30 December 2009

Stuck in London

So since today is another day I guess I will talk about my exciting trip home from Scotland. As I mentioned earlier I was slightly homesick over Christmas and I was excited to go home. Part of my problem was that when I initially bought my tickets I was going to take the train from London to Glasgow. The people I was staying with told me that I didn’t want to take the train since it would take hours and would be expensive. So I then bought a ticket from the Gatwick airport to Glasgow.

Coming home I made it to the airport in plenty of time. The problem came when the plane landed in the wrong terminal at Gatwick. We then had to wait while the plane taxied forever, and then we were bussed to a different terminal and had to wait for our luggage. I then had to check my bags and get through security. When I was standing in the long line to check my bags a guard came around and had people shift so that those with earlier flights would be helped sooner. When I told the guard which flight I had she laughed. I had an hour and she took me out of line and told me that I needed to get my ticket changed because there was no way that I could make my original flight.

I panicked. I went to a help desk and panicked even more when I heard the customer service guy tell the lady in front of me that her tickets were non-transferable and that she would have to pay for a whole new ticket. By the time it was my turn I was so worried that I couldn’t understand what the guy was telling me. He had to repeat himself several times before I heard that there was another plane I could catch that would get me home. He made me wait for a while to see if there were any openings and by the time I learned I had to run through security and was one of the last people on the plane. I relaxed a little for the transatlantic flight and when I went through customs I was feeling a little better because at least I was on the same continent as the rest of my family.

Originally I had a transfer in Chicago and then Denver, since my tickets were changed I had a transfer in Ohio, then Chicago, and then I would be on my original flight at Denver. When I was trying to get to Denver I was given a ticket but the problem was apparently the flight was overbooked. Someone was already in the seat and there wasn’t another one open. A flight attendant was called over and the person who had the original ticket was moved up to first class and I was going to take the other seat. The lady let me have the first class seat because she wanted to stay with her friend. What nice seats. *sigh*

I was so glad when I made it home. I had been traveling for twenty hours at that point and when I saw my parents waiting for me I felt a wave of relief. As Douglas Adams wrote: “It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression ‘As pretty as an airport.’” How true how true.

23 December 2009

Scotland at Christmas

I made it to the end of my solo on Sunday. My hands were okay until about halfway through the song. I am so glad it is over.

Several years ago I sent myself to Scotland for Christmas. I was struggling with several difficult situations so I figured my first overseas trip would cheer me up. One of the reasons I chose Scotland was the fact that we have family friends who live there and I knew everyone, including myself, would feel more comfortable if I wasn’t by myself.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend traveling to a country so far north in the winter but it was a lot of fun. The sun rose at ten and set at three. I supposedly saw Stirling castle but it looked like a black shadow as we drove by on our way to the Loch Ness. Another day I was walking down the streets of Glasgow and hearing a street performer play the bagpipes. I had to stop and listen to him for a while and the people I was with laughed and talked amongst themselves about how I really was an American. Later I chuckled to myself when they pronounced “quesadilla” with the double “l” sound and not a “ya” sound. It was marvelous experience. (Although a nightmare getting home but that is a story for another day.)

I was surprised when I became homesick Christmas morning. I thought that I would be so excited to be there that being gone over Christmas wouldn’t bother me.

At this time of year I am extremely grateful for my family. With the Holidays upon us I am glad that I am close to home and have the modern conveniences to talk to those who have their home elsewhere. What a wonderful time of year. Merry Christmas.

16 December 2009

Piano Solos

I play the piano. I really enjoy playing the piano. In fact, I am currently the pianist for the children in my church on Sunday. I love playing for the kids. They don’t care if I make a mistake.

Several years ago I was asked to perform a piano solo in a church Christmas program. I have preformed solos before but they were for recitals when I was twelve(ish) and are not the same. When I was taking piano lessons there was always a yearly recital and the people that go to the recitals are: 1) There to see their own children and don’t care about the other children. 2) Have already heard the song over and over because they were around when it was being practiced. 3) Were dragged there and just want it to end quickly. At a Christmas program there is an entirely new level of expectation from the audience.

