Saturday, January 2, 2010

A real, rugged, you have to be from the Mid-West to know what this is like, South Dakota blizzard

You know you’re back in Singapore when:

1. You step out of the airport terminal into the cool evening air and you’re instantly…sweating.
2. The ring you typically wear on your pointer finger now only fits on your ring finger (Swollen feet and hands kind of come with the package deal here, so say goodbye heels unless you find stuffing the little sausages that are now your toes into a casing that is far too tight appealing.).
3. You aren’t exactly sure of the meaning of the last five sentences that were just spoken at your staff meeting. It could be the jetlag, but you have a sneaking suspicion it is rather because you still have no idea what those acronyms mean and at least three of those words were new to your “Singlish” vocabulary. A Singlish dictionary might be a good investment at this point, or at the very least, more than three hours of sleep.
4. The adorable bright-eyed three-year-old on the bus in front of you was just speaking Malay to his mother before breaking into a rousing rendition of the ABCs in perfect English (Yes, even the three-year-olds have a greater language proficiency than you.).
5. Your pillow is moldy. No joke.

Ahhh, home sweet home…sort of. Though Singapore does feel a bit more like home now that I’m coming back to a familiar place with familiar faces to boot, nothing can beat the feeling of home for the holidays in South Dakota.

There’s just something about being able to see to the ends of the earth in every direction and knowing you could walk to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow if you really wanted. There’s something about the winter steam billowing off the Missouri River and feeling the cool air caress your cheek as it races past. There’s just something about the familiar taste of mom’s cooking. There’s something about turning on the radio and knowing there will be a country song playing, inevitably one that you know word for word...George never fails me. There’s just something about watching the golden sun kiss the winter grass goodnight as it sets over the open plains. No matter how far away I am, no matter on what adventures life takes me, there’s just something about South Dakota that will always feel like coming home.

And speaking of coming home, highlights of my lovely trip back included:

1. A week spent simply enjoying one another’s company with Tim in Vermillion. I especially enjoyed eating Mexican food, attending USD’s presentation of “Peter Pan,” watching “Elf” and drinking hot schnacolate (chocolate with peppermint schnapps), attending a beer tasting (when in South Dakota…), and taking a winter walk in five layers of Tim’s clothes for a cup of much needed frothy, hot cappuccino.
2. A lovely early Christmas celebration with Tim, Dee, Chad, Anita, Shelby, my Tim, Kevin, Terry, and my immediate family in Sioux Falls. Beating the guy’s team in Trivial Pursuit giving us bragging rights for the rest of the weekend, and a chance to catch up with my good high school friend, Andrea, were top on the weekend’s “best of” list.
3. Some quality time with Gordon, Sylvester (when he wasn’t avoiding affection of any kind), and the two new kitties while my family was off at work and school.
4. The wonderful day spent baking Christmas goodies with my mom followed by a movie night out at the theatre to see “Blind Side.” (As a side note but not totally off topic, while they are brewing a love potion in Harry Potter, which was incidentally also a movie we happened to watch over the holiday, Hermione says people smell things they are attracted to when they smell the potion. Hermione, for example, smells fresh cut grass, something I can’t remember, and spearmint toothpaste. Personally, I think I would smell Christmas goodies, movie theatre popcorn, the breeze floating off the Missouri in the summer months, and Abercrombie and Finch’s Fierce cologne. Two out of four on this day with my mom…pretty good huh.)
5. Hockey games, especially the kind with my sister playing. It just isn’t winter without hockey.
6. Catching up with great friends over a bowl of salsa and basket of chips at, where else, but Guadalajara.
7. Making the annual trip to the capitol to see the Christmas trees with Tim.
8. A solid six hours of Wii tournaments with my sister on Christmas Eve day.
9. Singing “Silent Night” in the candle light at church on Christmas Eve. I love this tradition so much that, had I not been fortunate enough to be home for Christmas Eve, I probably would have lit a random candle and belted out the three verses I know solo in some hostel in Southeast Asia.
10. “Alvin and the Chipmunks the Squeakquel.” Nothing like movie theatre popcorn, girly chipmunks singing Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” and quality time with the family.
11. Sledding in a blizzard with Tim and Elizabeth in wardrobes complete with ski masks and my dad’s camo hunting cap.
12. A real, rugged, you have to be from the Mid-West to know what this is like, South Dakota blizzard on Christmas Day.
13. Walleye at Mad Mary’s with my parents, Tim, and his parents.
14. La Minestra and the Pub.
15. And for the grand finale, a road trip to Minneapolis where Tim and I spent the night at the downtown Marriot and enjoyed the most amazing four course meal complete with chocolate covered crème brulee for desert. Yes, chocolate COVERED crème brulee.

The only things missing were time with my family in Custer, grandma’s mashed potatoes, and grandpa’s caramel corn all thanks to that aforementioned South Dakota blizzard.

And now, I’m back in Singapore where snow is replaced by one hundred percent humidity, where Mexican food is replaced by Chinese, and where sledding is replaced by rollerblading. My lazy winter days spent reading, watching the Food Network, and napping with Millie and Rafiki have also been replaced by grocery shopping, bill paying, cleaning, laundry, school meetings, and lesson planning. I’ll spare you the boredom of the details of my first few days back in Singapore. I’ll also spare you the gory details of returning to a house in the tropics that has been locked up for four weeks. Let’s just say…not pretty… and not exempt of mold, dust, and mildew.

My one social endeavor since I’ve been back in Singapore was New Year’s Eve, and a fabulous celebration it was. We started the evening with appetizers, drinks, and the countdown at Jacob’s place (The “countdown” was basically a timer set on a computer, since we don’t own televisions). The party was then moved to downtown Singapore where, for the first time in my life, I experienced the glitz and glamour of a New Year’s Eve in big city in all its glory for the first time in my life. I like to say that a girl to sparkles is like a bug to a light. Well let’s just say there were a lot of sparkles…and I couldn’t get enough.

Today is Sunday. I just finished a yoga class, both to stretch from a bit of airplane soreness that still insists on lingering and to calm my nerves for my first day of school tomorrow. I feel a bit like a middle school kid before the first big day at a new school…nervous, giddy, and a bit awkward all at once. I even have my clothes laid out and a bag packed, and it is only one in the afternoon. Off to do some more cleaning and a bit more lesson planning.

Ms. Rachel

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