Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Silver linings

I mentioned earlier in the week that I was ill - well, I'm still ill, so I don't have much of interest to say, but I'm also bored, so I thought I'd write a short note. One good reason for not posting so far has been that I've been really very whingy and pathetic since Saturday (when I got ill in the first place) and I wouldn't have been any fun. Tonight I finally feel somewhat less pathetic, even if I am faced with the prospect of yet another day at home tomorrow - hopefully at least tomorrow I may be able to actually make it out of the bed and wander around the house. I tried today, but gave up after 3 hours.

Anyway, the point I wanted to make was that although it undoubtedly sucks to be ill when alone and across the ocean from one's nearest and dearest, there are still positive things to be found. People from work have been incredibly kind, both in continuously checking on me, and in actually helping me by taking me to the doctor or bringing me groceries. And people further away (not just my parents) have also been amazing in just listening to me, reading my emails, letting me Skype however many times I wanted, letting me cry and rail and vent - even when they had other things on their mind (rowing, anyone? ;-) ). Ok, so I didn't need to be this sick to know that I have some very special friends (and bf) waiting for me in England, but it's always comforting to be reminded how lucky I am after all. I swear, if I get through these two years, it will have been a group effort...

So I guess this is just a public way of saying thank you for your patience and for just being there, though my parents probably won't read it, but I guess you guys will, at least.

Monday, 23 February 2009


Right on cue, here is a photo gallery from the Guardian celebrating the reopening of the museum! Do have a look.

Normal posting to resume as soon as I've got over being ill.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Special edition - a great talk

[Per i lettori italiani, se ce ne fossero - non avevo la forza di tradurre, ma se necessario lo faro'...]

I am slowly growing to appreciate more and more the fact that I live in the same town as one of the great US universities, and that it organises a vast amount of interesting talks and events, many of which are open to the general public. (in fact, the whole campus is pretty open and non-student friendly - I think the dorms may be swipe-card access, but a lot of the other buildings are not, and it's a nice change from Oxford)

Last night was a case in point, as I went to a wonderful talk given by the former director of the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. And when I say former director, I mean the person who was there in 2003 at the start of the war, and witnessed the looting we heard about, and spent the following months and years trying to secure what was left and recovering what had been taken.

Just to give you a couple of figures, he estimates that 15,000 pieces were stolen (many of them very small), and of these only 3700 have been recovered. That's just under 25%. That's a lot of artifacts currently possibly lost forever.

In keeping with the general impressionistic tone of this blog, I am not going to try and add to the debate of what should have been done, was done, wasn't done, etc. It seems fairly undisputable to me, however, that if you are faced with dozens if not hundreds of locals with weapons ready to break into your building, it would have been nice to have an armoured tank or two at hand to help protect said building. Before it is stormed and looted. But never mind. I just wanted to share some thoughts and feelings that arose from this talk; I've been thinking it over since last night, and maybe writing things down can help me make sense of my ideas.

It must be said that Dr. George is an excellent, excellent public speaker. Clearly someone who has his rhetorical skills down to a fine art. Although he was speaking 'freely', as in, not reading from a script, he is clearly used to giving this speech and the way he used his words, his repetitions, his full repertoire of techniques just drove the point home. You would think it would be grating to an extent, this blatant display of oratory - but instead I found myself in quiet awe of it, much like when one reads a well-written Ciceronian speech. So that certainly helped make the message more effective.

The talk was essentially a commentary on a slideshow of objects from the museum - photos of them in situ, of them after being recovered, of them smashed to pieces, of the ransacked museums galleries. It may seem inappropriate at a time when so much is wrong in the world, to feel emotionally affected by the fate of a museum six years ago. And yet when I saw the images of the damage done, of galleries with smashed artifacts, I felt physically sick. I guess it's because it was just, well, so gratuitous. I can sort of understand the looting - you are stealing something because you hope to make a profit from it - but the random destruction? Of things that are thousands and thousands of years old? By the people whose culture and history this is? This is possibly the thing that gets to me the most - that this was wrought not by 'invaders'; or outsiders or conquerors or suchlike - but by the local people themselves. This is what I find hard to get my head round - that you would be willing to destroy something that has been set up to preserve, document, celebrate your own culture, your own past.

I suppose it's naive and perhaps even Guardian-reader-y of me to hope that museums and other similar places of culture would somehow never fail to inspire reverence and respect, and remain untouched havens whatever the situation may be in the wider world. I realise that a war, a foreign invasion, is a desperate event and being nice to museums isn't really top of anyone's priorities at that point, survival being rather more pressing (and in an oblique way, Dr. George sort of acknowledged as much). But that doesn't make it any less painful to watch.

