a transplanted life in China 

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monochrome Chicago

 Elevated tracks at Leavitt Street, Wicker Park     Foremost Liquors, Argyle Street       Belmont and Clark, Lake View

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Goodbye Chicago

 Chicago Theater   It’s over. Three weeks of indulging in food fantasies, hanging out with my dear brother, exploring Chicago, went by very quickly. Oh, the clothes and shoes I bought. In China it’s virtually impossible to find “western” sizes, so I had a good excuse to go slightly mad in Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, Old Navy, and an incredible shoe store called Altman’s, where they won’t let you leave the store unless the shoes fit perfectly. It was old-fashioned service, actually measuring both feet, bringing stacks of shoe boxes for inspection, and fitting my hard-to-fit feet.      Wabash Avenue, El steps, pigeons   I even took a stab at riding a bike along the lake front. In my college days, I could easily make the 25-mile round trip from Evanston south to McCormick Place, but this time I was winded after just 45 minutes or so. 8 years of China smog, lack of exercise, and laziness have caught up with me (OK, age has something to do with it too). My brother and I visited the Art Institute on a (free) Thursday evening, to catch the Magritte exhibition. We explored Chicago neighborhoods I’d never visited before, and I experienced the reverse culture shock of returning to my home country only the second time in 8 years. Most surprising, I guess, was the friendliness of the people. I’m a native midwesterner, and lived in Chicago in my youth, but I simply didn’t remember this kind of friendliness. It was a

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Chicago buildings

Trump Tower, viewed from Wabash Avenue; the Chicago El (elevated train) is on the left   Chicago is an architecture-lover’s dream. After the 1871 Chicago Fire, and later the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, the city attracted many of thecountry’s greatest architects. Chicago was the birthplace of the skyscraper, and home to architects such as Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. I spent part of my 3 weeks in the city exploring buildings I had never seen before. The mild weather made for perfect opportunities to walk and take photographs.       The Driehaus Museum (originally the Nickerson Mansion), features perhaps the finest 19th-century interiors created in Chicago, reflecting the sensibilities of the Aesthetic Movement. I took a guided tour of the mansion on my 2nd day in Chicago.      Driehaus Museum: main hall and staircase      Driehaus Museum: smoking room      Driehaus Museum: dining room View more photos of the interior in my Flickr Album here.      Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Oak Park      Frank Lloyd Wright studio, exterior detail      Frank Lloyd Wright, Heurtley House, Oak Park. The suburb of Oak Park, where Wright lived from about 1889 to 1909, has a large concentration of the architect’s early work.      Frank Lloyd Wright, Robie House, Hyde Park, 1910. This is Wright’s Prairie Style masterpiece.      Robie House, interior and leaded-glass windows More Frank Lloyd Wight photos are in my Flickr Album here.       One of my

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Chicago food

Published on August 3, 2014, by in Chicago, Food, Travel.

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks basically living out my food fantasies in Chicago, or re-living fondly remembered tastes from my past. Chicago is a food-lover’s city; if you’re in doubt, just check out the Flickr group Chicago Gluttons. Here’s a photo tour of some of the food highlights, both alone and with my brother Kenton:       My first meal in Chicago after getting off the plane at O’Hare: my brother took me to Sultan’s market for inspired middle eastern food – chicken shawarma, hummus, falafel, salads, pita bread. Yummmm.       Urban Vegan Thai food       Grilled Reuben sandwich on rye, Miller’s Pub; a blast from the past – I adored this sandwich when I was a college student in the 70s.       Native Foods – vegan nachos and “chicken” appetizers       Karyn Cooked, River North area: vegan falafel sandwich       Mexican lunch in the Chicago Loop, La Cocina Mexican Grill     Rangoli Indian restaurant on North Ave., one of the best Indian meals I’ve had; I ate chicken korma.     Rangoli appetizer, fried cauliflower     Another blast from the past: Five Faces on Division Street, open till 5 am. In the late 70s my friends and I would come here after the bars closed for the gyros sandwich with fries. The place is still here after all these years.     Gyros sandwich at Five Faces – just as I remembered    

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Chicago

Published on August 2, 2014, by in Chicago, Travel.

  I have been in Chicago for a litle over two weeks now. I’m here for two main reasons: to spend time with my brother Kenton, who moved here a month ago from Sioux City, Iowa, and to apply for my Z Visa at the Chinese Consulate, for my new teaching job in Suzhou. Among other things, Chicago is notable for its architecture, and for being a great food city. I also spent portions of my young life here, as a college student, and later during a transitional period in my mid-20s. The city had always held fond memories for me, and is one of those places that keeps calling me back again.       To recap my journey thus far, from Chengdu I flew to Shanghai, taking the express train the next day to Suzhou, where I’ll start a new teaching job in a couple of weeks at Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University. During 2 1/2 days in Suzhou I had just enough time, in between rainstorms that alternated with sticky, hot weather, to spend an afternoon looking at apartments. I chose a semi-furnished 2-bedroom unit about 10 minutes from my new university, paid the deposit and first 3 months’ rent, then returned to Shanghai for my 13-hour direct flight to Chicago.     I had originally scheduled my stay in Chicago for 10 days, but had to change it to 3 weeks, due to yet more delays in my Chinese visa process. It’s been a long, hard process that

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