It started out well enough - the train ride to Manchester was lovely (I alternated between a battered copy of C.S. Lewis and the misty Welsh countryside), the reception when I arrived even more so. How good to see old friends! Herebe's talent for making my knees go all to water has not diminished in the least, and N was as warm and friendly as always.
(brief tangent: the summer I rowed with N's club there was a dragon boat race in which the club, myself included, participated. It was great fun, and we beat the pants off a crew of rugby players, one of construction workers, one of fire fighters, one of Chinese people, and one of pirates (they even had a parrot). During the medal (well, beer really) ceremony I commented to N, whom I barely knew, that it didn't feel right, me being there and taking an equal share of the glory when I wasn't really a member of the club. She told me that I whether I'd been with the club for five days or five years I was as much a member as anyone else, and that I helped paddle the boat to victory and so I deserved the glory as much as anyone else. Speaking as one who has in her lifetime very rarely been made to feel welcome in a group, N's statement was as suprising as it was heartwarming. I've never forgotten her kindness, and I hold her in the highest regard, as a rower and a human being.)
Dinner with N was followed by a performance of Smith 6079, who rock, with a cameo appearance by Herebe, who both rocks and is hot. Long have I yearned to witness the great H.B. Monsters at his craft, and the man does not disappoint. Party afterwards was loads of fun, the geniuses (genii? geniuses? whatever) of Smith were as charming as they were talented (although you really should spend more time in that kilt, BAM darling), and I am unable to find any fault with the evening.
(Funniest moment: some drunkent tosser is going on about his six-pack, looks at N, who is a world-champion oarswoman, and actually says, "You should go to a gym sometime. How often do you workout?" Herebe and I nearly wet ourselves.)
The sunrise the following morning was spectacular, one of the most dramatic I've ever seen (Nothing will ever top the sunrise over the river as seen from the balcony of Olin, standing with Bridget in our pyjamas, overcoats, and boots in sub-zero temps, but this was a fair second.) I know, because the sun came up while I was making my way to the airport. I was still buzzed (in the emotional, not the alcoholic, sense) from the previous night's festivities, and it must have shown on my face. Every workman who walked past me tipped his hard hat and grinned "Mornin', luv!" to me. So I grinned back and replied "Mornin' yerself, Stud!"
At the airport I waited in line at ticketing for 2 hours, but was rewarded when I got to the gate and discovered I had been upgraded from steerage to "premium steerage." More leg room, better food. Really I couldn't give a toss about the food (I did, thanks to turbulance!), but being able to cross my legs on a trans-A flight was a refreshing first.
On the flight I watched "Forty year old virgin," which I had been avoiding for the same reasons camp surviors don't watch "Schindler's List." (That is the first and last time anyone will ever compare "Forty year old virgin" to "Schindler's List." You are priveledged to have witnessed it.) To my vast surprise, it didn't suck. Maybe I enjoyed it because I had impossibly low expectations, but parts of it were actually cute. 3 things stand out: 1, the comraderie of the guys was superb. 2, steve correll's performance as his character underwent some serious life changes was more than respectable. 3, the ending is ABSOFRIGGINLUTELY PANTS-WETTINGLY HYSTERICALLY OHMIGOD YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS MOVING FUCKING HILARIOUS! I think. I was pretty drunk again by that point (free drinks in Premium Steerage), and tired from having gotten exactly zero hours of sleep. So it might have been retarded. I'm not sure anymore. Hmm, how to score? Let's tally: 1 Bitch for camraderie plus 1 Bitch for surprisingly good acting plus 1 for the REDICULOUS ending = 3 Bitches, minus a half for the ambiguity of not really knowing if it was actually funny, minus a quarter for the flat performance (and flat chest) of the female lead equals a total of 2.25 Bitches. Rent it.
Home. cold. snow. skiing. cue christmas.
i knew it would be quiet without marley around. i knew it would be tedious with aunt sr. mary pain-in-my-ass floating about. i did not know i would lose almost a stone in body weight from a wickedly nasty case of the squirts that lasted all day christmas day. i will spare you all gorey details, save one (becuase i want loads of sympathy): my ass has never HURT so much in my life. i actually managed to SHIT myself RAW.
ok. enough of that.
the fam was really good about the whole thing. they didn't even fix christmas dinner on christmas day, since i was totally incapable of eating it and i constitued fully 25% of the assemblage. so we had christmas dinner on boxing day, which was fine. we had to do for ourselves, the help having the day off and all, but we managed. never let it be said that we consider it beneath our stations to open our own wine. christmas grub in my house is gallumpki (mom's polish), smashed potatoes, green beans (tradition, i don't know why, but they're yummy), and... jello.
my grandmother only knew how to cook three things: gallumpki, kapusta, and jello. on christmas she made 2 jello molds in the shape of a star and wreath, respectively. grandma died what, 7? 8 years ago? we still make her jello. she was not a nice woman, nor was she big on tradition, so we do it because it's the only tradition that my mom grew up with that we still keep, and because those damn jello molds are about the only nice thing the old bat left when she died. so we smile and eat them. this year, for the first time in ages, i was really glad of that stupid jello. it was probably the best thing i could have put in my stomach after being so ill!
i began to rehydrate, and mom thought that a trip to the movie theatre would perk me up, so we went to see The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. It was sold out. Bah, humbug.
