Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Ordinary Conversation is No Longer Ordinary

This time of year, as people start to get ready for the holidays and take some time off work, normal filler conversation leans toward "so, what are you doing for the holidays?"  And I'm finding it hard to come up with an adequate response.  Normally, I can make small talk, giving innocuous information about minor plans, the kind of answers that most people expect when they ask that question.  But, things have changed.  I don't have any real plans.  This is the first year when both of my parents are gone, and they've been the connector for some of my siblings and I to get together.  Without them, it's different.  And trying to find a new "normal" has been strange.  So, I make vague comments about "hanging out" and "taking it easy", which makes me sound evasive and secretive.  I'm normally not one to give out too much personal information anyway, except to actual friends, but holiday plans very universally involve family, so I think the lack of mentioning that throws people off.

I also recognize inappropriate things to share with people that make it awkward for everyone.  Christmas is Monday.  I'll be working on Friday, and it's likely I'll be excused from work early.  Nice, right, extra time to get a jump on Christmas, take care of last-minute shopping, get the house ready for guests, bake some nice goodies?  Nope, none of those.  I'm glad that I'll likely be dismissed early so that I'll be able to make it to a visitation without rushing or being late.

Yep, the hits keep on coming.  I promise you that I'm not making this up.  I know that at this point, it sure sounds like it.  How could so many traumatic things happen to one person in a relatively short period of time?  I've got to be lying, embellishing.  Not even counting recent events with my place of employment that have also majorly added to my stress level, one of my best friends lost her mother a couple of weeks ago.  The visitation is on Friday and the funeral is on Saturday.  That's how I'm starting my Christmas weekend, to be comforting and available to her and her family.  So, when I'm asked, "what are you doing for the holidays?", I don't respond with "going to a funeral" and instead make up an obviously vague answer.

I see Christmas all around me, and I feel almost nothing.  Things are pretty, and that might register for a second, but joy is fleeting.

The awkwardness is there with people I haven't seen / spoken to in a while as well.  People want to catch up, hey, what's been going on with you.  And I'm tired of being the downer person, bad news heaped on bad news heaped on bad news.  But when I deflect, I feel bad too, because I'm pretending that everything is ok when it's not.  Made worse when I don't feel like I'm dealing with it well, and have trouble pushing past the lethargy and feeling of just wanting to stay under the covers.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

In the overall scheme of things, I know that I'm blessed and very fortunate.  I have a job, I have a place to live, I have reliable transportation, I don't want for food or beverage or clothes, and I have friends.  But, sometimes, even knowing that there are millions of people who don't have the basic necessities of life, it's hard for my rational mind to let all of that sink in.  That may also be because my rational mind isn't always the one in control nowadays.

I struggle every day to get out of bed.  I struggle every day to get out of the house, to go to work.  I struggle to do what I need to do at work and otherwise.  Outwardly, I think I appear fine.  Every day, I maintain the facade that everything is ok, that I'm ok, while inside, I have to make a conscious effort to appear that way, to maintain the illusion when I'm around people, when at times, I feel like I'm just standing at the edge of an abyss.  I think the rollercoaster aspect is what throws me off.  There will be short moments, maybe a few minutes at a time, when I am fine, really fine, and there are other times when I'm at least managing ok.  But then, there are also the moments when darkness creeps back in, and I can feel myself sinking again, and it's all I can do to hold on and stay afloat.  That those dark times still return periodically throws me off guard every time I think I've made it out.

Last Thanksgiving, my dad was already gone.  My mother had gone into the hospital several days prior to Thanksgiving, and we thought she'd be released by Thanksgiving.  But it didn't happen.  So, she spent Thanksgiving in the hospital.  Since we had already planned to have Thanksgiving at our parents' house, we still did that, bringing the food we were all going to bring anyway.  We ate Thanksgiving dinner at their house, and then we packed up a little plate and went to visit our mother in the hospital.  She wasn't really able to eat any of the stuff we brought.  She was eventually released a few days later to return home.

This Thanksgiving, the husband and I are doing our own thing, and everyone else in the family is doing their own thing as well.  This is part of the process of the water finding its own level, on the way to figuring out what the new normal is now.

And the new normal includes it being more quiet in the house than it's been for the past 15 years.  I miss the mornings with Orkid, when the husband is still asleep, and Orkid comes to find me to cuddle for a while.  I'll be sitting at my computer, and I can hear her little feet tapping on the floor as she walks over to the room.  I'll look at her, and she'll meow at me, and then she'll jump up onto my chair, and then climb on me and settle down.

I'll get to spend some time with friends during the long weekend, so that will be nice.  So many things in my mind that I'd like to get done, none of which I've been able to do for months now, and I'm not sure what the chances are that I'll actually manage to do any of them this weekend.

I hope that this Thanksgiving brings you some joy, some happiness, some laughter, and if nothing else, some peace.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

By a Thread

After a friend found out that I'd had to say goodbye to my cat this weekend, part of her comment was that I've had a lot to carry lately.  My response to her was that they say God doesn't give you more than you can handle, but without trying to be blasphemous, I feel like with all of the stuff God has to watch over in the world nowadays, He might have me confused with someone else as far as how much I can deal with.

When my father died last October, I don't think I really had much time to process what happened.  I spent a lot of time helping my siblings take care of our mother, and then because she was in the hospital a few times or needed other assistance, there always seemed to be some kind of crisis to deal with, so almost everything else was put on hold or could be subject to change at a moment's notice.

For those who haven't read my blog much and don't know, I'm a huge movie fan.  Oscar night is a big deal for me because I'm really interested, even in years when for whatever reason, I haven't seen many of the nominated movies.  Don't call me, don't visit, don't talk to me that night unless it's about the Oscars - I'm busy.  I do real-time commentary on Twitter during the broadcast about the awards, some of the fashion, whatever happens on the show.  This year, about 3/4 into the show, I got a text that something had happened with my mom, and I was the nearest person to her who could get to her the fastest.  There wasn't a choice.  I stopped watching and left the house, and Best Actor and Best Picture hadn't even been presented yet.  (So, yeah, I didn't actually get to watch the whole Best Picture "Midnight" / "La La Land" snafu that happened and instead read about it on Twitter later.)

