Friday, December 25, 2009

I'll be Home for Christmas...

After my Saturday night birthday debacle, my entire body needed to recover.  Sunday was spent doing nothing productive, and it rocked.  But Monday brought the prospect of bad weather, and I decided to complete the second half of my journey to Gwinner.  The trip from Bowman to Gwinner went mostly wonderful.  It was snowing when I left, and the roads weren't amazing, but weren't horrible, either.  The driving life was good, until I got to Mandan. 

I'm a good, blinker-using driver.  It makes me quite angry when people don't use their blinkers, no matter the circumstances, but especially when there are pedestrians involved.  I always use mine.  Until, when just outside of Mandan, I passed someone on the interstate.  Before I re-entered the right lane, I, like the good, blinker-using citizen that I am, turned on my blinker.  

Bad idea.  The blinker blinked, but the blinker knob fell right off.

So there I was, still passing people (to the left) with my blinker on (to the right).  I'm sure people thought I was crazy, and I was so so so embarrassed.  I finally exited the interstate and made a left-hand turn, which turned the blinker off, but my knob is still out of commission.

Next, I stopped in Jamestown to visit my lil' sis.  After having dinner, I went to put gas in my car and to wash my windshield.  With the snow and meltiness on the roads, people had been spraying nasty onto my windshield almost the whole way from Bismarck to Jamestown.  Unfortunately, my windshield wiper fluid pump is broken (do you see a trend with my car here?), so it had to stay dirty during my travels.  I was looking forward it to cleaning it with those lovely squeegees that all gas stations have.

I had forgotten about the cold in ND.  None of the gas stations had windshield cleaner in the gas bays because it gets too cold and freezes, so I had to wash my windshield with a dry paper towel.

I was honestly surprised about how excited I was when I saw the bright lights of Gwinner through my newly-cleaned windshield.  I couldn't quite understand it.  My excitement has waned since, for a number of reasons that shall be discussed in later blogs.

Since I've been home, exactly what I had feared would happen has happened.  See, my parents have jobs and therefore money, and therefore keep food in the cupboards.  Plus, it's Christmas, so there is a large variety of sweets and other such nonsense readily available.  Aside from that, my friends from high school were only home for a few days, so I quickly ran out of things to entertain me.  In short, I've done a lot of sitting around at home, bored.  And alcohol is just far too prevalent. 

But I'm home, with family, experiencing a full-out ND blizzard.  Both of the interstates are closed from one end of the state to the other.  No travel is advised.  The wind is howling, the snow is drifting, and people are stuck in their houses IN TOWN.  Many families have been split up for this Christmas, and are scrambling to make plans with whoever can get together, while mine is here, playing cards, watching basketball, and (mostly) enjoying each other's company.

Oh, ND...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

North Dakotans Know How to Party

Dear Colorado friends:

Please don't take offense to this post.  I'm only relaying an opinion based on personal experience.  And if you do take offense to this, you are the one who can change it.

I've recently been very annoyed by 2 traits that I've found common to people in Colorado.  Maybe my experiences have been uncharacteristic, maybe it's just the people I hang out with, maybe it's socially acceptable in Colorado... I don't know.  In any case, the prevalence of those two traits have caused me to be an angry, crabby person recently.  I'll cover the first briefly, while the second is really just an excuse to tell you about my birthday party.  The traits are:
  • Flakiness
  • The inability to party
I am not a flaky person.  If I tell someone I'm going to do something, I do my very best to do it.  If, for some reason, I find out I can't do it, I make a point of telling them right away so that they don't expect me. If I make plans, I follow through.  If I don't know my plans, and there are too many variables to make a decision immediately, I will say, "I don't know what I'm going to do, but when I know, I will tell you."   I feel like it's just common courtesy.

It's apparently not common courtesy in Colorado.  I can't even count the number of times people have told me that they would love to come to an event, or even that they are coming to that event, and then never show up.  It's so unbelievably frustrating.  And hard to plan.  It's to the point that I'm accustomed to certain people saying that they are coming and not showing up that when they say that they're coming, I plan for them not to be there.  I'm getting used to it, but still hate it.

Maybe people in ND aren't flaky because if there's something to do that's even slightly out of the ordinary, we do it.  And there will be nothing else planned opposite of it: there are no other options for things to do.  In CO, there's always stuff to do, so it's possible that other things come up.  However, that's no excuse for not even calling to say you're not coming. 

I refuse to get used to this habit, and I definitely refuse to get into the habit myself.

On to #2: People in CO do not know how to party.  At least not in my experience.  North Dakotans, though... ha!

I spent over eight hours driving on Saturday in order to make it to Bowman, ND to party with my ND peeps for my birthday, which is today.  I was pretty bored along the way, which you can see from this:

Jettie had pink panty droppers waiting for me when I walked in the door.  We had 3 plus a shot before we even left for the bar.  At the rate that I've been drinking lately (read: never), I should have stopped after this:

We didn't.

We walked to the bar and had one shot and one more drink, and from there, the night goes, well, fuzzy.  This photo is from the first bar:

It was a kissy type of night.  A large percentage of the photos I have from last night involve someone kissing someong.  I gave both Jettie and Shauna hickies.  For fun.  As a joke. I'm not a lesbian.

We headed down the street to the other bar, where this happened:

I really, honestly, don't have much recollection of anything that happened in the second bar.  I talked to some guy from FL, Jettie and I danced provocatively, we drank more (I don't know where all the drinks came from), etc.  And we took a lot of pictures, like this one:

From there, we had an after-party at Jettie's house, which I really don't remember. I don't even remember getting birthday kisses from every person at the party, except that there is pictorial evidence (which you won't get to see). 

Jettie had promised Bowman a shit show, and that's what they got.  All in all, we ended up with 102 pictures and a video (of Jettie in the bathroom... don't ask), along with lots of alcohol and tons of fun.  I've officially determined that I need more lady friends in CO: nothing beats a great girl's night out.

THAT, my friends, is how to party.  Ya'll can take lessons from us!

Friday, December 18, 2009

"So Come Home to North Dakota" - yay Medora!

Before I tell you about my journey home, let me tell you: I'M FAMOUS!!!

No, not because I'm such an amazing singer, and not because I rock.

Okay, I'm not actually famous at all.  However, I am mentioned in a book that was written by a couple who was traveling the 50 states and golfing.  At the time, it was late Summer 2008, and I was working in the pro shop at Bully Pulpit.

Read the google preview, which includes me, here.  Type "Raissa" in the search box, and I'll be there for ya!