Then Marley called. He and Miss Happy were supposed to be arriving for a belated christmas dinner on Friday, tomorrow. Marley told us that Miss Happy's aunt died and the funeral is this weekend and they won't be coming at all. Which SUCKS! I really miss my big brother, and now I won't see him again until the wedding! I was really looking forward to his visit. And them some old bat had to up and shit the bed and ruin it for me. I swear to god, some people have no fucking consideration. (Sometime I'll tell you about the huge inconvenience I suffered at my grandparents' deaths, but not today.)
The good thing was that H came over for a sleepover. H is awesome, and I havn't had a sleepover since I was about 11. We didn't paint our toenails or freeze each other's knickers, but we drank a whole lot of vodka cranberries and Baily's with schnapps. That was AFTER we got back from the bar, where we drank a bunch of other shit. Which is where we went after dinner, over which we drank several glasses of wine. It was a fun evening, and at the bar I saw the first attractive man I have ever seen in this godforsaken town. I'm not kidding - until last night i have never once seen an attractive man in this fucking HOLE. But he was a stunner. I can't describe him in novel terms, faces all looking pretty much the same to me, but he had longish, shaggy blonde hair sneaking out from the hood of his sweatshirt, blonde stubble. He looked a bit like a fairer Viggo Mortenson. (H disagrees with me on this.) Mostly though, it was his manner. This is what I find principally attractive in people. He was comfortable with himself, easy, confident, and relaxed. He walked like he owned everthing he saw, but without any hint of an arrogant swagger. Just breathtaking. And I had a perfect view of him from the bar. And he was alone.
When I saw his glass was empty, I was sorely tempted to send a drink over. I didn't though. Chicken? Maybe. I justified it by telling myself that I was leaving on Saturday anyway, so there was no time for anything to evolve between us, even if he cared to give me the time of day.
And that's the rub. Yeah, I can tell myself that rather than inflict myself with the memory of rejection my passivity preserved the warm memory of hope, but really that's bullshit. really i was just too chicken to take a risk, which is unlike me. H figures i did the right thing. She maintains he was skater trash. Personally, i have no problem with skater trash.
Did finally see The LWW. It was good. Kids were awesom actors. But they added all kind of totally unnecessary BULLSHIT. The whole thing with the raft on the river was wank, as was the tunnel thing. But even all that I can cope with. I can live with all the shit they added, except this: WHY THE FUCK DID THE FUCKERS AT DISNEY FEEL COMPELLED TO TORTURE A FOX FOR NO FUCKING REASON WHATSOEVER!??!?! I thought after old Walt shit the bed they'd stop throwing shit into movies whose only function is to make small children cry, but apparently not so. Given all that, I'm only giving the flick 3 Bitches. The one addition I DID like was beginning the film during a London air raid. Not only did it explain (for the benefit of dum american children who know NOTHING of history) why these 4 children were at a house in the country with no parents where they were all but ignored, it made their attituedes more justifiable ("mum sent us here to keep us OUT of a war!") and made the scene where the find Tumnus's ransacked house much more poignant. So I'll had half a star for the well-done beginning. Ultimately, The LWW gets 3.5 Bitches.
Into all this fun domestic mayhem was thrown a frustrating beaurocratic catastrophy involving photocopies of legal documents, emails, phone calls and faxes to Britain and Taiwan, panic attacks, defunct E111 forms, $40 wasted on express international mail, and the guilt of inflicting and assortment of headaches on really undeserving, kind people, and the sinking knowledge that i will have to spend a week on the continent for a rowing training camp (= extreme levels of physical activity) with no health insurance. Pray to god I don't fuck myself up and get sent to a hospital because my parents would have to mortgage the house to pay for it. (you do know all the earlier crap about The Help was just that, crap, don't you?)
So was there ANYthing good about this christmas? Of course there was. I got to see my family (most of them, anyway), and a good friend. The church looked beautiful, even though I don't believe in that crap anymore, and my pets are still alive. Am I a selfish shit for not getting all excited and gooey over christmas then? probably. it's just that when i'm here, i'm at my ablsolute, rock-bottom lonliest. There are too many demons lurking in this house, and I wasn't gone long enough to really be ready to brave them out. I've been here a week, and already I feel flat, stifled, and isolated. Every year I think, "gee, wouldn't it be nice to spend christmas with someone I loved"? (besides the fam - you know what i mean). we do really like each other, and we do have some really nice traditions, and every year the prompting of my heart gets stronger and more vocal and says "wouldn't this be so much better if S0-and-so were here? Wouldn't you love for such-and-such to see/hear/taste/experience this?"
Marley was with miss happy this christmas. it was the first time they've spent christmas together. i was really happy for him, and really envious too. how i wish that someone i care about could have shared the joy with me when i watched my parents tease each other, laughing so hard they could barely breathe, poking one another and kicking under the table, or pop the cork and join the toast over christmas breakfast, or walk with me and the geriatric beagle through the snow-covered park where the kids are sledding on the hill and everyone waves and calls "Merry Christmas!" so yes, it was nice, but it would be so much nicer if i had someone to love and share it with. How much longer must I be alone?