Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thoughts about Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving... The time when family gathers around and gives thanks.

Does anyone else think that it seems like Thanksgiving is almost a forgotten holiday? Maybe not forgotten, but more of like a speed bump? I feel like we love summer and celebrate Labor Day as the last "hurrah" for summer. Them we gear up for back to school and Halloween. Then, as soon as Halloween is over, it's the mad dash for Christmas. They start rolling out Christmas decorations and Christmas commercials well before Thanksgiving. People are focused on getting ready for that all important day AFTER Thanksgiving when the literal "Holiday Rush" starts. So, does anyone else feel like we kind of skim over Thanksgiving, or is it just me?

Maybe it's because I'm grown up now and Thanksgiving traditions have changed, so in some ways it doesn't really feel like Thanksgiving used to. We used to wake up to the smell of turkey in the oven. We would watch the beginning of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and then load up the car for the drive that took us over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house. We'd carry in all of the goodies. Grandma would have transformed her sitting room into a wonderful dining room with tables covered in white cloth tablecloths, the good plates, cut glass dishes and bowls of fruit. We would all sit on the stairs and watch the happenings below. The aunts and older sisters busy in the kitchen and carrying out the rolls and cranberry salad. We'd finish watching the Macy's parade. All of the cousins and aunts and uncles would come in until the house was full. Then we'd sit down to eat and carry on. Grapes had been known to go flying through the air. And if you asked for a roll when it was near one of your uncles or older cousins, you better be a good catcher. After the meal was over, the women would clean up and then sit around the room discussing the happenings of the area or what the family would be doing for Christmas. We'd exchange names to see what family member we would buy a Christmas present for. The men would all head out to the barns to practice their shooting. I'd usually always end up out their with them because they were more fun than sitting around talking. Plus, I liked being outside. Grandma's was always magical that time of year. Things were bustling and everyone was there. And, most of the time, there was snow!!!

Now, I'm older and I understand the work that goes into planning and making Thanksgiving. I help make the pies and other things. We don't make the trip to Grandma's house because Grandma isn't here any more. We've made new traditions. Now we stay at my parents house. My two older sisters and their families come to this house. Lately, we haven't even had both of my older sisters here for Thanksgiving. They have obligations to go to their in-laws or on a family trip.

Things have changed and maybe that's why I feel like Thanksgiving isn't as big of a deal as it used to be. But, as I write this, I'm smelling the turkey in the oven and I'm planning on going and getting "dressed up" for guests to come. And, there is snow on the ground. So, maybe things haven't changed all that much. Maybe it's just all in the way you look at Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

New York City!!

So, I finally went to New York City. I can cross that off of my places to visit. I figured up that in the past two years, I have been to a lot of new places...Toronto, Baltimore, west of the Mississippi (which included 11 states and Mexico and cities like Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego). In the past seven or so years, I have also had the opportunity to go to places like Atlanta and Boston. I'm very fortunate to have been all of these places. Now that I think about it, maybe I should post about all of my trips that I have been on. But, for now, I'll post about New York City!

It all started in the last part of August when a group of teachers were at a training for the school district. The speaker was...well...not interesting and we all had our computers, so needless to say, we did other things. Some of the teachers that I work with at one elementary favorite elementary school...decided that it would be fun if we could all take a trip together and hang out with each other outside of school. Someone came upon the idea of taking a bus trip to NYC to see the Rockettes Christmas Show.

They decided that it was a plan and set about starting the signing ups. We could all take one other person, husband, friend, child, etc.. I immediately texted my sister, Karen, figuring that I would have to talk her into going. She's not so much of the spontaneous type. But, she totally shocked me on this one. When I called her that night to see if she got my text and if she wanted to go, I didn't have to talk her into it at all...she wanted to go.

So, last weekend, we boarded the bus and started out on the 3 1/2 hour trip to NYC! There were 13 in our group from school. Just the trip up and back was fun...hearing everyones stories and laughing together. Karen and I had talked about what we wanted to do and had somewhat of a plan. We were somewhat worried about the weather. It rained on the way up and neither of us brought an umbrella. We had about 4 hours before we had to be at Radio City to see the Christmas Spectacular. We knew we didn't want to stray too far from our destination because neither of us knew anything about the city, other than what we could glean from maps and the internet.

We were dropped off about five blocks from Times Square. We decided that since we were so close, we'd walk down a ways to see it. It was drizzling only a little, so we didn't mind walking. On the way we found the M&M store and took a look inside. Pretty much what you'd expect from a touristy M&M store...lots of M&Ms and random things to buy. We were about two blocks from Times Square and we took a picture, but saw no need to actually be in the center of Times Square.

We turned towards Rockefeller Center and walked down the street. We decided that we wouldn't want to live in the city, be in New York for New Years Eve, or be walking the streets alone in the dark. We found the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center. It had just been trucked in the morning before...we watched it on the Today Show. It wasn't lit up and there was the scaffolding around it, but it was still cool to see. We looked at the ice rink for a bit and decided we were hungry. We ended up eating at the Rock Center Cafe, which looks out onto the ice rink at Rockefeller Center.

We wanted to go to the Top of the Rock observation deck, but when we went the first time, the nice doorman told us to save our money and come back a little later. There was so much fog that the visibility was at zero. Such a nice doorman! So, we went to see St. Patrick's Cathedral. I love architecture, so it was a must on our tour. Sadly, I found the outside to be overshadowed by all of the skyscrapers. I guess I need wide open spaces in which to enjoy the stature of things. Anyway, we went inside. Karen said that she couldn't imagine walking down that huge isle if she got married there! It was really cool architecture on the inside and amazing stained glass windows. And really neat stations of the cross. I've seen the stations of the cross as pictures in Catholic Churches, but these were sculptures and stained glass and candles at each one. I was hoping to find more on the history of the church, but sadly, I didn't.