In other exciting news, I have officially started the move over to Broomfield. I am currently sitting in my room in Boulder, which has only what wouldn't fit in my car during first trip to Broomfield.  All that is left here are things I need for life today.  I moved almost everything yesterday, and began the process of unpacking, which proved to be difficult in a mostly unfurnished bedroom.

I think that means, unfortunately, that I'll have to leave the bulk of my unpacking for when I get back from ND, but it's okay.  I'll have nothing else to do, really.  I'll have to bring back a few things from there with me to help fill up the space of my GINORMOUS room!

I'll finish packing today and will head for ND on Saturday.  I'll spend Saturday and probably Sunday in Western North Dakota, particularly Bowman and Medora, to see people out there.  Monday, I'll head east, maybe stopping in Bismarck/Jamestown along the way, depending if there are people there who want to see me.  I'll be back in Gwinner on Monday or Tuesday. 

If you are wanting to see me sometime during my voyage, please let me know!  There are many of you whom I want to see, but it's going to be really hard to coordinate schedules and driving, etc.  Please, please, please, please call or text: (701) 308-0495.  I just have too many friends to keep track of you all (hahahhahahaha.  Just kidding.  Mostly.)

I hope to see you all very soon!  : )  Wish me safe travels.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

(Not really a) SURPRISE!!!

I turn 24 on Sunday.  I've not been very excited about the prospect of having lived for 24 years and not really accomplished anything in life. 

I was torn about when to head to ND for Christmas, because I felt like I should celebrate my birthday here before heading back.  But I wasn't sure who would be around, what we would do, etc.  And I most certainly didn't want to plan my own birthday party.

On Monday, I ran into my friend Anna, and she asked me what I was doing.  I'd recently become very noncommittal about a birthday party because of being drained at the idea of being 24.  I was trying to explain it to her, but she didn't get it, and offered to plan a birthday party for me.  I agreed that if she wanted to plan something, I would participate.

Not two hours later, Kenny texted me, asking me what my plans were for Wednesday evening.  I didn't have any, so he suggested I come over to cook hamburger helper for him.  If that seems weird to you, let me explain: Kenny can't cook.  He once failed at cooking frozen pizza by leaving the cardboard under the pizza while it was in the oven.  I've cooked hamburger helper for us before, so it wasn't that strange of a request.  But I knew immediately that there was a party being planned for me. 

I was determined not to tell them that I knew, but I really wanted someone to know that I knew so that when I told them that I knew they would believe me.  I told people at work, along with others about my suspicions.  One co-worker laughed and wondered what would happen if I went there expecting a surprise when really it was just dinner. 

When Dennis dropped me at my apartment on Tuesday night, I wanted to give him an appropriate goodbye.  If there was no surprise party, I should give him a hug and say Merry Christmas.  But if there was a surprise party, then I wouldn't need to do that.  As I got out of the car, I said, "Will I see you tomorrow?"  He said, "I don't know."  I said, "Well, is Kenny having a surprise party for me tomorrow?"  His face told it all.  I said, "Okay, see you tomorrow!  And don't worry, I won't tell that you told me."  He tried to tell me that he didn't tell me, which I guess he technically didn't, but he did.

Wednesday night, I was hanging out at my house, waiting to head over to Kenny's, when he texted me and asked for my roommate's number.  Weird, considering that they don't really talk.  Then, I got a phone call from a friend asking for Kenny's number.  Then, Kenny told me to hurry because he had cooked without me. 

If there had been any doubts about a surprise before, there wasn't anymore.  I drove to Kenny's and could see a number of legs between the windowsill and the bottom of the blinds.  I saw women's shoes in the window by the door.  I opened the door, walked in, and everyone yelled, "Surprise!" 

"Did you know?" they said.  "Of course," was my reply.  They were disappointed that I knew, but it was still very exciting.  It's my very first surprise party!  Of course I was excited!  They all had brought a potluck dish, and some friends got me flowers.  We drank mojitos and chatted until I fell asleep on the couch.

I guess I'm not depressed about a 24th birthday, after all...  Thanks, CO friends! :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Finals Fun... err...

Finals Week: I had forgotten how much I love, yet hate this week of my life all at the same time.

You see, finals are a funny thing.  They are supposed to measure all that you've learned in one semester.  Really, all I think that they really measure are people's ability to stay up late and cram  an entire semester's worth of information into two days of studying.

In Jamestown, I was a hardcore procrastinator.  We're talking save a 10-page term paper until the night before it was due procrastinator (I got an A on it, in case you were wondering).  It never helped that I was always able to get good grades even though I procrastinated.  My procrastination was positively reinforced, and my grades never suffered as a result of my saving my work until the end.

During my second go-round, I decided to change my ways.  I wanted to get things done before they needed to be done so that I wouldn't stress out at the last minute.  I had it in my head to excel at my coursework without all the craziness involved in putting things off until the day before they were due. 

I succeeded at first.  I would actually read the assigned readings in my theory textbook, and did extra homework to practice, just for fun.  I did my listening assignments weeks ahead of time so that I could listen to them more than once before the quiz.  I wrote papers before they were due so that I would have time to edit and revise them. 

Things slowly deteriorated as the semester went on.  Music theory suddenly wasn't as hard, and I didn't feel like I would need to read the readings.  I didn't really do the listening assignments because we listened to most of the pieces in class.  I saved the papers because the ones I had to write weren't as difficult as psychology papers.  In short, I just got lazy. 

It's a bad idea to procrastinate studying for cumulative finals that make up a large percentage of your grade.  Luckily for me, most of my classes are cumulative in themselves, so it's not a whole bunch of review.  I mean, one can't study pieces of theory and have tests on it and then put it all together for a test.  It's like math: it builds upon itself.  And either you get it, or you don't.

I have had a decent finals schedule: 1 last week, 2 Saturday, 1 Monday, and 2 today.  Yes, final exams start on Saturdays here.  At 7:30 am.  No, I'm not kidding.  I'm grateful I didn't have one Saturday 7:30.  Gross.  Everything has gone mostly fine.  I take my theory exam in 20 minutes.

To me, though, the most important final exam isn't an exam at all.  It's a performance jury.  Every performance major in every area has to show the semester's progress by performing for all of the faculty in the department.  As a freshman, I had to have 6 songs prepared, of which I would sing 2.  The performer picks the first and the faculty picks the second. 

Needless to say, I was nervous.  Always am. I always feel like I'm not going to live up to the faculty's expectations of me.  I psyche myself out.  Strangely enough, though, I wasn't nearly as nervous as I usually am.  I'm not sure if it's because I'm getting more comfortable with performing, or with the faculty, or if I was just well-prepared enough, but the fact that I wasn't nervous freaked me out...

