I’m booked, I gotta go: MLA 2019 in Chicago

Well, as Honeyboy Edwards would say, I gotta go. To Chicago. This year, I submitted proposals to the Medical Library Association Annual Meeting for a lightning talk (solo) and a poster (with Carolyn Martin, Pacific Northwest Region and Bobbi Newman, Greater Midwest Region). Both proposals were accepted. In addition to that, the Red Sox would be in Chi-town to play the White Sox. That sealed the deal.

Wanna hear Honeyboy Edwards sing “Sweet Home Chicago”? Check out this recording from the Library of Congress. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

On Friday morning, I headed to Bradley International Airport with my husband Ed. The flight was easy. Within no time, we were hopping the L to downtown Chicago. Trying to find our hotel was reminiscent of our Paris trip, rolly luggage bumping along as we took rights when we should’ve turned left. We were on a quest to find the Hyatt Regency, the Chicago hotel where the Obama family awaited election results on November 4, 2008. And, the location of the 2019 Medical Library Association Annual Meeting.

After unwinding a bit, Ed called his daughter. She was driving up from Minneapolis with her wife to meet us in Chicago. We decided on rendezvousing at Pizzeria Uno on the corner of Ohio and Wabash, but ended up at Pizzeria Due as there was no wait to be seated at the second location. Our server Johnny made sure he got our order correctly. Sadly, my low-sodium diet frowns upon thick crust pizza (I know, I know! We are in Chicago!) but the thin crust cheese pizza was delicious. And I was judicious about my portion.

We grabbed a handful of low-sodium groceries at the nearby Jewel-Osco before calling it a night.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

My Saturday morning started with yoga and a bowl of oatmeal, fruit and nuts. I boiled water with my nifty immersion heater. Snobby about my tea bags, I had brought Barry’s Gold Blend with me. Ed joined me with hotel room coffee, and we were walking across the street to embark on the Chicago Architecture River Cruise by 9:00am.

We were blessed with a clear, sunny day. Our docent pointed out the variety of architectural styles and gave us the historical context. She pointed out that only one skyscraper on the riverfront was designed by a woman,  Jeanne Gang. As the mother of an architect, I appreciated this piece of information. The reflections of sky, water and neighboring buildings were stunning. I gained an appreciation for the architects’ response to tragedy (Chicago Fire of 1871), and how innovation is entwined with design. 

After a second breakfast of cold pizza, Ed and I took the L to Pilsen.

For over 150 years, Pilsen has been a port of entry for immigrants. Early on it was waves of Eastern Europeans, which later shifted and became predominantly Latino. Now blended in the close knit Mexican-American community is creative types and students. Thanks to this diversity, you’ll find offbeat vintage shops, independent coffee houses and quaint cafes alongside bodegas, panaderias and restaurants serving authentic Mexican cuisine. ~Chicago Welcome Home

We wandered a bit, waiting for Ed’s daughter to meet us. As promised by the online guides, we found mosaics and murals decorating the sides of buildings. Leda arrived, and we walked a short way before stumbling upon Cantón Regio. Entering this restaurant was like opening a door to a secret world. Nothing on the exterior prepared me for the vibrancy of the interior. Long tables, crowded with large families. Heavy wood, exposed brick and metalwork. We indulged in tacos, quesadillas, chips and guacamole. Everything was yummy. Cash only.  Good thing we had cash.

After lunch, we went in search of Woman Made Gallery. WMG seeks to cultivate, promote and support the work of female-identified artists. We happened to arrive in-between shows. Nothing on display. Executive Director Deb Flagel graciously told us about the history of WMG and the vision to offer opportunities to the novice as well as the experienced artist.

Back onto the sidewalks of Pilsen, we came across the Chicago Print Crawl. I’d never heard of a print crawl, but Leda knew exactly what it was. This is an annual self-guided tour of printmaking production, publishing, exhibition and sales venues throughout Chicago.

Chicago has been a hub for commercial printing since the late nineteenth century with dozens of mail order catalogs (Sears Roebuck and Co.), magazines (Time Magazine via RR Donnelley), and maps (Rand McNally) all produced in the area. While the printing industry has undergone tremendous change, the Third Coast continues to boast an impressive spectrum of print shops from private artist studios to commercial facilities to collectives and educational spaces. Some venues proudly house cast iron presses, tradition stone lithography, and analog processes. Others favor digital design, modern technology, or a blend of old and new. Connected to these distinctive production sites are a range of unique galleries, local businesses, and DIY spaces that bring printed items (i.e. stationary, fine art, books, posters, apparel, and more) to an audience of print-enthusiasts, art collectors, and anyone interested in craftsmanship and shopping local. ~Spudnik Press Cooperative.

We “crawled” through Depression Press and then grabbed tea/coffee at a local cafe. Saying our goodbyes to Leda (Ed would join her the next day to explore Oak Park), we caught the L to Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the Chicago White Sox. Our game night was Star Wars night (May the 4th). Darth Vader, C-3PO, R2-D2 and a host of Stormtroopers roamed the ballpark. After two iffy innings, the Red Sox bats heated up. I started to feel bad for the White Sox fans. Error after error. Embarrassing.

During the fourth inning, we headed to the Craft Kave beer cellar behind the Visitor’s bullpen. We selected local brews (Revolution Brewing’s Anti-Hero for Ed, Goose Island 312 for me) and grabbed peanuts as the lowest sodium food option. Back to our seats, the fans around us talked good-naturedly. In the end, we had a blowout win: 15-2 Red Sox.