Archive for December, 2006
In case you cared, which I doubt severely, I will be no where near a computer after today for pretty much the balance of the year. I might check my email on the 31st. But before then, I’ll be in lands where they either have only dial-up or have no internets at all. And I’m okay with that. It is sometimes awesome to unplug.
The plan? Christmas at Mike’s family in the middle of nowheresville Vermont followed by a snow-mountain trip to the middle of nowheresville Maine. The winter break from the world ends with a party in the middle of armpitsville Massachusetts (a.k.a. “The Woo” or it’s given name “Worcester” which is pronounced with only two syllables: “wuh-steh”). Fortunately the hosts of said party live up to a standard far above the average of armpitsville. I expect classiness of all types.
This afternoon I pick up Kate at the airport and never look back. I’m keeping a close eye on her flight using this here collection of tubes, which should keep me paranoid for the remainder of today. I’m also doing a fair amount of work despite the fact that it is the last day before my longest vacation since I started this job. Work does not disappear just because you wish it would, folks.
The Christmas presents are all wrapped and under… around… all over the place relating to the tree. Mike and I have very different wrapping styles. He goes for the put paper on it until you can’t see what it is then stick a sticker label on there theory. It works for him. I, however, enjoy making ribbons into bows and last year’s Christmas cards into labels. I probably did rush through a couple of the less-than-cubular items, but I think my perfectionism can forgive me. I mean, really, how is one supposed to wrap something that is vaguely triangular from one angle and kinda square from another with rounded corners and little to no structure. I mean, seriously, squishy things are the roughest.
I hope we don’t leave anything behind.
I just checked up on the weather, and while I do not trust weather.com as far as I can throw it (and really, I can’t throw things particularly far), I do hope they are right about at least part of this forecast:
By Sunday, Christmas Eve, the front will have cleared the eastern seaboard, leaving behind a few snow showers across far northern New England.
On Monday, Christmas Day, a new storm system will begin approaching from the south. This will bring rain showers into the southern Mid-Atlantic. There is some potential that a storm could organize off the Mid-Atlantic Coast Christmas night into Tuesday, perhaps bringing snow to parts of the Northeastern States.
I, for one, am dreaming of a White Christmas.
Apparently, I can, in fact, hang.
Yesterday was our Christmas… *ahem* I mean Holiday party at work. Food was had, raffles were won by people who aren’t me (which turned out to be a good thing, I mean, seriously, what am I going to do with a Zune?), beer was drank, chatting was done, music was listened to, and presents were handed out. Once the in-office fun-times had died out, and everyone had their presents, it was time to go “downstairs.” Technically, downstairs, out the door, to the left, and back in two doors down, to the local bar.
I enjoy chatter, so I went with. Before I walked in the door, I briefly checked my train schedule and made sure I would be able to stay a while. Trains run every hour or so, so I knew I’d be okay. And on in!
At first I didn’t spot my coworkers, but then there they were, at the bar putting in orders for the “Champagne of beers.” Ugh. I ordered a Bass, was called classier than the rest, and settled in for some more of that conversation thing.
I’m pretty sure we were all having a pretty good time. At some point someone decided to order a round of shots of “J.” I didn’t know what this was, a coworker told me it was Jamison, I like whiskey, so I added one to the order. I think the guys were surprised when I picked up a shot glass and chugged it down. I am losing my touch, though, either that or it was a double, because I couldn’t down it in one. It took me two. Oh well, I don’t think anyone noticed, and as it turns out, I quite like Jamison. It’s rather nice.
And the evening continued. At one point I left for the bathroom and came back to find a new beer. A coworker had ordered it for me. Nice guys, really. More conversation, although delving a bit more towards the un-work-like. I am always amused when my coworkers apologize to me for being foul-mouthed or for saying something that they fear will be misunderstood as the dreaded sexual harassment. My company went too long without female employees. Also, I’m not really the girliest of girls.
Anyway, and this was the purpose of the post, as I don’t have a lot of time and must get back to work because I missed a pivotal test case months ago that is biting me in the ass right now which pisses me off greatly… what? Moving on.
I was talking with a couple guys to my right, when I hear my name mentioned from my left. I look over, and ask what’s going on. They said that they were just commenting that I “can hang.” I like that.
Before you read this, go ahead and watch this awesome YouTube video.
I… uh… I actually watched it twice, so if you want to go watch it again, I totally understand.