We then walked around the other side of Rockefeller Center. I got a picture of Saks Fifth Avenue. The windows weren't done yet for Christmas, but still cool to say I've seen Saks. We took in the view of Rockefeller Center that is usually on TV. It looks so much bigger on tv. I don't know how they get those long shots of the tree, as the Saks Fifth Avenue building sits right at the end of it. I guess they have a long lens or something. I just thought that it was this really narrow like sidewalk/park, but it's not really.

By this point, the fog was starting to clear, so we decided to go up to the Top of the Rock...the top of Rockefeller Center. I'm so glad we went up. We had a view of Central Park, the Brooklyn bridge, Trump towers...less impressive than what I thought it would be, the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty...we had to use the zoom lens to guess that that's what it was, and a bird's eye view of St. Patrick's Cathedral...more impressive from that angle, but still small in comparison. We took lots of pictures up fact, we had to buy new batteries for the camera up there :) I'm glad that we decided to do Top of the Rock because we got to see most of the NYC sites that you hear about, but that we wouldn't have had time to see.

So, then, it was time to head over to Radio City Music Hall to see the Christmas Spectacular. It was an hour before the show and the line was already starting to snake around the building. We made it inside in less time than I thought it would take. Once the show started, all I can say is WOW!!! It started off with organ music, then Santa, then the Rockettes, who were the stars of the show! They had a 3-D show for the second part. We had to dodge snowballs thrown by polar bears and geese in the sky as Santa made his way from the North Pole to NYC. The show was amazing. How those ladies can be in perfect synchronization all of the time is astounding!!!! The best part was the Rockettes and the snow "bubbles" that they blew into the auditorium. It was fun looking around and seeing everyone in amazement about the snow. It was also great to look over and see my sister having such a good time. I compare people watching the Rockettes to people watching fireworks. If you've never watched someone watching fireworks, add it to your list of things to do. It's so cool.

Well, it was time to head out, find a bite to eat and meet the bus. We had wanted to head up to Bar Americain, Bobby Flay's one restaurant in NYC, but we didn't make it there. We found a little deli and bought sandwiches and a raspberry cookie. We ate the cookie there and took the sandwiches for the bus. As we were all standing on the corner of 7th Ave and 50th Street, talking about our days and what everyone had done, one of the teachers spotted Bobby Flay coming around the corner!!! Yes, no lie! I have seen Bobby Flay in person on the streets of NYC!!!!!! The teacher, Missy, said, "Hey, that's Bobby Flay!" and pointed her finger at him. He noticed and heard her and said "Hey! How's it going?" and continued on his way!

We boarded the bus and heard that another teacher and her husband, were standing eating their Godiva chocolate and saw Ivanka Trump (Donald's daughter) walking into the Rainbow Room.

Needless to say, as you can see from how long my post was, it was a great trip. The weather cleared up and it was actually warm for the middle of November...we didn't need our coats. The weather was actually rained on the way up, drizzled a little then cleared up, then rained on the way back. I wouldn't mind visiting again, but there is no way I could live there. But, I'm glad to say that I've been to NYC and I'm glad to say that I went there with my sister!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'm still here...I think...

Yeah, so, my last post was back in October and I was complaining about how busy I was and that I should be caught up in a little while. Right... Now it's almost the end of November. I don't think I really, truly realized how behind I was. On top of that, I've been busy with family...either having them visit me or me visiting them. Don't get me wrong, I really love being with my family. A couple years ago, I don't know if I would have said that, but perhaps absence makes the heart grow fonder. I don't know. Being 4 1/2 hours away is not so conducive to frequent visits, even though I think I can keep up with it. I basically lose an entire day driving. It sucks, to say the least. Maybe I need to be closer??...

Or maybe I need to just keep up with all of my work stuff so that I can have time for fun things.

Every thing I'm behind on is all work stuff. The thing is that when I cross one thing off of my list, I remember two or three more things that I need to add. I don't really know how I got so far behind. I guess that just going to work, trying my best, and coming home at the end of the day isn't just good enough. Don't ever become a teacher. You think that it's going to be all about hanging out with kids and encouraging them...but, it's not. It's all about paperwork and money and parents. I'm sure that's not just the case with being a teacher. I'm sure lots of other jobs have a lot of shit to deal with that aren't told to you upon being hired. No one tells you this when you are in college or grad school, either. No one tells you that it's really about how many clients you can see and how much money you can bring in and that you won't actually see any of that money in order to advance your program. You have to fight to get what you have. No one tells you that you won't just work from 8-4. No, you'll work longer hours than that doing paperwork, writing reports, making homework, billing, emailing. And you'll spend even more time worrying about things that you don't have finished yet. It will ruin your nights and weekends. It will stress you out trying to get caught up that you will have to eat tums and look up what anxiety attack symptoms are on Web MD because your chest is pounding and your left arm hurts.

The thing is that I never learn my lesson. Procrastination is a nasty, nasty habit. Don't befriend it. It's not nice. And when you want it to leave, it won't. I keep thinking that if I can just get caught up I'll be okay. The thing is that I don't know what it will take to get caught up, because, like I said, when I cross one thing off, two or three more things get added. It never ends. It ends when summer break comes. And I have some repreive. But, I don't know if I was meant to work like this. A friend once told me that basically, I shouldn't complain about how much I work because I have summers off and that makes up for it. I guess it does. Maybe.

Anyway, I'm complaining too much. And I have so many ideas for other things to post about. Like my NYC trip or Thanksgiving or seasons. I'll save those for later. Maybe later tonight or tomorrow. I keep putting off writing about these things and I really shouldn't. I'll be back soon.