Fest 2011: Second Weekend

Oh my gosh this weekend was awesome! The weather was perfect on Saturday, and many fun things happened throughout the day. We taught two of the big puppets one of our dances and had them dance it with us, which was soooo funny and awesome! My parents happened to be there, and I gave my camera to my dad to take pics, and he took a few of us, but none of the big puppets dancing. What! Thanks a lot, Dad! I kept trying to signal him to take pics, but he didn’t see me. Grrrr! I hope someone got pics/video…!

We also made a little tour around the Fest grounds, and stopped to do dances for a couple of shops. They really seemed to enjoy that, and being out on different parts of the grounds than we normally see was nice. It worked well.

At one point, I gave Marusia (the 4-year old daughter of two of our adult dancers) the sticks to play during one of our songs, and after that she wanted to play them or the tambourine every time, going into our director’s pouch to get the sticks out or taking the tambourine from her belt. So cute! She was also very curious about my flute, and I sort of tried to teach her how to make a sound, but it’s hard to explain to someone how to do it, especially someone who is 4 years old. 🙂 But I showed here where to put her fingers (although she couldn’t reach all the keys at the same time). Later in the evening, she got bored with the instruments and I gave her my little brush/mirror (it’s the size of a compact, and opens up to a mirror on one side and a round, pop-out brush on the other) to play with. She thought that was pretty fun, and proceeded to brush my hair with it for at least half an hour. At one point, she said, “Long, pretty hair!” Awww, such a cutie! Then she was trying to braid my hair and put it in a ponytail, and brushing her own hair… it was really adorable.

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Random Musings on a Friday Morning

It’s Friday. Work is boring. I want to be at home!

Many exciting things coming up. First, of course is Fest this weekend. We’re supposed to have great weather (again!!) so I am very excited. Also, I gave comp tickets to several of my coworkers, so I should see a few of them out there this weekend. I like the idea of my work people seeing me in a completely different environment, partly because my role in that environment is, I think, completely unexpected to most given my demeanor at work. They don’t expect a quiet, reserved person to dress up in funny clothes, play music and SING in public, and play a silly part-pirate character.

I like doing things that challenge people’s perception of me. There was an essay in our high school newspaper that I will never forget, written by this really cool senior (I was a sophomore at the time, I think) about challenging people’s pre-conceived notions of who you are. He said, “Everyone has their own pre-conceived notion of who you are. They’re never right. Show them. Make them think you could leap tall buildings in a single bound if the thought occurred to you.” One of the best compliments I ever received (I can’t even remember who said it now, and I’m not sure it was intended as a compliment) was “Every time I think I have you figured out, you do something completely unexpected.”

One of my favorite coworkers is coming to Fest on Labor Day, which is also her and her wife’s wedding anniversary (same-sex marriage is not yet legal in MN, but I attended the wedding and it was every bit as legitimate as any other wedding I’ve ever attended). I want to work with the guitarist in our group to serenade them with a love song. I can’t decide what song, though. I have music for the love theme from Romeo & Juliet (the 70s movie version), and I think that would sound really lovely as a flute and guitar duet. But it also kind of has tragic overtones, so maybe I should pick something more uplifting. I don’t know. I have time to give it some more thought.

Fest 2011: Opening Weekend

Fest opened this weekend, and it was great!

Saturday was the biggest opening day CF I’ve ever seen, and opening day is typically pretty hectic. This year, they changed our parking arrangements about 3 days before opening, and probably half of the people never heard about the change. I knew about it and should have figured that traffic would be backed up, but I didn’t leave any earlier than normal. When I arrived at the participants’ entrance, traffic was backed up nearly to the highway, and it’s a long way from the highway to the parking lot. Crikey! But it was fine; it all worked out.

Then, since our group had our stage yanked out from underneath us, we had made up our own schedule. I was part of the planning committee who came up with the schedule, and I knew it was overly ambitious, but when I raised this concern, other members of the committee didn’t share my concern. Fine. Sometimes you just have to let people try things their way, and come to their own realization that their way is not going to work.

So on Saturday, we were all running around like headless chickens trying to get to our self-appointed engagements on time, while also making time to drink water, eat food, and answer the call of nature. Supposedly we were supposed to have some time to rest in there, but I didn’t get a second to sit down backstage until probably 4 or 5 pm. A couple of our members succumbed to the heat and had to sit out a good part of the afternoon. Needless to say, the schedule was unsustainable.

