A Tale of Two Trips

I’ve written a few times about taking Ketamine treatments for anxiety and depression. I had my last one last Wednesday.

I am so grateful for how well this worked for me. I took 6 trips in all, but they weren’t the only trips I was taking.

In between ketamine trips, I took two trips with my friend, Lizzie. We spent a weekend in Chicago, then the following weekend, we stayed in a cabin in the mountains with our husbands.

Okay, so it’s been a good while since I’ve spent any time in a big city and I have to say, Chicago was better than I remember. It was cold and rainy. There were tornadoes all around. And I didn’t care at all. We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria and we had a balcony. I spent a lot of hours staring at the city lights.

There were many good moments, but the moment. The best time of all? Going to a 3 star Michelin restaurant. The food type is “molecular gastronomy“. I did not know that was a thing.

We went to the Alinea for dinner. The Alinea is considered one of the best restaurants in the world. The world. I ate food in one of the best restaurants in the world. I ate food in a restaurant where there aren’t any menus and multiple people bring you plate after plate of weird and wonderful food. Except the one thing that kind of pops in your mouth when you bite in to it. No idea what it was. I mean, it wasn’t gross or anything. It was definitely a texture thing for me. I really want to make a spit or swallow joke, but that restaurant was super classy..it just doesn’t feel right.

meal course at Alinea

Pretty sure when we were there, there were more elbows on the table than usual. I’m not saying that I was a complete embarrassment, but I did struggle quite a bit with the elbow thing.

I ate a helium filled balloon. It tasted like a green apple fruit rollup.

michelle eating helium filled balloon

This is squab. I thought it looked like something that would be served in a restaurant that exists in my ketamine universe. If I had one. The last place I created was an impossibly huge airplane hanger. Which has nothing to do with Chicago. But still.

I guess I wasn’t a total freakshow as we were invited to tour the kitchen after dinner. The lovely couple sitting behind us joined. I have never been more fancy in my life. Mostly, I was worried about tripping and falling down the stairs or perhaps dipping the end of my scarf into another patron’s fancy sauce that came with the prawn. Or maybe in their wine glass.

The wine part was funny to me as well. Each course was accompanied by a different wine. The wine lady (I know there are other terms, but I can’t spell the one I am thinking of and it’s too much bother to look it up) anyway, the wine lady would say things like “I’m sure you’ve noticed that we’re pouring blah blah into a glass one wouldn’t expect, but we like to do things different at the Alinea.”

I don’t know what wine goes in what glasses. I think if they had served the wine in a Flintstone’s jelly jar, I would have been surprised. Or a Dixie cup. I did not understand a single thing she said about the wine for the whole evening. I am not much of a wine person, but I really did enjoy what I had. Probably because it’s the kind of wine bazillionaires drink so it has to be good.

I am so grateful for the experience and grateful that I got to be there with such an amazing friend. Also, super grateful that I didn’t spill anything. Or get food in my hair. I almost always manage to get food in my hair. I think my biggest mistake was the elbows on the table. And maybe the cheap, red combat boots I had on.

It wasn’t all about food, though. I mean, it was mostly about food, but not all. We walked, shopped, and visited a museum. We had the best room service I’ve ever had. We ate in front of the fireplace. In our room. Oh, wearing the robes the hotel provides. Pretty sure they were made by baby angels using unicorn hair. We had drinks on top of the Four Seasons hotel and watched the wicked storms rolling in.

I hurt my leg twice this year, so all the walking in Chicago did me in. I loved the Alinea, but I absolutely didn’t hate the bath in our suite.

bathing feet

The Chicago trip was kind of a spur of the moment thing. A birthday gift from Lizzie. We already had the cabin in the mountains planned before the Chicago trip.

Last weekend, we all met up in a cabin near Dollywood. Our cabin had an indoor pool and a theater room. The two weekends could not have been more different. Chicago was all hustle bustle. There was no hustle and very little bustle in the mountains.

The highlight in the mountains? Lizzie and I doing an Esther Williams thing in the pool.

cabin swimming pool

I realize the number of people who have even heard of Esther Williams is dwindling. So for those of you unfamiliar, we were attempting to do synchronized swimming to the videos Randy was playing on the 10 foot projector behind the pool. I’m not saying we were ready to take our show on the road or anything, but we weren’t bad. No one drowned. That’s pretty much what I’m basing our success on. No one drowned.

