Notes from the “field”

I have mentioned my ambivalence when it comes to categorizing my research as musicology or ethnomusicology (and also what “-ist” I call myself). Regardless, I am in Chicago conducting research of various sorts (hence the quotes around field in the title), and here’s a story based on my 22 or so hours in Chicago so far.

Do you know what’s really helpful when traveling? Going in the right direction. It seems obvious, yes? Well, when I’m dealing with the CTA, it doesn’t always work so obviously. Case in point: yesterday I was trying to get from the airport to my hotel. Thanks to my iPhone (research instrument extraordinaire) and the google maps app, I had a route set involving one train and one bus.


Part of the journey from inside the airport to the train

The train part was a piece of cake, as there is only one train departing in one direction from Midway. I got off at my stop and proceeded to the street to find the bus stop; conveniently the stop was right out the front door of the train station. Not so conveniently (for me), both the northbound AND the southbound version of this bus arrived at that stop. I did not notice this…. because as I was walking out of the train station, what I thought was my bus pulled up.

I hopped on, pleased with the fortuitous timing. My phone was dying, so once I got on the bus, I put it away; but after a few stops, I decided to check my progress. It was at this point that i realized my blue dot was NOT on the blue line heading north. I tried to remain calm and immediately got off at the next stop. I and my luggage trudged across the street and back north a block or so to find the nearest bus stop for the NORTHbound bus. I waited a solid twenty-five minutes; finally, I was on the bus headed toward my hotel.

The happy ending is, of course, that I made it to the hotel (eventually). But here’s the more interesting coda: There was a man that got off the train when I did. I remembered him because he let me exit the train before he did, and when I was trying to find the elevator, he pointed me in the right direction. When my northbound bus got back to the train station, he was still waiting and got on the northbound bus! Assuming he had been there since we disembarked from the train, my stupidity did not cost me any extra time, only a bit of embarrassment and a slew of frustration!

Happy Friday Fun Music: Making the (Conference) Rounds!

Last semester, I had a flurry of travel in a relatively short period of time. This month is turning out to be somewhat similar… except that my travel is taking me out of the country! I’m currently in Chicago for a conference (hooray! even if it’s way too cold outside), will leave next week for Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and will return and head out for Charlotte, NC. The last conference that I’ll be presenting at this season is in Spartanburg, SC in April. Nothing against Spartanburg or the fine Palmetto State, but it hardly seems worth a mention at the end of that list!

I’m staying (yet again) with Fabulous Chicago Actor and her Amazingly Talented Husband, and I’m so, SO thankful for their hospitality! As I was riding into the city from the airport last night, I got to do one of my favorite things: ride the train and listen to great music. So, here’s an Old 97’s (former Bloodshot band)* song that mentions a Chicago location (the Empty Bottle) and a song for the train… I don’t know of any songs devoted to the CTA, so Justin Townes Earle (Bloodshot artist!) singing about the MTA will have to do for now.

Happy Friday, y’all!

*Please note that you have been previously warned about the dreamy Mr. Miller.