Sweet Home Chicago

For the last 4 days, I've been up in Chicago for a DonorsChoose.org team retreat, and it was a fantastic time!

Some highlights of the trip include:

-Not one, but two delicious dinners of sushi and sake at Tsunami and Nan's

-Getting to hang out with my awesome coworkers

-Seeing recent Chicago transplant Grant Yost, one of my ATO little bros, for dinner

-Staying up late to watch some live Australian Open tennis (ah, the good ole days of tennis-all-nighters at Purdue)

-Going to Second City with coworkers Natalie and Alicia...every time I go I laugh harder than I have ever laughed before

-Gino's East deep dish pizza

-Excellent thai food

-Team building!

-A 4 star hotel on the magnificent mile, a block from the Hancock, for $70/night

Some not-so-highlights:

-Attending the worst concert that I've ever paid for (at least it was only $8). Since Buddy Guy was sold out, we went to Schuba's, which is just a few blocks from our Chicago office, to see Brian Vanderark. Who, you ask? Why, the former lead singer of 90's band The Verve Pipe and hits such as The Freshman and....ok, that was it. Total one-hit-wonder. He had a decent voice, but his lyrics must have been written by a soul-less frat boy, he played only simple guitar chords, and his backup band was far better musically than him (and a much better jam band). Natalie even said my limited guitar skills were better, and that's saying something!
As the show progressed, all of his songs sounded similar and equally shallow, so we even had to cut out for a few songs to have a conversation instead of listen to Vanderark. But we popped back in in time to hear a couple of the Verve Pipe songs, including The Freshman, which made it mostly worth it. The highlight of this tragic musical experience, however, was our chance to meet Mr. Vanderark. As he came to the back of the hall, I shook his hand and Natalie said, "I really love your song," emphasis on the singular "song" since the rest of them were garbage. He gave a weird smile, and we put it down as the best back-handed compliment possible.

Overall, Schuba's was an awesome venue for a little concert. It was an intimate setting with good acoustics, lots of character, separated from the rest of the bar, and enough space for a small gathering. Apparently it was also the host to Chicago's Mustaches for Kids 'Stache Bash this December that Keecia, my boss, was able to attend. Normally they have some pretty good music, too, but Mr. Vanderark sure didn't fit that bill.

The only other non-highlight was returning to Indiana for 14 inches of snow! I couldn't even get in my driveway, and Indiana plows do a very poor job, even on major roads like Meridian.
Overall, a great trip, and I miss my coworkers already :)

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