Save Ginny Weasley.
My spring break was awesome. I hate to brag, but it really was. Really, I feel great.
It's been a really hectic week of traveling, friends, families of friends, firsts, fun, and food. Did I mention food?
Can't go back to Jersey: I didn't go back to sweet New Jersey this spring break (sorry mom and dad!), but instead embarked on a journey of self and stomach fulfillment with my future roommate, David Fegley. After a relatively rocky start where the Oberlin Airport Shuttle arrived 30 minutes late, we rushed on our plane to Baltimore Airport to spend a few days with the Fegley family in Takoma Park, Maryland. Again, thank you so much for letting me stay over!
I was greeted very warmly by David's father Robert and his mother Stacey, who coincidentally went to the same high school as I did! After a delicious dinner, David and I headed to the University of Maryland to meet up with some of David's high school friends. As you might remember from a previous blog where I stayed with Annise over Thanksgiving break, it seems as if I will have met all of my friends' friends and family before anyone meets mine. Sigh. David's friends are all way too cool for school. Not literally, though. They're all really smart. Myself included, of course!
Washington DC: The next day, David took me around Washington, DC. I hadn't been to DC since I was little, so this was more or less my first time visiting. One thing I immediately noticed was that DC has no skyscrapers! Apparently no building is allowed to be taller than the nation's capitol. Go figure. But I digress. We visited a small art gallery featuring screen prints, lithographs, and other prints from Corcoran students. While the display wasn't the most expansive, there were plenty of really cool works to get my creative juices flowing.
It just so happened that we visited DC while there was a kite flying festival going on! Unfortunately, I forgot to bring a camera over break, so this blog might appear like a huge wall of text. I guess you'll just have to take my word that there were hundreds of kites of all shapes, sizes, and colors flying around. It was also a really windy day, which made for some really high flying kites! David and I walked around the mall and visited the Washington Memorial. Hooray monuments!
P-p-p-pupusas and other pleasures: In between walking and being touristy, David and I grabbed some of his favorite local cuisines from the DC/Baltimore area: Jamaican jerk chicken sandwiches, Jamaican beef patties, and El Salvadorean pupusas. Hold on. I have to clean the drool off of my keyboard. Imagine spicy sweet chicken nestled between two soft cocoa buns. Now hear the crisp of a golden crust surrounding a seasoned ground beef patty. Now, salivate over thick pancake-tortillas filled with melted cheese and beans dipped in tangy salsa. Occasionally you'll get a piece of cheese burnt to wonderfully charbroiled crisp. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Pupusas.
"Being John Malkovich" is a weird movie. But I kind of liked it, which is probably what disturbs me the most.
Basketball awareness month: Oberlin College has to consist of one of the nation's largest populations of students apathetic about NCAA March Madness. Not that I am a huge follower of college basketball, but the lack of awareness or chatter makes even a half-assed watcher like myself look like an avid fan. David, his dad, a friend of David's, and I watched Baylor University choke against Duke University, which was bad for my bracket. There goes $5 to Carl Manhardt, the winner of our small Barrows bracket. In case you don't know, Duke won the whole tournament. Also, basketball is the sport where you shoot a ball into a hoop.
Other pleasures, namely chili: On my last day in DC, David took me to a national landmark. No, not the White House, and no, not the Lincoln Memorial: Ben's Chili Bowl. We got to Ben's Chili Bowl around 2:30, which is generally a non-lunch hour, yet there was still a line outside the door and around the corner! I had seen a few specials about this restaurant on television and had admittedly high expectations. David suggested I order a half-smoke, which is a large, spicy sausage in a hot dog bun with mustard, onions, and Ben's famous chili. My satisfied stomach will tell you that my high expectations were definitely reached. My stomach begged for another half-smoke, but my brain told me that would not be the greatest idea, especially since that night was the first night of Passover.
Passover: I had never celebrated a Passover seder, or dinner, before this spring break. Heck, I hadn't even attended a bar mitzvah before, so I didn't really know what to expect. My only experiences with Jewish holidays were limited to the Rugrats Hannukkah and Passover half-hour specials. Because I was the youngest at the Fegley family table, as well as the only non-Jew, it was fitting that I asked the four questions concerning the meaning and origins of Passover. I was amused by the Fegley Passover script edited to remember the original 10 plagues as well as "modern day plagues" such as economic instability and global warming. Also, I found afikomen! Afikomen is half a piece of matzoh wrapped in a napkin that is hidden by one of the adults at the end of the Passover dinner. Don't ask me what it symbolizes, because I couldn't tell you. The younger ones look around the house to find this coveted piece of matzoh, because the winner gets a monetary prize and bragging rights. David had about 18 years of afikomen-finding experience going into this Passover dinner, compared to my total lack of experience. However, the underdog came through in this clash! Eat that, David.
Drove to Chicago (Actually, we flew): On Tuesday, David and I flew out of Baltimore and into Chicago, IL. Sadly, I forgot to play "Chicago" by Sufjan Stevens as the plane landed at Midway Airport. There we met up with Jim Bernstein, a father of my good friend Sarah, who picked us up and filled our brains with lots of knowledge about Chicago, ranging from its architecture to sports to communities. The Bernsteins graciously allowed both David and me to stay over at their house in Evanston, IL, for a couple days. Thanks again to the Bernstein family!