That's beside the point.  I walked in, and received a very warm welcome.  They asked me what I would sing, and I surprised them by introducing a musical theatre piece by Stephen Sondheim.  Upon the pronouncement, the opera director pumped her fists in the air with excitement.  I performed the piece nearly perfectly, and upon its completion, one professor told me never to sing that song again because it made her cry.  Another said that she was so happy that they had me here at CU.  The second song was technically great, but I have a hard time relating to it emotionally.  Most of the comments centered around my lack of emotion, which I predicted.  I'll keep working on it, though. 

The good news is that I earned an A for the semester in my voice studio, which is awesome.  That's what I'm here for.  I hope to continue improving, and look forward to the many juries ahead of me.

In the meantime, I'll see you fools in ND next week.  Prepare yourselves.  And your livers.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas is in the Air...

Today is a day full of Christmas celebrations, and every minute has been exciting for me.

Last week, I went into the Music Development Office to pick up the Christmas gift bag that every Adopt-a-Student Scholarship recipient gets.  While I was in there, Scott, the director of the office, said, "Raissa, do you have a church gig for this weekend?"  I didn't.  He said, "Do you want one?"  I did.  He explained to me that it involved one rehearsal and one performance.  I was more than welcome to help.  Then, he said, "Is $125 enough?"  Yes, please!

So yesterday morning, Kenny and I drove down to Golden for a rehearsal with the choir, and then again this morning for the performance.  (I got up at 6:00 am... BLECH!)  Our role was to help fill the sound of the choir so that it could be heard over the full orchestra that was entirely composed of CU music students.  The church has its own choir, we were just beefing them up a bit.

The performance was excellent; we sang for a full house.  And the choir members were really cute old people.  There was one man who always knew the exact page number and yelled it out at the top of his lungs, the very nice lady who sat beside me and told me about her squished boob, and Peaches, the black female tenor who always had a wisecrack at the best possible moment, among others.

After the performance, Kenny and I headed to Denver for the 35th annual "Tuba Christmas."  I had never heard of such a thing, but Kenny had been to one in Aberdeen. Tuba Christmas happens when literally hundreds of brass players: euphonium, tuba, sousaphone, etc., etc., etc. get together and play Christmas carols and hymns arranged for a tuba choir.

It was awesome.  I literally got the goosebumps every 5 seconds, and it wasn't because of the chill in the air.  The performers were everywhere from 8 to 85 years old and included families, friends, and people who had performed in up to 34 Tuba Christmases in Denver alone.  There were about 250 performers, and the conductors were the cutest old men ever.  I can't even describe how cute they were.

I was a little sad that the audience wasn't a bit more excited to be there.  Kenny and I had a great time singing along, which the organizers encouraged, but not many were singing.  In any case, the two of us had a great time.

We had to park pretty far away from the location where Tuba Christmas was held, and I had worn heels.  On the way back to the car, we had to cross several roads.  At one such road, we decided to cross just as the hand started flashing at us not to cross.  I took a step onto the street, then another...  Thn, I suddenly had no shoe.  The heel had wedged itself into a crack on the road, and when I kept walking, I lost my shoe.  So there I was, in the middle of the street in downtown Denver, with only one shoe on my feet, and the hand getting ready to tell us not to walk.  I was laughing so hard I could hardly contain myself, and so was everyone around us.  I finally rescued my shoe and ran across the street.  All I could say was, "I hope everyone who saw that laughed really hard."  

Now, I'm getting ready to head over to my church, ULC, for our Christmas Hymns and Reading service.  Because there will probably be no students here on Christmas, we are celebrating today by singing and reading traditional Christmas Eve stuff.  I'm leading a few hymns, chanting some antiphons, and singing "O Holy Night" for the Recessional.  They are going to record the service and give copies to alumni, so I'm pretty excited about it.

It's finally beginning to feel like Christmas around here...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Life Update (It's a doozy)...

A few strange things happened this week.

Okay, a lot of strange things...  The strangest of them all, though, are as follows:
  • I didn't blog for over a week. Shame on me.
  • People still checked out my blog to see if I had written.  Go you!!!
However, those are minor things in comparison to the roller coaster that has been Raissa's life recently.  I'll do my best to sum them up below.

Last week brought a lot of hype with the much-anticipated and yet much-dreaded Holiday Festival.  I had (obviously) never been in the Holiday Festival, but had heard a lot of bad things about it from upperclassmen.  Thinking about it, I mean, what good could possibly come from 300-400 musicians in the same room, at the same time, putting on the same concert 4 times?

I thought that the JC Christmas Concert was a hassle and time-consuming, what with a dress rehearsal filmed by PBS crews and having to do your hair and makeup the same way two days in a row so that they could take cuts from the rehearsal and the live performance.  Ha!  Not even.

The HF involved one 3 1/2-hour rehearsal on Thursday night, which was awful.  Standing for almost the whole time, rehearsing instead of running pieces, people not paying attention, dealing with "Betelehemu..."  It was awful.  We performed on Friday night, which was pretty bad again, but it was nice to sing for a sold-out crowd of 2000.  We performed Saturday afternoon to yet another sold-out crowd.  (Guess who forgot to put their phone on silent and received a phone call during the concert.  If you guess me, you're right.)  They fed us, we drank a little, and had a Saturday evening concert, which was also sold out.  Then, we had a sold-out Sunday afternoon concert. In all, we performed to over 8,000 people. 

It really wasn't as bad as people made it out to be.  There was a great variety of music, what with an orchestra, brass band, percussion piece, monster choir, small choir, and a few soloists.  My riser buddies made life interesting, and there was never a dull moment on the risers.  Sure, it sucked to stand for an hour and a half without moving, but whatever.  That happens.  And we didn't even have to sing well half of the time because of the audience sing-alongs. The audience loves the show and come back year after year.  I love watching crazies in the audience.  It's highly entertaining.

What did suck about it, though, was how gosh darn much of my time it wasted.  I was in the monster choir, composed of like 200 students, so really, I was useless.  No one would have noticed if I wasn't there, and I wasn't really necessary.  Not that I'm saying I want to stand out, but it makes one feel unimportant in a choir of that size.  And I got absolutely no homework done.  At least it was the weekend before the week before finals week instead of the weekend before finals week.

In addition to HF, I had to attend orientation at BR, where I was hired as a shift leader at a new store that is opening in Superior.  This job, even though I haven't actually started yet, has been a run-around ever since the interview, and as soon as I find something better, I will snatch it up.  I had the interview in October and the owner-manager told me that I was a top candidate.  I expected to start working within a few weeks.  A few weeks went by, and I heard nothing, so I emailed and still heard nothing.  I did another job search.

