Nov 19, 2016

Light Therapy Treatment Blog: Week 1

I ordered a light therapy lamp online and had it delivered to my office this week. Every spring, it's like a massive weight is lifted off my mind and its shocking to recognize how depressed I was in the wintertime. So I plunked down my european coinage and bought myself a portable 10,000 lux lamp.

I feel better already: it's been good comedy fodder. From Saori's wry comment about "isn't there an app for that?" to the fact that it LOOKS like a tablet down to a felt slip case. One of my coworkers thought it was a drawing tablet, and I almost give to him to see if he could get my new "tablet" to work. It is bright, and I've just started using it so we shall see if I notice any difference.

It was a long week with too little sleep. We watched Das Boot over two nights, both of which ended up being late, and then there was no hot water for the next two days. Why does that keep me up? The hot water in my apartment building comes from a boiler in the basement, and the management had two different engineering firms come out and take a look at it. From the Hausmeister downstairs, it didn't sound like we were going to have more hot water, so Saori asked a colleague if we could use his shower. He lives around the block, so we loaded up a bag with bath stuff and headed over. Along with a bottle of wine as a gift.

He lives alone and was happy to recieve us that late, and so he felt compelled to open the bottle and it turned out be a nice Chianti so we took turns showering and drinking wine and chatting. So that also became a very late night by the time we came back home.

Thursday the hot water was back on, and I was so exhausted (they say Kaputt in German, i.e. broken) I was actually ill, with headache and nausea, and I was in bed before nine. Felt back to normal after a good nights sleep.

Friday night, we went to go see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them at the English language movie in Vaihingen. It was a fun movie. Not sure I would recommend the 3D version but then I'm all about the visuals, and 3D I find to be too distracting. OK plot, really immaculate and fun set design and costuming.

It's saturday. We are way behind on everything, so today I'm trying to line up christmas tickets to the US this weekend. Gray, gray days.

Nov 13, 2016

Sixty great things

Mom turned 60 this week, and I've been thinking about her this whole month. To celebrate with her, especially since I can't be there with her and my brother in person, I'm listing 60 great things and memories I have of her. Obviously, this list is in no way comprehensive, but just some of the first sixty of the innumerable.

