Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It Was a Road and Air Trip


Here I am, trying to be all reasonable and less wordy and yes....less wordy but I'm BURSTING with all this good stuff to write about.  I mean, really.  It is Just Too Much.  But how does a girl with so much going on...Pick Just One?

Maybe with some help???

So Who Wants To Hear About:

a).  My Trip to The Great White North With Ellie and How I Totally DID NOT GET FELT UP at the Airport but did get to have coffee with Pamela at The Dayton Time (which almost made up for the lack of airport sex but not quite...)?

b).  My Noteworthy Opinions of Sarah Palin's Alaska? *subtopic* my noteworthy opinions about Bristol's dancing included at no extra charge.

c).  Joel's Lame Geography Class and my Failure at Providing the Proper Parental Support in His Educational Endeavor Because the Geography Class Basically Sucks?

Oh no! You know what?  I basically can't do it.  I can't let you choose.  And I can't write about it all.  So I'm picking the trip with Ellie.  I'll try to get to the other 2 soon-ish.  Unless they get upstaged by Something Else!!! Which they totally could.

I just had the most wonderful vacation with Ellie.  We seriously had the best time in the entire history of best times.  And yesterday when we were flying home, I glanced over at the young woman sitting next to me...the one who I had laughed myself silly with over the past few days...and there she was...just sitting there reading and sipping on coffee...and it hit me.  The panic.  I had done really well with holding that off.  You know, the whole She's Leaving Me and Probably Going Really Far Away Panic Attack.  I had been holding that off totally like a big girl...keeping it in check with the whole This Is What I Had Her For In The First Place - To Grow Up And Isn't This Wonderful For Her Brave Face Business.  But it shattered in an instant.  I looked at this beautiful woman and realized that my baby was gone.  Gone!  As in disappeared off the face of the earth.  How did I let that happen?  I turned my back and lost her.  In an instant...she was there and gone.  I reached over and squeezed the young woman's hand.  She didn't freak out.  She isn't the kind of kid who is either demonstrative or touchy-feely (I have 2 of those so don't blame it on my horrible parenting)...but she allowed it.  She more than allowed it...she squeezed back.  Because she totally knew what was going on with me and had probably been dreading Some Big Sappy Scene the entire trip.  She was grateful for the silent hand squeeze...tolerated it nicely...and breathed a big old sigh of relief that it stopped there.  And it did stop there.  Because I really did anticipate her becoming a Real Person who would go off to do Real Person Things someday.  I cranked up something Entirely Inappropriate like Sir Psycho Sexy on my ipod, put my head up against the cold airplane window, and closed my eyes.  Which were totally not leaking, by the way.

That was just the introduction.  We flew out of San Antonio and into Orlando, of all places, on the way to Buffalo.  I know, right?  Southwest takes you on the Scenic Route. We had a really long layover in Orlando and we enjoyed Airport People Watching.  By the time we arrived in Buffalo it was late.  We rented our car, found the hotel, and went to sleep.  How is that for details??  In the morning, we drove into Rochester where Ellie had a piano lesson scheduled at the famous Eastman School of Music.  As we hit downtown Rochester, we were kind of looking for a downtown "campus" of sorts...because that is the way schools and universities tend to present themselves around here.  But it was all urban downtownishness....big old beautiful building after big old beautiful building and then on one of the buildings we see that it says Eastman School of Music and Ellie just gasped. 

It was gorgeous and had a Very Big and Important Feel to it. 

We hit the Admissions Office where Ellie had scheduled a tour, and there we met 3 other kids...two voice students (one of whom was freaking adorable with the curly hair business and I liked her immediately because she was bubbly and visibly awe-struck by her surroundings and oh also??  After being shown the Very Important Portrait of Mr. Eastman...she tripped and threw her coffee on it.  Luckily, it was so important, it was covered in glass and she left no permanent mark on The Eastman School of Music via coffee stained could you NOT love this kid after that?) and a tiny little thing who played the trombone.  I so wanted to hear her whip out that thing and play it...because I bet she's awesome...but it didn't happen.  And come to think of it, I didn't hear a single trombone all day.  But I heard lots and lots of operatic singing and strings and woodwinds and a rather frantic sounding xylophone....and of course, piano.

