I feel like I've got so much to say now that I've got this started, but I almost don't know where to begin, so I guess I'll just start with a little about the past week and see where it flows.
I went home for the first time since the beginning of December, which was great. It finally thawed out enough for me to make the trip. I've become really soft as it pertains to the cold weather since moving south.
Started out up in Madison on Friday night to see my friends Ryan and Megan, which is always fun. Megan made some shredded beef sandwiches for a birthday dinner which were great. It was nice to hang out for a while and just shoot the shit. Ryan and I keep in touch pretty well, but there's nothing like just sitting back with a few cocktails and really having the opportunity to talk.
Saturday, I woke up and headed down to Chicago to see my family. It was the first time that both my sisters, Laura and Janis were all in the same place with my parents for a long time, so it was nice for us all to be togther. Of course, I didn't actually get to see them until we got to the Seder at my Nana's apartment that evening, as they had to take in the Cubs game Saturday afternoon and then suffered the joys of Chicago's non-winter season, Road Construction Season, as they tried to make it north. But, when we finally did all get together, along with some aunts, uncles and cousins, we enjoyed a nice meal and a lot of laughs.
Sunday was mostly lounging around until we went to the Seder for my dad's side of the family, which was much more enjoyable than expected. Probably best to leave it at that. There are some cousins on that side of the family who I do enjoy seeing, and I'll hopefully try to stay more connected with them than I have in the past, because they really are good people. I also realized that I was one the only male under 40 in the room who still carries the Dickman name,and only two that we could think of out of the family. The "X" chromosome is strong in our clan. No unspoken pressure there. But honestly, who could think of a more rewarding experience than being tortured with the Dickman surname by a bunch of 1st graders as a kid, right? so I'd hate to not have a son to enjoy that with one day.
Anyhow, I've already chronicled most of Monday, which if you haven't seen yet, you can read here. Janis flew back to Denver Monday morning where she's a teacher. She works with elementary aged special needs and behaviorally challenged students, which I have tremendous respect for, because I don't know how she does it day in and day out. She deserves a medal, probably quadruple the salary, and should be very proud of all her hard work. I know I'm proud of her. It's not to say I'm not proud of Laura, but who brags about lawyers anymore, right?
Monday night I had a phenomenal birthday dinner with my parents. We might not have kept 100% Kosher for Passover with our Bob Chinn's Garlic Rolls, Lobster Tail, and Lamb Chops, but hey, when it's birthday time and you only get to Chicago a handful of times a year these days, it's almost sacrelegious not to eat Bob Chinn's.
Finally, I got one final treat with lunch at Blackbird on Tuesday, where a good family friend, Stepahnie Reagor Serota is one of the cooks (Larry advised us that she refuses to refer to herself as a chef in her fledgling career, but she's very talented) during the lunch hour. My friend and boss, Michael Danch (also Stephie's cousin) and our friend Larry (Stephie's husband) generously treated for my birthday, and Stephie took great care of us. We started with three appetizers, a quail egg wrapped in chicken skin, a scallop dish, and a pork based dish which were all prepared by Stephie and all exquisite. I'd try to describe them in more detail, but I wouldn't do them justice.
My main course was a Boulliabaisse with Scallops, Shrimp, Clams and Mussels. It was Incredible. Anyone in the area who'd like to treat him/herself to an extra special lunch should definitely aim to hit Blackbird.
Anyhow, flew home last night, way more relaxed than I've been in as long as I can remember, and made my way back to the plant this morning. Being a newbie to this journal thing, I'm a bit tuckered out, so we'll leave that to tackle tomorrow. Besides, my laundry beckons.