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staycation is all I ever wanted

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I often find myself updating my blog when I’m overseas. So here we go, with my action-packed staycation.

I hadn’t seen my aunt and her family since 2001 when they visited California. We flew into Orlando and then drove to Tampa for their New Year’s Day brunch. My cousin is now a thoughtful young man who’s started an engineering job. I’m so glad MoBob had a chance to meet family members apart from my mom. I guess he now knows that I inherited my chattiness.

Tampa felt like a real city, while we were stuck in the theme park Siberia of Orlando. It felt very artificial and new. I regret that we didn’t get to see downtown, pre-Disney Orlando. We spent one day at Epcot Center, where we visited the Morocco, France, and Canada pavilions. As I mentioned in earlier posts, the Morocco pavilion was incredibly detailed and faithful to the originals. I read in Wikipedia that Disney worked with the Moroccan embassy to bring artisans to Orlando to re-create the mosque and marketplace. MB tried to talk to the Moroccan staff but they were apparently under a magic spell not to disclose too much. We watched a movie in the France pavilion which showed an ideal France without immigrants or social strife, whereas the film in the Canada pavilion did not mention universal health insurance. We watched the Captain Eo video which had not aged well, and it was eerie to see Michael Jackson in his prime. The plot involved trying to reach an evil queen who must have inspired the Borg Queen in the Star Trek movies – and she was revealed to be Anjelica Huston.

The next day we visited Universal Studios’ Adventure Islands, really only to see The World of Harry Potter. It was cold and windy the whole time, and HP World was so crowded that we didn’t even get to go inside any of the shops. We waited 3.5 hours for the Hogwarts Castle ride and 45 minutes for butterbeer and pumpkin juice. Was it worth it? I guess so.

We’d taken AirTran on the way to Orlando and then JetBlue for the return. Somehow this worked out to be cheaper. On JetBlue the CEO introduced himself before we took off and then sat in the cockpit for the duration of the flight. I’d never taken JetBlue before and hadn’t realized that it was a one-class airline. Then when we landed he stood outside the airplane door and said goodbye and thank you. I was impressed.

Billy Elliot
I was able to purchase one of the last $25 tickets to see Billy Elliot at the Kennedy Center. It was a Wednesday afternoon performance and I was one of the few people who wasn’t retired or school-aged. And I’m sure the other folks in my demographic had sneaked out of work. I was more in love with the dancing rather than the singing, especially the one segment where Billy dances Swan Lake with an older version of himself. The song I do remember was “We Once Were Kings” which ended with the miners on the darkened stage with only their headlamps for illumination. Another reason to love DC audiences: everyone clapped and cheered when once of characters said, “We support the arts.”

Jana Reiss
Jana is one of those people whom I felt I’ve known for a long time before actually physically meeting her. She had recommended me for the Patheos feature on interfaith couples, and I reviewed the draft of Mormonism for Dummies. But I hadn't met her in person until last September at the Exponent retreat. She is as cool in person as online and in print, and I was so thrilled to hang out with her at the Society for Christian/Muslim/Jewish Ethics conference recently.

Salu & Tuti
My staycation was a little crazier than usual because we hosted two Nepali girls for ten days. Salu is the daughter of my counterpart in Bangladesh, and she brought along her best friend. Our living room because an explosion of makeup and lacy frilly things. MB was a good sport about it all - he did grow up with a slew of sisters.

Bob & Edith's Diner
We’ve started, sort of, looking for a house or condo to buy, and so we met up with a realtor. We met at Bob and Edith’s Diner. This was a real diner, with old-fashioned booths, and a heart-attack menu. Not to mention a line out the door. I was halfway distracted through our conversation by the spectacle of a couple quietly breaking up in an adjoining booth.

Community Sing-a-Long
Capitol Hill Arts Workshop is holding a series of free events to celebrate their 40th anniversary. I attended a community sing-a-long led by a professor who'd just returned from Cameroon. I can’t read music, and I’m sure I don’t have a good singing voice, but for this class, it didn’t matter. We sang rounds of African chants and gospel spirituals, and I left wishing I could do this every week.

