Monday, September 07, 2009

back in chicago

With the start of teaching beginning very soon, I had my last escape this past weekend.

I spent the weekend in Chicago with a very close college friend. I'm so used to seeing him when he's in town, but was able to visit him at his new place this time. This trip marked my first time back in ChiTown and on a plane since my graduation there in 2007. The last time I boarded a plane was when I left Chicago's Midway for New York in preparation for my stem cell transplant about two months later.

The precautionary restrictions of a donor transplant prevented me from flying during those two years. However, I must confess that when it came time to schedule this trip, I forgot to ask my doctor for permission. So, he still doesn't know about it. Oops. Well, really I guess because I've been feeling so well and my health has been stable it didn't occur to me to ask. Interestingly, I suppose this was an unrealized, subconscious sense of comfort or perhaps even confidence in my own progress. I happen to think this is quite positive. This reminds me that I've also eaten sushi a few times during the past several months (without incident) without his explicit blessing . Though in the case of eating sushi, I deliberately evaded asking him. It's OK at times to stretch the rules a bit. When appropriate, it's OK to not be so literal. Again, I take this as a very encouraging sign of my continued optimism about where my health is and where it is going. I'm far from out of the woods, but at two years out I'm feeling very good and hopeful and all signs seem to confirm this.

On Friday, I returned to the U of C campus where I first visited Dr. Van Besien and his staff at the medical center. Two and a half years had passed since I first started the SGN-30 study there. He and his staff were delighted to see how well I am doing. I gave them a framed floral photograph of mine as a token of my great gratitude for their great care. Dr. Van Besien continues to receive updates on my status from Sloan as its a requirement of the SGN-30 study. The updates will continue for about 3 more years, I was told.

From there, I stopped by the Dean's office to thank her and her staff for their generosity during my medical leave of absence from 2005-2006. And lastly, I stopped by my department's building to see who might be around. There I got a chance to catch up with a few professors.

It was really wonderful to walk along the charming streets that I got to know fairly well during my two years in Hyde Park-Kenwood. I saw my former apartment buildings and most of the shops that I remembered were still there. That morning before heading to the university campus, I revisited a Hyde Park cultural institution: the Original Pancake House on E. Hyde Park Blvd across from the street from the bus stop. Just as when I was student there, I enjoyed their savory chocolate chip pancakes, which were a favorite of Su and me. If you're ever in Hyde Park, a visit here is a must. On Sundays, go early if you wish to avoid the busyness of the after church crowd. Before heading back to the Loop, I ate lunch at another neighborhood classic: Ribs 'N Bibs. Again, it was really nice revisiting some of my old stomping grounds.

Friday evening was spent at the Contemporary Museum of Art's First Friday where we mingled with a number of other singles. An awesome ambiance: lively music, beautiful women, and wine, Dionysus' gift to humanity. This was definitely one of the highlights of our time together in ChiTown.

On Saturday, my friend and I checked out the lively Jazz Festival in Grant Park and some of the area's breathtaking architectural creations, such as the Art Institute's new annex. I also had a chance to checkout the incredible new Trump International Hotel and Tower on the Chicago River. It was still under construction when I left in 2007. Undoubtedly, it's one of the most beautiful skyscrapers that I've ever seen. An (massively expensive) gem!

Chicago is a great, vibrant city. I was reminded of this this past weekend. I'd like to go back.

Faculty orientation begins tomorrow and continues the rest of the week. The first day of class is on Monday, the 14th.

I'm excited about this new opportunity. I'm looking forward to it.


Comment Blogger missingheart said...

Who all did you see at UofC, Duane? One of these days, I should send an email to Rusty. I never think of it. Is he still around?

So glad you had a good visit. Only place you didn't go that we would've... Rajin Cajun for samosa lunch.

Sarah and Scott

12:22 AM  
Comment Blogger Moonshine said...

Hello Duane!

I got your voıcemail as I was packing and about to leave Chicago. I am now in Istanbul, Turkey, and so sad to have missed you when you were there!! Will you come back again anytime soon? I'm going back to Chicago on October 4th.

Hope to see you the next time you're in Chi-town!

All my best,


8:05 AM  

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