Summer in Chicago

When I moved back to Chicago from Atlanta about 2 1/2 years ago, it was primarily to be closer to family. I also wanted to live in a city with more of a “big city” feel, rather than a 4 million person suburb. What I didn’t even realize at the time, was what an incredible city Chicago is during the summer. There is a reason that Chicago has no equivalent of the Hamptons to which everybody escapes for the weekend.

Yesterday was one of those amazing — yet plentiful — days in Chicago during the summer. I began the day meeting my grandfather for breakfast before we walked through the Old Town Art Fair, one of the highest quality art fairs in the country. There wasn’t time to see the Wells St. Art Fair, also in Old Town. While now quite as impressive, it’s still a nice art fair — maybe I’ll hit that today.

After a short mid-afternoon nap, I headed down to Grant Park for Blues Fest, Chicago’s free annual outdoor blues festival.

The music ended at 9:30, perfect timing for those of us at Blues Fest to join a friend at the nearby Chicago Yacht Club, where he was winding down after a day on a friend’s sailboat. What could be nicer that sitting on the deck of a boat with some friends and a few beers? How about watching the Navy Pier Saturday night fireworks from the deck of the boat!

While in some ways yesterday was a unique, amazing day, it’s not that difficult to experience similarly amazing days in this town, with the extensive schedule of city-sponsored events, the hundreds of neighborhood festivals and the city’s parks, marinas and beaches. There truly is no better city in which to spend the summer.

Things You Don’t Want to Hear When Brushing Your Hair…

This morning, I learned that “Did you know your building is on fire?” is one of those phrases you don’t want to hear while brushing your hair.

Around 8:15 this morning, I was getting ready to leave for work and my cell phone rang. I was a bit puzzled because people don’t ususally call me on my cell phone at 8:15 in the morning. And those most likely to do so are my parents, who were soundly asleep I assume, seeing as they are on vacation in LA.

It was my aunt, who asked where I was. I told her I was in my apartment getting ready for work. She then asked me if I knew that there was a fire in my building.

No, I did not!

Sure enough, I open my living room blinds and I see about a dozen fire trucks, ambulances and police cars and I can only see what’s south of the building. Hmmm… how did those arrive without me hearing them? I guess when I was in the shower! While I live in a 42 story building, I am only on the 3rd floor. Not all that far from the street below. I certainly should have heard the commotion. I did hear voices and walkie-talkie squawks, but there are often maintenance men on the roof of the parking garage below my window…

I also should have heard fire alarms, I thought. Seeing as I didn’t, I’m hoping they are zoned and not broken.

Anyway, seeing as I hadn’t heard any alarms or had any firemen pound on my door, I kind of took my time getting out the door. I poured my coffee, put on my shoes, grabbed my bag and gym bag and headed down the stairs. (First time I’m glad I only live on the 3rd floor!)

Once outside, I ran into some friends who live in the building and who’d been outside for a while. They filled me in. Fire in 1609, contained to that unit but the one unit is pretty bad. A couple people had come out in stretchers and been taken away in ambulances. News crews arrived and even a news helicopter hovered nearby.

Satisfied that everything was under control, I had hoped to leave for work, but the street was blocked by the 3 dozen emergency vehicles. Eventually, they cleared out enough that we could leave…