Really back now?
I too played the cello.
That bit brought back memories of picking the instrument. Man, I really wanted to play the bass, but I was “too short,” which anyone who knows me now would find hilarious, as I have grown to 6′ tall. But the cello was an acceptable alternative.
I grew to love the sound of the cello. I love Yo-Yo Ma. I mean, love him. The sounds he evokes from his instrument, named Petunia, are just… sublime.
I wasn’t bad at it, though I could never hold a candle to the master. I did get to be first chair of the youth orchestra at the Hartt School of Music in Connecticut. They wanted to “promote” me to the top level Suzuki orchestra, and I tried it out, but it wasn’t as much fun. I had to sit in the back, and the director was boring. The director of the second-to-best orchestra was much more fun, the music was much more fun, it was a full symphony orchestra, rather than a string ensemble, and I was the most important.
Man that was good times.
I kind of left my cello on the curb after my sophomore year in high school. I picked up singing as my primary instrument and haven’t really looked back. I did play the cello in college until the director fired me because I was incapable of being at two dress rehearsals at the same time. (God forbid I chose I-8 over him, I mean, really, the last chair cellist not being there for the dress was really ruining his life? In Interstate 8 I mattered, in orchestra, I was filler. Obviously I didn’t matter that much if he didn’t let me play in the concert. Which he didn’t tell me directly. He told my roommate when she brough my cello down to the truck because I had church that morning. And by the way, my parents were in town to see both the I-8 and the orchestra concert. They stayed the night so they could see both. Great, thanks, professor. …He did, three years later, give me an A on my MQP though…)
I literally haven’t picked up my cello since. The poor thing is probably lonely. I wonder if I still know how to play. I mean, I’m sure I still have the mechanics, but I wonder if I can still make pretty sounds.
Man, I love music.
But boy, oh, boy do I hate Pachelbel.
In middle school, we had this special group called the Chocolate Cake Orchestra. We were the best of the regular orchestra, and we did one extra piece a semester, rehearsing after school on Tuesdays, I think it was. The best part, the late bus ran an hour and a half after the regular bus, and we only used the first hour for rehearsal. The last half hour was for eating chocolate cake. We took turns bringing in chocolate cake. Really, how can you go wrong with music and cake?
But we did play the wretched “Canon in D” one year. She had special clinics with the violins and violas to get them to feel the drama of their lines or whatever. The cellists? Bah. We had it memorized after one rehearsal.
While I am still technically at risk for two out of three autoimune crappinesses (it’s never Lupus), the bloodwork has cleared me of having them at the moment.
Which is awesome.
Which leads to the question, well, what the heck is wrong with me?
All of the eightybajillionty tests they did on my blood (my prescious blood… stolen!) came back within normal range except for one that was over by .01% and one that was under by .1%. Meaning… nothing. That could just be normal for me.
So I was given the option of steroids or a specialist. I chose door number two, and the doctor gave me a card with a name and a number. I called from my car, waited on hold for ten minutes, and tried to get an appointment. I sure did. In January.
Much chatting later, the doctor I saw today (who is not technically my doctor, but who works in my doctor’s office) told me that the specialist will totally see me… but he can’t worm me in any earlier. Poo.
So, I sit here today with an unknown and severly annoying disease that I can’t get diagnosed until January, when it may have cleared up on its own by then.
If it’s going to clear up on its own, it better damn well do it before Christmas, because seriously, people. It’s Christmas. No one likes to be sick for Christmas.
P.S. Thank you everyone for your concern. I really do appreciate it. I’m kind of an attention hog when I’m sick. Lucky for you, I don’t get sick all that often.
I’d give my pain level a 5.
I’d give my itchiness level a 3.
I’d give my freak-out level a 9.
I saw a doctor yesterday. She was nice. She ordered bloodwork. The blood lady was not nice. Okay, she was, really, but she took my blood and I hate that. Especially the needles part.
Anyway, the list of things my blood (that the bloody lady took from me!) is getting tested for includes things that freak me out. The list of things I do not want to have definitely include a thyroid condition or rheumatoid arthritis. Those things suck.
I would really like it if I didn’t have to wait until tomorrow for those results.
I hope I just have a weird version of the flu or something and I get better by some kind of magic. Or better yet, a bacteria of some kind that I can have fancy antibiotics for and be cured. I like the word cure. Not treat. Treating sucks. That kind of treating is not the same as the treats from trick or treating. It’s more like the tricks.