But despite the hectic schedule, I had a great day. I was tired, but I managed to get enough to eat and drink and didn’t get exhausted or too hot or anything. I thought the weather was perfect, actually—low 80s and mostly sunny. Of course, I’m not a dancer and I don’t dress in the heavier noble garb, and I realize low 80s is pretty uncomfortable for most members of the troupe. But they suffer in the heat, and I suffer in the cold—it’s really hard to play the flute with frozen fingers—so I think it’s fair!

And aside from the fact that we overscheduled ourselves, our plan really worked out well. We did a couple of full shows and several teaching sessions, one of which was in the Children’s Realm. That was really fun—the little kids are so cute, especially the girls who are all so excited to dance with the ladies in their pretty dresses. ☺ We get much more audience interaction when teaching (obviously) and performing on level ground instead of on a stage.

MBTI Debriefing at Work!

I’ve been looking forward to this for months… years, actually, since the first time we did the MBTI at work, a few years ago, I was out of town the day of the debriefing. We have a lot of new staff, so we just did it again and we had the debriefing last week. It was great! The test we did was called the MBTI Step II. Basically, that means that it splits each function up into 5 attributes, so “Introverted” can really mean 5 different things: Receiving, Intimate, Contained, Reflective and Quiet. An Introvert can be all of these things in varying degrees, or only some of them (like not all Introverts are quiet, for example), and it also splits out your “outliers” (attributes that normally are outside of your type), so it alleviates the tendency, a little bit, to assume that all INFJs or whatever are exactly the same. For example, my results are as follows:

Whereas my Step I results type me as “just” INFJ:

My Step II results are much more specific:

Same result, but much more in-depth, and it explains why, although I am a feeler, I really don’t feel very compassionate sometimes, and although I’m a J, I am pretty relaxed about things that change at the last minute, or go wrong, don’t need most things on a strict timeline, etc.

My F result is really strange– I score more on the T side on all attributes except Tough vs Tender, and yet I am typed as an F. I asked the facilitator about that, and I didn’t quite understand the response, but she said that can sometimes happen, because certain questions are weighted differently and there’s an algorithm that determines the type. Being Questioning, I’d really like to know the details on how it works, but I trust the test.

Australia Visit: Days 10-12

Day 10: Visit to University of Wollongong

I enjoyed this visit. First, I took a lovely train ride from Sydney to Wollongong (about an hour). The scenery was gorgeous – the train goes along the coast, through beautiful, lush areas. I love riding on trains, too. So relaxing. I almost missed the train, because I couldn’t figure out what platform to go to, and that wasn’t so relaxing, but once I boarded (about a minute before it left!), all was well! Also, in the morning, I stopped for coffee at a shop a block away from my hotel on the way to the train station, and the guy who made my coffee asked me where I was from, and when I said MN, he revealed that he was born there! Craziness. Of course, he could have been pulling my leg, but he knew stuff about the MN accent, like “Dontcha know,” and about small towns that I would guess most people wouldn’t know. So I think he was being serious.

Anyway, back to Wollongong. It was originally (and still is) a steel works town, so its origins are very blue collar and down to earth. I like that. But now, the University has replaced the steel industry as the town’s biggest employer, so there’s also that college town/academic vibe as well. The staff were, of course, super nice and friendly, and I was happy to hear Wollongong has a formal volunteering program, which is somewhat unusual in Oz, but something my students are always asking me about.

I took the train back to Sydney after the visit, once again arriving in town after dark. But that was okay; I didn’t plan to do any sightseeing that night—I had a ticket to Mary Poppins: The Musical, which was playing at a theater right across the street from my hotel. I was very excited about that. The performance was great… at least the first 30 minutes. After that, there was some kind of technical difficulty with the set (it broke somehow and wouldn’t turn, so they couldn’t change scenes), so the show had to be cancelled. ☹ Bummer! I got a refund, of course, but still, it was sad.

Day 11: University of Melbourne visit

I got up and caught an early flight to Melbourne, found my hotel, then headed to the University for my afternoon visit. Great visit: awesome staff, nice campus and city, etc. I got to visit one of the residential colleges (dorms) that is in a recently-refurbished historic building. Very cool! After my visit, I did some sightseeing, but most of the sightseeing was during my free day, Saturday.

