Monthly Archives: January 2013

in which I am reunited with my iPod

For those of you who do not know me, I come from a long line of pure-bred anxiety.

The primary way that this anxiety manifests itself both in my parents and me is in the form of insane punctuality. We are never late. Growing up, my memories are of arriving thirty minutes early for every film, leaving an hour and a half before the play starts, and beating the clock for every reservation ever. To this day, I have never walked in late to a movie, or a class, or an appointment of any kind. Ten minutes early is on time1.

This obsessive punctuality results in me being absurdly early to almost everything.2 Which is why yesterday, I found myself sitting in the Simmons College coffee shop two hours before my class was supposed to start3. I was hunkered down in one of the couches, listening to my iPod when a friend stopped to talk to me. I turned off my iPod, wound up the cord, and stuck it on the couch beside me, thinking I would pull it back out once said friend left.

But then said friend left. And I forgot about my iPod. And later, when I got up and walked to class, I LEFT MY IPOD ON THE COUCH!

I didn’t realize this until three hours after the fact, when class got out and I was heading to the train. I immediately booked it back to Simmons and proceeded to turn the couch I had been sitting on inside out in the hope that maybe my iPod had slipped between the cushions and no one had taken it. But my little green iPod was nowhere to be found. I decided to try the lost and found, even though, at this point, I had already resigned myself to the fact that most people upon finding an iPod wedged between couch cushions in a public place do not think, “I must walk across campus in the freezing cold to deliver this to the lost and found and ensure that owner and iPod are safely reunited.” Most people think, “Score! Free iPod!” My odds of being reunited with mine were very slim.

At first, I tried to console myself. After all, this iPod is coming up on five years old, and it is beginning to show it. It barely holds a charge, the buttons stick, the top is peeling off, there’s a gouge on the screen, and the sound goes in and out depending on how fast I’m walking4. It has been dropped, stepped on, had diet coke spilled on it,  slept on top of, been caught in a treadmill, buried under books at the bottom of my bag, and dropped down a flight of stairs. It has broken my fall when I tripped while jogging. It once had several silicone beads stuck inside the headphone jack that had to be removed by a jeweler5. It would not be the worst thing, I told myself, if I had to get a new iPod. In fact, I’m probably due for one.

But then, as I walked over to campus security’s lost and found desk, I started to think about all the things that little green iPod and I have been through. It has been to three continents and seventeen countries with me. It has moved to six different apartments. It has sustained me through countless flights, train rides, car rides, and hours of boredom. It provided the soundtrack for my life, and aided my antisocialness in countless situations. It gave me music to calm me down when I was freaking out about England, and music to help pump me up when I begrudgingly had to move back to Logan. The first time I heard Iron & Wine, it was on that iPod. All the podcasts from “Wait, Wait” with my name in the credits were listened to on that iPod. It helped me fall asleep on that one red eye flight to Spain and after that one time I saw Woman in Black.

In short, once I lost it, I realized just how attached I was to this little green guy.

Image

On the Staten Island Ferry with the MT and the iPod circa. 2009. I have no excuse for those sunglasses.

I walked up to the campus security desk, looking sort of sheepish because I had to admit I had left my iPod on a couch like a moron, and asked the guy behind the desk, “Did anybody happen to turn in an iPod?”

“Oh, you mean this one?” He said, and he reached under his desk and produced my little green friend.

Think of the greatest reunion scene in your favorite movie6. Then times it by a thousand, because that’s how excited I was to see my iPod. I’m pretty sure the words, “I thought I’d never see you again!” left my mouth, accompanied by a dramatic swell of music. My iPod and I were reunited! The battery was dead, because it had been playing the whole time we had been apart, but hey, can’t have everything.

So, thanks to the kindness of a stranger who saw a little green iPod and decided to turn it in rather than pawn it on ebay for thirty dollars7, a great tragedy has been avoided. It is always encouraging to know that there are good honest people in the world, who understand the sacred bond between girl and iPod.

