Thursday, January 31, 2013

Day 3: Your parents, in great detail

My parents are really great people.  I have almost always appreciated them for the great people that they are!

My mom is the second of nine children.  You may know her as Helene who comments on my blog.   She is tone deaf and says she's bad at languages.  She does "speak" ASL fluently, though, which I think is really neat.  Something I really admire about her is how fearless she is at speaking her mind.  When I was younger, I didn't love this trait as much, since she "embarrassed" me in front of my friends a lot.  But now, I just hope that I can be the same way some day.  My mom loves reading, and she passed it on to me.  For Christmas for the past few years, I have given her a book that I really loved.  Sometimes she will also love the book (Doomsday Book), and sometimes she will not (Pillars of the Earth).  But either way we can usually have a long talk about it!  She is also my travel buddy.  So far, she has come to visit me in Spain and France when I lived there, and she paid for Jube and I to meet her in Norway.  We have also gone to Guatemala and Russia together.  On our Russia trip (which was a cruise, by the way), everyone kept commenting about how great it was to see a mother and daughter who got along so well.

My dad is a music teacher who plays the piano and sings.  Because of him I have loved music all of my life.  He is a born storyteller, like most of his family.  He tells us stories about his past (like the time he played "mutiny on the Bounty" on Easter Sunday with his Jewish friend, who wanted to be called Fletcher Jew instead of Fletcher Christian); on camping trips, he tells us made-up stories based on trucker songs or flatulence.  He also loves car racing, but is kind of a snob about it.  He really likes open-wheel road racing, although he makes an exception for the Indy 500 of course.  With Dad, my brother and I watched almost all of Jackie Chan's oeuvre; with my Dad, we learned about comedy classics like Blazing Saddles and Spinal Tap, along with some more serious ones like Harold and Maude and Dr. Strangelove.  So my dad made me into a woman who knows more about F-1 than the average American, who can recognize Saint-Saens's "Carnival of the Animals" in part because of the movie Herbie Rides Again, and who is almost always ready to launch into a long and complicated joke at the smallest encouragement. 

My parents divorced when I was 2 years old, so I can't remember a time when we all lived together.  My mom remarried when I was 6.  My stepfather is the first of ten children.  It is because of him that I grew up in Ohio - before the age of 7 we lived in the DC area.  It is because of him that I was baptized and confirmed as a Catholic.  It is because of him that I learned how to hold a knife and a fork properly, and what not to order on a business lunch (nothing smelly like garlic, no finger food like French fries, and nothing potentially messy like pasta with sauce).  Our relationship has always been contentious, but it has grown into a loving and respectful bond.  We share parts of our senses of humor, and I am very happy to have him in my life.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Day 2: Your first love, in great detail

Jube is my first true love, but I can tell you about my first true crush. 

In high school, I was the "Queen Nerd" (according to my brothers).  I was in marching band and In the Know, pep band and all of the school musicals.  I had a great time in high school, actually!  In my senior year, I was the drum major of the marching band, and one of the trumpet players caught my eye.  His name was Randi*, and for some reason, I really liked him.  We went out almost every Friday between the end of school and the beginning of the football game, and we went on a couple of dates.

I created handmade cards for him, colored with crayons.  I was grounded for the first and only time of my life for spending too long at his house after one of our Saturdays out.  For Christmas, he gave me a snow globe that played "Memories" from Cats. 

We never kissed or held hands.

The summer between my senior year and starting college, I wrote him a letter explaining that I had once had a crush on him.  He could have had a girlfriend, but he blew it!  I used the word "dearth" in the letter, and in a moment of passive aggression I included a vocabulary flashcard with the word's definition on it.  I am still very ashamed that I actually mailed him the letter.

The summer after his senior year, a boy in my high school died in a car accident.  He was supposed to be Randi's roommate in college afterward.  I hadn't thought of either of those boys since I had mailed the letter (I met Jube during that first year at college). 

Since then, I have thought of Randi once or twice.  I didn't know much about him then, and I know less now.  But maybe that's the way of all of our first crushes.

*The name has been changed, since I use pseudonyms on the blog.  But believe me, this was a teenage boy whose name ended in "i."

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Day One: Introduce Yourself

I am going to do this 30 Days of Posts thing.  It is supposed to happen during a month with 30 days, and you do a daily post.  But I'm going to do it as it comes to me, which I think is better.  They are writing prompts, and mostly all about me.  Sorry about that.

I am anonymous on my blog.  I call myself "Gem," which is not really similar to my name, but which is short and easy to remember.  Introductions are always strange.  What do you tell people about yourself?  What does that say about you? 

I guess I will do more of a "blog personality" introduction.  This blog is really focused on my life in France.  Although I haven't lived there since 2006, it is still a very important part of my life.  I am now a French citizen, and it forms a big part of my identity.  I speak French with a southern accent, which helps disguise any grammatical errors I might make. 

