Vacation Like a Rich Person

If you want to escape it all for the weekend, to commune with nature in the wildest parts of America, I highly recommend anywhere besides the Poconos, which might have been nature at one point but is now just a lot of rich people pretending.

Still fun, though.

On the weekend my board gaming friends booked a “cabin” in the “woods,” although in this case “cabin” means “fancy wood-paneled home with Jacuzzi”, and “woods” means “some trees in a gated community surrounding a ski hill.” I had figured going into it that we were in danger of being hunted down by serial killers as we lay defenseless in our ramshackle cabin, but there was a security system and you couldn’t get through the gate if you looked like a murderer.

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It’s a cabin because it’s brown.

While there were technically woods surrounding us, all the houses were very closely packed in, lining the twisting roads like an otherworldly suburb. It was quite nice, actually- they had clearly put in an effort to preserve the trees when they built, and regular suburbs could benefit from the increased amounts of nature.

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All the other “cabins” were at least partially hidden by the trees, allowing you to pretend you weren’t within 200 yards of another vacationing family.

It was St. Patrick’s Day weekend and we had hundreds of board games to get through. It was heaven.

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I came very prepared for St. Patrick’s Day.

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The hot tub was built into the enclosed porch, which was excellent because it allowed us to get very hot, step outside, roll around in the snow, and submerge ourselves again while icy.

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I may have taken a creepy picture of two of my friends talking in the early morning, but they were very cute, and I have no shame.

We spent most of our time in intense relaxation, being as we are all introverts who need a little space throughout the day. We would converge in the kitchen for meals, feast merrily for an hour, and then retreat to quiet corners and watch Planet Earth for a time before board games commenced again. It was lovely.

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And then, when it got too stuffy indoors, a group of us adults would swarm the nearby sledding hill and show the local kids just how slowly you could slide down a hill on a sled that was the 1971 Chevy C10 of racecars.

We returned to our normal lives reluctantly, but satisfied in the knowledge that we had made a lot of exceptionally lazy memories. We also learned that there’s no limit to how sick you can get in a minivan with six other people on a winding hilly road in the Poconos.

Belated Christmas Gifts

I’m told that the problem with buying presents for me these days is that I’m an adult, and if I see something I want, I buy it. None of this waiting half a year in the hopes that Saint Nick will bring me something anymore. It was easier for my parents and my sister when I had no money, and it looked like I might never have any money, because then they could just give me money and be done with it.

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But since I’m adult, look at this plant I just bought! I forget what it’s called, possibly something like Hypothermia, but I felt a personal connection to it because it smelled funny and had a weird name.

These days, before I come home for Christmas, my parents ask me to put together a list of things I would enjoy owning that I don’t already, and then they pick just a few things out of the list so that it’s a mystery what I’ll get. This has worked well so far.

Of course, after I finish opening all my presents in Idaho, there’s the problem of how I’m going to fit them all into the four cubic inches of space my airline has allotted for carry-on luggage. Most of the things go into a box, and in the grand tradition of all Ludvigs we never send the box and forget that much of the stuff in it ever existed.

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This time I received the box, but I just didn’t open it for a week or two because I was “too busy.”

I had already forgotten what I had received for Christmas, so this was like unwrapping presents all over again. The rest of this post is all just me showing off my presents, so you can go do something else now. (I thank my good friend Wendy for the very pretty shawl I laid everything out on.)

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A while ago, unbeknownst to my family, I had purchased a book-shaped wallet for myself. Coincidentally, I received a book-shaped purse and a book-shaped backpack for Christmas, so now I can put my book-shaped wallet in a book-shaped purse in a book-shaped backpack, and still have enough room leftover for an actual book!

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I got the games “Coup” and “Happy Salmon.” Coup is a nice little social deduction card game that’s easy to learn and quick to play, good for my board game nights. Happy Salmon, on the other hand, is the easiest way to turn functioning adults into flailing, shouting, desperate maniacs. I highly recommend it.