Peace Corps diversity gathering
Faithful readers may recall that my Peace Corps service was one of the formative experiences of my life, and I try to re-connect as often as possible. Unfortunately the venue was set up so that I didn’t end up meeting or talking to many people, but the young lady next to me was leaving for Senegal this summer. I was surprised to learn that there wasn’t a Facebook group for AsianAms/PIs connected to PC, so I started one, modeled after the other minority PC groups:
Asian American Pacific Islander Peace Corps Volunteers.

For a long time I was in love with a dashing young man with a taste for theater, and he raved and raved about Tom Stoppard’s play Arcadia. The production I saw was undertaken by a community group in an elegant historic church across from the Library of Congress. We sat on bleacher seats and pretended to move backwards and forwards in time, with the great Tiffany stained glass window behind us.

the Georgetown DMV
The TSA agent at DCA pointed out that my driver’s license had expired. Since I don’t drive and I use my passport when I travel, I never noticed myself. (Funnily neither did the TSA agent in Orlando.) I trekked to the DMV in the sad Georgetown underground mall, and was told that according to the DMV records I’m diabetic. Well, I’m not. My GP’s office was closed that Friday and the kind DMV lady (!) issued a temporary driver’s license. I had to take a series of blood tests for my GP to send a letter to the DMV. Gah.

fencing class
Way back in the fall of 1987, as a lowly freshman at Cal, I took a fencing class. And LOVED it. I’d thought off and on about taking a class but didn’t commit until I saw a coupon for lessons at the DC Fencing Club. I was hoping my muscle memory would come back - and it did. In épée, I lost to a young man half my age by one point (5-4), which is a big accomplishment for an avowed couch potato like myself.

Bokamoso Youth Group
MB and I attended another free event at CapHill Arts Workshop and saw the Bokamoso Youth Group. Since MB and I have by now visited South Africa, we knew were going to enjoy seeing this group. The performances were raw and honest, and I’m actually surprised that the event was advertised as kid-friendly as one of the short sketches dealt with teen pregnancy. They are continuing to perform in the DC area so I encourage folks to check them out.

MB and I are still relatively unschooled in the subtleties of ice hockey but we’re getting there. We paid a visit to the Caps home rink in Arlington, the Kettler Ice Complex, and then the following weekend watched the Caps beat the Canes in a sloppy win.

Sachal V.
Sachal (I can call him by his first name because we’re FB friends) is one of my favorite jazz vocalists ever. We saw him perform on a cold rainy night at Blues Alley, a wonderfully intimate venue with craptastic food. Sachal looks like your favorite cutie IT guy who sings like a smooth ‘50s crooner. So romantic, but jazzy enough that MB enjoyed the performance as well.

Not Just Another Day Off
Usually MB and I do some sort of service project on MLKJ day, but this year I wanted to do something mellow and reflective. I attended a poetry event at the Folger Shakespeare Library,which was not the kind of event that I’d expected from the Folger Library. I enjoyed it, especially a poem about Dr. King’s visit to the Florida Avenue Grill, which unfortunately I haven’t been able to find online. The last portion of the program was open mike, and a poised young lady of 12 drew much appreciation when she read her poem about how much she loved dancing and music.

Zydeco at Artisphere
MB is always after me to show some “real” American culture. Hence our attempts at square dancing, and this time, zydeco. We went to a dance class and then a concert at Artisphere, only to discover that we have four left feet. The class was an utter failure, and we spent the rest of the evening watching everyone else two-step to a live accordian "straight from Louisiana."

Cal Winter Social
Before I hunkered down to pack for two weeks in Bamako, I helped out at the Cal Winter Social. Interestingly, the speaker started with a “State of Cal” presentation to counter suggestions that while things were bad, things weren’t as bad as people, specifically the WaPo, thought.

I feel exhausted just re-reading this. Tomorrow I swear I'll write about Bamako.
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On January 23rd, 2012 10:57 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
Do you have a secret double who splits going to events with you? That's the only way I can imagine you'd have time to do all the cool stuff you do. I once went zydeco dancing with McArthur, who assured me that I could do it. The attempt was an abysmal, embarrassing failure.
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On January 24th, 2012 07:17 am (UTC), 13oct commented:
I'm reading this list with my mouth hanging open. How on earth do you two manage to squeeze in everything along with work? What's your secret coz I'd love to know it!
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On January 24th, 2012 03:41 pm (UTC), mysteena commented:
Good luck on your house hunt--that's exciting (along with all the other very exciting things in your life!)
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