Wednesday, March 31, 2010

April Goals

Weekly goals for the month:
  • Get to the gym 3-4 times per week
  • Alternate days of push-ups and sit-ups, doing more each time than the time before (doing this on non-gym days could be a good goal)
  • Get out for more walks! Shoot for at least once a week...this can replace a gym visit.
  • Use a pedometer (already purchased!) and try to work up to 10,000-12,000 steps a day. (10,000 is considered a healthy "active", while 12,000 initiates and sustains weight loss.)
One-time goals for the month:
  • Try the following classes, at least once: Zumba Dance, spinning, Body pump, and Tai Chi
  • Get the Try Pack of 3 professional training sessions so I can feel more comfortable with weights especially (maybe then I'll get a small set for home use)
  • Read "Body for Life" and "You: On a Diet" so I can return them to the friends that lent them to me.
  • On the meditation front: read "How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life" by Susan Piver, and her blog.
  • Find some guided meditations online to try out.
  • Register for the August meditation retreat, even if I can't get anyone else to go with me.
And--continue working on Danish. Once I finish the 8 chapters, I can go back and do the speaking and writing exercises. Then, I can listen to the audio book part. And practice speaking/listening with Michael.

And, for the April Boston outing--finally visiting the Institute of Contemporary Art with Erin...and a meal nearby, of course.

That's a lot to do in one month, but the one-offs should be easy enough to tackle. Reading three heavy books might be hard to fit in, but I can skim if needed. I think I can do it, and I'm excited to try. If you have other suggestions (for exercise resources/goals, or meditation resources), please leave a comment!

Reflections on Danish Month

Well, Danish month was fairly successful. Although I didn't EVER hit five hours a week of Danish study (what was I thinking? When was the last time I had five free hours a week? Second grade?!), and I didn't finish the Rosetta Stone program, I did make significant progress. I completed 5 out of 8 chapters, and I scored a 95% or higher on all tests. I learned a least in terms of reading Danish. I'm not sure how well I'll be able to understand words in spoken conversation without the picture context clues. Still, I can make simple, descriptive sentences, and Michael can understand me even with my poor grammar and accent.

I plan to continue the Danish study in April, finishing the last 3 chapters and then going back and doing the writing/listening portions. If I get my new laptop, I can do the speaking exercises, where it analyzes my pronunciation, which would be helpful. Then I can do the audio exercises in the car, and practice with Michael. I've made enough progress that I've maintained my motivation and excitement to learn more...I didn't want Danish month to be over, and that's a good sign.

I wasn't so great at really achieving FOCUS on my subject for the month, but we traveled a LOT this month and I was foiled a bit by my faulty laptop battery. I did do a fairly good job of achieving balance/flow and didn't get too caught up in trying to do "everything"...on several days, I let myself off the gym hook so I could focus on Danish. That might have been an easy out for me rather than intentional focus, though.

This month was nearly as satisfying as de-cluttering/organizing month and it was much more satisfying than intimacy/connection month. Progress was measurable, and I felt like it was a long-term investment in my life since I really want to be fluent in Danish.

On to April!

More lost time

Worked REALLY late tonight...ran quickly to check out laptops...didn't really help at all, though I like Sony's software better. Spent some time pricing laptops, only to have my computer freeze before I finished. Didn't get to gym, didn't get hot bath. Didn't get to call my dad, which I've been trying to find time to do since getting back from Texas (it's hard because I'm working late, and he goes to bed early.) Didn't do any Danish--yet--but plan to finish chapter 5 before bed. Hope to still get to bed by 11:30. This week is REALLY disappearing alarmingly fast and I am NOT getting enough done.

Is there a difference between being flexible and learning to roll with things and giving up and copping out? Just wondering.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Where does the time go?

Today it has been raining as if the world were ending. Seriously. There's a state of emergency and the National Guard is in town. The roads are flooded. I got an automated message from the head of school letting us know that our parking lot was flooding and we should attempt to move our cars with care, as some were already in dangerously large lakes of water. Awesome.

Given all that, and the fact that I didn't sleep last night, I told Michael I wanted to have a lock-in tonight. Order pizza or something, go through a chapter or two of Danish, have a hot bath and get to bed early.

But then I worked late and didn't get a nap. And then I got distracted with researching my new laptop. And then I got excited to go see the models I was considering in person. So I asked him if he wanted to do a quick Bolocco dinner and then go look at the laptops.

Then Gina stopped by on her way to the gym (*ahem* hot tub) and instead of going with her like I should have, I put on the tea kettle and coaxed her into hanging out. Which was nice, since it had been way too long since we'd gotten to catch up. Gina and Michael wanted sushi, so we decided to go to a place near the Best Buy. Then Michael remembered that we needed fishing licenses (like, yesterday) so we went to Dick's, thinking it closed earlier than Best Buy.

Yeah, we got to Best Buy 10 minutes after it closed. I was a little irrationally crushed. I had told myself it was okay if I didn't get to the gym and the Danish tonight, because I could still really focus on it tomorrow. But now I want to go look at laptops tomorrow. But it's the last day of the month!!

We got home just in time for dorm meeting. Then, we had to go to the basement and look through our stuff that got flooded. Twice. And move some of it. And throw some of it away (including books! gasp!).

And then it was 11:00 already. And I was going to be in bed by 10:30.

And I didn't get to take a nap (after having only 3.5 hours sleep last night) and I didn't get to the gym. And I didn't get any Danish done at all. Or any work. Or a hot bath.

But I'll just focus on the nice dinner and talk I got to have with Gina and Michael. Tomorrow, though...well, the jury is still out. I clearly can't do 3.5 chapters of Danish in one night. So maybe I will go check out laptops. I guess we'll see....

No rest for the weary

Don't know why, but I got violently sick late last night. So even though I *tried* to get the sleep I needed, I didn't fall asleep until about 3:30 am. I have no idea what it was...I didn't eat anything out of the ordinary. I am so freaking tired today though, and it's not even noon. It's going to be a long day.

AND, it turns out that virus isn't really gone after all, despite Michael's efforts. Told you it was freakishly stubborn. I really need that new laptop!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ready? Okay!

Michael asked me tonight what he could do to help, and I told him he could be my cheerleader. But what I meant was that he could take my car for an oil change and unpack our suitcases and get groceries and get this multiplying and freakishly stubborn virus off my computer and while he's at it, find me a new computer because this one makes me want to throw myself (or it) out the window...and generally keep our lives moving forward while I concentrate solely on getting my head above water...and then bring home chocolates and flowers and tell me to go take a bath while he does the dishes.

I might need to work on my communication skills.

I've really been struggling lately--as I'm sure you've noticed. When I spoke with my boss last week about trying to find better balance at work I realized that I was relying on her to make my life easier/better when her job is to get me to do the admissions work that needs to be done, not to make sure my job is fulfilling. That's up to me. And the reality is that I've hit a brick wall (or the brick has hit me--repeatedly) and something has to give: either I need to stop the dorm parenting (in which case our lifestyle will change dramatically, and I'll miss it); or I stop college counseling (which is the direction I think I'm headed in, and thus need experience in) or I find myself a new day job. Or I hurry up and pop out a baby, in which case I can take time off from my day job but probably won't have so much time to write that book I've been wanting to write. Hard choices. But that's life. And it turns out I have to learn how to make choices and changes instead of waiting for other people to do the hard work for me. After all--what's in it for my boss?!

I was reading an article by Kelly Corrigan--a memoir author I like--that pointed out that sometimes the biggest secret women keep is what they really want to do with their lives. And I feel like I'm at the do or die point. Not that this is the only window of opportunity to make a change, but that I'll die a little inside each day that I don't. This isn't who I'm meant to be. I am a happy person. Or at least I was. I remember her, even if most of my current acquaintances haven't met that happier version of me. And I know what I want to do with my life. And I want to be great at something, and it's not going to be admissions work. And even though I love graphics and marketing, it's not going to be that either. I'm going to be a great mother. I'm going to be a great writer. Maybe I'll have some creative little side business that will keep me smiling and inspired. And I want to get started, dammit.

