Here's what I can say, guys: living abroad makes you so strong that you can do ANYTHING. Any freaking thing. On Monday, I sat in a meeting in which I understood approximately 48% of what was happening. I took some notes. I jotted phrases and vocab down. And most importantly, I didn't freak out. Because you know what? I've been in conversations where I've understood far less and lived to tell about it!
I can't even tell you how valuable language skills have been over the past few days. Everyday I learn a few new vocab words (widget, XML, http) and the next day I'm able to follow that much more of the conversations around me. I felt it today in the meeting- my brain would hear something that only two days ago was unfamiliar and today it recognized the signals and let me understand a bit deeper.
The guys (and a few girls!) that I work with are all linguists themselves, no buts about it. I watch them move effortlessly between computer languages all day and they don't even realize how similar they are to the trilingual 4-year olds I was working with at the old job just last week. Coding isn't part of my job, but I have to understand some basic idea of how all of this works, partially because I need to 'get' it to sell it. And partially because it's kind of fascinating.
My dweebification is almost complete. Feel free to mock; at least I made it past Middle School.
Anna showed me into the massage room and pointed to a chair, where I was supposed to leave all my clothes and my jewelry. Then I was instructed to lie down on the table under the towel and she would be back in two minutes. "Two minutes, okay?" she said, for emphasis.
So I do everything she says, strip down and start taking out my earrings when one of the earring backs flies off into the abyss. "SHIT," I muttered, now crouched on all fours looking for it. But then I remember. "Two minutes!" The very last thing I want is for Anna to walk in on me crawling around naked on the floor when I am supposed to be gently relaxing on the damn table. I cut my losses, hopped up on the table, and got to work looking peaceful, not with two seconds to spare.
Despite the mini-trauma, the massage ended up as my favorite thing in 2008 so far (and 2007 and 2006...). If you haven't tried one yet (and who are we kidding- if you don't live in New York and you're not Paris Hilton, odds are you haven't...), you absolutely must. I am pretty sure I got close to understanding the universe during those 55 minutes, at least closer than I ever have with Yoga.
This morning I took the elevator up 30 flights to my first day of work. My ears popped. I felt like I should be served peanuts and a complimentary drink on the way up. The corner office I share with two nice guys gives pretty spectacular views of Manhattan.
Nice background for a travel-loving girl, I'll tell ya...
There was one guy in our class who was accepted to West Point and, instead of having summer vacation like the rest of us, he was headed to boot camp the day after graduation. That's the way the military works here; they accept you and then they steal you away before a summer of Italian Ices and girls in skirts change your mind.
Tomorrow is my last day at work and I feel like the guy who's headed off to the military the next day. I'm excited for my new job, but so burned out from the past four weeks that I can't even fathom being in another mindset on Monday morning. I tasted summer vacation this afternoon as I drove back to the office after lunch; the windows were down and the radio was blasting and I could almost feel the freedom of the last days of classes.
I scheduled a spa day for Saturday in the hopes of convincing myself that I have more than two days between jobs. Maybe a pedicure and massage will jumpstart my battery. Or if all else fails, there's always tomorrow night's champagne celebration with the girls. Champagne always seems to get things rolling...
So tonight at dinner we're talking about my new cell phone and the subject of ICE casually comes up...
Mom: ICE? What's that?
Me: You know, it's for emergencies. We talked about this.
Dad: Yeah, I have that in my phone in case I get run over while I'm riding my bike.
Me: MOM. We talked about this! I was crossing 3rd avenue. I distinctly remember the conversation.
Mom: Well there's a funny thing... when you call, it says ICE after your name. I always though that was something to do with your job.
Me: Yeah, Mom. Jen ICE. Cause I'm a RAPPER.
Me: Would you go to a Dashboard Confessional reunion concert with me*?
Goldie: Wait, did they break up?
Me: No. Maybe. I have no idea. But if they did and then they got back together, would you go?
Goldie: (hesitates) Maybe. But only if I'd just broken up with my boyfriend.
Me: Right, only if your boyfriend cheated on you with your next-door neighbor. Or your sister.
Goldie: That's the only way to be angry enough for their concerts.
*NKOTB is doing a reunion tour and neither Sarah or Goldie want to go. Much to my chagrin.
Sometimes when I start these monthly letters, I feel like Posh Spice writing to her son. Can you imagine if she had a blog and wrote to him, documenting the changes and experiences of the past month? "Dear Brooklyn, This month your Daddy made seven trillion dollars by posing in his underwear and appearing on billboards. Love, Posh-Mama."
Well Brooklyn, my Brooklyn, no one I know made seven trillion dollars this month and I sure as hell didn't strip down to my skinnies and smile for Times Square. What did happen this month is that I GOT A NEW JOB and I QUIT MY OLD JOB, two big events that warrant Lifetime for Women movies at some point in my future. My new job is with a software start-up in midtown (my commute drops to 25 minutes instead of 90! score!) and I'll be doing Communications and Marketing for them, among other things yet to be named. Maybe I'll even take photos for them while the company competes in an Iron Chef competition. Oh wait, I already did.
It could have been the warmer weather or the higher ratio of sunny days to cloudy crap, but my camera has gotten a work-out in recent weeks. Spending more time in Manhattan has been giving me the opportunity to take photos in a way that reminds me of living in Paris... it must have something to do with living and working in a big city that accounts for the butt load of inspiration I feel just walking down the street.
I've also been investigating Brooklyn more this month, delving into some unknown parts. Just in time too, because our dear Sarah Mclo has decided to move out at the end of May. She won't be moving that far (and clearly I have no ground to stand on because I pick up and move continents on her all the time). The apartment that she'll be sharing with Justin is within walking distance from our current place, so I feel pretty good about that. Because you never know when an emergency could come up, like "MUST WATCH THE FELICITY BOGGLE EPISODE NOW!" This happens more often than you think.
This month has been busy, socially speaking, and I was lucky enough to brunch with Erica this past weekend and show her around my borough. We've gone in totally different directions since I left Clermont in 2004 and it's a crazy mind-bender to talk with her about where we've been and where we're going. It's also fantastic to hear the news of all of our friends who come from CF; it reminded me of how my uncles catch my Mom up when we go to rural Pennsylvania to visit family. So many of the local legends have remained in our lives (to one extent or another), and catching up on the Promenade connected me back to our beloved Auvergne again.
I poked around the CD collection in the library and found some familiar names (Tetes Raides, Dionysos, etc.) and wondered if any of you living in la Francia right now could recommend some modern French music? Leave any and all recommendations in the comments section.
A new brown logo and small coffee is not a Venti-surprise, not on any level, folks. Didn't it make you mad?
You know you are a little bit non-New Yorker when you wish you had a sandwich to give to the homeless guy sitting down the subway car, resting his head on his duffel bag to get some sleep. A sandwich or a job.
First one is scheduled for Saturday, May 3.
Are you local? Want to come? Check us out (and email me if you want to be included on the Evites).