Today started out annoying - cold weather, a botched swim workout, and a very difficult short-answer exam in Language and Dialect - and yet ended up really good. I aced my Language and Culture exam, finally had another physical therapy appointment, got a Florida Swimming shirt (from R - she promised to get me one), and, the crowning touch - got invited to swim in a meet in New Orleans!
See, the thing is, Masters - the team I usually swim with - competes, but they're pretty high-caliber. There's also Club Alligator Swim Team, which are just as hard-core in workouts, etc., but are free. I'd been on their mailing list for months, but had never actually been to their practice because it's at the same time as Masters. But last week A, the president, started sending out e-mails about team suits which were chlorine-resistant. I was intrigued and jumped on the bandwagon, so tonight I went to their practice, tried on a test suit (a freaking size 32!!! Wow!!!), swam their practice, and jumped on yet another bandwagon - as the 14th and last person to go swim at Tulane in a couple of weeks. It's just a club meet, nothing very high-caliber, and we're not expecting to do stunningly well, but it's a really nice group of girls who are a lot more down-to-earth (read: less arrogant) than the Masters group. I felt comfortable with them right away. So now I get a cute navy blue chlorine-resistant suit with an orange alligator (and maybe even my name) on it, and I get to go to a swim meet in a couple of weeks - both of which are very exciting.
Next goal: get this stupid knee back in shape. It hurt a little when we started, then got better, then got worse again. I iced it when I got home just now, so maybe that'll prove to be the ticket for my knee that it never was for my foot.
2 pr Adidas track pants
1 pr really nice swim fins
1 sport chamois
1 workout writing board
Total: $100.37 (the card was $100 - am I good or what?!)
2 cute 'going-out' shirts
4 photo frames (I framed pix of last night for all four of us)
1 little leather purse
1 DVD (Spiderman)
Total: $73 even (hmm, so I have $27 left!)
So... that was my birthday in a nutshell. In 2.5 more hours (at 22.21), I'll be 'officially' 21. Mom left Dad a note this morning as she left for work which said, "21 years ago, we were leaving for the hospital about this time." LOL!
Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy BIRTH-day dear Jess, happy birthday to me!
I'm 21. At long last, a full-fledged adult!
(And, as you can see from the time, R had mercy on me and did not make me go to the morning swim practice and swim those 21 100s, as she threatened last week...)
Anyhow, we celebrated yesterday rather than today, seeing as it's not only Sunday, but that I have two exams tomorrow. We all packed into the Beetle and went to Jacksonville, where we sat around the dining room table and had a far-reaching conversation - from the benefits of yoga to table etiquette and the proper way to use cutlery - until Dad got home and we went to Olive Garden (always a winner). I finally got those stuffed shells with shrimp that I'd been seeing on the commercials, and they were awesome. I opened my presents in between the salad and the entrees - an 80-gig external hard drive, hundred-dollar gift certificates to Sports Authority and Target (plus a hundred-dollar bill in my card!) and an artsy pair of black and silver Mexican earrings.
When the waiter (who looked so much like R's ex, D - we both noticed it) came over, he asked if it was my birthday. Thinking, 'Hmm, maybe I get a free dessert,' I told him yes. "What's your name?" he asked then. "Jess," I answered automatically, then caught on - too late. "No, don't sing!"
"Oh, we're going to," he assured me, then grinned and hurried off.
Anyhow, after the entrees, the dessert, and, yes, the singing, we headed back to the house and had another far-reaching conversation, this one mainly about religions and the differences between them, from the Mormons to the Amish. I know a LOT about the Amish - I've read books on them and even taken a field trip to Pennsylvania Amish country - but in typical R fashion, R assumed that because I'm an atheist I couldn't possibly know anything about anyone else's religion. She got 'that tone' - "No, Jess, they're originally Dutch! Because I saw this movie about Amish people and I swear they were speaking Dutch!" "R, I promise you they're not, they're German! Amish people are raised bilingual with English and German - tons of their prayers and hymns and all are in German - why would they do that if they're Dutch?" (Just looked it up to confirm, and I was right - LOL.) Strange that F didn't know that, though, seeing as she IS German...
Anyway, then we went rock climbing, which turned out to be a lot of fun. I was the only one who'd ever done it before - I did it for my sixteenth birthday, too, now that I think about it. Anyway, R took to it right away, as I figured she would. F was kind of scared in the beginning - heights aren't her favorite thing and she kept going halfway up, looking down, getting scared, and coming back down as slowly as she possibly could (not easy with the auto-belay). She did make it to the top a couple times by the end, though. But the real surprise was H - she had never climbed before, but she was awesome! Her Puma shoes were a bit better suited for climbing than our sneakers, and not only that, she's built right for it - long-limbed, but still very compact, not muscular and 'bulky' like R or me - and she took to it right away. There was this one wall with a couple of 'corners' in the middle, where the wall bent outward so you had to climb a bit angled outward (upside down), and R and I kept getting to the same point, at the last corner, then having to give up. ("I need to lose like 50 pounds if I want to do this," R muttered.) But I looked across the gym a little later and H was past that point and still climbing! She didn't make it to the top, but she got further than either of us did, barely breaking a sweat. Wow.
Anyway, so that was a lot of fun, and then we piled back into the car and headed back to G-ville. H is thinking about buying an iPod, so she sat up front (F and R, despite being freakishly tall, appeared to enjoy cramming themselves into the back) and played DJ with mine, which is hooked into the radio. She played lots of those "sixth-grade songs" from when we were all first discovering the radio ("Sweet Dreams", "Be My Lover", "Another Night," etc.) with some other oldies and dance stuff mixed in. We all sang along LOUD (R and I both knew every single word to 'Pretty Fly for a White Guy' - the other two just stared at us!), and F said at one point, "Hmm - I think the party's already starting!"
So we got back, got dressed to go out, and then they called me downstairs and sang Happy Birthday to me and presented my present - a bottle of Creme de Menthe and a bottle of Amarula. (Oh, yeah, and a stuffed animal with some candy.) :)
Anyway, so much drinking of shots and taking of silly pictures ensued, and then we cranked up R's oldies on her computer (I was lying on her bed saying something like, "It feels weird - I'm, like, suddenly all grown up!" when she yelled "This is for you, Jess!" and cranked up 'Dangerous'... LOL) and danced around the house and ran around the complex trying to figure out who all was coming out to Market Street with us. Before we left, F (and B, a Dutch guy) made me a paper crown "21 - Kiss Me!" which I wore for a couple of pictures but refused to wear out. And I was wearing a Y-back top, so R wrote all over both my shoulders - all of which was completely unintelligible except for the big number 21s, but nobody cared - the idea was there.
