There and back again: 24 hours in Chicago

Sometimes, my job is pure frustration.  Other days, I get to jet off to the Windy City to see a show and call it work.  It’s so much more fun to dwell on the latter.

10:21am flight = Perfect.  Not too early, not too late.  I swung by to pick one of my travel companions, “Perkins”, and then crossed town to the get the other, “Bif”.  Funny moment when Perkins and I pulled into Bif’s driveway, realized we were 20 minutes early, then promptly backed out and went in search of caffeine.  The search, of course, made us 5 minutes late, but we had plenty of time and all was well. “Mahoney” met us a the airport and we were off!

We arrived in Chicago and were picked up by Perkins’ friend, who is a member of the improv troupe Just The Tip.   She was super-great, providing us with tour guide chatter on the way into the city, waiting at the curb for us to check in, and introducing us to a spectacular Indian-Latin American fusion restaurant called Vermilion. Just one word: YUM. Mahoney had never experienced Indian flavors like that, and she did great!

Chicago was remarkably cold/windy, so we cabbed over to the Art Institute for a few hours.  I spent most of my time on a conference call for work, but I did get to see Georgia O’Keefe’s
Sky Above Clouds IV, the Matisse exhibit and an amazing photography exhibit by William Eggleston.

Then we hoofed it back to the hotel (Side note: we stayed at The Wit, which was a very cool hotel.  Even the piped-in birdsong in the hallway couldn’t diminish it’s coolness.), changed, and headed to our first party of the evening.  So commenced that awkward early networking phase where everyone hasn’t had enough alcohol to loosen up enough to truly enjoy the chit-chat.  Then we were off to the Cadillac Palace Theater (sorry for the boring link) to see Beauty & The Beast.  Since this is my personal blog, not a work blog, I’ll save the review for later.  But the show was good enough that even the supremely annoying family behind us who chomped on gum and popcorn throughout the show didn’t completely ruin the evening. Call me old-fashioned, but I just don’t like having food in the theater during a theatrical show. But that’s a rant for another time.

Anyway, then it was back to the hotel for a rooftop party, this one much more raucous and fun.  The cast was there, which meant that Perkins was in her element with the gays. 🙂 Marketing meetings in the morning, and then we took to the streets for a little retail therapy.  Speaking of taking to the streets, I am officially in awe of Bif’s ability to trek through the city on super-high heels.  Incredible. We all did our bit to stimulate the economy, grabbed some lunch, and then Bif, Mahoney and I headed back to the airport. No trip to the big city is complete without a harrowing cab ride, and this one was no exception. An uneventful flight brought us back to NWA in time to see the sun set and the moon rise. 

It was a quick trip, but like all travel outside of normal boundaries, enlightening.  It’s always a mix of fun and nerves for me when I travel with my staff, because I want them to learn AND have fun, and the latter is a little tougher when their boss is around.  But I thought they did really well – Perkins showed spunk and confidence that was great to see, Bif got some props from the marketing folks for her South Pacific blogging contest (along with a really great purse), and Mahoney was networking like a champ and taking it all in. 

It was my 2nd trip to Chicago in the last year, and it didn’t disappoint.  Can’t wait to go back!

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