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Did you ever want to read lengthy full-color comic books about small shirtless quasi-anime elfs that ride wolves and can talk to each other in their minds? Well, now you can! ElfQuest! Slogan: “Made in the ’70s and it shows!” (I love these things so much.)

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My parents are still very concerned that I’m going to be mugged or murdered by thugs out here in the big city, so they like to give me emergency items like heavy-duty flashlights and defense spray so I can use them on my opponent and then be mugged and murdered by even angrier thugs. Also, some earrings! Thanks, Mom and Dad!

And then, last but not least, I got this beautiful thing:

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I’m told it’s a sundial. A portable one, to be exact. If I were an especially competent hipster I could carry this around in my purse and pull it out whenever I wanted to know the time whilst outdoors on sunny days. Sadly, I have not yet figured out how to properly set the thing up, so I can only tell the time by looking at my phone. But it looks really classy.

This stuff really is spectacular. I have to hand it to my parents, they know what I like.

Because I tell them. In a list they request.

God bless us all, every one.

The After-Christmas

Christmas is done and gone, the children are back in school, businesses are opening back up, and my friends are planning fun things forty minutes from me, which is why it’s now snowing so heavily that I can’t locate the driveway or two of the children.

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These paper snowflakes feel kind of redundant now.

Now that I’m an adult, I’m conflicted about snow. I’m starting to realize that if you want the kids to go to school or want to be able to drive to Target, the roads need to be clear or you will inevitably end up upside-down in a ditch somewhere with children burying you in snow.

(Children never stop trying to bury you in snow after a certain age. It’s instinct.)

Fortunately, it’s snowing on a Saturday, which should give the schools ample time to shovel everything up in preparation for Monday. Unfortunately, it’s snowing so heavily at present that the roads aren’t really roads at all, but more like incidental logging trails covered in petroleum jelly. I foolishly tried to drive south to play some board games with friends today, and I drove for 40 minutes at 25 miles an hour on the highway. If you’re doing the math, that means it took me exactly an hour to realize I would be better off back at home with a cup of tea.

So now I’m back at home with a cup of tea, listening to the sounds of chaos outside my room, and I’m organizing the Christmas presents from my employers.

Yes, there are enough that they have to be organized.

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Bottom left: Box of chocolates that are missing most of the coconut variety already.

My employers are very kind and generous people, and Mrs. Parent in particular loves giving gifts that are thoughtfully tailored to the recipient. I’m not sure they quite understand the all-consuming passion I have for magic, fairy tales, etc., but they really do their best. The purse she was particularly proud of, because she knows I like deep browns and across the chest straps.

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My favorite, of course, is the tea.

The peculiar tea set they gave me was composed of one single teabag per type of tea, which is artistic if not very practical, and each tea bag has a little leaf on the end of it for decorative purposes. The covered teacup has a little hole in the top which lets the teabag string through, allowing one to steep their tea without it going cold.

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Much like in fancy restaurants, you know the food is too classy for you when there’s so little of it.

Naturally the teacup can be re-purposed to fit regular teabags with enough folding and stuffing.

So now I’m stuck inside the house, but I have my own little oasis, lit by Christmas candles and smelling like chocolates and tea. It’s almost enough to forget that there are three to six boys outside my room, gleefully smacking each other with their new stuffed Pikachus.

I also gave them extreme dot-to-dot books so that they have something that requires sitting quietly for hours at a time. It doesn’t sound like they’re using them.

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Don’t tell anyone I’m still playing holiday music. This could be the fourteenth day of Christmas.

My 21st

The trouble with having a birthday right around Christmas time is that it’s right around Christmas time, the time of year when everyone is frantically buying last minute gifts no matter how early they started. It’s busy, there’s things going on, everyone’s running around like mad. Jolly good fun.