But we did laugh. Holy shit that was fun.

The past month has been both healing and bizarre. Restful and exhausting. Full on, up and down shit. I wouldn’t trade a moment. I mean, other than those last few panic attacks.

I’m also ready for life to swing back to at least a little predictable. With nary a trip of any kind in the near future.

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  • Have you seen “The Menu”? Were you scouting for glimpses of Ralph Fiennes behind the scenes at Alinea??
    The closest I’ve come to fine dining is a Texas dude ranch recommended by a friend, where Hubby took me for our anniversary (ahem, I brought my own horse) – we were served quail which was one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth. That was a great weekend – I got up early, rode my pony while DH slept in, then went & ate a huge ranch breakfast…
    Bravo to you – you even make me have the slightest inclination to visit The Windy City!

    • I tried to watch it, but it was too disturbing. I’m a wuss. And, believe it or not, the room service that I spoke of? Quail. It was SO FUCKING GOOD. We ended up ordering two different nights. Holy shit, that was amazing.

      And Chicago is wonderful. So much to do and see.

  • I’s wonderful that you’re feeling so much better! A week (or 2) away from your daily grind was just what you needed! Somehow, I can’t see Chicago as being a destination choice unless you have family or a good reason to be there. Nothing against Chicago, but if you’re going for pandemonium there’s always New York. Still, it all sounds wonderful and entertaining, and I’m so glad you got to spend time with Lizzy! You always come back from visits with them sounding so much more relaxed and happy!

    • I LOVE New York. Love it. But Chicago was a lot of fun. The food and the sights were amazing. Plus, way closer for us. I want Randy and I to go for a long weekend soon.

  • Holy shit, I laughed so hard when you mentioned Esther Williams. My grandfather had a movie camera and filmed Williams and Johnny Weissmuller doing some kind of swimming demonstration at the Texas State Fair. I have no idea what year it was and I think one of my aunts threw away the film because she had no appreciation for history. And don’t worry about the boots. After all they do things differently at the Alinea.
    Anyway I’m glad you had two great trips. Eight great trips if you count the Ketamine.

  • Hi Michelle, Chicago is my city, but I have not experienced Alenia. Delighted you had a wonderful time, and your allusions to other experiences (Ester Williams) are always delightful. Everyone should have a time when they are pampered and experiencing something different. Life would be so boring, if that were not the case. Thanks for sharing, Beth Havey

  • I’ve only been to Chicago once, and we definitely did not have a gourmet meal there. Your experience – what a trip, if I could borrow your language. Cutting loose is something we all need to do at some point. I don’t know what I would do in a restaurant like that. For the balloon, how do you eat a balloon and maintain your dignity? I couldn’t. But you brought back a memory – a food memory, not a balloon memory. Years ago, in downtown Kansas City, we ate at a restaurant specializing in American cuisine. It wasn’t cutting edge gourmet. It was just excellent, with white glove service, a sommelier, and all the trimmings. We haven’t done anything like that in so many years now, to our shame.

  • Glad you had a good time and glad you’re feeling better. I was a line cook in a restaurant for years but only got to eat at a nice restaurant once. It was in Rohnert Park with Beth the day she lost her court fight against her ex-husband for the house her kids were raised in. She was angry and said “Fuck it, we’re going out to dinner.” I felt out of place and under dressed, but the service was excellent and the food was good. I had the fettuccine special and got to tell Beth the story of how my manager at the Buttercup used to call my fettuccine special “Dangerous Doug’s Fettuccine Primavera” on the chalkboard in the dining room.

  • I have heard of Easter Williams but I am 60 so not surprising.
    Trips can be good unless you fall on your face and hurt yourself

  • That balloon and you pic (I’m presuming it’s you?) is
    How did you get inside your own head
    while on Ketamine?
    I know I’m conflating.
    Seriously, who took that picture? I love it. Hope you guys will have it printed competently and likewise framed. What a great photographic metaphor of your
    triad of trips in one week!

    • Okay, yes that is me. And what you do, is just suck in a little and it deflates and then you talk like a chipmunk. It’s just so weird. You know. To eat a balloon.

  • I haven’t seen your posts much lately but I was so happy to see this one! Thanks for the laughs!

By Michelle