It wasn't really until May / June that nothing major had happened in a while, and I think that's when stuff about my dad started to surface.  Feelings/memories/thoughts/reactions and such had come up a little previously, but for the most part, they had to be suppressed because there wasn't time or energy to think about them.  But 9 months later, they were making their presence known.  I was actually having a difficult enough time that I considered taking a leave of absence from work.  But the person who usually fills in for me when I'm on vacation was swamped herself, and after thinking about it for a while, I decided that I couldn't add to her load with having to cover for me while I was on a leave.  I determined to stick it out.

And then August rolled around, and my mother died.  And now, more feelings, more thoughts, more reactions.  Interspersed with not feeling anything when my brain shut everything down when it got too bad.  I was feeling awful.  My entire body hurt, and without getting too tmi, my insides were not processing well.  I knew that stress was a factor and decided to wait it out a bit before seeing my doctor, figuring the stress would subside some and then my doctor could tell me if I was feeling like crap because something was really wrong with me or if it was just stress-induced.

So, in late September, I had an appointment with my doctor.  When she walked in the room, she asked how I was, and I said that I'd been better.  She asked me what was going on.  I told her that the last time I'd seen her was in January (I'm supposed to see her every six months for a regular check-up and tests.), and at that point, I'd told her that my father had died several months prior.  She said yes, she remembered that.  So then I told her that my mother had died about 6 weeks ago.  She talked to me for a little while, and I told her about everything that hurt and felt wrong about my body.  And she did order the normal tests and a few more just to make sure, but she pretty much said that all of it was due to the stress of everything.  (Who knew that stress could turn your insides into knots.  Well, I didn't.  I mean, I know that stress definitely has an effect on your physical body, but I wasn't aware that it could have as many adverse reactions on you physically as I am now aware given that it's happened / happening to me.)  She also said that I was effectively experiencing depression, and she wanted me to see a therapist.  I had actually thought she might say something like that, and I agreed to go.

An appointment was set up for later that week, and the therapist I met with is a female.  She asked a whole boatload of questions about my entire life.  I kept having to remind myself that if I didn't tell her the absolute truth, there was no hope of her helping me.  I do have to admit that it was uncomfortable saying out loud to her things that I almost never discuss with anyone.  (And, admitting further that I still find it uncomfortable at times talking about certain medical things with doctors and other medical personnel that I don't know, and I have to remind myself that they've seen and heard everything, and this is their job, and there's no need to be embarrassed.  Well, this was 10 times worse because it was talking about feelings.)  By the end of the session, she did confirm that I did show signs of depression, and she did want to see me a few times but she didn't think I needed prolonged sessions, and she wanted me to go to group therapy for grief.  That last part kind of threw me for a loop.  Talk about my feelings to total strangers, especially feelings that I don't think are what most people expect to hear in this situation.  Hesitant and a little scared but willing to try, so I said ok.  As it turns out, the group therapy is on a cycle of sessions, so I have to wait for the next cycle to start.

And then the week after this, I had the meltdown I detailed in a prior post.  The therapist and I had talked about the option of medication to treat my depression.  I'm not against the idea but after talking through some of my questions, I decided to hold off for now, with the possibility of re-visiting in the future.  After the meltdown, I seriously thought about the medication again, but I also realized that it can be a long process in trying to figure out which meds might work for me and in what dosage, and I'm not sure I can handle the uncertainty and testing right now.

Since the meltdown, things haven't been as bad.  I don't feel awful all the time, I was actually getting some sleep, but I still didn't feel like doing much.

And then, Orkid got sick.  As I mentioned in my last post, she'd been dealing with the kidney issue for some time and it had been ok, but her downward spiral only really started about a week or so ago, and then really crashed on Thursday and Friday last week.

It just seems like in the past year, every time I think I've dug myself a bit out of a hole, more dirt gets thrown back on me.  I've sat at work today at my desk periodically crying, partly because I do miss Orkid (it was very quiet in the house last night, with no tap-tap-tap to clue me in that she was walking over to visit with me) and just being overwhelmed again with everything, so many things I haven't worked out and figured out.  I could really use some time off, but the person who normally covers for me is currently unavailable so I really can't take any time.  If I'm not here, there's literally no one to do my job right now, so it's better to have me crying at my desk in between working, struggling through, than to have no one here at all.

And on top of that, when I was told that group therapy wouldn't start for a little while, they said if I hadn't heard from them in a few weeks, I should call.  I should be calling now.  But I haven't, because that would also require me to leave the office in the mid-afternoon once a week to get to the meeting, and again, with my co-worker not being available, I'm struggling with essentially abandoning my job to go.  One of my friends is encouraging me to call about the meeting, and she likened it to putting on my own oxygen mask first before trying to help others.  I understand the sentiment, but right now, I'm feeling more like I'm the pilot of a plane, and the co-pilot is unconscious, so if I step away, there will be no one able to fly the plane.

It sounds crazy to think that with everything that's been going on for the past 13 months, losing my cat is what has the potential to send me over the edge.  I'm fighting it, but it's really difficult.  I feel like my reserves are all depleted, and the fumes are even dissipating, so I can't even rely on coasting with those.  I think the tears are the only release I have right now to continue on to the next minute, the next hour, the next day.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

It's Been a Hell of a Year

Sometimes, I don't know what day it is.  Heck, sometimes, I don't know what year it is.  So much has happened in the past year, well, really, 13 months, that it's hard to keep things straight sometimes.

It started in September of 2016.  In mid-September, we were given notice our dad had likely at most 2 months to live.  It ended up being about 6 weeks, mostly involving in-home hospice care, and he died in October.  The one-year anniversary is coming up this Wednesday.

After having been in the hospital a few times for various reasons since November 2016, our mother died in August of this year.  Even though doctors were still talking about tests and possible treatment, given what was happening, I had figured out about a week beforehand that there was really only going to be one outcome.

About a month ago, a friend of a friend died from a rare and aggressive form of cancer.  I'd only met him twice in the past year but had enjoyed my time with him when he'd visited with our mutual friend.  I'd hoped to see him a third time and was sad when it turned out that wasn't going to happen.

Last week, a friend's father died very suddenly and unexpectedly.  I'd never met him, but my friend had talked about him a lot, so I knew some things about him.

Of course, the last two things aren't directly related to me, but because of the situations, their deaths did have an effect on me.

And then yesterday morning, we had to put our cat down.  She had a kidney condition that we'd been managing for some time, but eventually, it was more than she could deal with.  She was to the point where she wouldn't eat or even drink water and could barely move, all of this happening in a period of a day or two, so we made the decision to let her go.