I finally got an email saying they would like to hire me, but that the store where I would be working wasn't even built yet, and that we would be training soon.  Well, here it is, 2 months (almost) after my interview, and we finally started training last weekend.  Saturday morning, I had to be in Longmont (a 20-minute drive) by 8:30 am.  I got there to find that my co-workers are literally all high-schoolers (except one).  F. M. L.  I was talked to as if I was one of them: slow, stupid, and shy.  I'm not any of those things.  Well, slow sometimes.

We did the same thing on Sunday at 8:30 am.  I was told we would be working store hours during this week in the Longmont store, but when I asked her when and gave her my schedule, she said we wouldn't be working because of the weather.  When a schedule was finally made, I was scheduled to work during a time I specifically told her I couldn't work because of final exams starting THIS Saturday.  It's not been fun. 

Monday brought a surprise of its own.  I came home to a very upset roommate.  Her department had randomly decided that hall directors with roommates had to get rid of the roommates.  Presently, there is no rule against it, and they have known that I have been living here since August, but it only became a problem this week.  Why?  I don't know.  If the department had their way, I would be out on the street right now.  I apparently pose a security risk or something.

Surprisingly, I wasn't freaking out about it.  My dear friend Kenny recently broke up with his boyfriend and has been looking for a roommate, so I knew that I had that option.  Christina told me to wait until Thursday (today), so that they could make a definite decision.

I waited.  Today came, and they have decided to write a new policy for hall directors that requires that their roommates be either family members or domestic partners. Because I'm not Christina's domestic partner and because I have no desire to turn lesbian in order to stay in this apartment, I have to move out.  The department wants me out as soon as possible, but Christina said I could stay until after Christmas break.  I'll probably move out at the end of next week.

Kenny is staying in a condo in Broomfield, which is about 10 miles from Boulder.  It's not nearly as convenient for many reasons:
  • I'll be commuting to Boulder daily (but we plan on carpooling).
  • It's an unfurnished place, so I'll have to buy some furniture (unless anyone has anything they'd be willing to donate and deliver to CO for me).
  • It's not nearly as convenient as living on campus because I'll have to get everything done during the day and won't be able to make random trips to the music building or library.
  • My house was very centrally located for my friends, and a great meeting point.
  • It was nice not to have to drive home after a night of too many teas.
However, I do think it will be awesome to live with Kenny.
  • He's from SD, and we get along splendidly.  We already know where each other is every minute of every day, so this won't be weird at all.
  • Rent will be about the same.
  • I get to park right by my building instead of a 10-minute walk away.
  • Broomfield is closer to work (if I keep my job at BR).
It's been pretty stressful, what with finals next week (starting Saturday) and random tests and recitations this week.  But there is never a dull moment in CO.  I hope to continue to update all of you more regularly this week, because there are some exciting things ahead!!!

Thanks for reading during my hiatus!

Sunday, December 06, 2009


Wow... I can't even remember the last time I blogged.  Or had time to.

Coming soon: A replay of the weekend from hell.  Which I'm still suffering through.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Performance

I love live theatre.  One never really knows what exactly is going to happen, no matter how well-prepared things are before the performance.

For the performance of Hansel and Gretel, things did not go as they were supposed to go. In an ideal world, Hansel and Gretel would be dancing and playing instead of working.  Their mother would come home and see that they haven't finished their chores, and would punish them by hitting their fingers with a broom.  In the process, the milk jug containing their supper would fall onto the ground and smash, causing the mother to be angry to say the least.

In the real life performance of Hansel and Gretel last night, Hansel and Gretel were playing and knocked the milk jug onto the floor before I even came in.  Doesn't seem like a huge deal, except that it totally changes why I'm mad and my reaction and the words that I say...  Thank goodness that the stage manager told me before I went on that it had broken and I had time to figure out how to react and what to say.

That's the beauty of live performances: the ability to think on our feet is essential, and one may as well not even try to be in this business if they can't.  It makes performances interesting, fun, and unpredictable for everyone.

Overall, the whole show went very, very well.  We had a packed house: standing room only, people sitting in the aisles, etc., and everyone was very excited.  They laughed and yelled and whooped and whistled.  I personally had a good crowd there, and it was awesome to get feedback from everyone.  I'm still shocked at the level of talent here: I don't think I'll ever stop being impressed with people...

Can't wait to perform again...

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

My first real performance...

... I'm peeing myself already, and the show doesn't actually happen until 7:30 pm tomorrow night in the music theatre in the basement of the Imig Music Building.  I expect to see you there, even if I do pee my pants.

Suffice it to say that things haven't gone as I had expected in my opera theatre class.  We didn't practice during class time as much as I expected, we had to provide parts of our own costumes, I sometimes stink at learning new music... etc.  I haven't ever really felt fully prepared and comfortable for it, and the performance is less than 24 hours away.

But I realized this morning how actually unprepared I really am.  Rehearsal did not go well.  (Keep in mind that I have ridiculously high standards for myself and that I'm always trying to prove myself to my peers.)  It had been over a week since the last rehearsal, what with Thanksgiving break and all. 

I didn't know my entrances, I didn't get the notes, I forgot some words, I missed some blocking.  Basically, everything that could possibly go wrong (aside from me crying) did.  I was very, very unhappy with my showing.

Dress rehearsal tonight was just as wretched.  We started out by blocking a new scene.  It's very easy, mind you, but still a little chaotic.  Plus, we practiced set changes, which was disastrous.  The lights during nearly every scene were all kinds of messed up.  I have a fast costume change that involves putting tights onto sweaty feet, and I didn't quite get the knee-highs high enough not to be seen from under my dress.

However, I only messed up one part of my scene, and managed my set change well.  I think that tomorrow will be fine, as far as I'm concerned.  And the show is actually pretty fantastic.  There's lots of variety, lots of fun costumes, some raciness, and of course, a ton of great talent.

It is my first solo public performance at CU, though, so I am a little bit nervous.  And my sponsors invited 50 of their friends and asked if they could bring me roses...  So embarrassing.

I'll let you all know how it goes, but if you have free time, be sure to stop by!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas in the Air

I remember going to WalMart last year and being appalled because they already had Christmas stuff out. 

It was the day after Halloween.

It still makes me mad, but there's nothing I can do about it.  It's commercialized holidays.  Blech.  I prefer holidays for their traditions.