Anyway, so we got to Market Street and the guy at the door let me in with no problem - he checked my ID pretty closely, but I said "An hour and a half, come on!" and he let me in - turned out his own birthday was within the next couple of days as well. It turned out to be karaoke night, so R and I sang 'Time of Your Life' and H and B sang 'Summer Lovin', among others. Nobody could really hear how anyone sounded, nor was that the point - it was just to provide some music for the crowd to sing along to. But it was fun. The clock flipped to 0.00 at some point and I got a lot of hugs and congratulations and drink offers, and then R and I went over to the other side of the club where there was a live band. We ran into C, the other Masters swim coach (and the guy who was teaching the Lifeguarding Class that Never Was), with his girlfriend, and then H and the rest of the group came over and joined us and we all stood around talking about what we were going to eat. Someone said Denny's and someone said pizza, and we all just sort of stood there repeating those same two ideas - neither of which came out; we just came back to the complex and ate tostis (basically toasted ham and cheese sandwiches) and my grits. F had gotten distracted by another party and never showed up at Market Street, so we were all making jokes about what was probably happening that kept her away (she's got a boyfriend back in Germany, but there's a really sweet guy in this complex that she's got something going on with too). R went to bed because she had to get up and coach (poor thing) and H and B and I stayed up a while longer before B went home and H and I went to bed. I know I went upstairs, because I remember getting undressed and talking to H, and when I got up this morning my iPod speaker set was up here and plugged in - meaning I brought it up with me last night - yet I woke up at quarter past six and I was downstairs, on the couch. Very odd - I guess I sleepwalked - wouldn't be the first time.
Anyway, but I feel absolutely fine today - I'm one of those lucky few people who doesn't really get hangovers - but F and H are still sleeping and R is still at practice. Once everyone's here I'm going to see if I can't maybe organize a Sports Authority and Target shopping spree later today with those gift cards. Today is my REAL birthday, after all - let's celebrate!
Ahhh. The dreaded Thursday - which began at 6:00 - is over, or almost. I went to math three times, swam twice, sat through English and its Relatives for a double period, and went to work... for the fourth-from-last time!
Yes, that's right, I quit my job at the day care. I'm being nice and using school and swimming and my new job at Runways as excuses, but the real reason, as we all know, is that I can't stand my boss. She's the type of person who sounds abrasive no matter what she's saying and makes you feel certain you've done something wrong as soon as she walks into a room. That place has a really high turnover rate, and it's largely because of her, but of course, no one can tell her that. Anyway, doesn't matter, 'cause as of Tuesday the 8th, I'm outta there!
School was okay - the math quiz was way easier than I expected (I didn't even NEED to get up so early to go to that first-period review!), and J taught English and its Relatives instead of Prof. M, which was great, especially since it was a double period. They're both very knowledgable, but M gives the impression of having SO much information at his disposal that he can just spew out a nonstop stream of gobbledygook and think he's being perfectly clear. It astounds me how much he obviously knows, but I literally cannot follow 30 seconds' worth of what he says when he teaches - it's very stream-of-consciousness, jumping from point to point, all in excruciating, OCD detail. J, on the other hand, can easily condense an hour's worth of M's jibberjabber into a couple of main ideas and concepts, and what's more, he keeps a sense of humor about it. I think the entire class would be lost by now if he weren't there - I don't know how C and B did it last semester, taking that etymology class with M. But anyway, we translated a parable from Gothic today, which was really fun - their alphabet has a lot of letters which look similar to ours, but also some which look different, so you have to first translate from Gothic letters to English letters and only then into the actual English words. The parable, thankfully, was already in English letters, so it went fairly fast. I love that kind of thing; I'd always wished I had had the chance to take Greek or Latin for that very reason.
Other news from today... L the Kick Nazi succeeded in screwing up my right knee with her kicking drills yesterday morning. The left one is fine, so my guess is that the right one is a little more susceptible to this kind of thing due to all the years I spent walking with it turned out sideways to avoid stretching my Achilles. Anyway, it doesn't hurt when walking or biking or anything, only when kicking, especially in breaststroke and butterfly (I stopped after only a few strokes of those tonight). L was making us kick on intervals - 4 x 25 yards with each 25 on an interval - first 4 lengths at 45 seconds (ridiculously easy), then 40, then 35, then 30, and finally 25. "If you can't make the interval, you have to get out!" Of course, no one wanted to get out, so we did our best... she finally got me during the second length of the 25-second interval. When she saw me duck over into the 'spectators' lane, she yelled my name across the pool and spread out her arms like, 'what the heck is wrong with you?' "I didn't make it," I yelled back, shrugging. "At least I'm honest about it!" (There was a boy in my lane who was even slower than I was - blatantly missing the interval every time - and still he kept on going.) Anyway, it was fun - I like competition - but I felt the effects yesterday evening at Masters and I'm still feeling them today. Oh well, there's no practice tomorrow night because of the swim meet (UF versus UVA) so I can give it a rest until Monday. I'll even do abdominals and stuff on Saturday instead of my run. But I'm in good company; R's ankle is still not 100% from that pre-Christmas tumble down the stairs, so she hasn't run in a month either, which is killing her.
Speaking of essential elements of running... my iPod is dead and I mean for good. It had a couple of false deaths last week, but now it is well and truly out for the count. I'm going to try to look up how to reinitialize it and if that doesn't work I'll have to take it back. Sigh. Such a fun toy, and it breaks after a month...
Okay, it's definitely dinnertime now. One last thing - I just got a link to this. Great stuff! :)
Everyone who reads this site with any regularity will know that the friend I mention most often is probably my roommate R. When two people who are very much alike try to live together, they either hit it off famously or butt heads at every turn. Thankfully, we fall into the first category - we were actually just talking the other day about how we’re both usually very competitive, and yet somehow not with each other.
Anyway, she’s wonderful, really – mega-athletic, shares my taste in guys and TV shows (even Disney Channel!), and has a great infectious laugh. But once in a blue moon, she really ticks me off – and last night was a blue moon.
I try not to post bad things about specific people on this website (especially since I can now be Googled), but she doesn’t have this address and even if she did, I don’t think she’d mind much. It was just something stupid, really, but it got to me.
Those of you who know me from way back know that I haven’t always had the best relationship with food. Not that I was eating-disordered or obese anything, far from it – I just tended to let my eyes decide what and how much I wanted, rather than my stomach or my common sense. Even if I were full to bursting, I’d still order that gooey hot-fudge sundae. And even when I started getting really frustrated with my body in high school, I couldn’t seem to straighten myself out in any permanent sort of way.
