December 20, 2008

We've Met Before...

Last night I went to a Christmas party with my roommate. It was hosted at a beautiful home, finger foods were abundant and eggnog was readily available. About an hour into the party, I realized that I was one or two age brackets too young for the gathering. I'm confident I was the youngest person there. Here are some pointers that lead me to that conclusion. First, my SDSU media management professor was in attendance. And when I told him so, he responded with, "So, you're what... 21?" No! I'm 24, almost 25...thank you! Second, I was introduced to a woman who immediately said "We've met before, at another party...". Nope, I'm pretty sure we haven't.

This happens often. More often than you'd think.. and I'm starting to find the two most common sources of 'connection'.

1. I have been on your friend's fridge for two years. My face with Tracy (my Chinese student), and something to the affect of "Serving in China". Every time you went to the fridge at their house, and you swung the door open, our eyes probably met. You think you know me, but you don't, we've only just silently stared.

2. I told you which shampoo was best for your oily/dry/curly/straight/uncontrollable hair. I recommended a bottle of $62 shampoo and $54 conditioner of Aveda goodness. You also got a body scrub, hand lotion and an eyeliner. I gave you a hand massage, showed you some blush and we chatted a bit. We felt like friends because I wasn't pushy...there was no commission on the line... just genuine concern for your dry hair and skin. You think you know me, and you do... but not from a party. I know you're not a natural blonde, and that's more information than you'd relinquish in small talk at any party.

Last night, it was the latter. I knew the crowd and it was full of Aveda junkies. Their radiant skin and silky hair told me so. When I said, "I worked at Aveda in college, maybe I helped you there?" She exclaimed, "YES! I love Aveda! But, I'm still mad that you discontinued Curessence!"

That was my cue, I silently slipped out and went to Cori's house down the street.

December 16, 2008

Tour de la Tundra

I'm sitting in a winter wonderland. Eight inches of snow have fallen today and more is expected overnight. Tomorrow I'm supposed to fly out of O'Hare at noon and had grand ambitions to take the El train the whole way, but those have been changed, instead Rachel will give me a ride to the airport in the morning. Apparently, it wouldn't be easy to roll my 50 lb. suitcase through a foot of snow. I recently learned that El is short for Elevated...I think someone misguided me in saying that the route was shaped like an L.

While sitting comfortably in warm California, I've heard of long delays at O'Hare, and from what my friends here tell me, tomorrow I'll become one of thousands looking at the flashing 'Delayed' and 'Cancelled' next to my United flight number. We shall see...

This trip to the MidWest has been much needed. I started in Colorado (is that technically the MidWest?) and worked for 3 days at the Tedder's dining room table. We worked, took a walk, worked, drank a latte and played ping pong, worked, ate Mexican, worked, then watched America's Funniest Home Videos. I can't help it, I love that show. Call it slap-stick, but I just can't get enough of the montages of falling people. The Tedder's view of the Rockies, their hot tub in the snow, and Mark's barista skills always make for an enjoyable time. It's honestly a pleasure to work for them and I'm excited to be a part of The Door project. I can't help it, I had to post the's my job.

From Colorado Springs, I went to Denver and was able to spend some time with Ryan and Amanda. They're newlyweds and a great compliment to each other. To know them is to love them. Amanda took me to the airport in the morning, and from there I flew to...

Chicago! What a city. Rachel, my China roommate for a year and an aspiring writer, picked me up from the airport. I secretly hope to be in one of her books someday. She assures me that traces of my personality will be found in a character, but I'm lobbying for more. In the morning we met a group of friends at Egglectic in downtown Wheaton. I mistakenly called it Eggcelent a couple of times, which made Rachel chuckle. And it was there that I was reunited with Mikayla. I had never used the cliche of "you're like a sister to me" until I met Mikayla. We somehow turn the most mundane activities (lesson planning, waiting, performances, bus rides) into laughter and pure joy. She shares my love for accents, for the world, and for odd topics. I spent every day for a year with her and hadn't seen her for a year and half! In that time she had gotten married, and I was able to meet her husband Erik. Also at breakfast were Kathy Kastner (music professor extraordinaire and culture junkie!) and Nita Martindale (the Beijing hostess with the most). We talked about Tibet, about Twitter and updated each other as we ate our scrambles and crepes. As I walked away, I wished that we could all meet at Egglectic weekly, I have so much to learn from everyone at the table.

Next, we headed into the city. Rachel, Mikayla and I took the El into the heart of Chicago. We took pictures at the Bean, watched people ice-skate, went shopping on State Street, and had a late lunch at The Walnut Room in Macy's. The day ended with The Blue Man Group. We ushered the show to get in free, which was a genius move on Rachel's part. Mikayla and I intended on speaking in British accents, but it seemed the tables were turned on me. An interesting BMG employee would come near me and politely ask, "How's it going?" and then in a raspy voice "Hellllo preeetttty". At first I thought I was hearing things. But just a couple minutes later he came to get a booster seat for a child. He said nicely, "I'm just going to grab this..." and then in a deep grunt "Hiiiii Dolly." I signaled to Mikayla across the room that he was talking strange and gave her an awkward face, but she just waved and danced to the music playing. After cleaning up all the paper towels used in the show, we went to Giordano's. We reminisced and laughed our way through a deep dish pizza.

The next day we drove to Mikayla's house in northern Wisconsin. It was at this point that I felt as though I entered another country. I wish I could pinpoint why Wisconsin felt so foreign. Perhaps it was the large metal cows? Or more cheese signs than gas station signs? Either way, I felt the need to take pictures and document the culture.

Mikayla and Erik were gracious hosts and we were even able to see them sing in the choir of Handel's Messiah. An interesting fact, the reason that everyone stands during "Hallelujah" is because in the first performance the King of England stood. Such an educational trip this has turned out to be. Katie Wilson drove all the way from Minneapolis and we were reunited. Ah, how I've missed Katie. She drove 5 hours to spend a day with us, and I felt so loved. We all played Balderdash late into the night.

I could keep listing the fun things we did together, but I think I'll end here. The point is, I needed the MidWest. I needed the microbrews, the long talks, the cheese curds, the cross-stitching of ornaments, and the late night Balderdash. In many ways, being here with these good friends in the middle of snowy prairie land has felt more like home than California. I had no idea that the MidWest could be And I feel like an ignorant fool for the way I've judged it in the past. Seriously though, Wisconsin feels like another country. Trust me.

Just some of my family...

When Grandma Jo turned 80, she took a picture with her grandchildren at the party. I'm related to all these kids. This isn't including aunts or uncles or those distant relatives that show up at Thanksgiving.
Please note that I'm one of two brunettes in the entire bunch. Dominant genes...