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Holidays on Ice and Snow and Gaga

Between work and the holidays, B and I weren’t going to see a lot of each other in December and January. As an organist Christmas has a lot of extra responsibilities, and he added some more by organizing a Christmas concert at a church he used to play at. On top of that both of us spend the Christmas week with our parents – me in Minnesota, him in Missouri – so there’s a good week where we don’t have much contact. Knowing this, we had planned in advance to spend New Years together in Dallas. We bought tickets a month in advance with the thought to spend our new years doing the only things you can do in Dallas: eating, shopping, and partying.

I tend to dread going up to Minnesota for the Holidays. I could say that it’s because every year my sister transforms into a Christmas Godzilla, an insane beast hell bent on expressing holiday cheer and enforcing that all Christmas traditions are executed as they always have without waiver. She sings Christmas carols at random, she plays the same holiday tape we’ve had for 20 years on repeat (flipping when necessary), and she gets pissed if we don’t go downtown to see the Macy’s 8th floor display, requiring 3 hours of standing in line with a bunch of 5 year olds to see a bunch of animatronic dolls play out “The Nutcracker”. No, that’s more of a minor annoyance compared to not being out to my family. Between my mom probing into why I haven’t knocked up a girl and constant guilt on how my sister is the only one whose given her a grandchild, I am pretty worn out by the end. I sometimes imagine myself outing myself to my parents with the hopes my parents throwing me out of the house; they’ll forgive me eventually, I’ll be free of the heavy servings of guilt, and it’s not like I don’t have a car. As always, it wasn’t as bad as I was imagining. My parents had spent the month of December working with contractors to put a new kitchen, and the week up to Christmas was a mad dash to put the finishing touches in before Christmas morning. This year my sister couldn’t make it for Christmas week because she had to work, so she was coming up the week of new years. This meant there was plenty for me to help with and no Egg nog Godzilla to contend with. There was a whole mess of snow, however. I think we shoveled the driveway five or six times over a three day period.

I always think it would be exciting to take a trip over New Years, and then realize I’m far too exhausted to move by the time New Years comes, and you’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now. I returned from Minnesota to find out my entire team had taken Christmas to New Years off, meaning I had to take on all issues for the entire team. By the time I made it to Dallas, I was cranky and not good company. B in the meantime had flown down Dallas before me and had spent the past two days visiting a friend who has been making a miraculous recovery from pneumonia. When he came to pick me up from the airport, it went something like this.

B: OMG, this has been the best trip ever!
Me: I HATE LIFE!!!

I would like to think this played into what transpired. The fact of the matter was that while we’d been looking forward to this trip for a month, we hadn’t actually made very concrete plans. Before I had flown down I had tried to get hold of some friends of mine from Dallas to see if we could catch up while I was in town. Dallas was not immune to the cold spell that was affecting the entire country, with highs in the low 50’s and lots of mist and rain. So things got off to a bad start. When we had some troubles deciding where to go, we ended up going to the Galleria (a giant mall in Addison), but B didn’t seem to be having a good time. When I asked him what he wanted to do, he suggested we go see Avatar in 3-D. Now, I think James Cameron gets a lifetime pass for Aliens and Terminator 2, but B has very little patience for science fiction, so I wasn’t sure how well it would go. Right as the movie was about to start, a good friend from Dallas returned my call, so I texted him that I’d call him after the film. After experiencing 3 hours of 3-D Pocahontas with missiles, we were tired and not having a good time. I called my friend back, and while talking to him I could tell B was not going to be up for clubbing all night (which I was really looking forward to), so we spent New Years with my friends.

After B and I returned from Texas we discussed what had transpired. When we were at the Galleria, B thought I was frustrated because he is such a picky shopper (which wasn’t true; I’ve long gotten used to the fact that B is incredibly particular about what he wears) so he postulated that because I like movies, he’d try to make me happy by suggesting Avatar. He didn’t realize I had been looking forward to going clubbing, so he had no idea I’d given up the thing I’d traveled down for. Basically, we both ruined our own vacation trying to make the other happy. This is how I know B is special: no one else I know would have done that for me.

In the words of Steve Jobs, “there’s just one more thing.”

Lady Gaga

Around Thanksgiving I’d been working a lot of hours, and I didn’t think I had the energy to make the 8 hour trip home for Thanksgiving. I can’t recall not traveling over Thanksgiving, including one year where I left at 4 AM from KS to make it home before the turkey was served. This may sound ungrateful and selfish, but not traveling over Thanksgiving is awesome. You get vacation without the stress of travel! You get to spend the weekend doing things you want to do!

I went to see my friend Bert on Thanksgiving afternoon because it’d been a while since we’d hung out. It’s very difficult to pigeonhole Bert in one or two sentences because Bert defies stereotype, but I’d say he’s one of the most fascinating people I know, as well as one of the smartest and funniest. A pragmatic genius whose still a kid at heart. So I’m hanging out with Bert, flying micro RC helicopters around his house (yeah, he’s cool like that), and he runs to his computer to restart his Lady Gaga mix. He started telling me how much he loved dance music, especially Lady Gaga. At this point I had heard of Lady Gaga, but only in a “well I heard that she was popular because NPR said so” way. Bert, who I think I can safely say is a mega-fan, began to explain why she is not like other pop stars:

  1. She has actual talent.
  2. She writes her own music.
  3. She actually sings while dancing (take that Britney Spears!)

Then he tells me that he’s going to the January 9th show in Chicago, and he has two tickets, so would I like to go? How could I say no?

I flew into Chicago Friday morning, and spent the afternoon shopping on Michigan avenue and generally bumming around a city I really enjoy. When I finally got to the show, it was like I had arrived at the gayest science fiction convention ever: there were costumes, there was alcohol, and it was raining men. And the show – oh my god the show. It was less concert as it was Broadway show, with all the costume changes, video projection, dancing, and music.

It was pretty awesome.

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