Day 111: Merry Christmas Eve Eve

My, my, how Christmas has sneaked up on us. I can’t believe I’ve been home for a week already. It feels like I’ve barely begun to unpack. Before you know it, I’m going to have to start shoving all my stuff back into my suitcase and hop on the train again. But I think I’ll have to let Future Veronica deal with that. I’m enjoying my holiday too much.

Day 110: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

I just realized I forgot to explain yesterday’s blog title. Yesterday, my mom and I went out to enjoy my Christmas present – two marvellous tickets to a play! We took a bus to Finch and sped along the underground streets of Toronto (a.k.a. the TTC) and headed to the Canon Theatre. I’d forgotten how pretty that theatre is! There are huge dome ceilings and grand stairways covered in thick carpets, and of course plenty of cookies and Haagen-Dazs ice cream bars for you to bring into the actual theatre. This is the life!

I’ve only ever seen “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” in drama class back in high school. It was an old movie version, and I remember it being absolutely hilarious. But if I thought the movie was good, it was nothing in comparison to the real thing. Of course, our fantastic seats didn’t make it worse either. We were only about 13 rows away from the very front of the stage, and we were sitting dead centre. I could practically count the freckles on the actors’ noses if I wanted to.

The play is set in ancient Rome. All the characters are clad in robes and tunics with those gladiator sandals that came back in the world of fashion these past few summers. Being a comedy, the whole play is driven by misunderstanding after misunderstanding, sprinkled with a generous helping of mishaps and foiled plans.

Pseudolus (played by Sean Cullen) is a slave who will stop at nothing to gain his freedom. When his master leaves town, he cooks up plan after disastrous plan to help his master’s son – an awkward, gangly young man ironically called Hero (played by Mike Nadajewski) – find the woman of his dreams. The plot is much too complicated to go into detail without ruining the beauty of it all, but among the many things that go horribly awry are:

  • Pseudolus’ master returns prematurely
  • at one point, there are three characters all wearing the same bridal outfit (one of whom isn’t even a woman) to add to the already ongoing mayhem and confusion
  • a captain arrives to claim his bride, who just happens to be the same woman Hero is after
  • Pseudolus’ master takes a bath in his neighbour’s empty house, but the neighbour decides to return after years of chasing after pirates
  • there is a beautifully choreographed and utterly insane chase scene with the entire cast running madly about, including Roman guards, eunichs and courtesans

And let me just say that Cullen definitely won my vote for best onstage death. My high school drama teacher once told us that every actor lives and dreams for the opportunity to do an onstage death. But while others may opt for the tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet, or even Desdemona (if you’re really desperate), I would much prefer Pseudolus’ death scene. It was at least three minutes of wonderfully crafted silence. There were no lines. There was no music. It was just Cullen with his priceless gestures and facial expressions, each one perfectly timed with hilarious supporting reactions from the rest of the cast. Not one second of that silence was forced or stale. It was possibly my favourite part of the whole play!

Of course, being a musical, there were several song and dance numbers that were entertaining as well. Each one seemed to be a carefully choreographed clip of slapstick humour, and I could barely keep up with everything that was going on onstage. It’s one of thsoe plays I feel like I could watch over and over without ever failing to find something new to enjoy. I’d highly recommend it to anyone whether you’re young or old, educated or nonsensical, a lover of the theatre or not. By the end of Forum, you can’t help but love live theatre.

After the play, my mom and I popped by the Eaton Center to see the Swarovski Christmas tree (Goodness, that’s a lot of crystals!) before we headed back home and settled into our comfy couch to watch more movies. After all that comedy at the Canon Theatre, we decided to watch something a little more serious … like Despicable Me. I love those little minions. Then we tried to watch Till the Clouds Roll By (1946) but it was so slow that we had to change movies. We ended up watching Celine Dion’s backstage DVD. I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan of Celine Dion, but I have to hand it to her. She puts on one impressive show and it’s always fun to see the backstage scramble of costume, hair, makeup, dancers, special effects and hidden musicians.