And being a student of pop psychology, one of the things I've noticed that's come out of all this is that there have been several times over the past 13 months when a switch has been flipped, when I've just tuned out to the point where I don't feel anything.  It's a really interesting sensation when it's something you've read about, and then you realize that it's happening to you right then and there.  There have been a few times when the pain, the hurt, the situations have just been so overwhelming that as a defense mechanism, my mind and my feelings just turn off because it can't handle it.  Sometimes it lasts for a few hours, sometimes it lasts for a few days.

There's so much there to process in each situation, much less having all of them happen in a relatively short period of time.  And this doesn't even take into account the normal stresses and anxiety and such associated with work and life's other happenings.

The weird thing is that I'm not entirely sure I understand what exactly death means.  I can't define it for myself.  It happened more than a year ago, in fact, it happened about 3 years ago, but one of my best friends died in August 2014, and to this day, it's like my mind thinks that he's on a business trip, and he's just too busy to talk to me right now.  That's happened before, when we wouldn't get a chance to talk for a while.  Granted, it never lasted 3 years, but it seems to be how my brain makes it ok that I don't see or hear from him.  And I think I've taken that approach to my dad and my mom as well, that they're on vacation, so that's why I haven't seen or talked to them.  Again, that's happened before, though not for this long a period of time, but at least it's a situation that makes sense to me.  I guess the mind does whatever it needs to when you need it.

There are charts that give stress points for various events that happen in your life.  I think it's pretty safe to say that my stress points are probably off the charts at the moment, so it's probably not a surprise that I'm not handling it entirely well.  More on that later.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

It's Not About the Ketchup

Do you ever have that moment when you're having french fries at home, and you go to get the ketchup, and when you realize you're all out, you just burst into tears and have a complete meltdown?

Yeah, it's not about the ketchup.

It's just the last straw, THE thing that pushes you over the edge.

You might have big things to deal with.  You might have little things to deal with.  One or two of them at a time, you can handle.  Even 5 or 10 little things, you can handle.  But at some point, you can't take any more, and the littlest thing is what sets you off, to the point where anyone in the vicinity looks at you like you're a crazy person because you've just completely over-reacted to something that doesn't warrant that level of distress.

I had one of those moments today.

Tuesday started off not great with a doctor's appointment (details will be in a future blog post), but then I spent several hours in the afternoon chatting with a friend I haven't seen in a very long time, and then I spent the evening having dinner with the husband and some friends, including one friend who I haven't seen in a while.  All in all, it was a good day for spending time with friends, and it really did a lot to boost my spirits.  Driving home late in the evening, I knew I felt better than I had in a while.

Wednesday, some of the glow had worn off, but not all of it.  I'd even started to think about maybe hanging out with friends for part of the weekend.  By Thursday morning, though, the dark cloud was back.  The voice in my head that said, you don't really want to go to work today, do you?  Don't you just want to stay home?  You haven't been getting much work done anyway, so what's the point in going?  Besides, they won't miss you at work if you're not there.  So I had to fight past that voice to actually leave the house and go to work, and then fight not wanting to actually do anything once I got to work.

And then I got a call in the late afternoon from my doctor's office, and the nurse wanted to go through my test results.  Usually, they just send me the results.  I don't recall them calling me before.  And, as I suspected, both my cholesterol numbers and my A1C (to test for diabetes) were high, though my A1C wasn't actually as high as I had expected.  I've been indulging in a whole lot of comfort eating in the past couple months with everything that's been going on, and I haven't exercised in about 3 months, so yeah, I figured my results wouldn't be great.  The nurse kept giving me a hard time about the cholesterol, and asking me repeatedly if I'd been taking the medication I've already been on for a while.  Yes, I've been taking my meds.  No, I didn't take a break from my meds.  Yes, my numbers are that high even though I'm already on meds.  After then proceeding to the sugars results and then telling me what I should be eating instead, I finally told her that I knew exactly why both results were as bad as they were, and I had expected it.  I told her what had happened to my parents in the last year, and that it wasn't an excuse, but yeah, I've been eating bad things because I'm just trying to get through everything, and I haven't been focused on what I've been eating.  She apologized and said she understood, and we talked about a couple more things before we concluded the call.

And I spent about 20 minutes feeling worse and worse, to the point where I started to cry.  Luckily, I have an office at work, so I got up and shut the door so I could cry in private.  The results were what I thought they'd be.  Having the nurse get on me wasn't that bad, and she backed off once I explained what had been going on.  But I guess that was the tipping point, because I cried in my office for a while.  And I went through a round of "What the hell does it matter what I'm eating?  Why can't I just eat what I want?  Why does any of this matter?  All the stuff that would make me feel better are things that are going to make my numbers worse, so I guess I'm just supposed to deal with everything on my own?  Fine, I'll just sit at home by myself and I won't talk to anyone and I won't do nothing.  And I won't eat anything, that'll help my numbers, right?"

Yeah, meltdown.  At least it wasn't with an audience.  After a while, my sanity returned, and I stopped crying, so I opened my door again.  And then realized a few minutes later that I apparently wasn't quite done, so I had to close the door again for another round of crying since I didn't want to risk having someone walk in on me.  Finally, I'd stopped crying for a little while, and I felt like it was done, so I opened the door again, and I even managed to get some work done after that.  Not a lot, but some.

Not having ketchup for your fries really sucks.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sleep Doesn't Come Easy

Last week, I had a dream about my mother.

We were at the old house, the old house being the house my family lived in from the time that I was about 4 or 5 until I was about 17.  It's the most common recurring location of my dreams, probably because it's where I grew up.

The house has an attached garage, connected by an adjoining door right after you enter the front door.  We never parked the cars in the garage, but rather, it was a spare bedroom, storage space, utility area.  For some reason, I'd gone in there to look for my mother but was surprised when I didn't find her.

After a little while, I noticed that she was laying in bed, facing away from me.  That seemed odd because I never knew my mother to nap much, unless she wasn't feeling well.  I remember wondering if she was sick and was about to ask if she was ok, and for her to tell me if anything was wrong so we could take her to be examined.  And then I realized, I didn't need to tell her that anymore.

I heard my mother's voice in my head (in Cantonese), "I've been gone for a lifetime, and she still doesn't know it."

Well, it hasn't been a lifetime.  My mother died just over a month ago.  And my father died in October 2016.  So, the last 12 months have left me with quite a bit to deal with.

