Monster Update and a New Year

Happy New Year! 2010 is treating me well so far! My days during November and December were quite eventful…so much so that I didn’t get a chance to write about any of it! So here goes–a giant updation.

November actually kicked off with Halloween. Oren and I went into New York City to meet Emily for a coffee/tea in Greenwich Village. When we stepped out of the subway in the late afternoon, the first thing we saw was a whole bunch of NY cops standing on the corner of 3rd and 6th Avenue. Oren said, “So are they real cops or people dressed as cops?” There were hoardsof people dressed up (or, to put it more accurately, NOT dressed) everywhere! It was around that time that I began to realize what a crazy adventure this would turn out to be. I knew it was Halloween. I knew I was going into New York City. I knew that Halloween is generally a crazy ordeal in New York, but I just didn’t put everything together.

We ended up staying to watch the 6th Avenue Parade, which was really cool in spite of the little drizzle. There was one section of the parade that was particularly cool. It was an ocean where there were people carrying strips of blue cloth that rose and fell as people walked. Then there were others among the blue strips that were wearing ship hats and fish hats to look like things swimming in the ocean. In another section there were HUGE skeleton puppets that swooped low over the crowd. There was also a whole section of the parade dressed as zombies doing the dance from Thriller. It seemed like many of them had practiced before the parade, but it was also obvious that a few of them had just dressed as a zombie anyway and realized that they could join the crowd dancing to “Thriller.” It was fun anyway.

When it started getting late we decided to head back uptown to drive home. We stopped off at a friend’s apartment to make an appearance at his Halloween party…but mostly to use his bathroom. I got home around midnight and had to to straight to be because I was heading back into New York the next day to watch Uncle Alan run the New York City Marathon.

Getting up early the next morning to get on the train wasn’t all that fun…but the New York Marathon was pretty inspiring. I got some great pictures of the cups littering the ground as people from all over the world fulfilling their ambitions of running the marathon. My uncle ran for charity. I wasn’t able to stay the whole time because I had to do something before the Monday that I can no longer remember. It’s weird because this is always the case: I never remember the thing that I was obligated to do instead of the thing I had to leave in order to do it.

November was a busy month with work. We finished out our events with the International Student Tea (organized by me) which was a great success. The International students were happy to have the chance to get to know each other and give us ideas of how we can help them a little more while they are here.

Thanksgiving, which was casual and at our house this year. Mom put together an all-day feast so that people could just come when they wanted, eat through lunch and dinner and leave when they wanted. Uncle Steve and Aunt Denise came from New Orleans and brought their little dachshund, Guy, with them. He was adorable and a big hit with the family. I didn’t spend too much time with my family after Thanksgiving itself. In the days following I spent some time with Oren’s family and with Oren himself, but the four-day weekend was over too soon.

Back at work, it wasn’t too long until my birthday, and I really started feeling the pressure of having to complete my work before I went on vacation, taking all of my comp time before the University closed for Christmas. My birthday weekend was okay. On Friday, December 4, which was actually my birthday,  Oren made me a fantastic dinner and Andrés came around to Oren’s house to hang out. That was really fun, although the wine that I bought was really nasty. I had had luck with that kind of wine before, but the year must have been rotten. Oren kept it for cooking. I didn’t get too many actual presents for my birthday, but the ones that I got were very thoughtful. I feel like I’m getting a little old for presents. I’d rather not get silly presents and wait until I actually need something specific, then ask if it can be a bunch of presents put together. On the Saturday, Mom and Dad took me and Oren out to Rats at the Grounds for Sculpture. The idea was that we were going to walk around the grounds afterward, but it was a really rainy day. The food was fantastic though and even Oren’s discerning palette was impressed.

We skipped the grounds and went home after that, then Oren and I turned around and went into New York to see Adam in Sentient Machine somewhere in Tribeca. That was a good venue and a good show. We planned on staying with Ilana, but after some misunderstanding we ended up going to Brooklyn to stay with Emily instead. This was pretty stressful while we were sitting at an all-night café until 3:00 in the morning not knowing how, when or where we were going to get to sleep, but it ended up being really fun because we were able to spend time with Emily AND with Ilana. Oren had never really gotten to know Emily before, but after that night he thinks she’s the best friend ever….which she is. 🙂 The other upside was that we found this really nice Israeli restaurant in Brooklyn–another by which Oren was very impressed. We then went to get our stuff from Ilana’s apartment and then headed downtown to meet the rest of Oren’s family at Virgil’s in Times Square for a very decadent dinner. All-in-all, apart from the very late Saturday night, my birthday weekend was filled with delicious food and great company. It was pretty much worth being completely exhausted afterward.

