Matador Takes Chicago: Post Meet-Up Report

by F. Daniel Harbecke Feb 2, 2011
Chicago meetup

Joseph, Jason and Crystal

Chicago, as any Chicagoan will tell you, is the coldest place on Earth.

Never mind science. It just is, and reason isn’t invited in this claim. But it’s not that which makes Chicago so unique. It’s that it doesn’t matter if it is or isn’t the coldest place on Earth – people will still go out on a cold night to meet with each other and share a little warmth.

That’s exactly what happened one ice-paved evening in January, when fellow Matadorians got together in a cozy little piano bar in the ‘burbs – Arlington Heights’ Big Shot Restaurant. If you ever get a chance, the garlic shrimp and the chicken skewers are undeniably worth your while.

Here was a chance to finally put some names to faces, share our adventures and plans for the future. It was a convivial mood, full of lively conversation and festive spirits – and even a little dancing toward the end. Here’s an all-star line-up of our attendees:

Joseph and Daniel

Joseph and Daniel

Joseph Hernandez (Code Name: Mr. Spicy)

Current Calling: Editor and Event Planning,
Where Next: Name it!
Travelogue: India, Canada, The Philippines…
Exotic Fact We Pried from Him with Liquor: “I’m part Inuit, part Filipino. No, I don’t speak either language that well.”
Projects: “We’ve got a local event coming up in the near future. Keep your ears open!”

Jason Elliott (Code Name: Serpico)

Current Calling:, a service that links travelers to their best options for accommodation.
Where Next: Italy, maybe Greece. Not decided yet, but really looking forward to another trip.
Travelogue: Backpacking through the Hawaiian Islands.
Exotic Fact We Pried from Him with Liquor: “I have a heart-shaped birthmark on my left hip.” (OK, this isn’t at all true – but he’s such a great guy we had to come up with something good….)
Projects: “Making the end-all, be-all for giving people the best stay in their travels. It’s my dream.”

Crystal Peters (Code Name: Malibu)

Current Calling: Marketing and Publicity for
Where Next: So many places, so little time…
Travelogue: “I’m originally from Maryland. I LOVE the city!”
Exotic Fact We Pried from Her with Liquor: 1) She’s stunningly pretty, but too shy to be a model. 2) Her husband is best friends with Jason, and together they created
Projects: Getting the word out about their website, and really digging her apartment downtown.



Natalia Gubina (Code Name: Red Dragon)

Current Calling: Credit Analyst, Schneider Electric
Where Next: “Canada, but maybe Paris! I can’t wait to go to Paris!”
Travelogue: Russia (Siberia), Thailand, Taiwan, Korea, Italy. Oh, and Washington, D.C.!
Exotic Fact We Pried from Her with Liquor: “I hate my code name. It makes me sound like I’m mean, but I’m really very sweet. Maybe Boo Bear. That’s kind of cute…”
Projects: Finish my MBA degree and continue to tolerate my husband, Daniel.

Daniel Harbecke (Code Name: Procrastinator X)

Current Calling: Teaching for Xilin Northwest Chinese School, BNT writer
Travelogue: Mexico, all over Europe, Brazil, Taiwan, Russia.
Exotic Fact We Pried from Him with Liquor: I was a Star Trek geek in high school, but I never wore the ears and only went to ONE convention and it freaked me out. It didn’t seem so geeky at the time. More liquor, please….
Projects: Get my master’s in Training and Development, finish my book, raise a family with my sweet patootie and maybe get a trip in now and then.

Community Connection:

Is a Matador meet-up coming to your city or to a burg near you? Check our Facebook Events page to find out!

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