I'm just not quite sure how to get there from here. But I have to face up to this truth: if I'm not willing to make the hard choices and create change, I have to stop complaining all the time. And that seems unlikely, doesn't it?

I've been hoping that my new year's resolution would help me make positive changes, and it has helped in a way. The focus helps me stay engaged and meeting goals makes me feel like I'm making some sort of progress in my life. But I've also been feeling more and more like I'm drowning rather than thriving. I know I sound all naive and idealistic and that most people don't love getting up and going to their jobs every day. But I want to crawl under the covers too much. And life is too short for that.

In any case, I was lucky that Melissa motivated me to go to the gym tonight, and it felt pretty good. She makes working out an indulgence--just spending an hour deep in conversation with her makes it all worthwhile. So I got that done.

But my cheerleader/husband actually did (hopefully) take two hours to remove that pesky virus from my computer, so I didn't get to work on Danish. And it's definitely time to curl up under the covers, since I got less than 6 hours of sleep last night. Tomorrow's a new day I guess.

Just a few more nights of March...

  • Three more nights of March and Danish month, and I have 3.5 chapters left to cover in my Rosetta Stone. Uhoh. Good thing I'm carrying over into April, I think...though I will try my best to get through it before the end of the month (it doesn't seem quite realistic).
  • I've recently been very inspired re: meditation and am thinking I might try to begin to work it into exercise month. However, I've found a retreat I'd like to do in August, so August might wind up including meditation also. I have to be flexible!
  • This trip to Uncertain made me realize I need to spend a lot more time outdoors. It feeds my spirit in ways I had forgotten about.
  • I have too many foci right now--work is spilling over into off hours significantly and I'm way behind...also behind on Danish and needing to focus on exercise. And all I want to do is sleep.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Uncertain Love

So my last post left off with us checking into our lavish honeymoon upgrade and feeling like there were about 1200 restaurants and things we wanted to do in New Orleans. To be totally honest, I was feeling a tad annoyed that I had let Michael talk me into leaving after only 36 hours to go to the middle of nowhere.

We started out with morning beverages delivered to our room, so we lingered a bit on Wednesday morning and went in search of breakfast at Brennan's around 11:30. We were delighted to find it right around the corner from our hotel. What luck!

We sat down at a nice table looking into a beautiful, lush courtyard and opened our menus. Michael coughed. "Did you look at the prices online?"

"I don't think they were listed," I replied. And for good reason. An omelette for $19 and a breakfast special for $36. Wow. That better be a good fucking omelette. And you know what? It was. Michael got the special, which came with a baked apple appetizer (delicious) and bananas foster for dessert. For an additional $5. haha. Do they not understand the definition of prix fixe? But Brennan's started bananas foster, so even though we're not sure we like it, we have to have it. He ordered an entree I knew he wouldn't love (and he didn't) and I ordered an omelette with spicy, cajun ham. Which was REALLY good. Maybe not $19 good, but hey, we're on vacation. Monopoly money, you know? More accurately, American Express money.

I embarrassed Michael by taking pictures of everything (see facebook for proof) but it got us a front row seat for watching our waiter make the bananas foster, and he wasn't complaining about that! It was good, but it hasn't replaced creme brulee as my favorite dessert or anything. As if.

We left Brennan's and decided to walk towards Jackson Square, where there are supposed to be artisans everywhere, but we found only a few. I guess they only come out on weekends. I was sort of disappointed, since I also wouldn't get to see the art market that's on weekends. Damn Michael and his fishing trip that had to be on the weekend. sigh.

We passed Emeril's first restaurant, but they weren't open for lunch on weekdays. (grrr. fishing. I love my husband, but seriously?) We wound up walking for about 4 hours and my feet were KILLING me. Michael was a good sport about going into every store I found slightly intriguing. For a husband. (you know, in the way that men say things like "you drive pretty well. for a girl.)

We found a few souvenirs for my dad (weird, since he's not the souvenir type. But we found a harley store and a cool sign that said "An old crab lives here." It had a crab on it. That's cute, right? And befitting someone who is missing his "grumpy old men" club.) We got back to the hotel and I sampled the jacuzzi while Michael napped and then we went for dinner at Commander's Palace, which came highly recommended as one of the best restaurants in the country.

It had a beautiful ambiance (though it was oddly placed in a residential neighborhood) and we were marched through 6 dining rooms before being seated--and past approximately 64 waiters and waitresses, all of whom greeted us. Hmmm. Odd, but welcoming. The menu wasn't thrilling, but we each found something worth ordering, and I got kind of excited about the prospect of turtle soup, which I could get alongside gumbo and shrimp bisque. We were excited to dive in, since this was the restaurant where Emeril and several other chefs got their start.

But you know what? It was sort of disappointing. Michael had pecan crusted fish with crab which was pretty good, and a crawfish gnocci app which was decent. But all three of my soups were muddy and salty. And my (3!) scallops were good, but the sides were salty as well. Dinner was $$$$ too. And we don't mind spending good money on good food (see the entry about Oya sushi in Boston!) but this was good money on eh food. Oh well. We had a nice night anyway.

We caught a cab with some other diners back to our hotel and considered calling it a day. We were zonked after all that walking. But I was wearing a dress! And we were in New Orleans, for christ's sake. So we asked the concierege to recommend a nice bar for drinks and live music and headed out. (after I embarrassed Michael yet again by asking him to take a picture of us. I was wearing a dress after all!)

We wound up at the Irving Mayfield Jazz Lounge, and it turned out Irving Mayfield himself was playing. (Is this possible? Does anyone know him? Is he alive? The brochure said it was him but we had our doubts.) In any case, it was good music and the drinks were good and there was no cover and we sat there letting the music wash over us like grown ups do in New Orleans. Except with a little less intrinsic rhythm. You know how it is with me.

We headed down sketchy Bourbon street (which was also a little disappointing) to get back to the hotel. It was a Wednesday night. Where do all these drunk-ass people come from?? And did you know you can have open containers of alcohol in New Orleans? I think it's a major part of the attraction, actually. Bars have plastic "to-go" cups by the doors and bars have specials on "takeout only" drinks. We were kind of too tired to partake in this novelty, sadly. It made me feel old. I kind of regret it now. Michael had this experience--he grew up in Denmark, after all. sigh. Oh well.

The next morning we had to check out of our hotel, and we found our way to lunch at the Bourbon House, where I got to try new flavors of baked oysters (beyond the typical Rockerfeller preparation) and ALLIGATOR. That's right. I ate alligator, y'all. See ya later, Alligator! It was fun for the adventurous experience, but the food wasn't amazing.

We picked up our rental car and wanted to have one last meal in town. Ironically, Michael had picked an Asian restaurant in the Harrah's casino. Since we had just eaten lunch, we decided to waste some time at the casino. There didn't seem to be much else to do in town, since we had walked every street and gone to Jackson Square twice. Clearly we missed something. I think N'awlins is a weekend sort of town, really. Or maybe mostly a drinking experience. Or good if you like ghost tours.

We love casinos. I once won $1000 playing table texas hold 'em, and I've been trying to relive the experience ever since. We took out some money and split up: Michael headed for the real-player poker tables, and I found the table game. My first hand was pocket kings and I won. I was off to a great start! Look at me go!

Some guys who were in town for a dunkin donuts convention (did they work there? love DD? I didn't ask) sat down and starting chatting me up. I ordered a drink. This was fun.

I proceeded to lose every single hand after that, before my drink even got there. I'm ashamed to say my $160 of fun money lasted roughly 20 minutes. Don't tell my mom. I'm also ashamed to say that I nearly took out more money.

