Monday, October 27, 2008

Shining Star

I have had a headache and nausea since last night, but the worst part is that it's not an uncommon feeling for me to have. This fact combined with the episodes of House that I watched yesterday has of course led me to one inevitable conclusion: I have a rare form of brain cancer caused by any injury to my head when I was 14. That, or the fact that I'm now drinking caffeine-free Coke is starting to catch up with me.

Let's see, my adventures since my last post. I saw the dress rehearsal of Opera Boston's Der Freischütz at the Majestic Theater, courtesy of Adrienne and her new-found office assistant powers therein. I very much enjoyed the show, my first opera in German. The description on the website overviews it thusly: "To win a marksmanship contest and the hand of his beloved, a young ranger makes a deal with the dark side. From its famous overture to its exciting conclusion, Der Freischütz is a seminal work of German Romanticism."

So basically that means there were many rousing beer hall-like chorus numbers, women in Bavarian beer maid costumes, mysterious walk-on appearances by the Devil, magic silver bullets, a dream sequence, and lots of crazy lighting. However, nothing compares to the moment that a mounted deer head nearly fell--antlers first--onto the male lead in Act II. Apparently in opera, dress rehearsals are actually what they sound like: rehearsals in dress. The lights weren't finalized and so kept changing constantly, stage hands made a few appearances to adjust prop placements, and of course there was the "OSHA no-no" (as it was labeled by Adrienne's boss) with the antlers. I think I actually enjoyed it more this way, because it reminded me of how everything on a stage is the result of a long process and a lot of work by many, many people. Plus, the opera itself was awesome.

Of course, since I was at the opera, I didn't play kickball that night or watch the last presidential debate. But as I heard it from people who did do those things, both were kind of a wash. Plus I got to see/read the highlights of the debate the next day, so it was all good.

I finally got to see Sophie's lovely apartment on Beacon St., doubly exciting since Ms. Northway has just received her fine couch the day previous. Adrienne and Mags came over to see my apartment (I finally let them), where we watched Sophia Copolla's Marie Antoinette. The company was good, but the movie had a lot more potential to live up to than what it did. Kirsten Dunst was fabulous as always, though. The following day I had Chinese, as I always do on Monday nights, and I'm growing more and more confident in my ability to hold a simple introductory conversation in Mandarin. My pronunciation of the four tones is still amateur at best, but I think a native speaker would at least understand what I'm trying to say. Reading the charactes, however, is another matter entirely, one that I think will be tackled in higher-level classes.

Peapod delivered my second order of groceries on Tuesday night without incident, mostly due to the fact that I was actually home this time. To anyone living in the Boston area, I highly recommend this method of grocery shopping: the delivery fee is only $9.95, and you don't have to lug bags and carts everywhere on the T. The rest of the week proceeded normally, with the exception of our kickball game on Wednesday night when it SNOWED during the middle of the game. Not much, just flurries, but it was snow nonetheless. Dammit, Winter, can't you let me have my favorite season for just a little longer? Please?

Friday night I journeyed to the Loews AMC on Boston Common with Yuval, Sophie, and Adrienne to see Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, a thoroughly delightful movie that simultaneously managed to showcase every reason why I despise the thought of living in NYC. The traffic, the expense, the noise, the crowds, the filth, the crazy people...all of it was in this movie. At least the characters reveled in it instead of hating it, like me. Want more of my opinion (and who doesn't?), then read my review.

I met Deanna and Adrienne on Saturday morning at the Common once again, this time for GuluWalk Boston. The event is a 3.5 mile walk--the same distance children in Northern Uganda had to walk every night from their villages to safe houses where the Lord's Resistance Army couldn't kidnap them--that seeks to raise awareness and funds for the children who suffered as a result of the 21 year civil war. It was the most interesting charity walk I've done yet simply beacuse of the route we took and the vocalness of the organizers: we walked through the ritzy shopping area of Boston, shouting about wanting peace in Uganda on an otherwise quiet Saturday morning. Some of the shoppers/brunchers were excited by our cause and high-fived some walkers, some glared openly at us for disturbing their peace, and most of all them stared as this crowd of 150 people in bright orange t-shirts marched by Burberry and Valentino stores.

It was satisfying to be a part of something that literally jolted people out of their routine in order to direct their attention to a worthy cause.

That night, Yuval and I had planned to join Mags & Co. in Jamaica Plain for the Latern Parade, but bad weather forced a postponement and sapped our motivation to continue on to an early Halloween party with some of his friends from work. All this turned out well for us, though, as it gave us time to just spend together before he left on his business trip to LA really early Sunday morning.

