Sunday, December 26, 2010

I Hope You Had Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Hi all,

A mere 10 days, it's looking up, hmm? Keep in mind that I spent at least 30 hours of that last week in play rehearsal. SO GLAD that it's OVER. Not that I didn't enjoy it, I mean, it did involve singing in public. To a crowd of over 200. And I messed up the first song, like I always did in practice. Anyhow, the show was still hailed as being a success and I really had a great time being in it. I would say I'm never doing one ever again, but it's a requirement/built into the seminar course thingy I'm doing.
However, I do have some good quotes stored up, and the first relates to something the four year old said when I came home from the first dress rehearsal/small performance crowd, with traces of my glittery "angel" makeup on me:

"Steph...whys you got...sprinkles on your face?"


Another quote came from our Christmas day meal of Turkey. Hum asked Franklin where he wanted his gravy (potatoes, meat, veggies...) and he replied:

"On Top!"

Fair enough.

I went to the gas station and picked up tobacco for Hum, and was carded. The foreign cashier looked long and hard at my ID, and finally asked:

"Is Minnesota a part of the United States?"

Um, yup. Right next to N and S Dakota...Honestly, we are closer to Canada than MN currently, so I shouldn't be quite so surprised.

Last quote (other than the 1.5 year old adorableness, which involved her patting me on the knee and saying "What's wrong, Tephanie?" with the most earnest expression ever)

Maria seemingly discovered her leg hair...
Me: "Yup, we ALL have hair: arms, legs, heads...everywhere!"
Her: "...Like a gorilla, right?"

Pretty much, yeah.

Anyhow, I had a really nice Christmas. Gifts kept coming, which was a joy and slightly mortifying. I like to really put thought into my gifts, and I kept being surprised. It's much easier when you have a real budget to work with. Anyhow, I got LOTS of chocolate (yummmmm!), and some very practical gifts: I was honestly extremely happy to get 7 pairs of socks! I also got some beautiful things, including a wonderful pashmina from my parents, a salt lamp from the house parents and a gorgeous pair of earrings from my brother. I was pretty much thrilled with everything I got: my mother even sent my stocking, which was packed full with Sixlets and other goodies.

But Christmas really isn't about the presents, is it? Hum asked our newest villager how his first Christmas away from home was, and I asked Calvin about his, and then referenced mine. It was fine to be here, but had a little bit of an emotional disconnect. I really missed being with my family, the talking, teasing, games and tasty food. I suddenly really got the whole "I'll Be Home for Christmas" song, and the emotions behind it. It was my first Christmas away from family, and probably won't be my last. But I hope that they will be few and far between, because it's just not the same without them.

Hope all is well,

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wait Until I Get to the Wookie

Hi all,

Yes, yes, it's been a long time. Last time I tried to blog it was on the second half of Thanksgiving break...
This was:

Hi all,
So, the rest of the trip to Maine was fabulous...I did have to leave at 6 am to get back around noon on Monday, but you can't have everything. That was the start of my "Bad Things Come in 3" justification.
Things were  going great, I was able to go shopping with Buttercup and get things all together and not too late to pick her and one of the guys up. The other guy was an hour late. This posed problems...

My computer then crashed, as I discovered the power outlet I was using wasn't working. Anyhow, we were about 1.5 hours late to getting to the resort, and the other people had made plans to jet out of there. Needless to say, they didn't do an extremely good job of making the hand-over, and I ended up doing a serious double-dosing of someone's meds. I had to call the nurse on duty, who called poison control. Luckily, it wasn't as serious as it could've been and we just had to skip the next day's dose. Talk about a stress. The next morning ( I was sleeping on the pull-out bed...long story) and was wide awake early in the morning, as the 2 people downstairs had walked through to the bathroom at least 12 times during the night...with one proceeding to get lost the first 4-5 was straight shot...

I had realized that if we wanted to get pies AND the turkey done (it was Thanksgiving), that I had better get started ASAP. Unfortunately, while I was preheating the oven and opened it to adjust the rack a huge billow of smoke rushed out and set off the fire alarms. Good Morning Everyone! So that took a bit of airing out, and was the third stressful occurrence.