Everyone has their own holiday traditions.  At Katie's house on Thursday, we listened to a song called "Alice's Restaurant" by Arlo Guthrie during Thanksgiving dinner.  They have listened to it on Thanksgiving for forever, I guess.  Talking about their family traditions made me think of my family's day after Thanksgiving tradition.

For many, many years, the day after Thanksgiving was reserved at our house for Mom going Black Friday shopping with Lori in Fargo while Dad, Stacey, and I went and found a Christmas tree.  Oftentimes, we went to a tree farm and cut our own.  Once we had it home, in the house, and on the stand, Mom and Dad would  put the lights on.   Then, Stacey and I had the job of putting on the ornaments, of which there were hundreds, maybe thousands.  Mom's philosophy was that there is no such thing as too many ornaments on the Christmas tree. 

Sometime after I went to college, we stopped cutting a tree, and Mom bought a fake one, so it's not quite the same.  And I haven't been home for two Thanksgivings now, so I can't help decorate.  It's kind of like the first time I wasn't home for Halloween and missed having homemade pizza.  The traditions are slowly dying...

I came home last night to find my apartment decorated for Christmas, and it made me downright depressed.  Christina and Jedd had set up a Christmas tree, hung stockings, and put out other decorations.  I, on the other hand, didn't get to decorate anything for Christmas: not my house at home and not my apartment here.  I never really realized that I valued the traditions.

I'm sure that someday, I'll have my own family, and we'll have our own family traditions.  Until then, I'll either have to make my own...  (or continue writing ridiculously sad blogs about what I miss about home)  ... LAME-O!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving x2

Shockingly, I didn't write yesterday.  Or the day before.  Or the day before.  Don't worry, today will make up for it.

There were lots of questions about what Raissa should do for Thanksgiving.  After I decided to stay here, there were tons of options, but I had decided to spend it with Kenny.  When the Rudy's told me he couldn't come with us to Nancy's house, I was determined that he would not spend it alone.  After much deliberation, he decided to go home to Idaho Falls to visit his mom.

On Wednesday, Katie Ryan called to tell me that she and her Cowboy were headed to CO to surprise her parents for Thanksgiving.  She invited me to their house.  As much as I was looking forward to dinner with the Rudy's, it was more exciting to spend Thanksgiving with people who I know and am more comfortable with.

I ended up going to 2 Thanksgiving dinners.

I got up early (for me) this morning, and headed up to Windsor to hang out with Katie and her family.  We walked around the neighborhood, hung out at home, and ate a delicious traditional Thanksgiving meal.  I then had to rush back to Boulder for Thanksgiving meal #2 with the Rudy's. 

During the trek up to Nancy's house in the mountains, the Rudy's were explaining to me what each of the people who would be there do/did in their lives.  All of the people are rather well-to-do, and have all of the luxuries one could possibly want in life.  They all grew up in the city, and are socially prominent in Boulder.

Upon arriving at the mountainside house, we had the pleasure of helping to put out a fire.  Yes, a fire.  The centerpiece got a little too close to the candles, and the fire department called to make sure we were all alive.  We all mingled for a while, and I now know how international students feel when stupid Americans ask them questions about their own cultures.

To the guests at the party, being from a small town is like being from a different country, and some of the questions that they asked me offended me a little bit.  I understand that they just don't know what it's like to live in a small town, but they wanted to know how I survived in such a place, without seeing ballets and operas, and having to travel somewhere else to go clothes shopping.  I did my best to explain, and obviously I did survive, even thrived, coming from a small town, but was still a little miffed by the experience. 

Dinner was all made-from-scratch by an ex-opera singer.  We had butternut squash soup, rolls, parsnips and spinach, dressing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes made with celeriac, and a turkey (of course).  It was traditional with a twist.  And delicious.  Table conversation focused around the music school and my upcoming performance during the opera scenes program on Tuesday night.  (Stephanie invited 50 people and asked if it would be okay to throw roses onto the stage for me.)

All in all, the night was good, and memorable, and great.  But it's not the same as Thanksgiving with family.  And I didn't like some of the food, which would never happen at home.  Looking forward to Christmas meal.  Mom, get ready.  haha...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Why I blog

A week off for Thanksgiving break while being employed only very-part-time means a lot of free time on my hands.  I could have gone home, and maybe should have, but it's a 14-hour drive one way, and all of that driving makes for an un-relaxing vacation.

All of this free time has translated to basically one thing for me: boredom.  I was so bored by 8:00 last night that I almost wrote a blog in the evening, after I'd already written one yesterday afternoon.  Basicaly, you all can expect at least a blog a day for the next week.  I hope that's okay with you, and if it isn't, too blad.

I've been considering writing this particular blog for quite some time, but always seemed to find events to write about instead.  Today, though, you get a blog about feelings, because there really is nothing exciting going on in my life right now.

When I started blogging, it was purely for you all, my audience.  I wanted a means of communicating my new life in Boulder without having to write personal emails to each of you.  I mean, seriously, people, I have tons of friends, and to write emails to each of you would be exhausting (that was a joke...mostly).  I wanted to be able to tell you about the interesting things that come from living in one of the most liberal cities in America (read this, this, and this), daily happenings (read this, this, and this), life as a music student (read this, this, this, and this), and anything else that struck me as interesting.

All in all, I'd say that I've done a pretty good job of it.  I post 3 or 4 times a week, with good content and length.  I'm more happy with some than others, and sometimes just don't have time to post as frequently or eloquently as I'd like, but I'm a busy student.  And I have quite a few regular readers and commenters (although I wouldn't mind a few more comments here and there... *hint hint*).  I've gotten into the habit of advertising my postings on facebook so that more people can be aware of a new posting and check out the blog.  On days when I do that, readership is way higher, especially if it's an interesting topic.

A lot of people start blogs and post a few times, then get sick of it or too busy and stop writing, but that wasn't the case for me.  Once I started, I couldn't stop.  For me, it's therapeutic to write, and it's easy to write this blog because it's my life; it's what I know about, there's no pressure to make it incredibly informative or entertaining or exciting: it's just the story of my life.  And if you don't like it, then you don't like my life.  It's fine.  (ha ha).  I make time to write, and I have a whole list of subjects to write about if for some reason I can't come up with a new one on the days I have time to write.  If I had time, I would write a blog every day.  It's awesome to get my thoughts down on paper and to have to organize them in a cohesive format so that others will understand them.

When I write, I don't just write and post.  I write, read, edit, post, edit, repost, edit, repost, etc.  I'm downright anal about the format of the posts.  I still make mistakes, but I really enjoy the process.  And I love it when people comment about the posts that I have made.