However, Bank of America was alarmed at the sudden casino spending in Louisiana and froze my card. Supremely annoying (what? their customers don't travel?!) but effective. I could have used another card, but the hesitation had set in and I realized how dumb that would be so I checked in with Michael. He was still going strong at the poker table (of course he was) so I took my book and went outside, to find some fresh air and a place to stretch out.

An hour or so later, Michael was ready for dinner, so we found Bambu, this fancy looking Asian restaurant...that turned out not to be fancy, and not to have walls. It was just sort of a section of the casino. Well, it wasn't turning out like we had hoped (this was our last meal in town?!) but we were game. The food turned out okay, actually. But the experience overall was depressing. We had both lost money and it was smoky and dark in there, and there were a lot of old people with walkers looking lonely. Why were we here?!

So off we went, in the direction of Shreveport, 5.5 hours away. We planned to stop for the night before heading on to Uncertain, TX for our fishing charter. I have to say this: I mentioned more than a few times how I had pretty much planned everything for our vacation (sometimes I can't help but nudge Michael to appreciate my type-A skills). But Michael, god bless him, drove the entire way to Shreveport, without complaining. While I yelled into the phone to Alexis for over 2 hours. (I didn't realize I was yelling, obviously, but I was having a hard time hearing her. When I hung up, Michael mentioned the yelling thing. And, seeing how my throat was kind of raw, I could see he might be right.) We got there around midnight and checked into our hotel. We slept in the next morning and found a Target to buy "supplies" (by which I mean snacks for Uncertain, TX...where we were certain they'd be low on snacks and drinks.) We wanted something good for lunch, but the best we came up with was Ruby Tuesdays.

And I swear Michael said this after ordering: "This makes me feel like home."

hahaha. He might be the only person in the world who understands my affection for chains.

I sheepishly admit that it was one of our better meals in LA, actually. We overheard that some military men who had gotten a discount hadn't tipped our waitress. So Michael tipped her 30%. Don't you just love him?!

We got back on the road, and it turned out Uncertain was only 45 minutes from there. If we had known that, we would have just driven through the night before. Oh well. And, OMG: We found a sign for Uncertian, TX pop 150. HAHAHA. How awesome is that? And then--are you ready?--we found this sign "Uncertain Church" with an arrow. OMG. Michael was amused at my amsuement. We continued on (after taking 32 pictures). We got to our hotel around 3:30 and when we pulled in, we looked around.

I said to Michael, "I kind of want to call my dad and tell him we've found his people."

One of the men stopped to ask if he could help us and when we said we were checking into Lakeside Cabin #2, he told us we weren't even close to the office, but he was pretty sure the door was unlocked. He walked up to our cabin, opened the door, and turned around triumphantly, "you're checked in!"

I asked if we should let anyone know we were here...or pay someone or something of that sort.

He shrugged. "They run the cafe, too. You'll probably eat breakfast there, so you can just let them know then."

Seriously? I asked if we needed a key or if people just left things unlocked in this here town. He walked inside and came out again with a key in his hand.

We were impressed, but we went in search of the owner anyway. The office was apparently in a house. Michael was nervous to go up to the door. It was kind of awkward. But as I approached, a young boy came out and pointed us toward a group of men, "he's over there."

Okay, we went over to the men and one seemed to be in charge, giving advice, and we told him we were checking in and he said, "yeah, we're a little understaffed just now, but the key's in the room and it's unlocked."

Now we felt a little embarrassed. "Yeah, we found it. We just thought we should tell you we were here or something." He was kind enough to welcome us. Again. It was clearly superfluous.

So we asked where we could rent a canoe and where we could get dinner, and off we went. We found the canoe place and went inside, where two men asked if they could help us. It turned out they couldn't, since they were just customers chilling in the store, but they entertained us for a bit until the owner came back and rented us a canoe for $20. The customers asked if we knew where we were going and we admited we didn't.

They exchanged a glance, but kindly gave us some suggestions. As an afterthought, they asked if we had cell phones. We assured them we did and they told us if we got lost, to note the closest marker sign and they'd come get us. It must have been Michael's button down shirt that sold us out. Surely they could smell the redneck in me, couldn't they??!

I thought they were being dramatic, but once we got out onto the lake, I realized they weren't. The lake was 10 miles across, and dotted with Cypress trees that formed an intricate maze. It was like tree skiing. You'd follow an obvious path through the trees and come out into an open area and then turn around and have no idea where you had come from and how to get back. oops.

We backtracked and decided to stay close to shore, since we only had two hours before we had to return the canoe. We had a blast, and found a house for sale that we decided to check out. (we looked it up online: $350k for 3 beds, 3 baths and 2200 sq ft.)

We returned the canoe and asked if there was someplace to buy some hats for our fishing trip the next day. The customers, still there, were wearing trucker hats embroidered with Uncertain, TX) and said that "Kay" had them for sale next door. We went next door to the Uncertain Inn/general store/gift shop/restaurant and found it to be the same place the hotel guy had suggested for dinner. What luck. Or what a small town. Shrugging, we went in. After taking a few pictures of the signs.

Oh it was perfect in there. A table for two was open on the back porch overlooking the lake, and there were tables scattered among the goods for sale inside. We took the table on the porch and both started talking about how much my parents might like it here. The folks at the next table recommended the mud bugs (fried crawfish bits), so we had that. I asked what beer they had, and the waitress answered: bud light, coors light, budweiser with lime.

ummm. Where to go from here? No backtracking. Going back to my roots, I chose the coors light. Good times.

We entertained ourselves by eavesdropping, and then went shopping. We found two hats (sadly, Michael woldn't buy the trucker hat and wouldn't let me buy the green fuzzy on fb, though!) and headed back to the hotel, stopping briefly to check out the local UNCERTAIN grocery store. I laughed giddily. Michael asked if the whole Uncertain thing would ever get old.

"No." I answered firmly. How could it?!?

Back at the hotel, we hung out on the porch with our beer and watched the people take their boats out of the water. We were like marina townies. It was awesome.

We LOVED our Lakeside Cabin #2 until about 5 am. Turns out the walls are thin as paper and we're right next to the boat launch. And there's a tournament today with 160 entrants. Yeah, guess it's time to wake up then.

We met our guide at first light by the "marina" (12 boat slips) and set out. He suggested we start by fishing for some crappies, though we had only signed on for bass fishing (Michael is kind of obsessed with catching bass). But he's a good husband and agreed to the crappie fishing for my sake. It was a good decision, and I outfished him, bringing in 9 crappies and 2 yellow striped bass. None were really keeper size, but we weren't going to keep them anyway, so who cares? He brought in 8 fish.

I was smug, but generous. "Don't worry, honey, you'll beat me at bass fishing."

I'm getting tired of typing, so I'll just summarize our 9.5 hours on the lake: they were awesome. I really mean it. I stopped fishing at that point, because I clearly wasn't going to catch any bass and if I kept trying, neither was Michael or the guide. (I can't cast without making a lot of noise when my bait drops in the water, effectively scaring away every fish within 3 miles.) The point is, I wasn't even fishing for 6 or so hours and it was still awesome. I laid out on the back of the boat and read my book. I took pictures. I reveled in Michael's joy. I saw a FREAKING alligator. That was 16 feet LONG! I leaned my head back and SOAKED up the freaking sun and zen peacefullness and felt whole.

Cheesy? Maybe. But also true. And feeling whole is no small thing. I felt whole in a way I haven't in far too long. I felt at home out here on the lake in the middle of nowhere with grumpy old men circling their boats around common fishing holes, shouting to each other about lures and jigs and wives and worms.