Nowadays, I do seem to have straightened myself out. It was a gradual change – actually, several gradual changes, all of which are probably just natural processes of growing up. I’m a lot less picky than I was as a kid – I eat almost all vegetables now – and I can now ‘tell’ when I’m full much better than I could in the past. The swimming has helped a lot, too (although it’s starting to backfire on me these days because I’m swimming so much that midweek I practically need an IV drip of food to keep going).
Anyway, on a typical day with two swimming workouts, I usually eat Kashi cereal and orange juice in the morning, a protein bar (and usually a fruit smoothie, too) while at school, a snack when I get home (like yogurt and a bagel with peanut butter or cream cheese), and then have salad, milk, and a Lean Pocket for dinner, or sometimes soup, then eat something sweet (but usually pretty small) afterwards. And often there are a couple of other snacks in there too, if I’m feeling exhausted from swimming – like some cheese cubes or peanuts or sometimes a muffin.
I think most of you will agree that this, while by no means a perfect diet, is a lot healthier than the average American and certainly than the average college student. This is what works for me; I enjoy everything that I eat and I look forward to food, yet I don’t ever feel deprived. I’m actually very proud of myself for having reached this point, since I think that fewer and fewer people in this day and age actually do get there.
R, however, is, as I’ve mentioned, a former Olympian. She also loves to cook. Therefore, she eats exceedingly healthy – makes soups and stews in her Crock-Pot, blends smoothies with whey protein powder, eats enormous salads, and avoids fast food like the plague.
There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it works for her. I even admire it a little. However, it can make her really hard to live with sometimes. Last night, we saw a Slim-Fast commercial. We both groaned, and I said something to the effect of, “Slim-Fast does work, but you’re not going to keep the weight off that way, because you’re not going to buy little bars and cans for the rest of your life. You have to learn what works for you,” – I felt like Dr. Phil – “in the real world, and how to do it right.”
“Yeah,” R said, but there was an unusual bit of a distance to her voice.
I instantly knew what she was thinking, and so joked, “Says the girl who microwaves all her dinners...” and gestured to the Lean Pocket I was (coincidentally) heating up.
I expected her to laugh and let it go. I think that’s what most people would have done. But within the space of a few more exchanges, she was up and in the kitchen, holding my Kashi cereal box next to her Fiber One. “Yours has five grams of fiber and 110 calories. Look at mine. 8 grams of fiber and, with milk, 60 calories.” She said it very importantly, like I was supposed to gasp in shock.
I stayed calm and simply said, “Well, I’m more likely to stick with something if I enjoy eating it.” Which is true; I’ve been eating that cereal for over a year and I still love it.
She let it go not long after that, but it’s been nagging at me today. I wish she would realize that we aren’t all Olympic athletes. R is practically my best friend; I don’t want to have to feel like I have to watch what I eat around her. She eats in a way that tastes good to her and works for her, and I eat in a way that tastes good for me and works for me. And both of us take vitamins and exercise regularly. We’re both happy, healthy, and doing a hell of a lot better than your average Joe. So isn’t all this hair-splitting about cereal kinda irrelevant?
Wow, it's been almost a week since I posted. Guess I'll try to make up for that here.
The fact that I only got two comments on my last post demonstrates the pitiful absence of followers of this website. Just when I thought I was getting cool, too. Reality check, Jess - you are an IB graduate and you study minute differences in grammatical structure all day - you will never be cool.
Anyhow, it's been a decent weekend. Mom, Dad, and C were in Gainesville because C was riding at a rally in the area, so after I swam Friday night, Dad took me out to dinner. We tried TGI Fridays, only to be told that the wait was an hour and 15 minutes. I had just swum 3100 meters and was ready to eat my sneakers by this point, so we walked next door to Olive Garden. Wait time: 1 hour. Fed up, we dashed across the six-lane Archer Road to Panera, where I devoured an entire Greek salad and Frontega Chicken panini - the first time in my life, I believe, that I have outdone my dad at the dinner table.
I drove to Jacksonville after that because I had job training the next day, which turned out to be OK, if a little boring near the end (they made us take the van down to Gainesville and back, which was pretty long and pointless for me, seeing as I live there, but hey, D's the boss). There were three of us being trained; we learned how to do the pre- and post-trip checks of the vans, and, of course, we took turns driving. I drove all the way back from Jax Beach to the airport and let me tell you, that thing is WEIRD. (The van, not the airport.) The steering wheel is at an odd angle - around 45 degrees, so a lot flatter than in a car - and everything feels very 'loose', not really stable and 'tight' like in most cars. And while crossing the Damespoint Bridge, I was sure the wind was going to blow me right into the water. It felt like driver's ed all over again - I had to keep reminding myself, "OK, Jess, you KNOW how to drive, you've been doing it for over five years, this is just a new VEHICLE, not really that new of a SKILL." I did OK; the only hard part is knowing how far to swing out around corners. I drive a Beetle, for those who don't know, and that thing can practically spin in place like a top. These vans are 22 feet long, so it requires a bit of an adjustment. But I think I'll do OK.
I went home after that and, feeling 'slack' from having sat around all day, went for a run - about three miles, I think. My iPod conked out halfway through, not sure why - has anyone ever heard of an iPod just 'freezing' and not responding to any buttons? Once the battery ran out and it shut itself off, it was OK again - my guess is that it overheated, since I was jogging with it in my hand (left my armband in Gainesville) and it felt really hot when I picked it up off the table a little after getting home. Ah, well, all's well that ends well.
After dinner, a bath, and the requisite laundry, I drove back to Gainesville. Slept in a little this morning, made a Publix trip, and then R and I went to see Meet the Fockers, which was hilarious. ("I was trying to help him!" "You were riding him like Seabiscuit, Mom!") Then we watched Garden State tonight (R is a big Blockbuster client) and it was really good, kind of American Beauty-ish, but not as depressing.
And now Monday looms on the horizon - the start of another week. Swim, meeting, school, swim, eat, sleep, swim, school, work, swim, eat, sleep, swim, school, exam, swim... Except that this week is unique - my 21st birthday's at the end of it! I'm dragging all three of my roommates home to Jacksonville on Saturday for dinner, a little sightseeing/shopping, and maybe a ride on C's horse, and then we're driving back that night to do who knows what - I have a feeling they're going to drag me out somewhere and wait until midnight, when it's technically the 30th, and then make the bouncer give me a wristband. We'll see.