  1. There is no surer way to win my heart than by being on time.
  2. Hence the reason I have twice this  week ended up doing homework in an empty movie theater.
  3. Disclaimer though: two hours is a little much, even for me. I was partly there because my apartment was boring and quiet.
  4. Though this may have something to do with the fact that I chew on my headphones when I’m nervous.
  5. Though the Google told me this is a more common problem than one would think.
  6. I personally go I for Homeward Bound.
  7. I’m being generous – I doubt you could get that much for this little guy.
Advertisements
Tagged , , , , ,

in which children’s books save lives

Let me tell you a story:

Once upon a time in the 1930’s, two German Jews met in Brazil1. Their names were Hans and Margaret. Hans and Margaret falled in love. Then they got married. And then they went on their honeymoon to Paris and decided not to come home, because they loved Paris so much.

Image

But then came the war, old sport2! And as Jews in Paris, Hans and Margaret knew they were in trouble. As the Nazis assembled at French borders, they tried to get out. But twenty-four hours ahead of the Nazis, there were no trains. No cars. No bikes. People were fleeing on foot. But Hans managed to rustle up a bunch of random bike parts and built him and Margaret a tandem bike. Then they put on their winter coats, packed two manuscripts in their backpack, and biked out of Paris. They slept in fields and barns for a few weeks, just ahead of the Nazis, until they reached the French border, where they discover that only select people are being let through into…whatever country they were trying to get to. A country that borders France and is not Germany. Hans and Margaret cross their fingers and pray they will be let through.

So they get to the border, and a border patrol officer stops them and starts asking them questions. He asks Hans what he does for a living, and Hans replies, “I write and illustrate children’s books.” The guard says, “Dude, that’s pretty cool.” And Hans says, “Yeah, I like it.” The guard says, “I have a kid.” Hans says, “Really?” and the guard says, “Yeah, really,” and Hans says, “Hey man, that’s really cool3.” The guard says, “Let me read one of your books,” and Hans says, “I just happen to have this one I wrote about a monkey,” and whips out the manuscript he carried from Paris4. The guard reads it, and he laughs. Then he tells Hans, “This books is super awesome. My kid would love this.” Then he thinks for a minute, and says, “That book was really awesome, and you have passports, so I’m going to let you over the border.”

And with just hors to spare, Hans and Margaret make it out of France and escape to America, all because of Hans’s manuscript.

Once in America, they meet a woman named Grace, who works for Houghton Mifflin, my favorite publishing house. Hans says, “Hey I got this book about a monkey who is always getting up to mischief named Fifi that got me out of France when the Nazis came. Do you want to publish it?”

Grace, with her discerning eye and sharp intellect, says, “I think this is a pretty stellar book, and I’d like to publish it.”

Hans says, “That is awesome, because I have no money.”

Grace says, “Okay, but I’ve just got one change.”

Hans says, “Yeah, anything, what do you want to change?”

And Grace says, “Instead of Fifi, can we call him George?”

And that his the story of how Curious George came to be.

Image

Moral of the story: children’s books save lives and stop Nazis5.

  1. This story is not about me, if you couldn’t figure that out.
  2. Just reread Gatsby. I am petitioning hard core to unironically reintroduce the phrase “old sport” into our vernacular.
  3. This conversation has been recreated for dramatic purposes. He might not have said exactly this.
  4. Because any good author never misses a chance to whip out  his manuscript.
  5. My professor told this story today in class. And basically, it blew my mind. So I needed to share it. That is all. Go back to your knitting.
Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

in which I find my corner of the sky

I don’t want to play the “once upon a time in high school” card, but once upon a time in high school, I was in a play called Pippin that nobody understood. Pippin is this weird, red-headed stepchild of musical theater that is often done poorly and without any real understanding of the show itself, usually by high schools. By the time I was in it, I had seen it twice already, both times disastrously misinterpreted and its weirdness taken way too literally.

I liked Pippin, but I didn’t get it until I was in it. The concept of our production, as dreamed up by my nothing-less-than-brilliant drama teacher, I believe is how the show is meant to be done. Pippin is not a literal play by any means. It is meta-theatrical, bizarre, and difficult, not because it has challenging acting or complex vocal parts, but because the entire show is a balancing act between trying to be real and knowing if you try to be real, this will make no sense.