I know some of you reading this can understand, right? I grew up where you could smell the onion fields and where you had to watch out for deer (rather than other cars) on the twisty roads. My best friend and I would disappear into the woods for days at a time. Her mother would only ask us to wear a whistle, so we could call for help if needed. We'd camp and pretend we could survive off of onion grass. We went adventuring in an inflatable (duct-taped) pool raft down the mighty (polluted) Pochuk River. Until we bottomed out in a field of cows, who noticed us and started a stampede. (Who knew cows could run?!) My dad woke me at first light to go search for frogs (For frog legs) and fish. We'd stalk deer in the woods, my dad "shhhhh"-ing my clumsy footsteps. I'd run into the woods with a jounral and a pen and write angsty poetry. We made a clubhouse in the old chick coop, and a luging trail down the side of the driveway.

You get my point. I spent most of my childhood happily outdoors, and although I couldn't wait to get out of my small town, it turns out I kind of loved it. In retrospect.

And that's why today brought my more peace and sense of self than I've felt in a long time. And why I am so grateful to have a husband who loves this too, who isn't too worldly to enjoy it, who doesn't look down on it in the slightest.

And right about now I am wishing we had skipped New Orleans all together and stayed here longer. I want to linger on the front porch with our pulled pork sandwiches and beer, reliving each catch of the day.

And to think I was exasperated that Michael wanted to drive 6 hours and spend our time fishing instead of eating our way through New Orleans.

So yeah. Needless to say we're already planning our next "fishing" trip.

And I'm reminding myself to spend more time outside. Fresh air is good for me.

Friday, March 26, 2010

One more thing for exercise month...

I have two books that friends have lent me: Body for Life and You: On a Diet. They lent them to me FOREVER ago and I want to finally read (and return) them during exercise month.

There was something else I wanted to add but I forgot already...

We're off to Texas now...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I am sitting across two seats in row 22. My toes just touch the man sitting in the aisle seat, who is—luckily—my husband. I can’t help but smile. He is reading a book and I am about to do my Danish lessons and we are both snacking on jelly bellies and the companionable silence of a nearly empty plane. We are good at this, traveling. We take care of each other. I will pop into the airport news stand and come out with mints for Michael. If I am very, very lucky, he will get up early and bring breakfast back to our room while I linger in bed.

Traveling, ironically, brings me back to myself and awakens a child-like sense of joy in me. I have already forgotten the piles of work I left behind on my desk, and the pile of laundry I left behind at home.

As soon as we arrived at the airport, my shoulders relaxed. We went through security and were pleased to find we had enough time for a sit-down dinner. Obligingly, a Legal Seafood placed itself in our path. We looked at the menu. “Too pricey for airport food?” Michael asked.

I shrugged. “We’re on vacation.”

“I like that logic,” he proclaimed, and in we went. We shared a too-spicy order of thai-pineapple-peanut shrimp and a perfect lobster and bacon wrap.

If only I could figure out a way for us to travel more. Hmmm. Oh well. Time for Danish lessons. The time is now 7:22 pm. Begin!

Oops. 7:39 and they’re starting The Blind Side, which I’ve wanted to see. Break time after only 17 minutes.

9:45 : Oooooh that was a good, satisfying movie. You should watch it.

Alright, back to Danish I go. Although this bright-ass screen in this dark-ass plane is giving me a headache. Still, I’ll try to last longer than 17 minutes this time…9:50 and I’m off!

Dammit, dammit, dammit. 9:56 and the battery on my laptop is dead. This is not cool. It lasted approximately 30 minutes for goodness sakes. Well, I tried! Maybe I’ll have time to charge in the next airport. Sigh. It is so time for a new computer.

BEEP it proclaims angrily, insistently. Okay, okay, I’m shutting down. I wanted a little nap anyway. Jeg er Traete. (I am tired.)

1:45 am: We've checked into the hotel! It's beautiful. A little fancier than we usually like (what can I say? We actually like chains.) but I signed up for their frequent traveler program and told them it was our anniversary when I made the reservation, and they upgraded us to the jacuzzi room with the four poster bed and wall of windows. Lovely. If only we'd gotten in earlier, I'd be soaking right now. Alas, it's nearly 2 am and it's definitely time for bed. There are about 8 restaurants and 46 things I want to do in the 36 hours or so we are here!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Motion, Epiphanies, Limits, and Poker!

A few things, in no particular order:

I think I've decided on "Motion" (that's exercise in Danish) next month, but I'm not sure I'll keep meditation tied in. I might leave meditation for the Joy and Me Time month, because I have a lot of ideas/goals for exercise month, and I want to continue with the Danish. Here's what I'm planning:
  • Get to the gym 4 times per week, minimum
  • Try the following classes, at least once: Zumba Dance, spinning, and Tai Chi
  • Get the Try Pack of 3 professional training sessions
  • Alternate days of push-ups and sit-ups, doing more each day than the time before
  • Get out for more walks! Maybe shoot for at least once a week.
What do you think of the goals? Any suggestions for changes?

Unrelated: I had an epiphany sort of moment in the car ride to NJ on Friday night. I had been driving for 4 hours and was feeling very sleepy. I was tired of driving. But then I had this thought: If I stopped the car and asked Michael to drive, he would. But instead he was getting to sleep, and I was getting to let him sleep. All of a sudden, I felt good about driving. And all it took was taking the time to realize that I had a choice and was making a choice I felt pretty good about, actually.

Unrelated: Tomorrow we leave for New Orleans and Texas. One of our neighbors is going to drive us, around 4:15. I took the day off, presumably so I could have one "real" day off over break. And this was the to-do list for my "real" day off: Get my tires and oil changed (at the place where I can get a pedicure next door while I wait); get pedicure and eyebrows waxed; get car inspected (expires at end of month); clean house (so it can be clean when we get back, since the students will be back by the time we return and I want to start off on the right foot!); finish packing; deposit check and get cash for trip; program GPS for LA/TX; print out addresses of restaurants in LA; get Michael new t-shirts.

Hmmm...sounds like a real day off, doesn't it? Especially since to get all that done and be home by four, I would need to leave by 8 am! So let's try to re-think this.

The 3 things that NEED to be done are: Get tires and oil changed, get car inspected, program GPS and finish packing.

The 3 thinks that I'd like to get done (in order of preference) are get pedicure/eyebrows, get Michael new shirts, clean house.

There, then. I'll start with sleeping in until 9 or so, then start with the three necessities and go from there. Better plan. Not quite a "real" day off...but probably quite a bit like a real "grown-up" day off. It's not like you can get all this stuff done on a weekend! It's too crowded everyplace!

No Danish today, but we did fit in a Dorm Parent Poker Night, which was fun. Especially as another player went "all in" in the second hand, and I took the whole pot! Michael won the small tourney, of course, but I had plenty of fun. And I wasn't anti-social. So that's something!

Tomorrow, I'll have four hours on the plane to do Danish. Unfortunately, my battery only lasts about 1.5 hours. (Why don't they have outlets on planes by now!?) Still, it should let me catch up quite a bit. It's probably unrealistic to think that I can finish the 8 chapters, since I'm only part way through chapter 4, but we'll see.

Okay, it's nearly one a.m. That means I'll have to sleep in till 10 to get my 9 hours of "day off" sleep.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Next Month?

So here are the months I've done:

1) De-cluttering & organizing
2) Intimacy and connections
3) Learning Danish

and the ones that are still to do:

July) Writing
June) Cooking, eating healthy & cleaning
3) Volunteering & helping
4) Being low-tech (especially outside of work hours)
August) Creating (glass, wedding video, print pictures, marriage year photobook)
6) Money: Saving, Budgeting and Investing 101
7) Being joyful and "me" time
8) Meditation and exercise
9) Boundaries and Balance (recognizing choices)

Given that I want to keep learning and practicing Danish next month, I need a focus that is sort of "easy." I think I want to save writing, creating, and cooking for summer, when I have more time (given that there's no dorm duty on nights and weekends). I'm thinking maybe being low tech (as long as it doesn't include learning Danish) or Meditation/Exercise might be good choices for April. What do you think?

barnet er lille!

