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Lost in Translation?

29 Jun

funny-anchorman-gifs

I was at a coaching workshop two weeks ago taught by two Harvard professors up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The goal was for participants to learn how to facilitate sessions using the material themselves, so the teachers would alternate between treating us as regular audience members experiencing the material for the first time and then as facilitators, learning how to use the material with other people.

As you’ve probably gathered, it can be confusing to try two different approaches to the material, so to simplify things, they asked us to pretend we were somewhere else (San Diego) when we were going through the program simply as learners, and then would ask us to, “Come back to Cambridge,” when they wanted to address us as teachers-in-training.

Our first day, we toggled between “San Diego” and “Cambridge” regularly. I found it to be a clever way to shift gears easily and know which role I was playing (student or teacher) during the program.

At the end of that first day, we were broken up into small groups to prepare our own presentations. While we were doing this, the instructor called out, “Think about what you experienced when you were in San Diego – that will help you with this!”

A woman from my group leaned over and said – in full seriousness, “Can you explain this whole San Diego thing to me? This seems like a smart group of people – how are they tricking themselves into believing that THIS is San Diego?”

I have no idea.

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A Lesson in Confidence

28 Feb

Dog with glasses

The other day while showering, I tried to remember what Alan looked like in glasses. He wore them when we started dating, but then got Lasik our second year together. Although he spent most of his adult life in contacts or glasses, I couldn’t picture him with anything on his face.

“Alan!” I shouted when I got out of the shower. “Do you still have your glasses?”

“No – I threw them out. They were falling apart… Why?”

“I was just trying to picture you in them and I couldn’t. Isn’t it funny – I can’t remember what you looked like in glasses?”

“They looked GOOD on me,” he said, simply.

BOOM. And I’m pretty sure that summarizes 90% of the difference between men and women.

I know this game!

1 Sep

Memory Game

“The first part of your memory to go,” my mom says, looking over the mug of her coffee one morning while I’m home in Michigan for a few days, “is the part in charge of names.”

She’s telling me this shortly after I witnessed my parents playing a game I’ve mentally dubbed “What Is His Name?”, during which they throw each other prompts to try to come up with the name of someone critical to a story one of them wants to tell.

Sometimes the game can be more like “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” where they arrive at the person’s name by tracking back through kinfolk, neighbors, teachers and friends. “Remember that kid? He was in Sandy’s class in sixth grade… his mother was married to the brother of the owner of the Independent Dairy… they lived in the house that the Webbers now live in… and you’d see him out every morning walking his dog. What was his name?”

This morning though, it’s a more entertaining version of the game because it takes me to a place where my imagination is fully engaged:

“You remember – what was her name?” my dad began.

“They lived over on Anderson Street,” he continued.

“Oh, I can picture her,” my mom said, nodding like a psychic confirming her hunch.

“She’s the girl I squirted in the mouth with toad juice,” he added.

BOOM. Microphone drop. How often has THAT surfaced as memory-jogging detail in one of YOUR stories? I’m going to guess NEVER. And think of all the possibilities that it evokes. How do you squirt toad juice on someone? What scenario even makes this possible? Was it deliberate or an accident? What IS toad juice?

Regardless, while the part of the brain that’s in charge of names might be off on vacation, clearly the rest of it – responsible for managing all the other details accumulated over a lifetime – is ticking along just fine. If it were me, I’d just make up nicknames on the fly and rename people as I told stories. In this example, the protagonist would’ve been Toad Mouth out of the gate.

Speaking of, I better run. Gotta go see Tea Girl before I greet Eager Early Coworker at my office.

 

A holiday Latin lesson…

29 Nov

Image Source: http://www.dumpaday.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/funny-unicorn.jpg

Thursday we were all loaded up in Alan’s car, heading over the river and through the woods with his kids in the backseat, on our way to their Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving.

His son, who is in sixth grade, was playing a game on his phone. “Oh no!” he exclaimed. “I just killed a unihorse!”

“A unihorse?” Alan asked. “Is that a single horse or a horse with a small horse coming out of his head?”

“No,” his son corrected, “It’s like a unicorn but it’s called a unihorse.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” Alan continued. “Because in Latin ‘uni’ means ‘one’ so technically that means one horse.”

“Yeah,” his son agreed. “It sounds funny, but when I was younger, I used to think unicorn meant one corn.”

“Well, that kind of makes sense,” Alan offered, “Because in Latin, ‘corn’ means ‘horn.'”

After a five second pause, his son said, “Well, that certainly gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘corny.'”

