24+ brilliant hours in Chicago.
Thursday evening: Met dear friends Steve, Iris and Grace for dinner at Frontera Grill. Food all really good, the mushroom tamales GREAT.
Friday morning: Steve and Iris took me to the Art Institute to see the Picasso exhibit. Arranged more or less chronologically, a wonderful overview of Picasso’s career. Enjoyed it immensely. Favorite part: the “Mother and Child” painting and the story behind its excised third figure. (Least favorite part: typeface on the walls difficult to read, especially from a distance whenever there was a crowd. Note to exhibit curators: for aging boomers, the font needs to be BIGGER and DARKER. And serif, but maybe that’s just me.)
Friday dinner: with the Sutherland Lecture committee at Tesoria, an Italian restaurant on Adams St. Ann Carlson, Gillian Engburg, Janice del Negro, Lee McClain, Mary Ogilvie and Linda Ward-Callaghan were delightful company. Missing and much missed: Betsy Hearne (traveling in Ireland) and Roger Sutton (grounded in Boston). I had the burrata with caponata, and then the roast suckling pig. Food divine, conversation even better!
Friday evening: The Sutherland lecture. After Liz McChesney’s welcome and Janice Del Negro’s (terrific, humbling) introduction, I stepped to the podium and proceeded to speak for what felt like an aeon with a GIGANTIC NASTY FROG in my throat. It took approximately 75 attempts to clear it. This had never happened to me before; however, it is one of the recurring anxiety dreams which I have regularly before major speaking events. I wonder if now that it’s happened I’ll stop having that particular dream?
Anyway, the audience was very patient, and the frog finally hopped (hocked) away, and the rest of the speech (titled ‘Writer vs. Author’) went fine. The head count was nothing like it was last year (for Neil Gaiman) or will be next year (for John Green), but everyone was enthusiastic and supportive. At the reception afterwards, I got to chat with many of the folks who came.
A huge thank you to the Sutherland committee, the University of Chicago, the Horn Book, and the Chicago Public Library; to Clarion Books for sponsoring my appearance; and to everyone who attended.
And when I got back to the hotel, I found out that the Mets had won their game against the Braves in the tenth inning. 🙂
Saturday morning: A decadent breakfast at the hotel (the Sofitel, probably my favorite chain, very European). Now off to the airport.
I heart Chicago!