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2005-05-25 - 4:45 p.m.

Looking to the future, I'm going to be busy and/or without internet access this weekend. So feel free to sign up for the notify list if you don't want to check obsessively every day (because, of course you will) (since I'm so, you know, addictive) (excuse me while I dunk my head in some cold water. It's getting bigger by the second).

What's on tap (hee, beer reference) this week/weekend?

-The Brewer's Dinner is tonight! Hurrah! (if you click, scroll to the end of the page. That's where I mention it) Five courses of awesome food with beer pairings and all the beer we can drink! Just inches from the Red Line el stop! (oops. I just drooled a little on my keyboard)

-A hot lunch date followed by a little more Friday afternoon working and a hot happy hour date. Yes. Both hot dates are the same person. And her freshly-moved boyfriend.

-Kegging our hefeweizen, then throwing it, the dog, me, and my husband into the car for a drive up to his parents' cottage in Wisconsin. Because, you know, they have a kegerator so that we can have our beer on tap in their cottage (sorry. Just drooled again).

-Driving back to Milwaukee Saturday to see lots of college friends and celebrate a graduation from med school.

-Back to central Wisconsin for more fun-with-kegerators.

-Umm... that's about it. Have a safe and fun Memorial Day Weekend, all!

NYC, brotha

So, long rambling story made short: my husband is in NYC for two days. Last night, he discovered that New York City's address numbering system makes no sense. Perhaps it's just that he doesn't understand it. Perhaps NYC has it out for him because he doesn't like it there.* But for whatever reason, 237 Madison Ave. is between 37th and 38th Streets. Now, does that mean it's the second building past 37th? Or does it have no correlation? NYC peeps, I KNOW some of you are out there. I need the expertise because the geography dork in me is going crazy trying to logic this out. CRAZY.

*No, it's not the Big City thing. It's the New York Gets All of the Damn Media Coverage From Everyone and It Has Crappy Pizza, Hot Dogs, and Baseball Teams thing. (Sorry, New Yorkers. You're allowed to be pissed at me because I would hate on you if you said the same thing about Chicago. But Chicagoans have a bit of a chip on their shoulder about always being an afterthought...)

Getting Around Chicago, or, How To Always Know Where You Are and How Far You Have To Go

The Chicago address numbering system is one of the easiest to understand. There are a few important things to keep in mind, and then you can pretty much find your way around without a lot of help.

1.) Chicago is based on a grid, with State Street (running North/South) being 0 East/West and Madison St. (running East/West) being 0 North/South. The numbers then increase as you move outward from that intersection. Streets are numbered as 100 per block -- though in the Loop, some of the streets are closer together and the blocks are smaller. Just look at a street sign to find out what number you're crossing.
Example: I'm at 400 N. State St. This means that I'm 4 blocks North of Madison St., and the building numbers around be will be as follows:
Looking East -- 1 E. Kinzie St. (the street sign will read "Kinzie St., 400N" if you imagine that the comma is a line break)
Looking West -- 1 W. Kinzie St.
Looking South -- 3xx N. State St. (it will probably be 375 or something like that)
Looking North -- 401 N. State St.

2.) Chicago's buildings are numbered with evens on one side of the street and odds on the other. If the number is even, the building is on the West or North sides of the street. If it's odd, the building is on the East or South sides.

3.) In nearly all cases in the city (a few exceptions, but not many), 8 blocks = 1 mile. So if we take the example from the first point, if you're standing at Madison (0 N/S) and need to go to Kinzie (400 N), you will be going half a mile.

4.) Now you're asking, "Well, that's fine. But how do I know where I am if I'm NOT at State and Madison?" In nearly all cases, the major streets are situated every half mile. Heading North again (yes, I live on the south side, but the near south side has a little hiccup in the numbering system that I'll mention later. It's not that confusing, but it's not something I need to burden you all with right away) from Madison, you're going to encounter:
400 N -- Kinzie St.
800 N -- Chicago St.
1200 N -- Division St.
1600 N -- North Ave.
2000 N -- Armitage
And so on. So, once you know the major streets, it'll be easy for you to realize that an address at 1378 N. State Street will be on State between Division and North Ave.. Also, it will be almost two blocks North* of Division as you can infer from the numbers -- almost 200 higher than 1200.

Same thing with the East/West Streets, though Lake Michigan takes up a lot of the area that would normally be occupied by an official East Side of the city. Unless you are on the South Side, you're going to only have a few blocks (if that, even) of area East of State. So as an example, here are some major streets you'll pass heading West on Madison:
800 W -- Halsted St.
1200 W -- Racine
1600 W -- Ashland
2000 W -- Damen
2400 W -- Western

Now comes the easy part. South. Headed South on State from Madison, the streets are only named up until 1200 S (Roosevelt)**. After that, they're numbered (with a few major exceptions). You'll have 18th St., which is 6 blocks south of Roosevelt (12, remember?), then 22nd St. (this was renamed Cermak after one of the city's mayors. It's usually referred to as Cermak, but if you say 22nd, people will know what you re talking about) and so on. On the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90/94), exits are ever half mile at 31st, 35th, Pershing (39th -- same idea as with Cermak), 43rd, 47th, 51st, and so on.

