02-27-07: chicago

This week was my first week teaching the ITIL Foundations course. I left Philly on Sunday afternoon, and mine was one of the last flights out of Philly since a big snowstorm was getting underway. The flight to Chicago was full of babies and butts in my face1. The flight was pretty bumpy, and as we were making our initial approach into Chicago, the pilot came over the loudspeaker and said that we'd be in a holding pattern for a while. I assumed it was because of the weather, but no... it was because a pack of coyotes was on the runway and the ground crew was chasing them around. Good times. :-)

I took one of those multi-person airport shuttles to my hotel, and yay-- I was the first one dropped off (woohoo!) . I'm staying at the Club Quarters Wacker2, and I simply love this hotel. It's a 1920s era hotel, totally restored, wonderfully elegant without being over the top; there's nothing gaudy about it. It's a boutique hotel, which means the rooms are small but perfectly decorated, and the Club Quarters chain is especially geared towards business travellers. There's a great workspace in the room, free wireless, cordless direct-dial phone in the room, super-comfy bed, fridge and microwave in the room, stunning beautiful view of the Chicago River and the skyline, super-friendly and super-faaaaaabulous concierge, good workout room (brought my workout clothes but forgot my sneakers-- duh), and a decent restaurant attached. The common areas are not cheezy or cheap, but also not overly foofy; just very cozy and inviting. My only complaint (which isn't even a complaint) is that I miss having a full bathtub, because I would love to take a soak tonight. Oh well, it can wait two days.

On Monday, I taught my first class. As per the usual whenever I fly into a new city, I hardly slept a wink Sunday night, but Monday morning I was feeling good and the class went without a hitch. They're a bright group who are contributing a lot, especially one student who is, um, overparticipating. But she is enthusiastic and totally engaged in the material, so I'd rather she be yappy and positive than yappy and trying to negate everything, I suppose. Jeremy has told me some horror stories of people trying to prove the teacher wrong all the time, so I'm glad this is not that. The corporate training coordinator for the client is sitting in on the class and said I'm doing a great job, so that was dandy.

Monday night, I came to terms that I am one of those jerky business travelers who comes to a really hip city and then spends every waking moment holed up in the hotel. But yo, it was snowing hard and I am a person who likes to be warm. So instead, I chose to curl up in a very comfy chair with my feet up on a fluffy ottoman, pour myself a cup of coffee from here in the little common area, and wait for my Thai dinner to be delivered. The Sears Tower view can suck it, there's a fireplace next to my chair. :-)

Tuesday's class (today) went well, though the material isn't as exciting (or as relevant to the students' lives) as yesterday's, so there's slightly less participation. I'm giving real-world examples, and people are nodding in agreement/comprehension, but they're just not chomping at the bit to give 1,000 examples of their own. This is making things go much faster, which is both cool and making me worry that perhaps I'm rushing. I think I'm doing fine, since this class is normally taught over two days, and I've been given 2.5. So I guess I'm right on.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) I do a quick review in the morning, and then administer the test to the students. I then get lost in Chicago for an hour or two, head back to the client for a quick meeting at 2:30 (they might want me to do some consulting for them in the future), and then I take the Blue line to the airport. My flight home is at six, and I will plotz into the big ol' arms of my super-cute boyfriend who I miss like a lovesick schoolgirl.

In other news... I have this sorta dichotomous personality where on one hand I love to be around people, hanging out, sharing stories, learning from experiences, snickering over nothing, experiencing life. And the other side of me is a total hermit who craves downtime, solitude and precious stare-at-the-wall time. Yeah yeah, I love you, but leave me alone.

Not that I should go making trend assumptions based on this singular experience, but if I had to predict, I'd say that being a trainer is going to bring out a lot more of my hermit side. I want to eat lunch alone; I don't want to talk to anyone. And for the past two nights, I was blissfully happy eating dinner alone holed up in my hotel room. No TV, just letting the ol' mental queue clear out. Ah...

Maybe this will mean I'll wanna be more social when I'm home; I'm not sure. We'll see.

Tonight, my agenda includes eating my tasty thai food leftovers from last night, making sure I know the answers to the sample test questions better than my students might, and reviewing some documents for my client so I can sound like I know what I'm talking about during my meeting tomorrow afternoon. :-)

Oh, one more thing before I sign off: Doesn't Adam Sandler look just like Bruce Springsteen in the ads for his new movie Reign over Me?

OK, I'm outta here.

1 I hate aisle seats near the end of the plane, because the folks lining up for the bathroom always have their hineys in my face.

2 "Wacker" always makes me snicker like a 5th grader. :-)