Crazy lady travels free

I was just thinking about when my coworker and I took a group of kids to England and France a few summers ago, and things associated with that.  At the end of the trip, I stayed in France to go visit my old stomping grounds down south, and so I left the group to go home on a flight with my coworker (per our own full agreement and arrangement ahead of time).  I waited too long to decide to do that, so I had to pay $350 for the flight change (Ugh).  We also each had to pay $937.50 for the trip in the first place (Meh).  Therefore, I had to pay a total of $1287.50 for a 10-day trip that included all accommodations, food, tours, and transport, and another ten days on location at my own expense, which is really not bad at all.  At all.

However – and this is a BIG however – as part of our arranging and hosting this trip in the first place, the tour company gave us each a training trip.

Mine, as I selected it, was a long weekend trip, with food, housing, tours, and transportation included, to downtown Rome, Italy.  Therefore, my just-under 1300 dollars actually got me two separate trips to Europe, with almost all expenses paid for most of the time on the trips.

I really do come up with the craziest stuff to have happen in my life.  And – what is possibly the best part of this all – I don’t even seem to notice how absurd it all is, until I find myself ruminating on this and thats one afternoon, years later, and it suddenly hits me that, say, taking a free trip to Europe is not a normal thing in life.  I take this moment to nod my head to my cousin for the question she exasperatedly declared one evening at my apartment a few years ago: “Hannah, do you even know what real life is like?”

Indeed, fair cousin, it seems I do not know that most of the time – reality bites, so I live somewhere else, and I love it.  🙂

Post-a-day 2018

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Asian-English teatime with the bff sister

This evening, by a wonderful unfolding of events, I ended up having tea with my best friend’s little sister.  As my best friend’s little sister, she holds a sweet spot in my heart.  What’s more, the fact that she’s the first person I’ve seen go from little kid, singing nursery-rhyme-type songs, to a mature young adult (and soon full-blown adult), makes that spot even sweeter.

As we sat in the tapioca teahouse, drinking our warm (Taiwanese style, I think – at least, that’s what a friend of mine saw constantly while in Taiwan, and which we haven’t seen much elsewhere) bubble tea, our attention somehow turned to the menu on the wall.  Naturally, we hadn’t thought anything special of it when we actually were looking at the menu to order earlier on, but it was suddenly relevant to our conversation, so our attention turned to it.  She is studying Mandarin this year (since August), and I’ve just moved here from Japan.  So, we have some common ground on understanding Chinese characters.  (For those who don’t know, Japanese kind of stole the characters from Chinese, and adapted them a bit, so loads of them look exactly or almost exactly the same and have the same or very similar meanings.)

We joyfully pointed out that “ice” was on the end of each name in the ‘Snowy Drink’ category, and that “little” was next to one other character on the “Snacks” sections – likely ‘little meal’ or ‘little food’.  Something like that.  And then we discussed how we were scouring the menu, picking out little pieces that we understood.  It was like a fun little puzzle that we were putting together, piece by piece… one that we know will take months, even years, but the timing of which doesn’t seem to bother us in the slightest.  We’re just excited that we’re able to make the little sense of it all that we already can.  And we aren’t even using the same language to do it, technically, making it simultaneously that much sillier and that much more awesome.

So, we got to enjoy one another’s company and be nerdy language-lovers together, while sipping warm asian versions of English tea (Earl Grey) on a cold, cold night (for Houston, anyway).  Blessings abound when open our minds and schedules to them, it seems.  And I am grateful for this one in particular.  🙂

Post-a-day 2017

Singing, Showering, and liking you better…

Today, I sent a message to my best friend that read, “For some reason, I regularly think about messaging you when I go to the bathroom”

Her response was prompt and simple.  “Lol,” followed by, “You like me so much better when youre naked”

“Duh,” was my casual response.

You see, the whole thing started back in college.  Freshman year, I was Skype-ing with Christine one day, probably early morning.  I had gone into the common room to chat with her, but, since we were in an all-girls dormitory, and it was too early for visitors to be around, I wasn’t fully dressed (probably just a t-shirt and underwear).  When we started the call, she let me know that a friend of hers was with her, and that it was a guy (because it was already afternoon in Cambridge, England, so it was normal to be hanging out with people already there). So, I had to go put on some more clothing before we turned on the camera.  (At least, I think that was the case… she might have just checked to make sure I was properly clothed, because I regularly would be not fully clothed.  Either way, the next part did happen.)  When I commented about this, the guy friend of hers made a comment about liking someone so much better naked (I forget if it was about Christine liking me, or what, but it was totally silly, and seemed such an odd comment.)  We both were lacking in understanding at first, but he explained that there was an actual song (by Ida Maria), and that that was the line the girl used in it.  (See, it made sense and wasn’t actually weird at all.)

