Taboo

TabooDid you ever play Taboo as a kid? It’s that game where you have a word on a card, and you have to make people guess that word without using any “taboo” terms. Like, if you want them to guess moon, you can’t say “space,” “planet,” “astronaut,” “cheese,” “sky,” etc. I love that game! I’m pretty good at it too. Every other month I get together to play Taboo in French at the French Alliance here in NYC. This is the best exercise I can think of for a 2nd language learner, because it teaches you how to problem solve your communication blocks. When you don’t have the words you want, you have to come up with new ways of getting at that idea, and that is where you really find confidence in your communication skills. Although you don’t know everything, what you have is enough to get your ideas across. My group won the Taboo game this week (you play on teams), which is a miracle, because I’ve been living off chocolate rabbits and leftover ham this past week. Ugh. However, I am training for a 5k in May! I go running at least once a week, and I’m trying to get down to a 9 minute mile from about 9:30. I have about a month left to get ready. Wish me luck!

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Those Who Can’t Do Teach

french-teacherDon’t laugh, but I’m actually a French teacher. I have two students who come for a private lesson once a week. Am I qualified for this? Well, these girls are absolute beginners, and I definitely know more French than they do. It’s not a case of the blind leading the blind. In George Bernard Shaw’s play, Man and Superman, he writes, “He who can, does; he who cannot, teachers.” I try to use lots of videos so that the girls have the chance to hear a native French speaker. I don’t want to lead them completely astray. Teaching is 2nd best way I know to really master something. The best way is immersion. Sink or swim. Get in a situation where you have no choice by to use the skill you are trying to learn. Still, teaching French has been good for me. When I have to explain a concept to someone else, I find that I understand it better. I have a textbook to keep me focused, but I try to fill my actual classes with speaking, writing and listening activities. It’s a lot of fun for me, and the time is always up before I’m ready for it. Today for my French activity I watched a short French film on Youtube about a kid who loved to play the piano. There were both English and French subtitles, and the music was really beautiful! On a sad note, I barely missed my 10k steps today – there were still about 200 steps to go at 11:57pm. 😦

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21 Days of French

I haven’t posted anything on here in forever. However, my semester is calming down a bit and I am ready to do another 21 Days project. When I was in college, I needed an extra Liberal Arts electIMG_0267ive, and I thought a language course would be useful. I toyed with the idea of a Spanish class, but the French textbook had a more interesting cover. After that first class I was pretty much hooked. I had a tough couple of years where I struggled with the guttural “r” and the liaison made it hard for me to understand native speakers. However, a study abroad in Northern France tipped the scale for me, and I now am pretty comfortable communicating in most french-speaking situations. I still struggle with advanced grammar, and my vocabulary is never big enough to share all my thoughts and feelings. Still, I can get by. For the next 21 days I will find a new way to practice and develop my communication skills in French each day. I’ll play around with different apps and websites, scope out websites, review books, music, movies, and find French cultural organizations in NYC. This will be a fun project before I take off to Eastern Europe for three weeks in May! I am sooooo excited to visit Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, Budapest, and Berlin!!

 

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Spring Forward

1916551_10154066164004108_4862407059612869124_n (1)I am so ready for spring. We’ve been cold long enough! It’s time for the sun to do it’s job and warm things up a little. This weekend we celebrated Easter, and it got me thinking about how I can resurrect my New Year’s resolutions and get back on track. I’ve been crazy busy with work this past month and a half. I have my highest teaching load yet, and I’m also presenting at a couple conferences and participating in a diversity training forum. Good news – I won a grant to take a group of student to the United Nations for a tour! It will be part of my unit on Persuasion, and I’m really excited about it.

Where have I faded away with my goals this year? Exercise! My Mom is killing it, but I am lucky if I get in a 3-mile run once a week, and maybe a yoga class. Our original goal was five 30+ minute sessions a week. I feel like that is still doable. Time to recommit.

I am also ready to do some spring cleaning. My apartment is small, and my rent is too hight to justify using this place as a storage unit. It’s time to go through my belongings again and see what I can let go of.

This Spring I am going to get back in shape with my family’s workout challenge. I also want to finish at least ONE puppet for my theatre project, and I need to start my 4-week sugar cleanse. I will be a grumpy bunny for the first few treatless weeks of the plan, so I have to be strategic about the start date. It certainly can’t be a week when my students are turning in papers. Ugh.

 

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Star Light, Star Bright

astronomy live

Okay, it’s official. The Spring 2016 semester is under way. I have classes up and running at three schools. So far, we’re off to a good start. The students have been responsive, and I am doing my best to shake things up and make them think a little bit. I also had my 2nd lecture at the Hayden Planetarium. It was really cool! We don’t get to see too many stars, with all the light pollution in NYC. So, seeing the Hayden dome filled with little pin pricks of lights is kind of mesmerizing.

couchToday is the last day of the first month of the new year. So far, it’s going okay. Slow and steady progress. I managed to get my apartment repainted, which meant sleeping on an air mattress and living under plastic tarps for a week, and there is a glorious new teal couch in my living room. Some home improvement is going on. I tried out an improv class, and I signed up for these astronomy lectures, so I’m learning new things. I also have a new office at work that I only share with one other person – a little more prestigious. Thanks to my mother and my sister, I am getting more exercise than ever before with our New Year’s challenge. My mom is thoroughly trouncing both me and my sis, which is embarrassing. How can a 60-year-old woman be so incredibly active?? It’s that FitBit she wears. Some kind of Voodoo magic…

 

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Fake Out

I thought I had to go back to work tomorrow, but guess what – it snowed! The fashion school closes at the first sign of a flurry, as the sidewalks are too slippery to navigate in those stilettos… 🙂 Looks like I get to stay on my sleep-in schedule until Friday.