In other news: I think I'm going to hang around Gainesville one year longer than I planned. I graduate in May 2006, but there's a Translation Studies program here that I think I want to do after my bachelor's degree, since it'll enhance my NSA application when I get around to applying for that. It works out well - the program is a year long, sounds really interesting, and even includes a short study-abroad in Europe. (And I can use Dutch as my source language.) It'll keep me in Gainesville for another year, so I'll be close to my family, can keep swimming, will be able to live with R, and will be able to improve my language skills even more. What's not to like?
And - one last thing - I FINALLY finished everything for my Utrecht application! And I do mean everything - passport photo, transcript, recommendation letters, financial aid award letter, scholarship application - it's all getting turned in tomorrow. The only thing I still need to do is the dreaded green Academic Advising sheet, but I have to hammer out solid details on the neurolinguistics projects I'll be doing over there before I can even think about starting on the Green Sheet of Death.
I'm going to do a Robin-esque post here; her posts always end with a question for her readers to comment on. This is something that came to my attention (again) this morning in the locker room, and I'm curious as to what the rest of you think.
I was not raised in a closed-door household when it came to my body. Not that we're nudists or anything, but it was never drilled into me that, "Being naked is something for the bathroom or bedroom," like I hear so many parents strictly tell their little kids these days. The four of us always just changed our clothes with our doors wide open - still do, for that matter - and I never had any qualms about running into the living room in my altogether to ask my parents a last-minute question before I got in the shower. All four of us barged in on each other in the bathrooms without a second thought, and my sister and I didn't start shutting the door when we were on the toilet until puberty, when feminine biology intervened. And up to this day, when Mom goes along on a bra-shopping trip, she comes into the dressing room with me. I was not by any means taught to go around flashing perfect strangers or dropping trou in the front yard, but I was also never reprimanded for the odd streak through the house (beyond an occasional good-natured, ‘Put some clothes on!’ from Mom as I got older). Personally, I think this was a good system; although I went through the normal teenage insecurities like everyone else, I never got the message that my body was something to hide or be ashamed of. And it never really occurred to me that other people’s families might have done things differently.
Nowadays, however, I’ve been wondering about that. As most of you know, I swim nine times a week. Four of those times are with a college class, first thing in the morning, which means I have to change into normal clothes afterwards and go to the rest of my classes. Being in that locker room, however, is really making me wonder how some of those girls were raised. There are five tiny, cramped bathroom stalls, and many of the girls stand in line, dripping and shivering, to change in them. The few brave souls who do change in the open do it stealthily, draping towels in artful manners and perfecting lightning-fast bra maneuvers. I don’t see the point. Not only are we all girls, all with the same basic parts, but we see each other in bathing suits every day. What does it matter?
Not only have I changed in enough locker rooms in my time that the excitement is gone, but I’ve also lived in Europe and been to a European (read: naked) spa, twice. I have better things to do than stand in line for a bathroom stall, where I’d knock my elbows on the walls, drop my socks in the toilet (I know me!) and drag my jeans through the water on the floor. I couldn’t care less if people are looking at me. I just do my thing and get out. 99% of the class, however, apparently feels otherwise. The only three people I can think of who have even a remotely similar attitude are E and M from high school and my current roommate R. She’s been in even more locker rooms than I have and is in training to be a physical/massage therapist, so this sort of thing doesn’t bother her, either. I mean, last night she came running into my room in her bra and thong to show off her cute new “88-cents-at-Wal-Mart” underwear, then walked naked to the bathroom for a shower, and neither of us blinked. It’s refreshing to know at least one other person who thinks like that, and it’s very freeing not to ‘have to’ care about that type of thing. But I just wonder why we’re the exception? It almost feels like arrogance – I mean, are those locker-room girls just self-conscious? Worried about being imperfect? Do they think all eyes will be on them the instant they reach for the first bathing suit strap? News flash: everyone is too busy worrying about themselves to even look at you. So what is the deal?
Hence comes the ending question: How were you raised when it came to your body, and how do you feel about this sort of thing today? Any insight would be appreciated.
Perhaps an even better question… if you had to change in a locker room, would you be a stall-waiter, a towel-draper, or a who-cares-er? :) Why?
I swear, these days I spend more time moving stuff from bag to bag to bag than doing anything else. (Well, maybe except for writing useless blog posts.) I have a purse, a swim bag, and a backpack, and certain items in each bag overlap. However, other items don't, so there's no point in dragging all three bags around. My wallet, keys, cell phone, agenda, lip balm, and iPod go everywhere with me, so I'm constantly moving them around from place to place. My school stuff gets switched in and out of my backpack every night depending on which classes I have the next day. My kickboard and pull buoy aren't necessary for my morning swim classes, but I do need them for Masters practice in the evenings. Two pairs of goggles, a towel, and a water bottle go to all 9 swim sessions and so get switched from backpack to duffel all the time. And the beat goes on. I'm amazed I haven't messed up yet... knock on wood...
I hope the family I was house-sitting for got home OK. They told me I could just feed the dogs this morning and then leave, and that they'd take care of them that night. So that's what I did, but I'd feel better if they'd have called, just to confirm that they made it. I have this image of the dogs eating the cats...
Speaking of eating, I need to stuff my face more often. Like I said, R and I ate like pigs yesterday, and I swam so well tonight. I was worried that I was eating too much, because it just went on and on and on - a bagel, then some yogurt, then some macaroni, then a Lean Pocket, then a protein bar, etc. etc. etc. I just didn't get that 'satisfied' feeling, and I was getting kind of concerned, but then this morning, after cereal, grits, a little chocolate, a protein bar, and pretzels, it finally all evened out and I felt 'normal' again. And, like I said, I swam great and felt really strong. I guess my body knows what it needs, even if I'm not smart enough to know it myself. :)
Oh, and my new jacket is wonderful; it must have been below 50 when I walked to practice tonight and I was absolutely fine. (Well, except for my toes, because I had the stroke of brilliance to wear flipflops.) That's my bargain of the month, hands down - less than $20 for that thing.
OK, well, I think I'll go watch a little TV with R and then go to bed.
Oh, yes - and to the asshole from Texas who somehow got his hands on my Visa info and has racked up $750 worth of crap? You better hope and pray I never find you.
Well, not one single one of you held me back like I asked :) ... so it turned into a rather nice shopping spree. Yes, I did get the requisite pair of Old Navy jeans :) which were discounted, and then Target was having a sale on all their workout clothes, so I spent forever in the dressing rooms trying on stuff. I scored a pair of black capris for under $9 and one of those Champion racerback tops I love for $14 (they're usually around $20). There was a second one I wanted, but it was full price and I didn't want to be all that crazy. Then I got a pair of dangly earrings and, my favorite, a really nice Champion jacket on sale for under $20. Sports Authority would have asked around $45 for this thing, I'd wager - it's fleece and microfiber, thin but nice and warm, and black with red stripes down the sides. I'm wearing it right now. :)
I can't make up my mind about the 'jeans system' at Old Navy. You have to choose between so many things! Waist size and leg length, sure, but then you have to choose the type of rise, the wash of the denim, the cut of the leg... it goes on and on. Sometimes I hate it that they can't just make things simple, but then other times I love it, because their jeans fit better than anyone else's and now that I know the system, I can usually just breeze right in there and grab my boot-cut short-leg low-waist vintage-wash stretch-fabric pants, try them in sizes 10 and 8, and know for sure that one of them will fit.
