July 31, 2007

Tuesday 200 - #52

“Nice view,” he said, sitting down on the park bench, a comfortable distance between us. Six months ago he’d have sat uncomfortably close.

“Yeah,” I said. “Found it years before Barbara Covett.” The city’s glass buildings were just beginning to reflect the pinkish-amber flames of a summer sunset.


“Nobody.” I inched my leg towards him. Nothing.

“Reminds me of that Judi Dench movie,” he said. Bless. He never could remember character names. “Why are you laughing?”

“You just make me smile.”

“Well stop it. And stop begging me …”

“I hardly begged, Jonathan. I suggested we catch up. You’ve moved on, fine. But there still must be something in that asbestos-protected heart ...”

He glared at me out of the corner of his glistening eye.

“Listen. Not a day passes I don’t think of you. You once told me that we’d never be happy without each other, and you’re probably right. But I just can’t do this. It might be good for you, but it’s not for me. Please. You've gotta let go.”

He reached out towards my knee, but pulled back as he rose and walked up the hill.

It was better.

For a second.

Now it’s worse.

:: :: ::

What's a Tuesday 200?

Last week's Tuesday 200.


Dark Victory

"If a Director of Studies asks you to work more than 20 or 25 hours, be very wary."

We was told this a couple of times during our CELTA training, by the DOS for the teacher training program.

I've just gotten through the second day of my second 35-hours-in-the-classroom week. I wasn't wary, and now I'm weary. I'm not whingeing though ... I'm completely enjoying it all, just finding it hard to do everything else (like run, eat right, answer emails, work on my creative writing class, etc). And I've hosted two Life Clubs workshops this week, both of which turned out very well for very different reasons. It's a good busy.

Ironically, this week's topic is "Saying No."

Speaking of, thanks a kajillion to everyone who didn't say "no" when it came to voting for me at Big Blogger. With your support, I'm happy to be able to quote Judith Traherne, "Excuse me, kids, I've won a prize."

I've been awarded the dubious distinction of BB2007, and now we can put all it behind us.

I know, I know, you're going to miss it, all you silent people out there in the dark. Oh wait, I was doing Bette Davis movies, not Sunset Boulevard.

If you'd like one more look (see what I did there?), click here for my fond farewell to Big Blogger. It'll be as if we never said goodbye.

Now I'm off to plant my perennials, or at least polish up a Tuesday 200.

July 30, 2007

Supply Stage Fright

I was so nervous this morning. Stomach in knots to the point of feeling a little queasy.

It was all because I had a new class ... a real class this week, as opposed to the 1:1s and 2:1s I've been doing in the Executive Center (which are, in fact, real classes ... you know what I mean). Last week the head of HR for the General English school asked me to pick up a week of General English ... eleven advanced students. I said sure.

Turns out they're lovely. Very funny and very enthusiastic. I played a gossip game with them today, where they each have a identity role card to work with, all living on the same street and trying to figure out what all their neighbors are doing. One of them, of course, is a secret agent and he has to lie the whole time. The previous teacher had clued me in to which one to pick, and he was a natural. They were all a riot, coming up with all kinds of devious scenarios, and I'm now looking forward to spending the week with them.

I'm off to be Supply Life Club host tonight as our fearless leader has gone away to write for a few weeks. Should be interesting to run the workshop I used to attend. Trouble is, I'll miss the end of the Big Blogger countdown. So y'all keep an eye out for me and if the margin starts shrinking, call in a favor or two with your friends.

Because you've already voted, haven't you?

Big Blogger 2007

It's all over tonight at 9pm. Help make my mama proud. She's so tired of saying her son never wins anything.

July 29, 2007

Mother of the Year Nomination

I was in the Tube station yesterday, and came across a very protected mother, pushing an overpriced baby carriage (they're everywhere, I tell you, everywhere).

"Are you sure he's strapped in?" she asked her friend, who was in front of the pram.

"Yeah, he's good," she replied.

"What about his arms? Are his arms strapped in?" She sounded almost panicked about the whole thing.