(The baby is tiny!) Sorry. I haven't learned THAT many adjectives in Danish yet. =) And I didn't get to learn any more this weekend, because we were busy! We left right after work on Friday for NJ to visit Tiff et. al. and the newest member of their family: Cooper. He's a month old, and I couldn't believe how tiny he still is! Michael was hoping I'd get my baby fix, but I can't say that really worked out.

We had such a nice weekend...I got to spend a lot of time talking to my sister, and I got to have lunch with Lily...she talked the whole time and answered all of my many questions about her life and school, etc. etc. She didn't roll her eyes once, which is how I know how much she loves me. =) She went to a dance on Friday creepy is that? She's 10! We didn't have dances until 7th grade, I'm pretty sure. And even though there were FIVE kids in the house, Michael and I got to sleep in. Impressive, no?

Anyway, I was pretty sad to leave. I really wish they lived closer.

On the way out of town, I got to stop at NY&Co, though, which was pretty exciting because I had a 25% off coupon, and I've been thinking I needed a few more tops lately, since I've lost some weight and my trusty "flowy" shirts kind of make it harder to notice. I got a couple of new shirts that indicate I actually have a waistline (and a couple of shirts that don't but were too beautiful to pass up) and I also got a new workout outfit. Which was not entirely necessary, but it was on a huge sale, and it's hard to find petite workout pants!

I spent the entire ride home thinking of baby names and asking Michael what he thought. There are surprisingly few good boy names.

Anyway, no Danish this weekend, but hopefully I'll catch up on the plane to LA on Tuesday.

Gonat, mine venner. (good night, my friends.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Jeg vil sove!

I'm more than halfway through Chapter 4, and when I finish I'll be exactly halfway through my Danish lessons. A bit behind, considering we leave on Tuesday for vacation, but hopefully I can do a bunch on the plane. I do feel like I'm making good progress, but Erin was on to something: I'll need lots of practice actually speaking and listening because the Rosetta method gives a LOT of context clues and I'm not sure I'd do nearly as well without the little pictures telling me what I'm looking for. I learned longer sentences today though, about people (and cats) sleeping and being awake, have hands and eyes open and closed, standing together and apart, couples kissing, and some higher numbers as well. Those were (ironically) the hardest, as they don't seem to follow the same pattern as numbers 1-10. Tricky.

Not going to write much today because if I hurry I can still get 8 hours of sleep, which is a goal for tonight. But I should say that I had a moment today: I was trying to figure out what to accomplish tonight and in what order. And do you know what I did? I stopped and told myself: LIMITS. THREE things. And I did: learning Danish, unpacking my suitcase, and emptying the dishwasher. I did not clean the bathroom or the kitchen or put my ski stuff and suitcases back in storage or take a bath or go to the gym. Which were the other things initially on my agenda in my head.

I should be satisfied with accomplishing the three, but I'm not. I feel like I should have gone to the gym. But if I had gone at 9 pm, I would have been wired when I got back. I would have gotten more done but would definitely not have been able to go to sleep at a reasonable time.

I guess we'll see tomorrow morning if the tradeoff pays off. Meanwhile, as my title says (I hope): I'm going to sleep!

Godnat, sove godt!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jeg er Traet!

It's late. I'm tired. I didn't get to nap yesterday or today. Yesterday I skiied my ass off (and my calves and feet) and today I was at work for an extra 2.5 hours. So I'm not sure how much I can blog, but here goes...

The first hour on the slopes yesterday I felt great. I remembered how much I LOVE skiing. Two hours in, my feet hurt. A lot. I realized how old and outdated my skis and boots are, especially since I was the youngest person in my group (this is what happens when you ask to be in the "slow" group) and my skis were the oldest. By far. By lunch time I remembered how much I don't like these clinics because they are really hard and I always feel like a wimp, in the "slow" group but wanting to quit before everyone else. I didn't want to go out after lunch. But I did.

Carolyn didn't. HA! One down, 7 left.

Two runs later, Villja left. 2 down. And an important lesson: I realize I am an adult and I don't have to stay until the end. I get to say when I've had enough. Very liberating thought. I decide to stay. Mostly so I don't have to tell everyone I wimped out.

We're supposed to ski until 4. At 2:45, my legs are shaking like jello when I am standing still. This does not bode well for the mogul run Mr. Instructor wants us to navigate.

I get down the mogul run, but it is not pretty. Still, it is a victory--as Ruth and Kathy don't make it down. Is it bad that I am doing an internal victory dance while we wait for them at the bottom of the mountain? (If you're keeping track, this places me in the top half of our group, miraculously.)

At 3:00, instructor Dutch suggests two more runs and calling it quits since we are now skiing through mash potatoes mixed with glue instead of milk. Ruth mutters under her breath. It sounds like she tells him to shove his two runs up his ass.

Just kidding.

That was me.

Haha. Just kidding. But Ruth and I both agree this should probably be our last run. A good ski instructor knows when to call it quits. If you can't feel your feet through all the pain, and the small child in front of you on the lift line can hear your calves screaming, and your legs are still shaking and your face resembles a lobster (but with racoon eyes), there is a very good chance that you will NOT be able to maintain the grace and control of a professional ski instructor.

Luckily, even Dutch had to concede that skiing through mashed potatos was losing its appeal. He let us go early. Which was nice, since it meant that I MADE IT THROUGH THE WHOLE FREAKING DAY.

Let's forget the fact that it was supposed to be a two-day clinic, okay?

Getting the skis and boots out to the car was tricky, but not as tricky as staying awake and keeping my foot on the gas for the drive home. Luckily, I was able to talk to my parents the whole way back home, even through horrible flood traffic.

I wanted to nap when I got home, but it was almost time for dinner with Michael, so I just took a quick bath. But then Michael got held up at work and I almost fell asleep in the bath. We went out for Indian food, but mine was too spicy and I was too tired to really care. I pretty much went straight to bed when we got home. Though I did finish my new book first.

Today was a hard day at work, but it's a detailed story that's probably not so interesting to you. Suffice it to say that I had a lot to catch up on and I'm really far behind and I'm getting really tired of having to rely on other people. I had to stay 2.5 hours late, and by that time it was JUST in time to meet Alicia and Travis (our co-dorm parents) for dinner. Michael had made pulled pork in our slow cooker again. MMMMMmmmmm.

It was SOOO much fun. This was one of those nights where connecting with people fueled my energy instead of draining it. It was worth not napping for, even. Crazy, I know. We talked about everything BUT the dorm students. This must be akin to parents of a three year old who go out for their first date in 3 years and vow not to talk about the kids. Joy! Laughter! WINE! Alphabet Boggle Twister. ha. What fun. They also helped (if you can call it that) with the clues for my version of The Amazing Race I plan to do for our newly accepted prospective boarding students in a couple of weeks. I've just started planning, and have a LOT to do to pull it together, but I think this idea has real potential for creating a super fun experience where they actually connect with current students and our dorm.

Anyway, it was really, really good. But then I had to come home and get back to work and it turned out that none of our computers had the proper port to transfer the video I need to edit for work. So I'm back to square one with that, which is frustrating.

By then the half bottle of wine had kicked in, and I was falling asleep. It was 10:30, and Michael encouraged me to go to sleep since I felt so good last week when I got 8 hours of sleep. But I remembered that I hadn't studied Danish in three days, so I did 45 minutes of Danish instead. I learned about being hungry and full and cold and hot and tired and not tired. Og jeg var traet. (And I was tired) so then I was going to write a two sentence blog but once I started I couldn't stop and now here it is, 11:40 and I'm down to 7 hours of sleep. If I hurry.

I'll take what I can get though.

God nat!
(good night, spelled correctly)

Monday, March 15, 2010

This is love.

Remind me of this when I get to "balance and boundaries" month: I need to set limits. On myself. On my to-do list. I need to stop seeing life as one giant, never-ending to-do list on yellow legal paper. With check boxes.