The next weekend was Oren’s birthday (we are eight days apart) and we spent the majority of the time at Oren’s family’s house. We lounged, ran errands and generally enjoyed the day, finally ending up at Oren’s favorite Vietnamese restaurant. The next day after the traditional weekend breakfast feast at Oren’s we headed back to New Brunswick for our choir concert in very dangerous driving conditions. I didn’t think we would make, but we did and the concert went really well.

Although we wanted to make it back up to Bergen County for Oren’s grandma’s Chanukah party, the weather up there was such that it would have been suicidal to drive it. So we made a Chanukah feast at my house for my parents. We made latkes and sufganiyot, which are Israeli doughnuts. They were pretty fantastic.

December 14th was my last day of work and I really only went in to do a photo shoot for the new website and print materials. Then there was a Red Pine Ambassador dinner to end a successful semester, after which I went caroling with Choir. That was our last activity for the year and it was fun! I went to a study abroad function on Tuesday before Dad and I took a trip up to SIT to meet some people from the graduate program I want to enter in June. I absolutely LOVED the people from the program and I finished applying on New Year’s Eve. Hopefully I’ll have a Master’s Degree in a few years and enough saved up to see a bit more of the world.

I spent Christmas Even in Tarrytown, NY with Sam. It is a cute little town and Sam and I had a good catch-up after a while not seeing each other. We watched P.S. I Love You and cried. It made me miss Oren who had been gone for almost a week at that point. He went on a family vacation to Mexico from December 19 – 26th. He missed our big snow and everything. It’s been flurrying a bit since then, but nothing nearly as fantastic as the first snow that hit us. We got a whole foot!…and I had to shovel a lot of it off of the driveway. Anyway, Christmas Day I left Sam to go to her relative’s house and I headed over to Namita’s for some more catch-up. I stayed the night there and was up until 3:30am chatting! I hadn’t been to her house in three years! Time goes quickly.

On the way home from Namita’s on Boxing Day I saw Amytza who was home from California for the holidays. It was good to catch up with her too. Oren came in that night but his flight was delayed because of the rain that night and I didn’t see him until the next day. We spent the rest of vacation together including New Year’s Eve which we spent at Kelly’s house with her family, Andrés’s family, John,Meaghan and Molly. It was great! Andrés, Diego and Kelly had prepared a rock concert for everyone and we ate great food, played charades and went in Kelly’s parents’ hot tub. It was one of the best New Year’s Eves I have ever had! New Year’s Day we went to three different parties: one at Dan’s, one at Robin’s and one at Nick’s. Nicks was the liveliest. It was pot luck so there was fantastic food and, of course, a giant game of Apples to Apples. It was great!

Yesterday we went to Oren’s family’s house. I gave Aya her socks and she loved them. Then we were going to see Avatar, but there was too much traffic, so we came back home from hanging with a friend of Oren’s and played Charades, ate finger foods and watched The Vicar of Dibley, which is a truly amazing show. Hilarious.

I got a lot done over vacation including some projects that I’ve been meaning to finish. For example, I organized my knitting supplies and updated my blog (this entry was NOT completed in one sitting). I did some Rosetta Stone practice and took out as many Harry Potter recordings as I could out of the local library. Oren and I are working our way through them on our drives together…one of which was a return trip to Lancaster to get more jams, pickles and fudge. Yum! It was a good day trip and we didn’t get lost this time!

Today was Mom’s birthday and it was a calm day, full of quiet busyness. Oren and I saw Avatar today instead after going out to dinner at the diner for Mom’s celebration. It was a great movie and a nice end to the vacation. Back to work tomorrow! I’m not ready to stop doing my own thing, but I do feel refreshed, so bring it on!

It’s weird to think that it’s a new year, AND a new decade…and I still haven’t been back for a whole year yet! There are still nine days to go until I’ll have been a year back in the United States. Hopefully I’ll be able to update a little more frequently so these entries won’t have to be so monster in the future.

As always, thanks for reading.

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