There are moments when things feel ok, when I feel normal.  The moments come and go, and they don't generally last very long unless I've got something to focus on and I'm actually able to focus.  During the day, I have things to do, things to pay attention to, work, distractions.

The nights are difficult.  There's less going on.  Distractions fade away.  Things are quiet.  People are sleeping, resting.  Except me.  There's just me and a whirlwind of conflicted thoughts.

I've never really been very good at sleeping, even as a child.  It never occurred to me that I could ever actually have MORE trouble sleeping.  That's how it's been for the past month.  I'm awake well into the early hours of the morning, pretty much until my body is exhausted and can be awake no more.  I sleep for a little while, but then it's time to get up and go to work.  And then I spend the day very tired.  So you'd think I'd be able to sleep that next night, right?  Nope.  I'm tired and sleepy all day, but when I get home from work, even if I think I'm tired enough to go to bed early, as soon as I think about going to bed, the brain starts firing again and won't let me sleep.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  On weekends, if I don't have to be up at a certain time, I still can't sleep in.  As soon as my body is no longer exhausted, my brain wakes me up, even though I'm still tired and sleepy.

The irony of having even more difficulty sleeping now than I usually do is that when my mother would hear about my insomnia, she would tell me that I was thinking about too many things, and that was why I couldn't sleep.  She'd tell me to stop thinking about so much.

I haven't yet figured out how to quiet my brain enough to let my body rest.  I figured I'd try writing again, to see if that would help.

If you've been reading this entry, you probably got here from a link I posted.  That will be the only time I link to these sorts of posts.  I figure if you want to read more about this subject, if I manage to write any more about it, you now already know how to find your way here.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Star Wars and Disneyland

Today, we attended the panel at Star Wars Celebration, Orlando called "Star Wars and Disney Parks".  First up was discussion about Star Tours.  The guests were Disney Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald and actor Anthony Daniels.  Tom talked a bit about how the ride was developed, that he and fellow Imagineer Tony Baxter were asked to visit a company that made flight simulators who were interested in entering the entertainment industry.  When Imagineering was then subsequently in discussions with George Lucas about working on something together, George saw some information while at Imagineering about the flight simulator and asked what it was.  He then said it was the perfect tool to help create a Star Wars ride, and Imagineering and ILM starting working together on what would eventually be Star Tours.  Paul Reubens was chosen to voice Rex, the hapless robot who finds that his first flight ends up being more complicated than he'd imagined.  Tom said that George had wanted to make sure there was plenty of humour in the ride.

Anthony Daniels was asked to be part of the project because they wanted the iconic characters of R2-D2 and C-3PO to be involved in the pre-show in the queue.  Anthony came in to do the movements of 3PO, which he says were duplicated perfectly, so much so that when he stood in the queue watching the animatronic 3PO, he couldn't believe he wasn't inside the suit controlling the movements.  I laughed at the story, because it's one of my favorites, that Tom told that George had wanted more droids in the pre-show but they were so close to opening the ride, so they went to a nearby attraction, "America Sings" at the time, and stole two of the singing geese and turned them into droids for Star Tours, which is why they're referred to as the goose droids.

Discussion then turned into the changed, current version of Star Tours, billed as "The Adventures Continue".  In connection with the then-upcoming release of "The Force Awakens", a new scene on Jakku was added to the ride.  They purposely subtitled it "the Adventures Continue" so that it gave them a lot of leeway to do other things.  They announced that in connection with "The Last Jedi", a new scene would be added featuring Crait, the new planet revealed in the teaser trailer for "The Last Jedi".

And then, discussion turned to the new Star Wars lands being built in Disneyland in Anaheim and in Disney Hollywood Studios in Orlando.  Several people from Imagineering and from Lucasfilm who are collaborating on the project came out to discuss the new land, which had previously been announced as opening in 2019.  Not much information has been released about the new land.  They did say that it's a remote frontier outpost on a planet with which we are not currently familiar.  The vision is to create not a set with facades but something real.  They said it wasn't a place that was being created for 2019 but rather, a place that already exists which we won't get to visit until 2019.  It will be a real town, with real characters, including an underworld, and real smells.

Both the Resistance and the First Order will have a presence in the outpost, but it will also be a place for bounty hunters and smugglers and those who don't wish to be found.  In designing the town, they looked at a lot of Star Wars concept drawings from famed artist Ralph McQuarrie.  Star Wars fans know how revered he is in being instrumental in helping to design the look and feel of Star Wars worlds.  They said that when they consider an element in the land, if it was something that Ralph McQuarrie wouldn't approve of, then maybe it would be best to leave it off.  Having the new town elements and look be influenced by Ralph McQuarrie's designs is indeed an encouraging thing for Star Wars fans to hear.

In designing the new town, it's not the same as designing a set because a set would be contained and controlled.  The new town they're designing has to look good in the daytime and the nighttime, and it has to be able to accommodate the weather elements in each locale.

The town will include many droids, some already familiar and some not.  Each will have their own story and their own personality.

There will also be various characters who inhabit the town, and guests will find themselves with the ability to help the Resistance, or support the First Order, or maybe even accept a side job from a smuggler or bounty hunter.  Guests will also be able to fly the Millenium Falcon to complete a mission with their chosen flight crew (spouse, sibling, third cousin twice removed, friend, etc).  It was stated that most guests would most likely accomplish their mission, but what kind of damage the Falcon or anything else might sustain in the process will be up to the guest and their crew.  However, if things go awry, there could be consequences and the guest might find themselves being paid a visit even after their mission is over or down the line.  Guests will in effect build a reputation based on their actions in this new town.

It was great to hear how excited everyone was in talking about this project.  All of the people working on the project are huge Star Wars fans, and they themselves are looking forward to fulfilling their own childhood dreams of being able to actually visit and spend time in a Star Wars world.  They said that they didn't just want guests to remember past adventures of other people, like having them visit Tatooine or Hoth.  They want guests to experience their own Star Wars stories in this town.

I was intrigued to hear that your history in the town could be maintained and used as an on-going story.  And I thought about how that could work.  Obviously, guests could be asked to scan their annual passes when they entered the town or flew the Falcon or visited the cantina, and that information could be tracked for future reference.  But, not everyone has an annual pass.  Some people might visit regularly but not by having an annual pass.  However, given that it's a town, I'm thinking visitors could be asked to have some kind of ID that would be issued to them.  As they interact with characters in the town, those interactions could be tracked by scanning the ID and the cumulative effect could result in more story variations, depending on what each guest in involved in.  And for those guests who don't visit as often or who would prefer to remain more anonymous during their visits, they wouldn't have to have their IDs scanned.

