"Your brother is pretty cute." "Oh?" "Yeah. I’d marry him tomorrow."

After Seaworld we were doing a lot of traveling, and then I was back to work, so I wasn’t writing daily journals. Hence, this post brings me up to the present. 😀

The trip back was uneventful, barring a 45 minute taxi onto the runway in Toronto. No one was especially pleased about that, including the pilots. But we did get off the ground eventually, and arrived in St. John’s after midnight. I watched The Bank Job in-flight, which was a stressful movie. Not scary in the gut reaction sense, but I definitely spent a good portion of the movie with my hand over my mouth- mentally shouting at the characters. “GET OUT NOW! IT”S A TRAP! GAH!!!!” *cough* I still enjoyed it, mind! However, due to the fact that it was based on real events, it was a little different than most bank-bust flicks. This includes the death toll. For example, most movies focus on the robbery. In this one they were into the vault a half hour into the movie, and the rest was dealing with the significant outfall of the job. Very enjoyable. And thankfully I was tired enough to fall asleep with absolutely no repercussions! 😀

Next morning, we visited the Janeway, and got home in the afternoon. I picked up my schedule for McDonald’s and keys to the library that evening, and since then I haven’t been home much, unfortunately. I’m trying to cram 140 hours into 10 days, after which I will be done with my grant at the library! w00t!

And my title was an actual conversation between a co-worker and I. It was one of those moments which stretch the bonds of the surreal till they creak.
*thinks* “I really wish I had drunk that coffee this morning.”
*says* Nothing, while smiling weakly.
AND switching trains of thought completely, The Arrival by Shaun Tan, is a lovely book. It’s a graphic novel, so much so that there is no text- just incredibly detailed and incredibly beautiful drawings. Surreally thought provoking. For instance, I had never before thought about the challenge of a new alphabet on immigrating to a new place.

Oh, related to books, I had a how-is-your-job-going interview today at the library. Thankfully Lizzy woke me up a half hour before I was supposed to be at work; because I had turned off my alarm, tripped over a book, fallen into bed, and fallen back asleep an hour previous. Oops. But it was all good! And the interview seemed to go well! I even skated blithely past the dreaded “Career Goals” question. That’s just a trick question, see, when you don’t have normal Career Goals. “Travel, learn languages, and write” somehow doesn’t have quite the same cachet as saying that you plan to be a social worker. Funny, that. 😀 But my verbal skating was so successful that the interviewer said I was very well spoken! *preens* Fancy that!

Also, another grant-related worry was killed off. I was slightly nervous that the voucher, (which makes up the majority of my pay for this job,) would be limited to this fall. “Use it or lose it” on the part of the government. But it arrived today, and it’s good until May 2010! This leaves a little room for life to happen, which is always good.

And I just had a thought, yeah? (yesterday, really, but still.) It’s beautifully easy to get a work Visa for the EU. You just need a return ticket to home, or enough money for one, and you’re good to work. SO, next summer, maybe I can do summer work in the UK. Might even be able to convince some people to come with me, and we can split the rent on a flat. Eh?

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"You’ve been to HOW many theme parks this week?" "We start early."

Day: 7
Date: 24/07/08
Event: Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure

Universal pwns Disney. That’s all there is to say! Look at this way- Universal is geared toward teenagers, and I still have two months left on that count. Also, instead of vaguely saying that the “cast members” in Disney would notice the wish buttons, Universal gave us a pass to show to the Greeter at the start of the line; which meant that we did a LOT.

First, the Twister ride. Then The Mummy returns coaster. On that one the staff loading the cars referred to us as “sacrifices,” which set the mood nicely. Next stop, DISASTER! Which I found hilarious. It’s about disaster movies, and we had a rather funny director.

“I need a hot hunky man- not personally, of course! Yes, you sir! Would you refer to yourself as hot and hunky?”