This was the first year in a long time that I’ve had a proper “party,” (i.e. more than my immediate family and the neighbors who hang out at our place a lot), and it was all put together by my friend Carrot*, who is a wholly decent human being. A flawless example of what humanity should be. One of those people you have trouble being around for too long because they make you seem like a thoughtless jerk in comparison.

Really, nothing bad to say about the guy.

At any rate, Carrot organized a group of a dozen of my closest friends and we all went out to see Rogue One. Mid-late December is a lovely time to have a birthday because Hollywood likes to release the high-effort shows in time for the holidays. No weak summer comedies for us!

After the movie we retired to Carrot’s place for ordered-in Chinese food and board games. We would have gone out, you see, but it was the day before my birthday and I still couldn’t technically drink.

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I had two teaspoons of alcohol that day, wrapped in chocolate and tin foil.

But that’s okay, really. I’m not a “going out” kind of person. Neither are any of my friends. It’s the reason I stopped having parties to begin with, because parties are exhausting and require you to interact with people, and wouldn’t it be much better to just celebrate your birthday from the comfort of a blanket nest in a dark corner?

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Hence, board games. Always board games.

Carrot had a cake for me, which was incredibly sweet, and they painstakingly lit the whole twenty-one candles. Every year I wonder if this will be the last year people attempt to light the correct number of candles for my age.

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Amelie’s boyfriend, Jonas, gifted me Redd’s Ginger Apple Ale. “It’s because you’re a redhead, get it? Get it, Jean? Get it?” *nudge nudge*

I’d have taken a picture of everybody, but I’m trying to maintain some semblence of privacy, so instead I offer up this picture of a cart full of Pikachus, and I wish everyone a Merry Christmas. As of now, I’m so officially an adult that I could order alcohol on the plane back home if I chose. I won’t, but I could.

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What happens when some of the boys you take care of are veeerry into Pokemon, to your eternal torment.

* So named in this blog because he puts me in mind of Carrot Ironfoundersson, Discworld character and decent human being dwarf. They’re also similar in height.

October Blonde

One day I woke up and thought to myself, “I want to purchase a large number of wigs, cosmetics, and colored contact lenses, and become a completely normal yet completely different person every Wednesday night in October.” And so that is what I did.

Every Wednesday night, you see, I attend a board game meetup with a lot of my dear friends. And typically, when I attend these meetups, I look like my normal self, which is mostly red, white, and blue.

Brace yourself.

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Egads!

Terrible fish-eyed phone pictures aside, I generally look more presentable than that, in that if I ever look too much like that during the day I will wear a paper bag over my head for the sake of public well-being. But I thought it was an important picture to present, as I was about to rearrange everything in the hopes of looking like a completely different person.

I began with the contact lenses. I bought these contact lenses at the very reasonable price of $6 from a Chinese company that has clearly taken every precaution to make sure that I don’t suddenly go blind. I’m sure it’s totally safe, but I won’t share where I got them from because I’m too lazy to link it, and also I don’t want to be the cause of blindness for anyone else.

img_20161012_134335666I’m getting very good at putting contact lenses in: This set only took me one to three hours, two bottles of saline solution, and a small sacrifice to the contact lens gods.

Once I was sufficiently greened up, it was time to put on the wig cap and apply makeup with a painter’s roller and a flat iron, as you do.

I won’t share what makeup I used, as you can generally go to Walgreens and find the names of it under the “Manufacturer recall” notification, but I will share that it was all the cheapest of whatever I could find, and I applied it very carefully via fingerpainting.

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I can still see freckles! Slap on some more!

The wig was next, of course, as was the hat to go on top of the wig to hide the fact that the wig resembled a $5 wig in every way because that’s what it was.

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I primarily own hats so that I don’t have to worry about that section of my hair.

And that was… it, really. Next week will be a different wig and set of contacts. Why, you may or may not be asking? Because… um… you know, when I have a reason, I’ll get back to you.

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Sadly, all my outfits will only ever be “very, very white girl.”