July 31, 2008

Keeping a journal – then and now

Posted in Blogging, Daily life tagged , , , at 11:54 pm by Lauren

Unpacking brings with it an opportunity to look at old things with new eyes. So when I came across my journal from my study abroad year in Montpellier, I took a break and read it cover to cover.

As I was reading, I looked for passages that I might want to share here, but some was too melodramatic, some was too boring, some was too pathetic, and a lot was too personal. When I finished, I closed it and thought, “I should throw that away. Or destroy it.” But I know I won’t.

I’d love to hear others’ experiences with old journals. It’s silly of me to keep this one (and others) because I honestly wouldn’t want anyone reading them. (Perhaps especially Allen, in case you were wondering.) And yet I do get a kick out of reading them (when I’m not cringing so hard it hurts), and I may share very small parts with some of my “Montpellier friends” who will laugh at some of the things we’d forgotten.

It does make me wonder, too, if I’ll look back on old blog posts in a couple of years and cringe. Will my voice sound melodramatic and pathetic to me then? Maybe, however, the censorship I impose on the blog will at least save me from some of the pathetic part. (And this was a college journal! Beware the journals from middle school!)

What’s your experience with journals? Ever come across one in a box and wonder how quickly it would burn?

In which I get some exercise

Posted in Daily life tagged , , , , , , at 12:17 am by Lauren

I can always remember Jenna’s birthday because of this: Jenna’s is on July 30, Harry Potter’s is July 31, and Elizabeth’s is August 1. Who could forget?

Today I was meeting Jenna in Georgetown at 1 pm, and because my bike was in Georgetown waiting to be picked up, I decided to pretend I was an athlete (or even just someone in reasonable shape) and ride my bike home afterwards. That required a bit of pre-planning on my part, which involved running a quarter of a mile to catch the bus to Rosslyn on time (I shot out of the bushes, arm outstretched, just as the bus was about to pass) and walking over the Key Bridge into Georgetown. As I did, I thought about taking a picture for my blog, but the air just looked like there was an advisory for bad air quality.

In Georgetown, I bought a new top (hurrah!) and met Jenna at Lush. We shopped at a few stores, but I didn’t buy anything else (despite my best efforts). Jenna on the other hand had a nice birthday spree. Then we met Jenna’s friend Megan at Agraria, an organic restaurant on the waterfront. I had a delicious pulled pork sandwich, shared fried green tomatos, and downed a glass of prosecco (excellent preparation for a bike ride).

After lunch, we parted ways, and I went to pick up my bike. Then the fun began. I rode across Key Bridge and up onto the Custis Trail. When I passed the marker for the first half mile, I knew I was in trouble. I was having trouble breathing, and I could already “feel the burn” as they say. I cut away from the trail, determining to find the more direct route along Route 50. So I cut through Courthouse/Clarendon and turned on Pershing. Then I took Filmore to Route 50 and rode along the edge of 50 mph traffic. For most of the way it was fine, but there was a 50 foot stretch near the overpass to Thomas Jefferson rec center (where the county fair will be in one week!) where I had to ride on the shoulder of the highway. That was really not okay with me, and I was annoyed that no signs had told me to cross the road at the light to avoid it. But I survived, continuing up Route 50 to Glebe, where I cut through to George Mason and Arlington Oaks and hung a left to ride down to the house. Then I came right inside and plotted my route on Google Pedometer, while downing buckets of water (to replace the buckets of sweat). I rode 4.9 miles! Here’s my bike route: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=2127688

I was thinking of biking to my pre-employment orientation tomorrow, but with the amount I sweated on the way today, I think it wouldn’t look very professional. Maybe once I get the panting under control and my heart can recover within ten minutes.

July 30, 2008

America!

Posted in Daily life tagged , at 1:17 am by Lauren

That’s what I thought to myself when I saw this view, and I just had to snap it with my camera.

Ah yes, welcome back.

July 28, 2008

Red light, green light

Posted in Daily life tagged , , , at 11:18 pm by Lauren

I don’t think I can rightly say I’ve come up for air yet, just because being under for so long has left me a little disoriented. Usually things build and progress over a longer period of time, and small things finish, and other things begin, and on and on it goes. But in the past month, we’ve had a rush of energy, a burst of activity, and suddenly all of it is over at the same time, leaving a temporary vacuum.

Today is July 28, which means that we have spent a full four weeks back in the States. They may have been the busiest four weeks of my life (though I suspect I’ve said that before). I could go on and on about it, but it will be easier to sum up with just a couple of sentences. I’m finished with my masters courses, and my degree should be conferred on August 9. (I haven’t decided what, if anything, I’d like to do to celebrate. I’m thinking sleep.) And Allen and I have not only found but actually moved into our new house.

So I’m sitting here in this house now, looking around wondering what to do. Of course, it’s covered with boxes, so I could unpack. The internet is down here in the basement, which is amazingly free of boxes. (That is because I’d love to go through some more of the boxes to try to reduce the amount of stuff we own before we just store it all away and forget to look at it for five years.) So it’s easy to forget that I should be unpacking.

