I just got back from my Christmas vacation and I am exhausted. I had loads of fun with family and friends in the last two weeks, but it's kind of nice now to just sit at my computer in the quiet house, catch up on blogs and emails and reflect on the last couple of weeks, and also on the last year.
The holiday was great. It was a little different from the last few years because we didn't go to my mom's house like we usually do. Instead we went to my sisters' apartment and had our Christmas there. This was nice because we were able to stay in the city, which meant Christmas Eve shopping and a nice Christmas dinner at a fancy restaurant. One of my favorite parts of the week was an impromptu Christmas party at my house. A few friends were still in town and wouldn't have their traditional Christmas days with their family, so we decided to have a dinner and watch a movie before I headed up to my sister's. It turned into a feast and lasted most of the night. It also took me most of the day to prepare, but it was worth it. I got to see friends I hadn't spent much time with this last semester, and we all had a really great time. The next day two of my closest friends took me to Salt Lake, we met up with my little sister and went shopping. I think they fell in love with her. Because she's awesome.
So I stayed in Salt Lake until a couple days after Christmas and then took off for Denver. I flew in to Denver on Tuesday. The flight was supposed to be a relatively low stress level one, since it's only an hour long and I was already in Salt Lake so I didn't have to find a ride to the airport from Provo. But, as these things tend to go, it ended up being extremely stressful. I set the alarm to go off at 6:45 so I would have plenty of time to shower, get ready, make sure I have all my things, and get to the airport with time to spare before the 9:45 departure. Instead I woke up at 8:15, did a double take at the clock, realized that my phone was dead (probably because the alarm had been going off for an hour), and staggered out of bed. I went in to my sister's room, who was getting dressed to take me to the airport, and asked "Is it really 8:15?" She told me to go get my stuff and get ready as quickly as possible, which was hard because I was so distressed from waking up late and totally groggy from just waking up. I did what I could, got all my stuff together, put on some pants and grabbed my things. I didn't get to shower and so felt like crap the rest of the morning, and I realized when I got to Denver that I grabbed the wrong toothbrush. The flight ended up being delayed because of the huge snow storm in Salt Lake, and we were on the runway for nearly two hours. It was hell.
I sat next to a woman on the plane who seemed to me a little tipsy, and I assumed she had been drinking. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve sat next to a drunk person on a plane. Her speach was slurred and she had the hardest time buckling her seatbelt. I eventually had to showe her how to do it. She was a little freaked out because it was only her second time flying, and during the flight she started eating all these little various colored pills. She told me how she had taken a bus from North Carolina to Washington state to visit her mother for Christmas and just out of Denver the bus got into an accident. She was midling injured and had a concussion. I wondered if this had anything to do with the pills she was eating, but didn't ask. Wishing to avoid another four day bus trip across the United States she decided to fly, and I guess she decided this last minute because in order for her to get to North Caroline she went from Washington to Salt Lake, Salt Lake to Denver, Denver to Atlanta and Atlanta to North Carolina. Not a fun trip for anyone. By the time we landed in Denver this poor woman was wasted. Every movement she made was extremely slow, and she pulled out her plane ticket and asked me if the flight number was where she was supposed to go. I told her no, and pointed to the gate number. Fortunately it was the gate right next to the one we landed at. When we got off the plane she was having a hard time standing up. She almost lost her balance a few times and I helped her get to her gate. I hope she made it back to North Carolina ok. She's really lucky her next gate was right there because I don't know if she would have made it across the Denver airport. I even had a hard time getting out. Fortunately I did and my friend was there to pick me up.
Brittany, bless her heart, had a sandwhich bag full of ham waiting for me. This is how I know she loves me. I hadn't eaten at all that day, hadn't showered, was wearing the same clothes I wore the day before and felt like crap. But the ham and the little clementines she gave me made me feel so much better. We went back to her house, cleaned up and then went to the Celestial Seasonings factory in Boulder to go on their factory tour. I got to sample all kinds of delicious tea, the tour was fun and I bought some tea to bring back with me. Afterwards we came back, chilled out and watched some movies.
On Wednesday we went to the Denver Art Museum which I absolutely loved. Their current contemporary art exhibit is a collection of installations on three floors of the museum. After teaching Humanities 101 twice and doing my best to stay up to date with contemporary art, I found myself enjoying the museum far more than I did the last time I went a few years ago. After the museum we came back to the house and watched six episodes of Bones all snuggled up on the couch.
Thursday was New Year's Eve and so we decided to stay out of the city and drive up into the mountains to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. This is the hotel that inspired Stephen King to write The Shining, and it is supposed to be haunted. After tagging along a tour group at the hotel for a few minutes we decided it would be worth it to actually pay and go on the hotel tour.
Now, I just have to say that one of my favorite things to do when I travel anywhere is to take some kind of tour of a local historical landmark. I'm nerdy that way, and I think that it makes the experience there far more meaningful than to just look and imagine what the history could be. In the last year or so I took a tour of the underground city in Seattle, a tenement in New York City, a villa in Florence and the French Quarter in New Orleans, and now I can add to my list the Stanley Hotel. This tour was especially fun because she talked about the history of the hotel as well as Stephen King's experience with it and the apparent hauntings that exist there. I don't think I'd ever be one to see an actual ghost, but I like the thought of little children ghosts playing in the halls of the hotel, and I liked the story of Stephen King hearing music playing in the dining hall and having nightmares of the fire hoses killing people. There is supposed to be a "vortex" on the west staircase, and I'd like to say that yes it was a little difficult to breathe when we stepped into it, and there was an eery energy on the top floor where the children of guests played with their nannies. At any rate, I loved to hear the stories and this history of the place, which was more of a pleasure palace than a hotel in its heyday.
We ate at a local diner and had a delicious meal before heading back to Brit's house to get ready for the big New Year's Eve party. The family invited about 35 people to participate in a competition of various games, eat lots of yummy food and count down to the new year. I was surprised at how well I did, but most of the games I won were against little kids or old men. I didn't win any prizes, but it was still a fun night. The next day we just relaxed. I knitted and watched the Twilight Zone marathon which was rather entertaining, and we played Beatles Trivial Pursuit. Today we got up early, headed out and got back into Provo by four.
And thus concludes my boring account of my holiday break. I'm happy for it, as boring as it may sound. It was a good way to start a new year: I got in some flying, some sight seeing and some road tripping. I got out of Provo and I got to see some new things and interact with some new people. I feel better. I feel better about myself and my life and this next year. A lot should happen in 2010, and I'm unsure about where I'll be at the end of it. I'm defending my thesis, graduating and hopefully will be starting a new graduate program in a different state. I have some goals and resolutions, mostly really basic things. I'd like to start going to bed at a reasonable hour, I don't want to drink caffeine anymore, and I intend to got to all three hours of church instead of skipping out after first like I have been doing. I basically just want my life to be in a little more order and to do things that make me feel good.