Then while walking away from that ride, we spotted a wall climbing booth. I took pictures. I offer in my defence the fact that there were only four lines. Then, Jaws, lunch, Fear FactorLIVE, and MIB in quick secession. At this point we were starting to flag slightly, but we decided to try the Simpsons ride. It was rather interesting, since it was an animated ride. The car was on hydraulics, and surrounded by an Imax-style screen. As a result, the car could hurl down a collapsing roller coaster, for instance, without universal actually having to build a collapsing roller coaster track.

It’s two o-clock in the afternoon, you’re tired, and you’ve done everything in the park that you want to do. What now? If you’re the G5, you head next door to another park! Did I mention that we’re insane?

On to the HULK Roller Coaster! Refreshed by that, we tried a promising-looking ride, which turned out to be relaxing, which was not what it promised. 😛 At this point we passed a bookstore, or at least a store with books in the window. I was magnetically attracted inside. It turned out to be a comic book store, and I was the only female in the premises. To the point that the guy in Horn-rimmed glasses and pens in the breast pocket of his shirt edged away when I approached the hardcover rack he was drooling over. What can I say? Me in a bookstore is a fearsome sight! But Fraulein dragged me away, bah humbug, and we set off to ride two water rides.

After a brief stop for fries and pop we tramped over to THE LOST CONTINENT and rode Dueling Dragons. Both Dragons. I think I’m roller-coastered out. That was the last ride we wanted to do, so we headed for the hotel. And on my way out of the Park I was hit with a lovely plot bunny. *sigh* This is now the third full-scale novel sitting in the back of my head laughing at me. And what sparked this one? Radio head, the Mary Sue Litmus test, a boy with animplaned hearing aid (I’m not sure what they’re called,) and Heather Dale. I love being complicated. 😀

And now, some quotes of the day;

A greeter: “Move on in, move on it, everyone’s FRIENDLY at the Hulk!”

Fraulein, in Jurassic; “Oh, I just noticed; we’re in the front of the car.” *weakly* “yay.”

Jurassic rider 1: “I wasn’t scared.”
Jurassic rider 2: “You just yelled all your relative’s names.”

A comedian on the telly; “Mario, if you’re a plumber, how come you’re bashing open bricks with your head?”
“I’m-a looking for mushrooms!”
“Ah-hah!

"My pursuit of information knows no shame."

Day: 6
Date: 23/07/08
Event: Animal Kingdom and More

Today I entered and exited 3 theme parks, rode 3 monorails and 2 buses, ate in 1 restaurant, took 2 taxis and 6 rides. I also saw an ant-eater, discussed the mindset and propaganda machine that is the Disney entity, and drank three cups of coffee. Oh, and I saw a cute guy in the line behind me in Dinoland.

The day’s plan of attack;

  • Arrive at Animal Kingdom with Family, Split up
  • Ride the two rides in Dinoland USA. (ish)
  • Meaner over to “Asia” and ride Expedition Everest. (awesome)
  • Book it out of the park and take a bus to Epcot.
  • Sidle along to Mexico and eat lunch, pausing for a discussion of Pleasure, Pain, and Utility.
  • March out of Epcot and take two monorail to Magic Kingdom.
  • Fight our way over to Tomorrowland, ride Indy Speedway. (meh)
  • Be sucked into Space Mountain. (great)
  • Persevere across the park into Splash Mountain. (good)
  • Elbow our way out of Magic Kingdom, stopping to buy ice cream from a bearded woman from Hati.
  • Gawk at an amazing barbershop quartet by the gate.
  • Take a monorail and a bus back to Animal Kingdom.
  • Meet up with Mommy, Daddy and the small ones.
  • Taxi to the Hotel.
  • Order in Chinese food and discuss the jaw-dropping efficiency and pervasiveness of Disney.

And now some quotes from the past 6 days.

Walrus’s idea of smalltalk: “Oh, I just noticed! Your legs are really hairy!”