Last night, I saw Pippin for the first time in a long time at American Repertory Theater (ART) here in Boston. The show is currently doing a run until January 20, and will then transfer to Broadway in the spring. I have been seeing posters for Pippin for months, but, until they announced they were going to Broadway and I could no longer resist, I made a conscious decision not to go because I, in my infinite theatrical pretentiousness, was certain that nobody ever does Pippin right.

Oh, wait. Except ART totally did.

Image

Pippin is about a young man1 who goes on a journey to find meaning and fulfillment in his life. His ‘corner of the sky,’ if you will. As you can imagine, the show resonates with a lot of people because that is basically everybody’s life story. Unless of course that beautiful message gets lost in all the weirdness of the actual show itself. Because there is lots of weird stuff that goes down in Pippin. He has a conversation with a disembodied head, he kills his dad and then brings him back to life, he kills a little boy’s duck, then somebody lights themselves on fire. Yeah. It’s awesome.

But back to the beautiful message. Because it really is. And every time I see this show or think about this show or remember being in this show, it still gets me right where I live. ART took Pippin to a different level than I had considered it before, and used it as a commentary on our generation, where everyone gets to be famous for fifteen minutes. In a world where everyone seems to think they are extraordinary, is anyone? And how far are we willing to go to feel that we have reached our full potential and found our corner of the sky?

Image

ART did their production of Pippin in conjunction with a circus troupe whose name has escaped me and my playbill is all the way across the room. This may be the most correct and genius way to interpret this show2. Each of Pippin’s “stages” in his journey was interpreted as a different circus act. There was a magician section, a lion tamer, a knife thrower. And then a whole lot of acrobats. The blend of circus and musical was just about genius. I usually don’t go in for giant spectacle shows, but this time it worked because there was a purpose behind the spectacle. They were using these flashy tricks3 to highlight the smoke and mirrors that is the entire show, until the end, which hits you like a punch in the face.

Anyways, this is basically just me gushing over Pippin. It took me an hour to get to Harvard Square yesterday4, then I stood in line for another forty-five minutes to get standing room5 only tickets, and it was worth it! It was worth standing up for two and a half hours. Worth totally ruining my hair in the rain. Worth overshooting my lunch break by a good half hour. Worth it worth it worth it the show was so good7!

Image

This entire post is a lot less eloquent and insightful than I hoped it would be, mostly because I am just so overcome with this production that I have been reduced to a stammering mess. Thank you for listening to me go totally nutburgers over this show. I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to have seen so much incredible theater that has made me feel so deeply.

  1. Named Pippin, in case you’re slow.
  2. Though one of the abysmal productions I saw also tried to do this…it worked less well. The reason theirs worked, I think, was because of what a high level of circus-ness they took it to.
  3. THEY WERE SO AMAZING!
  4. In the rain/sleet
  5. This is the second time I’ve done standing room only tickets in my life, and I appreciate the fact that at ART, they at least have a rail for us to lean on. The West End was less kind about that, though we did get a wall there, and a killer production of Much Ado staring David Tenant and Catherine Tate of Doctor Who fame 6.
  6. I think I am the only person in the world who discovered Doctor Who because of Shakespeare, instead of the other way around.   
  7. Also, there were randomly a ton of Broadway stars in it! Which caused me to have a total Broadway nerd freak out in the lobby. Andrea Martin! Charlotte D’Amboise! Terrance Mann8! Patina Miller! Mattew James Thomas! Google these people if you don’t know who they are because they are awesome!
  8. HOLYCRAPTHAT’STERRANCEMANN!!!!!
Tagged , , , , , ,

in which I give a guy my number.

I am not what you would call a brave person. I am also not what you would call a romantic person. So when the need arises for me to be brave in a romantic situation, I generally run the other way.

I have three times in my life gone way out of my comfort zone and attempted to initiate romantic contact with a stranger to which I bore some form of physical attraction. And generally, I have crashed and burned. Hard core.

Allow me to expand on these three times.

