Archive for the ‘NaBloPoMo’ Category

A Memory Like a ….?

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

I was watching Grey’s Anatomy last night (ya, ya, keep your judgements to yourself) and for some reason it reminded me that for a brief period in my life I thought I wanted to be a doctor.

There are many reasons why this would have never worked, but probably the most basic is that I have absolutely no memory for proper nouns. I never have. Even as a child it took me forever to remember someone’s name. Names, places, dates (hahahahahah dates!) all are mostly inaccessible from my brain. (My amazing grandmother could tell you every date in our family history…births, deaths, major events. I guess as far as that lineage goes, I am, as Scar would say, at the shallow end of the gene pool.)

I’m fine with common nouns I use every day, but anything out of the ordinary takes ages to remember, if at all. Can you just imagine me in a medical situation?

The patient is coding, the nurse turns to me and says “Doctor, what should we do?” I look at him and say, “Inject his central line with…, um, yeah, you know, that thing that will keep him from dying.”

I managed to make it through school as I have quite a good “extended” short-term memory. For a day or two I can carry facts around like a water pitcher filled to the brim. Carefully I would make my way to school, only spilling a few nouns on the way, and then sit down to the exam. I would open the exam book with gusto and pour the knowledge all over the page. And then it was pretty much gone. Oh, I’d soak up a few drops of information from the saturated paper, and these facts would even occasionally jump on the synapse train to make it into my long-term memory (mixed metaphor!). But mostly, the information was completely gone.

I do have a fantastic memory for concepts, and am also talented at taking two concepts and finding a connection between them that is interesting and useful, so things like English Literature and business management are fine. But anything where I’m responsible for a schwack of proper nouns? Forget it.

But I guess we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Even you. Yes you, over there. Whatever your name is.

A Lovely Day, and Yet….

Friday, November 19th, 2010

I’m in a foul mood. And I have absolutely no good reason, except perhaps that I’m on antibiotics which tend to sap my energy and make me feel slightly nauseous.

But other than that, it was a great day. Annie and I played before school, my German class went well, I picked Annie up from school early and then Ana (from Montenegro Ana) made us a fantastic lunch. After a nice long visit Annie and I went into town and caught the last bit of the opening of one of outdoor skating rinks. Even though the rink is really just this dinky thing, everything becomes an event here with fire dancers, live musicians, a singer suspended from a wire, and sweet girls skating around.

I have absolutely no reason to be cranky. And yet here I am. I’m just going to blame the moon (in whatever cycle it is) and go watch a movie. Blech.

This weekend the Christmas Market opens. I love, love, love the Christmas Market. Happier posts to come soon. Promise.

How Games are Born

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

The few nights ago when I was reading Annie a story, I switched up some of the words. Like “If you give a pig some ketchup…” instead of “pancake.” She would laugh and tell me the right answer.

Tonight she asked if I could read her a “teasing book”. It took me a few seconds, but I realized this game of substituting words was what she wanted. We read and she corrected my “teasing” and had a good laugh. I have a feeling that we’ll be reading books like this for quite some time to come.

What Am I Doing Here?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

I’m under the weather today, so dipped into Twitter to get an idea for a post. It totally made me laugh, as today’s suggestion is “How did you end up where you’re living right now? What factors will help you choose the next place you live?” Besides being a virtual shrine to Annie, this blog is pretty much all about where I live, how I ended up here, and where I might be going next. Or at least, where I might be going next plays large in my mind, even though I may not write about it as often.

Followers and friends have as much information from this blog about how I ended up in beautiful Innsbruck as I do, so I won’t go into that. So what factors will determine where next we live?

To start, somewhere that I feel comfortable. I think I’ve had enough adventure and life growth experiences for a bit.  Also somewhere both Markus and I can easily work. I’m sure I could find some job here, but when I think of looking for a great career, it gets confusing fast with work visas, language issues, and childcare choices. This part of Innsbruck sometimes feels like it is back in the 1950’s, as I can’t think of a single family with young children where both parents work full-time. It just isn’t really done here, so the system is not well set-up for full-day care.

Obviously I’m not moving anywhere where English or German is not the main language. At 41 my brain is tired and slow and clearly not up to this foreign-language thing.

Markus would need to be able to find a great opportunity, and Annie would need a solid school system for this next phase of her life. (I’m pretty sure home schooling would kill us both!)

Overall, I really think most likely we will either stay here or move back to the West Coast of Canada. I just don’t see us starting totally from scratch with friends and community at this point. Never say never, of course, but that is what my sense is at the moment. In any case, we are here for at least 2 more years until Markus can give the cafe a real chance. After that, well, you’ll know as soon as I do!

Waste not…

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Ryan, in typical Ryan fashion, sent me a rather interesting blog post idea. He forwarded me a link to this image:

Typical North American urinal

He went on to say: “Likely, as a woman, this sight is quite unfamiliar to you. Using round numbers, NA guys see this 2-3 mins. day. I’ve been an adult 20 years so I’ve been awkwardly staring at the fact that 1 gallon = 3.8 liters for easily 200-300 hours.  In fact, a member of the first cohort of the Canadian ‘metrification’, gallons to litres remains the *only* imperial to metric measure I have clearly memorized.”

You seriously crack me up Ryan!

His other point is that apparently American Standard monopolizes NA urinals, while there are a wide variety on offer in Europe. I, obviously, wouldn’t know. What I do know is that when I first toured our new apartment, I was shocked to see this in the main floor guest bathroom:

This is IN MY HOUSE!

