I always write about my travels abroad, but I hardly ever write about my trips close to home, like when I studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Once I’m in Europe, I’ll probably be too busy writing about electro music, castles, and other very European things, so right seems like a perfect time to pay a little homage to my favourite American city in the Midwest. Check out my list of my most memorable moments in Chi-town which made the cut…(well, the ones that are appropriate to post on the internet at least!)
This one time I went to China town because the library there had the only copy of a book I needed for class. I wasn’t sure where the library was, but before I could even ask anyone, this guy comes up to me and asks if I’m looking for the casino. I said no, which led him to spent the next fifteen minutes convincing me to go to the casino with him. (I guess when I dress to go to the library, my body is just screaming, “somebody take me to a casino!”).
Me and my roommate decided we were going to have the best mini bar in our dorm room in rez, so we went to the liquor store and filled up almost an entire shopping cart with bottles of alcohol. I think the sales associates got freaked out and thought we were raging alcoholics because the manager came over and asked to see our ids. Unfortunately, my roommate who is 21, only had her South African passport (foreign passports don’t abode well with Americans), and I automatically said that I lost my wallet since I was only 19 then (I’m such an amazing liar, aren’t I?). Needless to say, our mini bar contributions didn’t start that day.
This one time, these guys knocked on my door in the middle of the night asking if they could have my toenail clippings for an art project they were working on.
Once in one of my painting classes, this one girl had a nervous breakdown, and began crying about how we were never going to find jobs as artist, and be stuck in accumulating debt forever. The prof took her outside to calm her down, but it became really difficult for any of us to finish our abstract paintings when we’re forced to question the possibility of our doomed existence.
This one time, I went to this party at a warehouse. One of my friends somehow knew one of the guys there. It was a bit further out from the Loop, so we were a bit skeptical about the place, but it turned out to be a relatively popular art school hang out, where about six guys lived (they slept on mattresses on the ground and paid $200 a month for rent) and bands came to play. What I remembered most was opening their fridge to find it full of lettuce. Not just lettuce in the form of salad, or wrapped up, but just lots and lots of lettuce leaves. Everywhere. Welcome to vegan living, I guess.
I never knew Americans attempt so many bad pick up lines until I moved there. In fact I got so used to it, that I felt surprised when there wasn’t a day when I didn’t get hit on. The most memorable was probably one of my first encounters, when a guy sat next to me on the subway bench, and goes: “the weather is beautiful…beautiful just like you.” (it was totally overcast).
I remember having the worst luck on Halloween that year. The guy I liked and the guy I was seeing (note how these are two different people) both happened to pass out way too early, and me and my friends must have gone to at least three parties, which were all crashed by the cops. The night ended with me playing drinking games with a random group of hipsters with moustaches.
Once I had to go to a fabric store which was outside the Loop. Realizing it was probably in a pretty sketchy area, I wore an oversized hoodie and focused on looking at the ground the entire time I walked from the subway station into the store. I had to cross a large parking lot, and I remember there was a bunch of guys standing in front of their cars and motorcycles, and they kept trying to talk to me. Nothing happened, but it shook me up enough that the next time I needed fabric, I ended up taking the train an hour outside the city to buy fabric at a nearby suburb.
(Similarly, my painting class was in a building, where the nearby area was under construction. There’s always a group of construction workers sitting there and they would make comments and whistle at the girls who walked by. I remember always stragetically being in the middle of a call and having my headphones on whenever I walked past them).
This one time, me and my friends were at the subway station and saw the train coming but couldn’t find the entrance, so we hopped over the gate…only to find ourselves surrounded by station officers within seconds. The funny part was that we all had metro passes, so they had to let us go.
I went to a Crystal Castles show, and somehow ended up in the mosh pit, where I lost my friend, and I had to spend the whole show punching people.
On the first day of fashion class, our prof showed us a video of Marc Jacobs working on his line a few weeks before his fashion show, where he barely slept and lived off of vitamin pills. Then she told us that our lives were going to look like that if we wanted to become famous fashion designers, which wasn’t too far from the truth, since I had to pull numerous all nighters getting assignments finished. My eyes were so red during some days, that I’ve had multiple people ask me if I had weed (I also decided that I didn’t want to become a famous fashion designer).
Me and my friends were working for a Bebe fashion show, and we were ecstatic when we found out that it was going to be at a club (we were all underage). There was a huge lineup out front, but we got to go straight to the front, because we had VIP access. It was pretty exciting. Plus, we got to stay at the club after the show since no one checked us for id.
Being in Grant Park when Obama was elected President, and running down the streets with the rest of Chicago (we made history!!).