So I’m freaking out.
But I’ll know something tomorrow.
If not, then I’ll get fancy steroids tomorrow.
Which makes me even more nervous.
So screw that.
I’m freaking out.
I’d give your I-wish-I-didn’t-know-that level a 10.
- Egg nog or hot chocolate?
- I really do like both. However, since this is a Christmas quiz, I’ll have to go with the nog. I’ll drink hot chocolate almost any day that it’s below about 40 degrees. In fact, I’ve taken to having hot chocolate from Au Bon Pain almost every other day. They’ll make it with skim milk, so it’s almost healthy. Egg nog, however, is never healthy. And it’s only for Christmas. But I do love it at Christmas. With extra nutmeg.
- Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
- Since when is Santa a lazy bum? Santa always wraps. With paper that’s got his face plastered all over it.
- Colored lights on tree/house or white?
- I’m generally a big fan of colored. But my rule, really, when appreciating other people’s decorations, is consistency. If you’ve got the classy white edging and spotlights on wreaths thing going, don’t be putting up a strand of colored blinking lights on one of your fir trees. But in the same way, if you’re going gaudy, go all the way! We actually just have four strings of smallish, but not miniature, colored LED lights on the posts on the front of our apartment, and six strings of the standard small twinkle light sized colored LED lights on the tree, which is definitely too small for six strings of lights, but that’s how many we have, so that’s how many went on the tree. The LED lights are super bright and use like no electricity, so I love them.
- Do you hang mistletoe?
- We didn’t have it growing up, and I don’t have it now.
- When do you put your decorations up?
- As soon as possible following Thanksgiving. My dad was out putting his lights up outside on the Friday after. I was at his house that week, so my decorating had to wait for the next available weekend.
- What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
- Aw, man! It’s all about the dessert! But if I have to chose a Christmas food that isn’t cookies, it would definitely be pierogi.
- Favorite holiday memory as a child:
- I don’t know if I can pin down just one. I know there was one year my parents invited Santa to come over on Christmas Eve (I think it was the neighbor dad from across the street, and if I’ve got my story right, my dad went over and played Santa there next), but it’s not a huge deep memory. It really is that whole cooking with my dad thing (how many times can I link to the same post? we shall see…) that sticks out in my mind. But not as individual events, just as a tradition all blurred together – in a good way.
- When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
- I don’t have a traumatic story. My mom broke it to me gently in the car on the way over to my friend Shelly’s house. See, Shelly’s mom told my mom that Shelly found out (she found the wrapping paper in her mom’s closet or something), and the moms figured Shelly would tell me. I did deduce from the Santa thing that there was also no real Easter Bunny nor Tooth Fairy (and the Tooth Fairy has always seemed the lamest of them all, by the way). Maybe it’s because I got let down easy that I still chose to participate in silly Santa-related activities. I like the idea of him, even if I know there isn’t a jolly old guy living at the North Pole with his jolly old wife, nine reindeer, and seventybillion jolly little elves.
- Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
- No! That’s like cheating!
- How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
- We’ve got the aforementioned lights, we theoretically had garland, but I forgot about it until the tree was more or less finished anyway, and then there’s the ornaments. Mike and I each have a collection from our childhoods that could easily fill a medium sized tree on their own. Then, we’ve also got a collection of various sparkly things that I’ve gotten more recently. And then there’s my favorites – my uncle’s ornaments. My uncle had the bestest Christmas tree around, even if it wasn’t real. He had this bright white tree with blue twinkle lights, and every ornament was special. He had his mother’s old glass balls, of which I now have a small collection, and he had the ornaments he made. My uncle was an antique dealer, and a true artist. He made a huge collection of ornaments out of foam balls, ribbons, beads and pins. They are each beautiful and unique, like snowflakes. I couldn’t describe them and give them justice. You’ll just have to believe me when I say they’re awesome. I have a small number of those now too. He has six nieces and nephews, and we each got a fair share of his Christmas spectaculars when he passed. Honestly, it was pretty much the thing all of us were dying to have of his.
- Snow! Love it or dread it?
