging out. I recently just saw her, Ate Jonalyn, Kuya Dan, Daniel and Dana (my niece) in July, but I never tire of being around them because they’re fun to be around! We watched tv, played cards (I learned a new game – James Bond. Haha!), and it was, for me, a sneak peek of what I could have if, by some miracle, I got into SAIC and moved here.
I can’t say enough of how homey I feel being here. It’s only my second visit to this city, but already there is a comfort and familiarity that I haven’t felt with a city since, well, my beloved DC. New York was awesome, but Chicago, despite being on this side of the country, feels more like LA than NYC does. I realize this is a bold observation, but the streets, the atmosphere – they all scream BIG CITY WITH ROOM TO MANEUVER! And wow, this is one of the cleanest downtowns I’ve EVER seen!

Anyhoo, I have to read through some literature before the conference tomorrow morning….oh who am I kidding? I just wanna lay in this comfortable ass bed!

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