My need for ticking off check boxes comes, ironically, from wanting to live and enjoy life. The irony is that it really gets in the way of me doing so. I realized this today. I woke up at 7, way too early for a day off (my apologies to any moms reading this, who regularly get up before the sun). Michael had driven out to stay at the hotel with me Sunday night after an afternoon spent with one of our closest friends. It was divine. We had lobster ravioli and a fireplace in our room, which we made good use of. At 7 this morning, I was not ready to face the reality of strapping on skis for the first time in two years and getting my ass kicked in a PSIA (professional ski instructors of America, for the unitiated) clinic. In the rain. I checked and double-checked the mountain's website. It claimed there was snow. After roughly 118 days of rain (and massive flooding) I couldn't imagine skiing. But no matter how many times I refreshed my page, the claim remained.
So I showered. I dressed in layers. Starting with the leggings I've worn under my ski pants since high school. I'm not sure they still "fit" though I can still fit into them. Perhaps it's time for new ones. Maybe tomorrow I'll stick with sweatpants, even if they don't tuck neatly into my boots.

Anyway. Just after tucking my room key into my pocket, I checked the website one more time.


I was briefly annoyed, having woken up and showered and geared myself up for the day.

But then I remembered how MUCH I had hoped for it to be cancelled. And I relished the idea that it really was.

Which made me immediately paranoid that it wasn't. I mean, no one had called or emailed me. I'm staying at the only hotel in town--the mountain inn. I called the front desk. They confirmed the mountain is closed, though they know nothing of the clinic (despite the fact that clearly everyone else registered to take or teach the clinic must also be staying here.) I called the mountain--they confirm they are closed but don't have info about the clinic. I call the PSIA office. They are closed, so I leave a message.

Feeling better about my sudden freebie day, I am elated. My head immediately fills with a to-do list for a free hotel day. I have a magazine to finish. Danish to learn. A movie to watch. More sleep to be slept. Snacks to indulge in. A MASSAGE to indulge in.

I call the spa, and let them know my schedule has freed up. I book a 2:00 appointment and go back to bed. At 9, my phone rings. PSIA calling me back to let me know they are doing indoor training at the mountain after all. Not cancelled.

The guilt floods in, but I accept the reality that I've gone too far in my planning for the day to give in to the guilt that I've already paid for this clinic. That, in fact, I need to take the clinic. Unwittingly, the woman offers me an out, "I don't know how far away you are, or if you've already made other plans for the day." I don't tell her I am minutes away and that my grand plans involve a spa and some blueberries. I tell her I did, in fact, make other plans. She offers to schedule me for a replacement clinic. I tell her I had to take time off for work for this and it will be hard to reschedule. I ask if the second day will still take place, if I can still do that. She agrees to give me clinic credit for going tomorrow and assures me they will be skiing on the mountain. I thank her.

I still feel guilty when I hang up--I did pay for this, after all, and take off from work. But if I am honest with myself, this is the best possible outcome. Doing "indoor training" whatever that entails, for 7 hours does not sound like fun. While a totally free day away from my messy apartment and job does. I still get the clinic credit. I still get to ski. Skiing for one day will surely be less painful than skiing for two. I can get through anything for one day.

I go back to sleep. I woke up every hour last night for some reason, so I'm still really tired. At 11, I rouse myself and decide that I'll want to spend as much time in the hotel room as possible, so I decide to go out before my massage and grab lunch, and hit the grocery store to buy dinner and snacks. I venture out in the rain, and find a Barnes and Noble right next to the grocery store. I buy healthy (!) frozen pizza, two pints of blueberries, bottled water (who am I kidding? I have Dr. Pepper at the hotel) and two books before returning to the hotel.

I have mapped out my day. I want to enjoy the massage, maybe nap a bit more, finish my magazine, spend at least an hour on Danish, watch a movie, start my book, go through the folded down pages in my two magazines so I can recycle them and move on with my life, update my blog, and shop for my newest nephew. And get to sleep by ten.

Given that I get back from my massage at 3, this all sounds reasonable and delightful. I start with checking my email, though, and find I have some awful virus on my computer. I spend the next two hours trying to install an antivirus program and get rid of the virus. I only succeed on one count and get really frustrated before realizing this is a bad use of my fun time. I try one more thing before letting it go and drifting off into napland at 5:30. I force myself up at 7 and start some baby shopping. At 8, I turn on the tv to watch a new favorite: Life Unexpected. I shop through the show, and then Gossip Girl comes on. I don't want to watch it. I am taping it at home. But I decide to make dinner and it's hard to read while eating a frozen pizza in bed. Not enough hands. By the time I'm done eating, there's only 15 minutes left in the show and I can't not finish it. I will myself to just shut the tv off, knowing that I can watch the ending at home. I start the bath, but don't climb in until the credits roll.

I bring my magazine with me, and get out when the water has settled into lukewarm. I have somehow finished both pints of blueberries. Is that bad?

It's nearly 11 by then, and I haven't done half the things on my to-do list and instead of luxuriating in my hotel day I'm feeling a little stressed out. And I need to wake up even earlier tomorrow, to pack everything up before getting to the mountain early enough to figure out how to join a group that I didn't participate in today.

I decide I feel more like blogging than Danish. Maybe I can do double time tomorrow.

This is why I need limits. Like only 3 items on a to-do list at a time. ESPECIALLY a vacation day to-do list.

On the bright side, I am feeling joyful about my marriage. My husband. Last night was wonderful. And our time apart today--maybe equally wonderful, even though I would have said I'd rather he come back tonight. I am so thoroughly loving my life today that it makes a mockery of the last few weeks of hating it so thoroughly.

This is what happens over spring break, when the dorms empty. It makes me question this lifestyle, if you want to be honest. But I know this time of year is just like this. In May I will be enjoying the students as much as I will wistfully wait for summer.

Back to Michael, though. I asked him to check the basement, because of all the flooding. He reported back a little water seepage but nothing bad and asked if there was anything important down there. I told him there were boxes of books that I'd be sad if they got ruined, but if they weren't near the water he needn't bother about it. I assumed he'd shrug it off and go about his night. If I were in his shoes, I would have. A free night is not well spent in a damp basement, moving boxes.

I was shocked when, an hour later, he texted me to tell me that it was worse than it first looked. That some books had gotten wet but he moved everything at risk out of harm's way.

I don't care what you say. This is love.

And this:
On Saturday, I flopped onto the landing and sighed.

Michael: that was a big sigh.
Me: Yeah. (pause) I have a problem.
Michael: What's your problem?
Me: silence
Michael: looks up from computer with questioning, slightly worried look.
Me: I need want to do my laundry.
Michael: Why do you need me to want to do your laundry?
Me: Because I have no underwear left and I need to do laundry before packing. But I don't know what I can offer you to make you want to do it. (hopefully) Do you?
Michael: Umm.....(thoughtfully)...But the girls are gone.
Me: It was never about the girls. I hate laundry. It's overwhelming, with so many steps (and so many steps to walk down!)
Michael: Well, I guess I can do it.
Me: (speechless)

I don't know if you've ever heard of the five love languages? Well, this is mine: helping. Doing things for me that I am too lazy or tired or overwhelmed or weak to do for myself. Without complaint or asking for something in return. This makes me feel taken care of. In the best sense.

It's 11:35, so I need to stop and quickly tell my husband how great he is before quickly falling asleep. Wish me lots of luck on the slopes tomorrow. I'm gonna need it! Check back soon for an update of LOTS of Danish learning!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jeg er en kort kvinde med langt, krøllet, brunt hår.