- Oh, man how I love the snow. Christmas is better when it’s white. Also, snowboarding. We’re going this weekend (fingers crossed and depending on the weather), and I cannot wait. Snow is just so soothing and calming. I have to say, though, I do eventually get bored of it, the same way I get bored of spring, summer, and fall. It’s a good thing I live in New England, where we have all these lovely season-things.
- Can you ice skate?
- I’ve never tried. Is that weird? I can in-line skate pretty well, so I think I would be able to, but I’d probably need some serious practicing before I called myself a skater.
- Do you remember your favorite gift?
- As a kid, I’m sure it was my scooter. That thing was awesome. A great mode of transportation. Plus it was purple. Since growing up, I think my favorite gift is the clock we now have in our living room. I drooled over that thing every time I went into the store where it used to live, and Mike was awesome and got it for me a couple years ago. It’s really neat.
- What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?
- Cooking. (Obligatory third link) Pierogis aren’t the only thing. It’s the lemon sugar cookies with ridiculous amounts of sugar and frosting. It’s the big Christmas day meal. It’s spritz cookies. It’s veggie chopping. It’s pies and stuffing and potatoes and egg nog. Maybe it’s not exactly the cooking. Maybe it’s the spending time with people I love … cooking.
- What is your favorite holiday dessert?
- Cookies! Yay! I’ve been waiting for minutes to write this answer! I love cookies. I love sugar cookies. I especially love my mom’s recipe for lemon sugar cookies with lemon icing, which are cut into fun Christmas shapes like trees, Santas, wreaths, stars, snowmen, reindeer, and, of course, the “Christmas Duck” and now “Christmas Bunny.” (My sister and my boyfriend are both insane. And that’s why I love them.)
- What is your favorite holiday tradition?
- And you thought I would stop with three links. Why not make it four?
- What tops your tree?
- This slightly gaudy, but still quite nice, gold star with sparkly fake gems that I got at Mike’s favorite mall store, who’s name I cannot remember. They have all the kinds of things you would put in your library if you had a library. Mike wants to win the lottery so he can have a library and buy one of everything in that store.
- Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?
- I love giving gifts. Absolutely. But I did really like Jen’s response to this one: “If I could only do one, I’d rather do the giving than the getting. But luckily, I don’t have to choose.”
- What is your favorite Christmas song?
- I love them all! I grew up listening to some serious classics, along with a really awesome 2-CD set of English carols. I can’t pick! My favorite of the English carols is “The Holly and the Ivy.” And I’ve always loved “Sleigh Ride.” Ooh, and “Oh Holy Night” is really fun to sing. But so’s “Silent Night.” Oh, and “Coventry Carol” from the Interstate 8 days. And “Carol of the Bells.” Plus I have a soft spot in my heart for silly things like “Dominick the Donkey.”
- Candy canes: yuck or yum?
- I love anything made out of sugar.
- Favorite Christmas movie?
- I’d have to say “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” stole my heart eightybajilionty years ago. No, I haven’t seen the live action one. No, I don’t intend to. Yes, I don’t care if the original cartoon is only a half hour. Yes, I own it on DVD so I can watch it over and over again. Which reminds me, actually. When I was a kid, I probably watched A Muppet Family Christmas, you know the one at Fozzy Bear’s mom’s farmhouse, more than the Grinch. But that could just be because we had that one on tape, where the Grinch we had to wait for it to hit the TV. That tape of A Muppet Family Christmas was from the TV, so it still had commercials. Commercials that I could probably still recite because I heard them so many times. Mostly they were for a brand of cereal that doesn’t exist anymore and for DoubleMint gum. Talking about tapes reminds me of one other thing. We only have a VHS player for two tapes at this point: Transformers and “The Snowman.” If you’ve never seen “The Snowman,” you absolutely must get your hands on it. It’s a silent movie cartoon. Yes, I know that sounds weird. But it’s beautiful art and a beautiful story. Plus the music is spectacular. Actually, add the soundtrack of “The Snowman” to the ridiculous list of my favorite Christmas songs.
- What do you leave for Santa?
- We always left him a variety of cookies, where at least one was in his likeness, and the biggest carrot we had for the reindeer. My dad would then bite several of the cookies (while we were sleeping, duh) and run the end of the carrot in the garbage disposal, leaving just the top nub, which he’d leave out on the front porch. Very ritualistic, my dad. Actually, he still does this. I think sometimes he thinks my sister and I still believe that Santa and Rudolph really come and eat those things.
Man, that was fun. Thanks, Jen.