I was in Chicago for Thanksgiving, but this time, as a visitor. Now having some other city data points to compare against, I can authoritatively say that Chicago is a great city. It's a city that doesn't need a distinct personality, but ends up having one anyways. The people are hard-working, but easy going and good natured. No one is eternally sun kissed or draped in gold and diamonds; even Chicago born celebrities are of modest persona. The city moves through the four seasons every year, and while not always gracefully, is beyond compare if you hit the right morning in Spring or Indian summer evening. If you're a fan of deep dish pizza, sports, or stand up comedy, you'll have no trouble blending in, but as hub of the U.S., anyone is likely to find their niche in the cultural spans of the metropolitan area. I had a great time and look forward to going back. No, I have not been paid for this endorsement.
On to more ego-centric blathering. I had my own high school reunion in between working and family fun. On Monday, I met up with Lauren and Kerry at Mambo Grill for really good guacamole and gossip - the typical stuff of where who-and-who is living, what they are doing, and what sexual orientation they are now. Then I went to stay with David in his apartment near Rush. He showed me around the anatomy lab on Tuesday morning, showing off the cadaver they are dissecting in class - I named her Eunice. It turns out that when you die, you end up looking like Turkey meat.
On Tuesday, I met up with Alan to have pizza at the original Gino's East, or so we thought. I guess the original one was actually closed down, so this one was a phony, but still had the same amazing pizza. Corn crust, chunky tomato sauce, mountains of cheese... I just gained another 2 lbs remembering how delicious it was. We also went to the Schoolyard to meet up with some of his friends and watch the UIUC vs. Duke basketball game. I guess this is one of uber pro-Illini bars in Chicago, so Alan made me wear an orange and blue shirt for fear I'd get beaten up otherwise. I would have been impressed if I pulled off the whole school pride, sports fan thing, but we ended up talking about oil market volatility, hedging, and XSS attacks instead.
On Wednesday, I took the L back to Google and then had lunch with Matt at Harry Carey's. Matt's doing the whole law school thing and has promised to defend me pro bono in all future legal troubles, not that I intend to have any. Then I walked 1.5 miles in freezing rain to Union Station to catch a train back to the 'burbs. This was one of those ungraceful weather days I was talking about.
Thursday was Turkey day and Friday was our annual craft day, which means more gingerbread houses! Jason came to this year's event (invite only) and made an amazing house on wheels with fruit roll up flame decals on the side. I made a pink sorority gingerbread house, David made a ho-ho-ho-spital, and Michael made a log cabin.