"He's fine," her friend assured her.

All this concern was very touching indeed. It's just a shame the mom didn't check the security of her baby before she put him on a 45-degree downward angle, facing forward on an escalator.

I was going to use this as a Tuesday 200, but there's not an ounce of fiction in it.

Two more days to vote ... that means vote today and tomorrow. Please spread the word!

Big Blogger 2007

July 26, 2007

Big Blogger Beggin'

Big Blogger 2007Well well well. By some freak of nature and many interesting and unexpected turns of events (not to mention the flip of a virtual coin), I'm in the final three for Big Blogger. Crazy.

Pimping rules have been tossed off like a prom dress, so pop on over and give us a clicky on the circle (that's a radio button for those in the know) next to bob. Vote often, vote from as many 'puters as possible and vote for me. I expect we'll have all of Brussels voting for one of our esteemed competitors, so do what you can. And tell a friend or eight.

Thanks. Now I have to think of 30 things y'all don't know about me.

Indulge me. It's over next Monday.

And Some Days ...

... everything just works.

That's what happened with my two groups of students today. I've got a 1:1 with a Czech businessman and 3 hours with 2 of the Kazakhs this week.

Both sessions made me (and the students) laugh out loud several times. Everyone learned a lot, practiced what they needed to, and ended up having fun.

And I'm getting paid for this?

July 24, 2007

Tuesday 200 - #51

At first glance they’re a typical young family, resting on a sidewalk bench. The dad, he couldn’t have been more than 22, slumped into the corner, looking sullen and picking at the cuticle on his thumb. A baby stroller’s in front of him, the bundle wrapped up in a blue blanket.

The mom was sitting squarely in middle, facing forward, elbows on knees and face buried in her hands. Her long brown hair hung down like curtains over her forearms.

At second glance you could tell he was staring anywhere but towards her. If the baby wasn’t there, you wouldn’t think they had anything to do with each other.

Third glance … she’s trembling, not resting. Is she crying? Is she ill?

“Hey mate, gotta light?” I ask.

His eyes don’t move, and his lips barely part. “Not now,” he whispers. “Keep walking.”

I tuck my hand-rolled behind my ear and follow instructions.

There is no fourth glance.

A block away I pass two men, late twenties, eastern European accents, heading towards the bench I’ve just passed. Surely my ears are playing a trick when I hear, “she needs a fix, and we need a kid. Today’s our lucky day.”

:: :: ::

What's a Tuesday 200?

Last week's Tuesday 200.


July 23, 2007

It's Not the Size of the Wand

(go on, keep reading ... no spoilers till after the jump)

I'd never been to a proper UK music festival ... up until Saturday.

I went to the Lovebox Weekender this weekend to sit in a yurt and help run some mini Life Clubs workshops.

All in it was an excellent day. I'm not sure that running personal development sessions with people who are drunk/stoned/rolling their brains out is really helpful, but we made some good contacts I think. I'm pretty sure that some of the attendees got more out of the sessions than just staying dry during the afternoon downpour.

And, bonus, I get to see my old Manhattan neighbor perform. For the seven years I lived in Chelsea, there'd only be a couple weeks go by that we didn't see Debbie Harry in a housecoat walking her dog on 23rd Street. In fact, when we put our place up on the market a few years ago, she was one of the people who looked at it (and didn't buy).

Blondie's gig at Lovebox was great. I'd heard that their mostly doing new stuff at shows of late, so I was very pleased and surprised that the set consisted of all old songs, including Hanging on the Telephone (my favorite), Dreaming, Atomic, Rapture, Heart of Glass, etc. She rocked, and she looks amazing. Extra points for wearing a dress with parallel lines. I think she and Chrissie Hynde should tour together ... the grand dames of rock.

Sunday was spent with Harry and the kids, watching characters drop like flies.

Spoilers ahead.

I think my favorite moments were ...