IMG_3499This week I did a Goodwill crawl on Monday looking for new black shoes to wear to work. Pretty much every woman in America wears a size 8, so this was a true treasure hunt. However, after visiting five different Goodwill stores, I think I found a winning pair. Why the Goodwill? 30% off everything in the store for MLK Day! Because everything was so cheap, I picked up a few extra things I didn’t exactly need but sort of wanted. The navy blue flats are actually waterproof! This will come in handy with our current slush situation.

IMG_3277.jpgOn Tuesday I hosted a live TV show at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s hospital. They do live programming so that kids undergoing cancer treatment who can’t interact with people can still call in and participate. It’s a lot of fun. I do it with my friend Susanna, who is also an actor and a college professor here in NYC. My favorite show to host is Disney Mania, because I’ve seen all the moves and I know most of the songs. I’m not so great with historical trivia, or spelling bees, but I do my best. I mean, these kids are battling cancer.

pecheurs_de_perles_04.9.jpgWednesday was much more glamorous. I love an excuse to dress up, so I was thrilled to go see Les Pêcheurs de Perles at the Metropolitan Opera. It’s a French piece, set in Sri Lanka. The set was gorgeous, and they had some ariel dancing to simulate pearl diving that was artfully done. We ate at The Grand Tier beforehand, which is a restaurant inside the opera house. The food was divine, and it was presented so prettily. We ordered dessert for the intermission, which is 30 minutes at the Met. It was just enough time to really enjoy a Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé with Crème Anglaise and mint herbal tea. Mmmmmmm

starwars.jpgOn Friday we were expecting a huge blizzard, so everyone was rushing to the store after work to stock up on hot chocolate and frozen pizza. I, however, was mostly worried that I wouldn’t reach my fitness challenge. My Mother has been trouncing me and my sister, and I needed to put in a good showing this week to salvage my wounded pride. However, it IMG_3521.jpgwasn’t an ideal night for a run. Thankfully, I am a faithful reader of the AM New York on my morning commute, and I saw that New York Sports Club was letting non-members drop in and try out their Star Wars lightsaber work out – for free! Wow. I was a little late getting my last syllabus to the printers, but I rushed out as soon as I could and managed to snag the last pass to the class. It was SO much fun, but it was also ridiculously difficult. Everyone who took the class was already in such amazing shape. Here’s what I want to know: where do New Yorkers go to GET fit? Clearly not the gym. I also made my 3rd soup of the year, recipe courtesy of AM New York as well – acorn squash blended with miso, sautéed onions and roasted sunflower seeds. Absolutely delish, and totally good for you.

 

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Fill the Canteen

amnhI had the loveliest winter break, but now it’s time to gear up for a new semester. The past few weeks have been busy, and I took advantage of my new museum memberships (thank you, IDNYC) to sign up for a series of lectures at the American Museum of Natural History. The first one was by Anna Frebel, who is known as the “Indiana Jones of Astronomy” – two things I love, merged into one. 🙂 She taught about why it’s important to identify the oldest stars in the galaxy, and how she goes about finding them. When I was a kid, I used to sneak out of bed on nights when I couldn’t sleep and climb up on my window sill to sit and watch the stars. If you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, astronaut would have made the cut. College professor would not. How things change…

new-vicI also took a free improv class at Magnet Theatre, just to check and see if it was really as scary as I thought it would be. Yup. Still, I’m going to take a full session as soon as I find a time that works for me. I both love and hate tackling things that scare me. Also, I want to learn to be funny. On-purpose funny. Oh, and I took part in a workshop by the New Victory Theatre where I learned that I don’t dress cool enough to be a theatre artist. Seriously, these people are inspiring. They can rock sequined headbands and colorful kicks at any age. My co-worker directed an Off-Off Broadway play that I saw. It was about a suicidal bank robber, his depressed son, and a mentally unstable priest, and it was really funny. On purpose funny.

FIAFFinally, I signed up for a French conversation group at the Alliance Française, and I joined my fellow Francophiles for a game of Taboo. What I lack in technical proficiency, I make up for in enthusiasm, and my team killed it! Well, okay, we won by one point. It was neck and neck near the end, and we went into two extra innings before my team pulled ahead. Still, it was a pretty sweet victory.

IMG_3445There’s one more holiday left – no school tomorrow for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. That means I only have one more day to get my life in order before the chaos sets in. I’m still on my soup kick, and I made a big batch of Edamame Spinach soup for my lunches this week. I’m going to bring my lunch every day this semester, because I’m saving up for a trip to Thailand. I want to ride the elephants. I’m excited to meet my new students, though, and catch up with the ones who are brave enough to take me again. It’s going to be a great year, I can feel it.

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