5.) Diagonal streets radiate out from the Loop (the city center). There aren't too many of them (Archer is the main South Side diagonal artery, and the North Side has Lincoln, Elston, Milwaukee, and a few others that I forget), but they can sometimes throw off your calculations. Generally, their street numbers will correspond to the North/South streets they go past (for instance, 3500 S. Archer is the intersection of 35th and Archer).

*Sorry. North Ave. makes this a little confusing. If I use Ave. after it, it's the street. If I don't, it's the direction.

**This is the little hiccup I mentioned earlier. 1200 South is actually only a mile South of Madison, even though technically it should be 800 S if it's a mile. Who knows why. It doesn't really matter, though, unless you're running and you lose your pedometer or something.

So, as you can see, finding your way is just a matter of knowing how the numbers work. If you see the numbers decreasing as you walk, you're moving toward the center of the city. If they're increasing, you're moving away. If you see skyscrapers, and you're on the north side, you're moving south. And so on. Having a map with you will help until you get to know the major streets well, but in a pinch just look at the street signs for any major intersection. If you're on the South Side at 35th and Halsted, you should be able to get to a bar at, say, 3356 S. Halsted (mmm... favorite bar...) but realizing that since the numbers are smaller, you have to walk North -- or if you're directionally challenged, toward the center of the city (that big black blocky building (geez, alliterate much?)? It's the Sears Tower. You can see if from nearly anywhere in the city).

As promised, the fiery bathrobe story:

I tend to sleep naked. It's fun, friendly, and comfortable. I didn't in college, but once I was out on my own I decided that it's okay. That meant, however, that I needed a bathrobe. Something to grab quick and put on in case of a late night phone call or (heaven forbid) a fire. Bathrobes are expensive, people! Especially if you want the terrycloth kind can be used post-shower instead of just as a decorative covering. I went to a J. Crew outlet and gave up on the post-shower usage. There was nothing. NOTHING that was useful. But, I just needed something to cover my goodies in an emergency and when I had to wander around among my roommates. So I got this off-white bathrobe that had all these little fashionable fuzzies all over it. It was a BITCH to launder, let me tell you what -- fuzzies overloaded the lint trap. But again, just for necessities.

Fast forward a couple years to last summer. I was married (no roommates to cover up in front of) and working retail, so I worked 1-9:30pm. I often wore the bathrobe in the morning, because putting on my work clothes was silly (uncomfortable, ugly, and I'm prone to spilling) and walking around naked meant I couldn't have the windows open or get the paper.

One morning, I decided to light some yummy-smelling candles to get myself in the mood to do some cleaning. I had a box of wooden matches, and struck one along the side of the box.

The head of the match broke off and lit about halfway to the floor. It was about half an inch from my bathrobe when it lit, and suddenly my bathrobe when up in flames like children's clothing from sweatshops (and yes, I'm a bit suspicious that J. Crew outlet stuff was made in sweatshops now). WHILE I WAS WEARING IT. The bathrobe fire started at around my knees and was up near my face in the space of about half a second.

I was completely shocked, but instinct kicked in and I managed to get the bathrobe OFF and in a pile on the floor where I stamped it with my bare feet (I was amazed at how much I can imagine in this space of time. I had already imagined the whole house going up in flames in the couple seconds it took me to get the fire out). It was mostly out and I took it to the bathtub and ran water over it to be entirely sure.

Then I held it up to survey the damage, and started sobbing. Because the shock was starting to wear off, and I realized that the entire front of the bathrobe was BLACK. I was very nearly killed (or, more likely, horribly disfigured). So, of course, I called my husband at school. Sobbing. Now, the poor guy is not a stranger to this situation, but usually it means that I have a.) PMS b.) a tick on my head or c.) an existential crisis about why every likes their job except for me (Reason C has pretty much disappeared since I no longer work retail. Praise heaven). So, he was trying to get me to calm down, and I was freaking out and crying and snotting all over my (still naked) self, and he got me to realize that I was NOT dead, and NOT horribly disfigured. So I calmed down.

He, at this point, thought that the bathrobe had a little black hole in it somewhere. When he got home and I showed him the completely blackened (and now wet and soggy) bathrobe, he got a little pale and said, "Wow, I had no idea it was that bad."

So then I started crying again. Obviously. It's my default setting for being sad, stressed, happy, or angry!

Later, I got a bathrobe from Target that was not fuzzy, and I no longer use wooden matches. But it proved once again that I'm not particularly good at dealing with stressful situations.

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