Shortly after starting the blog, I signed up for an account with sitemeter, a website that tracks visits to your website.  It's really basic stuff, and it's free, but it's addicting.  It tells me almost everything I could possibly want about each visitor's visit to my blog.  It tells me your IP address, location, duration of visit, referring website, page views, exiting webpage, etc., etc.  I call it my "stalker stalker."  I keep track of frequent visitors, locations, and especially page views.  On days when I advertise my postings on facebook, I get a ton more visitors to the page.  If I haven't advertised a posting in a while, I get way more page views, which I assume is people who visit whenever I advertise the posting notice that I've made other posts and they catch up on the ones they missed.  It's quite interesting.

Another aspect of my blog that's good for me is the ads that one can see throughout the page.  I have ads by google and through linkshare.  Google crawls my blog for topics and posts ads based on my blogs.  Every time someone clicks on one and buys stuff, I get paid commissions.  This, as of yet, has not been a significant source of income for me.  I don't get paid until I make $100.  Let's say I'm 14% of the way there.  (But if you all clicked and bought stuff, things would be different...)

Now, I blog as much for myself as I do for all of you.  I really enjoy the process and the topics and hearing feedback from you, and I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy reading it.  I hope that I continue to have time to keep it up.  For now, I'm doing fine.  And for this week, more than fine.  Any thoughts are more than welcome!!

Thanks, ya'll! :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Vacation Weekend: Denver

Yet another sober weekend for Raissa.  I'm starting to like this more and more, strangely enough.

But just because it was sober doesn't mean it wasn't fun.

On Friday, Dennis and I headed down to Denver for some people watching and hanging out.  We started out at Rock Bottom Brewery, then watched drunk people and ate gelato on Larimer Square.  Kenny joined us, and we hit up a new (to us) bar on 16th Street called Tilted Kilts.  Pretty nice place, if you don't mind staring at practically bare-chested women for the duration of your stay.  Ironic that I was there with two gay guys...  While we were there, I ran into a kid from Jamestown who lived in Watson. I was his RA...

Saturday, Dennis, Kenny, and I went to Longmont for our studio teacher's housewarming party.  It was a good time, with mostly faculty and a few students mingling and eating some delicious curry chicken on a stick.  Mmmm...

Saturday night, Pasha and I had plans with the girls we met at International Coffee Hour a few weeks ago.  We hit up a Chinese restaurant in Boulder, then headed to Denver for the highlight of my weekend: Asian-style karaoke.  I'd never actually experienced Korean karaoke, but having had many friends from there, I more or less knew what to expect.

In Asian karaoke, instead of singing for a whole bar full of people who you don't know and having to wait 2 hours to sing,you can sing for only your friends and as often as you want to.  Each group gets its own room, and each room is stocked with books, a TV, a sound system, microphones, couches, and the like, and the people in your group are the only people who hear you.  You can all sing together, dance around, laugh, sing every 5 minutes, and have a great time.  It was totally worth $5.00 for 2 hours!

The people who we met at the karaoke place wanted to go clubbing in Denver.  I wasn't given that memo before we left, so I was not appropriately dressed for clubbing.  Instead of clubbing, Michelle, Marcus, Pasha, and I walked around downtown Denver, enjoying the crowds and some conversation.

On Sunday, I was completely unproductive.  I got up at noon, watched Season 2 of ER, went to church, and hosted a movie night in my apartment.

Now I have to get to work: blech.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dinner with the Rudys

In September, I had the opportunity to meet my scholarship sponsors, Alan and Stephanie Rudy.  I told you all about them here.  They are seriously wonderful people.  Since meeting them, they have spoiled me.

In October, they picked me up for a dinner at Laudisio, a really great Italian restaurant here in Boulder.  On Wednesday night, they treated me to dinner at California Pizza Kitchen and a Metropolitan Opera Broadcast of Turandot (which was amazing).

In addition, they came to the University Choir Concert that I performed in, and plan on coming to our Opera Scenes program. (Shameless plug: If you aren't doing anything on the evening of Tuesday, December 1st, come up to Boulder for an opera scenes program featuring both graduate and undergraduate singers.  It's in the basement of the music building and is free).

They have invited me to their house for Thanksgiving and want to take me to more operas.  They rock.  In addition to helping me, they are both very, very active in the Boulder community and donate hours and hours and hours to community service projects.  I hope they keep me!  They are fantastic!

In other scholarship news, I was given an additional $6500 in scholarship for next semester.  It will allow me to stay in CO.  When I know more about it, I'll let you know!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oh, the PAIN!!!

A few nights ago, I fell asleep while reading my book.  (In case you're wondering, it was "Eclipse," the third book in the Twilight saga.)  I woke up a few hours later with my bedside light still on and my body in a really strange position.

The next day, the muscles in my back were a little sore.  I attributed it to the fact that my body should not have spent as many hours as it did in such an unusual position.  By Saturday, the pain was gone.

That is, until yesterday, when it came back with a vengeance.  I couldn't raise my arm, or stretch it forward, or move my neck, or twist my back, or breathe deeply without suffering some serious pain. 

If you know me, you know that pain and I are not friends.  We never have been.  I don't like it.  But I ignored it most of the day, thinking it would go away again.

It didn't.  By 10:00 last night, I was hurting.  Big time.  I dropped something, bent over to pick it up, and involuntarily shouted because it hurt.  I was encouraged to go to the emergency room, but was home alone, so I took a lot of drugs and went to bed. 

At some point during the night, I woke up and tried to roll over, but failed.  I wanted to cry.

So this morning I gave in and went to the ER.  Based on my symptoms, the nurse thought I may have had a partially collapsed lung, but the doctor thinks it's all in my muscles: strained from sleeping wrong, and now spasming.  He gave me vicodin, and I made it through all day without taking a nap, but I just took more and now it's bedtime. 

Thank goodness for insurance.

Words of advice: If you're reading and feel yourself falling asleep, put the book down, turn off the light, and go to sleep in a normal position.

Monday, November 16, 2009

North Dakotans: Nice

Let's face it: It happens. 

You know what it is.

It happens to some more than others. 

When it comes to car batteries dying, it happens to me the most.  Or at least that's how it seems. 

I know exactly why it happens to me: I tend to be careless.  Not just in leaving my car lights on, but in life.  When I cook, one might think that a bomb has gone off in the kitchen.  When I paint, my clothes and hair get just as much paint on them as the thing I'm painting does.  I drop electronics in the toilet and put them through cycles in the washing machine.  I've locked my keys in my car so many times that I have a spare in my purse and one on the body of my car in case I lock my purse in my car, too (which has happened.  several times). 

