Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ich spreche Deutsche

This week is week three of my German class, which runs through mid-December and is just another attempt at my lifelong dream of being multilingual.

Learning languages has never come easily to me. It's not like I haven't tried. Over the years I've put in a year of American Sign Language, half a year of ancient Greek, half a year of modern Greek, and five years of Spanish. But despite all the classes I wouldn't say that I really "know" anything besides English. I've never, for example, had a dream in another language, unless you count dreams where everyone is yelling at me in a language I don't understand. But in my heart I've always wanted to be the sophisticated person who steps in to help a lost tourist in their native tongue, or who knows how to call a foreign hotel and ask the rate without being transferred to the English-speaking staff member, or who -- why not -- can decode the inscription on that mysterious gold-platted goblet I find buried in a field. Instead, I'm the one translating for my husband that the poorly-sketched ex-con in Castle just said "something about a lawyer and ... eggs? It was either eggs or beefsteak. He was talking really fast."

And it's even worse because Greg is some kind of language savant. The other day when I showed him my German flashcards he got more right than I did. And he'd never seen the words before. It's just not fair. And of course he studied French, so when he tells me what the white collar scamp in the Woody Allen film just said it sounds really sexy and suggestive.

Still we use the tools we're given, so the best I can do is struggle to learn at my own pace. For the next three months I'll be the crazy woman on the T counting down from 10 to 1 like an over-enunciating Bond villain, or practicing my au's, ew's, and oo's in a way that makes the guy next to me get up and check his seat for gum. There's only one way to get to whatever's the German equivalent of Lincoln Center; Trainieren.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Here comes Fall!

Even though it's nearly 80 degrees today in Boston, the signs of Fall are everywhere. Pumpkin and apple foods are reappearing in restaurants, women on the T are swapping out summer handbags for black or brown leather versions, and coffee shops are full of students with their laptops and cell phones.

Fall is my favorite season. It's the best possible environment when the air is cool and comfortable, all the best fruits and veggies are at the farmers' markets, everyone's excited about their new projects, and every weekend there's a Fair or apple orchard to hit.

Here are a few projects I'm excited about this Fall:

1. Learning German. This week I started beginners' German at the Goethe Institut. I'm excited to explore a new language with all the fun that brings.

2. Cooking/eating healthily. During the months leading up to our wedding and over the honeymoon, we were so overwhelmed with work that we ended having either something frozen or takeout for every meal. Now, I'm looking forward to eating some delicious in-season vegetables and apples every which way.

3. Getting rid of junk. I've never been much of a Spring cleaner, but in the Fall I love to do a thorough purge. This year, with all our new booty, it's definitely time to trim down our stock of excess small appliances. We have 3 blenders, 4 irons, a hand-mixer that's missing pieces, etc. etc. I'm also happy to dump all the clothes that are too small or threadbare ever to be worn outside the house again.

4. Writing. I feel like I lost a year of my writing life just when things were starting to get interesting. The one benefit of having taken a break is I can now look back on the stories I was writing then with fresh eyes for editing. And then it's time to start submitting!

5. Reconnecting with my blog. Although, as always after an extended absence, I'm tempted to scrap it and start a new one.

What new projects are you excited about starting this Fall?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Post-Wedding Wrap Up

It’s been two weeks now since our wedding, and for the first time in many months Greg and I are getting a “chill out and write day.” Our wedding was wonderful and exactly what we wanted it to be, but now that it’s over we’re both relieved to have time and energy to devote to our separate creative projects. Soon, I hope to get back to blogging semi-regularly about my writing life. But before I do, I want to put up a few reviews of the vendors who went above and beyond for our wedding, in case any of my engaged (or just event-planning) friends want to check them out for their own parties.

In no particular order:

Gayle Smalley, Justice of the Peace

Oh man, did we ever luck out when we found Gayle. Before we met Gayle, we struggled to find the right person to officiate at our wedding. We didn’t want a religious ceremony, but we did want a meaningful ceremony that would reflect our values. We met with several Justices of the Peace who were willing to “say whatever we wanted them to”, but none brought the energy we were looking for. From our first meeting with Gayle (when she served us freshly baked cookies!) it was love at first sight. Throughout the process of writing our ceremony, she was a patient, knowledgeable collaborator who helped us create a wedding that was exactly right for us. On our wedding day, she was a calming, happy presence we were so happy to have standing with us.

Za Restaurant (350 Third Street, Cambridge)

We were absolutely blown away by the service we received from Steve Kurland and his team. It felt like there were 100 waiters attending to our every need, including guests’ requests for special pizzas to accommodate food allergies. They really seemed to enjoy having us there and didn’t mind our last minute addition of a photo booth to the party. They even sliced and boxed our leftover cake for guests to take home as favors.

On top of the excellent service, our guests were raving about the delicious pizza and salads. Before our wedding, I was dreaming about our cake, but the day after it was the pizza we remembered as the star of the show. In fact, the night we got back from our honeymoon we had Za for dinner. Even if you aren’t planning a party, you owe it to yourself to go to Za for a pizza.

J & B Photobooth (www.jandbphotobooth.com)

One week before our wedding, Greg and I decided our reception still needed a little extra entertainment. We hired J & B Photobooth and it absolutely made the party. Hiring them could not have been easier. We called them a week before the wedding and they gave us a great price. They set up and tore down everything on their own, created a cute logo with our initials to go on the photo strips (I believe if you want to create your own, you can do that too), and were super affordable considering that the photobooth added entertainment, a guestbook, and favors to our party.

Everyone from kids to grandparents had a great time using our photobooth, due partly to the fun props, and partly to the staff who were happy to come into the booth and help arrange people to make sure they all fit in the picture, and provide friendly direction for those who needed it. The photobooth was a great place for our family and friends from different circles to meet each other and play together. One of my favorite things to come out of the wedding has been all the new friendships showing up on my facebook feed. A large number of those were due to the photobooth.

Katie Jane Photography, LLC http://blog.katiejanephoto.com/

Choosing a photographer was one of the most difficult choices Greg and I made in our wedding planning process. Whereas we had agreed on most of the other decisions (invitations, flowers, etc) with photography, we found ourselves wanting different things. Greg wanted a photographer with top of the line cameras and the expertise to use them. I wanted someone who cared about making people look good – catching them from the right angles at the right moments. We couldn’t seem to find anyone remotely good enough within our budget. Until we found Katie Jane.

Even including the travel expense fee (which I’m convinced could not have come close to covering her actual travel expenses) for her to come to our wedding from New York, Katie Jane was a bargain compared to Boston photographers. And, I’m sure there’s not a professional photographer in the world as generous and personable as she is. When we met with her for our engagement photo session (included in our package), it felt like we were spending the day hanging out with a friend. And on the day of our wedding, when I was so stressed I couldn’t have added 1 + 1 together, she was a a genius of organization, running through our posed photos quickly to make it as fun and easy as possible for our family and wedding party. If you are engaged and need a photographer, contact Katie Jane quick because her schedule fills up quick (for good reason!).

Victoria (event coordinator)

We were sorely in need of someone to help us set up and coordinate our reception, when Greg’s aunt (our own Malcolm Gladwell-esque people connector) suggested the sister of her daughter’s friend who is in school for event planning. If the job she did for us is any indication, this woman is going to be running the world someday. Victoria stepped up the day of our wedding and took care of everything so all we had to do was enjoy ourselves. Whenever there was a question (time to stop serving pizzas? Cut the top tier of cake or save it?) she found us and made sure we were comfortable before letting Za’s staff know what to do. It was great to have one point person who knew what was happening at any given moment, and made sure everything got done on time.