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My Kind of Town

April 14, 2003

I’m back from Chicago. Well, Chicagoland; the quilt show that was the main focus of my weekend was in Rosemont, a suburb. Erica and I did get a nice view of the skyline Sunday morning as we headed home, and that’s more of Chicago proper than I see on some visits back to Illinois. All in all, it was a good trip. Erica and I are not only still speaking, we’re still friends, so that’s a big positive. In my worst case imaginings before we left, I worried that the rapport we have on short outings close to home wouldn’t hold up to ten hours of driving and two nights sharing a hotel room. Would we be able to agree or willingly compromise on what to listen to, when and where to stop along the way, what temperature to keep the room, how late to stay up, and all those other issues that come up on a road trip? I didn’t know. Now I do; we could and did. Of course, there’s always the possibility that Erica was just humoring me and is thinking of ways to politely decline ever going out of town with me again, but for now I’m going with the idea that if she said she had fun, she meant it.

We stopped at a winery (Erica’s pick) and a quilt shop (my idea) on our way there and IKEA and another quilt shop on the way home, enjoying bright sunshine at every stop. In between, there was the quilt show. And eating. Too much eating, some might say. Just three meals a day, but they weren’t tiny. And okay, there was a snack or two in there, to keep our strength up. At least we did a lot of walking and burned off some of the calories. After dinner on Saturday, I talked Mom (who joined us for the day) and Erica into going to the Lands’ End outlet. Someday I will break free of my fascination with the Lands’ End outlet. I have been let down so many times, yet I keep going back. The memory of that really cheap really well made lilac cable sweater I got there (well, at their old location) when I was in college still burns bright enough that I forget that I haven’t found anything great at the outlet since. There’s a lot of stuff at regular catalog prices, but I can get that from, you know, the catalog. I thought maybe I’d scored this time when I found some jeans in my size for $5.50– sure they were missing the back pockets, but I don’t use those anyway– but in the dressing room I discovered that whoever put the size on the tag was seriously mistaken. I know I’d just had a couple slices of deep dish at Pizzeria Uno, but I could still get my own jeans on, when these bargains wouldn’t even fit over my thighs. Once again I left the outlet empty handed.

The trip wasn’t all sunshine and shopping. There were crowds to be fought, especially on Saturday. The show organizers obviously weren’t prepared for the number of people who came. I suppose that’s understandable, given that this is the first time they’ve had a show in Chicago, and they did try to adapt as the weekend went on the best they could, adding temporary food service locations and such, but it still put a damper on the experience. I was disappointed in the show itself, too. There was more floor space devoted to vendors than there was for exhibits, which is opposite every other quilt show I’ve ever been to. I’d heard how fantastic this same organization’s Houston show is each year, so I was expecting something better than I’d ever seen, and this wasn’t it. Yes, there were some great quilts there, but most of them were in the “no photos allowed” sections and not pictured in the program, so they’re not going to help me improve my own artistry because I won’t have any references to draw on when I’m ready. The program didn’t even have complete information on all the quilts that were on exhibit, and standing in front of them trying to write down what was on the labels was not going to happen with all the jostling that was going on. Measured by ideas taken home per dollar of admission, the NQA shows I’ve been to rate much higher than this one did.

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