How do I describe Eastman?  It is like a grand museum with grand staircases and marble floors and ridiculously high ceilings and tons and tons of portraits on the walls of famous people who have taught there.

And then there was the Kodak Theater. 

When we walked into the theater we were just so hushed and reverent...and then I saw that the curly-headed coffee thrower was crying...(seriously, you love her, right???) and I started to tear up over her tearing up and I looked at my kid who was Totally Not Crying but wanting to get into a practice room.  Because she is like that and how could you not love her and the ironic fact that she came from ME??

Speaking of practice rooms, the ones we were taken to were literally in the bowels of the building and had a dungeon-y feel to them.  Ellie loved it and practiced her heart out while I read and tried not to be a distraction.  After an hour or so we headed over to where she was supposed to sit in on a studio class.  This was in the student living center, across the street from the older building we had been in all day.  In addition to dorm rooms, cafeterias, etc...there are also studios and recital spaces (of course) and it was in one of these that she attended the studio class.  A studio class is where a specific teacher's students meet and perform one at a time...they are required to do this weekly and it is a VERY LONG CLASS.  This one was something like 3 hours.  When Ellie came out (that's right...I opted out), it was time to run back across the street for her private lesson, which she totally enjoyed.  By the time she was done it was dark outside and when we walked to our car we saw that the entire Eastman School was lit up with beautiful lights and all around it were people walking on sidewalks or crossing streets with instrument cases (some of them very large) and it was just gorgeous. 

The next day we had a decent drive into Ohio, but first we stopped to hook up with bloggy friend, Pamela.  We sat in a little diner in a beautiful little town for like 3 hours laughing with Pamela, who was not a disappointment in real life, by the way.  Sometimes people are.  She wasn't.  LOVED HER.  And so did Ellie.

We hit the toll (again) and my big fear was that I would be the Hold Up at the toll booth but I hardly ever was.  Ellie paid the tolls until she ran out of money, at which point the whole process had taken its toll on her (ha ha...pathetic I know).  Also?  People are nicer there.  Because as Ellie says, "Everything is better there, Mom." When we told people we were driving from Rochester to Cleveland they acted like this was a long haul, but we are from Texas and it is not a long haul...the school Ellie is looking at in Texas is a 7-hour drive for us....this was nowhere near that.

On Sunday we did a little sightseeing in the area - hit a great vegan spot in Cleveland Heights that Pamela is Ellie waiting for her falafel.

On the way home we decided we wanted to hit a Drunkin' Donuts because we hardly have any of them left in Texas and Drunkin' Donuts is awesome...especially the jelly-filled, which are REALLY jelly-filled and not filled with canned pie filling like that Krispy Kreme nonsense.  So we consulted Garmin, who had been really annoying the entire trip, by the way....although we finally did end up settling with the Australian Male Voice and he seemed to be the calmest one of the bunch.  The Australian woman just didn't work...whenever she said she was reclculating she said it in a way that indicated she was just about fed up and had no idea how she was going to get us out of our latest mess.  The British guy did not sound like Russell Brand but did sound like a stuffy butler, so he didn't last long.  And the American Woman just flat pissed us off.  So we asked Garmin (I believe it was the hysterical Australian woman) to send us to a Drunkin Donuts and she did.  She sent us through a ski resort, a national park, and several residential neighborhoods to land us in the dark in front of a guy's house (he was leaf blowing) at the end of a cul-de-sac saying, "Arriving at destination. Dunkin Donuts on left."  Bitch.  So we tried again.  45 minutes later we triumphantly pulled up in front of a gas station Dunkin Donuts!

Monday found us driving to Oberlin Conservatory, which is the exact opposite of Eastman.  Where Eastman is urban, Oberlin is extremely rural.  It is a lovely place (especially if you're from a cattle ranch strewn with scrub brush and prickly pear cacti)...but is a tiny little speck in the middle of nowhere.  And Ellie loved it, too.  Entirely.  She appreciated the extreme natures of both places.  Again, at Oberlin, it was just amazing to hear the famous names who teach there or perform there or pass through (we just missed Stevie Wonder).  The dorms looked like Hogwarts castles...built in 1886 :). 