  1. Mom taught us the importance of taking part of the communities we were living in. She dragged Tay and I to the schools and churches to go vote with her. She voted in this election, expects us to vote, and raised to take our civic duties responsibly.
  2. Mom's recipe for lunchtime snack: Slice a hot dog in half, lay in a string cheese, roll it all up in a flour tortilla and microwave for a minute.
  3. Going with her to see Carmen and signing themes all the way back to the car
  4. She put me in a commercial for PetsMart
  5. She ventured out of her home state and took the leap to travel first to Mexico, then South Africa, and Japan, and then farther and farther afield, with an explorer's spirit.
  6. "experience junkie"
  7. Keeps calm, cool, and collected in pressure situations.
  8. Supported our family move to Singapore from a world we had grown up in, which infected all of us with a love for travel and vastly widened worldview.
  9. She bribed Tay with a Nintendo Gameboy to move. It was a great example of soft power and negotiation. 
  10. She organized the kind of dream rehearsal dinner for our wedding, where she made happen what we would have wished if money and connections were no problem.
  11. Even though she gave up sugar* she bakes for her office and for her children. I'm still delighted by her Rolo cookies and her mummy cookies still make me laugh
  12. *Scones are categorically excluded, as is gelato when you are on vacation. The lesson for me is don't be so extreme that you miss out the great things in life.
  13. She gives to her children, not with the expectation that they will give back to her, but that we will pay it forward to OUR children.
  14. She plays a mean game of Kings and Losers, keeping Tay, Saori, and I, no poor players ourselves, always on our toes.
  15. Ditto for Bananagrams
  16. She faces radical changes and challenges in her life with incredible grace, resilience, and determination
  17. She sent me to Junior Cotillion where you learn to ask girls to dance and then to actually dance with them when I was in elementary school. It was horrifyingly awkward and I hated it, but it impressed upon me that A) there is a social code that people actually follow, and B) it gave me a step into dancing, which did actually does thread into and out of my life.
  18. More soft power parenting techniques: "Whose Day is it?"
  19. The difference and importance of distinguishing between "who's" and "whose"
  20. Relentlessly encouraging and pushing me to finish what I started in the BoyScouts to become an Eagle scout. 
  21. She is killing it as a lawyer, working for the state
  22. She has a really clear view of what she wants, and the patience and persistence to work for it.
  23. She made a ton of friends in law school across a huge range of ages because she really is that friendly, sincere, and smart that everyone wants to know her.
  24. I lived with her and her current husband for about four months while I was between countries and jobs. She told me once when I was in high school that she would charge me rent to live with them after I graduated, but the only thing she requested from me in this time period was that I cook dinner once a week, which I did, with pleasure. 
  25. She once said she was sad that Tay and I didn't enjoy cooking because she thought we were too much influenced by her attitude towards cooking, but I am happy to remind her that I am now totally into cooking. 
  26. Cold cucumber soup. I hated it when she made it growing up, but it was still food she cooked for us and put on the table every day, and better or worse, we ate a wide variety of meals. 
  27. We had a fantastic trip to Peru and Machu picchu together
  28. When we all lived in Phoenix as adults, going to mom's house for dinner and game night on Fridays.
  29. Napkin ring obsession
  30. She believes jewelry should be worn because it looks great and you love wearing it, and should not just sit hiding as a small investment in a box.
  31. Rule number one at the pool: No Splashing The Mom. 
  32. Parade of Sausages in Munich
  33. The way she welcomes warmly and with open arms all of the friends I made, and that people who are special to me, are special to her.
  34. AJ's pasta night with extra garlic
  35. Lounging and drinking coffee in the modernist glass cube on top of the Capitoline museum in Rome, overlooking that historic city like a group of cinematographers
  36. Paris in freezing temperatures, Musee d'Orsay and a tiny hotel in St. Germain
  37. Paris in the summer, Eurodisney, and the sewer tour. And the Musee d'Orsay because it's fantastic.
  38. "Everyone Gets a Day" method of group travel, where each member gets to propose the day's dining and sightseeing. I never regretted a single day proposed by anyone, it was always interesting and different
  39. Suffered through my endless track and field meets (where I came in last, except one time when I came in second from last) and cross country races (where I did a little better) to support and encourage me.
  40. Insisted that I participate in some form of sports as both a means of keeping me in good physical shape and to spark some form of social skills. Finally clicked with cross country late in high school, but she pushed through all the other sport and social misadventures
  41. It makes me happy to know she enjoys the simple pleasure of drinking coffee in the morning outdoors and looking at the desert mountains. 
  42. Sneaky parent dinner strategy: "asparagus is too good for children."
  43. Less effective strategy: "it could be your new favorite thing!"
  44. One of her big self-criticisms is that she has no "crafty" talent or hand-eye coordination, but she started in visual design (print media layouts) where she found a lot of success, (or so it seems to me), to the Crafting = Fabric Pinecones, to painting, to giving up painting, and finally once again finding a lot of enjoyment and pleasure in landscape design and interior design.
  45. Helping me rescue Saori from Homeland Security goons in DC by faxing them Saori's birth certificate from our apartment in Phoenix
  46. Gives great advice, whenever I had the humility and presence of mind to ask it
  47. Gives great advice, without being asked for it
  48. Once resisted calling me in the middle of the night to make sure I knew how to escape from a rip tide current
  49. Filled my childhood with love and delight and, along with my father and brother, taught me most of the important things about being a human being. 
  50. Family Christmas poetry slam.
  51. She is a devoted daughter and sister, and inspires me as an example of how great family can be.
  52. "Alec, where are you going.... Upstairs to take a bath, bath, bath, bath"
  53. She is a PADI certified diver, and I remember the amazing time we went scuba diving in the Maldives and watching a (monstrosity? flock? alley?) of manta rays feeding off the reef, and then they were going to eat Tay since he was floating off the reef.
  54. She is an incredibly gracious host who reminds her children that the main point of being a host is to make guests as comfortable as possible
  55. 1990's fun car: Mazda 240-SX, 2000's fun car: Mustang convertible, 2010's fun car: Mazda Miata. Loves cars that get progressively smaller, to the point that in 2020 she will be driving the equivalent of a cat carrier on an motorized skateboard
  56. She swam with stingrays, had a black tie dinner on the Great Wall of China, rode in an guarded convoy across the wastelands of Egypt, went on an African safari, mingled with the elites of Mexico City, let her kids take a taste of the beer at the Tsingdao Factory in China, and more willingly let us try the chocolate at the Red October Chocolate Factory in Moscow, watched the national independence parades in Cuzco, Peru, and took a hot air balloon ride over the Arizona desert.
  57. She takes her health seriously enough to exercise regularly, goes to the gym, radically changed her diet and stuck with it.
  58. "Never say never"
  59. No longer tells the story about the time I abandoned my seven year old brother in Singapore.
  60. Totally swinging on a star, carrying moonbeams home in a jar.

Medium is the message

I moved the blog again. I deleted the Tumblr account and moved everything to, a more writing-centric website.