If I were in a more philosophical mood, I might start doing some type of social comparison, i.e. how complicated every aspect of our society has become, blah blah blah - but I'm hungry and I have to swim soon, so I'll let you all work it out for yourselves. :)
So, it being MLK Day and all, there's no school. This is, on one hand, very nice - it meant that when I woke up at 6:00, stumbled downstairs, sleepily drove across down, fed four hyper animals (for the last time!), and came back, that I could go back to bed instead of putting on my swimsuit, shouldering my backpack, and sleepwalking off to school. Yes, those extra three hours in bed were very nice.
Now, however, it's nearly 13:00 and I am bored out of my skull. I even cleaned my room, if you can believe that - the bed is made (with freshly washed sheets, thanks to R and her O'Connell Center laundry room access!), my books - both novels and textbooks - are neatly organized, all those old magazines and coupons are thrown out, last semester's school papers are either tossed or stacked, my backpack, swim bag, and purse are all organized and filled with the appropriate items (they tend to switch around during the course of the week - everything migrates to the backpack), my iPod is charging and playing in its gorgeous speaker dock, all of my clothes are freshly washed, sorted, folded, and hung up - and, the crowning touch, I even burned my pumpkin-scented candle for a while, so the room smells nice.
Yes, I'm doing pretty well. However, the question is: what do I do now? I could go for a run, but (a) my thighs are still a bit sore from Saturday, and (b) swim practice doesn't stop for holidays, so I'll be going there tonight. I don't want to wear myself out before the week even gets started. Last week I swam great on Monday and Tuesday, but it got worse as the week went on, probably because I wasn't eating enough. Swimming burns 600 calories an hour (or so I've read), which means I'm burning about 1200 a day, yet I tend to forget that I therefore have to eat more than usual. (The online calculators say I need about 2500 calories per day, but during the week I usually don't even crack 2000.) Oh, well, I've made up for it this weekend - yesterday, R and I did absolutely nothing but eat (much more than usual, for both of us - probably due to Saturday night) and watch movies. I finally saw Spiderman II, and it was great! (We tried to go see Meet the Fockers, but it was sold out, so we made a Blockbuster run instead.)
Aha! Brainstorm! H just came in and asked if I had an extra quarter for the washing machine. So I checked my wallet and I didn't, but I did find... the $25 ladybug-shaped Target gift card I got as a Christmas present! So I think I'll head over that way and see what they have in the way of racerback tank tops and cheap Friends and/or Sex in the City season DVDs. Ooh, and there's an Old Navy in that strip, too. Hold me back...!
Well, I've almost survived the whole house-sitting thing. I didn't sleep there last night because I was here at F's double birthday party (with another guy from the complex), so that was nice, but it meant I had to get up at six (after having gone to bed at 1.30) and go over there to feed the dogs. I feel kind of bad that I'm not exactly 'staying in the house', but it's not like someone's there all day anyway - the husband travels during the week, the baby of course goes to 'my' day care, and the wife has a full-time job too. When I think of it that way, I don't feel so bad. Still, I may try to sleep there again tonight, just to make myself feel like I sort of did something. (Hey, and I could wash my clothes for free!) I'm tired enough; sleep ought to come, regardless of all the unfamiliar noises.
The party was fun, though; it got started around eight, but R and I were lounging around the living room watching a Disney Channel movie (and reveling in the fact that we'd each found someone else who likes that channel. "That's not Brittany Murphy, is it?" "No - it's that girl from Phil of the Future." "Oh yeah, her." "...That's so cool that you know what I'm talking about!") so we didn't get there till ten or so. The vast majority of the people there were German students studying pharmacy, so R and I grabbed an Indian guy and a couple of American girls we met and made a 'non-German non-pharmaceutical' area. It was weird, because when we stood in the kitchen, it felt just like our own apartment (they're all laid out the same), but then when you turned around, all the furniture was in different places. Anyway, R and I pretty much just clung to each other all night (literally and figuratively... walking got somewhat more challenging later!) but we had a lot of fun. Most of the students in this complex are grad or Ph.D students, and so they have pretty flexible, free schedules. But both of us are so busy - R with massage school, coaching, and working out, me with a 19-credit undergrad schedule, a job, and swimming - that we not only don't get the chance to meet that many people from here, but we don't have a lot of time to hang out with each other, either - just when we plop down in the living room at night. So this was fun.
And apparently F had fun too, because she is still sleeping. Anyone want to place a bet on a wake-up time? :)
Anyway, Apollo 13 is on TV, so I'm going downstairs now. Oh, I love beginning-of-the-semester weekends with no homework obligations! :)
For those of you who are familiar with the UF campus, I just ran allllll the way down Museum Road (meaning from my apartment complex to the point where it dead-ends into Hull Road), then walked a bit, then ran some more, zigzagged off the campus and went down Archer, about to Shands; then walked the rest of the way. My estimation is about 5 miles total distance, and probably a little under 4 miles of that was running. Good for me. :)
And when I was leaving the Crazy House earlier, I found 5 euro in my (zippered) jeans pocket - from June. Maybe even earlier; I can't remember the last time I went anywhere without a purse and put money in those pockets. (The zippers tend to stick, so I try to avoid using the pockets.) Anyway, it's been washed so many times that it's almost completely severed in two. I hope I can keep it intact until August...
Another exciting kernel of news - R swam last night! She hasn't swum since her last race (in May) and hasn't really shown any desire to. I'm not sure what suddenly inspired her, but she got in and swam about 1000m with the masters team last night. Every single person who showed up said something to the effect of, "HEY! You're in the water!" and got all excited. I tried to downplay it and act as if it were normal ("Hey, how does it feel?" ... "Like s**t!") because I get the feeling that she's a little self-conscious. (She said the whole reason she got in was because there were only two people there - me and J, the girl I usually pace with - but then more showed up unexpectedly.) She couldn't even swim a whole 50 fly without getting tired, and she used to compete in the 200. But at first, when it was still just me and J and R in the water, the two of us were just watching her in admiration out of the corners of our eyes. Out of shape or not, her stroke still carries her so far and looks so graceful. J and I both sort of resented it that other people showed up, because then R started playing around with handstands and stuff, not wanting to 'perform for an audience'. We could have watched her all day.
