Look outside, St. Louis. This is the same weather we had the last time I went to Mardi Gras, four years ago and full of the kind of youthful bravado that just doesn’t give a shit about cold rain or discomfort as long as alcohol is involved. While part of me can’t believe the lameness of not going to Mardi Gras for four whole years, the other part of me is drinking coffee and glad for an indoor temperature of at least 65 degrees that I didn’t have to wait in line or pay out the ass to experience (unless you consider rent, and if that’s the case, then fine, you win).
(Non-St. Louisans: Obviously you think of New Orleans when you think of Mardi Gras, and rightly so. BUT you should know that St. Louis has the nation’s 2nd largest Mardi Gras celebration, and around here, we all put down our guns and pull on our drinking shoes and just get destroyed this weekend.)
I’d rather spend money in Chicago, anyway. In our four years-long relationship, Graham and I have never been on a trip together. Well, we went to Springfield for his sister’s graduation and to Ste. Genevieve for the wedding, but those are in the same state and they were more like efforts than vacations. And yeah, Chicago is only 4 or 5 hours away and I’m going through the tropics of Illinois to get there, but it’s something we can finally do with one another, even if it’s just for a day and a half.
The last time I went to Chicago, I stayed with my friend Justin and drank pretty much the whole time. Well, there were some vintage shops and a record store in there, but otherwise…yeah, drinking. I’m not complaining, either. I recently read the Ye Olde Olde Blog entry I wrote upon returning to St. Louis (of course I didn’t save the link, why would you ever assume that I have my shit together?) and got to re-live the following:
— Bed bugs on the train to Chicago.
— Frantic checking of clothes and bags upon deboarding.
— Near piss-my-pants relief at not having bed bugs on my person or belongings.
— An Irish bar that sold $2 tall cans of Labatt Blue.
— And had a drunk, mumbly owner who couldn’t understand how two people could be worse at darts than Justin and I, but was nice enough to claim that the poor lighting was why neither of us could hit a damn thing.
— Returning to said Irish bar later, where we were joined by a group of Australians who then followed us from bar to bar for the rest of the night.
— Including a place that had high-end whiskey specials.
— And some old lady’s parlor that smelled like cats but had the cheapest jukebox I’ve ever seen, and that includes anything in St. Louis.
— Meatballs and jam for breakfast at some Swedish place.
— The most amazing used bookstore in the world, least of all for the shelves-long collection of vintage pulp paperbacks and an owner who forbade cell phones in his store.
— Pizza at some place with a door guy who said they were at capacity. WTF kind of pretentious bullshit is this?
— Immediately forgiving the door guy when I found out there were microbrews and really excellent, non-deep dish pizza inside.
— Seeing The Double Door, feeling nerdliness rising.
— Getting drunk on vodka tonics at some awful bar/club place with vinyl banquettes.
— Being refused at The Map Room for someone else’s ID issue, then staggering down the block exclaiming “Fuck this place! I don’t need it!”
— Getting hit on my some weirdo in what I later found out was a famous-ish pickup bar.
— Playing wingman and entertaining a girl who looked like, I kid you not, a fucking zombie or something.
— Ending up in her and her friend’s neighborhood bar, which I swear was in a cave and served mostly elderly men, also possibly the midget from Twin Peaks.
— Spaghetti for breakfast.
— Walking through fields of melting ice to Lake Michigan.
— Getting stuck in a sudden torrential downpour, after which I air-humped the windows outside one of Chicago’s fanciest restaurants.
— Explaining to a cab driver at least three times how to get to Union Station in his own city.
— On train home, sitting next to a World Of Warcraft enthusiast with greasy hair and one long pinkie nail.
— Felt like sleeping, but instead got sucked into Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.
— Was picked up by dad at the train station.
— Got Hardee’s burgers, which for some reason is my dad’s favorite thing to do if he’s driving anywhere after 10pm.
I won’t be doing any of these things on this trip. Tomorrow night is for dinner and drinks with friends and then further drunkening with just the two of us. Monday is doing the super touristy shit: Millennium Park (I can’t help it, I love that big shiny bean so much), Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, and the Sears Tower (or the Willis Tower, whatever, I don’t even care but Graham wants to go there so we have to).
Today is my favorite part of any trip. Making lists, and packing according to these lists, and playing stuff like the below way too loudly and possibly offending my polite Southern neighbors.
I’m Like Ancient Rome, Baby, All Roads Lead To Me
Tell Me What I Wanna Hear, Eli “Paperboy” Reed
You Can Make It If You Try, Sly & the Family Stone
Kicks, Paul Revere and the Raiders
Heartbroken, In Disrepair, Dan Auerbach
Misadventures of Dope, Deadboy and the Elephantmen
I Love You, You Big Dummy, Captain Beefheart
Lock and Key, Black Lips
The Horizon Is a Beltway, The Low Anthem
Honor Amongst Thieves, These United States
May Day, Jason Webley
Damn, Sam (I Love A Woman That Rains), Ryan Adams
Couer D’Alene, The Head and the Heart
Post Break-Up Sex, The Vaccines
One Night, One Kiss, The Russian Futurists
Ultimatum, The Long Winters
Before They Make Me Run, The Rolling Stones*
Debra Jean, The Queers
Snake Shakes, Jaill
Get Some, Lykke Li
Nothing But A Heartache, The Flirtations
Rock and Roll Angels, Shannon McNally
You Got the Silver, The Rolling Stones*
Last Song, Jason Webley
*I’m almost done with Keith Richards’ Life, and I can’t get enough of his voice. Hero. Even more so than Doc Holliday.