Image

“I would have stolen you a whole orchestra.” -Ted Mosby

One: The Accordion Player

The Scene: A young Mackenzi Lee, with her improbably red hair and a poorly-put together outfit1, has returned home from her first year of college. She sits in the audience of the MT’s middle school choir concert. The choir is accompanied by a band of college-aged looking gentlemen, including a very handsome accordion player. Mackenzi Lee, in her misguided, naïve, just broke up with her college boyfriend way, watches the accordion player more than she watches the actual show, and gives him what she thinks is a coy, flirtatious smile. He never meets her eyes, so that goes unrewarded. Thank god.

After the show, as she greets the MT:

The MT: Did you like the show.

Mackenzi Lee: Yeah, great—hey, what do you know about the hot accordion player? I mean, the normal accordion player?

The MT: He’s in college, and all the girls in choir have a crush on him.

Mackenzi Lee: I must have him!

The MT: I’m out.

Mackenzi Lee writes a note to the Accordion Player on the back of a piece of the MT’s sheet music. It contains several borderline cheeseball phrases she probably stole from the one Nicholas Sparks novel she ever read, and concludes with the invitation to phone her sometime for a date. She also draws copious smiley faces, because nothing says true love like a well placed emoticon. She leaves the note on the Accordion Player’s accordion, then walks out to the car with the MT.

Upon arriving at the car, she is struck with a terrible realization:

Mackenzi Lee: I DID NOT WRITE MY PHONE NUMBER ON THE NOTE!!!!!!

Mackenzi Lee rushes back into the auditorium, muttering “idiot, idiot, idiot” under her breath and vowing to destroy the note, since this folly is certainly a sign of the fruitlessness of her quest. She rushes up to the accordion, reaches for the note…and finds herself face to face with The Accordion Player.

Mackenzi Lee: Hi.

The Accordion Player: Hi.

Mackenzi Lee: (Looks at note, still lying folded on the accordion. Then decides to screw her courage to the sticking place and go for it) So…you play good accordion.

The Accordion Player: Thanks.

Mackenzi Lee: And you’re…really cute.

The Accordion Player: …

Mackenzi Lee: And I left you this note to tell you I think you’re cute and you should call me sometime so we can go out.

The Accordion Player: (eyes shift to the exits, as though plotting his escape route, as he reaches for his rape whistle)

Mackenzi Lee: But I forgot to write my number on the note, so…I came back to write my number on the note so you can call me and we can go out.

The Accordion Player: I’m going on a mission.

Mackenzi Lee: …Great. (stares awkwardly at the Accordion Player, then, without breaking eye contact, picks up the note, scrawls her phone number on it, and replaces it on top of the accordion.) Well…just in case.

Mackenzi Lee flees.

Image

“I was wondering…if you’d like to have coffee.”
“Black, two sugars, I’ll be upstairs.”
-Molly Hooper/Sherlock

Two: British Boston Burberry Boy

The Scene: Mackenzi Lee, a few years later in a Boston bus station, hardened by her failed romantic exploits several years previous with the Accordion Player has sworn never to give her number to strangers again. It is nightfall, and she reads on a bench, certain the bus will never come and just about ready to get a taxi. A young man appears, seemingly out of nowhere, and approaches her.

British Boston Burberry Boy: Excuse me?

Mackenzi Lee: (internally curses stranger for interrupting her reading, and also reaches for the hairspray in her bag, since she doesn’t have mace) Uh, what?

British Boston Burberry Boy: Have you got the time?

Mackenzi Lee: (aside) He is British. And also handsome. I shall answer him. (To British Boston Burberry Boy) 8:45. (Panics, and returns to book)

British Boston Burberry Boy: Any idea what time the bus will be coming? Only, I’ve just moved here, and I don’t know how the buses work.

Mackenzi Lee: (aside) Ah! Frustration over busses! Common ground! I shall bond with him!

Mackenzi Lee and British Boston Burberry Boy discuss the atrocious Boston bus system until a bus comes, which they both board, and sit by each other. They spend the entirety of the bus ride discussing England, the Wars of the Roses, Shakespeare, and their shared love of Burberry, where British Boston Burberry Boy works. Mackenzi Lee watches two, then three, then four stops past her own fly by outside the window, but says nothing, because she thinks she is flirting successfully for the first time in her entire adult life.

Finally, knowing she will be walking an extra mile home in the dark at this point, she speaks up.

