Holidays Upon Us
Happy Holidays, folks! After two years spent out of the country and away from family, it's fun to be back stateside to experience the all-encompassing blanket of holiday decorations and Christmas music that jams the airwaves through December. I'm a bit out of practice regarding the consumer frenzy and angry traffic jams that seem to grow exponentially in the days leading up to Christmas, but I've been greatly enjoying myself nonetheless. We've kept our shopping to a minimum - in fact, last week we ventured into the Providence Place Mall, which is, I suppose, a fairly impressive mall as malls go, and after wandering about for an hour or so, left empty-handed. I simply couldn't think of anything I wanted. Maybe it's because I'm just getting older and gifts are no longer the thrill that they used to be, but more likely it's due to the fact that, for a while now, we've gone out of our way not to acquire anything that couldn't easily fit into suitcases. Whatever the reason, it's difficult to think of anything to buy that isn't for the continuous furnishing of the house. Am I crazy, or are housewares unduly expensive? I think my concept of how much things are supposed to cost dates back to 1999 or something.
So, in lieu of buying things, I've just been cleaning and eating and basking in the rosy glow of being (mostly) done with my schoolwork for this semester. I've only got about one and a half projects to complete, both of them highly enjoyable, so I can finally breathe again after the intensive first term. (On a sidenote, at long last I found out the results of my MA program - graduation with distinction! Success!). I can finally enjoy relaxing without the nagging feeling of More To Do, just in time for the holidays.
Despite the fact that we don't know too many people in the area yet, we were able to go to a couple gatherings in the last few days, and the eating - oy, the eating. There were some intense spreads at both of the small parties that we attended. I've eaten, in no particular order, beef wellington, deep fried octopus, clams, oysters, brie baked in puff pastry, catfish dumplings, shrimp empanadas, crepes full of porcini mushrooms and pancetta and cream, and a whole array of debilitating desserts - chocolate ganache, pumpkin cheese cake, and rice pudding, to name just a few. Though I'll be making a resolution to myself at the beginning of the year to seriously minimize my meat and dairy consumption (no easy task, residing with a chef and all that), I figured I would allow myself this final week of gluttony. It's been delicious; it'll be difficult to part ways.
Also eventful - our first New England snow storm. It was, as they say, a real doozy.
I've never had to shovel my own driveway or front walk, but 18 inches of snow in a 24-hour period is a good time to start. Locals assure us that it isn't usually this extreme, which is good - though I like the look of the snow and I'm not particularly bothered by the cold, road conditions get pretty treacherous, even with the city doing their best to plow and salt the main thoroughfares. This is the sort of thing that I never gave much thought to in Oakland, or even in Berlin or Norwich, where we relied on public transportation to get around - backing out of a driveway on an inch-thick patch of ice is less than ideal. I basically beat the same path from my door to the campus every day; nevertheless, clear roads are fairly important.
That's all I have to report, for now. I'll be heading down to DC for New Year's, a city that I have incredibly never seen. I'm very excited, and I'm sure I'll return with a bunch of generic pictures of Washington landmarks, but I'll try to weed out the most interesting ones to share with you here. In the meantime, stay warm and well, and enjoy all the leftovers of any holiday feasts.