Passover, round 2: Our second night of Passover was spent with Sarah's family in Evanston. Whereas our first seder was pretty low-key, this seder consisted of a lot more family, friends, and youngsters running around. Emphasis on youngsters. Sarah told David and me how this seder was the "fun seder," meaning that it catered to the children present with a skit mimicking A Christmas Carol and staple songs such as "Who Let the Jews Out?" and "Hey Frogs," sung to the tunes of "Who Let the Dogs Out?" and "Hey Jude" respectively. But every now and then, we (meaning everyone else but me) broke into deep analytical discussions of the readings. In particular, Sarah's cousin Eli had some incredibly profound points to make. Did I mention that he's in 5th grade? The medical term for him is "genius." We had another afikomen hunt, except this time all of the children (David and me included) had our own pieces of matzoh to find. David was the last to find his afikomen. It was a bit sad. Even though this was only my second seder, I'm probably correct when I say that it was crazy. By the way, Mrs. Bernstein makes a mean brisket. And when I say mean, I mean angry. Furious. Raging. Really, really, really good.
Inked: I got a tattoo in Chicago. I kid you not. It's a light bulb on my left forearm. Video documentation will be coming very soon. For now, here's a picture!
I've been drawing this same tattoo on my arm every week since September. I've mulled over this idea over for awhile, so no, it was not some drunken, impulsive decision.
April Fools! David and I, being the tricksters we are, worked throughout our break to concoct the perfect April Fool's joke to play on Sarah. The three of us had bought tickets to see Spoon in concert on April 1st, but Sarah also forgot that she had a play to go to on the same night. Knowing this, I told Sarah that I had a friend from Chicago to give the ticket to, so she didn't worry about it after that. However, on the morning of April Fool's Day, Sarah received a well-formulated letter from the Dog & Pony Theater Company, saying that due to a database error, the show for that night was overbooked and they had to refund her ticket. Needless to say, Sarah flipped out. She was about as mean as her mother's brisket. I'm going to admit that it was really, really funny, but we probably took it a little too far. That day was the angriest I have ever seen Sarah, even after we told her that the whole situation was a joke. Still, David and I took every opportunity to laugh to ourselves when Sarah wasn't there.
All things go: After a stressful morning, we headed to Millennium Park in Chicago. The weather was absolutely perfect and there were tons of awesome monuments and pieces of art around the park, including the bean and the fountains with faces. We also met up with Cady, another good friend from Oberlin, and her friend Christina, who we actually gave Sarah's Spoon ticket to.
The Chicago Institute of Art has a really sweet impressionist art exhibit. If Mr. Bernstein is correct (or if I'm relaying this information correctly), it is the largest impressionist art collections in the country. I would love to comment on the brush techniques used by Monet or the palette choices by Cross, but I'd be talking out of my ass. Maybe I'll take an art history class or two and take another visit, because all I'm going to say right now is that it was "real purdy."
My love of Spoon: So have I mentioned that Spoon is my favorite band? They are my favorite, favorite, favorite band. Literally, my number one band. El numero uno. The top of my musical food pyramid. I live and die with Britt Daniel, and firmly believe that he can do no wrong. Their music is nothing fancy, nor is it too flashy or trendy, evidenced by the fair amount of older audience members at the concert. Spoon is just good, clean pop. I asked David way back in January if he'd be willing to see Spoon with me over spring break and this was how this whole magical spring break was planned. I had never seen Spoon in concert, despite a couple of attempts that obviously failed. Needless to say, I was beaming throughout the whole show, singing along with every (literally, every) song, and falling more and more in love with Spoon. They played a great mix of songs off their new album as well as tons of old goodies. It delivered on every level. Am I over-exaggerating how good this one band is? Possibly. But I don't care. I'm going to hyperbolize all I want.
Deep: You know what else rocks? Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. David, Sarah, and I went to Lou Malnati's, which is, in the Bernsteins' opinion, the best deep dish pizza in the city. If I'm allowed to judge on this one occasion, I'm going to agree with them. It's probably not a pizza I could eat every day (or maybe I'm too used to New York pizza), but when we were as hungry as we were that day, that pizza was heavenly.
Near the pizzeria was the largest jazz record mart in the country, conveniently named "Jazz Record Mart." I have very little knowledge of jazz music. David on the other hand was having a field day. I'd imagine that his facial expressions were very similar to the ones that I displayed at the Spoon concert.
Passion Pit: Our last stop on this spring break adventure was a Friday night Passion Pit concert. I like Passion Pit probably as much as your average listener, but I can't say that they're near the level of appreciation I have for Spoon. Ignoring this, it was a fantastic concert. Really fun, lots of dancing, and lots of sweating.
One gripe: Throughout our whole stay in Chicago, whenever we told people that we were seeing Spoon and Passion Pit, everyone's reaction was "Wow! You're so lucky! You're going to see Passion Pit!" Given the inordinate amount of pride I have towards Spoon, I got a little bit more irritated every time this occurred. Sigh.
So. Why is this blog post called "Save Ginny Weasley?" Well, there isn't really any reason other than that I made everyone I hung out with listen to another magical band known as "Harry and the Potters." They are exactly what you'd expect: A wizard rock band that sings songs about Harry Potter characters and plotlines. One song in particular ("Save Ginny Weasley"), became the unofficial anthem of our spring break. Sarah, David, and I sang this gem of a song EVERYWHERE. Restaurants, subways, downtown, in Sarah's home... you get the picture. We got tons of weird looks, several smirks and chuckles, and we also annoyed Sarah's sister Becca to no tomorrow. I know. We're obnoxious.