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Some Much-Needed Stress Relief

After a stressful week, during which I was constantly facing the prospect of possibly having to fly to Panamá to say goodbye to my grandmother forever, I desperately needed to relax and unwind.  I have several people to thank who made that possible.

People kept asking me what my July 4th plans were.  My standard answer was, "To sleep in."  I said this partly because it was true and partly because I had no real plans.

I did sleep in.  My body needed it.  And when I finally woke up, I did some much needed work.  Of the work, perhaps most important was translating, interpreting, and beginning the memorization process for Schumann's Liederkreis, twelve beautiful but difficult songs I've been working on.

Oh, and I did post a locals-only query on LJ to see if anyone wanted do something with me for the 4th of July festivities.  bitty and bubblebabble came to the rescue, inviting me to tag along to a couple of parties.  I accepted.  JC also called to invite me to hang out with him and our original Boston realtor, Shari.  (Yes, that is us in the testimonials section.)

I translated one more song, then left to hang out with JC and Shari.  After hanging with them for a bit poolside, I left to join bitty and bubblebabble at DS's place in Charlestown.  I managed to stay dry by the pool, but I walked into DS's party just as they were beginning a water gun fight.  My desire to stay dry was no match for adults with Super Soakers!

bitty and bubblebabble had been invited to another party, located in Central Square.  I didn't particularly want to go to that one, though.  I was having a relaxing time at DS's party, and it was located on a rooftop in Charlestown.  The idea of giving up a perfect view of the fireworks along the river in order to try to cross to the other side, deal with hordes of spectators and Memorial Drive traffic, and settle for a less than ideal view of the pyrotechnics -- that just didn't appeal to me so much.  Fortunately for me, bitty felt the same way, so we stayed at DS's while bubblebabble went to the other party and returned after the fireworks.

Several months I "lent" my TotalGym to bitty and bubblebabble.  (I say "lent" because I don't expect, or necessarily want, to get it back.)  I had neglected to give them the user's manual and some accessories, though.  I finally remembered to bring these along to give to them at the party.  The items are still sitting in my truck, undelivered!

I had an appointment on Saturday at 2 p.m.  I'm trying to make a big push right now towards grad school so I can get my career going.  As part of the push, I want to start doing some regular coaching to help me get my repertoire polished for auditions this winter.  Tom is a wonderful voice coach.  He helped me prepare a successful Van Dam audition, and he gave me high marks when he judged me in a recent competition.  Plus, he and my voice teacher, Ellie, have a great working relationship.

Ellie wanted me to tape my session with Tom.  She wanted to hear what Tom would say to me, but in general I should be taping all lessons anyway.  Singers should have their own tape recorders.  I never got into this, though, because I don't enjoy buying blank tapes and dealing with a collection of tape recorded lessons.

I left the house an hour early to allow me to swing by Circuit City to see if there were any alternatives to tape recorders and, if not, buy a handheld recorder and some tapes.  I lucked out.  I bought a new toy, a Sony ICD-S10 digital recorder.

This reasonably-priced neat little toy offers various features, including:  the ability to toggle between stereo, monaural, or extended play modes and high, medium, or low recording sensitivity; voice-activation; 35 hours of recording time; folders and bookmarking for easy navigation between sound files; an USB cable and software for interfacing with your PC and editing voice files; clock and alarm.  I'm having a lot of fun learning how to use it.

My coaching session went very well.  Afterwards I called JC to see if he wanted to hang out.  "Didn't you tell me you had some gathering to go to?"  I can be so scatterbrained at times!

I was pretty sure my previous engagement was late afternoon and evening, so I agreed to play a little tennis with JC.  There was some sort of hip-hop festival going on by the tennis courts, and the heat was oppressive.  The pulsating rhythms helped me be consistent and methodical with my game, but the heat eventually wore me down.  The first six games were very competitive, but soon I was dragging and making bad mistakes.  I eventually conceded the match at 3-6, 1-3.