At more than one point during the war, it was decided to secure the museum. This involved sealing all entrances, adding some steel doors, and then encasing the whole thing in thick cement walls. And then when it was ok to do so, it was all taken down (it took 3 days) and people went back to work. And then they thought it was necessary again, so they went through the whole thing once more. It's a very sensible precaution of course, and one that seems to have worked, but it was really rather sad to see the bricked up museum waiting for happier times.

Among all the gloom, there was a positive note, at least for me. It turns out that one of the groups that helped the most in recovering the lost goods, and subsequently helping in their restoration, giving supplies, training others, and contributing to the rebuilding of the museum were the Carabinieri and other Italian experts. It is nice to know that there are good things we have to offer, and we have made a tangible and positive contribution to this.

This was rather long, and perhaps disjointed - thanks for getting this far, if you have. More information can also be found here.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Sometimes work happens

Italiano segue

It might have come to your attention that I don't often write about work here...this is partly because I am always wary of saying too much in a public forum, and partly because so far most of what I've been doing has been not-too-thrilling groundwork for my planned research. In particular, annotating a corpus of emails for speech acts. But this is not to say that I don't do any work: I am pleased to report that this morning this rather tedious annotation task was finished!! I now have a corpus of 1163 emails, with 13,384 annotated speech acts in them, for me to do what I please. Let the real brainwork begin! Until today I was almost dreading this moment, as it meant having to stop doing a boring but reassuring task, and actually having to generate ideas again. But suddenly I feel very excited at the prospect, and looking forward to it, and the trial and error process that comes with research - which makes me think that maybe I am suited to this type of work after all. We shall see of course if I still feel like this in a month's time!

All in all, though, not a bad way to start the week. This was preceded by a rather pleasant weekend in which I watched more 6 Nations rugby (did I mention that I love my Setanta subscription?), cringed at what Italy and England did therein - the less said the better - and went on a mildly crazed cooking spree which resulted in 6 Tupperware-fuls of food. Yeay for advance meal planning and freezers! In particular I made potato soup with cumin (really, try adding cumin seeds to any root vegetable soup - it makes such a difference, turning something filling and meh into something filling and rather tasty) and beef/potato/mushroom stew (nb with chestnut mushrooms rather than the white ones, which rarely taste of much). Yes, the potato was a recurring feature, due to there being a sackful of them which needed to be used up.

Also last night I went to a screening of Waltz with Bashir at the University. It was a beautiful film I thought, in the aesthetic sense of the word, and very intense and gripping - I don't think I ever took my eyes off the screen or got distracted for a moment. And it definitely could have only been made as a animation, I think. The experience of watching it was all the more interesting for having occurred in the company of my Lebanese friend and about 100 Israelis and Israeli-Americans (for those of you who don't know, the film is about the Israeli-Lebanese conflict in the 80s), and being followed by a rather animated debate, where things of varying appropriateness were said. More details available upon request. But the take-home message is - watch it if you have a chance.

Oh, and last week there were also a couple of other fun things - a girly lunch with people from work (excellent sandwich with sausage and broccoli, accompanied by fries and pasta and bean soup as sides...hmm. Sometimes I wonder how I managed to lose 10lbs here!) and afterwork drinks at the pub with, predictably, more people from work. It was really nice to have a couple of pints in a bar and everyone is nice, and fun, and good company. But I think if you saw me there you would have hardly recognised me - I am the one who sits quietly and smiles and laughs politely at the appropriate times, and hardly speaks unless spoken to. It's weird, and it really bugs me - I know it's natural I guess, and indeed with some of my colleagues/friends this doesn't happen any more (though I am far from my crazed, blunt, inappropriate self), and with time I'm sure I will feel more and more comfortable...but it still annoys me that I am finding it so hard to just be myself. Mind you, it's probably not a bad thing for those around me! :-)

in italiano

Forse avrete notato che non parlo spesso di lavoro qui...questo e' in parte perche' sono sempre un po titubante a dire troppo in un 'luogo' pubblico, e in parte perche' finora il grosso del mio lavoro e' stato 'gettare le fondamenta' per la ricerca che ho in programma di fare. In particolare, ho dovuto annotare un corpus di email per gli 'speech act' (ma come si chiamano in italiano?!) in esse contenute. Ma cio' non significa che non stia facendo niente: anzi, sono lieta di annunciare che stamattina questa annotazione, piuttosto noiosa, e' stata completata!! Ho adesso a mia disposizione un corpus di 1163 email, con 13,384 speech act annotati, da usare a mio piacimento. Si dia inizio al vero lavoro! Fino ad oggi devo dire che temevo quasi questo momento, perche' voleva dire smettere di fare un compito noioso ma rassicurante, e dover cominciare di nuovo a generare idee. Ma all'improvviso sono molto galvanizzata all'idea, e non vedo l'ora di cominciare il processo di tenativi ed errori e correzioni di rotta che fanno parte della ricerca - il che mi fa pensare che forse questo tipo di lavoro e' adatto a me, dopo tutto. Vedremo se tra un mese staro' ancora a dire queste cose!

