I'm home! The remainder of my time in Chicago at Story was really good. There were a couple of speakers at the conference who resonated with me, Kyle Idleman, author of Not a Fan, and Phil Vischer, of Veggie Tales fame. I believe I'll post notes from their talks soon.
Being away from Alexandra was way easier this time than in June. She did way better too. She was basically partying it up with dad the whole time. Here she is with her new lion from the zoo.
After the conference was over on Friday (followed by an after party complete with nitrogen-frozen ice cream, a mixologist and creepy bunny dancers), we had a chance to tourist it up. We walked to the Chicago Bean, something I'd never heard of but is apparently famous to non-rubes. It was raining the whole way, so we were soaked through, but the bean was actually super neato. Here's my coworker Eric checking his phone in front of the super-neato bean.
That night we walked and walked and walked in the rain and were finally rewarded with a repeat dinner at Lou Malnati's (where we had deep dish pizza two nights before). I ate a loaf of spinach bread for dinner. Hmm...I wonder why I gained two pounds on this trip?...
The next morning, I got to see Lake Michigan.What a beautiful place on the edge of a big city!
And I got to eat a blueberry crepe with lemon ricotta filling made by a genuine Parisian from the farmers market.
On my ride to the airport, I got to have a good conversation with yet another Muslim middle-Easterner, Abdullah from Jordan. He was very friendly and we talked about babies and religion and food. Next time I go to Chicago, his beautiful Syrian wife is going to make me tabbouleh. My conversations with Abdullah and Rashid, my Pakistani cabbie from Wednesday, coupled with listening to a Christian Palestinian, Sami Awad, whose family was displaced in the 1948 founding of Israel, left me with a takeaway: In all the protests and negative news surrounding Muslims in the middle East, it's good to remember that not all Muslims are violent American-haters as the nightly news might lead us to believe. Most are people just like you and me who love their families, want to have a happy and peaceful life, respecting the people around them.
When I got home from my trip, my cute little baby was waiting for me, not seeming to notice I had ever really left.