Gail (A nurse back home): “Mickey loves everyone, even if you haven’t met him before.”
Daddy: “Actually, Mickey is just an actor in a plastic suit. And he’s probably dying of heat stroke, which is why his smile is painted on.”

Person 1 in line: “And when you have the whole Big Mac meal, it’s over a thousand calories.”
Person 2: “Don’t think about that! You only die once, so you may as well enjoy yourself.”

Taxi Driver: “And after 9/11 none of the Americans were flying, so the Brits kept this town alive. Of course, they’re used to fighting the NRA, so Al Queda was no biggie.”

Gid, with a big grin; “I ate you!”

Gid: “I have lightning shoes!”

Me, draping myself over a balcony: “I’m going into Internet withdrawal.”

Walrus: “I’m drinking jelly beans!”

Mommy: “Well, Gid saw a dragonfly, Lacey saw a Giraffe, and Snazel saw a cute guy; so the day was a success.”

Daddy: “This whole experience is the kind of thing which requires years of prior conditioning- which we don’t have. Which might be why we’re a little skeptical of the $20 pirate mouse ears.”

Sam, riding down the freeway. “Car! Car! Car! Car! Car! Car?”
PT: “No, that’s a truck.”
Sam: “Oh. Truck! Truck! Truck! Truck!”

"Dr. Who did not help that experience to be more reassuring."

Day: 5
Date: 22/07/08
Event: Hollywood Studios

This experience is very fun, but my tendency towards cynicism in not lessening. In Epcot there is a general feeling of Quality to the structures, or at least of solidity. But Here the whole idea is that it is movie sets, so it all rings slightly false. 😀 Hah! I mean, false even after the significant suspension of disbelief required for a theme park. 😛

We started the day with Star Tours; a Star Wars Themed ride. It was quite fun, but we realised afterwards that Slonner and Walrus have not seen the movies, which made it slightly incomprehensible for them. They still enjoyed it, however, so all was not lost. After emergence from that ride, we were off to meet Lightening McQueen!

This was the thing Gid actually wished for. And I don’t know- when you have a 4 year-old palliative patient who has had a rush wish (which means he doesn’t have a lot of time,) come to visit, wouldn’t you try to do something special for him? A meeting in Lightning’s Garage? Five minutes uninterrupted? A sticker pack? That was what I was expecting. What we got was jumped to the front of the line to get our picture taken with Lighting and Mater. Two minutes, tops, in the middle of the public square, with other people crowding in for their turn, and music blaring.

Now, Gid was still delighted. When I asked later what he did today he said that “I saw Lightening and Mater- and touched them!” I, on the other hand, wanted to punch something. Hard. Broken glass and blood, please. Bah, I believed the Disney propaganda, which is always a dangerous thing. I’ve just got a jaded soul and Gid is so cute it hurts. I was holding him while we were waiting for Lightning, and he is so thin. Such delicate hands. His eyes are huge, and when he grins he’s infused with happiness. You beam to look at him. Mommy bought him Lightning McQueen shoes last night, and he was delighted with the. And the thing with Gid is that when you use words like “delight,” “joy,” and “beam,” it is the perfect truth. Even with all he’s been through, he is so full of life and happiness. My little brother is an amazing little boy. I wish I could see the man he would be. I have been truly blessed to be his big sister for 4 years.

[Here I broke off to bawl in the bathroom for 10 minutes]

Anyhow, the day. We went on a number or other rides, but probably the most noteworthy were the Tower of Terror and Rocking Roller Coaster. The Tower of Terror, because of the, (yes,) terror it inspired. The title is my reaction after we staggered out. The Rocking Roller Coaster is worthy of note because of its truly impressive wait line. ToT was fun, I’ll say, but I have no interest in doing it again. Been there, done that, sneered at the t-shirt. Seriously, why are all the good snarky t-shirts in guy’s sizes only? Even if perchance they have an acceptable design, it’s on a pink background!