There is still one major concern that I have, a concern I've had since the project was first announced, heck, since the project was first rumoured.  From the very beginning, it had been indicated that the plan was to have it be a real place, a real town, with real citizens you can interact with.  That sounds great.  But a real town is going to be suffocating when 40 million people want to visit this town at the same time.  How are they going to control the guest population in this town?  Sure, they could restrict entry into the town, to control how many people enter at any given time.  However, unless they sweep the town of guests every two hours or so, which would be weird for a real town, they're going to end up having too many people staying and therefore limiting how many new guests could enter.  I can tell you right now that when I'm allowed to visit, as long as they have restrooms and refreshments, I could enter first thing in the morning and not leave until the town closes for the evening.  Heck, maybe I'll even sit at the base of an AT-AT and just people watch for a while.  I'm definitely going to explore every little detail, and I know I'm not the only one.  I'm sure they'll figure out a way to handle this.  I just can't think of what it could be.

I was excited to hear what the panelists had to say today.  I cannot even tell you how exciting I think it is, and two years is a long time away, but patience is definitely going to pay off.

Oh, and by the way, just an FYI to Imagineering and ILM, if you need people to test out visits to the new town, interactions with guests, taste tests of the local food, I'm totally available and happy to help!  I love traveling to new places!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Why I can't listen to Hamilton

Everyone knows that Hamilton is a recent darling of Broadway and cleaned up at the last Tony Awards.  I'll admit I don't know much about it, and I don't think I've actually heard any of the songs or music from it, at least that I'm aware of.  There hasn't been anything about it that has called out to me.  I like musical theatre generally, but there usually has to be a particular reason why a specific show might catch my attention.  Several months ago, this chain of thought went through my head.  And then I had a realization and burst into tears.  Hamilton is the perfect example of the kind of show that my friend Robert would have introduced me to.

The first time that happened was in 1997, when the animated movie "Anastasia" was released.  I had liked the movie and really enjoyed the songs.  Robert and I hadn't been friends for very long, but in that short time, we'd discovered a lot of common interests.  He told me that the two people responsible for the songs in that film, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, had also previously created a Broadway show called "Once on This Island", and if I liked the songs in the movie, I might like the songs in the show.  And the next time I saw him, he gave me a CD of the show soundtrack.  And I loved it.  I have since seen a couple of small productions of the show, including a terrific minimal-set production one by International City Theatre that Robert was actually able to attend with us, and my dream would be to see a full-scale production of the show.

"Wicked" was another popular show that I had zero interest in.  I knew a lot of people who loved the show, and I'd even seen the television ads for when the touring production was in town, but none of the bits and music did anything for me to want to see the show.  My first positive exposure to the show elements was probably when a couple of the songs were sung on different episodes of "Glee", which I was a huge fan of.  That made me vaguely interested in hearing the songs from the show, and I asked friends if anyone had a CD of the show soundtrack that I could listen to.  I had made arrangements with a friend to borrow the CD the next time I saw them.  But before that could happen, the CD showed up from Amazon at my house.  Robert had ordered it and sent it to me.  I did listen to it and ended up liking it and eventually saw the show.

It didn't always work when Robert sent me a CD.  He'd told me about a show he was particularly excited about called "Spring Awakening".  He had mentioned it one night during a phone call when we were obsessing over and dissected a couple of episodes of "Glee", and he brought up the show because some of the actors on "Glee" had been in this production.  Yep, the CD arrived at my house a few days later.  He'd mentioned elements of the story to me, and in this case, I'd wanted to read the play first, so I bought a copy.  Because of stuff going on at the time, I think I only got about 2/3 of the way through the play, and so I've never actually listened to the CD.  It's on the list to do someday.

I had met Robert because of our mutual love of Disneyland, and partly because of him, I was introduced to a musical stage show that was in Disneyland in the late 90's called "Festival of Fools", based on the Disney animated film "The Hunchback of Notre Dame".  I'd not seen the film but the stage show gave me an appreciation of the songs in the movie, which prepped me for seeing the full Broadway show when it debuted at the La Jolla Playhouse at the end of 2014.  The show is going to be at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in the next few months, and we're planning to see the show there as well.

The last time Robert introduced me to a show was in early July 2014.  I got a couple of emails from Robert that didn't seem to make any sense, but I didn't have a chance to ask him about it immediately.  And then a few days later, I realized the emails didn't make sense because they were regarding a CD that he'd sent me that hadn't arrived yet.  He hadn't said anything previously to me about this show, but he'd apparently been listening to the CD a lot and decided I might like it.  The CD was for Idina Menzel's new Broadway show called "If/Then".  I did get a chance to listen to the CD a couple of times, and I liked it, but the story is a bit complicated and takes a bit of work to follow.  And not everything is evident from just listening to the CD.  Robert and I exchanged a couple of messages after I'd listened to the CD but never had the chance to have in-depth discussions about it.

We lost Robert to lymphoma on August 7, 2014.  As it turns out, the touring production of "If/Then" came to Los Angeles at the end of 2015, with Idina Menzel in the title role, no less, and I was glad I was able to see it and loved the show, but it was difficult to process that Robert wasn't around to see the show and that I couldn't talk to him about the show afterward.

Which brings me back to Hamilton, which is the kind of show that I think Robert would have loved, that he would have been excited about, that he would have talked about a lot, and I wouldn't have been surprised when the CD showed up in a package from Amazon at my house.  I might like the show and I might not.  But I'll never know because since Robert isn't here, that CD is never going to appear and I'm never going to listen to it.  And no, this is not a hint for friends, acquaintances and strangers to send me the CD.  It wouldn't work because it's not from Robert.  Every time I hear anything about Hamilton, I think of Robert.  My non-exposure to Hamilton is just one small indication of everything I've lost out on since Robert has been gone, movies and books and music that I haven't been able to talk to him about, experiences (his and mine) that we haven't been able to share, everything about this crazy election this year that we would have talked about.  And Disneyland.  Oh, so much Disneyland.