Mackenzi Lee: Sorry, but this is my stop.

British Boston Burberry Boy: Oh, I’ve got some friends going out for a drink this weekend. Would you like to come?

Mackenzi Lee: Obviously.

British Boston Burberry Boy: What?

Mackenzi Lee: Yes. (scrawls phone number down for him) Give me a call.

British Boston Burberry Boy: I will.

He never called.

Image

“Cyrano, you’re awesome….at delivering love letters to Christian for me”
-Roxanne

14 once pointed out that you really have nothing to lose by giving a stranger your number. Best case scenario—they call, you date, fall in love, marry, live happily ever after. The worst that could happen is he says no, and you say okay, and you never see each other again. So this is how I’ve always tried to think of it, but she’s kind of wrong. Because seriously, if he says no, or doesn’t call, it is SO MUCH WORSE THAN THAT. It is pain, agony, self-loathing, humiliation, wanting to bury yourself in the sand and die a virgin.

And so, after these two missed connections, plus another slew of failed love affairs that resulted from situations where I did not have to be brave, I was leagues away from being inclined to solicit dates from strange men.

And then, last weekend, I met someone that I really hit it off with. We talked, shared mutual love of Star Wars and Sherlock, and parted ways. I wasn’t sure we’d speak again, but I wanted to. And I only had seven days before I flew back to Boston.

And so, in an entirely out of character move, I gave a stranger my number.

And he called. And we met. And we had dinner. And I had a nice time.

And then we parted. And Monday, I go back to Boston, and he stays in Salt Lake, and it doesn’t matter that it wasn’t the start of some passionate, romantic love story, because for once, when I was brave, it paid off. Everything worked out roughly the way it was supposed to2.

Moral of this story is that sometimes you don’t learn anything—you just fail.

And other times….well, other times, you don’t.

 

  1. This story takes place before she had anything resembling fashion sense.
  2. I could have done without the flu and catastrophic snowstorms, but hey, life isn’t perfect.
Tagged , , , ,

in which I travel down the Rhine

Do you remember the scene in Titanic where Leonardo DiCaprio is invited to have dinner with the rich people and even though he is dressed up in his little tuxedo and has his hair combed all fancy, he so clearly does not belong amongst them?

Well that was me. The entire time I was in Europe1.

It was awesome.

When my benefactor Magwitch first approached me with the proposition of a Rhine river trip over Christmas, I didn’t register just how fancy we were going to be traveling. I knew Magwitch is well off and liked to travel in some degree of luxury, but I guess I didn’t register just how stark the contrast of this maids-and-caviar lifestyle would be to the microwave meals and public transport I left back in Boston. It was also extremely different from my previous Europe travels, since I previously traversed the continent with only a backpack and a frequent hosteler card. Needless to say, I felt a little out of place. In the best way possible. The guilt-free living way outside your means way.

Our trip was a river cruise of the Christmas markets of Europe. The boat departed from Switzerland, then climbed northward through the Alsace region of France, into and through Germany, and then finished in the Netherlands. The Rhine, in winter, is blanketed in mist, like the moorish setting of a Gothic Victorian novel. Our skies were mostly grey, and there was a brief misty rain on occasion, but overall, the weather was just the right sort of gloomy. With the Christmas spirit on top of the wintry weather, it was delightful.

I have dozens of stories from the trip, but I will refrain from sharing them all for fear or boring you with excessive word count. Here are some pictures and anecdotes for your enjoyment/jealousy.

Image

The Christmas markets that lined the Rhine were a whole new level of Christmasyness for me. I have never experienced this level of decoration before. Half-timbered houses draped in holly, garlands, ribbons, bows. Plus the random assorted teddy bear and marionettes strung in the windows.

Image

After a few days of going from Switzerland to France to Germany and back to France, I was so confused what country I was in and what language was being spoke that, when a woman in a shop handed me my change, I said, “Gracias,” without even thinking, and then walked away.

Image

The Christmas markets all sell gluhwein, which is wasil mixed with wine. It is also alcoholic, meaning I did not partake. However, Magwitch heard through the grapevine that some stands sold non-alcoholic gluhwein. Excited, I inquired at the next market, only to learn that non-alocholic gluhwein is called “kinderpunch.” Which was humiliating. Also delicious.

