Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's Savannah, Ya'll!

Wednesday started out as a trying yet good day, made up of 7 hours of 4th graders followed immediately by 3 hours of 3, 4, and 5 year olds. Overall, it was a pretty good work day when 6:00 finally rolled around and I breathed a big sigh relief on the way home.

The only thing putting a damper on my evening was that Gearry would be spending the evening attending the Extreme party fundraiser at Grayson Stadium while I hung out by myself at home. I was originally supposed to go with him, but he found out at the last minute that I could not attend on his college's sponsorship ticket because of how it was funded. Which I was disappointed by, since his chef had asked me to go in his place, but I totally understood. Makes sense.

Gearry was just heading out the door when I got home from work. I told him to have fun and settled down in front of the television with a sandwich and a bowl of soup. No more than I had slurped the last slurp and taken the last bite, the phone rang. To my surprise, it was Gearry, who had just arrived at the extravaganza a few minutes before to find that a couple of people who were supposed to attend could not and had called me upon the suggestion of the president of his college to see if I would like to come. Of course, being ever-so-cautious, I asked him, "Couldn't you get in trouble?" To which he replied, "Umm, Stace, the president told me to call and ask you. I don't think I'm going to get in trouble."

Well, duh.

Cue the quickest shower-dress-makeup-hair job of my life and zooming to the stadium in my little yellow car, arriving just in time for everything to get started. What followed was one of the best nights of my life. So. Much. Fun. The group from Gearry's college were absolutely hilarious. I haven't laughed that long and that hard in a really long time, if ever. It was wonderful getting to know his president and other members of the faculty and staff. We spent the night eating and drinking and mingling, and it was wonderful to feel so much like a member of the Savannah community -- I'm even starting to recognize people that I have seen at other events or around town. As there was lots of filming going on for Extreme Makeover, we also spent a lot of time filming.

It was a very neat, up-close perspective on "reality TV." For those of you who really know me, you know how much I love my reality television! But I always take it with a grain of salt in assuming that parts of it are probably real, parts of it pseudo-real, and many parts of it completely constructed for the camera. Filming for Extreme Makeover is much the same way. The event we were at was real -- all of the people there had paid $100 or more a ticket to be there to support the endeavor -- but very little of the filming was spontaneous. To get what they needed for telivision, scenes had to be set up, of course. For instance, while Paul filmed one of his hand-held camera message-to-the-family-on-vacation scenes, we all crowded around him and cheered on command. Over. And over. And over. With breaks for him to check the script. And to adjust cameras. We also took part in filming a scene just outside the stadium, where Paula Deen, her husband, her two sons, and her brother talked with one of the Extreme designers and told everyone of a very large food donation to Savannah food pantrys, capped off by Paula tossing a ham football-style to the designer.

Together with the president, Gearry talked to Paula for a moment -- basic introductions -- and later to her son Jamie for a little bit.

Perhaps the most entertaining part of the evening was after filming this scene. Our little group stood around and talked and laughed for so long that it was just us and the crew standing in the stadium parking lot, as the crew dismantled lights and cords and cameras and such around us. Paula's husband came out and told us goodnight and got into his Jeep next to us to leave. We were just wondering where Paula was -- and joking that she was probably in a chauffered car while he drove himself -- when an SUV drove by, the back window rolled down just enough to reveal a poofy head of white hair. We waved and received back a festive, "Goodnight, ya'll!" as the SUV rolled away.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Trolleys Go Round and Round.

I took the puppies downtown this morning for a walk around Forsyth Park. Other than our typical twice-daily walks around the block, they hadn't been anywhere in awhile and I was sensing their boredom (although, really, dogs must either not know any different or just be bored almost all of the time). I guess it's nice to have new trees to pee on and new other dogs to smell from time to time.

But this typical walk around the park ended up being one of those life moments for me -- a moment of realization that this is all real, that this is my life, that this is normal. 75 degrees and sunny in mid-November is normal. Hoards of tourists -- on foot, in tour buses, on trolleys -- pointing and clicking and aw-ing at all the things around you when you're just walking your dogs is normal. Breath-taking architecture and a strange feeling of incredibly fascinating and yet often incredibly tragic history around every block is normal.