The chorus goes like this:

But I won’t mind
If you take me home
Come on, take me home
I won’t mind
if you take off all your clothes
Come on, take them off
‘Cause I like you so much better when you’re naked
I like me so much better when you’re naked
I like you so much better when you’re naked
I like me so much better when you’re naked

We found it hilarious.  We found the actual song and music video, and fell in a sort of this is silly and utterly ridiculous, but I still love it kind of love with the song.

I shared it with my hallway neighbor, who played guitar, and we tried playing it a bit on the guitar.  I eventually played it for Christine one day on Skype.  My greatest, proudest achievement with the song, however, was the time I snuck into the bathrooms (they were shared, and had loads of stalls and multiple showers) one day, just after Jessie, the neighbor, had gone in to shower.  Once I knew she was actually in the shower, showering, I walked into the showering area (mind you, not into her stall, just in the showering section of the bathroom), and began playing the song on guitar, and singing it to her.  I could hear her snorting, gurgling, guffawing laugher emitting from the shower stall as I sang and played.  It was spectacular for the both of us.  I shared the story with my best friend, too, and she loved it.*

So, the song has always held a special little place in our hearts, minds, and lives, all three of us.  Everyone else probably just thinks we’re crazy, whenever they overhear us mentioning or quoting or singing it.  😛

Here’s a link to the music video.

 

*This reminds me… I sang to a friend of mine in Japan while she showered one night.  We were chatting on the phone, just hanging out one night, after we’d both gotten internet, and so didn’t have to hang up after every five minutes anymore, and she really needed to shower, but we weren’t ready to end our conversation/hanging out.  So, she set the phone to the side on speakerphone, and I sang to her while she showered.  I had been humming and singing quietly already anyway, so what was the difference if I just did it a little louder, right?  It was spectacular, of course.  Then a night or few later, when I mentioned to another friend that this had happened, he complained that I didn’t sing for him and that that certainly wasn’t fair.  And so I sang to him over the phone… and he fell asleep.  😛  Spectacular in a different sort of way, I guess, but still spectacular.  🙂

Post-a-day 2017

 

Satisfaction… at last

Tonight, going to bed, I feel fulfilled.  Typically, I have this feeling of needing to go do something before I can end my day.  I am angsty and somewhat agitated by the late afternoon, and I feel this pull from somewhere inside of me, but I can’t ever quite figure out how to follow it, how to satisfy the desire within.  I notice right now that I almost didn’t even feel a pull to write anything tonight – that’s how satisfied I am with my day.  It was fabulous, and so I can sleep easily, without anything else happening first.  And I love writing, so that’s saying something.

Kids were unintentional rude in classes today, ignoring my pleas for quite voices, so that I could be heard with my pained, achy throat barely able to choke out words.  I let them spend the time with an activity for their own benefit, and most of them ignored it or didn’t care enough about their own education to attempt the activity, which was disappointing.  A few really took it on, and some decided it was time to talk with me about anything and everything in my life, while I showed them how to do some of the work.  It was an odd balance of awesome and disappointing, combined with my throat being slightly consumed by a low-grade fire.

After school, I chatted with a few teachers from my own high school, plus a friend who now teaches there.  That was amazing in and of itself.  Add to it that I met up with a friend for tapioca tea afterward, and my day continues to improve.  We ended up having dinner with the teas, and then she invited me to join a hip-hop class with her.  Neither of us has ever been very good or experienced with hip-hop, but we love dancing, and we both have strong partner dance backgrounds.  I have wanted to do hip-hop classes ever since my best friend and her husband started doing some over in England a few years back, because she is just plain awesome, and it is always a good idea to strive for her level of awesome.  So I got to be cool like my bestie tonight, and turned out to be actually kind of good at the routine, too.  The teacher even came specifically to my friend (not my best friend, but the friend with whom I had gone to the class) and me, and told us that she wanted us to join her team.  (Note: Seeing as we were just discussing before the class how we hadn’t been involved in anything dance since moving back to the US (we both just returned from living in Asia), we are genuinely considering this hip-hop team idea.)

