I’ve said it a lot in the last few months, but things have been nuts. I have spent a lot of time over the last few months being overwhelmed and it has certainly impacted the way how healthy (or unhealthy) I’ve been. My life has been crazy since the new year, but really sort of bubbled over in the last month or so. With that in mind, I thought I’d take a few posts to talk about some of the stuff that’s been going on. Some of the goings ons have been a lot of fun, and some of them haven’t been so pleasant; I’ll cover it all in the next week or two. So what was first on the list of the crazy? My trip to Chicago.
First a little background: I am pursuing an advanced degree as a residential appraiser and the required courses are not offered anywhere in the Northeast. Luckily, the Chicago chapter of my professional organization offers all of the classes and my friends Dee and Neil live close by so I can make the best out of having to travel for work. It seemed like the obvious place I’d go to take my classes since I could see people I love and check things off my very long professional to-do list at the same time. Plus I just like Chicago based on my previous visit a couple summers ago.
I set out on Tuesday when my dad/boss drove to Newark Airport. This is the first time I’ve ever taken anything remotely close to a business trip since all of our work is locally based. Being my dad he didn’t bother to let me know how expenses would work til I was actually heading to the airport. We’re very organized and professional, as you can tell. It was almost 80 degrees that day, but apparently they didn’t get the memo in the airport because the air conditioning was not on and it was hotttttt in there. My flight boarded on time, but then we were told we were being held for weather delays in Chicago. Delightful since this was the last flight of the evening and I had to be in class at 8 a.m. the next day.
Luckily, we were able to leave earlier than anticipated and then make up for some time in the air and landed pretty close to on time. Soon enough I was trying to find a taxi at an unfamiliar airport. I managed to find one and was welcomed to the Windy City by the most adorable cab driver ever. We chatted for most of the trip into the city and he couldn’t have been nicer. This is not something I’m used to coming from New Jersey and most of my cab rides taking place in New York City. It was a good start to the trip for sure. He got me safely to my hotel downtown. I briefly settled into the room before calling it a night since I had to be up early for the start of my class. Let me just tell you how kick ass the view from my room was!
I spent the first couple of days in town in class, had a break for the weekend to spend with my friends, and then it was back to class for four more days the following week. Class is an all day, grueling thing. The topics covered in these two courses weren’t especially difficult for me since I’ve been appraising residential properties for almost eight years now (God, I’m old). In fact, I think I learned more from hanging out and chatting with the other people in class than I did from the actual class material. I learned all sorts of things about cultural and professional differences between my world on the East Coast and how things go in the Midwest. Most of my classmates were from the Midwest, but there were also a few from as far as Alaska. Chatting with appraisers is always nice for me since I’m a workaholic who likes to talk shop, but this experience was especially interesting since I got the perspective from people from all over our big country.
Friday was the start of a fun weekend with my friends who were coming in from the suburbs. The didn’t arrive until later in the afternoon, so I took the day to relax and recover from an exhausting few days. It was the first time I got to relax in a long, long time and it was divine. Later, Dee and Neil arrived and fun began. I lovely dinner and a bottle of wine was had, and I was happy to wander around the city with them and catch up a little bit.
Saturday was a day I had been looking forward to for a while since we had plans with our friend John to catch the Cubs game. If you ever have the chance to go to a game at Wrigley Field I can’t recommend it enough. It is such a great experience for any baseball fan. Hopefully your game won’t include snow though! It was coming down like crazy while we were getting ready to head out and then there were a few snow showers throughout the day. It was pretty unbelievable for an April day. We met up with John at a Wrigleyville bar at 10:30 am. What could go wrong when you start drinking at 10:3o in the morning? There was a whole lot of giggling and silliness and we and an awesome, but cold time at the game. There were a lot of layers and we were still freezing, but it was totally worth it.
Dee, Neil, and I spent Sunday just wandering around the city. I think Lake Michigan is just gorgeous so we headed that way on the only nice day I had during my 10 days in Chicago. We got a lot of good walking in while we took in the sites. One of the only things I definitely wanted to do while in town was see the bean since I didn’t see it last time I was in town. What fun! There were lots of people around taking goofy pictures and checking out their reflections in this tourist attraction. Of course, we totally did it too. Otherwise we wandered Grant Park and just soaked up the sun. Eventually we grabbed some pizza before they headed home to pack to head to Florida for their wedding. Oh yeah, they were getting married in less than a week. And I still don’t like Chicago pizza; the crust is weird. Give me New York/Jersey pizza any day.
After a really fun weekend with really great friends, it was back to class for four days. Again the course material wasn’t very hard, but it had to be done. I’m sure I’ll be back to take more classes in Chicago since the instructor was good, my classmates were nice, and the facility was lovely and close to my hotel. Hopefully I’ll have better weather next time I go back. The last two days I was in town saw record breaking rainfall that was jamming the airports. On what was supposed to be my last night flights were being canceled left and right and things weren’t supposed to be any better the next day when I was supposed to fly home. I decided rather than having to worry about my flight being canceled while I was trying to take an exam, I would go ahead and move my flight to the following morning. Due to the crazy weather United only charged me 10 cents to do it and I could stay in my room at the hotel. Done!
The exam was pretty easy and I hung out with a couple of my classmates at a bar after it was over. What else was I going to do? I didn’t have to get to the airport. Soon enough we parted ways and it was back to my room to pack up while being tipsy. Whoops. I knew the next day was going to be crazy (more on that in the next post) so I headed to bed so I would be ready for my 3 a.m. wake up call so I could head back to New Jersey. Aside from the crappy weather and the change in my flight plans it was a really good 10 days. I got to see some of my closest friends, made some new ones in my class, knocked two classes off my list, actually got to relax a little, and enjoy a beautiful city. I’m looking forward to heading back to the Midwest again soon.