Insomma, pero', non un cattivo inizio alla settimana. Cio' e' stato preceduto da un weekend abbastanza piacevole, durante il quale ho guardato ancora rugby nelle 6 Nazioni, soffrendo per il comportamento dell'Italia e dell'Inghilterra - meglio stendere un velo pietoso - e mi sono lanciata in un vortice di cucina che e' risultato in 6 Tupperware di cibo. Viva la pianificazione dei pasti e i freezer! In particolare, ho fatto zuppa di patate con cumino (sul serio, provate ad aggiungere semi di cumino alle zuppe fatte con i tuberi [ok, questo forse non interessa tanto agli italiani!] - ha veramente effetto, e trasforma una cosa che riempie lo stomaco ed e' un po' banale in una cosa che riempie lo stomaco ed e' piuttosto saporita), e uno stufato di manzo, patate e funghi. Si, la patata era un po il leit motiv di queste ricette, perche' ne avevo un sacco pieno da consumare.

Ieri sera sono andata a vedere Valzer con Bashir all'universita. L'ho trovato un film molto bello, nel senso estetico della parola, e molto intenso, ti prende - credo di non aver mai distolto lo sguardo dallo schermo, o essermi distratta per un momento. E credo che doveva per forza essere fatto come animazione. L'esperienza del film e' stata resa piu interessante dal fatto che e' avvenuta in compagnia della mia amica libanese e circa 100 israeliani o israelo-americani (per chi non lo sapesse, il film racconta del conflitto Israelo-Libanese negli anni 80), e al film e' seguito un dibato alquanto animato, in cui sono state dette cose di qualita variabile. Ulteriori dettagli disponibili su richiesta. Ma il succo e' - se ne avete occasione, vedetelo.

Ah, e la settiman scorsa ci sono state un altro paio di cose carine - un pranzo 'girls only' con alcune colleghe (incredibile a dirsi, un panino salsiccia e friarielli!! niente male, che aveva come contorno patatine fritte e pasta e fagioli! A volte mi domando come abbia fatto a perdere 5kg qua), e un'andata al pub dopo lavoro, sempre con i colleghi. E' stato molto bello bere un paio di birre in un bar, e tutti sono simpatici e divertenti e di buona compagnia. Ma credo che se qualcuno mi avesse visto li mi avrebbe a stento riconosciuto - sono quella che sta seduta in silenzio e sorride e ride educatamente quando richiesto, e non parla mai se non direttamente interpellata. E' strano, e mi da veramente fastidio - certo forse e' naturale, e a dire il vero con alcune colleghe/amiche questo non succede piu (anche se non e' che sia la solita Ra pazzoide, troppo diretta e inopportuna), e sicuramente col tempo mi sentiro piu a mio mi da' comunque sui nervi che trovi cosi' difficile essere me stessa. Ma forse questa non e' una cosa negativa per quelli che mi circondano! :-)

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

I am not good at creative post titles

(italiano segue testo inglese)

Another week, another blog post. Needless to say, I've had a lovely lovely 4-day weekend, and not just because the weather was incredibly warm (well, compared to what we've been having anyway) - Nick was here from Thursday evening to Monday afternoon and we managed to fit in a lot of random things. We walked down to Carnegie Lake, which is usually pretty anyway, but was looking even prettier with several layers of ice and snow on it. Earlier in the week it had even been open for ice skating, but sadly not this weekend. But you can still look at a pretty picture of it. More winter pictures are here.

We ended up spending a looooong time here, the most exciting part of which is the bargain section where most cds cost $1.99. I showed remarkable restraint though, acquiring among other things another Pink album (I can't help having such a huge crush on her) and deciding that I could afford to spend two dollars on an unknown (to me) band because I liked their name: Codeine. Sadly, I wasn't very taken by their music, and I would have probably known this had I known they are labelled as the pioneers of 'sadcore' (wtf?!). Nonetheless, I think there is a lot of value in this experiment, and plan to repeat it soon. When I take my Codeine friends back, in fact.