1. The return of Dobby (yeah, I welled up a little when he got killed).

2. Neville and his grandma. Neville is a rock star.

3. Mrs. Weasley's "BACK AWAY FROM MY DAUGHTER, BITCH!" (or whatever she shouted).

The Kings Cross as pergatory was a little jump-the-shark, but what are you gonna do?

Good on JK for leaving open a huge opportunity for sequels. Skipping ahead 19 years for her cheesy epilogue creates a most interesting gap ... "Harry Potter and the Decade of Therapy."

Oh, and as soon as I finished Book 6, I said, "I still believe in Snape." I should've made the t-shirts way back when. I'm just sayin'.

All in, a successfuly end to the story ... even though she got a little heavy with the let's tie it all up flashback exposition.

July 20, 2007

Stalking the Syndics

dutchmaster.jpgYou'd think I was a big Rembrandt fan or something. For the second time in about six weeks, I've seen this painting hanging in a gallery. The first time was at the Rijksmuseum when CB and I jaunted off to Amsterdam for the weekend.

Today I saw it at the National Gallery. Our world-traveling friend and frequent B&B border Peter is in back from his 4-week African train trek. Usually when he's here, we take in a gallery or two, and and on this visit he'd arranged tickets for the Dutch portraits exhibit .

And the question remains, is he standing up or sitting down?

Once again, I find that my favorite things in museums aren't so much the paintings, but the people. Today's classic was a dozing security guard in the corner of Room 5 in the exhibit. The drowsy chaperone (see what I did there?) obviously had a long night, and it was all she could do to keep from nodding off. I walked by her and her head popped up, eyes opening wide, and then she looked around and fell back asleep.

She looked so peaceful, and who wouldn't enjoy a power nap in the middle of a shift? Unfortunately, an inconsiderate patron behind me hadn't turned her mobile phone off and it rang (with a nastilly shrill alarm clock tone) a number of times before she could get it out of her purse to answer it and begin chatting about her morning. This not only woke the security guard up, but caused her get out of her chair and scold the woman for using her mobile in the gallery.

I'm not sure if the phone use was against the rules (it was as uncalled for as it was rude), or if the guard was just miffed to have been awakened.

And now, my Kazahks should be here any minute. I wonder if they'll mind me having a nap in the corner of the classroom while I give them a test?

July 17, 2007

The Curious Incident of Poster in the Tube Station

I've seen a poster for this in the past couple days since I've been back.


Was wondering why it looked familiar and then ran across these ...

spotbother.jpg spot2.jpg

I wonder if the similarities are intended, or if they're just in my mind.

Tags: ,

Tuesday 200 - #50

You couldn’t help but notice. They were everywhere you looked. On buses. On the sidewalks. In lines at the supermarkets. Waiting outside restaurants. It was like some Nordic edict had been passed throughout the land: Nine out of ten nice looking Swedish men are required to push state-of-the-art baby carriages with sleeping children in them.

I went through my guidebook to see to see if there was some reference to the phenomenon, but couldn’t find anything except references to meatballs, schlager, ABBA, IKEA and lagom, the zen-like concept of just enough.

Curiosity got the best of me, as it does. I asked Eva, who was hands down the most helpful waitress in SoFo, if not the world, if gay adoption was on the rise in Stockholm.

"How do you mean?” she asked, clearing away my plate of smoked shrimp.

“Everywhere we go we see men with baby strollers,” I said.

“Oh, yes,” she smiled, her blue eyes twinkling in the cafe’s candlelight. “We mothers decided long ago that if we had to go through the trouble of pushing the babies out, the least the fathers could do was to push them around.”

:: :: ::

What's a Tuesday 200?

Last week's Tuesday 200.


July 15, 2007

Huff and Puff and Fluff

What better way to end a holiday than to come home, go to bed, and then wake up to huff and puff my way through a 10k that I hadn't trained for? I think I've run maybe twice since the marathon, and well ... I'm sure that the Baltics trip didn't do a heck of a lot of good for my cholesterol (a tad high according to the last reading), so it's time to get back in the groove.

