Posts Tagged ‘France’

Dear Dr. G:

Hello, and I hope you are doing well since I last saw you at AEJMC. I’ve been thinking about you lately for a strange reason.

You once called me a dilettante, which made me mad at the time. It wasn’t really accurate for the situation (as I recall, you were upset with me because you wanted me to focus solely on my doctoral work, but I wanted to keep my full-time job, you know, so I could eat and have shelter).

La dilettante

I know your heart was in the right place, and that you were, in your own way, showing confidence in my ability to do scholarly research full time.

Though it may seem like I am a dabbler, it’s not that at all. It’s the opposite, actually. I throw myself into something fully, learn as much as I can, then I move on to something else. More short attention span than dilettante.


That’s why I have five degrees (yes, five). It is also why my résumé looks like the life of eight different people.

If I could, I’d have more jobs (in addition to the one I have now, which I love). Some of these jobs include:

  • Flight attendant (A waitress in the sky? Yes!)
  • Travel writer
  • Tour guide for some exotic location
  • Cruise ship social director or bartender  (like Julie or Isaac from The Love Boat)
  • Personal chef (Wait … I think I already am.)
  • Character actress (like Rebel Wilson)
  • Personal assistant to someone nearly crazy (Think of the stories I could tell!)
  • NBC page (that’s one of those unfulfilled college ideas)
  • Beta tester for games
  • Game show host
  • Full-time employee at my university’s study-abroad campus in France (!)
  • Owner of a craft brewery
  • PR executive for Disney
  • Train conductor
  • State senator

Maybe Santa can bring me new names for my contact list to help me accomplish my goals.

So yes, I am interested in many things. Dilettante? No. Focused? Yes, for periods of time. Game show host? I can only hope. Thanks for helping me in one of my pursuits.

Anyway, happy holidays, and I look forward to seeing you in Washington, D.C.

Beth, Aspirational Polymath


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So … it is now Jan. 19, well past the time when many people abandon their new year’s resolutions. It seemed like a good time to check in with mine.

  • try noodling. I still haven’t found a guide.
  • wear skirts more often.So far, I’m sporting a skirt once a week. That’s a huge increase from about twice in all of last year.
  • go to Lacoste again (or, at the very least, drink more French wine). Check “yes” on the second part.
  • speak more Spanish at home and keep practicing French. Not so much, unless cursing counts.
  • acquire more chickens. I’ll start looking for chicks in March.
  • clean out my pantry. I got rid of a couple of items. OK, so they were expired. It’s a start.
  • stop letting my son’s superhero noises bother me. That’s an uphill battle, but I’m working on it.
  • see Adam Ant in concert.I bought tickets for the Feb. 11 show. Then he had to push the tour back six months. (He’s not in rehab again.) (OK, that’s what his people say.)
  • see Van Halen reunited with David Lee Roth in concert. They will be in the Southeast in April.
  • visit the Brannens in Abu Dhabi. Hmmm … March or June.
  • go camping at least once. Too cold right now.
  • see my friend Tina’s new place and finally talk her into visiting us. Hasn’t happened.
  • stop pretending I like to listen to NPR in my car. I outed myself during a class yesterday. Liberation!
  • audition for a play or musical. I hear there are auditions for “Rent” in March.
  • actually go out for drinks/dinner with my friends Matt, Pam, Kathy, Lee, etc., instead of just talking about it. Hasn’t happened yet.
  • either part ways with my padding or to stop talking about it. I’ve been to the gym twice a week since Jan. 1 AND I made money because of it, thanks to GymPact.
  • make homemade pasta more often. I made shrimp and mushroom ravioli last week.
  • take a cooking class to improve my knife skills. Signed up for a class next month.
  • go to more of the interesting festivals I like so much (such as the Redneck Games). The Redneck Expo and Golf Cart Rally will be held April 6-7 in Bainbridge. That sounds like a winner!
  • write more, read more, talk less. I’ve written columns for the local paper, so that’s good. (What’s bad: I let more than two weeks pass between posts on this blog.) I’ve mostly caught up on my magazine reading. And I caught myself being quiet and not chiming into a conversation the other day. Progress!

So there you have it. I’ve also added one more: Learn to do the Running Man and Moonwalk.

How are you doing with yours?

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I don’t usually make resolutions for the new year. (Why wait until Jan. 1 if you want to change something?) The closest I get is making non-resolutions.

I’m feeling optimistic and inspired, though. And so I resolve to:

  • try noodling. (Anyone know a good guide?)
  • wear skirts more often. (I tend to be a pants kind of gal.)
  • go to Lacoste again (or, at the very least, drink more French wine).
  • speak more Spanish at home and keep practicing French.
  • acquire more chickens (much to Eddie’s dismay).
  • clean out my pantry. (I don’t really think this will happen, but it is nice to have a goal.)
  • stop letting my son’s superhero noises bother me. (Yeah, that won’t happen either.)
  • see Adam Ant in concert. (He’s on tour!)
  • throw my panties on the stage at that concert. (I’m kidding. Just making sure you’re paying attention.)
  • see Van Halen reunited with David Lee Roth in concert.
  • visit the Brannens in Abu Dhabi.
  • go camping at least once.
  • see my friend Tina’s new place and finally talk her into visiting us.
  • stop pretending I like to listen to NPR in my car. (Confession: It’s usually ’80s and country.)
  • audition for a play or musical.
  • actually go out for drinks/dinner with my friends Matt, Pam, Kathy, Lee, etc., instead of just talking about it.
  • either part ways with my padding or to stop talking about it.
  • make homemade pasta more often. (Not sure this goes with the one above.)
  • take a cooking class to improve my knife skills.
  • go to more of the interesting festivals I like so much (such as the Redneck Games).
  • write more, read more, talk less.

