So, I am back from the mightiness that is Chicago.
Here's how things went down:
Wednesday--Got into town in the late afternoon, called my Mom, and then vegetated for hours, pretending that I was going to do work and instead playing with the internet on my TV (a pay-service that, unfortunately, was not worth it), then watching said TV while eating room service (burger, fries, apple pie with cinnamon ice cream, and coke, on an elaborately linened and silvered tray) and pretending that I was going to do work some more. Watched America's Next Top Model, and Lost.
Thursday--Got up and sloooowly got ready to go to the conference. Got on the hotel's shuttle to the EL station, and met two funny guys who were, coincidentally, from University of Toledo. Took the half hour EL ride downtown, and led the aforementioned gents to the Palmer House. Registered, wandered around, figured out where my presentation was going to be, and graded a couple of essays on the sixth floor. Gave the presentation to a whopping crowd of 10 (we sat in a circle). Ran into some friends. Left.
Then things got wild. I took the EL north, had some McDonald's, and went to the LUSH store on Michigan Ave. It was heaven. I loved it. They have a nice little corner shop in Marshall Fields, right next to the MF cosmetic department, but separated by the overwhelming awesomeness that is LUSH. I met some workers who, like me, are LUSHes, and with whom I had great fun talking about products, conveying my knowledge of Amazon.com's selling of LUSH, and testing some things out. I received a hand massage with ocean salt, and generally bought as many things as I could conceivably use and that smelled amazing, including a Bio Fresh product that I can't get off amazon. Here is what I bought:
Bio Fresh Sacred Truth face mask Party On temple balm Ocean Salt face/body scrub Skin Drink moisturizer Eau Roma toner spray Aqua Marina facial cleanser Extra Virgin Olive Soap Olive Branch shower gel Ring of Roses Buttercream Bath Melts: Elixir (with glitter) and You've Been Mangoed Bubble Bars: Turbo, French Kiss, Amandopondo...did I get a Bathos too? Can't remember. Bath Bombs: Golden Slumbers, Honey Bee, Ginger, Blackberry, Black Pearl, Butterball, Romance in a Stone, and then either the Chelsea Garden or Softy...can't remember.
I think that's it. But all that was pretty heavy. Nevertheless, I carried it through the Victoria's Secret in the same mall as I bought a pretty sky nighty and some undies.
Then I went home, called my Mom, ate some leftovers, graded some essays, and passed out.
Friday--Took the El downtown and up to Roosevelt, then walked the rest of the way to the Museum Campus for some Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum action. The Pompeii exhibit in the museum was closing soon, and the tix were selling out, so I went and got a late-entry time (free general admission with my conference badge), and went to the aquarium first (whose line was shockingly fast). I walked about, took pictures of an anaconda and some frogs, tried to get Moon Jelly pictures, pictures of dolphins and a cutie Beluga.
And now I'd like to break from the action to say how much I heart my ELPH. Many pictures were retaken as a result of instant review. But let me just say that, even so, it is extremely difficult to get a picture of a shark's shadow on a rock.
I love me my aquarium. That is one of my favorite places on earth. Once, I went there on my fourteenth birthday, after eating room service danish for breakfast. How is that for awesome? That was the same year I got pointe shoes.
Then I went to the Field Museum and hastily ate half a tomato and mozzarella sandwich with roasted red peppers and fresh basil (amazing), then jumped on line for the Pompeii exhibit.
It made me cry, I won't lie. I was very moved by the pieces of jewelry and pottery, and the casts they included of bodies (I know...spooky). The exhibit felt sort of enormous and crowded, and I didn't get out of it until 4:30 or so, then spent some time in the gift shop. By the time I got back out to the museum they were starting to herd people toward the center of the museum and closing exhibits.
Okay...I admit it. I ducked under an unattended guard rail and practically ran through the hall of animals to find the Tsavo lions. I REFUSED to leave the museum without seeing them. And then promptly passed them, as I was coming from a direction I am unused to. I had to have a guard point me back in the right direction, and fortunately he seemed to understand my desire. I love those darn lions. I've seen them many times, but I have to see them every time I'm in Chicago. I prefer to sit and stare at them for a while, but this time I was about to be in trouble so I snapped a photo, stared them in the eyes, then left.
EL trip gave me a headache and I had to take a nap when I got back. Then I went down and ate a ridiculously lonely dinner in the hotel restaurant. It was very tasty; spinach-artichoke dip then some lemon caper chicken picatta, and a beer. I should have brought a book, though. There was a handsome guy across from me with the same problem, but he had his phone and was talking to a girlfriend, I think. It was all very silly. Then I ran into my friend Adam just before he was going into have a similarly solo dinner. I was glad to talk to him for a few minutes, but wished it had been an hour earlier. He, too, had his phone and was probably going to be talking to his wife. Ah, traveling alone.
Saturday--Supremely uneventful. Easy drive back; I was taking 294 south to 80 east, which I reckoned was less crowded than taking 90/94 through town, and I got to see the quarry. We've taken that route to Wisconsin lots of times so I'm pretty familiar with it. I was a little sleepy, but made it back unscathed thanks to car tapes.
And that's all! Now I have a ridiculous amount of work to catch up on. So stop pestering me!