So, when I finally did get to Chicago at 0630h on 23 December, and Mommy picked me up, it was cold. I had known this before leaving, because a little voice in my cell phone had told me so. So as I left the baggage claim and sought out mom's minivan I was ready to unpack the winter coat that I had balled in to my backpack.
We picked up Jessy, went to breakfast, dropped Jessy off at work, and I came home and crashed for a while. Later on me and Uncle went Christmas shopping. I had done no Christmas shopping before the 23rd for two reasons. The first reason is that I don't want to carry more stuff on the plane than I have to. The second reason is a lack of Christmas spirit. Some time the week before, I had remarked to Patrick that it felt weird because it was still summer. So far, I haven't noticed any seasonal change - it's either warm or not warm out here. Patrick suggested that that was why he was feeling not Christmasy. He's from New Jersey by way of Boston.
So it was nice to get on the ground, in to the cold cold darkness of winter. As an added bonus, there was snow on the ground. Ahhh, Chicago!
So, we wrapped up Christmas shopping as quickly as we could manage. Even in the most festive of times we're not big shoppers ... shopping just isn't a guy thing. But we managed a decent haul.
We had an awesome Christmas Eve. The Cloonan's came in from Indiana, Grandma's friends and her neighbors, Jan and everyone else. Bob couldn't make it because he had a nasty cold. But we had a good time - the food was great, the cookies were tasty. But even better was that we had a couple of kids - BJ from next door and ...
I can't remember names. I am old and senile and I can't remember names. Well, we had some kids playing with toys, and with each other, and even playing a little "Hide And Seek" which we used to play when we were younger. BJ took turns wrecking the train I had set up around the tree. Later on we were treated to piano playing and folks took turns trying to remember the words to Christmas songs and not sound too crappy.
It was just a cozy, intimate, all-around good party that everyone enjoyed.
Everyone, that is, except Bob, who I hope managed to entertain himself back at the house. And Aunt Linda, who is off travelling about in Australia, as it seems many young folks are doing this year.
I got Lego Mindstorms - build and program your own robots! Cool. As mom said "It's so nice that I can still buy you Legos." Everyone loves Legos. Jessy gave me an REI gift certificate, so I guess I ought to procure a sleeping bag and follow through on my notion to spend New Years out under the stars. Only two days left. Man, it is amazing how fast the time passes when you'd having Holiday fun.
I've been pretty much in loner mode lately. I didn't put much effort in to contacting old friends. On Monday I dropped by EnterAct and on Monday evening I went out to Goose Island for dinner with Sean and his friend. We concluded the evening by watching this crazy car-chase movie called "Vanishing Point" which was exactly what Sean said he had wanted. I enjoyed it too. He drove me home. Good company. Kindred spirit, though he's a chef and I'm a computer guy.
And then I did head home ... I got to the airport an hour early, stood in line for fifty minutes to check-in a suitcase full of Christmas presents. Then was told that it was too late to check baggage, I would have to hustle to the next terminal over, wait in line to get through the metal detector, then hustle all the way back to end of the terminal I had just left to catch my flight. They'd check my baggage at the gate.
I got to the metal detector pretty quick. Waited impatiently in line. Emptied my pockets, collected all my stuff that was falling all over, tried to secure the big suitcase, my backpack, and a laptop around my big winter coat, and took off running through the crowded airport to try and catch my plane two terminals away.
It nearly killed me. I was sweating and gasping for breath, running about with so much stuff, wearing four layers under my winter coat in the climate-controlled airport. But I made my way on to the plane, where the lady sitting in front of me offered me a cough drop. And not too much later we were in the sky.
The irony being, of the five flights American Airlines had scheduled me on, the only one that was on time, I nearly missed because I had to wait forever at the baggage check.
To sum up:
American Airlines: Almost as Reliable and Friendly as Greyhound.
H O M E