Now on with my blog catch-up:

Day 108: Fare thee well, dear spa

We woke up bright and early after our first spa day. Each person got a wellness class as part of their package. My mom signed up for the yoga class at 9 a.m. so we were up and at ’em to have breakfast beforehand. I finally got to order the tea with the best name in the world – Underneath the Kilt. I actually managed to order it with a straight face too! It’s a Scottish breakfast tea. The waitress said she’s never actually served it before. Ha! I guess people were just too intimidated by such a risqué name. But not I! I shall go where no one has gone before … Underneath the Kilt!

With a big breakfast under my belt, I got bundled up to go snowshoeing! I haven’t been snowshoeing in years, but apparently a lot has changed. These showshoes are not the giant wooden ones that you see mounted on the walls of some rustic hunting lodge. They’re bright orange, compact and lightweight! I heard they may be carbon fibre, or something else with a fancy name that can take a lot of weight without dragging you down. The guy leading the snowshoe hike said he actually jogs through the woods with those on his feet!

The trails around the spa are so pretty. We were wandering all over those rolling hills, through the woods and over babbling brooks that refuse to freeze no matter how cold it gets. At one point, we even saw the tracks of a coyote dragging its dead prey alongside it. There was even some blood-splattered snow on the trail where the coyote obviously caught whatever it was chasing. That’s nature for you. I had a good time. It’s too bad you can’t snowshoe back at home.

When we returned, I quickly threw off my outdoor gear and took the shuttle to Maison Santé, a nearby facility with an indoor pool. I had the whole place to myself! It was great! By the time I got a shuttle to take me back to the spa, it was already past noon. Little did I know check-out was at 12 p.m. Everyone was already sitting in the lobby awaiting my great return. I guess I missed the memo. Well that made me feel swell. I rushed back to my room and changed so quickly, Clark Kent would have been impressed.

We sat down to our last meal at the spa. It was certainly a satisfying lunch. Everyone was feeling sleepy-eyed and drowsy by the end of it, which was fine for people like me who were just sitting in the back seat on the drive back to Toronto. The people who were driving weren’t as lucky.

That night, I met up with Rachel and Emily, my two besties who I have not seen in months (Skype doesn’t count). We went to Chako for Korean barbecue before retiring to Destiny for bubbletea. I think we were there for at least three hours. The service wasn’t great (Rach didn’t even get her bubbles in her bubbletea), but at least they didn’t bother us. We had so much to catch up on. We started with school and ended with the DMZ between North and South Korea, and guerrilla warfare in Columbia. How did that happen? I couldn’t tell you, but I miss those crazy girls.

Day 109: Shopped ’til we dropped

What’s Christmas without shopping? I may not be a fan of it, but I actually had a pretty good time walking around Fairview Mall with my mom. There were so many people bustling around. It was impossible to get anywhere without accidently walloping someone in the face or getting an elbow in the ribs. At one point, I rammed my knee really hard into a display table that had one annoying, unexpected leg jutting out of it with unnecessarily sharp corners. I was crippled for the rest of the day, and yet my mom and I ended up wandering around that mall for nearly seven hours!

It was pitch dark outside by the time we emerged from holiday sales and Christmas displays (though that might not be saying much since the sun is completely gone by the time 3:30 p.m. rolls around). We went to our usual sushi restaurant for a late dinner (the staff there know us so well by now that they offer us ice cream on the house all the time. It’s a pretty sweet deal). Our favourite order right now is this California roll that is wrapped in one continuous roll of thinly sliced cucumber. It’s so refreshing! I can’t believe those chefs can actually slice cucumbers so thinly. I’m a big fan. On the flip side, they have this roll that’s wrapped with a thick strip of raw salmon instead of rice and seaweed. Mm. There’s no place like home.

I am thoroughly enjoying my Christmas break so far. I don’t even want to think about when I have to head back to school! It’s nice not to have to think about deadlines and assignments, or worry about making calls or scheduling interviews. Once in a while, I think you need to just be completely carefree. Perhaps I’ll be recharged and ready to go by the time Jan. 2 comes around. The clock is ticking!

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