I also had the chance to be reminded how awful Newark is, at least Terminal B. It's so grim, and the only two places where one could get any half-decent food have been arbitrarily eliminated. You can get a massage though. I mean, I like airports - more than a lot of people I know - I can be very forgiving of them - but there is really very little that can be said in favour of it. It really doesn't come across as an international airport attached to one of the major cities of the world - Aberdeen airport was a hundred times nicer, for heaven's sake! But it is very well connected with Princeton, and that's not something to be sniffed at I suppose.

Often my visits to Newark coincide with one of the Air India flights, and I am always very fascinated by the little scenes of people coming and going. We often remark that Naples airport is an amazing anthropological experience when it comes to observing family scenes of returning or departing emigrants, but the Air India flights certainly give us a run for our's really quite moving, the way whole clans of people mobilise to accompany or greet people at the airport - and it's such a long way away from here, not just across the Atlantic like England or Italy, it must be so heartbreaking for everyone involved. And also somehow respect-inducing - in the sense that you really respect these families for their life choices, for believing that this is the best thing to do for them/their children, and go through the pain of being far away from the rest of the family in the hope, the belief, of Doing The Right Thing.

ANYway...we also had the chance to meet up with a friend of ours from the MPhil who is now at UPenn, and hadn't seen since the end of the MPhil, and that was very nice too. Thanks to her, and other bits of useful networking, I am now on the mailing lists of linguistics and computer science departments here and at Penn and hope to be able to go to talks once in a while. I find myself really, really missing going to seminars which are only of tangential relevance to my work just to learn a bit more about random things. It's weird - I never thought this would be one of the things I'd miss most about academia! (but fear not, I don't miss undergraduates and teaching yet) Also, it might be a good way to meet more people of appropriate age and inclinations. I actually went to an AI one already last week, but was incredibly embarassed by my unstoppable coughing and skulked out (is that even a word?) before the end because of it, sadly.

Speaking of meeting people, sociability is definitely taking off - there are random lunches and evenings with girls from work, and I'm going regularly to the step class from hell where there is a very nice girl probably around my age, who is very sociable and lives near me, so that bodes well. A word about the step class - it was actually advertised as 'cardio kinetics' and I had no idea this meant a solid hour of being on the step, interspersed only by a few jumping jacks, followed by 30 minutes of abs, press ups, weights, and more leg things on a mat. The first time I was sore for four days. I am still assessing the damage this week. Plus, you know how malcoordinated I am, and I regularly end up missing steps in the routines and falling off the step in a most unbecoming manner...Still, it's good for me, and the people are fun, so in a perverse way I look forward to it each week.

In short, it looks like I have regular things going on in my life, and some nice people around me. I don't even feel too miserable about Nick having left again. It's starting to feel more and more like I have a life here, rather than a temporary pit stop...

In Italiano

Un'altra settimana, un altro post. Inutile dire che ho passato un bellissimo weekend di 4 giorni, e non solo perche' ha fatto caldo (almeno in confronto alle settimane precedenti) - Nick e' venuto da giovedi sera a lunedi pomeriggio e siamo riusciti a fare un sacco di cose carine. Siamo andati al Carnegie Lake, che e' sempre pittoresco, ma lo era ancora piu' coperto da molti strati di ghiaccio e neve (cf. foto in alto). All'inizio della settimana era addirittura aperto per il pattinaggio, ma purtroppo non e' durato fino al weekend. Ci sono anche altre foto della neve qui.

Abbiamo anche passato un saaacco di tempo qui, una delle cose piu' checazze e' la sezione delle offerte dove quasi tutti i cd costano $1.99. Io pero' mi sono trattenuta, e ho comprato tra le altre cose un altro album di Pink (non ci posso fare niente, sono troppo innamorata di lei) e ho deciso che potevo permettermi di spendere due dollari per un gruppo (a me) sconosciuto, solo perche' mi piaceva il nome: Codeine. Purtroppo, la musica era molto meno piacevole, e forse se avessi saputo che costoro sono i pionieri del 'sadcore' (?!) me ne sarei resa conto prima. Ma ciononostante, credo che sia un esperimento che vale la pena ripetere - molto presto, quando andro' a riportare indietro i miei amici Codeina, per la precisione.