Flinders Street Station

Australia Visit: Days 8-9

Day 8: Visit to James Cook U – Townsville:

In the morning, my colleague from JCU picked me up at the hotel and we drove to the Townsville campus. There, I had a coffee, met with some other colleagues, toured the campus, had lunch, and met with the head of international student support. This last meeting was particularly interesting. She might be a good colleague to collaborate with on some research about mental health during study abroad. She has a background in psychology, working with people in transition, and had some really great ideas and strategies on how to ease students’ transitions into Australian Uni life. I’ll definitely have to contact her again.

After my campus visit, which ended at about 1, I went into town to buy a new suitcase, and later took a ferry to Magnetic Island to look around and watch the sunset. The ferry took about 20 minutes and it was delightful. On Maggie Island, I took a bus to Horseshoe Bay, found myself a rock to sit on on the beach, and watched the sun set over the water, which is rare in Eastern Australia! It was quite beautiful. Caught the ferry back, and on the top level it was just me and a couple of tradies. It was a bit chilly, but it was nice and quiet and offered a great view of the night sky during the ride. I had sort of forgotten that the sky would look different at night!

Ship at Townsville’s port, view from Maggie Island ferry

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Day 9: Townsville – Sydney via Brisbane

Airport, plane, airport, plane, airport, train. Someone quoted some theorist or another to me once, who noted that travel has changed from journeying through spaces to waiting in non-spaces. Non-spaces are things like airports and train stations, which look the same no matter where you are, and often are technically not even considered part of the country they are in. I’m inclined to agree, and this type of travel is necessary, but quite unfortunate. I’d much rather ride for 6 hours on a bus than go wait at an airport for an hour and sit on a plane for an hour.

I got into Sydney about 3pm, got situated in my hotel, and then went out exploring. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, so I didn’t take any pictures, but I saw the Sydney Harbor, and the Opera House and all that. From what I got to see of it (not much; I was only ever in Sydney after dark, really), I didn’t care much for Sydney. It is the financial capital of Australia, and you can tell – it feels very corporate. The Harbor and Harbor Bridge were very pretty, and the Opera House is cool, but my favorite part (that I saw) was the Rocks area – the original part of the city. They’ve refurbished it a lot and have modern businesses in the historical buildings, but they’ve done a really good job at keeping the historical feel to the buildings. I’d have liked to explore it a bit more during the day, but the daylight hours on Day 10 were filled by my visit to University of Wollongong.

Australia Visit: Days 6-7

Day 6: Reef Day!
We went out snorkeling/scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef! It was pretty awesome. I thought about trying scuba, because it was pretty cheap given that the boat ride out was already paid for, but we had to fill out a health form at the beginning, and since I am on anxiety medication, they wouldn’t let me. That was fine with me; I didn’t have my heart set on scuba or anything. I went snorkeling and that was really fun.

One of the program leaders showed me around a bit – he found a clownfish (Nemo!) and showed me, and a sea cucumber, and huge clams. Just in general the fish were really bright, pretty and colorful, and so was the reef itself. I also just really enjoyed the boat ride. We saw a humpback whale mama and baby! I didn’t see it up close, although apparently they got quite close to the boat, but I could see them in the distance. So cool!

Day 7: Cairns-Townsville
I took the Greyhound bus from Cairns to Townsville. It was about a 6-hour journey, but it was very enjoyable and passed quickly. The bus wasn’t very full, so I had two seats to myself and plenty of room to spread out a little bit. I just watched the scenery and listened to music for the entire time—quite pleasant!

Also, the bus driver was awesome. When we started out, he made an announcement with some safety instructions, etc, and his information about the bathroom made me laugh. It went something like this:

“The bus is equipped with a toilet, or bathroom, for your comfort, so please use that if you need it. If you do need to use the facilities, please make sure that you lock the door. This is important for a few reasons. First, it turns on the light. Second, it keeps out any unwanted visitors. Third, it keeps you in the bathroom. Sometimes on the highway I have to swerve the bus, and if the door is not locked, the occupant of the toilet can find themselves in the seat across the way, usually with their pants around their ankles, and never very happy.

Also, outside the toilet, and in no way connected to what happens inside the toilet, you will find chilled water for your convenience.”

I was cracking up. He was fantastic.