I’m not exactly sure why, but urinals make me think of hockey arenas and beer-swilling drunk men. (Must be some scarring experience in childhood I’ve repressed.) They totally gross me out. Markus tries to tell me that they are actually more hygenic than normal toilets. Whatever…if he wants to use it, he can clean it, that’s all I’m saying.

What I do find absolutely confounding, though, is that the regular toilets here have flat bottoms instead of having a bowl-shape like in NA. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but just think about the implications of that for a second. Let’s just say that the toilet brush gets a lot more use here than in NA.

An even more oddly, our newly renovated apartment has three toilets, two of which have a flat bottom and one which is a regular bowl shape. They all look new as far as I can tell. Why would the owners mix it up like that? You would think someone would have a preference for one type or the other and stick with it.

Oh, I could go on…but I can hear the Internet pleas to stop already. I’ll sum up then by saying that this illustrates one of the many, many differences that I never imagined having to deal with. Sometimes the world isn’t as “global” as we would like to think.

My Hood

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Good friend Stacey requested some photos of our new home. I thought that would be a great blog post idea, until I realized that this would require the house to be in a state worthy of having pictures taken that I was willing to post to the Internet. Let’s just say that this level of tidiness happens, um, not every day.

So instead Markus, Annie and I headed out for a short walk behind our house and took some photos. I just love the views from our neighbourhood, Arzl.

Much of our view from our yard is blocked by an old house, but you can see a couple of mountains if you stand in just the right place.

Select view from our yard.

The lane beside our house

At the end of the lane

A short walk up the lane begins a path that first snakes through the cow pastures and then merges with the larger mountain system of trails.

Annie and I by the cow pasture

Pretty Innsbruck tucked in the mountains

Pretty Innsbruck tucked in the mountains

This last picture turned out to be a bit boring. I was trying to capture the awesome hill that I think will be perfect for Annie to slide down on her plastic Rutschblatt. (What do you call it is English? Magic carpet?) I’m hoping the path leading through the pasture is kept up, as I can see many afternoons of Annie and I climbing up and sliding down, and climbing up and sliding down. Repeat until one of us loses the feeling in our toes or bum.

I do miss the views of the ocean, but the mountains are a close substitute in terms of beauty. For all of our personal trials, it is hard not to feel blessed to live in this part of the world. Maybe not forever, but I’m enjoying it while we are here.

Under the Wire

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Today I made a couple of birthday cards, crafted a bit with Annie, and went to Nicole’s for an early American Thanksgiving food fest. Now I’m tired and full and tired, tired, tired. Good night.

Laternenfest 2010

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Another sweet afternoon put on by Annie’s kindergarten for Laternenfest 2010. She was a little put off by her row partner, but other than that, it was lovely.

Annie and Alexander

Lanterns are lit

The gang starts to line up

Singing in the pavillion

Family Time

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

This evening Markus was home for dinner, which doesn’t happen every night. I made a chicken, rice and broccoli and we all had fun eating together.

Annie was complaining about the chicken (she would rather just eat the skin), so Markus made her close her eyes, open her mouth and he put some food in, which she ate. Then she asked to play this game more. Mystery Food is a game that Markus and Rebecca used to play, and it is fun seeing it all come around again.

Annie had a grape, a radish, some balsamic vinegar and a candy. For Markus’ turn Annie and I gave him a slice of lemon, an alcohol-filled chocolate, and raisins. I’m the wimp of the family, so they were nice to me with only an orange slice and a spoonful of Nutella.

As an adult, when she thinks back to being a child, I’m sure it is these simple times and experiences that Annie will always remember. And that makes me very, very happy.

Dangerous Disneyland

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

I was reading a Dooce post about a television series centered around Americans house-hunting in a foreign country. One episode’s couple were looking at an upper-floor apartment in Paris and, seeing that there were no screens on the window, asked how to keep their child from falling to his death. The real estate agent said to them, you tell him not to jump out the window and he will not jump out the window. As expected, there ensued a long conversation on the post comments about whether or not Americans overprotect their children.

This is something I struggle with almost daily. There is no doubt that parents here are much less controlling with their children. Small children ride a bike, take the bus, or walk to school on their own. Teenagers from about 13 or 14-years-old spend Saturday night walking around the city center until well past midnight. And parents talk to each other (and smoke, of course) on the playground, letting their children go off and play by themselves. When I mention that I have a running anxiousness in my brain, always looking around the corner for where the next lurker is hiding ready to steal Annie, they look at me like I’m nuts.

Sometimes it gets stupid. The culmination was when I saw a man, his child of about 6 on the back of his bike, neither of them wearing helmets, talking on a cellphone, running a red light. Super. My friend, Nicole, and I have an automatic response when we see this type of thing: “safety third!”Austria’s unofficial motto. Lack of fences around dangerous areas, no helmets, construction going on millimeters from pedestrians.

I guess a less paternalistic attitude could lead to children being more independent and able to solve their own problems. And I am more relaxed about always keeping an eye on Annie than I used to be (although that could just be a function of her getting older.) But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to adopt the 1950’s attitude of kicking the kids out the door and telling them to be home in time for dinner. And frankly, I’m O.K. with that. Although I guess we’ll see how it goes when she is the only child wearing a bike helmet in her school. I see some heated fights in our future…but hopefully no trips to the emergency ward. A good trade, I say.