Episode Nineteen – Backtrack

Hi guys,

Ok, so I didn’t realise the situation was quite this bad. For some reason I was convinced I’d recounted slightly more of my Christmas tales, but on re-reading Episode Seventeen I see that this is pure fantasy. I apologise. And now I will attempt to rectify the situation by way of a quick recap.

So on Saturday the 18th of December, I arrived in Ohio early evening, and we stopped for Bob Evans on the way back to Akron, as is our tradition. We stuck around in Akron until Tuesday, just messing around in the flat and its immediate surroundings. On Sunday we decorated the Christmas tree which Grant had set up in preparation for my arrival (this is the Christmas tree which is still standing in that corner today, the 2nd of April), and picked up some groceries we’d be needing for meals and for the butterbeer we’d decided to make in the true spirit of a Hogsmeade Christmas.

Not hot and steaming, as I'd felt it should be; but still good.

In between that and wrapping gifts for his family (I think I did a pretty good job of the gift-wrapping process, if I say so myself), there wasn’t time for much else, but we still found time to head over to the Akron Student Union and play several games of pool. Grant one a single game and lost the other four by prematurely potting the black – I really didn’t play a very active role in any of them :( Grant also fulfilled his promise of introducing me to Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation, and took me to Akron’s Summit Mall, where we smelled many candles and laughed at many useless gadgets, before heading to the Stubbins family go-to restaurant, Bravo. I would love to tell you what I had to eat, how much I enjoyed it, what the service was like, the aura about the room, and all that crap; unfortunately, though, it was three and a half months ago now and I forget. Sorry ’bout. Anyway, right after Bravo we headed for Zanesville so the family Christmas festivities could begin!

The Christmas tree, complete!

Now, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but Zanesville is well-known by its inhabitants for not having scores of interesting things to do. However, Grant and I are fun people, and we didn’t have too much trouble finding ways of wasting time together. Grant’s friend Pat (the one who unwittingly helped me to fulfil my lifelong dream of operating a digger way back in July) had us over for a barn party on Wednesday, where we played a little beer pong (no beer for me, no sir – I had fruity, girly cider instead), and generally hung out with our lungs out. Continuing in the takin-it-easy vibe, we went to support Blake’s basketball team the next day, the West Muskingum Tornadoes. Despite my persistent insistences that “we could still win this”, the Tornadoes lost by a couple dozen points, and instead of staying around to offer moral support and condolence to the wee man, we left to go have dinner with Ted (with whom we stayed for a bit in Cincinnati last summer) and his girlfriend Kylie at the local Mexican restaurant, Tlaquepaque. It was brill. Kylie was asking about stuff to do in Edinburgh since she’s going to be spending some time there next year, which really only made me realise how unqualified I am to talk about stuff to do in Scotland. I seriously need to start spending more time discovering my home country.

Yes, I have realised I need to get better at being Scottish, especially since I end up feeling like some sort of ambassador whenever I come over to America, and I always feel the responsibility to sing Scotland’s praises – which isn’t hard, but still. If I were slightly more informed, I’d have all of Ohio clamouring for the airport, ready to take their trip to bonnie Scotland. Sitting on the bleachers watching Grant’s little brother’s middle school basketball games, I felt like I was sitting in the very epicentre of American-ness, and I felt sad that we don’t make as big a fuss of school sports as they do in the US. Yes, it was funny to watch all the over-enthusiastic parents in their full West M gear, yelling things like “De-fence!” and “Hustle!”, but it was also quite disproportionately heartwarming to feel like everyone was rooting for their sons, brothers, cousins and friends. (And maybe a few for their daughters in the cheerleading squad >_> ). It’s just a middle-school basketball game. But it is something to be part of, and I definitely felt part of something important and worthwhile – this is one of the reasons I love America.

Feelin' good about the score at this point.

Watching Blake’s game and then getting Mexican on Little Christmas Eve was a very chilled-out and, in its own way, festive, lead-up to the holiday celebrations. On actual Christmas Eve we headed out to get a few last-minute things, such as rammikins for serving the coconut shrimp Mr. Stubbins was serving that evening for Grant’s grandfather coming to dinner. We also picked up some icing and some brightly-coloured candy from the dollar store, for the gingerbread house Grant and I constructed and decorated that evening. I had seen pictures of the gingerbread Grant had made with his flatmate a year or so ago, and got jealous. I like making things with Grant. He’s fun that way. And after our raging success with our cannibalistic pumpkin in October, we got a little ambitious once more and spent the evening holding pieces of crackerbread together in a cottage-esque shape, and covering it with approximately half of the sweet treats we had bought for that very purpose (I’ll let you come to your own conclusions as to the fate of the other half).

Did he really think all of this would escape my hungy jaws?

We begin a hard evening's graft.

Blake was fascinated by the whole purpose, and commandeered the remaining scrap pieces of crackerbread and icing for his own structure he intended to make, but with the very specific shapes we happened to have left over, there really wasn’t much for him to make out of it.

This was our achievement. Blake gave up on his : P

I think Grant’s idea of the Christmas tree made out of an ice cream cone is what really makes it. As we remarked at the time, if only we had had some white candy floss just chillin in the cupboard, it would have been perfect – the cotton wool for the chimney smoke is the only non-edible part of the house. Oh well – we’ll know for next year : )

So the gingerbread house became our pride and joy, and we showed it off to every living being that walked through the front door – including Grant’s grandfather, who came over for dinner that evening and who seemed impressed with our efforts. I love making things, especially when I have someone to share it with – joining forces with Grant to create something awesome is one of my favourite hobbies.This spring I’m entertaining a fantasy of dyeing Easter eggs. We’ll see if it ends up happening – we only have two full weekends this time around, and today is the first Sunday; next weekend we’ll be going to Washington, D.C.. Not that I’m complaining!! The American capital wins over egg-dyeing any day.

Those tales are for another day, though. I’ll update within the next few days and fill you all in on our festive exploits, and hopefully this time around I’ll manage to post about my current visit while it’s still a current event!

You never know.

Anyway, for now I’ll say goodbye and get on with watching Lost with Grant, who wouldn’t do anything else if he wasn’t, you know, a law student and all. Hope all’s well with you guys, and for those of you to whom it applies, enjoy spring break!

Love, love.




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