Now, I am home.  I snacked on some leftovers from dinner, chatted briefly with my mom, and have just showered.  I am tired, but in a really good way right now – I am satisfied.  I don’t know how else to word it.  I am just satisfied, which is something, I now see, that I usually am not at the end of the day.  As I said to my teacher friend earlier this afternoon, I need interaction with non-teenagers.  I get so much teenager interaction, and very little of anything else… and I need more than just interaction with teenagers, no matter how wonderful they are or how much we may love one another.  And, tonight, I got that other interaction, plus involvement in something (the hip-hop class) and exercise.  That is a really, really good combination.  Now to see how to keep this up, happening much more often than once every three months.

Post-a-day 2017

My real voice

In college, I spent a summer studying in Germany.  It was a language school setup, filled with foreigners, but in such a small town that everyone knew that we were studying German, and so everyone always spoke to us all in German.  I had already studied abroad a few times before this adventure, and I had learned firsthand about what works and what doesn’t work, in terms of language immersion.  I was dedicated to learning German, and so I made sure that I only spoke in German with others, even if they spoke to me in English.  This made friendships hard among the people in my program’s group, since they all used English together; I came across a bit snobby, but I was just really committed to learning German.

I made friends with other foreigners rather easily, though, and especially ones in higher levels of German, which was even better for me.  My German was improving immensely.  But this led to a unique situation one day.

One day, near the end of either my time at the school or my friend Paul’s time there (he’s British), I found myself faced with a desperate Paul, actually begging me to speak English.  Why?! was my repeated question to his pleas.

“Because I want to hear what you sound like!”

I don’t know if he was pleased or not by how I sound in English, but I spoke a little for him.  And it was way weird, using English with him, despite the fact that I’d heard him speak English loads, and that it’s our common native language.  I had just never used it with him.

And then this brought up a unique and interesting sentiment.  He wanted to hear me, and that meant speaking English.  I can guess that my native tongue was the one in which Paul believed my identity to lie.  I know that it felt like I was setting aside a sort of mask when I switched to English with him.  I even felt a little called-out… as though I had been hiding somehow, and it had been behind German.  The real me (I) lay in English, in the English part of me.

Yet, years later, here I am, missing the parts of me that belong to these different languages in which I have lived.  A part of me, true me (I), exists only on German, and others in French, in Spanish, and in Japanese. So much so that the real me (I) is this whole combination of languages – I feel a huge emptiness and feel not myself when I am using only English in my daily life.  I listen to Spanish-speaking radio when I’m in Houston, mostly because I don’t get to use Spanish often enough.  I read every night in French, and trade off an English book for a German one at times for my evening reading, too.  I regularly pull out a Spanish book to read, or my German audiobooks.  And I have noticed that I have been searching for a tolerably satisfying way to have Japanese in my near-daily life, too.  (For now, it has just been the occasional music, and a perpetual repeat of a certain song being stuck in my head.)  When I don’t have them all, it is as though a part of me is missing, and suddenly getting to speak with someone in them, almost reminds me of that mask I was setting aside in Germany with Paul… like I am again setting aside some mask I have been wearing.

Perhaps it is now a mask of monolingualism, pretending that I only speak English, while I long for the world to talk to me in several languages, all the time.

Anyway… I’m exhausted.  And I miss Paul.  He was studying opera, and was a really great guy.  I wonder if he’s been really successful with opera these past several years.  Maybe I can go see him perform one day.  That would be awesome.  🙂

Post-a-day 2017

Blood Driving

I have given blood three times.  You can still see the spots where each needle hung out in my arm for a while, as it guided the blood from my body and into a nearby sanitary bag.  The spots actually remind me of pock marks.  It’s weird, really – they look unnatural (and, well, they are).

The oddest bit about this, though, is that these marks are still here, after all this time.  The last time I donated blood was a year or two ago.  Before that was about nine and ten years ago.

I have never much liked donating blood.  I realize the value in it, and I still dislike doing it myself.  I’d rather help put on a blood drive, and donate my time and energy that way.  However, the reason I gave blood began in high school.  