Today featues a doctor's appointment and Chinese class. Tomorrow I will (hopefully, assuming I feel better) be attending a press performance of The Lieutenant of Inishmore with Adrienne at New Rep. And of course, Halloween is this Friday! Which means Yuval and I will be at Anthony's Bloodsuckers' Ball dressed as (vampire) Luigi and Mario.

Happy tricking and treating, y'all!

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist
Marie Antoinette

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Take On Me

I write to you today with an achy head and slightly stuffed nose, so forgive any non-sensical things I might say. Although you could argue that everything I say is non-sensical, really.

The vice-presidential debate turned out kind of lame, but it provided ample evidence for two things: 1) Joe Biden is really smart and knows his shit. 2) Sarah Palin is completely off her rocker, but a really good public speaker. I spent most of my energy whilst watching the debate keeping up with the live-blogging posts on The Economist blog and Jezebel. Live-blogging makes the debates so much more entertaining, no joke.

Yuval and I went camping during the first weekend in October, and it wasn't until we stumbled out of the tent bright and early on Saturday morning at 9am that I realized how much I've missed camping. It made me want to go camping with my dad, which was something he did with my sister and I every summer before we went back to school. The tradition died off a little when we got to college because of summer jobs and such, and then I moved to Boston.

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We stayed at Salty Acres Campground, a campground near Kennenbunkport, Maine (home to George Bush, Sr.'s summer home). The site was a mile walk from Goose Rocks Beach, and Saturday afternoon saw Yuval and I taking a stroll along the lovely shoreline, hudding in our hoodies against the wind. We sat in the sand for a while, his head in my lap and hoodie completely covering his face, while my head was down with my hoodie up, all to protect us from the wind. So of course neither of us saw it coming when a super cute, super friendly German Shephard bounded over to us to say hello. I looked up, and the dog took that as her cue to push me over and start licking my face. I laughed, Yuval got jealous that the dog was paying so much attention to me, and then the dog gave him the same treatment as I. Only after we had been thoroughly slobbered upon did the owners manage to catch up with their puppy and exclaim, "I hope you're both dog people!" Um, yes we are. Just a little bit.

We spent the weekend sitting by the firepit, building and re-building the fire, eating Italian sausages cooked over said fire, making s'mores, drinking hot cocoa, and snuggling (aggressively, on my part) to keep warm at night. Saturday night I nearly pushed him off the air mattress in my blob-monster-like attempt to leech all the warmth from his body in my sleep. We never showered, brushed our teeth once, and saw infinitely more stars than we ever could in Boston. All in all, it was an amazing trip. Except when I woke up Sunday with a splitting headache, stuffy nose, and nausea (I blame the seasonal changes). But that all went away by the evening when we went out to a delicious Czech/Greek restaurant to celebrate Tsachi's (Yuval's dad) birthday. Tani and Michal got him this for his present. I geeked out when I saw it and told him I'd seen one in action and they are just about the coolest toys EVAR. I'm not sure if he believed me, but he really liked it regardless.

I went to see the doctor that Monday after work to talk about why I am so goddamn tired all the time. Things have gotten to the point where my sleepiness is interferring in my ability to do my work: I frequently "crash" in the mornings and afternoons, where I feel like I hit a wall of exhaustion and cannot keep my eyes open no matter what I do. And I've been experiencing this kind of thing since high school. Not normal, right? My doctor agreed and said it probably had something to do with me getting the wrong (too little) dosage of my meds, which can cause aggressive fatigue. She ordered a blood test just to be sure it's not anemia (and it's not, because of course that would be too easy to fix!), and I'm keeping a daily diary of what I eat, what exercise/activities I do, and how much sleep I get to see if there's any kind of pattern. I'm going back to see her on the 27th, when we'll confer and see how much of a higher dosage she wants to try with my meds. I really hope this works, because if it doesn't I'll have to go get a sleep test done to see if there's anything more seriously wrong with me, like a sleep disorder. :o(

I also had my first Chinese class that night, in which I learned how to read pinyin Chinese and hold a basic "Hello, how are you?" conversation. Chinese is so difficult to learn for me not because of the characters or pronunciation, but because you have to use very specific vocal tones for each word to convey the proper meaning. I didn't have my second class last night because it was Columbus Day, even though I still had to go to work. Stupid Columbus. Also, why can't we rename it "Native American Day" or something like that as a gesture to show we're not completely overlooking the mass genocide that 'ole Christopher's "discovery" started? And there could be special educational and cultural activities in every city to disseminate information about Native American tribes that used to live in that area? I guess it would be too much of a pain in the butt for lawmakers.

