Saturday, May 19, 2007

Julie Halpern's Day Off. While Working.

On Thursday I went on a field trip. I have always loved field trips (which I write about in GET WELL SOON), and I feel very lucky to still be able to go on them as an adult. The best part is most field trips go into Chicago, and now that I live in the burbs, but Matt still works in the city, we don't go into the city as often as I like (Matt's commute is insane, so he'd rather not have to do it on the weekends). But with field trips, I get a free ride into the city, plus free admission into wherever we go (as a chaperon, ya know?). So this week's trip was with forty seventh graders to the top of the Sears Tower, then onto something I'll tell you a little more about in a minute, and then on a walking tour of the Loop. The bus ride took over an hour. It's such a joke that it takes me an hour to drive to work in the morning, and then I had to sit on a bus for another hour. My life is slipping away! Anyway, the Sears Tower was fun. A couple of the boys (I think they're all pretty much 13 years-old) were afraid about their ears popping in the elevator, so I gave them gum. It was wonderful to be at the top of the Sears Tower. I don't think I have ever done that. I'm not one of those people, though, who's like, "I live in the city, but I never do any of the tourist stuff." I have totally done the tourist stuff - walking tours, boat tours, crazy museums, etc. I love Chicago, and I love to go to museums and things. For some reason, though, I had never been to the top of the Sears Tower. It was a perfect day- sunny, clear, a little chilly. We could see in every direction perfectly! I was a little choked up.
The next part of the day was visiting one of the student's mom's office. I don't quite understand what the mom's job was, but she showed us Burnham's original plan for the city of Chicago. Then she showed us the the videos that the company made (again, I'm not quite sure what the company does) to convince the International Olympic Committee why the 2016 Olympics should be in Chicago. One of them can be found here. The coolest video was a computer animated reproduction (pre-production?) of where each Olympic event would take place, narrated in a thick Chicago accent by Mayor Daley. It was so cool! I had my reservations about the Olympics being in Chicago before this, but it kind of sold me. I guess I'm kind of a sucka, but whatever. It was so neat to see the city transformed. It had a little feel going back to the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, which I'm very into.
In the final part of the field trip, each teacher was given a group of six students to walk around the Loop with. We had several buildings that we had to see and write about. I had the information packet, so I was like an architectural tour guide. It was was so fun! My group was very nice. I took them to the Chicago Correctional Center, which I have always been fascinated with (since my first architectural tour in junior high) because, well, it's a jail, but it has five inch-wide windows to give it a funky, computer-ish look from the outside, but little visibility and no possibility for escape from the inside. It was fun to freak the kids out a little.
At the end, we were running a little late (as was everyone), but I had told the kids that our last stop before we got back to the Thompson Center for the bus was to go to Marshall Fields on State Street (Macy's, you can suck it) to go the jumbo candy place in the basement. As we were down there buying candy, I realized we were already supposed to be at the bus. But the candy counter people were so slow! So then I made the kids run with me the several blocks through the busy sidewalks of Chicago to the bus, all the while me yelling, "I don't want them to get mad at me! I don't want to be that irresponsible late teacher!" And the kids were yelling, "If you get fired, Ms. Halpern, I'll have my mom call the school to get you out of it!" The punchline: when we got to the Thompson Center, all of the other groups were inside AT A CANDY STORE. And no one noticed we were late.
I had such a wonderful day. Being in my favorite city in the world, being with my favorite age group of people in the world, looking at architecture and candy. I hope I get to live a million more days like this one.

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