I did another hour and a half of Danish lessons today and I mostly learned about words like more than, less than, same amount as, lots of, a few, young, old, short, tall, long. I also learned parts of the face. I also tried an exercise where I had to spell at Danish. I'm slightly better at spelling than speaking, but not nearly as good as I am at reading! Hopefully after I get through all the lessons, I can get Michael to talk to me in Danish until I get a little better at hearing/understanding. The way Rosetta works is it shows a sentence and four pictures, and you have to select the picture that is described by the sentence. Obviously this gives huge context clues. I'm really good at this game, but I have a feeling if I tried to understand an actual conversation without little pictures, I'd be totally lost. I guess I just have to have faith in the program.

The nicest thing happened of our dorm students slipped a little note under our door. This is what it says:

Dear Michael and Melisa,
I'm sorry to hear about the evaluation form thingy. But you guys are always awesome dorm parents to me! People might just blame on you guys when they're actually the ones who should be blamed. They made mistakes but blamed you guys giving out warnings, etc. I know it's really hard for Michael to be in a girls' dorm too. And Michael--just wanna let you know that you are such a funny, humorous, and nice dorm parent. =) And I'm really glad that you joined us last year. And I can feel that you are always trying hard. =) But girls--especially teenage girls--are hard to deal with. haha. But they're just a few people who have some opinions, but you guys are definitely not NOT! not rude, mean, racist or anything like that. We love you guys. I know it's really frustrating to hear that. Hope you feel better and enjoy the spring break! <3

Yes, we love her. *contented sigh*

Work is really hectic, as we spent most of the day fielding phone calls resulting from decision letters. *heavy sigh* We are also planning revisit events. And I'm supposed to have college lists for my college counseling students by tomorrow which is definitely not going to happen. And...I am supposed to make up Amazing Race type questions. They need to have two parts: one part will help the students identify a building on campus (ie: this dorm made chocolate covered strawberries last valentines' day). The second part of the clue has to be some riddle or brainteaser that would lead you to a specific item or room in the dorm, and that you need no school-specific knowledge to figure out (ie a brainteaser that would lead you to the word "freezer". I need five of these.

Any help out there? Anyone? Please?

PS Today, my title reads: I am a short woman, with long, curly, brown hair. Brilliant, huh?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

kvinden taler i dansk. det er mig!

So we had "the meeting" with the girls in the dorm about the feedback last night, not quite the capital letter MEETING I had planned, but I guess it did the trick. When pushed, I had to admit (at least to myself) that the way I had planned it was more for my satisfaction and resolution and the truth is, someone had to be the adult. It turned out to be Alicia. It was frustrating not to get the resolution I wanted, but we kept it short and sweet; we basically said "we heard your feedback. We hope to address x,y,z but there was also some feedback that we don't quite know what to do with. We were surprised and saddened to find that not everyone is as comfortable here as we would hope and we care about changing that...we just don't know how yet." We invited more specific feedback and left it at that. Ball is in their court. Hopefully they feel heard. Then, we played kamikaze pictionary and celebrated two birthdays with dunkin donuts (YES! Michael found me a vanilla creme, which are typically only available in CT)!

Today was another crazy busy day at work, and it was DECISION DAY. Which means I got all choked up hearing the joyful reactions of a few kids when I called to congratulate them. But I also spent 40 minutes explaining to a mother why her son is on the waitlist. (In case you are wondering, it's because he has a 2.0 GPA and is applying for our largest grade with the least amount of room in it. Go figure.)

After work, I went to power yoga with Melissa, and we had sort of an easier instructor today. It was still a really good class (even if she did make me giggle inwardly a bit) and I could mostly keep up. And I really did feel all centered and connected afterward. Though some of that also came from spending time talking to Melissa about dorm parents stuff, which is always really helpful.

Then....I spent an hour and a half practicing my Danish!!! I am now halfway through chapter two (out of 8 chapters). Not bad! I learned a lot more about grammar and a lot of adjectives...old, young, small, big, biggest, right, left. Michael actually sat next to me and helped teach me at the same time...for nearly the whole time. It was really nice, because he could explain the articles and things. It made a lot more sense. I also learned about humans and pets, and a lot of pointing (why, Rosetta Stone, is this near the top of your list to teach me!?). I also learned shapes.

I need to get a microphone for my computer, because then it will compare my pronunciation to theirs. I am really pretty darn good at the reading Danish part (when they are words I know!) and I was fairly decent at the writing/typing tests...even if it often sounds to me like they are skipping words. But my pronunciation is REALLY BAD. sigh. And, I suspect I wouldn't be able to pick out the words I know in a real conversation. Hold on...I'll go ask Michael to say some stuff I know...

I got it! He said the man holds a yellow square. (Hey, he had to use words I knew!) Then he said the girl and the boy drink a big beer. But I didn't learn the word beer yet, so it sounded like they drank a big red to me. Oh well. Close enough.

In case you were wondering...the title means:

The women talks in Danish. It is ME!

(It is my first sentence that I composed ALL BY MYSELF.) Good, huh??

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Weekend? What weekend?

It's Sunday at 11:28 am and I'm sitting in the Admissions Office. I spent most of the day here yesterday, as well, writing personalized letters for our about-to-be-accepted students. And then doing a college counseling meeting. It was good that I went to see our dorm students in the Dance Concert on Friday night (after helping girls bake brownies to sell at the Dance Concert), because I was so fried yesterday that Michael let me go to sleep at 9:30 despite the fact that he was tired too, and someone had to do the curfew check-ins. Unfortunately, the girls weren't as concerned as Michael was and didn't really allow for sleep. Another night, I would have been heartened by the gaggles of giggling girls running up and down the stairs and through the hallways. I like to hear them be joyful. But not when I'm trying to pass out. I did finally fall asleep...only to be awakened at 3:00 am by a student who had locked herself out of her room. She lost her key a while ago and hasn't wanted to pay for a replacement. hmm. So much for sleep.

I'll be in admissions until it's time to meet with a student for college counseling at 6:30, which will leave me an hour until the boarding town meeting. An hour in which to either buy dorm snacks or eat dinner. Possibly both if I scarf something down at Wendy's, which is next to the grocery store. And CVS. Which is good, because my doctor has been concerned about my thyroid numbers and has changed my medication dosage and I haven't had time to pick it up for the last three days. Maybe tonight will be my lucky night. Thank god for 24 hour pharmacies.

Then we have the 10:00 super clean and birthday celebration. Finally, after the 11:00 check ins, I will fall into bed. Or do laundry. I think I may have reached the end of a very full underwear drawer. Maybe I can buy some at CVS. I didn't really just think that.

Weekend? What weekend?

Unfortunately, I won't be able to do the five hours of Danish this first week. I've done a little over 2 hours this week. To be fair, it took me a long time to get the program set up and working. And I know I do have some flights in March that will allow me to work for as long as my battery will last, at least. Which is about 1.5 hours these days. Sad, because I did have a five hour battery but it stopped working. And I don't want to invest in another because I need to get a new laptop soon. Part of the reason the Danish set up was so hard is that my disc drive keeps disappearing and becoming dysfunctional. Kind of like the rest of me.

Check out this email I sent to Michael on Friday (Honest--word for word)

Dearest Michael,

I apologize in advance for this weekend. It is going to suck rotten, pickled donkey balls. REALLY. For both of us.

Might I suggest thinking of OYa as prepayment?

Tonight I am around, so no problem there...though I will be totally freaked out. The dance concert is at 8 and a lot of our girls are in it, so at least one of us should go and try to videotape. I am happy to do that.

Tomorrow I will need to spend several hours in admissions writing letters. =/ I would anticipate this being after brunch until whenever I finish. At 4:30 I have a CC meeting, which I can do in the dorm and should finish in time to go to dinner. I think this means you are on tap for driving the Harvard Square run. Sorry.

Sunday, I need to be in the office from 10 am until 7 pm. We will be proofing, printing, collating, and stuffing letters all day and then I have a college meeting right before study hours. We are meant to be at the boarding town meeting at 8. I don’t know how I will eat dinner, exactly. Maybe I’ll be able to take a short break.

