Monday, December 4, 2017

Going to Bollywood

Things have been busy with Bollywood dance classes and events.

I have been talking about these classes a lot. Thinking about them makes me grin like an idiot so my mouth is already open. Here is how it all happened.

I watched this Bollywood movie.
One of my friends was like, “That was okay...”.
Out loud I was like, "Right..."
and my heart was like, “That was wonderful."

I watched the movie again on an airplane and thought, "I love it and want to listen to Bollywood music and dance to it forever” and bought the movie.

Then I wondered, “Oh goodness. What if there are Bollywood dance classes in the Twin Cities?”

It turns out there are! And everyone is having a wonderful time.

A lot of the moves are similar to hip hop, but more forgiving. Hip hop requires swagger and street cred conviction, and is therefore not an option for some people. I look moronic trying to swagger due to a lack of anything remotely resembling street cred conviction.

Consider this conversation:

     Streetwise person: says something appropriately cred

     Me: umm... yes... heeheehee

Anyway, Bollywood is very cheery and encourages bouncy happiness. It is difficult, but don't be discouraged if your dancing skills lean towards bobble head character, because that's a real Bollywood move (not official terminology).

Most important is the joy. Being sad during Bollywood is like being mad about miniature ponies. Which is not how emotions work. There's a YouTube channel, just don't watch me because I'm pretty bad at Bollywood.

So go, dance like no one is watching.

I mean, people are watching. But tell yourself whatever you need to.

Friday, June 9, 2017

How to travel for FREE

Sometimes I get stressed about travel decisions. Should I go somewhere new? I love all the places I've already been! I must go again! There are many new places to explore!

Yeah yeah #firstworldproblems but seriously.

2017 winner: It's a repeat! Spain, wrap me up in your olive and jamón filled embrace!

Traumatic side story: While walking around Madrid I realized it was my Middlebury ten year anniversary. I froze in the middle of the street and had a one person freak out/class reunion. Ten year old kids, who are now walking around, talking, doing all kinds of stuff, were born when I studied in Madrid. I might as well die now.

Actually, what I've mostly been thinking about is the best way to travel.

Here is a list of ways to travel that are not the best:
large tour groups
Las Vegas

Those are the main ones I can think of right now.

Calm down. There aren't wrong ways to travel. But booking a flight and visiting a city's highlights is literally the easiest thing to do. Again, nothing wrong with this. CHILL OUT.

Slice me some jamón!
When I think of my most memorable trips, they all involve unique connections to the destination. Meeting or visiting people who live there... Joining some normal, local activity... Looking like an overly eager foreigner trying to blend in...

But, wait, I don't understand. Can you please give an example?

- Why yes. Yes I can.

I recently volunteered with an organization called Pueblo Inglés. They run English immersion programs for professionals from all over Spain. English speaking volunteers come and spend the week speaking a whole bunch of English.

You guys, it was so much fun.

Here is how many exclamation points worth of fun it was:

There were tons of games and activities: 1-to-1 conversations, group discussions, team challenges, trivia, theater skits... As other volunteers pointed out, it was like summer camp. Summer camp is way more fun as an adult.

Kid campers lack the life experience to fully appreciate camp. Their days already predominately consist of adult planned activities. And there's usually at least some preoccupation with looking cool and is ______________ noticing said coolness.

As an adult you realize being a kid is amazing. You've faced the chilly abyss of grown up responsibilities and there is no way you're passing up an opportunity to play the heck out of some games while someone else manages mealtime. Not to mention, it's been clear for awhile that looking cool is not going to happen for you.

The program also involved hearing ourselves talk a lot, explaining funny expressions like 'kick the bucket', and exploring La Alberca, a really charming area about 4 hours west of Madrid.

Above all, spending a week with 30 great people = new friendships and learning more about the world. I was amazed at how quickly students' English improved after only a few days. It inspired me to get my Spanish going again, but then I came home and naps.


Here are more pics. La Alberca: hasta la próxima!

views from Peña de Francia, monastery near La Alberca
Plaza Mayor, Madrid

Must hot dogs be the most famous American export?
Plaza de Cibeles

Templo de Debod

Palacio Real

**Sorry about the clickbait title. I really wanted you to know about this program.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Bring me the babies

The latest big family news is that Nick and Cara had a baby! I am now an aunt!

This is an important milestone towards improving my (because, yes, this is about me) somewhat lukewarm relationship with babies and young children.

To clarify, I've always LOVED my friends' kids. Even kids of acquaintances, if I really like the acquaintance. It's a default recommendation for the child, and we immediately have something in common: we both like your parents.

Strangers' kids are wildcards; there's no way to know what's going on with them. They might be fine, they might be a mess.

My new niece is going to be awesome.

A couple weeks after Henriette Josephine was born, Ellen and I made our first trip down to Iowa City for a meet and greet. Like any self-respecting mid-westerners, we brought a casserole and dessert.

An aside: Recently, I came across this handwritten recipe of my grandma's. I love seeing my grandparents' handwriting, so I felt a lot of warm, cozy feelings, and decided to help this Chicken Rice Bake live through the generations.

We get to Iowa City, and Henriette is, of course, awesome. There was about a 15 minute period during which I felt panicky about small babies. What if I forget how to hold things and drop her!!!!! What if I sneeze and fall down!!! So many things can go wrong!!! How is she so tiny!!!

But then it was all fine and I couldn't hold her enough. Henriette even came to a brewery, and to brunch, and was the most chill person in the group.

Then we had to go. Sadness!!! Bye for now, Henriette!!! You are the best and we LOOOOOVE you!!!


The only real blight on the whole time was, unfortunately, the Chicken Rice Bake. You may have noticed it calls for cream of celery/mushroom/chicken, and I learned cream of anything is pretty gross. (Non-mid westerners: tread carefully with any less than supportive comments of our proud tradition of church lady potluck casseroles.) There's a chance my grandma wrote out this recipe for someone she didn't like that much.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Life is Perfect and Under Control

The world is changing. We ask, "What remains constant in our uncertain days?" Not closets. Certainly not closets. No! Closets must also change! They must be sorted! arranged! perfected!

Do not allow your closet to be a comfortable garbage hole.

 Why do you have so much stuff.

 Take a coffee break*. 
(*author not pictured)

 Don't freak out and get rid of everything.
Abandon stuff that's not good enough in bags on the cold, stony floor.
Savor this refinement and order with a little moderate maniacal laughter.

(This all took a very long time at the end of which I felt satisfied and neurotic, and went to La La Land [the movie not some kind of "special place"] [It was great. Clean your closet and go see it].)