Speaking of those boxes to unpack, one of them has a periodic beep coming from it, and I cannot imagine what little electronic device is causing it. When we heard it in the basement, we had hoped that somehow it was something in the other house, but as Allen was packing the truck, he heard this beep on the truck and knew we were taking it with us. We’ve now narrowed it down to one of the boxes in the living room, but there are at least twenty-five boxes in there. Whenever I put my ear next to a box in the area it seems to be coming from, the beep will come again from the opposite side of the room. I think it can throw its voice. I cannot wait to figure out what it is (and throw it out the window).

And then there’s painting! I’m heading to Benjamin Moore tomorrow, I think, to pick up a fan deck with the historical colors paint palette. I love, love, love picking out paint colors, so I’ve been spending time in each room waiting for inspiration. But having the fan deck in hand will keep me deliberating for days. Allen will be happy he’s in Indianapolis all week, but don’t worry – I’ll send him colors from the website.

I’ll also be prepping for school this week, calling to see if I can move in my classroom library stuff and completing the prodigious amounts of employment paperwork. I got my TB test this morning.

Finally, Allen and I have begun the adoption process to get a couple of cats! There are two pairs of cats/kittens that we are considering. I’ve met one pair, and we’re going to meet the second pair this weekend. So the faster I get the house together, the faster we can have pets. Oh right, and the faster we can have guests. So much to look forward to!

July 18, 2008

Under ten rocks

Posted in Daily life tagged , , , , at 4:46 pm by Lauren

It’s a little busy Chez Schmanz. My graduate class started Wednesday, and that alone would be enough for me to go underground until it’s over. It’s 8:30 to 3:30 daily, with a major project due at least 4 of the 8 class days, and tons of work (like a 20+ page paper) to be done before it ends next Friday.

But that’s the great news! In one week, I will have completed my masters. I’d invite you all over for a massive celebration that Friday, but we have just a couple of other things going on. For one, we found a place to live! That will be all wrapped up directly after my class on Friday. And then on Saturday, we’re moving in! We’ll be back in our old neighborhood, just a few blocks south of our former condo!

So let’s recap: We’ve been in the States 18 days. In that time, I’ve gotten a job, we’ve gotten a house, and I’ve gotten started on my last masters course. I’ve taken a standardized test I needed for teacher licensure. Allen has gone to Trinidad and Daytona Beach, and we have both gone up to Long Island, NY and Greenwich, CT. Did I mention we’ve been in the States just 18 days? I need to go take a nap now!

July 13, 2008

Hi everyone!

Posted in family, Travel, Visitors tagged , , at 12:45 am by Lauren

Allen and I are wrapping up a long weekend in Greenwich and Long Island for a family visit (my mom’s side) and a wedding, respectively. And I’ve been told that certain family members keep checking my blog every morning to see if I have updated it. So here’s a little update: pictures! Of those family members.

Hi Grandma!

Hi Uncle Scott!

I’m having a good time – no time to blog!

July 8, 2008

Man on the street

Posted in Daily life tagged , , , , , at 12:19 am by Lauren

Back in Paris, I started to really feel as if we lived there once we started running into people we knew on the street. There’s something about having your name called on the street, about the surprise, and the happiness to see just about anyone you know. It was one small thing that made Paris my home.

But it’s never something I expect. So I am flabbergasted that I’ve run into three people I know in the last three days! On Friday evening, we were metroing home around midnight when Jenna got on our train. (She’s staying with us, but still – what are the chances that we both caught the same red line train, and that she’d walk up to the door we were sitting next to?)

Saturday at the grocery store, I saw Tavon and his mother. If you worked at my school in 2006/2007, you just fell out of your chair laughing. Oh yes. I was slightly terrified that they would recognize me, so of course they ended up in line directly behind us. (They did not recognize me.) Tavon started asking about the price of candy, and his mom yelled that he’d better not try to spend her twenty dollars, and then there was an argument about whether or not he would get the candy, and I felt like I was back at school again, and nothing had changed.

As if that weren’t enough, Allen and I got on the metro Sunday and ran into Nabila! I had Nabila during my first year of teaching when she was in 7th grade. Now she’s going into 10th! She tried to talk me into applying to teach at her high school, but I told her high schoolers scare me. Somehow, she had heard that I moved to France (when she saw me, she thought it must have been a lie). I am impressed at the former student rumor mill, since she moved before my second year (and thus a full year before I went to France). I was really excited to see her – she’s such a smart and sweet girl, and she just looked really healthy and happy. Her dorky teacher made her take a picture in the middle of the metro.

So I guess we must be home again! It makes me a little sad about moving to Arlington (and seeing Nabila made me miss my students all over again), but before you know it, I’ll be running into friendly faces there too.

July 6, 2008

Five days, already?

