Penny Dinner, Rose Drinks

Leaving Liz’s place, we met up with her friend Jake – who I’ve heard tons about. He’s a schoolteacher, and recently returned from a long trek in South America. He’s planning on going back, and has recently taught himself how to play poker so that he can support himself, when he goes back. While he’s down there again, he’ll have a laptop on him, which he’ll be using to make money while on the road.

Honest to god. The guy taught himself how to play, and is now practicing online. So far the hardest part, he said, was weathering the “downs” that happen, when you play badly for a week, or weeks, on end. He’s currently down $1,000 – but says he’ll make it up again in time.

It’s an interesting thing, this theory of down time. I hear professional players talk about it being the one thing to watch out for, and how difficult it is to weather the storm, so to speak. The bigger question in my mind is: how do you know when it’s a slump, and how do you know when you’re just a shitty poker player? Were I to lose $1,000 playing online, I’d likely pack it up for good and never touch cards again.

Which, all in all, makes Jake’s stories really fascinating to me. Couple the poker background with stories about monkeys (one wherein he saw a monkey almost rip a girl’s ear clean off, and another where a monkey stole his wallet and credit card), and it made for a fun evening.

The three of us took the Red/Brown line over to Penny’s (on Diversey I think). I’ve been to the one near the Damen Blue Line stop – which was just one huge room. This location was a bit cozier, with smaller rooms that made the dining experience a little more intimate.

There, I met Rebecca and Jerome, Lisa (Liz’s future roommate) and James, and Alexandra. Rebecca I didn’t get to talk to too much, as she was sitting somewhat far away from me. She’s currently going through her Boards for med school, and that’s about as much as I learned.

Alexandra showed up a bit late, and I overheard a few things about the Improv class she’s taking. I’m curious to hear more about that, as it sounds really fascinating (and I’m also someone who’s bad at spontenaeity, but am really interested in the mechanics of humor).

Jerome was sitting to my left, and he’s a current PhD. student studying American Lit (specifically, the novel). He and I talked at length about grad school, the whole Lit/Crit vs. MFA thing, and I kept encouraging him to take fiction classes. Of course. :) He and I geeked out a lot about grad school, which was fun.

Lisa recently completed her Master’s, and is debating travelling farther down the academic pathway for her PhD. She also studied Literature, focusing more on the Romantic period. She’s also considering taking some time just to teach, while she’s figuring out the whole grad school thing. James, her fiance, lives in England, but is visiting (and will be living here come the summer). He’s currently a teacher, and has a backgrond in Museum Education – and wants to ultimately work as a liason between museums and educators.

I had a good time meeting everyone, and chatting over dinner. To be honest, I was a bit nervous (meeting Liz’s friends for the first time), wanting to make a good impression, etc. A lot of my worries were just in my head though, as everyone I met was really warm and quite friendly – while I was nervous beforehand, soon after sitting down I felt quite at ease.

After dinner, we walked a ways to a bar called Rose’s Lounge. En route, we spotted this open storefront space with a “For Rent” sign on the windows. More than that, someone had set up this cute display with a bear and a desk. I’m thinking he’s either a security cop, or some lonely accountant.

Alexandra and I both stopped and took out our cameras to snap a few shots. By the time we looked up, everyone else had moved on, and the two of us walked to the bar together. I had a cool talk with her, discussing various neighborhoods in Chicago and her upcoming move. It was quite nice, as I didn’t get a chance to talk to her much, given where we were sitting during dinner.

Rose, exterior. The bar itself is a dive, but a nice one. It’s one large room, and very cozy (with two areas for large groups to settle down). Of note are the $2 beers and the fact that Rose, an elderly woman who first opened the bar in the 1970’s, also serves as the bartender.

Alexandra used the top of a nearby gumball machine as an impromptu tripod, and I promptly stole her idea. Here’s a quick shot of the interior.

A view of the bar (that’s Rose in the back), from where we were seated. A bit blurry, but you get the idea. Our area had four chairs and two couches, nestled in a nook right by the entrance. Like I said – cozy.

L to R it’s Lisa, James, Jake and Alexandra.

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