But we had a wonderful time. A great (and completely amazing) Thanksgiving meal happened, with only a few corners cut on pie crusts and stuffing. Buttercup was in charge of the turkey and she pulled it off despite it having no "dummy button" and no meat thermometer. It was mouth-wateringly tender and we had enough leftovers for soup for several days. No one was disappointed. The rest of the week was comprised of shopping on black Friday, Tangled 3D, several museums, going out to eat, swimming, news watching, and smorgasbord breakfasts. We did pancakes, french toast, clafouti, cinnamon rolls, name it.

We had a few memorable instances...

We made pizza one night, and we were going on seconds. The guys were dishing up seconds, and I'd asked for the one last piece (of the not so fresh stuff) several times. Buttercup re-announced my request to them, as she was further down the table. Yet one of them still scooped it up and put it on someone else's plate. This guy is a horrible listener, and just likes to tune people out from habit. So I yelled at him in (regrettably poor) German. Well, THAT got his attention. He was genuinely bewildered at first but then had the grace to look chastened. And then he almost causes another outrage by scooping the piece onto my plate. We averted that crisis. The other German guy thoroughly enjoyed this little exchange and remarked that we should have more conversations in German. Buttercup, who gets pretty pissed when they go off in German in front of people (it's explicitly frowned upon/forbidden in the handbook), was rather ok with it.

Another event was at the dinner table - it really was our center of activity and conversation. We usually had the same man blow out our candle. Once, however, he did it with such great gusto that the wax (it was a 3 inch diameter tower candle...) flew everywhere! Luckily it flew around his face, but a good portion flew across the table and even coated his water glass somehow. It was a little one of those "you had to be there" moments, but was somehow hysterically funny.

We got everyone home shortly before 3 - lunch took longer than anticipated since my GPS insisted that the restaurant we'd chosen at random (first chose closed for Christmas Decorating...arg) that the restaurant really was in that empty field...behind the industrial section. So we went to Olive Garden.

Since getting back a lot has happened. I've frantically been scrambling to get Christmas presents together...and lots will probably get there late. I got myself involved in the Christmas play...ending up as the Angel...who yes, has to sing 2 short solos. The original score calls for me hitting (and sustaining....) a high F. Yeah, right. That's now been turned into a D. Much better for my alto voice. The practices have been brutal, and have lasted up to 3 hours. Didn't get done until 11 on Tuesday.

Plus, I've been sick.

My mother and grandmother and aunts came to NYC for the first weekend of December. Months ago I'd arranged to have it off and I arrived on the train around 12:30 on the 4th. I started walking with no real plan, but was overjoyed to see the NY public library. Even better, they have a coat and bag check, so I was able to wander around for a few hours unladen with my backpack. I toyed with the notion of getting a card, but it wouldn't be very practical and I'd be hard pressed to assert my NY state residency, as I'm maintaining my MN one. My license photos is simply too nice to happen again by fluke, so I'm making the best of it!

Anyhow, after a few hours there and a few pastries from a Japanese restaurant/supermarket, I trouped down 5th street and found my way to the condo my family was renting. They were running a bit late, but the receptionist allowed me to sit in the lobby until they came. We went up the condo, which wasn't exactly what they were expecting (like toilet paper and hand towels, for example) and tried to formulate a plan. It's nice just being along for the ride. Or walk, as that's what we did.

We went to dinner at Famous Dave's (not everyone is an experimental eater) and then wandered around trying to plan hitting a show or visiting Ellen's Stardust Diner. We didn't do either, due to crowds, but we took in the window displays on 5th Ave and saw the Rockefeller tree. We then walked back and had a glass of wine and played cards. A lot of fun.