Posted in Daily life, Food, Visitors tagged , , , , , , at 12:38 am by Lauren

The time since we touched ground in the U.S. sped by – five days we’ve been back! July 1 was our marathon house hunt, and we continued it on July 2. We saw fewer houses on Wednesday, and then we called a time-out until next week. There are some very promising places in Arlington, and some very, very disappointing ones as well. Not at all disappointing, however, was the delicious lunch we had at Stray Cat with Maria on Tuesday!

We also started sorting through the basement. There are obviously items that have been in boxes for a year, but what about the stuff that has been boxed up since we bought the house two years ago? And the stuff that we stored at the condo before that? We have things we haven’t seen for years. So we attacked the basement Clean Sweep-style. As we go through each box, we sort items into the Keep, Sell, or Toss piles. We added a fourth pile called Donate. Sell gets anything that it’s worth our time to try to sell, Donate gets the rest, unless something’s in really bad condition, in which case it ends up in Toss. So far our Donate and Keep piles and our pile of newly emptied boxes are about the same size. We took a load to the Salvation Army today, with 6-7 bags and boxes of clothing and shoes. We’ve actually made huge progress in the few days we’ve devoted to the project. Fortunately, Allen’s boss gave him Tuesday – Thursday off (with travel on Monday obviously, and the July 4th holiday on Friday), so neither of us has to go through the tedious sorting process alone.

Thursday we took a midday break to check out the Cardinal’s Nest, which opened a few months before we moved to Paris. We expected more of a cafe (read: smaller portions), but ended up stuffed. That was a bad thing because we had plans to meet Shari for dinner at Mandalay on Thursday. She’s the first friend we saw since returning – and other friends, you’ll have to forgive us, as we really wanted to get a lot done while Allen was off work and before I start my grad school class. We were determined to have the Thursday Special at Mandalay, and this was the only Thursday in July that we’d be able to manage it. So Shari wins! (Haha, not a contest.) Other than those two meals, we spent the rest of the day in the basement.

Friday was Independence Day! So we spent the majority of the day shackled down in the basement again. Are you getting tired of hearing that? We’re getting tired of doing it! But we left for Steph and Ryan’s house in the late afternoon to spend the 4th with them and to hang out with our 21-month-old niece. They outdid themselves with the cooking, making pasta salad from scratch, corn and black bean salsa/salad, and grilled salmon, hot dogs, and hamburgers. Yum! But did I mention the grilled CORN? Hallelujah, it must be America for there is CORN, GLORIOUS CORN! Okay, I loved French food, and I wouldn’t say no if you offered it to me right now, but wow, I enjoy an ear of fresh corn grilled to perfection. I also enjoy my adorable niece, who unpacked and repacked my purse about seven times, and who insisted on several rounds of Ring around the Rosie with Aunt Lauren and Tonton Allen. (And Ripley. She commanded him, “Ripley, fall down!” I have video evidence.) We ended the night watching Vantage Point, which turned out to be pretty interesting.

That brings us up to today. Allen and I had lunch with his boss John in Old Town Alexandria. It’s been so long since I’ve been there, and I was falling in love with the adorable townhouses again. Allen and I will have to make more of an effort to go there often. John sent us back with a homecoming present – six bottles of wine!

I’ll skip the boring parts where we – you guessed it – worked on the basement and did a few other things. Jenna is staying with us this month, and she got home around 7 pm. It was our first night to actually talk to her (she’s been with us since Wednesday, and I’ve talked to her a few minutes each day, but I didn’t actually see her in the light until Friday!), and we forced her to go grocery shopping with us. She had a huge grease stain on her pants and smelled of barbeque from working on the Mall all day at a barbeque place (at the Folklife Festival), and she still managed to pick up a guy in the line at the grocery store. But she spurned his advances. (And – is anyone from my old school reading this? – we ran into Tavon and his mother! I about died.) When we got home, I cooked dinner with Allen’s help (particularly cleaning – I love our kitchen teamwork since it means I don’t have to wash dishes!), and we had a spinach and artichoke ring (thank you, Pampered Chef!), and I made a crust for an ice cream pie (to be constructed – and eaten – tomorrow) and prepared the ingredients for cinnamon muffins in the morning. I knew I missed baking, but I didn’t realize how much! (This could be dangerous.) And speaking of that, it’s time to go to bed, so I can get up early and make those muffins! As Jack would say (hi! we miss you!), “Bonne nuitee!”

July 2, 2008

Alive

Posted in Daily life tagged , , , at 8:31 am by Lauren

We have returned. We are alive. And we are buried under a massive to-do list for this week while Allen is off work. Mostly this involves house hunting, but we also need to sort all of the many, many boxes in our basement and purge the things we don’t need. We did 10 hours of house hunting yesterday and saw 25+ houses. I’m tired just thinking about it, but we’re going out to see more today! I hope to write more soon, and yes, the blog will continue! Notice we’re just Chez Schmanz now. And now…off to more adventure!