Okay, I'm going to take a nap now, to make up for the sleep I missed last night thanks to whining dogs and puking cats. Then I'm going to go feed said whining dogs and puking cats, and then I'm coming back here for F's birthday party and sleeping here. I'll go back first thing in the morning - like 7.00 - but I'm not up for another night like last night.
I like animals as much as the next person. We had a corgi for about three years when I was a teenager (I say that like I'm ancient) and she was the coolest little dog ever. But for those people to whom I haven't already complained, I am house-sitting this weekend - not only for a house, but for two cats and two huge, noisy, galumphing dogs. (I don't believe I've ever used the word 'galumphing' before, but it just suits them.) And it sucks.
At first, I thought it would be OK. $25 a day to dump some food in bowls. But then they told me, "Well, we really prefer to have someone stay in the house, because of the animals." The dogs have a doggie door and the cats of course have a litter box, but apparently one of the dogs has a bad hip and one of the cats is seventeen years old, yes, seventeen.
Anyway, I agreed, even though it didn't sound like that much fun. I went over there yesterday morning for the 'tour', and the man mentioned in passing, "Yeah, we've had a couple, um, incidents where the dogs have, uh, taken out people they don't know." Yes, as in grabbed by the arm and thrown to the ground. Can you see my enthusiasm building here?
He then continued, "The food box says 'Sophee' on it, because we had a puppy - well, she was 18 months old, but she was our puppy - who died; we think she got into a poisoned rat; it happened to several dogs in the neighborhood..." I was making all the appropriate sympathy noises when he suddenly pointed to a little object on the table, which I had taken to be a decorative vase, and said, "Yeah - that's Sophee. My wife's not too happy with me, because I haven't gotten around to putting her in the ground yet."
Not a vase. An urn. Filled with the ashes of a cremated dog.
Don't even try to tell me that the infamous 'Meet the Parents' scene isn't the first thing that flashes through your mind.
Anyhow, last night was OK. I fed the dogs, went to swim practice, then went back to the house (and took an actual bath, which was wonderful). All the dogs want is to be fed and to get a little attention, and, wonder of wonders, they actually shut up when you tell them to. 'Hmm, this might be OK,' I thought. So what if the seventeen-year-old cat is meowing incessantly, so what if the automatic water dispenser and the humidifier are clicking rather loudly, who cares? I can sleep through anything, right?
Well, I went to bed around 23.00 and woke up not once, not twice, but four times during the night. 0.20, 1.40, 2.30, and then at 6.30 by the dogs whining for breakfast, at which point I laid awake muttering threats for a while, then got up to hunt for my clothes... only to find that the younger cat, the one who had not yet caused me any trouble, had puked on the bed.
Hmm. So that's why the ancient cat was so upset. The other one ate his food.
Thus ensued an oh-so-exciting fight with the washing machine, after which I left before anything else had a chance to happen.
AAAAAHHHHH!!! Have you guys read Dan Brown's Digital Fortress, about the big code-breaking agency, NSA? I read it at camp - was GLUED to it at camp - and it turns out that that agency actually exists and that they need language specialists! Of course, they don't need Dutch - nobody needs Dutch - but check this out:
NSA's Language Enhancement Program is an intensive program designed to train professional linguists in languages critical to national security.
Program participants learn new languages and expand upon current proficiencies. If you have professional proficiency in a language such as French, German [the structure is the same as Dutch], Italian, Portuguese, Russian, or Spanish, you will be trained in Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Farsi, Hindi, Korean, Pashto, or Urdu. If you already have some knowledge of Middle Eastern or Asian languages, you will have the opportunity to build upon that expertise.
Graduating foreign language students and professional linguists who join NSA and qualify for the program will begin training to work NSA missions. New NSA employees enjoy competitive salaries and may receive signing bonuses up to $7,500.
The program is taught by highly qualified instructors and consists of a combination of intensive classroom training and computer-based learning. Participants who complete the program will achieve NSA's Level Three proficiency status.
1.) Lifeguarding got canceled, but they signed me up for a second section of swimming in its place, so it's all good. Nine times a week, baby!
2.) R, H, and F (my housemates) can ALL make it to J-ville on Saturday the 29th for my one-day-early 21st-birthday dinner! This is a rare occurrence, that all four of us are free at once, so I'm really happy.
3.) I went to career counseling today and found out diddly squat. Possible careers for me, near as I can figure, are:
Have I forgotten anything? Please leave a comment if you have any ideas, or an opinion on the ideas I have. (Possible areas: travel, languages, writing, children, sports...) Yes, it is to the point where I could consider trusting a HaloScan comment box as to what to do with the rest of my life!
4.) I received a comment yesterday from Antonia, who is a Dutch speaker living in America. She thinks the non-Dutch speakers here may get confused by the dates being in Dutch (e.g. 'monday' = 'maandag'). I tend to think it doesn't matter - most of the days look reasonably similar to English and ALL of the months look the same, plus the date numbers are obviously a big clue - not to mention that the great blogging legend Belle de Jour used French dates - but please let me know if this is, in fact, confusing to you. Maybe I'm overestimating my dear readers' intelligence here. :) And Antonia, great to hear from you! I like your site, and your little boy is adorable! (Our of curiosity, where did you find my link?)
P.S. Why doesn't Blogger have a way to make it "12 januari" instead of "januari 12"? Then it would really be confusing (and correct!).
5.) R brought up the subject today of maybe getting an apartment together next year - she's been living here for 4 years now and is ready for a change. I'll be in Utrecht for the fall, but I'd definitely be in for something like that in the spring. She told me I'm the best roommate she's ever had (aww!) and I must say, likewise. After lazy K freshman year and self-centered S in Utrecht, R is a more than welcome step up.
6.) My financial aid is still not in, and I am bracing myself for a repeat of last semester. Don't know why it should be, but I'm getting that feeling. Cross your fingers for me.
Update: Semester at Sea is out the window. After some thought, there's just no way I can raise that much money. I'd be better served by taking the money I will get - probably about $7000, maybe a bit more - and using that for a nice semester in Utrecht. It works out nicely - like I said, I can go do that swim in Boston, then fly over, stay until just before Christmas, come back, and have my last semester here. I'll be in a place I know, where I have friends, where I know the language, and where I can swim, plus I can use the time to check out career opportunities with the language (whether that's with an airline, an embassy, or something entirely different). Plus I can take CINIAC-level Dutch at Boswell, as well as Spanish - I have no more required courses, so I can do essentially whatever I want. Plus, I can live in a house with other Dutch students, and I'll have a student card which will get me into Olympos, the sports center, so I can swim.