Image

I climbed every hill, castle, and bell tower I could. I love views.

Image

I rode these cable cars from the city Koblenz across the Rhine River to a mountain top fortress. Unfortunately, I know nothing about said fortress, because all of the signs once we got there were in German.

Image

The above clock is my new favorite clock of all time. The pendulum is attached to the man’s eyes, so as the clock ticks, the eyes move back and forth. It is hella creepy/awesome.

Image

I was in Cologne on December 21, aka the day the Mayans said the world was going to end. It obviously did not, but I had a genuine moment of panic where I heard an unidentified crash, felt the bridge beneath me begin to shake (as a result of a passing train, though I did not know that then) and thought the world was actually ending.

Image

One of our better tours included a tour guide who told us “That cathedral there includes a very famous statue of Karl Marx.” Where we all started muttering about how weird it is that a church would have a statue of Karl Marx. The tour guide quickly amended, “Sorry, not Karl Marx—it’s Martin Luther.”

Image

We saw a team of folk dancers perform in Nijmegen. They performed several dances from all over the world, then ended with a “traditional folk dance from North America”:  Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.

Image

Also, the entire crew of the boat was eastern European, which made it feel vaguely like the ship was manned by vampires.

Image

It’s Magwitch and me!

I really love Europe so much. I love the antiquity of it, the feel of cobblestones under your feet. I love eating in restaurants that are older than my country. I love seeing art by masters that was created before the printing press and has outlasted the memories of the people who created it and the ideals that they praised. I love cathedral spires silhouetted against grey skies, the smell of baguettes and macaroons, and the way the weak sunlight catches the canals. I love meeting new people, and hearing new stories, and seeing the way life moves in a sphere that is not my own.

This world is beautiful and amazing. I am constantly reminded how grateful I am to be a part of it.

  1. This really was me. Especially the part where he takes an uncouthly large bite of roll.
Tagged , , , , , , ,

in which I dig myself out of a winter snow cave

Image

HELLO!

Have you forgotten who I am!? If I had any readers to begin with, I’m certain I’ve lost them all for want of blogging during the long winter break. But if you are still out there, a hardy hello to you! I am still holed up in Salt Lake City for another week, where the weather is frosty, but the mountains are lovely and white, and from my current view, curled up in an easy chair and wrapped in my Doctor Who throw blanket1 with a diet coke2, I don’t mind the chill. Tonight, when I have to walk the dog, that will be another story, but for now, I am content.

This break has been….complicated. On one hand, I feel ungrateful saying that this break has been anything less than perfect, because it is true that I spent the first two weeks of it living in luxury along the banks of the Rhine River. My Europe trip was nothing short of extraordinary, and while it was definitely the sort of awesome that should cancel out all sadness, it didn’t. Because while I did have so many awesome things happen to me in the four week period since my feet last graced Bostonian soil, I also had several of the worst days of my entire life. I faced a mammoth disappointment, let go of someone really important to me, and found myself having to face the painful fact that I’ve spent a massively long time waiting for something that, it turns out, isn’t going to happen3. So in some ways, this was not the break I anticipated. I didn’t know that so much awesome could be followed so closely by so much heartache.

But I digress.

Over all, I have had a satisfactory winter excursion to the land of the Mormons. I have skied. I have socialized. I have eaten more than I should have, perpetually vowed to start eating better tomorrow, watched more than my fair share of both Sherlock and Downton Abbey. I have frequented Café Rio, my favorite Utah-only restaurant. I have read all the books I didn’t have time to during the semester. I have written less than I should have, slept more than I meant to, and almost completely neglected the work I swore to myself I would finish4 over the break.

I will be back in Boston in seven days. Until then, I am going to do my best to get my brain back in gear, and get my blogging back up to snuff. Expect Europe pictures soon. I know you’re all holding your breath until then5.

 

  1. The best Christmas present I received, compliments of my friend Sondheim
  2. BRB, gotta go get another diet coke.
  3. How’s that for vague and intriguing non-details for you?
  4. Or actually start.
  5. All two of you.
Tagged , , , ,