Two years seems like a long time and yet has also gone by in an instant.  Hugs to everyone missing someone today.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Catal Restaurant - dinner - August 5, 2016

My husband and I and a couple of friends had a chance to visit Catal Restaurant in Downtown Disney in Anaheim for dinner.  People who know me know that Catal is one of my favorite restaurants anywhere.  My husband and I made our first visit to the restaurant in May of 2001, a few months after they opened, and we’ve been going regularly ever since.  We have introduced many friends to Catal, and many of these friends have become regulars as well, and they’ve introduced other friends to Catal.  Acquaintances and co-workers know that I’m a regular visitor to the Disneyland Resort, so I often get asked for restaurant recommendations, and Catal has been one of my most frequent places to recommend.
Because of recent personal circumstances, we hadn’t had a chance to visit since January of this year.  We normally go at least every 3 or 4 months, sometimes more often.  Because we visited often, we’d gotten to know a lot of the staff, and we’d enjoyed our visits to Catal for the amazing food, the friendly and terrific staff and the opportunity to spend time with friends.  In the time that we’ve been going, there have been many menu and personnel changes.  Over our last few visits, I started to notice changes in the menu that I wasn’t particularly pleased about.  I was hoping that in the time since our last visit, maybe the menu had been changed back to resemble more of the style that celebrated the Mediterranean cuisine that Catal is supposed to serve.  However, I’m sad to say that didn’t happen.
Many of the more interesting items that were customarily on the menu in Catal’s first 10 years have been taken off with each progressive menu adjustment, to be replaced by much more pedestrian offerings.  In the past, on our first visit after a seasonal menu change, I already knew that I had to go back 3 or 4 times to be able to try everything on the menu that I wanted to try, because so many things sounded interesting.  On our last visit in January and on this visit, though, I had a hard time deciding what to order, not because there were several things to choose from that I was interested in, but because there was nothing special on the menu that jumped out at me.  There were several flavors of paella, a couple different cuts of beef, a couple choices of fish, a chicken dish, a scallops dish and the normal salads that are staples of Catal’s menu.  Gone were the interesting entrees that included lamb or venison or duck.  They used to have an entree of baby back ribs with an amazing sweet and spicy sauce.  Gone.  They used to have a wonderful pasta dish with a terrific tomato-based sauce, and maybe one or two other pasta dishes with interesting presentations and sauces.   All gone.  There are actually no pasta entrees on the menu at all.  The only entree on the current menu that is particularly interesting is the suckling pig.  Otherwise, the beef and fish and chicken and scallops dishes are ordinary, and while they are indeed tasty entrees, they can be found on menus of most ordinary restaurants.  Catal was anything but an ordinary restaurant.  It first caught our attention not just because it was a new restaurant but because of the menu offerings.  If we were not already familiar with the restaurant, if we walked by and looked at the menu, there is nothing on the menu that would draw me to make a first visit.  If we were not already familiar with the restaurant and if we happened to have dined there, there is nothing on the menu that would compel me to return for a second visit.
One additional change that we noticed on this visit is that while Catal has always offered bread service with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, they seem to have discontinued that now.  Well, sort of.  After our appetizers had been brought out, I realized that we hadn’t gotten any bread, which is usually brought out when they bring water/drinks, often while we’re still reviewing our menus.  I asked about the bread and was told that they no longer automatically offer bread but will provide it if anyone asks.  So, they have bread available, but you have to know to ask for it.  Is it a secret?  Do you have to know the secret password to get bread?  If they had done away with the bread completely, I would have been unhappy, but at least then it’s the same for everyone.  But if you’re a first time visitor and don’t know to ask for it, then I guess no bread for you.
So, bread arrived, olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a dish arrived.  I took a slice of bread, tore off a piece, dipped it and ate it.  And something was wrong.  I couldn’t quite tell what it was at first.  I like the bread that Catal serves.  Especially on days when I’m particularly hungry, I have to make sure not to eat too much bread so as not to ruin my appetite for the actual meal.  I dipped another piece and ate it.  Yep, something was definitely wrong.  I asked my companions to try the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  And without any further prompting from me, they came to the same conclusion I had come to - the olive oil tasted old.  It wasn’t spoiled but there was definitely something wrong with the flavor.  It seems that because they don’t offer bread and olive oil and balsamic vinegar to all patrons anymore, they don’t go through their stock as fast.  I don’t know when they stopped automatically serving it, but it was clear the olive oil had been sitting around, having its flavor changed in a bad way.  So, if you don’t know to ask for bread, you don’t get any.  If you do know to ask for bread, you get olive oil that has already started to turn.  This is really unacceptable for any restaurant, and it would have been unheard of at Catal even as recently as January of this year.
When I walked towards Catal for dinner, I noticed that the upstairs rotunda had its shades drawn and the lights were turned off.  We often sat in the rotunda for dinner, so I thought it was odd.  Was there something wrong with the restaurant?  When I asked about it, I was told that the rotunda is now no longer open if the restaurant itself isn’t busy enough.  OK.  So, the most visible part of the restaurant, the part of the restaurant that can be seen up and down Downtown Disney, no matter if you’re coming from the Disneyland side or the Downtown Disney parking side, the part of the restaurant that draws your eye to pay attention to it because it’s lit and people are in it enjoying a good meal, making you curious about what it is, making you want to investigate either for a meal that night or for a return trip in the future - is dark and closed.  It now gives the impression that whatever used to be there is now closed, so no need to pay any attention to it anymore.  It seems like a terrible business decision to project that kind of image.  It sure seems from the architecture of that rotunda that it’s designed to catch your attention, but now, it looks like an abandoned section of a building.
The meal itself was fine.  I had the scallops and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t something that I raved about to my friends, posting pictures on social media and making my friends envious of what I was having and having them express the desire to come to the restaurant to enjoy the dish at a later time, something that’s happened multiple times in the past as the result of a dinner at Catal.  Our party still had a nice evening.  Among the staff, we saw some familiar faces and many new faces, but everyone was still friendly and helpful.  That hasn’t changed.  Based on the menu offerings, it seems Catal is now a place they hope you’ll choose to eat at if you’re already at Downtown Disney and deciding among the various restaurants there.  Catal used to be a destination spot, a place you specifically planned to visit because of the amazing items on the menu, because of the multiple amazing items on the menu.  Catal was a place that you talked to your friends about, that you made plans to visit with friends who hadn’t been there before but wanted to experience this great place you keep raving about.  Catal had a terrific balance on its menus, with some really interesting items you don’t find on every restaurant menu but with enough “safe” items that anyone could eat there, and then people who were more comfortable with dishes they were familiar with could try the entree that someone else might have ordered that they’d never tried before.  “That steak looks great, but would you like to try a piece of my lamb?”  “That fish looks terrific but would you like to try a piece of my duck?”  “That spaghettini looks terrific.  May I have a taste?  Oh, I want to come back next time and order that.”  Dining at Catal was an experience all around, not *just* a meal.  I’m hoping that whomever is in charge now will come to realize that and with some menu tweaks and some operational changes, it can be that way again, and I can again recommend Catal as a dining destination.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Classic Afternoon Tea at the Disneyland Hotel - Steakhouse 55 - March 12, 2016

The Disneyland Resort had announced that classic afternoon tea would be served at the Steakhouse 55 restaurant inside the Disneyland Hotel, and I was interested in trying it.  I love tea, and I'm a fan of afternoon tea.  I still really miss the Practically Perfect Tea that used to be offered at what is now the Paradise Pier Hotel.

