I was in Chicago for a few days last week for a conference and tacked on some time for visiting with Kristin, my matron of honor (or as we said at the time "old bag of honor" because, really, isn't that what "matron" means?). I stayed at the Allerton Hotel, which was built in the '20s. It was renovated earlier this year and has lovely rooms. Other people at the conference complained that their rooms were very, very small, but they had 23rd-floor views of Michigan Avenue. My room, on the other hand, was about standard hotel size, but I was on the 4th floor, so my view was of the hotel's HVAC system and two sides of the building. Let's just say I left the curtains closed the whole time.
You might recognize the neon sign on the hotel, which you can see better in the picture below. Tip - Top - Tap was the name of the bar at the top of the hotel back in the day (the space is now occupied by a fitness center, and no, I didn't see it). It means there's a tap at the tip-top of the building. Clever, those flappers and gangsters and whoever.
Anyway, I made a pilgrimage to the Flagship Cathedral of the St. Holy Crate & Barrel and spent a good hour wandering all four stories -- and came out of there with a gravy boat and a towel. I guess I just don't need another serving plate or cheese grater.
It was nice to be away from my usual routine of work and heating up frozen pizza, but I had a hard time relaxing. I don't know what to do with myself without a job to go to or a house to tend to or people in that house who need me. I was too worried about what was going on at home, if Lauren was giving Bret a hard time, if she was sleeping (it's one thing to trade off with your partner when the kid won't sleep; it's another thing to have to handle it by yourself all night). They did just fine, and she's definitely daddy's girl now that she spent so much time with him. I also found it hard to relax because I'm so used to doing something all the time -- laundry, getting dinner ready, playing with Lauren, packing her lunch, reading the mail -- that to have NOTHING to do between 4:30 pm and 7:30 the next morning felt very strange. I thought I'd sleep the sleep of the dead without the baby monitor buzzing and a bed all to myself, but I didn't. I guess I like my crazy life more than I realized. And it was awfully nice to come home to these two: