Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bruises, 1

This week has been full and busy. Some bad things happened and some good things happened. I'm going to split it up into two posts, with mixed good/bad elements. Let's review:

I started working out three weeks ago. I didn't want to talk about it on here too much because, well, I'd just started. I've never worked out before... I used to play racquetball and swim two or three times a week, but ODU is undergoing some really annoying construction which has closed the pool and the racquetball courts. Actually, I don't know if there ever were racquetball courts, but the new Rec Center will have some. It's due to open next spring, about a month before I finish my master's program. Very convenient timing for me, isn't it?

There are two weight rooms open on campus, as well as basketball courts and soccer/field hockey/lacrosse fields, but I don't play any of those sports. My boss encouraged me to sign up for the Monarch Quick Fit Program. It basically gives you a commitment to work out three times a week, half an hour for weight training and half an hour for cardio each of those days. When I went in for the initial explanation, I was shown 8 different weight machines. On the first one, my personal trainer (for 10 minutes!) asked me what weight I normally used. "Uhh, I've never used any of these machines before," I answered. I didn't realize that I looked so muscular and strong! Even a seasoned professional couldn't tell that I don't normally work out! Why did I sign up for the Quick Fit program again?

But it's been good, I've been keeping to the workout schedule and have already lost 3 pounds. It's very exciting! So that's something GOOD that has been happening lately.

What's something BAD? Well, our toilet has been acting up lately. The water just keeps running and running without collecting in the tank or the bowl. I figured out that it has to do with the black rubber stopper that regulates the flow of water in the tank. But, since we live in an apartment building (where they just raised the rent by $30!), I was not about to buy a new rubber stopper and install it myself! I informed the apartment manager on Friday. We lived this weekend by turning the water on and off and manually adjusting the rubber stopper so that we could flush the toilet. It's super annoying, too! I was tempted to follow the "yellow is mellow, brown goes down" rule, but Jube thinks that it's pretty disgusting to do that. I have to admit, though, that at 4:00 in the morning I wasn't about to turn the water on just to flush.

Today, after having complained again to management yesterday, someone came by to fix the toilet. She worked on it for awhile and then told me, "It should be fine." She left, and the water kept running... and running... and running... Obviously she hadn't fixed the toilet at all! So I ran downstairs to the management office (which, by the way, is only open from 10am-1pm, so it's hard to catch them when you work!) to try to get her before she left. The apartment owner was very unhappy that we had had to wait nearly a week to have the toilet fixed and came up to fix my toilet himself. Now it's working again, and I'm very happy to know that I can flush the toilet whenever I want.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Date Night"

I've always been kind of annoyed when reading magazine articles about "making time for your significant other," full of suggestions about "date night," "talk time," or even "flirty Friday." But it seems that Jube and I have instituted a kind of date night in our household since he started his new job. He works hard during the week, which gives me plenty of time to study. When the weekend rolls around, though, we're both ready to get out of the house.

So far we've tried two different restaurants in Ghent. One was wonderful, but a bit expensive (for us, of course!). The Green Onion serves "large entrees" and "small entrees," has an extensive wine list, and also offers artisanal cheeses for appetizer or dessert. Jube enjoyed a "large" pork tenderloin served with vegetables and spaetzle, while I had an amazing "small entree" of baby artichokes served with crab meat. Wonderful! We finished the night with a five-cheese plate. As is common in America, the cheese was served with crackers. Jube refused to eat any of the cheese until he had ordered bread with it. It may be the best meal I've had since moving to Norfolk (and it was certainly the most expensive!). The other was an okay Italian restaurant--nothing amazing, but nothing bad either. The prices were definitely more reasonable than the Green Onion.

This Friday, after our meal, we went to see 2 Days in Paris (careful, there is noise). (For those of you who haven't heard of it, the plot involves a French woman and her American boyfriend visiting her parents in Paris before heading home to New York.) Before it started, Jube told me he was worried that it would just be a big mess of French and American stereotypes. Instead it turned out to be an over-the-top farce about a couple in crisis that didn't rely on culture clash to make its point. Of course, there were some hilarious scenes involving our American at home with his French "in-laws"--these scenes reminded me of my first trip to France, in fact! It was like Meet the Parents in Paris--because what is meeting your significant other's family if it isn't culture shock? (Actually I thought it was much better than Meet the Parents; though just as farcical there weren't as many pratfalls--plus there was full-frontal male nudity, so that's always a plus.) Anyway, I do recommend the movie. Most everyone in the theater seemed to love it as much as I did, so maybe you will, too.

And that has been Date Night in Norfolk with Gem and Jube. Let's see what happens next week when they consider seeing Mon Meilleur Ami (My Best Friend).

Monday, September 17, 2007


The other day, Jube and I were watching TV around 9pm, relaxing after a day of work. We had even finished our household chores, taking out the trash, checking our mailbox, folding our laundry...