I am a professional administrator. I keep my work life very separate from my blog, which is, I think, a huge part of why I haven't posted much since starting my career.  I love my job, but I don't feel like I can talk about it here.  It's in a field that is always changing, allows me to learn new things every day, and it lets me feel like I am doing something helpful for other people.

I love reading science fiction and fantasy, although for a short period between graduate school and now I didn't read much of anything at all.  I am getting back into it now, and it is reminding me how much I love it.  My new job includes with it a two-hour round-trip commute, so I have been listening to a lot of books.  I like watching movies less and less, though.  I used to know about all of the new releases and watch quite a few of them, but I have been to the movie theater only once in the past year.

I talk about Jube a lot on this blog.  Hopefully I don't do it quite so much in real life!  We are both introverts, so we spend most of our free time together.  We even go grocery shopping with each other most of the time!

This was a brief introduction to Gem... I do wonder how much of "me" it captures.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2012 - The Year of No Posts

Yeah, no posts in 2012.  I really want to get back into semi-regular blogging, because I realize how much I love going back and reading my old posts.  So here's another New Year's meme like the one I did about 2009.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you've never done before?
I led a study abroad trip to France!

2. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Le Parisien and his wife had a daughter. Jube and I are tonton/tatie now!

3. Did anyone close to you die?

4. What countries did you visit?
I went to France, Spain, and Russia.

5. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
I am hoping for a long vacation with Jube.

6. What were the highlights of 2012?
I turned 30 in May.  I led that study abroad trip to France, which was awesome. I got a new job in August, which was super exciting! In June, I went to Ohio for a wedding and got to see all kinds of old friends.  My brother moved to Puerto Rico.  And of course, I can't leave the highlights of my year without mentioning going to Russia with my mom!

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Starting this new job.  It is a promotion and has a lot of new responsibilities.

8. What was your biggest failure?
I should have finished my master's project, but it's not quite done yet.

9. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing serious.

10. What was the best thing you bought?
I guess it would have to be my tickets to Russia!

11. Whose behavior merited celebration?
I have been really impressed with my brother (who moved to Puerto Rico).

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
No one, really.

13. Where did most of your money go?
My new job has a longer commute... more money on gas.  I love buying clothes and plane tickets, too.

14. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Leading the trip to France.  I danced around my office and my apartment for awhile after that.

15. What song(s) will always remind you of 2012?
"Neutron Star Collision" by Muse.  Thanks, Twilight. 
16. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?
No difference. Still basically happy with my life!

ii. thinner or fatter?
Probably a little bit fatter.  I lost a lot of weight in 2011-2012, but since starting my new job I haven't been able to work out a lot.

iii. richer or poorer?
Richer :)

17. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Working out.

18. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Stressing out.

19. What was the hardest thing you did this year?
Changing jobs.  Starting somewhere new has been a real culture shock experience.

20. What was the best thing you did this year?
Went to Russia.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?
I stayed in love! 

22. How many one night stands?

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Parks and Rec.  I love, love, love this show.

24. What was the best book you read?
At long last, I took the advice of one of my best friends and started reading Lois McMaster Bujold.  I fell in love with Shards of Honor, although I have been assured that it is not even her best.

25. What were your greatest musical discoveries?
I don't think I made any musical discoveries.  Maybe... well... no, I have no idea.  I don't think I listened to any new bands or bought any "new" music.
26. What did you want and get?
A new job (sorry to keep talking about it, but it was the big event!).  Also, I turned 30 and Jube gave me the best birthday party I've ever had in my life.

27. What was your favorite film of this year?
Two Days in New York

 28. What did you do on your birthday and how old did you turn?
I turned 30.  I kept pushing Jube for a party, and he delivered in a big way.  My good friend BB came down from Ohio, and tons of friends came to my place.  We even had a (mini... pony?) keg.  After they came over to our place, we went to a Mexican restaurant and pigged out.  I got a little bit drunk, but it was all worth it!

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I loved my previous job.  If I could have changed one thing, I would have loved my new position to be at my old employer.
30. What kept you sane?
My colleagues, my husband, and books on tape.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept for 2012?
Wear jewelry.  I don't wear makeup or high heels very often, so finding ways to make my natural attributes work for me was/is important.  Also I love wearing colors, especially if they clash just a little bit.
32. What political issue stirred you the most?
Gay marriage.  Go Maryland, the first state to legalize marriage for all through a legislative referendum!
33. Who did you miss?
I saw almost everyone I miss this year, although not my cousin who lives in California.  I miss my little brother now that he's off to the US Commonwealth.
34. Who was the best new person you met?
My new colleague Dharma.
35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
You have to take risks, even if they don't turn out exactly the way you want.