Oh how I love thee, America! Last week I was back in the US for a couple of conferences in Milwaukee and Chicago. I presented a paper, met up with tons of old friends and mentors, had a few interviews, made some new friends, and ate copious amounts of unhealthy but delicious American fast food! (I forgot how much I love Panda Express!)
Among the highlights of the trip: (1) The weather was way better than I had anticipated. You grow up hearing horror stories about how bad the weather is in Chicago, but for the time I was there it was warmer than it has been in Cambridge this Fall.
(2) My first forays into Wisconsin were a smashing success. My friend Chris and I took a bus from the Chicago airport to Milwaukee, and it’s hard to explain how great it is to listen to a friendly bus driver with a deep Wisconsin accent shoot the breeze about cheese crackers, beer, and the Christmas lights in Milwaukee. On my second night in Milwaukee, I went with a couple friends to a great German restaurant and ate a Pork Shank. That’s right, a pork shank. If it was good enough for Ronald Reagan – and the menu assured me that it was – then it’s good enough for me!
(3) Of course, food and weather are not as important as people, and I was truly blessed by many great interactions with dear friends over the course of the week. It was so nice to catch up about life, talk theology, and laugh about shared experiences with friends I miss here in England.
(4) My paper went well. It was on discipleship and the death of Jesus in Luke’s gospel, and I was very happy with the interaction and input that followed the paper. I feel like I was able to take some good ideas from the discussion and will be able to develop the essay a bit more and submit it for publication.
(5) I didn’t get lost while travelling around Chicago on the subway. I took a little trip out to Oak Park, and since I had no phone, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to figure out where I was and I would be stranded. Thankfully it was very easy to navigate the subway system.
Downsides were: (1) Rachael was not there. (2) The conference in Chicago was inconveniently located, so I didn’t really get to see as much of the city as I had hoped. (3) No good sleep the whole time. The latest I was able to sleep without waking up was 5:30am one morning. (4) I foolishly went on a pizza-making binge in the weeks leading up to the trip, so when I was in Chicago I didn’t really have much of an appetite for the amazing pizza. I guess there’s always next time.