See - it all works out! Even though I won't get to see Venezuela and South Africa... snik snik... :'(
OK, I've got my "spring semester life" pretty much worked out now. I dropped Spanish 2201 because it was too easy and the teacher didn't spend as much time speaking Spanish as she was supposed to. After a few days of biting my nails, I got permission today to audit 2240 - the first class in the major/minor series. What that means is that I'm not officially registered so I don't pay for the class, nor do I have to write papers or take tests - I just go to class whenever I can and sit and participate - 'soak up the language' if you will. Today was the first day and it's working out well so far.
So, Spanish is worked out, my three linguistics courses are all fascinating, lifeguarding looks like it's going to NOT be dropped, math is, well, math, and I passed my 200-yard swim test with a 3:06 this morning when I only needed 4:30. So go me, and go UF for having awesome linguistics classes this time around.
Guess what - I just found out from a new (Dutch) e-mail friend, J, that my site is on Google now! If you type 'jess1only' - not that anyone would - I'm the first result! So go search for it! :)
I decided one other thing today - about Semester at Sea. Now that we're actually into the spring semester, it's not going to be that long until we have to choose our fall 2005 classes. I need to know before then what I'm going to be doing this fall - otherwise I'm going to end up stuck here with no schedule. Nothing is certain yet, but it's extremely unlikely that I'll be able to scrape another $10k together for Semester at Sea. My supposed 'full scholarship' only comes to about $4000. Add a $1000 CLAS scholarship and a $2000 UFIC scholarship, both of which I'm pretty sure I'll get, and we've got $7k, and I figure my parents and I together could make up $3k. So I've got $10k pretty much for sure, but I can't count on any of the other scholarships. If I get a fat one from Semester at Sea itself - one of the merit-based grants for $5000, say - then I might have a shot at it, but without that, this isn't going to happen.
I still need to make some calls and figure out WHEN exactly I'll know all this stuff, but the bottom line is, if SAS doesn't pan out, I'll go back to Utrecht for the semester. I can't go for the year because I have to graduate in the first week of May and the Dutch semester doesn't end until the beginning of July, but what I'd like to do is go do that 10-mile swim in Boston on 6 August, then fly from there to the Netherlands, stay until mid-December, then come home for Christmas and my last semester at UF. Money-wise, that's a lot more appealing - even with the horrible exchange rate, $1.36 = 1 euro! - but I can't shake the nagging, "You will never get this chance again!" thoughts about SAS, either. So we'll see. I'm going to give them a call as soon as I'm done here.
I am absolutely zonked. I've been getting tired a lot faster than usual the past couple of days - guess it's a combination of jetlag, getting over a cold, and shoving my body back into an exercise rhythm it seems to have forgotten over the break. But pulling (swimming with a buoy between your legs, using only your arms for forward motion) felt really good tonight - I got through the rough point, when your shoulders start to burn, and got my second wind and must have done over 1000m of it. Strange that R has such a developed upper body and yet still prefers to kick rather than pull, whereas my strength is in my legs and yet I prefer to pull. Weird.
Anyway, I love H, our new roommate; we ended up having a long conversation this afternoon after I helped her figure out the washing machines. I also met S, the new Dutch teacher; I was still on campus during 8th period so I dropped by at the end just to say hi. I introduced myself and said I had just been curious to see who was teaching this semester. She thought I was Dutch - couldn't believe it when I said I wasn't. It was nice to hear that, since I've been sort of 'fighting' with my accent lately... that's always the first thing to go if I don't speak for a while. But apparently I've got a handle on it again now. Anyway, she's really sweet (and speaks 'normal' ABN instead of M's weirdly-accented speech from last semester!) and immediately asked for my e-mail address and told me it would be great if I would come to class whenever I could. She's got the usual problem of having several different levels in the class, plus they're all apparently pretty shy and reluctant to speak up, so she's trying to recruit every Dutch speaker she knows to put in an appearance.
Further notes from today:
Language and Dialect, the class I was unsure about, is turning out to be really interesting. I really lucked out with teachers this semester; they're all awesome!
After consultations with 4 different Spanish teachers, I'm trying to audit SPN 2240 instead of 2201, but I'm having trouble getting ahold of the teacher. I may just have to go to the class on Monday and hope for the best.
M, a fellow linguistics major and swimmer, just grabbed a free space in my Aerobic Swimming class! Yay!
Two of my textbooks, including one that I need ASAP, are apparently nowhere to be found in Gainesville. I almost died from all the walking today. Next stop: Amazon.com...
I'm going home tomorrow to do mega-laundry from my trip. See you Sunday night.
How about this: I'm back in the States. Although I still feel like I have a bit of a double life. I love being here, in Gainesville, with my friends and my swimming and my laptop and my little bedroom full of scented candles and my car and all that. But I love being in the Netherlands, too - speaking another language 24/7, taking the trains and buses everywhere, seeing all my friends over there whom I neglect far too often, eating European chocolate, seeing snow, etc. etc. etc. I stand by my declaration that I could happily live in either country; however, I still want to stay here in America (except for Semester at Sea) for the next year and a half. I definitely haven't ruled out the Dutch master's program yet, though - on one hand, I still really want to do that, since it would mean I have a definite time when I'll be back. At the moment, that's up in the air, and I hate that. Breaking up with M was the right decision for me, but 'achteraf gezien' it also means giving up my strongest 'link' to NL, which stinks. Not that that's a reason to stay with someone, but still. Bah.
Anyway, the Orlando airport was just awful, echt een bende - first an enormous line for customs (27 lines for foreigners and just 3 for American citizens), then a ridiculous line to get inspected and get out of the baggage claim area once I had my bag, then we had to give the bags BACK so they could be transported to the main terminal (I know, I don't get it either) and then a HUGE line (I'm talking 45 minutes) to go through yet another security inspection - shoes off, carry-ons on the belt, etc. All this just to GET OUT of the airport - I didn't have a connecting flight or anything, I just wanted to LEAVE. Sigh.
On top of which, the fact that I have a cold meant that my ears both closed up upon landing. The right one opened up a couple of hours later, as I was getting in the car, but the left one didn't open until this morning. Normally, when that happens on a plane, you yawn and swallow a few times and they clear up. So I was trying to yawn, and it was causing me a LOT of pain - it would pop, all right, but then it just stayed closed; I was essentially deaf on one side. So I decided to just leave it alone, but in Cracker Barrel I was starting to get really tired and I forgot about the don't-yawn thing... and it popped so horribly that I reflexively bent over and grabbed my head with both hands, then started crying from the suddenness of it all - it felt like someone had jammed a red-hot needle through my eardrum. Anyway, Mom and I found some earache drops at Wal-Mart and then I went to the health care center on campus the next day, and it's 99% better now (still crackles a little when yawning), so all's well that ends well, I guess.
