14 January 2006

New Year's Resolutions

[posted by Amy]

Before I left for France, I had some theories on how I would react to having oodles of free time. Most of my former co-workers probably remember me joking about the likelihood of me sleeping through the entire first month. (For those of you who don't know me: I'm not a big fan of mornings. Given the opportunity, I will gladly snooze through them all together.) On the flip side, I also figured I would go through a tourism-crazed phase where I insisted upon seeing everything in Paris and the vicinity. Eventually, I would hit the "OK, I'm ready to have a job again" phase, which would only become more and more insistant as time passed. (Again, for those who don't know me, this is the first time in 17 years that I have gone an extended period of time without a paying job.) I wasn't sure what would happen once I reached that point. Mainly, I hoped that it would coincide with our timeline for returning to the US, so that I wouldn't have to endure months of feeling unproductive.

Well, I've done the crazed tourist thing, and I've done the excessive sleep thing. Both are nice, but like most extremes, they can only be sustained for so long. Instead, I've settled into a new middle ground that, given the time of year, I will dub the "New Year's Resolutions" phase. I'm not quite ready to have a full-time job again, but I definitely need new ways to fill my time here. Here's what has bubbled to the surface thus far:

1. Reading. My mom will probably shed a single wee tear when she reads this: my desire to read for pleasure is finally starting to return. I loved reading as a child, but graduate school pretty much killed off my desire to voluntarily open a book. (I finished my master's degree in 2003.) I'm still a little gunshy, in the sense that I don't want people telling me what I "have" to read right now. I need to pick and read books at my own pace, which is going to be slow for a while.

My first reintroduction into the world of the willingly literate was The Da Vinci Code, which I greedily consumed last Saturday. I just couldn't put it down! Plus, it's really interesting to know the places that he is talking about firsthand. (By the way, kids, the Priory of Sion didn't really exist, despite Dan Brown's claim at the beginning of the book.)

2. Studying. This one came as a big surprise to me. I actually had a craving last week to research a topic that interested me and -- get this -- write a paper on it! What the...? I never saw that one coming, that's for sure. So, when the desire to study strikes me, I look up articles on the subject of why Americans "hate" the French so much, and in turn, whether or not this dislike is justified. Eventually, I figure it will become a blog posting, so I apologize in advance if I actually go academic on y'all!

I've also renewed my appetite for regional geography minutia. (My master's is in geography.) To start, I printed up some maps in an effort to refresh my memory on where things are. I also ordered a European Geography textbook from Amazon.fr (hey, if I'm going to improve my trivial geographic knowledge, I may as well start with where I am.) The only downside is that this book is estimated to arrive in mid-March. (Damn you, customs regulations!)

3. Working out. This desire didn't come as a surprise to me at all. I tend to go through these phases every few months. But, as Oscar Wilde famously said, "Every time I feel the urge to take exercise, I have a good lie down until the feeling goes away." OK, so the "good lie down" is usually preceded by one to two weeks of serious attempts at exercise, but normally, my efforts don't last much longer than that. The one exception was when Colin and I went on a health kick together about two years ago, which lasted for nearly 8 months. Who knows, maybe I'll give that record a run for its money this time? Given my track record, however, I won't be making a New Year's Resolution to "get fit" because I hate breaking resolutions before the end of January. Plus, I found out today that one of Colin's New Year's Resolutions is to learn how to cook more French meals. So, I was screwed before I even got to the starting blocks!

Given my inability to fulfill New Year's Resolutions, I won't make any here. Instead, I'll just record these three "inclinations" as they exist, and have a good laugh at them in March.

Hey, that's when my textbook is going to show up!


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