30 August 2010
The tall ships were in Chicago this weekend, so we went to take a look. Apparently a good number of other folks had the same idea, because Navy Pier was packed! Being the kind of girl who is still amazed by crowds and adjusting to life back in the US, it was a bit overwhelming. We saw, the Chicago Tribune building with pieces of stone from all over the world, some ships, a Dutch family that moved to Chicago last week, tables (and then trash cans) overflowing with fast food, Forrest Gump sitting on a bench (outside of chain restaurant with a name from the film), and a macaroni and cheese sculpture, to name a few.
These got me thinking again about some of the things that seem to keep coming up since we've moved back. One is the commercialism. Everything seems to be branded or franchised. Shopping is either the focus or incorporated into everything I've seen so far. The International Fair at Millennium Park was basically a set of booths selling "ethnic" items. These included the Jordanian tent selling sculpture "made in Jerusalem." Isn't Jerusalem in Israel? Guess it sells. To be fair, things aren't exactly better in other parts of the world. Somehow, it feels more overwhelming to me here.
Another thing that's catching my attention is what people eat while they're out. We've been pretty active the past few weeks and had a number of lunches out. As much as possible, I try to plan ahead and take. That means a lot of sandwiches and fruit or some version of easy to carry food made at home and transported in reusable containers. We drink tap water out of reused bottles. On other tables, though, there is a lot of fast food. Brought food is often just a packaged as bought food. Snack packages, juice boxes, and sodas. In other words, there's a food paradigm that's geared towards quick, convenient, and packaged. Why does it seem like a surprise? Maybe five years of working with colleagues where almost everyone almost always brought their lunch. That lunch was usually two or three sandwiches of the brown bread-butter-cheese/ham(rarely both)-brown bread variety. To drink: coffee, tea, or water. At work events, same sandwiches but they offered milk or orange juice to drink - a treat! Essentially, the norm was basic and kind of boring, but healthy. What I'm seeing while we're out is mainly reinforcing my efforts to keep us eating healthy and with as little waste as we can manage.
Our outing (yes, that's what I started in on) ended on a very positive note. Since we didn't end up buying tickets for the tall ships show, we decided to take the water taxi from Navy Pier to Michigan Avenue to save ourselves a bit of the walk. The view was grand and the Peanut loved the ride. Unfortunately, they turned off the fountain just before we got to go under it, but that would have been even more fun. All in all, a great adventure day.