At some point in the early morning, I got to re-experience dinner. It seems I'd caught the stomach bug that had gone around in the village during break. I struggled through the rest of the day, mostly non-nauseous. I managed to eat at Ellen's SD Diner, which was pretty fantastic, and a fun experience. Then we went to the Cirque du Solei "Wintuck" performance. I had a separate seat, and it was pretty full. The plot line wasn't the strongest, and I wasn't feeling the best, but I still really enjoyed all the amazing acts. Annoyingly, the man in front of me was incapable of using his neck to turn his head, and I had to zig zag mine so frequently that after intermission I found a seat in the back row (3-4 rows back) that was open and I was able to watch in peace. We walked to Time Square, and I wasn't feeling very well again. So I said my goodbyes and my mother sent me back in a taxi to Grand Central Station to wait for my train. I languished in the Starbucks for a while, and was happy to collapse into fitful unconsciousness on the train. I made my transfer, and found there was another person from the village coming back. It's hard to say if the next part is funny or not.

It wasn't especially funny at the time, but I still managed to laugh at the situational humor. After 15 minutes of waiting, it became apparent that both of our rides had forgotten to come pick us up. Now, I'd been feeling bad, and had forgotten that I should perhaps call and remind Julia to come. It was 10:05 at night, after all. The poor other girl didn't even have a cell phone. Since I'm not sure if the house numbers are in the payphone telephone book, it might've been an extremely bad night for her. I ended up calling Julia and she said "Oh my gosh! Do you need a ride? And **** forgot to pick her up?? I'll try calling him to see if he's on his way!"

He wasn't.

So, we ended up trapped in the unheated shelter (made of 90% glass windows...great!) until 11:30. The other co-worker is from South Korea, and had barely seen snow before. So the poor thing wasn't properly dressed and I had to instruct her to keep moving...especially her toes. She would've just curled up on the pavement otherwise ( did I mention there weren't any chairs either??). So, that was fun.

Julia, like a saving angel, arrived with another co-worker to pick us up. It was such a relief, after every 5 minutes in the cold had seemed like an eternity. She went on a mini spiel of "I can't believe he forgot both of you!..."
"Uh, well, he didn't..."
"Well, who was supposed to pick You up then??!"

Then she felt terrible.
But really, I should've called, I know that everyone has a lot on their minds...myself as no exception...I probably would've forgotten as well.

We both spent the next day in bed - and Julia was wonderful, bringing over DVDs and her hot water bottle. My symptoms went more into "cold/flu" mode, and though I dragged myself out of bed, never really got better. So yesterday morning I went to bed, and have pretty much been there ever since. I have a nice cough, and a sore back from coughing. But I'm feeling quite a bit better from before.

Now, to end on a lighter note.

This last Saturday I was on, and house cleaning went well. Hum had been sick for the last 3-4 days, and still wasn't up - battling a more serious case of what I have. The 1.5 year old got quite bossy and told me exactly how I should mop. It was tremendously cute, actually, until I turned around and caught her drinking the mop water. I had to tell her to stop, twice. Eww. I also turned my back for ten seconds to answer the phone, only to discover her making a puddle the size of a large hula-hoop spanning 2 rooms. So then I shut her out of the kitchen.

Sunday I had off and Buttercup and I went to a silly paper-cutter's exhibit (much promise, failed to impress) and we went out to a cafe. I was back in time for some play practice and then we went to "Love and Other Drugs" which was actually quite good. Quite depressing if you're single, but good. We also ate at the little diner in town. It was a nice day off.

At the seminar dinner on Tuesday night, one of the more "enlightened" members of our group was going on about how we had 100% freedom living in the community. Several of us who have been here longer rolled our eyes. Freedom is a concept that you more willingly give up, in a concept of working based on "need". To make matters better, he ended with a quote from Obi-wan in Star Wars "You must do what you feel is right". I quite randomly blurted out:

"Shave the Wookie!"
(Because honestly, what do you think a bald Wookie would even look like?)

So that got plenty of chuckles, although the more serious end of the table was ignoring us (I'm not often on that end...) and someone blurted out loudly:
"I really don't agree!"

(Too good to pass up!)
"Well, some people like them hairy!" I nonchalantly remarked to my end.

"Are you calling me hairy?" The perplexed girl asked, looking somewhat stunned...

"And, who knows, maybe some would prefer we: Wax the Wookie!"

So several of us lost it for quite a few more minutes. Eventually I explained, and of course, it's never as funny the second time round. But now we can obliquely reference it, and probably get all sort of disgusted looks if we lean over to whisper:

"Have you waxed your Wookie?"

Hope all is well - and healthy!