It is a fact that college students’ apartments are never cleaner than they are the night before a big exam. It’s pretty sad when scrubbing the toilet sounds like more fun than cracking a book, but it’s so true, and so not exclusive to college students. I shouldn’t even be here writing this right now, but I’ve got a nearly 1,000 page software manual sitting next to me that I’m meant to be studying for a certification I have to do for work that I can’t even bear to look at. My apartment actually could’ve used a good scrub, but instead of vacuuming and mopping I opted for more fun procrastination activities and did a bit of shopping, made a huge batch of sweet potato soup and topped up my tan at the beach this afternoon. As I wrote that last sentence I actually started feeling a bit guilty. Should I study? Nah, I’ll just put a pillow over the book so I can’t see it. Problem solved.
As I thought, the holiday season is as fun as ever and ramping up to what is going to be the most highly anticipated Christmas break of my life. Every other year it’s been just a break between classes or whatever else I’ve had going on, but now that I’m actually having to ration vacation days I feel like this break has got to work double duty or something. It has to be completely awesome, or else how much will it suck to spend my precious holiday days having only a mediocre amount of holiday cheer? I’m going to wring every bit of joy I can out of people in those three weeks, so be prepared for some serious, hardcore Fun Time with Alisha.
Surprisingly enough, part of what’s made the last couple of weeks pretty fun has come from work. The Friday after Halloween my department had an outing offsite to do some “team building.” It was all pretty top-secret what we would be doing, and a few of us were confused by an email we received saying to bring extra clothes because there was a possibility of getting soaked that read like a disclaimer for a log flume ride. When we got to the hotel where the event was we were told we’d be given supplies to make a boat to race across the hotel pool. I was imagining those little sailboats kids make and race by blowing their sails, but then we were told we’d have to have one member of the team as a captain…to get in the boat and race it across and back again. I did not want to do that. But when I located my team and saw two big guys, a large woman and a pregnant lady, I knew I’d automatically drawn the short straw. I was glad then that I’d worn waterproof mascara that day.
Building the boat was a lot of fun. More fun than work ever should be, which is why I love working with the people I work with. Thankfully for my team their captain was also a pirate with rowing experience, so we definitely had an advantage over the teams around us making all sorts of ill-conceived contraptions. We cut up our boxes and started shaping them into a kind of long, canoe-type thing before we wrapped it in plastic and duct-taped the heck out of it. Some of the other teams had a bunch of smaller boxes wrapped in plastic and I honestly thought one group was going to poke their captains’ legs through two such boxes and have her attempt to walk across the water.
When it came time for the race I felt sick with dread all of a sudden. The first heat went off and one team’s captain flipped straight out of their boat and head first into the pool. The other team made it nearly all the way before their vessel collapsed in a heap of saturated cardboard. It was the funniest thing I’d seen in a long time. I was hurting from laughing it was so hysterical. The next heat was the same, with both teams unable even to keep their boats upright. The problem, completely opposite to my suspicions, wasn’t that people were sinking, but that their boats were far too buoyant. They would try to get in them and they would flip right over and pitch them into the water! Person after person was going in and I felt sicker and sicker, both from laughing and nerves. One of the teams in the heat before mine actually made it across and back all in one piece, and then a competitive urge came out of nowhere and I knew I had to beat that team.
When the horn was blown two people on my team lowered the boat into the water and I had to brace my weight against one of the guys so I could get in on my stomach without destroying the boat. Once I was in I was shocked that I was still afloat, but then I started paddling as fast as I could, thinking about how fast I had to get across to beat the time of the person before me. I made it across, my team turned me, and I headed back. In no time at all I had made it back in record time! Hooray! And only minimally wet. I didn’t even need the waterproof mascara.
At the awards ceremony I really cleaned up. I got a $25 movie gift certificate for winning the pumpkin carving contest from Halloween, my team won the best boat design award, I got a $50 gift certificate for being a captain and our team each got a really cool gift for winning the “Sea-trix Regatta.” It was the best day of non-work work ever.
I was really disappointed when I moved down here and found out there used to be an MLS soccer team in Fort Lauderdale, but that it had folded a while back. I’m not really that into the MLS, but it would’ve been nice to see some games. So I was very excited when I found out the U.S. men’s under-20 national team would be playing a friendly against Guatemala last Wednesday. I don’t really care much about the under-20 team specifically, if at all, but Freddy Adu was going to be playing and I really couldn’t pass up the chance to see him. Like I said, I don’t make a point to watch any of his games with D.C. United, but I did tune in back in April of 2004 along with countless other curious onlookers to watch him make history as the youngest person to play in a U.S. professional sport at just 14 years old. He is a phenom.
