so i arrived in chicago on thursday morning and, to be honest, friday was a bit of a bust. this is why.
on the last day or two in boston, my phone - the sony xperia tipo dual that i had bought specifically for my trip in the united states, so that i could keep my vodafone sim card and buy a cheap connection and sim card while i am here - started to play up. the keyboard was wonky, i had to keep turning it at rights angles to be able to type some keys on the onscreen keypad; some aspects, like automatic insertion of smileys, didn't work at all.
i was pretty... flummoxed by this, would be a generous way of putting it. i chatted online with sony tech support, who didn't seem to be overly accepting of my predicament, despite (as i discovered later on) this being a known issue with the phone. (as it turns out, another known issue - but similarly "unknown" to sony - was a very bad echo problem when using a compatible headphones-and-mic connection. i also experienced this, though it's not such an issue for me, since i rarely make phone calls, preferring to txt or use data.)
after much scrabbling around i found an app i could install to reset the calibration of my phone. this has fixed the keypad issues, even though my sausage-fat fingers still have trouble making the right words sometimes. i know, i know, autocorrect would help with that. and i know, i know, that "sliding" keypads can works very well too. i miss the old keypads with actual buttons to press. i could txt without even looking at the screen with that. not so much any more.
nevertheless, by 1.30 a.m. on thursday night, i had sorted out the phone problem. ahhh... blissful sleep.
so i woke up late on friday morning but just early enough to catch the tail-end of breakfast in the dining area. the combination of healthy and less-unhealthy food at hi-chicago was slightly different to hi-boston: no cocoa bombs, instead cornflakes and what i thought was sultana bran (eeek!) but seemed (after reasonable digestive analysis) to be something more like "special k" with sultanas or currants; they had muffins of some kind; bagels; orange juice; lots of sugar and non-dairy creamer in those cardboard tubes with twisty lids on that i associate more with horrible kraft powdered parmesan cheese than anything else... there were red delicious apples, which i'm not that keen on and discovered, after discussion with some fellow zinesters also staying at the hostel, many others feel equally unkeen on them also.
i had already decided to do my laundry but procrastinator that i am stopped into the hostel library and perused some books. yes, i admit it, i even did some shelf-tidying (i know i work in a bookshop and i'm on holidays but i've been in retail now for over twenty years and some habits are hard to break so - i hate to be typing this, i feel like a fourteen year old girl but - please don't judge!) but managed to escape maybe a half-hour later. i showered and got my gear into the washing machine, then hit the internet to blog. altogether, the washing took about two hours or so, and i pottered about tidying and organising my bags and clean washing. in the evening there was a zine reading planned as part of chicago zine fest, and i had to catch the blue line "l"-train to get there. exciting!
in between my doing my laundry and going to the reading in the evening, there was another zine fest event that i missed out on because, well, i got my timing screwy. i had originally in my head, "zine panel at zine fest site, 1-3pm", but by the time i'd done my washing and finished blogging, that had devolved in my head to, "zine panel 3pm". so of course i hoofed it down from the hostel (a mere five or six blocks north of the zine fest site at columbia college), passing a procession of very zinesteresque folk until i arrived and was told i'd just missed out. alas.
the walk back to the hostel took me on a different route and i stopped in for quesadillas at a great little place called [alas, the name escapes me and google was no help - if i remember, i'll replace this] for what was a really yummy quesadilla with beans and rice and (a little taste o' home) a mandarin jarritos. just what i needed to give me a gee-up after a somewhat disappointing afternoon. one other thing i did manage was to finish the silver linings playbook, by matthew quick. what a great read! an interesting narrative and engaging story, and something i was keen to read before i saw the film. unfortunately, it was still very hard to get bradley cooper and jennifer lawrence out of my head as i tried to imagine their characters on my own terms. while in his afterwords matthew reilly has said he imagined brad pitt as will race in temple and tom cruise as shane schofield in ice station and his scarecrow novels, i never did, and i think i enjoy them more for not having done so. not to mention that tom cruise is just too short. (c.f. jack reacher...)
i hopped onto the blue line, got off at division, and walked up to the boring store. (more about that later.) the boring store is a front for an amazing enterprise called 826-chi and they were hosting youth- and exhibitor-readings associated with the zine fest. it was standing room only most of the time and the calibre of writing was phenomenal. i was able to grab a few zines that had been read from but by the time i'd left my volunteer post at the zine fest, many titles were sold out. dave roche (of on subbing, among others) read from his zine, if nothing else the sky, excerpting a story about visiting the penguin parade at phillip island in victoria. classic.
there was more fun and games set for after the readings around the corner at quimby's books but i was already feeling pretty tired and needed to get back to the hostel to prepare my copies of the zine i'd decided to use as a trade at the zine fest. i did stop into a great little ice creamery called oberweis (1293 n milwaukee avenue, chicago, il 60622), grabbed a cup of coffee and tasted the yummiest chocolate milk, i think, of my life. (more on that later, too!)
long story short: i got back to the hostel around 11pm; i prepared the text of the zine; i spent three hours wrestling the text into a format i'd worked out using scribus, an open-source dtp program. i was very happy by the time i'd finished, it printed from .pdf exactly the way i wanted it to, which was a huge blessing the next day when, en route to the zine fest, i stopped off at an art supply store (for cover paper) and a print shop (to run off and assemble my zine). ahhh, sleep...
... for five hours, at least.