Of course, there are the resolutions I share with almost everyone else: Improve eating habits, exercise more, spend more time with family, save money, etc.

Now I’m ready for the new year. How about you?

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December is my favorite month of the year because it is my birthday month, and because it features Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa – a holidaypalooza! No one gets any work done all month, people eat their body weights in cookies and candy, and parents have the chance to threaten their young children with the phrase, “Santa sees what you are doing right now.”

Christmas Eve is my favorite holiday because of the anticipation. Christmas Day has always felt like a let-down because the wait is over. It’s 364 days for the next build-up. But maybe that’s just me.

So, Christmas Eve = good; Christmas Day = kind of bad.

Here are other pairs:

Good: Bringing home and decorating a real Christmas tree.
Bad: Real Christmas tree needles that clog the ancient vacuum cleaner.

Good: Realizing a new Dyson vacuum cleaner with Root Cyclone technology might make a great Christmas gift.
Bad: Um … asking for a vacuum cleaner for Christmas.

Good: The boys are old enough to help decorate the tree.
Bad: They haven’t figured out the art of spacing.

Good: More quality time with the kids.
Bad: More time with the kids. (You know it is too much togetherness when you hear your son say, “Gideon punched me,” and your husband responds, “Good.”)

Good: Selecting the perfect presents for friends and family.
Bad: Wrapping all those presents and the bills that follow the purchase.

Good: Seeing a person’s reaction when she loves her gift. (Hi, Trish!)
Bad: Seeing the reaction when he doesn’t. (Hello, Ed.)

Good: Taking the kids to see Santa.
Bad: Knowing that the 5-year-old is not getting the computer he requested (!).

Good: Going to your first Hanukkah party.
Bad: Fleeing the Hanukkah party because your son has a meltdown because he doesn’t like the way his shirt collar feels on his neck.

Good: Unseasonably warm weather when the central heat has been acting strangely.
Bad: The kids deciding it’s OK to take off their clothes outside to better enjoy aforementioned warm weather.

Good: Having the time and inclination to make Christmas cookies.
Bad: The extra 10-pound reminder of why you shouldn’t.

Good: Deciding (well, hoping) that friends and family will forgive you for not sending holiday cards because you’ve been out of the country for three months and didn’t get your act together.
Bad: Feeling like a schmuck each time you go to the mailbox and see greetings from others.

Good: Singing Christmas carols as loudly as possible in a closed car.
Extra Good: Torturing your kids with your holiday singing after they’ve been torturing you all day with superhero noises.
Bad: There’s nothing bad about that … for you!

Good: Stop-motion Christmas specials such as “Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer” (although I’m partial to “The Year Without a Santa Claus” because of the Miser Brothers).
Bad: Stop-motion specials such as “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year.” (It’s like the Scrappy Doo of specials.)

Good: The whole holiday season, in my opinion.
Bad: It’s almost over. Sigh.

Happy holidays to all of you!


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Sign here

Our journey through France, Switzerland and Germany taught me plenty. It was because I was open to all the signs, of course.

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The Griswolds have nothing on us. Our European vacation was not quite as catastrophe-filled as theirs, but hijinks still ensued. Here’s a slideshow of the best and the worst.

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Dear Lacoste,

It’s going to be hard to say goodbye. You’ve meant so much to me over the past 10 weeks. And although we’ve had our differences — I like to walk normally, and you like to try to break my ankles with your cobblestone streets at 60-degree angles; I like to sleep, and you like to let the clock tower chime three times every hour — we’ve gotten along splendidly overall.

I regret the time I cheated on you with Paris. I admit that I felt dirty in the City of Light. Yes, the week of having access to world-class shopping, restaurants, landmarks, artwork and entertainment was wonderful, but I thought about you the whole time.

You know I also cheated on you with Apt almost every weekend; L’Isle Sur La Sorgue on a number of Sundays; Fontaine de Vaucluse and Bonnieux four times; Avignon, Ménerbes and Lumières three times; Gordes, Ménerbes, Oppede le Vieux and Roussillon twice; Cavaillon, Carpentras, Coustellet, Saignon, Lourmarin, Nîmes, Aix-en-Provence, Marseilles, Milan and Turin once. But they meant nothing to me. I always came back to you.

You are like sleep-away camp for grown-ups. I enjoyed being a camp counselor and didn’t even mind being on call all day every day. I may never again have the opportunity to discuss a grade on a paper while scooping potato balls onto my plate at dinner. Or hear students coming back from the Café de France at 4 a.m. I love your isolation that enables and requires close connections with others who are also enjoying your charms.

You are intense. You are immersive. You are insulated. You required me to work closely with other professors on a variety of projects and field trips. I might not have had that chance otherwise. You required me to practice my stick-shift driving skills in rickety nine-passenger transit vans on narrow, winding roads. Never before have I had to fold in my mirror so that I could safely pass a La Poste vehicle on a dirt road built for one car. You required me to rethink my idea of space and material goods. I lived quite happily in a small centuries-old apartment with few personal items and no television.

You are not the sleepy, hilltop village everyone thinks you are. You are a locus for plenty of activity — much of it mental — that results in a life-changing experience.

While I have to say goodbye — I was actually cheating on Savannah with you — I want you to know that I won’t forget you. Thank you for everything.



Things I will miss about you:

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