I went to Chicago at the end of September to finally meet my coworkers (after 2 and a half years working here). I like to consume media related to my travels, so I read The Devil in the White City, which traces the rise of Chicago during the World’s Fair of 1893. The titular devil is HH Holmes who operated his murder mansion as a hotel catering to fair visitors. It sounds strange to say, but the behind the scenes of the creation of the fair was far more interesting than the murders.
While there were no major surprises in meeting my team, it was interesting to see people’s real personalities come out beyond the confines of a Zoom meeting.
While I was in town one of our team activities was a local park cleanup. The parks coordinator was quite a loquacious character. His version of Chicago – sports obsessed, strong working class vibes, chip on its shoulder about being compared to other cities, great wealth disparity between neighborhoods… sounded awfully similar to my idea of Philadelphia.
And yet I felt generally positive about Chicago, but speak about Philadelphia with qualifiers. Why? What’s the difference? Living somewhere vs visiting it? Small city vs large? East coast vs midwest? After some thought I hate to admit that it probably just comes down to money. Chicago felt wealthier, grander, and more cosmopolitan. Philadelphia feels provincial. I mean we still don’t even have a real tiki bar (I will not let this go…), and Chicago has multiple tiki bars including the very excellent Three Dots and a Dash.
My mom visited again in late October. I think we might make it an annual thing. This time around we spent a little time out of the city. We spent a few nights in New York, and walked all over Manhattan (my mother’s endurance had me beat, I couldn’t keep up). During our stay we caught a broadway show*, visited a few colleges, saw Central Park, and went to the Met.
The third day we popped up to New Haven to hit the old stomping grounds. I felt uneasy about going back because I don’t have great memories of the end of college. It was all just a crazy blur. But my mom has always expressed this deep regret about not taking me to college since her family never encouraged her studies. It’s too bad that she carried that pain, because not being dropped off was not on my radar at all. I wanted to go alone.
I wasn’t sure what we’d do in New Haven, but we filled the day pretty easily.
I saw my old apartment.
And other old apartment.
Stopped by my old job. Same chill vibe among the workers, which made me happy.
We took a campus tour, ate some New Haven style pizza, bought some merch… New Haven was way nicer now and less grubby than I remember. On the train home I felt like I’d made some peace with the past. Everything that happened back then is gone and over now, truly.
Also my mom was really really psyched to be there again. So it was cathartic for us both.
When I decided to get tickets to a broadway show, I didn’t know what to book but since Phantom was closing after 35 years, that was the obvious choice. I had started the novel earlier in the summer but hadn’t finished it (because Raoul is a lame stalker).
I didn’t think much it, besides scouring aviewfrommyseat.com for decent views, but after seeing the live Broadway musical, I was hooked – I was a “Phan”. I promptly became obsessed and sought out as many iterations of the story as possible. And there are a ton – dozens or more maybe. And then the fanfic… wow what a rabbit hole. Ladies love Erik. On the Phantom subreddit I came across a fic where the Phantom berates Christine for eating a grilled cheese sandwich. LOL
It’s kind of a surprise that I never got into Phantom earlier. I love gothic horror, silent films, mysteries, monsters, and opera of course. The musical is just a way more romantic take compared to the book or silent film. It was sensual as hell, which I was not prepared for at all. Also it explores controlling vs healthy relationships, which is always interesting to me.
As I researched, I learned that many of the spectacular parts of the story had some kernel of truth to them. Like the chandelier in the Palais Garnier did really fall and kill someone. There really are 5 levels of cellars that lead to a subterranean lake beneath the building. There were rumors of a ghost haunting the opera, and various legends of men with deformed faces (whether from accident or birth) living within the opera. Wild!
The musical production itself is interesting because the version on broadway hasn’t changed much from its original incarnation 35 years ago. Watching the show is like… time travel in a way. And some of the show’s staff have been there since the very beginning! This American Life has an interesting story that’s about Phantom’s orchestra, and what its like to play the same music every night for decades. TLDR: it drives you insane, but you do what you gotta do for money.
Phantom lead to me seeking out more musicals, which I guess is something of a new hobby (which continues to baffle Ryan). From lurking the broadway subreddit I’ve learned a lot of new terms and history, which is fun. Les Mis happened to come through Philly a few weeks after I saw Phantom, so I caught that. After listening to a few cast albums, I got into Hadestown, so now I’ve got tickets to see that in NY at the end of December. And I’ve got to see Phantom again before it closes for good, so we’ll be daytripping into the city to see that in January.
All of my fall was spent knitting baby things and I’m so glad that’s done!
This blanket was 30,000 stitches.
The leafy pattern up close
And this one was 40,000 stitches but I was able to memorize the pattern so it was actually much faster.
And just for funsies I made a baby Yoda robe.
It’s gonna be a long while before the recipient can wear it.
And yet another pair of socks of course.
Our first international travel in 3 years! I’ve got a ton of photos so I’ll do a separate post on my trip. I left inspired by the harsh beauty of winter in Scotland.
Since the start of November Bogie has been having seizures. The first two were scary but manageable, but once we returned from our trip to Scotland Bogie immediately had his 3rd and worst seizure in 3 weeks, and at the emergency vet he was put on meds to stop his ongoing attack (which we had been avoiding since once you start the drugs, it’s for life, every 12 hours… forever….).
At first he was so zonked out from the medicine that he turned into a little dog zombie who had forgotten all his potty training. He’d just look you in the eye and pee right there. But then the drugs made him restless, and he paced endlessly. For the first day or two back home from the hospital he barely slept, just walked around for hours, clicking his nails on the wooden floors. We put up baby gates just in case he fell down the stairs since he didn’t have great motor control.
To limit the pacing, we tried crating him in our bedroom at night. Since he still didn’t have control of himself he peed and pooped in the crate on his cushion. Then when we let him out, he walked through the poop and dragged it all over our bedroom at 2 in the morning. I thought I was going to cry and throw up at the same time, it was so sad. After that we decided to take turns sleeping in the living room so that we could let him out quicker. We dragged the mattress for my daybed down to the living room, and things were weird for a little while.
It’s been about three weeks on the meds, and Bogie is mostly back to normal. He takes his pills 2x a day and we’ve taken him to a doggie neurologist. I’m glad he’s feeling better, but who knows if the drugs will actually help manage his seizures. So far the longest we’ve gone without a seizure is a week? 10 days maybe? I try not to count the days between seizures because I don’t want to be disappointed.
This has been going on for a month now but I don’t think the enormity of what this could mean has hit me yet. We’ve joined canine epilepsy groups on Facebook, which has mostly been a helpful resource, but there are frightening stories from people who have had their entire lives upended. They don’t travel, they don’t go out, they’re taking care of the dog all the time and then in some cases it dies from too many seizures or too long of a seizure. Sigh.
We’re nowhere near that level of life upheaval, but things are still up in the air. I just hope the meds can contain his seizures to a manageable level. Scary stuff!