I don’t do pink. I am the anti-pink. Pink is against my beliefs. So why do half of all female t-shirts have to be on that accursed colour? *bites a pillow* This is me, not impressed.

And on the subject of t-shirts, Fraulein and I noticed a distinguishing feature of Brazilian girls while in the interminable line for the RRC. There are a lot of groups of teenage tours from Brazil, all with official t-shirts. And the girls, almost without fail, have modified their shirts. The modifications range from “falling off the shoulder,” to “sleeveless,” to “bikini top.” I didn’t know you could fashion a bikini out of a t-shirt, but these girls manage it.

Overall, today was another very fun day, and I’m becoming acclimatised and accustomed, but I don’t think I’d fork out my own money for another ticket.

We’re in the SYSTEM now!

Day: 4
Date: 21/07/08
Event: Epcot

Disney is pretty much the embodiment of wildly successful capitalism. 47 square miles of wildly successful capitalism. Not that it’s not warranted, mind you. Today was kind of our test-day, to see ho our other days will be organised. And it was very fun.

After getting through the gates, (which required a fingerprint scan, (for Homeland Security? No one knows.)) We split up into two group. Mommy, Daddy and the small ones in one group, and Slonner, PT, Walrus, Fraulein and I in another. As we’re the oldest, we’re sometimes refereed to as the G5, and we were unleashed on the unsuspecting theme park! *evil laugh* We commenced a detailed and carefully considered planning session.

“What’s that golf ball?”
“I think it’s a ride?”
“Wanna go on it?”
“Sure!”
*enters the line for Spaceship Earth*

In fact, that was the best line experience of our day. We were in the official queue for approximately 2 minutes before we were taken aside and let in the exit. Aren’t we special? *preens* There was on spot on the “time travel” ride when we saw Michelangelo painting the Sistine chapel, with an Alleluia playing, and I got hit rather hard with a wave of homesickness for Augustine. I never thought I’d miss music class, but that time has arrived! 😀 Then we got stuck up at the top. PT spotted a pair of legs sticking out form under a car, so he was either fixing it, or we’re run over him and they were bringing up the body bag. It was dark; who knows?

Anyhow, fired with enthusiasm at our short line wait, we headed over to Test Track. 50minutes later, we got on the ride. I guess not all park employees are as zealous to give special treatment! I should explain at this point, that we were told, as a wish family, that we wouldn’t have to wait in lines. 😀 *shrug*

By the time we emerged form there, it was time for lunch. Whereupon we went to Morocco! For those not familiar with Epcot, it has 11 “international showcases,” which ostensibly represent Canada, UK, France, Morocco, Japan, US, Italy, Germany, China, Norway and Mexico. We lunched at Morocco, including some truly incredible coffee.

I have absolutely no inclination to close my eyes.

Then we did all the other countries. Well, not the US or France, but those hardly count, right? *ducks*

Among the G5, it was agreed that Japan, Germany, Morocco and UK, were the best, with Japan being “The place I most wish I had money for.” I almost bought a Kimono, as they were SOOO pretty, but by the time I would have bought one that wasn’t rayon, with the proper accoutrement, I could easily have spent $200. Therefore I decided to wait for my trip to Japan, which will happen someday! Why wait? Because I would certainly wear it on the street, and it would keep the cringe factor down if I didn’t have to say I bought it at Disney. So I bought Slonner a Parasol instead.

Then we went on the most successful ride of the day, which was Mission: SPACE. We were waved into the Fastpass line, but I’m still not sure if that was due to the Wish Uniform we were wearing or not. Anyhow, I tend to like anything vaguely space-related, and the ride its self was pretty awesome, so it was a general hit.

And now my legs are very tired. I don’t usually get to where it hurts to more. At last count, that took a walk of 15 km. So we walked at least that. Oh, and after the small ones were in bed, we went to a MASSIVE Wal-mart. Truly, this takes superstore to a whole new level.

