October 16, 2011

Hooked on phonics

I'm not sure whether it's luck, timing or some kind of impressive stress response, but sometime during our moving-stravaganza, L has clicked on the concept of phonics, and now he's trying to read everything. Street signs, the yogurt container, graffiti on the train - suddenly they're really interesting, and we need to talk about what they say Right Now.

He loves to have us read to him, and had gotten really good (back when we lived in the Old Country) at lying in bed looking at books in the morning, but had always insisted that he did not want to learn how to read himself. "It's too hard" and "You can read to me!" were the most common reasons, but I think mostly it was just that he didn't get it - this shape makes a sound? Except in English, where it makes a different sound?

He's also trying really hard to make English "th" and "r" sounds, which he hadn't gotten a lot of practice doing in German, and he's trying hard to disentangle prepositions (he was using an all-purpose "where", pronounced "whirr", to mean "that", "which", "who" and "where"), so it's language development central over here. I have this nagging feeling the English development is coming at the expense of German, since we really haven't been using it since we left, and I feel guilty about that. He learned so much! Curse you, ridiculously high tuition at the bilingual private school!

October 11, 2011

I'm not calling it karma

...because that would imply that there's something we could do to change it. C and I are fated, destined, dooooooomed to turn up in new countries on holidays, apparently it is just something that we do. I can't imagine what would cause that as a karmic repercussion - not taking enough vacation? Being too self-centered with our ambitious "plans" and "lists" and "need to get an apartment"?

We got to Germany at the beginning of October, and just when we were in the time zone enough to go out and deal with business things (like open a bank account so we could get moved into the apartment we'd arranged), oh yeah! It's reunification day! We didn't tell you because everyone knows that. Three-day weekend! Having our plans brought up short by reunification day was actually a theme for us, I think it happened every year we lived there.

We got here October 1st as well, and I laughed when we saw a note that Daylight Savings time started the first night we were here, because I thought that was this move's version of the welcome-to-town holiday. Not so fast! The 3rd was Labour Day (which I only realized after seeing signs about the "October long weekend" and having a familiar sinking feeling), so no apartment hunting, no opening a bank account, no dealing with Serious Important Things. We put the to-do list down and went to the aquarium instead, and I thought, look how much grace and flexibility we're showing here.

And then we needed to call our US bank, and it was Columbus Day, and hardly anyone even gets Columbus Day off any more, but banks do, and it was at that point that I started pulling out my hair. We've got an apartment, though (got the keys today!), so things are looking up.

October 10, 2011

Hey you guys, we moved to the other side of the planet

Man. MAN. We had a housecooling party 6 weeks ago, went off to the farm/hotel in the mountains, packed up and left the place we had been living for almost exactly 3 years, and I'm just now starting to *feel* like we've moved to this new place.

We spent 3 weeks back home, staying with family and catching up with all the people we rely on as our local roots, and then we went to Disneyland (and anti-MouseCorp me had more fun than expected, mostly because L had a blast and was tall enough for all the rides, and is on a major Star Wars kick lately, and I got to go on Star Tours 4 times), and then we went to LAX for a looooooong direct flight and now we're here.

But we're in a hotel, and we're getting dressed out of suitcases in the morning, so it still feels like the mode of the whole last month - temporary, on to the next adventure soon - but we're picking up the keys for an apartment tomorrow, and we've been getting used to the neighborhoods, and learning the bus routes, and once we've got the apartment livable (beds, fridge) there's the elementary school to call...

So this is home, huh? So far it's been great.

June 6, 2011

Relief, mostly

So after a job search that started last September, during which I sent research proposals, statements of teaching philosophy and curricula vitae to distinguished institutions from Victoria, BC to the south of France (and during which I threatened to apply for a job in Finland, but that was mostly to get a reaction out of C), I have a job! A pretty good job, actually, where they seem really interested in my work. All I have to do is move to the complete other side of the planet, again, with C and L in tow, again, and then in 3+ years I'll start looking for a new job, again.

This is a huge opportunity, and I hope I can make the most of it. Right now I'm feeling some whiplash from the sudden change in perspective from a discouraged thinking-through of backup plans (work for Google? go off-grid and raise llamas? teach high school?) to excited what-ifs, watching travel shows about the new city, trying to picture L with the new accent, and an all-in commitment to my research. The structure of academic science is terrible, and there is nowhere near enough room at the top of the food chain for all of the people down at my level, but that's kind of neither here or there right now: it's time to go do my best, because that's what I like doing. Whether or not I get the job I want next time I go through the grinder, the next few years are going to be worth it.

May 10, 2011

New perspective

I had a realization the other day that surprised me. I tend to get carried away when I'm worried about things (no, I knew that already, that's not a surprise), and back when L was a baby, I would worry sometimes that I was going to be a terrible parent because of all the stuff I didn't already know. I got really hung up on not understanding elementary school-aged kids, and when I told C that I was going to be a bad parent! because I don't know anything about 10-year-olds! he told me "you do have ten years to figure that out".

L just hit the halfway point in that timeline, and it occurred to me that "big kids" are a lot less incomprehensible than they used to be. I can see ways that they're just bigger kindergartners, and aspects in which they're totally different from littler kids, but I can picture L getting there from here.

January 21, 2011

I am a terrible hippie

I have a left-of-center self-image: anticonsumerist, feminist, pro-social justice, quasi-vegetarian, local-food fan. I joke with C that living in Northern California turned me into a hippie, or at least brought out my latent hippie tendencies. I was killing time in H&M yesterday (waiting for a bus in there rather than out in the cold), and encountered something I think of as a significant dent in my hippie-ness: a surprisingly intense love for military-style jackets. Seriously, don't ever watch Das Boot with me if you want to hear the dialogue, follow the plot, or do anything other than talk about how unbelievably hot the costumes are. And the jackets were half price! The only reason I didn't buy one (or four) right then and there is that I'm physically incapable of spending money if I don't have to.

July 2, 2010

Free time is for napping

Writing that last post, I was reminded of conversations C and I have had about vacations - what to do with free time, where to go, whether to go with people. It turns out that we're both reflexively pretty hermit-like: given time off, we'll stay home and lie around, or go to the beach and lie around, or (if we're feeling ambitious) go to Maui and lie around on the beach. When we get to choose what to do with our time, we tend to pick "not having responsibilities" over "trying new things". We both also get frustrated in about 5 minutes with crowds, obvious tourists, and people being clueless in public (though I repeat myself), so trips that are go-to good ideas for some people (Disney, Vegas, Mazatlan) are not even on the bottom of our list.

We know plenty of people who are Action Vacationers, who spend their free time climbing mountains or kayaking the San Juans or skiing every weekend*, who (I assume) would be appalled to go on vacation with us because we'd want to waste all that time doing nothing (while we'd be resentful of being dragged all over instead of taking a break; what do you think is the point of vacation, anyway?).

I don't have a point to make here: this is pretty obviously a matter of personality, and there isn't One True Way to go on vacation. We Lazy Vacationers should all band together so we can lie around with no pressure or guilt, and then maybe go get lunch. Who's interested?

*It's really obvious where I'm from, isn't it? Good thing I'm only semi-pseudonymous.