Suddenly our door burst open. Jube looked up, surprised. I shrieked a little bit, startled at the intruder. And a young Indian man, looking even more shocked than we felt, started stammering out an apology.

"I am so sorry!" he said, in his lilting accent. "I thought this was 514, not 513!"

He was so uncomfortable and embarrassed that I had to stand up to shut the door for him--he had thrown it open so that it was resting at 90 degrees from the exterior wall, and he didn't want to take the step in to our apartment that closing the door would require.

"That's okay," I said, "No harm done!"

When he left, I burst out laughing. Jube winked at me, saying, "At least you were wearing decent clothes!"

I had almost forgotten about this, but on Sunday my mother asked me over the phone if we had met any of our new neighbors yet...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Bay Days

This Saturday Jube and I went to Hampton for the annual Hampton Bay Days festival. The weather was beautiful and the festival was packed. It also gave us the opportunity to check out Hampton for future rendez-vous at cute cafes or bars.
This was the main festival street, King's Way. It was paved with stone and brick, lined with vendors and full of people!
This was a cool optical illusion we saw. The Bay Days has a "Bay Education" section for children, with ideas on how to conserve water, protect the native Chesapeake species, and have a good time doing it. The kids loved this spigot sans pipe, and were very confused about how it worked.
There were also three or four different stages with music at the Bay Days festival. Here we listened to Slapwater, a band that covered funk and pop tunes and featured a guitar player who looked like Santa Claus! I love this picture--I call it "Funnelcake Love," and it features a native American couple sharing a plate of sweet fried goodness. Although I usually enjoy fried foods, like any good American, I am not a big fan of funnelcake. This disappointed Jube, since he preferes his friture sweet. He couldn't bring himself to buy a $5 funnelcake all for himself, though. Instead we ate burgers and chips in a churchyard and then headed home for a relaxing evening.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Coincidence or Destiny?

I bought some nice tasty chocolate today in my favorite flavor: Dark Cherry Almond. In France I could find the Lindt version of this flavor at certain times of the year, but I hadn't seen it at all in the US until I went to our local "Natural Market." It is so expensive that I buy it very rarely, but I went for it today. On the outside of the wrapper, it said, "Love Poetry Inside!!" I thought it was kind of weird, but also kind of neat.

When I got home, I unwrapped the chocolate and took a look at the love poetry. I was very surprised to find that the poem was Shelley's "Love's Philosophy"--the same poem that my cousin read during Jube's and my wedding! It's been about 10 months since we were married and the wedding is not often in my thoughts. What a nice reminder to receive (and even better, it came with chocolate).

Of course my memory was tainted when Jube said, "That's what she read? Who picked that?" Which, of course, prompted me to vigorously defend myself by pointing out that he had had final veto power over all of the points of the wedding, and then he had to defend himself by saying, "No, no, I'm not saying I don't like it. I do like it! I just don't remember it..." which then... but you don't care, do you? Just enjoy today's chocolatey love poetry:

Love's Philosophy, by Percy Bysshe Shelley

The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean;
The winds of heaven mix forever,
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one another's being mingle--
Why not I with thine?

See! the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister flower would be forgiven,
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea--
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?

Monday, September 03, 2007

I Love Labor Day

This weekend has been really great. I've been eagerly awaiting a vacation and I was able to ignore school and work for awhile.

On Saturday, Jube and I biked from our apartment to downtown Norfolk, where we caught the ferry to Portsmouth.

It only costs a dollar each way. In Portsmouth, there was a Labor Day Sidewalk Sale, but it wasn't very interesting. I bought some stationery and we enjoyed walking around Old Towne Portsmouth a little bit.
After our return trip, we visited the Pagoda Tea House and Restaurant for a drink before biking back home. The inside was as nice as the outside. We had our drinks on the second floor of the Pagoda and were able to take some pictures outside on the balcony.
In the Pagoda, we were seated next to a table with a couple at it. They were really amazing, drinking 3 bottles of sake, two strawberry daiquiris and two beers between them in the time it took Jube and I to finish our tea and Diet Coke (though Jube did get a refill). By the time they got up and went outside to take their own photos, we were surprised they could even walk straight.

After we biked back to our apartment, Jube said, "I've had a great day, really relaxing." I was surprised--biking 7 miles isn't exactly relaxing in my book. It was definitely fun, though!

On Sunday we went to the Zoo again, where we were treated to a prairie dog fight, a spider monkey fight, and a Pavlovian chorus of pigs squealing to be fed. Le Pacha happened to call as we were walking by the pigs, and to prove that we were at the Zoo, Jube put the phone up to their noses.

"Tu vois, c'est un cochon!" Jube said. (See, it's a pig!)

"Non, je crois pas. C'est Gem qui fait le bruit," le Pacha answered. (I don't believe it. It's Gem making the noise.)