The husband and I attended the afternoon tea for a lunchtime seating on March 12, 2016.  I checked in at the podium, and then we waited for a few minutes in the lounge before being taken to our table.  The first time I went to breakfast at Steakhouse 55, I was surprised to note that the restaurant was well-lit, though I should have expected it.  I'd only previously been there for dinner, when the lights are dimmer to set the ambiance, but it made sense for the restaurant to be bright instead during breakfast, which was the same for afternoon tea.  We were taken to a two-person table towards the back, and the hostess said our server would be with us shortly.

The husband and I perused our menus in the meantime.

Menu choices for classic afternoon tea at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel.

Three choices are offered for tea service.  The classic tea party includes scones, tea sandwiches, dessert, and of course, tea, for $50 per person (AP discounts, and presumably cast member discounts, apply).

Classic Tea Party elements.

The premium tea party includes all the elements of the classic tea party as well as a glass of sparkling wine, a salad, and farewell truffles, and that costs $65 per person, before applicable discounts.

Premium Tea Party elements.

There is also a kids tea party offered, for $35 per child, before applicable discounts.

Kids tea party elements.

The husband and I both opted for the premium tea party.  We then perused the menu of available teas.  When our server came to greet us, she told us that we were of course welcome to try as many of the teas as we liked, but she did recommend that we have one pot at a time.  She also mentioned that the teas could be served hot or iced.  I was actually surprised at that since it would never occur to me to have iced tea at an afternoon tea, but I guess they were being accommodating to people's preferences.  I'm not generally a fan of flowery teas and fruit teas, and I tend to like my tea strong, so the tea that really caught my eye was the Perfect Afternoon.  When we told the server that's the one we wanted to start with, she mentioned that it was the strongest tea on the list.  Of course it was.

List of available teas.

There was also a list of other adult beverages that were available.

For an adult twist to tea.

We also asked for water, and after we'd ordered, we were ready for tea to start.  First, they brought out the sparkling wine.  The sparkling wine being served was Fairy Tale, which has been the signature sparkling wine at the Resort for some time, and which I love, but I hadn't realized that it was from Iron Horse.  Many years ago, at a wine dinner at Catal Restaurant in Downtown Disney, I'd discovered a riesling from Iron Horse that I'd really loved.

Table settings already in place for tea.  I love the clean, clear pattern.

Iron Horse Fairy Tale sparkling wine.

I liked the teapot that they were using for tea, but I did think it was very plain, with just the bone white.  I didn't want anything too flowery, but maybe some kind of subtle solid-color accent might have gone nicely with the pattern of the china.  It wasn't a very large teapot, which made sense if the intention is that you are going to try several of the teas in succession.  And, I have to admit, even though I wasn't planning on using the milk, I was disappointed that it was cold.  It would have been nice if it had been even a little warm, or even close to room temperature, as pouring cold milk into hot tea really dampens the temperature of the tea.  In this case, it wasn't even just the milk that was cold, but the container was as well, so we figured that meant the entire container had been in the refrigerator.  Serving warm or even room temperature milk is definitely more labor intensive than serving cold milk but it would have been a nice extra touch.

Pot of tea with milk on the side.

I really enjoyed the Perfect Afternoon tea.  It definitely had a bold tea flavor and was a good accompaniment to the menu items, especially the scones, since they're fairly sweet.

Beautiful color of the Perfect Afternoon tea.

In addition to milk, also brought to the table were sugar, sugar substitutes, honey and lemon.  I generally don't put anything in my hot tea, but it's nice to have the items available for people who do use them.

Sugar comes in the form of crystallized sugar sticks.

Honey and lemon for your tea, if you please.

Because we'd ordered the premium tea party, our first course was the salad.  I was pleasantly surprised that it was a rather nice salad, with romaine lettuce rather than iceberg, and a few different accompaniments on the lettuce as well and a nice dressing that didn't oversaturate the salad.  They also added fresh ground pepper upon request.  It was a nice and refreshing start to tea.

A nice salad to start with.

The main elements of the tea were brought in a stacked tower, with the scones on top, the tea sandwiches in the middle and the desserts on the bottom.  Accompaniments for the scones were on a separate plate.

Scones, sandwiches and dessert.

There were two kinds of scones, one was a black currant scone and one was a blueberry scone with lemon glaze.

Blueberry scones with lemon glaze and black currant scones.

The scone accompaniments were Devonshire cream, lemon curd and blueberry lemon preserve.  I did think it was kind of interesting that the blueberry and lemon themes were repeated in the scones and in the accompaniments.  The Devonshire cream was wonderful, as you'd expect.  I mostly put that on the scones.  I liked the lemon curd but I'll admit I wasn't sure how the tartness of that would work on the scones, so I didn't end up using any of it.  The blueberrry lemon preserve was quite nice, and I had some of it with the black currant scone.

Devonshire cream, lemon curd and blueberry lemon preserve.

The tea sandwiches consisted of cucumber and watercress, heirloom tomato and mozzarella (basically a caprese), egg salad, and smoked salmon.  I enjoyed all of the sandwiches.  They were all different enough from each other that you could enjoy the various flavors.

Tea sandwiches.

A different view of the tea sandwiches.