The second presidential debate was a total bore thanks to the "town hall" format. What's the point in calling it a "debate" when the candidates aren't even allowed to talk to each other and are encouraged to just read talking points the whole time? Lamesauce.

This past weekend saw some more fun activities. Friday night I had a one-hour facial for only $45 at a salon in Chinatown called CoCo Beauty. It was the best beauty treatment ever! They don't just slather your face in creams and lotions and send you on your way like high-priced salons do. Oh no. They use steam to open up your pores, use a machine to suck out all the stuff in your pores, and then use a special tool to literally pull the blackheads out of your pores. All this is then followed by a soothing cream and a face massage, a cooling peel mask, and really super smooth skin. The rooms are small and it's not fancy at all, but who cares? It's only $45! I totally recommend it to everyone in Boston: the part where she picks out your blackheads hurts like hell, but the rest is so good you won't care.

Saturday Yuval and I headed out to Topsfield for the Topsfield Fair, the closest equivalent to a County Fair that MA has (Ohio, I miss those!). It took over an hour to go the last 2.5 miles since it was a two-lane road and the fair's busiest day. However, it was totally worth it. SO MANY cute baby animals, so much fair food (I got cinnamon roasted almonds, fudge, rock candy, and a corndog), and much laughing. I can haz farm, plz?

Sunday brought another wedding to attend. This time it was for Yuval's co-worker Matt and took place in Chelmsford, MA. The service was Catholic, not uber-so, but enough to put me off the rhetoric. Courtney, the bride, looked beautiful. Matt started crying during the ceremony he was so overcome. The reception was extremely nice and held a fancy country club in Andover (for those not familiar with the area, Andover is a ritzy place to live). There was a turkey dinner, complete with stuffing, apple turnovers for dessert, and much dancing. Yuval won the centerpiece at our table, which of course really meant that I won the centerpiece. A good thing, too, because I was considering taking it anyway. Very pretty.

So here we are, another Tuesday. My plane tickets home for Thanksgiving and Christmas have been purchased, as has my ticket to Kenyon in February. The 25th I'm doing the GuluWalk with Dena. And life is good. Exhausting, but good.

Also, in reference to the title of this post, everyone should go watch this video right now:
Take On Me: The Literal Video Version

The Golem's Eye (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 2) by Jonathan Stroud

The Big Lebowski
Good Will Hunting

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

This week has found me more wiped of energy than usual--so I guess it's a good thing I'm going to the doctor on Monday to talk about my chronic sleepiness. But! Since last we blogged, much has happened.

The Green Team (my kickball team) won the division championships! We got a trophy and everything. And we're still doing really well in our fall season. Yuval and I went to see his friend Elaine perform in a cabaret concert that was raising money for a new piano at a UU church. The amazing thing about her performance was not only her voice, but the fact that just the day before she had been bedridden from a spinal tap (lumbar puncture for those of us who watch House) gone wrong. That's right, the hospital messed up the endgame and spinal fluid started leaking into her back, which they had to stop by forming a blood clot via 9 tubes inserted at various places on her body. Oh, and she still had the migraine she'd been living with all week before that. She almost passed out a few times during the show, but she managed to make it all the way through--but she couldn't bow at the end, because it hurt way too much to bend her back.

Talk about dedication to your art!

The week of the 21st wasn't packed full of activities, though I did see more of my Boston crowd than I have in recent times. I continued in my new swimming routine, much to my delight. Yuval and I hunkered down on that Thursday to watch the presidential debate, which turned out to be much less exciting than everyone was anticipating. All polls pointed to Obama as the winner, but even if he hadn't been the "clear victor", a tie in a foreign policy debate would have been a win for Obama and a loss for McCain anyway. Both debators made good arguments at points, and both succumbed to punching out a few low blows. Overall, though, I was more impressed with Obama because he stayed cool and collected and, unlike McCain, didn't begin all his answers with an insult about his opponent.

That Thursday was also Tani's (Yuval's mom) birthday, which meant that Saturday morning saw us over at his parents' house for the delicious brunch that has become their traditional way of celebrating a birthday. Lox, bagels, eggs, bread, mackeral, tomatoes, cheeses, and pastries--so yummy! That night we had planned a movie date night so we could watch one of the movies on our Movie List: The Godfather. I had never seen all of it, and he found this to be a crime, so I got it from the library. I loved it, but for my full thoughts read my review. We also started watching Arrested Development on Hulu, and now I'm totally hooked. Why the show was cancelled I'll never understand. The movie watching continued on Sunday, when we watched Brazil, Terry Gilliam's most famous film. Again, I loved it, and again, you can read my review for my deeper thoughts. Of course, more Arrested Development was watched.