And then we got home that night and I was in such a fog that I started speaking Dutch to my dad - I don't even remember what I said; I think I asked if his pajamas were new or something. I hadn't spoken English in two and a half weeks and the first hour or two were really difficult; I kept trying to use Dutch expressions and word order, and I was so tired that I couldn't be bothered to fix it half the time. It all made sense to ME, after all. At Cracker Barrel, I offered to drive for a little while so Mom could have a break, and she said, "No, you're jet-lagged and loopy." But at that point, I was actually wide awake - I was just coming across as loopy because I couldn't talk properly. LOL. But it was pretty funny, or at least I thought so.
Anyway, there are a million other things I could put down about those 24 hours - going horseback riding with the other M (which was a lot of fun; I hadn't ridden since June, when I was still living in Utrecht, so it was great to do it again), getting up in the dark to take the train to Schiphol, desperately searching for duty-free Christmas presents for my dad, talking the ear off a college girl from Tampa who was making the same trip I was, getting a horrible sinus headache on the plane, finally getting home and opening my Christmas presents (o.a. geld, een horloge en vanille-bloem parfum) ten days late, etc. etc. etc. But this entry would then be way too long, so I'll move on to my classes, which so far are, afkloppen, WONDERFUL. Here they are:
Language and Culture. The teacher has very strict rules about EVERYTHING - right down to what the subject line has to contain if you e-mail him - but he's very energetic and fun. One of the books we have to have is called How Babies Talk: The First Three Years; I usually sell my books back to the university to scrape up a few dollars, but I think I'm going to keep that one, because that's one topic of linguistics that I'm extremely interested in.
Language and Dialect. I'm not sure yet how this class is going to be. The teacher is a large red-haired woman who seems friendly enough, and the topics sound pretty interesting. Yet we're required to have FOUR textbooks for this class... so that might not bode well. But we shall see.
Spanish 2201. I'm just auditing this class because I'm too overqualified (7 on my IB exam, 5 on my AP exam, and 720 on my SAT II) to take it for credit. Not only that, but it would replace the grades for the 3000-level classes I already took, and I obviously don't want to do that. So I'm just going to go sit in the class and not get a grade for it, because all I really wanted was some basic, structured conversation practice, and that's what I'll be getting, so it all works out.
Aerobic Swimming. L, a swimming friend of R's from Barbados, is teaching this class. She, too, has strict rules, but that's okay - I don't want it to be easy. On Monday we have to do a swim test - 200 yards in 4:30 or less. We're not allowed to be in the class if we can't finish in that time frame. It won't be a problem for me - I should finish at a little under 4 minutes, I think - but it might scare some others off. So much the better.
Lifeguarding. I had this class for the first time this morning, but it may be dropped because there are too few people in it. 10 people came on Tuesday, when I wasn't here, and six of them dropped it, so today the remaining four came, plus me. And of those five, two didn't pass the swim test (which was very easy, 500 yards with no time limit), so they can't take the class. This one sorority girl just lowered herself about halfway into the water and then started whining, just like my little campers, "Ohhh, it's too cold, I can't breathe, no, I really can't breathe, I'm not gonna do this," and got back out again. Keep in mind that this was an indoor pool. Of course it's a little cool when you first get in; it has to be, otherwise all the people doing workouts would die of heatstroke. Grow up. The other one who didn't finish was a guy, which surprised me - maybe that's sexist, but I have never known a guy to sign up for something like lifeguarding if he knew he couldn't swim well. Anyway, the instructor, C, told us that there was no time limit and that we shouldn't go too fast, but that if we didn't finish in ten minutes or less, that we should make some time to get in the pool a few times a week to improve. I was the only one who beat ten minutes - 8:49 - the next girl had 10:55 and the other one was even slower, 12-something I think. I hope they never have to save me. But anyway, the class may be dropped because there are only 3 of us now. I hope not, because the other sections don't fit in my schedule. We'll see. Otherwise maybe I can just take it at UNF again when I go home in May.
Math for Liberal Arts Majors. I put off taking a math class for two and a half years; the time has finally come. I need it for Gen Ed credit. But it's really a joke. We're doing things like sets and Venn diagrams. The only hard thing so far has been remembering what all the set symbols mean - the upside-down U means 'or', the vertical line means 'such that', etc. etc. etc. But the math itself is so far wonderfully easy. Hope it stays that way. The class is incredibly boring, but hey, it gets one more pesky red entry off my online degree audit and makes it green. That's all that counts.
English and its Relatives. This, I think, will be my favorite of the academic classes this semester; all about the Germanic language family. I definitely have the feeling that I'm going to learn a lot and that it's going to be really interesting. The actual professor I have not yet met, but the professor who will be teaching with him, a German guy (who was raised here and speaks better English than most Americans I know), taught our two-hour class today, and he is awesome - makes a lot of jokes and has a gift for condensing long gobbledygook into an actual understandable sentence. My mind did not wander once, and with a two-hour block, that's saying something. And, the icing on the cake, he speaks Dutch, albeit not perfectly and with a heavy American-with-a-tinge-of-German accent. I went up to him during the break and asked with a smile, "U spreekt dus ook Nederlands?" "Een beetje, hoop ik," he laughed back, and we got into a long discussion (still in Dutch) about Flemish people versus Dutch people and how eager they are to speak English. (The 'u', by the way, did not last long... that's the formal form, like 'ustedes' in Spanish, and I was already using 'je' by my second sentence. I used 'u' with all my Dutch professors, but it didn't feel right with this guy; he's just too approachable for that.) So anyway, that's really cool for me.
And, in other news, we have a new roommate, H, and she's from... Utrecht! I haven't spent a lot of time with her yet, but she's very sweet. She's staying for all of spring semester, so the only change now will be F, our German roommate who is leaving in (I think) March.
I swam twice today - once for that 500-yard lifeguarding swim test, and again this evening for R. I didn't do the whole 3000 meters - just 2200 or so - but it felt good to be back in the water, echt een opluchting. I felt pretty heavy and clumsy during the sprints - three weeks without swimming does more damage than you'd think - but it did get better. In a couple of weeks I should be back to where I was before I left.
Okay, this entry is long enough now. I thought about chopping it into two, and putting the class descriptions in another entry, but I'll just leave it like this. Knock yourselves out.