I've had a few of those moments -- Oprah calls them "a-ha moments," I believe -- since I moved here three and a half months ago, but something about today's perfect weather and the realization that it's not going to disappear and start snowing in a few weeks and my good mood after a great weekend outdoors with Gearry and my anticipation of getting to see family next week when we return to Indiana for Thanksgiving and the sun coming through the live oaks with all of their Spanish moss and kids and dogs playing in the park and a hot cup of coffee all added up for a massive "a-ha." This is where I live. Not temporarily, but likely for a long time.

Despite the surroundings, life is not all rainbows and butterflies -- the stresses of work, financial goals, trying desperately to sell our condo, "meaning of life" type stuff is still here -- but I never expected any different. What I didn't expect was feeling so satisfied with a decision that was so hard to make.

I miss family and friends more than I can attempt to put into words here, but every time Gearry and I are able to do something we love together, I remember why we made this decision, and I am thankful.

On Friday, Gearry and I had had a couple of neat experiences. Extreme Makeover Home Edition is here building and filming in town and the Culinary Institute elected to make and donate food for the crew and volunteers on Friday evening. Gearry worked hard all day Thursday making the food, finished it up on Friday, and was nice enough to let me tag along for the delivery on Friday night. It only took us about five minutes to drop everything off and since it was already dark we didn't see much other than lots of volunteers, tents, and production equipment -- in other words, no Ty Pennington sightings -- but it was kind of a cool experience nonetheless.

After the drop-off, we had to swing by the Telfair Museum "Arty Party" fundraiser on Telfair Square. Now, originally before the Extreme Makeover thing got scheduled, we were supposed to attend the Arty Party (courtesy of Gearry's school, at $100 a ticket) but instead we just had to swing by to help Chef Jean move a sugar sculpture he created for the event from one of the tents to inside the museum. However, when we arrived Chef Jean had decided to keep the sculpture where it was in the main tent and so we just ended up socializing for a bit. Since we technically didn't have tickets -- we never actually received them since Gearry got re-assigned to the Extreme Makeover delivery duty instead -- I didn't feel comfortable sticking around for long. Although we blended right in, the guilty conscious part of me was waiting for a security guard to ask to see our tickets the whole time. Nevertheless, it was a neat experience being part of the sights and sounds of the festival, if only for 30 minutes.

On Saturday, there were more "neat" things to be enjoyed. Breakfast at Sunrise on Tybee was delicious (our first time out to breakfast since the move... We used to go out to breakfast in Bloomington at least every other week) and was followed by a walk on the beach, during which we happened upon a little surfing competition hosted by an area surf club. The waves are pretty decent right now for the east coast (nothing like west coast, of course) and it was especially neat seeing the younger kids go at it, so we nestled ourselves in the sand with our cups of coffee and watched for awhile. It re-inspired me to want to learn to surf (watching "Blue Crush" for the thousandth time also does the trick). Later in the afternoon, we took a bike ride around Wilmington Island just to explore some neighborhoods we hadn't been in and check out some houses for sale. We found a couple in our price range that we are currently salivating over, but we can't do anything until our condo sells, so it was a fun and yet incredibly frustrating venture. Incredibly. Frustrating.

On Sunday, it was another perfect weather day with flat water conditions, which meant kayaking was in order. We rode our bikes to my school head's house, where our kayaks are kept, and enjoyed a few hours of paddling around, with more salivating over all of the houses and intricate private docks and boats -- and a couple of "alligator" scares, of course, also known as marsh reeds and/or wood floating in the water.

Weekends rock, but throughout the week we are generally quite boring -- work is taxing and it gets dark really early, so other than a short run or bike ride or a walk around the neighborhood in the evenings, most of our time is spent making dinner, watching a bit of television, and then turning in early. This week, however, I am looking forward to Wednesday, on which we're attending the Extreme Extravaganza at Grayson Stadium, a fundaiser to pay off the mortgage of the Extreme Makeover family. Gearry's school is a sponsor, so they invited us to attend (another $100 a person event free of charge). It will be my first in-person Paula Deen sighting, as she is scheduled to be there, and should be a good time with live and silent auctions, live entertainment, and lots of food, including ice cream from Leopolds... yum!

And then, a week from Wednesday... INDIANA! Can't wait.