Having a fairly lazy weekend was a nice change of pace after having completely full weekends for so many weeks. I highly recommend it.

Monday the 29th was supposed to see me at my first Chinese class, but it was Rosh Hoshannah and I celebrated with Yuval's family instead. And I'm so glad I did! It's an awesome holiday, very happy, and filled with yummy food that all revolves around apples and honey (the theme foods for the holiday). I discovered my new favorite (healthy!) snack: apple slices with honey. Delicious! We retired early because it was a school night and both of us were exhausted to boot.

Tuesday I was supposed to see a free sneak preview of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist with Margaret, but even though we got there at 7:15 for an 8:00 show all the seats had been taken. It was a promotional event that I found out about in the Metro, and they warned that more seats were "sold" than available, but still! 45 minutes before the show! It was especially disappointing because, since we've both read the book, we were so eager to see how it was adapted to the big screen. Discouraged but not disheartened, we instead purchased tickets to The Duchess (with Keira Knightley), expecting a fun, corset-ripping costume drama. Well, it was corset-ripping, but fun and a costume drama it was not. However, it was extremely good and I highly recommend it, despite the media's lukewarm reviews. It will certainly make you happy you are not a woman living in 18th century England. For my thoughts, again, read my review.

Kickball got rained out last night, which was fine for me since I had the worst of all days yesterday. I signed up for Peapod, a grocery delivery service, since there is no (open) grocery near me that's T-accessible. Not understanding that I had to be physically home to accept the delivery, I scheduled it for the night Mags and I were to see the movie. I left a note for the driver as well as a tip, but came home to find the note/tip gone and no groceries. I called Peapod the next day, expecting to arrange another delivery attempt, only to be told that I would be charged a $50 restocking fee for not being home and forcing them to take the groceries back. What?! I explained what happened, the lady I was speaking to sympathized, and she managed to find out that driver had in fact left my order at my house. Now the only explanations were that it was stolen (not likely in my neighborhood) or one of my housemates took them inside by mistake. She said she would call me back when she had spoken to the driver and found out exactly where he had left my order, but only after did I realize that my phone was nearly out of battery and my charger was at Yuval's, across town. Oy vey! I resolved to get it after work.

I got home, and discovered that my kindly upstairs neighbor had merely moved my groceries inside the front entryway of the house so they didn't get rained on. Yuval came over to lend me his phone for the night, but there was no longer an urgent need to have a cell phone. I called Peapod to let them know everything was fine, but decided, since I rented a Zipcar anyway, I could just drive Yuval home, get my charger back, and drop off some overdue DVD's at the Newton library. All went well, until I left Yuval's house: I got turned around trying to find Route 16 West, wasting 20 minutes in rush hour traffic. I got lost several times down streets that had the same name as the ones I was looking for, but finally made it the library at exactly the time I was supposed to have returned the car. Knowing that no one had booked it after me, I decided it would be fine if I was a little late returning it--the library isn't far from the rental garage. But of course, as I had forgotten to print directions from the library to the garage, I got majorly lost, crying in traffic, and ended up returning the car 34 minutes late. I thought it would be fine, no one was there waiting, but Zipcar must have a transmitter or something because they knew exactly how late I was and charged me the $50 late fee accordingly.

I wouldn't have made it back to garage at all if it weren't for Yuval and his patience with giving directions to his hysterical girlfriend. He even left me a message after my phone died (but I had already found my way), making sure I was okay. Have I mentioned how much I love this man? After I got home, plugged my phone in to charge, and had a bowl of cereal (since I hadn't eaten dinner), I watched the season premiere of Ugly Betty, which cheered me considerably. Then I washed my hair with my new, totally natural shampoo w/vinegar rinse (it's really good, I highly recommend it!), and went to bed at 11:30pm.

I'm exhausted today, but in relatively better spirits. And the VP debate is tonight, so that should prove entertaining/infuriating!

Oh! And for those who are still at Kenyon or around the area: I will be visiting February 13th-16th. I wish I could come the following weekend so I could see Ken and Griffin's theses, but I can't. So put it on your calendar, Kenyonites! :o)

The Godfather
Arrested Development: Season One