I went home, showered, and headed to surrealestate's house to celebrate treacle_well's birthday by playing games and hanging out with the usual suspects.  (I'm a little embarrassed, because the festivities started a few hours earlier than I had remembered!)  Amongst those in attendance were the host and the birthday girl, pinkfish, zzbottom, queue, and beowabbit.  I gave treacle_well a birthday hug and (as requested) sang her a non-"Happy Birthday" song.  Then I spent the next few hours playing an especially long game of Cities and Knights of Catan, in which I could have won had I been paying close enough attention and instead finished in the all-too-familiar-position of second-ish place.  Then I had the unusual experience of having my butt totally kicked at Trivial Pursuit.  JC is the only person who beats me at JC with any regularity, so for someone to dominate me so totally at TP -- that person earns my instant respect and admiration.

Finally, Sunday was a North Shore day for me.  Keya, Dan, JC, and I decided to go to the beach.  Keya wanted to meet at her place at 10 a.m.  I don't even get to work by 10 a.m.!  I agreed to leave my place by 10 and meet them at the beach.  We decided to go to Lynn Beach, since it would be nicer looking and less crowded.  The drawback with Lynn Beach, though, is that the water is too cold even for most of the locals to swim in.  (That, of course, doesn't bother me...I thought the water at Waikiki Beach was chilly!)

We spent several hours lying on the beach, talking, playing Fluxx and Uno, reading, doing crosswords, people-watching, snacking, etc.  When the encroaching high tide finally kicked us off the beach around 4, we went back to Keya's place, where we played more Uno and ate dinner.  I left around 6:30 so I could go home, shower, change, and go to the 8 p.m. Mass downtown.  After mass, though, I went back to Keya's.  Keya and JC were finishing up a game of Songburst.  Then the four of us played a game of Settlers of Catan.

The few of you who are unfamiliar with Catan in its various incarnations will find that it can lead to a lot of discussion.

Our board configuration this time around was very unusual, as all the resources were clumped together:  a block of wheat, a block of ore, a couple of blocks of wood, a block of brick, and a block of sheep.  This led to some interesting monopolies.  I placed my first settlement on a Wood(5), Wood(9), Brick(10) vertex, then when it was my turn again placed my second settlement on another vertex of the same Brick(10) with a 2:1 brick port.  This paid immediate dividends, as 5, 9, and 10 were rolled early.  I was able to build a few roads immediately and, because I was the only one with brick, was able to trade for the wheat and sheep necessary to build on the adjacent Brick(8) hex that shared a vertex with a Sheep(3) and Sheep(4).  Later I was able to build another settlement on the Brick(8).  Despite the fact that the robber was on either the Brick(8) or Brick(10) half the game, I was getting 4 brick resources (after city building) every time the unrobbed hex was being rolled and thus getting all the resources I needed.  The others had assumed, after getting so much wood and brick early, that I was going to try for longest road, but I had no interest in it and was amused watching them build long roads so intently while I did my thing.  Even with the robber, I was getting a lot of production from my bricks and, unexpectedly, from my sheep.  Since I was the only player getting brick and there was an overabundance of ore, I was able to pull off several very favorable trades and use my port to beat Dan's wheat monopoly. Once I had my 4 cities, I was able to start buying development cards, several per turn, until I uncovered the necessary victory points.  My settlements never spread out beyond the two main brick hexes, but they produced so well that I was able to break my string of finishing in second!

I finally headed home around 1 a.m.  I put the trash and recycling out, wrote this post, and now I am going to bed, satisfied that I have spent a relaxing, stress-free, and enjoyable Fourth of July weekend.  A special thank you to everyone I've mentioned above for helping to make this so.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jul. 9th, 2003 07:18 pm (UTC)
The fact that your grandmother came back to the real world shows how good her recuperative powers are...so you have probably got very good genetics within your family tree.

Glad to hear that you have been taking time out to relax and enjoy yourself - that, too, is important.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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