Our school was having a drive.  I thought it was awesome, though I didn’t necessarily intend to participate – frankly, I was terrified.  I had the permission form, but I hadn’t yet determined if I were going to get my mom to sign it or not (or was it already signed, but I wasn’t sure if I were going to turn it in?).  One of my best friends appeared in front of me, utterly annoyed on the first day of the drive, and informed me that she couldn’t give blood, because you can’t have spent more than a couple years in England before 1994.  She had been there for about four years before then, and so was therefore removed from any chances of ever giving blood in the US.

At this information, and her distress, I determined my course of action.  I did not want to donate blood, but she did.  She could not, and I could.  Therefore, I would donate for her, on her behalf.

And so I did for several years.  There was once that I couldn’t donate due to low iron in my blood (not enough greens after I had been sick), and then about two years where I was not allowed, because I had been to Kingston, Jamaica, which is apparently a no-go for US blood donation.  By the time those two years were up, though, my friend had discovered that she could donate blood in the U.K., where she was (and still is) living.  She forever would be allowed to donate blood there, and so I no longer had to do it for her.

The last time I gave blood, was out of a sense of duty and support, I suppose.  My school (where I was working) was hosting a drive, and someone specifically asked me to support, so I did.  I even got my teacher shadow to participate, too.  A different time, the school had another drive, but I wasn’t able to donate, because they had closed down before I was free from classes.  I donated once, though, completely of my own accord, and for that I am proud.  (Not in a snobby, snotty sense.  Just proud that I succeeded in doing what I felt was a good thing to do, despite my fear and discomfort in doing it.)

As I write this, I can’t help but to feel that there was one other time during college, at which time I was able to give blood…, but I really don’t remember.  I even have a spot on my arm that looks like it might have been a fourth needle, but I’m not certain.

Anyway, those are my current brain thoughts swirling around right now.

Yoga and Winter Blues

Right as I was heading through the rising action into the climax of a film I was watching before bed this evening, my best friend and I ended up texting one another over some e-mails and SNL (Saturday Night Live) sketches from earlier in the day, and, since we were already interacting, she invited me to do yoga with her.  Naturally, I knew she meant from some online video, and not something that required me to leave my living room or put on real clothes, because, as you might already know (click here to know how you might already know), we are living in different countries (England and Japan).  Since my life is totally normal and all, I had no hesitation in pausing the movie at 10pm to do a 30-minute yoga set for winter blues with my bestie.

We put up FaceTime on my laptop and her phone, so we could see one another and be together, and then we synchronized the youtube video on each of our computers (I then muted mine, having us both listening to her computer, but each watching on our own screens).  It took us a bit to get started, as we went back and forth about whether or not to wear bras and pants (American pants, as we already had the British ones), but I finally gave up on trying to find either, and settled myself in front of the heater to keep my legs warm (since I wasn’t sitting underneath a super cozy blanket anymore).  The only requirement was doing downward dog facing one another, so we wouldn’t get a face full of bums on our screens…. except that we still discussed and tested doing downward dog from facing away from one another (I put on a scarf as a sort of half-loincloth in the back), so as to establish that we could, in fact, look at one another during the pose, delighting in one another’s faces (despite the legs and bums also noticeably visible).

And so we did a wonderful little yoga set from this great girl in Austin, Texas (who happens to have a strong resemblance to a friend of ours from high school).  We chuckled.  I made all sorts of silly noises (thanks to my It is freakin’ cold here, how on Earth do people function like at all in this country in wintertime lack of outdoorsiness (and thereby exercise) these past two-ish months).  And we never really flashed one another.  (Though downward dog is quite funny when your own shirt is loose, and shivs down (up?) over your eyes as your put your head downward.)  And it was great.  Totally simple.  Totally normal (for us, anyway, though I’m not sure we’ve ever done this together before).  Totally great.

I love best friends.  I love being naturally silly.  I love yoga.  I love my best friend.  I love warm weather.

And I love that we’re still on FaceTime with one another, though I’m busy writing and she’s busy eating lunch and reading, and we aren’t even talking to one another right now – we’re just hanging out together, and I love it.

 

P.S.  In case you, too, want to beat the winter blues (I really do love the music kind, though), here’s the video we used.  Take special care to note her various comments throughout the set, as well as the dog that shows up in the final couple seconds of the video.

 

Post-a-day 2017

#yogawithadrienne #winterblues