And then, after the town meeting on Sunday night, I will probably crumple into a ball. Either before or after celebrating the birthday at dorm meeting.

Oh yeah, we need to get snacks for dorm meetings too. Starbucks ice cream for one girl, dunkin donuts for another (should do this Tuesday though), and as yet unknown for the third .

Can you say something calming now, please?


Your high strung wife

And his response--

Don't worry about me, babe. I'll manage =) Focus on you staying sane, which I think we'll manage.

We'll just play it by ear, and see how it goes. Maybe we'll figure out to pick something up tonight that we can make for Sunday so you can get some food =)

Hang in there, this too shall pass. Don't ruin tonight by worrying, it is what it is and you should recharge as best you can tonight.


How much do we love him? (I can say that in Danish, too!)

I am already hungry. And we haven't even started signing letters yet. Let alone alphabetizing, collating, proofing, folding, stuffing, or stamping.

I suspect this is going to be a very, very long day. Better get back to work.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

March Boston Venture

Okay, I know Becca suggested that dinner didn't count, but this dinner definitely counts. We've been meaning to go to O Ya for sushi for about two years. It's won the best restaurant in Boston several years in a row. I tried to make a reservation for Michael's 35th birthday this year, but they were closed. =/ I tried to make a reservation for the week of Valentine's Day, but it didn't work with our dorm duty schedule so tonight was the night. Michael was so excited. I didn't think I'd like it that much since they don't make maki rolls, but mostly nigiri. I got us a reservation at the chefs' counter, which was AMAZING because we got to watch them make everything and it was truly artistic and intricate and very impressive. We knew it was going to be really expensive, and we thought that would make us hesitant to order much. But the truth was that the food--and the whole experience--was so good that we really actually felt it was worth it. And I NEVER would have thought I'd say that about a meal that expensive. But wow. We are still talking about it hours later. Michael wants to take my mom, who we think would REALLY enjoy it. Before we went, we thought it was a once in a lifetime splurge. Now we feel like maybe we'll set aside some money to go once every year or two. We rated each of our 17 courses so we know what we loved! =) We had such a nice time. We're kind of giddy about it. (more pictures on facebook)

PS I did another 4 Danish lessons tonight. I learned about plates, eating, food, fruit, bread, drinking, milk, water, and orange juice. And also how to say young and old, on top of and under, with and without, and yes and no!

In which I start to learn Danish!

I'm halfway through Chapter 1!!!! And I took four tests and 94% was my lowest score. So far I have learned numbers, colors, people, eggs, airplanes, flowers, and eyes. But apparently I can READ the vocabulary a lot better than I can pronounce it. Judging by Michael's giggles. Oh well. I'm quite pleased with myself. The way Rosetta works, it doesn't really teach you the words first and then test you. It starts testing you, and you use your logic to guess which picture goes with the word. Once you learn one word, it tests you on two, and you can identify the picture based on the word you do know. I'm not convinced this is a good way to learn a language but at least you feel progress is being made quickly. Still, I could probably not recite the numbers 1-10 right now nearly as well as I could recognize the words online. Wait here and I'll test, to, tre, fleur, fem, seyks, suyt, otte, ni, ti. I did IT! But I think I spelled them VERY poorly. I just checked with Michael and he says I spelled 4, 6, and 7 wrong. He can't remember how to spell 8, which I take some comfort in. If only Camilla were here!

It took me forever to get Rosetta installed on my computer. In fact, once I finally found the right disc, my drive stopped working and I thought it was a sign that I was doomed to fail for March. But, in fact, I did not. I did an hour and I have to tell you that being as competitive as I am, the test format was sort of like reading a good book where each chapter ends in suspense and you can't stop reading. I kept wanting to take another test! =) So I'm feeling pretty good about my progress there.

And speaking of great books you can't stop reading...last night was a GREAT night. Michael covered the dorm--on a VERY busy night--so I could go to a Jodi Picoult reading. She was AMAZING and I already started her new book and it's keeping me from getting enough sleep. She's a great reader and speaker (and writer, obviously) and she freaking reads all her own fan mail, even though she's had 16 best selling books and she writes one a year and does all her own research. She was so down to earth and funny and it made me want to be friends with her. It was kind of nice because Kerri hadn't read her before but luckily seemed to enjoy the reading as much as I did. Which was good, because I would have felt badly if I dragged her to it for our first time seeing each other after a year and a half and she was bored! We got there early enough to buy books and catch up a bit and I was struck again by the compassionate listening thing. Kerri is one of those people (like my gym buddy Melissa) and I knew that from the very beginning. The first time Kerri and I hung out was after a Self and Identity class at Harvard. We were both taking the class even though it was in another school outside of HGSE, and we went for tea on Church Street afterwards. It was so easy to talk, and we talked so intently and openly about our lives and thoughts that it was as if we had known each other forever. She's a very good and compassionate listener. It is a gift, and I am a little sad at myself that I'm just realizing it is something I want to do. And now that I say that, I realize I was actually really good at it in HS, but somehow did become a little more self-absorbed in my college and after years. hmmmm. Let's "unpack" that another night. It's getting late. In any case, I was on a total high when I came back from the reading (after getting my book signed!!!!) and I connected with two of the girls in the dorm about it, and one told me she loved how excited I was about it. It made me realize that as open as I think I am, I haven't really let these girls get to know me very well. That seems very silly. No wonder our connections aren't as deep as I've been thinking they were. I've been very colonialist about it all. The thing I learned most from the poetry program I did with teens for my thesis was how important it is not to have an agenda of "helping" them but rather just "being" with them. Which includes sharing yourself and seeing them, without pretense or judgment. Last night, this girl (we'll call her Clara) suddenly asked me if I am a writer. I grew instantly sheepish and told her I like to think I am, but that I haven't written much of substance yet. She and her friend asked if they could read something I wrote. Hmmm. Maybe I'll send them the essay/memoir I entered in the magazine contest last fall. I'll read it tomorrow and see if it's okay to send.

The other thing I realized...and AGAIN I already learned this lesson once...Alicia sits on the couch during dorm meetings. Michael and I stand. Which is a power thing, however subconscious. The thing that won over the poetry kids all those years ago was that I would sit on the floor (or a desk, or anything other than a chair) and read them my poetry. So last night, halfway through the meeting, I sat on the floor. It was weird, because we have 26 kids in the dorm and if I sit on the floor I can't see them all at once. Which is why I usually stand. But it's not really necessary. So next week, I'll sit.

We had our dorm parent review today. Sort of. It was more a talk about the survey results than a genuine review of our work over the year. And it was fairly reassuring about that part. Our boss is working on following up with the girls who made the strongest, most malicious statements and getting a better sense of what's going on. Meanwhile, Michael and I plan to address the feedback at the next meeting on Tuesday. I'm actually looking forward to it.

In any case, there were some good things and some frustrating things about the review, but I'll have to tell you about it another time because it takes a good deal of concentration to edit what's okay to share in a public forum and I don't have that kind of energy tonight. It's well after midnight and my Jodi Picoult chapter is calling my name.

go nat!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Time to Learn Danish!

Not much energy tonight to start off Danish month, to be honest. Here's the plan:

1) Install Rosetta Stone
2) Spend 5 hours a week going through the lessons
3) Start using simple Danish vocab when possible when talking to Michael
4) Try to finish the whole Rosetta Stone program during March

This will be difficult, for a few reasons. It's our BUSIEST time in Admissions, and requires working nights and weekends. I know I said February was busiest, but I had forgotten how bad March is. And how much I'm responsible for. Also, we are away a lot in March...I have a PSIA ski clinic, we are going to visit our new nephew, and we are going to Louisiana. But at least I already know how to say airplane in Danish!

go nat,

(That's how "good night" is phonetically spelled in Danish. I am pretty sure it's not how it's actually spelled. At all. Which is one of the things that makes learning Danish via Rosetta Stone--or Michael--tricky.)