Most of the time I don’t know what is an average price for Clothing, or shoes, or even media. But one thing I am very certain of is the average price of chocolate; and the bars at checkout were only 60% of the prices we get at home. Even with the exchange, that is still a significant benefit to the American shopper. I mean, no wonder the American students were aghast at Canadian Prices!

And one last discovery. I need to work on feeling more secure in public places. If I’m walking around in a basic state of insecurity, wanting only to retreat to my room, that tends to defeat the purpose of travel, no? Or maybe I can just go where there is an absence of crowds. 😛

Hurry up and Wait…

Day: 3
Date: 20/07/08
Event: To Orlando

Despite having all the ingredients of a very dreary day, it has been fun!

It started at 6:13 am, when the little girls I was sharing a room with woke up and wanted to know when they had to wake up. (6:30) We were flying out at 10, but since it was an international flight, which requires checking in 2 hours early, and we were an admittedly large group, we were leaving the Hotel/Terminal at 7:30. Enough time to check in, get through customs, and catch some breakfast. Right?

Well, that might have worked had we been travelling any airline other than Air Canada.

We arrive at the international check-in and are told that we have to use the self-serve. Told rudely, I might say. It gets halfway through the our 12 personal ticket-group and dies. Twice. Daddy heads over the line F, which declares in pretty lights over the desk that it is “self service assistance.” However, as he approaches the desk the lady behind it declares that she can’t help and walks away.

After a short verbal skirmish with another lady, behind the Oversized-Baggage counter, we enter the check-in line. Approximately 35 minute after entering the line, we arrive at a desk. !0 minutes there and we have out boarding passes. Yes, the whole rigmarole was solely to get out boarding passes and have out luggage approved. At was about at this point that I remember what I learned last Christmas, which is that time ceases to have meaning while traveling, You enter a supra-state wherein colours and textures are abnormally fascinating, shameless gawking at other passengers is par for the course and the world outside the airport swindles into comparative insignificance. And all it takes to achieve this state is belligerent airport employees and a wait of an hour or more. No drugs required at all! 😛

Anyhow, we got out of check-in and slid neatly into the line for customs. That went smoothly, and it was on to drop off the luggage and enter the line for security. Apparently with American Security you have to take off your shoes as a matter of course. There were no hassles, but security remains a surreal experience. Not the least if you happen to glance at the next line over (always a bad idea) and Mr. Anarchy has tried to go through security wearing studded leather, and consequently, after putting all offending clothing items through the scanner, is wearing very little while being patted down. And it’s all normal. Weird. *shudders*

Anyhow, we made it through , and made our gate with a whole 5 minutes to spare! Yay us!

Three hours later, we land in Orlando. There is another monorail to the other terminal, where lives the baggage claim. I am pleased 🙂 So we take it over to the other terminal, and wait for our baggage. Thankfully I do not have a watch to stress over, but it was a long time before our five lovely bags came down the conveyor.

Next objective; get to our hotel. There is a shuttle, but it seems to cost $90 per person. (90*12=1080?) Let’s consider alternative transport! Daddy goes off to arrange this, while we wait. An undefined amount of time later, we hire two cab vans and speed off to the resort. Finally, the end of the line! Only not quite.

It seems that our rooms were not ready. (at this point it was 3 in the afternoon, local time) Okay, that’s fine, we’ll just take a tired party of 12,, which has eaten only on the plane, if they were not sleeping, on a walk. This has all the potential to be very unpleasant. But there might be gators in that pond! There are palm trees on the side of the road! And look, a lizard! And another one! The crisis does not materialize

Just as were were all lined up to try and dash across the road, the cellphone rang; our rooms were ready. So we trundle back and collapse inside the AC. Fraulein and I have our own room, nicknamed the Peach Hut. The hotel is actually a resort, with tennis courts, pool, spa, and “sundry amenities.” We’re living the high life! (Although, I think that the Toronto Hotel was nicer, but that’s just me)

Tomorrow is Disney!