The goal today was to finish, and then have a benchmark for improvement over the next couple months. I finished in about 66 minutes (official time's not up yet), so I'm pretty confident I can do the Great North Run at the end of September in under 2:15.

Newcastle, here I come ... ten pounds lighter and hopefully about 100 points (or about 2.0 for those off you keeping score in UK mmol/l) knocked off the lipid count.

As for the fluff, it was HP and the Order of the Phoenix. I found it a surprisingly good film, especially since it's my least favorite of the books. It made me want to give the 6th book a rescan before the last one comes out in the next week or so ... at which point I'll have to go on media blackout because you know some fool is going to post the ending and ruin it for anybody that takes more than a day to read it.

I know, I know ... some of you want to hear about the vacation. It really was spectacular, and I think I'll do a Time's Arrow and recount it backwards.

Next stop ... Stockholm.

But first, I'll leave you with a few of my favorite sights from the race.

1. The bloke in the bare feet sitting on the park bench around the 6km mark, reading a Men's Fitness. You were just looking for inspiration, weren't you?

2. The chavtastically bleached blond princess who was running the race in full make up and false eyelashes. You gotta make an effort.

3. The little kid on the sideline of the homestretch who shouted "Look at her, Daddy, she's walking!" I shouted back ... "and you're (gasp) just standing."

And finally, this bit of wisdom from Mylene Klass, who was screeching her way through today's pre- and post-run color commentary (note to Mylene ... you don't have to shout darling, you're miked through a huge PA system).

I didn't have a tape recorder, but I swear she said something along the lines of ...

I want to say to each and every one of you, that this is a huge accomplishment. And not just the one or two hours it's going to take you to finish. It's the months of training. It's the dedication to go out there and buy the right trainers.

Someone please remind me. Who is she?

Tags: , ,

July 11, 2007

Hej! Hur Ӓr Det?

Well dang. I guess I have to learn Swedish. We're now in Copenhagen and it's just beautiful.

Long time no blog. Didja miss me? I know I missed you.

I've spent the last ten days on a boat without internet access, met some lovely people, had some brilliant adventures, worked my way through a twinge of pneumonia, witnessed some ridiculously obnoxious behavior from people I don't need to see ever again, and roamed through seven cities in as many countries ..

  1. Bergen, Norway

  2. Copenhagen, Denmark

  3. Gdansk, Poland

  4. Tallin, Estonia

  5. St. Petersberg, Russia

  6. Helsinki, Finland

  7. Stockholm, Sweden

Mama, she's tired.

Came back to the hotel this afternoon for a quick nap and woke up four hours later not knowing where I was. In a boat? In a hotel? Still dreaming? Is it still Wednesday or did I sleep all night?

We're here for a few days, and then back to London, where I hope the cats are still alive. We did arrange for them to be fed, didn't we? (yes, we did ... put down the phone ... you don't need to call The Humane Society just yet.

Lots of stories to tell, but for now I guess I should check into the Big Blogger house and see what ruckus is going on now. Thanks for all the votes a couple weeks ago ... but stop now ... it's Vote to Evict! (I can't believe I'm still in the silly thing.)

And then it's a wake-me-up shower and a hunt for a schlager bar.

July 1, 2007

Greetings from Bergen

bergen_bryggen.jpgAnd that's not Bergen County, New Jersey.

Oh no, we're in sunny Bergen Norway. It's a place where it's supposed to rain 270 or so days of the year, but today is featuring bright blue skies and shirtless Vikings. Nice.

I've acquired a new pet seal, whose name is Peer (a shout out to the Ibsen scholars), and I'm sure I'll be leaving with a troll or two.

Hey, quit talking about Larry like that.

We were wicked delayed last night, what with equipment problems and the Bergen-esque weather in London (and I'm sure all the terror alerts didn't help either -- I do hope everybody's okay back there). By the time we got to the hotel, 1am local time, it was still twilight. Fantastic.

Happy Canada Day to all of those north of the 42nd parallel, eh.

I wonder if I'll have reindeer for dinner tonight. It's on special at the restaurant we've booked.