I'd like to think that these things going wrong by my own fault is because I'm such a genius that I don't have time to consider those "little" things.  But 1) I'm not that conceited, and 2) I know it's just carelessness.

Thank goodness for kind North Dakotans who have come to my rescue in innumerable situations (I'm generalizing a bit, because usually these "kind" NoDak-ers are also my friends).  We are infamously nice people.  We come from the conservative Heartland of America, where people go to church every Sunday, everyone works hard, and we are all down-to-earth.

In October, when Jettie was here (read all about her visit here and here), we went to Denver for a day of sightseeing.  We had spent all day on our feet after an early morning and needed a nap, so we headed back to the parking garage to take a nap in my car.  We turned on the radio for some tunes and fell asleep.  Wouldn't you know... when we woke up, my battery was dead.  It was getting dark in the garage, and after some running around, we located a portable jumper thingy.  Just as the two of us and a (female) security guard were hooking the thing up, a car with a whole family pulled into the space next to mine.   Don't get me wrong, because we knew what we were doing, and we weren't struggling, but did any of those 5 or 6 people even ask if they could help in any way?  Did they leave their lights on so we could see better?  Did they even look our direction?  No.  They just walked away.

Things went just fine without their help; we had no problems.  But had this happened in ND, half the city of Gwinner would have come to help without even being asked.  It happens at the Medora Musical all the time: someone leaves their lights on, and an employee drives their personal car over to jump them.  It's not a big deal, and takes maybe 5 minutes of our time.

This summer, I jumped someone's car, and they offered to pay me.  OF COURSE I refused payment.  And I'm pretty positive that had I accepted the money, the man would have bitched about it the whole way home to Fargo.  It's general knowledge that it's polite to offer money with the knowledge that the one who has helped you won't accept payment.  It's just how it works.  We do it because we're nice, and because if we were in the same situation, we would expect a free jump.

Apparently, people around here don't get that.  That won't stop me from helping whenever I can.  In fact, I helped someone jump their car today.  Did I have to?  No.  I did it because I'm a nice person.  Did I get anything out of it?  Aside from this blog topic, no.  Is it even worth blogging about?  Maybe not.  But I did anyway.  Live with it.

Keep being nice, kids.  Keep being nice.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Laid-back: Boulder style

Believe it or not, these weekends without excessive partying are starting to get on my good side.  I've now gone two whole weekends in a row without drinking more than one drink per night.  Crazy, right?

On Friday, the University Choir travelled to Denver for the American Choral Director's Association choir festival on the campus of the University of Denver (DU).  We sang show tunes the whole way there.  It made me miss the JC choir tour...  No one was really excited about the prospect of listening to a bunch of choirs sing all night, and when one of the girls was drinking on the bus, I was jealous that I hadn't thought of the idea.  That is, until we arrived at DU and she couldn't walk straight.  It was a riot, but I can't imagine trying to perform while drunk.  Despite her 0drunkenness, the performance went just fine.  I was still a little jealous.

I felt like going out on the town aftereward, but everyone else was pretty lame, so Kenny, Dennis, and I went to The Sink, one of Boulder's most famous restaurants.  Why is it famous?  True story: When Robert Redford (yes, the Robert Redford) lived in Boulder, he was a custodian there.  Yep.  He cleaned toilets.  We had one drink there, and shared some... interesting... conversation, then headed home.

Saturday felt more like a Monday.  I tutored a psychology student in the morning, went grocery shopping, and had a voice lesson, then had a potluck dinner party to prepare for.  By shortly after 6:00, my apartment was the home of 5 additional people, and we enjoyed a good (albeit random) meal.

We had had plans to go dancing downtown later on, but by 9:00, almost the whole group had petered out. So instead of going downtown, Pasha, Anna, and I hit up a Mexican restaurant.  No, we didn't eat again.  They have salsa dancing there every Saturday night, and Anna is a regular.  Turns out that she's also an amazing dancer.

Neither Pasha nor I had ever salsa-ed before, and because there was an odd number of us, it was awkward at first.  Anna was teaching Pasha, and I was sitting alone until some old man named Rick came and taught me the basics.  I also danced with another old guy named Jordan and a little bit with Pasha. (I'm sure it was a sight to see us first-timers together.)  The older men were very kind about helping me through some steps and were patient when I messed up.  And yes, folks, this does mean that I danced sober.  (The Travesty!!!)

Anna stole the show.  She's a beautiful girl from Hungary, and she can dance.  Every eye on the floor was on her, and I overheard some men comparing her to a Ferrari. No joke. 

Dancing has been the theme this week, I guess.  On Wednesday, for Opera Theatre, I had the opportunity to learn how to waltz from a guy at CU who was on Broadway for like 87 years.  Now that was spectacular.  I could follow that man for hours. 

Men: anyone who ever told you that the key to a woman's heart is anything but dancing lied to you.  Dancing's the key.  Learn how to lead, and she will be smitten.  Or I will, at least.

Here's to low-key weekends.  Maybe I should see how long I last without drinking...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

In the Center

In previous posts, I have briefly mentioned my work study job.  I've had such great experiences there this week that I feel like it's time you all knew more about it.

I get a whole $900 a semester for work study.  I mean, I won't complain, because that's $900 I don't have to pay back in loans, but it's not a whole lot.  It's difficult to find an employer who wants someone to work only $900 worth of time in a whole semester.

My official position in the Center of the American West is Student Assistant, which is a catch-all for basically anything.  "The Center," as we call it, was founded in 1989, and has done nothing but grow since.  The Center brings together people from all sorts of disciplines to focus on issues that are currently affecting and will affect "The West" (which is a difficult term to define in itself). 

Most of the time, I do really routine things like mail packets, make copies, answer telephones, and inventory.  It's nothing to get shaken up about, but the atmosphere in the office is great.  Everyone is so so so nice and helpful, and we have a good time.

Wednesday night brought a student-faculty dinner at Patty's house.  Patty is the chair of The Center, and is one of the founders.  She's quite famous in the history world, and speaks all around the country on a regular basis.  She teaches, writes, speaks...  She does it all.

Back to Wednesday...  I helped set up for the dinner, then mingled and drank wine, and helped clean up.  It doesn't sound spectacular, but it was a great time.  (n.b.: Patty lives across the street from the JonBenet Ramsey house.  Literally.)

Tonight, I had the pleasure of helping out with the release for Patty's new book, "Remedies for a New West."  Again, setting up, tearing down, and having fun.

I love my coworkers, and it's really exciting to learn about the things that go on in The Center.  I've learned a lot that I didn't know before I worked there, and we all know how much I like to learn random things. 