I enjoy playing the piano and while I am not perfect, I am enthusiastic. Enthusiasm doesn’t always cut it, especially when there are other performers who are both perfect and enthusiastic. When I perform in front of large groups I get really nervous. My hands start to shake and it is rather difficult to try and play the right notes since my hands are moving on their own. Before I play there are always people telling me that it will be okay. Normally those people are the ones who are sitting in the audience, not performing, clapping for me afterwards and their words of encouragement aren’t very helpful.

I practiced the solo for the Christmas program a lot. I had a really neat version of “Oh Come all ye Faithful” and I could play it nearly perfectly when I was at my grandparent’s. The day of the solo arrived and I was glad a lot of people were gone since it was the Christmas holiday. I was feeling pretty good until the other pianist did her solo of “O Holy Night.” I lost my calm at that point and my hands started to shake. I kept repeating a prayer over and over that my hands wouldn’t shake while I was playing.

When it was my turn I dragged myself up to the front and sat down at the piano. I organized my music and was amazed that my hands were actually steady. I have never played for any kind of audience with such steady hands. That was when my right leg started to bounce and shake. For the life of me, I could not get my leg to stop shaking. I am pretty sure I made it through the whole song but to be honest I have no memory of actually playing anything other than the first cord. After the services were over I had a lot of compliments on my solo so apparently I did okay.

You think I would have learned my lesson. Oh no. Two weeks ago I was asked to perform a piano solo for the Christmas program this Sunday. I really hope that both my hands and my leg are steady this time around.

09 December 2009


It snowed this weekend which was nice. (If it is going to be cold I might as well have snow which looks pretty.) I have always preferred being cold rather than hot. It is much easier to just pile on another blanket or have a cup of hot chocolate. When it is too hot there are only so many articles of clothing I can remove. I also don’t do very well in the sun. I am rather fair skinned so going swimming to stay cool is just inviting pain from sunburns later on.

I get sunburned a lot. I was helping one of my friends move and wasn’t thinking about the weather. The sky was overcast and it drizzled on and off the whole time. The problem was the next day my face hurt because there was just enough sun to give me a sunburn. During the summer I normally put on sunscreen since I walk part of the way to work. I have a more difficult time remembering to put it on during the other seasons because I normally associate sunburns with warmth.

I wasn’t a very smart child. I knew I got sunburned and I would have to apply the sunscreen quite often if I wanted to even stand a chance of surviving. I finally gave up and told my mother that since sunscreen didn’t work I might as well not wear it. I remember quite a few summers of having my back burned so bad it would blister and peel. I am glad to say I have a lot more intelligence now.

Back towards the original topic of this week’s entry, I love the cold. It gives me an excuse to bundle up in long sleeves and trousers and since the sun sets so early in the winter I am basically sunburn free. Bring on the snow. (Just wait, in March I will retract that statement.)

02 December 2009

Mutilated Christmas Trees

I asked my husband what I should write about today. He suggested writing about mutilated Christmas trees. I wasn’t sure how to take that remark. I will admit that my family’s Christmas tree is not as full as other trees but it isn’t a Charlie Brown tree. The branches may be sparse but it isn’t mutilated. As kids we thought the sparse branches were cool because we could hang more than one ornament on a branch. The ornaments would also hang free and not just rest on the branches below.

I worry about getting Christmas tree this year because we have a cat. I guess last year we had her as well but she was smaller and she was still pretty timid. I can imagine coming home from work to find the tree on its side or her perched in the branches playing with the ornaments.

I look forward to Christmas trees. I love the way they smell, candles just aren’t the same. I don’t mind spending the money every year to buy a live tree. There may be a time in the way distant future when I get an artificial tree but since they don’t come mutilated I am holding off.