Unlike Eastman, it is on the campus of a liberal arts college....a very LIBERAL liberal arts college....and Ellie LIKED IT.  A lot. In fact, her little brain was already trying to figure out a way to add a Political Science second major in....and I wouldn't be surprised to see her do it although I think it would stress her out but who am I?

After our tour, which we enjoyed in the company of a jazz percussionist and a young man who said his instrument was "woodwinds" in "all of them," Ellie pulled out her phone and said, "I kinda know a guy here...actually I've never met him, but..." and in five minutes Elliott came running out and he is a voice major and he was a DOLL.  He gave us a Real Tour...into the dorms and the cafeteria (where he insisted on buying our lunch with his little meal card) and he even deposited Ellie in a practice room and me in the financial aid office. 

Elliott is from Houston and he told Ellie that you eventually get used to the cold...Ellie is always cold so I'm thinking NOT.  She layered like crazy during our trip because she doesn't even have a real coat...I also layered and let me just say that the layered look doesn't work as well for us chubby girls.  Ellie could just layer the heck out of herself and still be nimble and  Not so much.  We are putting a care package together for sweet Elliott.  Elliott also introduced her to a delightful voice student who freaking *hates* girl stuck "out in the middle of nowhere..." and she was hilariously delightful and I loved her because I tend to gravitate to the slightly cranky ones :).  She also looked at Ellie and said, "Piano?  But you're not Asian." Hilarious.  And we all know Ellie's Asian on the inside, anyway. 

While Ellie was holed away in a practice room (nice practice rooms - and they all are above ground and WITH WINDOWS!), I enjoyed the beautiful scenery and came across a freaking albino squirrel.  He must be fairly well-known on campus because nobody seemed nearly as thrilled by him as I was.

Ellie is used to being out in the middle of nowhere...she seriously would be happy at either of these awesome schools.  These Very Expensive Schools.  Which is why she very well might have to wait to get to awesome when she gets to grad school...a fact she totally gets.  And her backup plans are not too shabby - great Texas music schools - just not as exciting in the adventure category because the kid really wants to LEAVE ME. 

Okay, this is so long and now I don't have time to tell you about how our hotel room was haunted.  I know I just gave you a haunted story about my sister's house...and I'm not a ghost freak or anything like that.  But our room was haunted and Ellie will attest to it.  Another post for another day....behind the other two I promised you!

Signing Off as the Sardine Mama of a Soon-To-Be College Student


  1. I'm so glad I wasn't a disappointment. I love you ladies, too.

  2. I can so totally relate to the whole "where did this adult come from" thing. Hard and wonderful all at the same time.

  3. Okay, this is not the post to read while drunk. I'll be back, maybe even tonight.

  4. I'm so with you on the whole letting your baby go thing. We're down to one child at home (out of four) and I may just have to lock him up to make sure he doesn't escape before I am ready to let him go! Seriously though, much sympathy and it does get easier.
    Looking forward to tomorrows post. Because you ARE going to post tomorrow, aren't you??? I'm counting on it :) Brynna

  5. OMG laughing so hard - not to sound all creepy/stalker like but when I have kids I want to be a Mom like you!

  6. I felt the way you did the day my daughter turned 8!! I know, I know. It's only going to get harder. Maybe my girl will be different, like maybe she'll never leave, and one day we'll be two weird old women (me being the VERY old one) hunched near the tv eating dinner on our laps and telling the other to turn the volume up. Ah...I can only dream....!
    Awesome post. Waiting for Episode Two, now!

  7. See, I came back. So it took 24 hours, sue me!
    But here's the deal, when I see and hear about Ellie, I think of Claire. And I don't yet want to think about her leaving. My brain can not even imagine Claire out of my sight. Or any of my children for that matter. I'm glad that this was a fabulous trip for you even though you didn't stop to see me...
    I am looking to you to show me how to stay strong when your children leave the nest. Can you be that role model or are you going to totally lose it?
    Your Friend, m.

  8. Carol, wonderful as always. I was there with you. Gorgeous pictures, hilarious descriptions.

  9. I'm so glad to see the pictures! And I got all teary eyed during the hand-squeezing moment and laughed out loud at the voice student's observation. :) Looking forward to more posts soon!