I have regained College!
The train journey this time was pretty awesome, too. On the Chicago stopover, I stuck my luggage in a locker and trekked the mile across downtown to the Art Institute, which was having free admission on weekdays--score.
(I pause my narrative to complain about the lockers. They annoy me. They cost $3 or $4 per hour, depending on size, and take only one- or five-dollar bills (or credit cards). They do not make change. I am not really good at carrying a plethora of one-dollar bills. This led to a couple of "excuse me, would you trade me four quarters for a dollar bill?" interactions at the station. By the end of it, though, I was running out of quarters. Also, you have to scan and confirmation-scan your fingerprint before you can rent one, and while the scanner is oohcool and high-tech, it... does not always recognize that your fingerprint is the same thing as itself--an interesting philosophical conundrum.)
Anyway, art museum! Free art! Well, I had to pay a dollar to check my coat (more quarters gone!), but that was okay. The Chicago art museum makes me ashamed and proud of the Minneapolis art museum at the same time. Everything they have on display seems to be something famous and shiny and pretty and impressive. They are very proud of their famous, shiny, pretty, impressive things. They want you to admire them! They would like it if you went goggle-eyed at them.
Whereas in the Minneapolis art museum, there are things like the period rooms, which have nothing famous in them at all; there are non-famous things; and generally it is just homier. Or maybe I am just used to it.
But the shiny pretty impressive things in Chicago were duly shiny and pretty and impressive. They have a lovely arms-and-armor collection, and just everything is beautifully restored and awesome (a book from I think the 1500s that looked like it had
to be a replica, but no, they wouldn't exhibit that). Some of the medieval art was really colorful. They have some reeeeally old stuff there, too, ancient (Chinese?) jades and bronzes (~1000 BC on some of the bronzes, I think?), and I got to recalibrate my oldness sensors. So I am very much not complaining.
There was also an exhibit, in the modern wing, by Richard Hawkins--which I was trying to find on the website under current exhibitions but apparently that was its last day. Um. But it was neat--some of it was not quite my thing, but there were also these house-sculptures, lit from inside, some with mirrors and Grecoroman statue pictures and doors inside, some just lit in empty rooms, floors stacked on each other... this
was one of them, I think, but so much cooler in real-space. Another of them was on a low table so that I had to stoop down to circle it and peer into the windows, and the mirrors reflected pictures of statuary, and further doors, and slices of my own face...
That was cool.
Then I walked back, making a stop at Argo Tea (two things you need to find in a new city: art museums and tea) to get some mint tea and hop on their wifi for a bit. After which I spent some hours sitting around in Union Station until my next train boarded.
Tip for train travel: go when it won't be crowded; then you can nab the seat next to you, too, and curl up entirely horizontally. I got a pretty good night's sleep that way, despite waking blearily a few times, which is sort of par for the course with trains.
The next day went on much as days do, on trains; I reread Gaudy Night and read part of Delany's Neveryona. I ate lots of granola. We got in about an hour late, which I got slightly grumpy about, because they hadn't made any announcements about us being off schedule, and I had gotten on the train at 9 pm the day before and didn't have the schedule of stops memorized, so as to know how far behind we were. So I started fidgeting and hoping that the train had not decided to skip Springfield and perhaps go to the moon instead. At that point I'd been on a train for about twenty hours, though, so my behavior may be forgivable, but I think before my next trip I should download the full schedule for the train so as to have a reference. That was really the problem, that I had no idea how much longer it would take. I also didn't know how I could summon a conductor to ask about it, and since (as far as I knew) the train could be stopping at the station any minute, I didn't want to wander back to the cafe car where they hang out and ask.
But I got there eventually, and a friend of mine very kindly picked me up in the freezing rain and slush and drove me to campus.
Today, I spread everything out in my room in a parody of how I did before I packed it, three days and a thousand miles ago. (I have put away most of it, and cleaned a few things, but there is still work to be done.) I also went over to the library and obtained Books, for there is a week before my classes start and I intend to waste it thoroughly.
A few pictures are up here
; it's difficult to take pictures from a moving train, so there aren't very many, but there are some.