Wednesday, 15 April 2009

April is the loveliest month of the year (so far!)

Here she is again, after the 2-week hiatus...which has a very good reason, namely that I actually Got A Life and had people visiting on two consecutive weekends and went out and drank cocktails and gossiped and was girly for days on end. It was great - first Naomi was here, then my cousin (who is doing a PhD elsewhere in the US). Both visits (which were very welcome) involved lots of roaming about Princeton/Philly and eating out and having a drink or two (among others - lychee martini, some nice concotion of vanilla vodka and orangey thing that tasted like an ice cream lolly, various things involving fizz....). Much as I enjoy living on my own in my multi-room flat, it was also nice to have someone around for a few days, have meals with, chat before bed, and all that. Especially someone who knows me well so that I don't have to constantly worry about making a bad impression!

In between, there has been a fair bit of work, and planning for conferences in the summer. Also, crucially, increasingly nice weather - and suddenly Princeton seems to have sprung to life, cafes and restaurants have tables on the pavement, the queue outside the ice cream place snakes round the corner, everyone is out and about and it all feels rather Mediterranean, it's so nice to see. I am really looking forward to the months to come, I think I could quite love this town in the right season....

More importantly, I finally got round to having my first driving lesson!! I was so so so terrified beforehand given my well-known ineptitude with most things practical, but I quickly realised that actually driving an automatic car is very, very, easy: you step on a pedal, and the car goes faster. You step on the other one, and it stops. AND THAT'S IT. Well, and turning at corners and all that. But really. I drove for two hours straight, including on some rather main bits of road, and was incredibly pleased and proud of myself (though I was by no means perfect). What I do seem to have retained from my driving lessons in Naples is a deep mistrust of everyone else on the road - my instructor was half-amused, half-frustrated by my refusal to believe that people would really stop at a red light, or yield when it my right of way, and generally avoid doing anything unpredictable. I think one should always be deeply suspicious of every other driver out there. You never know.

The other day I was also given a more central leadership role at the Girl Scout meeting, while my co-leader discussed practicalities with some of the mothers. I think I failed - the five 8-year olds didn't really seem interested in doing the activity that I was supposed to lead them in, and you can't really tell them off like you would unruly undergrads - though the process of extracting answers and ideas from them was very very similar to that undergone in tutorials with said undergrads. I think they are just a bit confused by my role in life - I am a grownup and a teacher, apparently, because I am a co-leader - also apparently I could be 36 - but no, I am not a grownup because I don't own a car (insert desired scathing remark about cars and America here if desired) - also I am not a mom - but I do have a job - in short, I can kind of tell they are still trying to figure me out, and test their limits with me, which is ok, but I did feel a bit embarassed (towards my co-leader) that I couldn't keep them on task for more than 90 seconds at a time.

Finally, yesterday the NY cousin had her bridal shower, which was my first such event and saw me get rather dolled up and have lunch at a fancy restaurant mid-town. It was actually rather sweet, the whole thing, and very touching in parts, so it was nice to be there. But I do find New York weddings far too complicated...

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