Hilary went with me and we drove up to Boca Raton after work. There were a lot of people there, but not nearly as many as I thought might be there, and far more little kids than I would have thought, or hoped. The weather was gorgeous and cool, if a little windy, and it felt so nice to be outside. I’d read that most of the players on the U.S. side were already playing professionally, mostly in the MLS and a few in Europe, so I expected to see a pretty amazing game. When it got underway it was good, but I was a bit underwhelmed if I’m being completely honest. It was the Freddy Adu show from the beginning, but that was all anyone in the crowd was there for anyway. Every time he touched the ball kids would scream his name, and if anyone else had the ball they’d scream for him to give it to Freddy. It was cute at first, and then it just became horribly demoralizing for everyone on the pitch without the #11 jersey. Adu played well, but not well enough to give us the first point, which went to Guatemala. The second half felt slower, but Adu equalized and we got the extra goal we needed to win the game in the last five minutes by one of the few non-professionals on the team, an Anthony Wallace from USF in Tampa. Oh dear, I’ve turned this entry into a sportscast. Now back to the irrelevant and inconsequential.
During halftime I’d gone to a building near the field to find a bathroom that wasn’t a porta-potty. I was waiting behind some men for a unisex bathroom when one of them told me they thought there was a women’s room down the hall if I didn’t want to wait. It felt a bit sneaky to venture further into this building where I didn’t feel like I should be in the first place, but time was really of the essence so I thanked the guy for the tip and left. As I was walking down the hall I passed a few Guatemalan players who were heading for the locker room. I’m not sure what degree of VIP under-20 soccer players are, but I felt stupidly privileged, like I had accidentally walked backstage at a concert or something. When I was coming out of the bathroom I nearly whacked the U.S. keeper in the back with the door! I can’t imagine that kind of injury would go over well with his boss at NEC Nijmegen so I’m glad I managed to pull it back just in time. I then lamely told him he was doing great, despite the fact that at the moment we were losing because of a goal he’d let in. Smooth one, I know.
At work on Friday we had a nice big meal catered in advance of Thanksgiving this week. It was really delicious, which is good because if Turkey Day at my brother’s place turns out to be a flop, at least I will have had one good plate of food. I’m really excited about going to Philadelphia this Wednesday. It feels like I haven’t been anywhere in forever! And when I was thinking about it, I haven’t really. Besides the occasional weekend hanging out with Kelly in Orlando and my one sojourn to Wausau for Possum Day at the beginning of August (and my afternoon in the Bahamas, if you can count that), I haven’t had a vacation in ages! Not since April when Kevin and I traveled around Florida for a couple of weeks. I usually manage to fly somewhere every few months or so for something fun, but I haven’t in so long that I’m really counting the days ’til I leave. Even if it is just a quick trip up, I’m looking forward to the cooler weather, being able to wear boots and sweaters and taking advantage of the tax-free shopping on Walnut Street. Oh, and I am looking forward to seeing my family, too.
I read a book once called Notes from a Small Island in which Bill Bryson discusses the spatial relativism of Britons and Americans (sounds horribly dull, but it’s actually quite a funny book, I swear). The gist of his argument is that people develop their concepts of distance based on the size of their environment. According to him, because America is so much larger than Britain, Americans think nothing of a 6-hour road trip to visit friends or family for the weekend, whereas a British person would be scoping out B&Bs along the way to break up their “journey”–if they attempted it at all. (More likely, if someone were to move 6 hours away they would never be seen or heard from again.) I’ve discovered after living in South Florida for nearly six months that our conceptions of the manageability of distance have nothing at all to do with space, and everything to do with effort. Never in my life have I dreaded a two-mile drive so much as I do now. It really is unbelievable. If I was in Orlando or Gainesville, I’d think nothing if I had to drive 20 miles to pick up something I needed; that would be like, what? 15, 20 minutes. Now, fugedaboutit. Twenty miles might as well be 200. Not happening. And to think my mom thought she’d be seeing me more often now that I’m back in the States…ha! Do you realize how far it is to Gainesville? Way farther than 20 miles, let me tell you.
Shucks, look at the time….I better be getting to bed! Studying will have to wait…
Tags: beach, England, Florida, football, Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville, Halloween, holidays, Orlando, soccer, Travel