Monday, July 27, 2009

Chicago, Day 1

A long day. That's really the only way to describe today. A long day of brainstorming exercises with the occasional longing glance out the window at the gorgeous Chicago shoreline.

But there's really no way I can complain. Not when I'm part of an effort that is truly grounded in both good intentions and a real desire to make the world better. It's not every day you can say that.

I truly think that intelligent conversation with smart people who check their pride and ego at the door is one of the best parts of being human. Anyone disagree?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Chicago, Day 0.5

Chicago has always held a special place in my heart. Which is odd, when you realize that I can count on one hand the times I've been here. If asked, I'll wax on about how much I love Chicago. All 12 hours that I've spent here. Well, maybe it was more than 12. There was that trip in grad school where we ate way too much pizza. My first business trip to see the Joffrey and stay in that fabulous apartment. Two years ago, Wicked. And today, the first 1/2 day of my longest stay in the 2nd City.

Hearkening back to my last disastrous trip via the air, this one was a breeze. Even the child sitting next to me, whom I just knew was going to scream for the duration of the trip, was well-behaved. A minor blip occurred when the woman next to me on the shuttle did her best to imitate a masticating cow as she munched her pretzels. But even that was not enough to dampen the fun.

Weather? Super cool. Like 80 degrees cool. Like jeans and t-shirt and a breeze in your hair cool.

Hotel? Ditto the coolness. Like, decorated in blue and green (not a speck of orange to be found), free wireless, Oxford English dictionary instead of the Bible cool.

Location? See above. On Wacker (which is just fun to say), on the river, in the middle of dozens of restaurants and steps from Michigan Ave, which is enjoying a special summer program of incredible gardens.

Live theater? Check. A wonderful, lush production of The Arabian Nights at Lookingglass, directed by Mary Zimmerman. This gorgeous production was only slightly marred by two things:

1. I was sitting next to the father of one of the actresses. That was great until about 10 seconds into the show when the first of her many, ahem, steamy moments arrived. Cue the awkwardness.

2. The pacing bordered on self-indulgent, with some veeeerrrrry long pauses, and one interminable montage of stories that went on about 5 minutes too long.

But those are small details! It was a wonderful, lavish night of theater, and makes me realize how much I miss having a real theater scene right next door.

The night was clear and cool as I walked back up Michigan, accompanied by the jingle of cups being shaken and change being requested. This made it harder to enjoy the skyscape and the lighted buildings, but I find myself, as it often the case of my first night in the city, energized. In 7 hours today, I saw more people, representing more cultures, countries and ideas that I will in a month in my hometown. Tomorrow I'll dive into the geeky world of software design. And hope that I get a chance to go outside and visit the city a bit more.