So I bet when I said "semi-regular" updates you were expecting... well, semi-regular updates. Oh well.
Since I'm back from Chicago, I've decided to log the tales of my adventure here. This will probably be the ONLY decent sized post that I'll be making...
Becker came over to my house around one o' clock, he wanted to leave by two. We ended up leaving a little bit earlier than that. There was hardly any traffic on the way to the airport but when we were about halfway there, Becker was pulled over for speeding (73 in a 60). To make matters worse, his registration had expired. The officer's computer was running slow or something so he let us off with two warnings.
We arrived at the airport around four... and our flight wasn't scheduled to leave until eight. Yeah, I gave Becker some shit for that one. While we were waiting to be able to check our luggage, the zipper on my suit-bag broke so I had to be really careful with my suit from that point forward. Once we were actually in the terminal, we had some lunch and just walked around for about an hour until sitting down. Becker bought a book at one of the terminal's bookstores and I played Final Fantasy Tactics Advance for a while. The flight was pretty much uneventful, but they told us before the landing that it would be snowing in Chicago by the time we arrived.
When we landed around eleven, O'Hare Airport was all but deserted. When we reached the moving walkways, I tried to whistle the little GEICO song (Everywhere I go/ There's always something to remind me.) but I couldn't stop laughing. We got outside and it was crazy-cold. We made our way over to the subway and bought a pair of 3-day passes. The ride on the subway took upwards of an hour. The nearest station to the hostel was something like four blocks away. It wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't for the cold, and the snow, and the fact that we had all of our luggage with us, and we had no idea which way to go... Besides that it was a great walk. Luckily, we chose the right direction and came upon the hostel. We checked in at the front desk and when we reached the room our first two roommates were getting ready for bed. They introduced themselves (though I can only remember one of the names) and Steve apologized, saying that he had been snoring lately. After locking up our stuff and brushing our teeth, we went to bed. I didn't sleep so well that night because my pillow was really lumpy and my feet kept getting cold. That's day one in a nutshell.
We woke up the next morning to catch the free breakfast. That's when we discovered the wonderment of the hostel shower. Maybe it was the fact that I had been cold all night, but that show seemed absolutely amazing. It was really hot and high-pressured. The best part was that it never ran out of hot water, so both Becker and I took our time. After eating breakfast, we decided to try and find me a new suit-bag. Really, we just wanted a starting point for shopping and that seemed as good a reason as any. With a complimentary map in hand, we headed toward the subway again. After a short ride and a less-than-short walk, we reached The Magnificent Mile. There were dozens of places I could have bought a suit-bag here, but only if I was willing to spend a small fortune. The only stores we went inside were the Hershey's factory, the Ghirardelli store, and Border's Books and Music. At Border's I bought some little gifts for Sheila (a piggy bank and a book that we totally had the idea for before it was printed). At Hershey's Becker and I bought some hot chocolate and it was delicious. Then we found out we could win a free chocolate bar by taking a quiz so we did that too. At Ghirardelli I bought a drawstring bag that had four chocolate squares in it and I plan on using the bag for my dice, at least for a while. Tired from walking around for hours, we decided to partake of some genuine Chicago-style pizza at Pizzeria Uno. This too was delicious. It's the best pizza I've ever had, and probably ever will. I ended up taking two slices with me which served as breakfast the next day.
When we returned to the hostel that day, we had a third roommate. This was just about the only downtime we had the entire trip. Becker and I both took a nap for a couple of hours. When we woke up, we played a quick game of pool and then went to Dave & Buster's. We scoped the place out and were disappointed to find that there was no DDR machine, just Pump It Up. We decided to eat before playing any games. One funny thing happened at dinner; when Becker ordered Dr. Pepper, they offered him Root Beer (lolwut?) instead. I thought it was really strange but it happened a couple more times after that. In the arcade i taught some little girls how to cheat at Jumping Jackpot and we blew a decent amount of cash before we met David. You see, David was sitting at this huge quiz-game machine and he called us over, asking us to play it with him. When we got near, it was obvious that he was plastered. The rest of our money and time at Dave & Buster's was spent sitting at this machine, talking and laughing at David's antics. After playing with David, we spent the tickets we had won on some crappy prizes. Then we went back to our room and got some sleep.
I woke up excited; this was the day I had been waiting for. With no reason to hurry, we woke up late and once again both took nice long showers. I took my time getting ready and around twelve-thirty we left the hostel to go to the party that had been organized on Facebook. We found the party without any trouble and there we met some really nice, really cool people. One pretty cool thing, Becker and I got a chance to play a Japanese copy of Super Smash Brothers: Brawl a week before it comes out in the States. A few hours later, our group headed for the subway (where we had a long conversation that covered everything from video games to politics to religion) and then to another pizzeria, which was too crowded for us to get a table. So we opted for yet another pizzeria in which to dine. After the meal, we made our way toward Rosemont Theater and talked about everything on the way. When we stepped into the theater, we took a group picture and then split up to go to our separate seats. It turned out that several of us were sitting in close proximity to each other, thus the conversation continued.
The concert itself was astounding. The playlist was perfect, every song was performed flawlessly, and Arnie Roth brought great energy on stage with him. While ALL of it was fantastic, I'm going to have to say that "Love Grows" was the best, mostly because I had to try really hard to keep from crying and I still shed a tear (Laguna standing over that grave... heartbreaking). I bought one of every souvenir and two CDs, one to get signed and one to actually use. After the show we decided to get in the back of the line for autographs, hoping that it would allot us more time to talk with Uematsu. It took about two hours for everyone to speak with him and not once did he ever stop smiling. I took a picture with Roth and Uematsu and got a bunch of autographs. We were able to exchange a few sentences before being rushed off.
I'm going to go ahead and cut this a little bit short here. The return trip was uneventful so I'll just skip it entirely. All in all, it was the perfect trip and I love Chicago now. I hope I can go back sometime.
I'm sure this won't happen, but if anybody wants to hear more about my trip, contact me and I'll be happy to tell you about it. 'Til then, I'm out.
I'm going to set my mood to "Tearful" just because I already miss the experience and my newfound friends.