The vet’s office is a zoo. Almost literally.

1 Sep
I said STOP WEIGHING ME.

I said: STOP. WEIGHING. ME.

Five months ago, I was given a lecture when I took Miss Moneypenny to the vet. “She’s gained two pounds since you owned her. Careful with the treats. Her ideal weight is 10 lbs.” So when we got home, I scaled back her treats. And maybe her dry food a bit. And I may have made a few jokes in her presence about kitty cat fat camp.

In any case, when we went back to the vet a month later, they said, “Yeesh! She’s down to almost nine pounds. We better do a blood test.”

I tried to explain that her weight loss was deliberate, but they were hearing none of that. They did a blood test and called me two days later to say, “It’s as we suspected. Miss Moneypenny has a hyperactive-thyroid. It’s off the charts and you need to put her on medicine now or she’ll waste away.”

Here I thought I was the Jillian Michaels of feline fitness. So much for the Biggest Mewser™ business plan I’d started writing.

I have enough medical fights in my life with my GI Specialist, who is always trying to guilt me into taking medicines I fundamentally disagree with, so when it came to Miss Moneypenny, my response was, “Fine. What do I need to give her?”

Long story short, thirty days after beginning her medicine, we were back at the vet for a follow-up blood test to see if the medicine was effective. I made the mistake of showing up at 6pm on a week night, which is apparently when *everybody* takes their sick pets in. I feel like I can *almost* refer to the waiting room as “literally a zoo” and not be completely deserving of a grammar infraction.

The cast of characters featured a French Bulldog named Lily, a Whippit, a Great Dane named Annie, three other random dogs (beagle, boxer and chihuahua) and a few cats in carriers. Miss Moneypenny hates being in her carrier, which – considering it looks like a gym bag that a mobster might toss in the river – is not completely without reason – but she was surprisingly calm in the midst of the chaos. After screaming at everyone to announce her arrival, she kicked back and took a bath.

Hint: One of these is a falabella.

Hint: One of these is a falabella.

While we were sitting there, a woman showed up with a cute puppy named Teddy, who was to Golden Retrievers what a Falabella is to regular horses. (I’ve included a photo in case you’re too lazy to Google that reference.)

The dog was adorable, but wildly out of control. When his other mother showed up, he was so excited, I watched him scale her like a mountain goat. She was seated in a chair and Teddy was standing on her shoulders, totally wrapped around her  head.

As we waited (and waited) for Miss Moneypenny to get called back, I had ample time to observe Teddy and his lack of discipline. He was on a retractable leash and his owners let it out with abandon. They were lost in conversation so they didn’t notice when Teddy began chewing on a dog wearing a cone, or when he tried to butt-sniff a dog who clearly wasn’t feeling well.

Everyone in the waiting room began exchanging glances. Teddy was undeniably adorable, but his clueless owners were allowing him to be a bit of a nuisance. About this time, Teddy walked to the center of the waiting room and proceeded to take a leak that would do Austin Powers proud. The puddle was not insignificant.

Amazingly, his owners didn’t notice this, despite my repeatedly looking at Teddy, then looking at them. Everyone else in the waiting room was doing the same as we all wondered if we should say something or sit back and see how long it would take them to notice. We silently agreed to go the latter route until a few minutes later, when the pee was flowing along the grout between tiles and was about to soak the bag of one of the women.

“Excuse me,” another (nicer) woman called to her, “You might want to move your bag.”

At this, Teddy’s owner looked down, saw the approaching pee and grabbed her bag up with disgust. Then she traced the stream back to its pool of origin, which by this time had little Teddy paw prints in and out of it. If it were a crime scene, it would be an open-and-shut case.

And yet, she turned to her partner and said, “Oh my God – there’s a whole puddle of pee on the floor. Someone’s dog peed there!”

To which her partner asked, “Do you think it was Teddy?”

Without missing a beat, she said, “No – he went right before we got in the car.”

Let me point out – there were no other dogs remotely near the puddle and the only wet foot prints tracked directly to their dog. Everyone in the waiting room again exchanged wordless glances that – had we been playing charades – would’ve prompted a win for the phrase, “You must be shitting me.”

After sitting there for a few minutes, Teddy’s owner finally said – loudly enough for everyone to hear, “Well, I guess if the owner isn’t going to clean it up, I will.” And she huffed over to the desk and asked for paper towels. Um, thanks for the favor?

Let’s just hope she decides not to ever have a baby. Ever.

Oh – and in case you’re curious, Miss Moneypenny weighed in at 11.8 pounds, which apparently is now great. Whatever.