Wednesday, October 29, 2003

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Last Friday after Chinese class I biked to the Ann Arbor Amtrak station, which can be reached by going north on State Street, and turning left at the T-stop. It's a ten minute ride or so. I had payed for my ticket online, so it was just a matter of walking up to the window, stating my name and showing an ID, to pick up the ida-y-vuelta (is there a good way to say that in English?) ticket to Chicago and back. The train was just a couple of minutes late, and the ride there was pretty uneventful. I sat next to a lady who was visiting her daughter in Chicago; we spent a while talking about her visit to China a few years ago, and about her Catholic upbringing and misguided hostility by Protestants towards Catholics. I got some reading done, and I napped for a while too. Napping is good

After four or five hours, the train arrived at Chicago's Union Station, from which it was a hop, skip, and a jump away to Ogilvie Station. Three dollars bought a Metrarail ticket on the Geneva line to College Avenue, the closest station to Wheaton College, where my sister Laurel is a freshman this year.

This weekend was Parent Weekend at the college, so that afforded me the chance to hang with my sister and my mom, who was visiting from Southern California. On Friday night we went out for pizza at a nice place, and to the Wheaton student talent show. Saturday morning I slept in (feels good!) and went to a football game where... my sister was a cheerleader! Yes, my valedictorian sister is a cheerleader. For those of you who don't know Laurel, she's this super-all-around girl, even more Renaissance than I can claim to be. In high school she was school mascot, Bible study leader, dance team president, straight-A valedictorian, and popular (the very words of a kid I tutored). All that, and she followed her convictions and chose to attend Wheaton College, probably the top institution of Christian higher education in the United States. You gotta respect someone like that.

After the football game, we went out to a Vietnamese noodle shop for pho, a treat I haven't been able to find here in Ann Arbor. While my mom and sister went to a concert of the Music Conservatory, I stayed back in the dorm and did Lieberthal reading. That night I stayed up late playing games with my sister and her friends, and slept in a room in the guys' wing of Fischer dorm.

On a tangent to the narrative, I discovered a reason why freshman at Wheaton tend not to go on dates, beyond what my sister told me. See, while Wheaton as a Christian college places a high priority on healthy guy-girl relationships and the topic of marriage/engagement comes up a lot, my sister claimed that freshman tend not to date because they are warned that dating in their busy first year can ruin their academic life. Well, I found another more convincing reason. As I lounged in the men's wing of Fischer before going to bed, the fellows who were hosting me dressed out in very embarrassing clothing (tight pink shirts, underwear outside their pants, &c). I found out that they were going to IHOP to crash their roommate's date! How awful.

Sunday morning we ate breakfast together in the dining hall, then my mom and sister left for church while I walked to the train station. Overall, I really enjoyed the trip. My mom is so encouraging, is great for catching me up on the family gossip, and showered me with birthday presents. It was nice seeing my sister, the same old self-depecrating but over-achieving Laurel, getting along with her crazy roommate and enjoying her physics class!

I could keep writing, about how I got caught by a policeman crossing the tracks while the bars were down, or how the train leaving Chicago was almost two hours late, or how I got a grip of reading done on the train, or how it rained on me as I biked home from the station. But enough for tonight.

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