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#GrammarWars involves finding an alternative literal meaning to what the other person is asking, and knowingly answering the wrong question just to annoy the other. It’s a game I hadn’t played in a while.

Bearing southwest, Chicago is 5890.23km from Dublin, Ireland. I’m a long way from home. Or more importantly, I’m a long way from family & friends. And with so much of my time dedicated to school, I’ve not had much of an opportunity to properly explore the city or make many friends outside of school yet. It’s hard.

I had been looking forward to last Monday for some time. That evening, following my Story Development class, I hurriedly made my way to Jackson station. It was rush hour, and the platform was busy. I didn’t see him at first, but then the crowds parted and there, following an eight-hour flight from Dublin and a forty-five minute train ride from O’Hare airport, stood my good friend John.

I hadn’t made plans that night because I figured that still on Irish time—which is six hours ahead—and following his day of transit, he would be tired. Instead, I made some food and we took it relatively easy, getting an early night. The adventure begins tomorrow.

Following some breakfast, we hit the lakefront. It was a fresh spring day and we strolled in the direction of downtown. There, we took in the architecture of Michigan Avenue, including the double-decked Wacker Drive—made famous by The Dark Knight’s chase scene—and the nearby Oak Street beach, behind which lays The Drake Hotel from Mission Impossible.

Later, we had some Japanese food in Logan Square before making our way to the UIC Pavillion Theater where a firm favorite band of ours that we hadn’t seen in a few years, Sigur Rós, was playing. It was great. I think John enjoyed it too; he kept shouting, “I’m enjoying this.” Later, while waiting for the bus I had a look at the live tracker on my phone. ‘How long?’, John asked. ‘Three minutes, and fifteen minutes’, I said… ‘So, eighteen minutes?’, he asked. And so, #GrammarWars began.

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Ever curious about what it is I do in Columbia, the following day John came into our Critical Analysis of Contemporary Film & Media class. Transmedia storytelling was the order of the day, using The Matrix as an early case study. Later that day I took him on a tour of Columbia’s Media Production Center, and later in the week I brought him to one of our film shoots, The 6th Stage of Sugar. Before this week, John may not have known what we do here, but by the end of the week he had a fairly intensive first-hand insight into life as a Columbia film student.

The underlying theme of the rest of the week was comedy. Thursday night we saw My So-Called Afterlife at Annoyance, and on Friday night we took in Chicago’s longest-running comedy show Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind by the Neo-Futurists. ‘That was great, was that your idea Garret?’, John asked. ‘No, it was Conor’s idea’, said Garret. ‘No, I think the Neo-Futurists came up with it’, I replied as we walked out the door.

On Sunday night we made it to Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s musical comedy The Book of Mormon. By Sunday night, our sides hurt. Somewhere in there we managed to see Jurassic Park 3D. The best part was when the young girl got into the jeep and, upon seeing the on-board screen, exclaimed, “Wow, an interactive CD-Rom!” After numerous recommendations, we also had drinks at one of Al Capone’s old haunts, The Green Mill, which was like being transported into a 1920’s gangster film.

It was a much-needed break from my regular school routine, and great to finally see a different side to Chicago. Despite the ongoing #GrammarWars, it was even better to have John here for the adventure. However, now that he’s gone back to Ireland I find myself amidst a clusterf**k of catch-up for school. Thanks John, thanks for nothing.

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