Now if only I could work more hours there... 
For more information about The Center, please see our website:, and follow us on twitter:

To buy a copy of the book, contact me.  Because that's my job.  haha..

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

C is for Cookie

Ever since I can remember, my nickname has been Cookie.  No one seems to know where it came from or how I got it.  It's just Cookie.

In high school, almost everyone called me Cookie, except for males and teachers.

When I went to college, when I introduced myself to new people, I said something along the lines of: "I'm Raissa." 
New friend: "What's your name?"
Me: "Raissa, but you can call me Cookie."

Before long, as many people (if not more) were calling me Cookie rather than Raissa.  It didn't take long for professors to catch wind of my nickname and soon may of them were calling me Cookie, too. 

When I moved to Colorado, I made a decision not to introduce myself as Cookie.  When I told my friends back home about my plans, they were geniunely sad.  They said things like, "But you're way more of a Cookie than a Raissa," and, "You're too cute to be Raissa!"  But I stuck with my decision.

Don't get me wrong, because I really like the nickname, and it doesn't bother me when people call me it at all.  It's part of my identity.  But I felt that moving to Colorado was moving into a professional career, and I can't imagine a famous opera star being called Cookie.  Everyone here calls me Raissa, and I've become accustomed to it.  So much so that when Katie R. visited and called me Cookie, it sounded weird. 

My name on facebook is "Raissa Cookie Johnson," and a few people have asked me if my middle name is Cookie.  I explain to them that it's my nickname, and a few call me Cookie on occasion as a joke.  They are aware of the nickname and no longer get confused when I tell stories with Cookie in them, although it was confusing at first.

I might start introducting myself as Cookie again, just for fun.  But it might be too late, because my closest friends here already call me Raissa... 

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Crazy by Choir

Anyone who was ever in JC's Concert Choir will appreciate this post.

Anyone who was in JC's Concert Choir under my reign as President will especially appreciate this post. 

I finally realized today that I am a choir nazi.  That statement will not surprise most of you, but it kind of surprises me.  I guess I always knew that I was somewhere in the back of my mind, but it really came out this evening. 

I kind of want to apologize for my psycho-ness when it comes to choir, but I can't, because I don't necessarily think that what I've done is worthy of an apology. 

Allow me to explain:
I sometimes think that I have a slight case of OCD.  A few examples of this OCD-ish behavior:
  • My CD's are alphabetized within genres in my CD case.
  • My closet is color-coded.  Within each color are subcategories of clothing based on material weight and article of clothing.
  • When I eat, I have to eat the same amount on both sides of my mouth so that my teeth get the same exposure.  If it's small items, like SweetTarts, I have to eat an even number of them.
  •  I count my steps and stairs as I walk.
You get the picture.  I'm a freak, but I say it's only a slight case of OCD because I never make my bed in the morning, I wash my hands a million times a day, and I'm not afraid of germs.  (Forgive the stereotypes inherent in that statement.)

My OCD apparently extends to choir.

JC's Concert Choir had very strict rules governing uniforms, riser etiquette, and the like.  I expected CU to be worse, with 5 choirs and goodness knows how many singers.

I was wrong.

Apparently, the liberalism of Boulder extends to the choir world.  There are no real uniforms for women and men have to buy their own tuxedos, it's okay to wear jewelry and have your hair in your face, music doesn't have to be memorized because we can use folders, it's okay to move around on the risers, and you don't necessarily have to keep eye contact with the conductor.

Let's suffice it to say that I'm going nuts here, people.  I cannot handle this laid-back-ness.    I'm a rule-follower.  I always have been.  I don't think it's hard to follow the rules, and despise it when people think that they deserve to be above them.  I enjoy rigidness and uniformity,especially in choir.  (Maybe it's the NDakotan in me.)  
To my CO UChoir friends:  I realize that I've probably been annoying the crap about you with all of my talk about the differences in JC's Choir and CU's choir, but it's driving me psycho.  Seriously.  If I start talking about it, just tell me to shut up. I'll do my best.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


Everyone who has ever known me for more than a day knows that I have an affinity for people from other countries.  I hear jokes about it from my friends all the time. 

I can't really explain why I'm drawn to people from other countries, but my best guess is novelty.  Everyone from Gwinner is American.  And white.  So when I went to college, my eyes were opened to this whole new world filled with people from different countries, who had different cultures, languages, and beliefs.  I absolutely adore learning about all of it!

I was literally scared to talk to my first international kid because I was afraid of offending her or saying something that would make me seem stupid.  Those feelings went away quickly and before I knew it, I had more international student friends than I knew what to do with.  There were students from Nepal, Korea, Japan, Spain, India, France, Germany, Costa Rica, Ireland, etc., etc.  My family was really gracious, and I frequently brought them home for vacations and holidays. 

I loved helping those kids in any way I could if they needed it.  ND can be a difficult adjustment, especially for those from big cities.  NDakotans can sometimes be closed-minded and awkward (I was!), and there may not be anyone who speaks their native language.  Plus, there isn't much to do.  I did my best to make their adjustment as easy as possible, although it didn't always work out that way.

Those international students became my closest friends, and believe me when I say that they can be difficult relationships.  Not so much when they are in the US, but when they leave...  It's hard to watch them go, knowing that there is a true possibility of never seeing them again.  And keeping touch with crazy time differences can be trying.

Despite the inherent difficulties, I relish in these relationships.  Since moving to CO, I have met quite a few international students, but the situation is entirely different.  Here in CO, the international students don't really need anyone to help them.  There are enough people from their own culture to support one another without some crazy American's assistance. 

Since moving to CO, I have missed that type of relationship, and have been desiring to make friends with more international students for a while, so when my friend Pasha (from India) told me about International Coffee Hour, I was ecstatic to go with him this week to expand my horizons.  International Student Services offers Coffee Hour every Friday from 4 - 5pm in the UMC with free snacks or drinks, raffles, and (of course) lots of chatting among international and American students alike.  I also had the opportunity to chat with one of the employees of ISS about her job and other jobs in their office.

I was in Heaven.

I didn't meet tons and tons of people, and it was a little awkward at first, but Pasha has a lot of friends and was willing to let me follow him around as he introduced me to many people.  Afterwards, we went to dinner with 5 newly-met international students.  Again, awkward at first, but as time passed we became more comfortable.

I left feeling excited and refreshed to have connected with some non-Americans, learning about other cultures and chatting with new people.  I doubt I'll get close to many of them, but it's nice to know that the option is there.  I had an amazing time at Coffee Hour, and will hopefully go back frequently.  Thanks, Pasha, you rock!