Dessert consisted of chocolate-dipped strawberries, mini fruit tarts, and four different flavors of macarons.  The flavors have apparently changed during the time that tea has been offered, but on this day, the flavors were pineapple chocolate, white and dark chocolate, pistachio maraschino, and raspberry chocolate.  I enjoyed the desserts, though I didn't have all of them because I was feeling that there was quite a bit of sugar overall during the meal, and that's without putting any sugar in my tea.  The scones were sweeter than I remember them normally being when I've had them elsewhere - perhaps the lemon glaze on the blueberry added to that.  For the mini fruit tart, I ate the fruit on top and left the rest of the tart.  I really enjoyed the chocolate-dipped strawberry (neither the husband nor I like white chocolate, so he scraped the white chocolate off and just ate the strawberry, while I was able to enjoy the milk chocolate one) because it was a perfectly ripe strawberry, not too sweet and not too sour, and the size of the strawberry was enough to evenly balance the sweetness of the chocolate.  Even though the macarons were smallish and were shared by two of us, having four of them seemed more than I'd have expected.  I probably would have preferred for there to be two of them and then maybe some additional fruit on the side instead of the other two macarons, maybe a couple slices of honeydew or cantaloupe, which are mild enough in flavor not to overpower the other desserts but wouldn't add as much to the sweet flavors.


I think part of the problem for me in feeling like the sweet factor of the meal was too high is that I didn't have as much tea to drink as I'd have liked.  We did finish our first pot of tea, and when we were ready to try our next tea, it took a while for us to get the attention of our server, who was helping other guests.  So we sat for a little while without any tea to drink, and I did end up having more of my water than I normally would during a meal where I also have tea.  When we finally were able to speak to our server, we ordered our next tea, and that seemed to take a while to come out as well.  So, at a meal advertised as afternoon tea, I spent too much of it without any tea.  If I'd had more tea available throughout the meal, I think it would have cleaned out my palate more from the scones, and having the tea with the desserts would probably also have presented a better balance.  At one point, I sat there for a while waiting to have some more of my dessert until I had tea to go with it.  Our initial pot of tea was brought out by someone other than our server, but otherwise, everything else we received and needed was handled by our server.  Maybe it would be better to have someone assist the server so that if someone needed another pot of the same tea or even a different tea, the other person could take care of that.  If someone needed assistance in picking out what tea to have, it would make sense for the server to handle that, but for people like us who have very definite ideas of what kinds of tea we like, who don't need the extra assistance and just need to make our tea request.  I'd wanted to also try the White Tip Darjeeling but didn't have time.  Towards the end of our meal, the husband actually asked if I wanted to order a pot of that, but I didn't want to wait the extra time to get it, as we'd already been there for a while.  If they don't want someone other than the server attending to the guests, perhaps they might give fewer tables to each server and have more servers so that the server isn't spread as thin among their various tables.  (For those who know me, yes, there was English Breakfast tea on the menu, and yes, I love that, but no, I wasn't going to order it because there were other teas I wanted to try.)

The other tea that we did request was the Russian Earl Grey, which initially intrigued me because while of course I was familiar with Earl Grey tea, I'd never heard of Russian Earl Grey before.  As I'd mentioned previously, I generally don't add anything to my hot tea, but I do enjoy lemon in my hot tea on the occasions when I have a cold.  I really enjoyed this tea, which had the flavor of lemon in it, but while I can't properly describe the flavor, having the lemon flavor infused into the tea gave it a much cleaner taste and flavor than adding lemon into the tea separately.  It was enough of a lemon flavor to give it the scent and taste but it wasn't too tart.  It was really a nice tea.

I asked the server about the teas that were offered with the meal, and she said that they were all loose leaf teas, fresh brewed, and they were from Tea Leaves and Twinings.  I'm a fan of Twinings, but I hadn't heard of Tea Leaves before.  At first, I didn't realize she was referencing a brand name and thought she just meant tea leaves, but as she was explaining that a rep from the company had come to explain the teas to the servers and staff, I realized that must be the name of the company.  And lo and behold, here's the Russian Earl Grey from Tea Leaves.  I'm amused that the story our server relayed to us about the tea is actually on the website, that tea was brought from China to Russia via the desert, and lemon was added to the tea to hide the dusty flavor.  I think I'm going to need to order some of that.  (And for those of you who know about me, buying tea, and the husband, yes, he knows I'm likely going to order it, and no, he didn't object.  Of course, he doesn't know that I've looked through the other teas available there, and I might be ordering more than just the Russian Earl Grey.  Shhhhhhh!!!!!)

Finally, the last item included in our premium tea party were truffles.  Inside the cute packaging were two truffles, Tahitian vanilla and salted caramel.  Yes, I was done with sugar by that point.  We saved them for later and shared them with friends.  I do love that the truffles come in a pretty and branded container which makes for a nice memento/souvenir.

Truffles to complete the premium tea experience.

A nice memento/souvenir of the afternoon.

Since there are two choices offered for tea (not including the kids tea), how would you decide which one to order?  Is $15 worth the extra price for a salad, a glass of sparkling wine and truffles?  Of course, it all depends on your preferences and budget.  If your entire family of 6 is attending, that's a lot of extra cost.  If you're not a fan of salad or don't partake in alcoholic beverages or are allergic to chocolate, the premium tea party might not work for you.  (I didn't ask if a non-alcoholic beverage could be substituted for the glass of sparkling wine.)  For us, we were glad we'd gotten the premium tea party.  Having the additional salad was definitely nice, and without it, the meal would have seemed even sweeter.  I did enjoy the sparkling wine, helped by the fact that it's a wine I already liked.  And while I didn't need the extra sugar of the truffles, it was nice to share them with friends, and I like having the souvenir to keep.  If you're going with other family members, some of you could order the classic tea party and some could order the premium tea party and just share the extra elements.  That could work among friends as well, as long as you agree ahead of time who gets what!

The restaurant was busy but not full when we were there, so it seems to be a popular offering.

Overall, I did enjoy the afternoon tea.  My experience might be a little jaded because I have a couple of local places that I can go to that have excellent afternoon teas, including one that's basically a proper English tea, and I really, REALLY miss the Practically Perfect Tea that I'd mentioned earlier.  This tea isn't something I'd likely attend on a regular basis (though I do have plans to return shortly, to enjoy it with friends), but I think it's a lovely offering for people who want to be able to enjoy the experience of tea and don't necessarily have a favorite place to already go to, or who want to try something different.  Whether for locals or tourists visiting Disneyland, it's a nice interlude during the day, and definitely a nice option to celebrate a holiday or an important milestone.  When we were there, we happened to overhear another party who were attending as a surprise retirement party for their mother.  What a wonderful idea!

A premium tea party adds enjoyment to any day.