Ho anche avuto occasione di ricordarmi di quanto sia penoso l'aeroporto di Newark, almeno il Terminal B. E' troppo triste, e gli unici due posti dove si poteva mangiare una cosa semidecente sono stati arbitrariamente eliminati. Pero' e' ancora possibile farsi fare un massaggio. A me gli aeroporti non dispiacciono - perdono loro molte pecche - ma c'e' veramente poco che si puo' dire in difesa di questo. Non sembra proprio un aeroporto internazionale per una delle citta' principali del mondo - l'aeroporto di Aberdeen e' cento volte meglio! Pero' il collegamento con Princeton e' piu' che ottimo, e questo non e' da poco.

Spesso le mie visite a Newark coincidono con uno dei voli Air India, e sono sempre molto affascinata dai piccoli teatrini della gente che arriva e parte. Spesso si commenta che l'aeroporto di Napoli e' un'esperienza antropologica unica dal punto di vista delle scene familiari con emigranti in arrivo o in partenza, ma i voli Air India ci fanno molta concorrenza...e' davvero molto commovente, il modo in cui interi clan di persone si mobilizzano per accompagnare o accogliere le persone all'aeroporto - ed e' cosi' lontano da qui, non solo dall'altro lato dell'Atlantico come l'Inghilterra o l'Italia, dev'essere cosi' doloroso per tutti i coinvolti. E in un qualche modo ispira anche tanto rispetto - nel senso che si prova tanto rispetto per queste famiglie per le loro scelte di vita, per il modo in cui sono convinte che questa sia la cosa migliore per se/i loro figli, e subiscono il dolore di essere lontani dal resto della famiglia nella speranza, nella convinzione, di star facendo la cosa giusta.

COMUnque...abbiamo anche avuto occasione di rivedere una nostra amica dei tempi del master che ora sta facendo il dottorato a Philadelphia, e non vedevamo appunto dalla fine del Master, e anche questo e' stato molto bello. Grazie a lei, e altre utili occasioni di networking, adesso sono sulle mailing list dei dipartimenti di linguistica e informatica qui e all'University of Pennsylvania e spero di poter andare ai loro seminari ogni tanto. Ho scoperto che sento davvero tanto la mancanza di quei seminari che sono solo tangenzialmente rilevanti al mio lavoro, giusto per imparare qualcosa di nuovo su cose a casaccio. E' strano - non avrei mai detto che questa sarebbe stata una delle cose che mi sarebbero mancate di piu del mondo accademico! (ma non temete, studenti e insegnamento non mi mancano ancora) E poi potrebbe essere un buon modo per incontrare altre persone di eta e interessi simili ai miei. La settimana scorsa sono andata appunto a un seminario di intelligenza artificiale, ma una tosse inarrestabile mi ha fatto troppo imbarazzare e sono fuggita via prima della fine per la troppa vergogna.

A proposito dell'incontrare persone, la socievolezza sta decisamente migliorando - ci sono vari pranzi e serate con le colleghe, e sto cercando di andare regolarmente alla classe di step infernale dove c'e' una ragazza molto simpatica che sembra avere la mia eta ed e' molto socievole e vive vicino casa mia, il che promette bene. Due parole sulla classe di step - era pubblicizzata come 'cardio kinetics' e non avrei mai immaginato che questo prevedesse un'ora intera sullo step, intervallata da qualche saltello, seguita da 30 minuti di addominali, flessioni, pesi, e altri esercizi per le gambe. La prima volta i dolori sono durati quattro giorni. Questa settimana sto ancora aspettando di capire. Inoltre, la mia mancanza di coordinazione e' ben nota, e regolarmente sbaglio i passi nelle routine e cado dallo step in maniera alquanto inelegante...Pero' mi fa bene, e le persone sono simpatiche, quindi ci vado con piacere perverso.

Insomma, sembra che ci siano varie cose regolari nella mia vita, e delle belle persone che mi circodano. Non mi sento neanche troppo depressa dalla partenza di Nick. Comincio a sentire sempre di piu di essere qui ad avere una vita, piuttosto che fare un pit stop...

Monday, 2 February 2009

Riding the wave. Or something like that.

Italiano segue

Wow, this has been a real 'wave-like' week, in the sense that it's had such peaks and troughs...last Sunday I was all hyper from the nice day with my family - and then promptly got ill, including a high temperature again. Clearly these US germs really are different from what my immune system is used to! So there was more of being shut indoors, and feeling miserable and lonely, and willing the time to pass. And not going to the gym or the pool after all. Luckily it was much less drastic then when I was ill before Christmas, and apart from a lingering cough, I was back at work after a couple of days.

Speaking of work, last week I also experienced my first 'snow day', or rather snow morning - basically it had snowed through the night and you get to come into work later than usual to allow for road cleaning, pavement deicing, etc - most pleasing! There is an automated number you call that tells you what the earliest you can come in is. I have vague memories of things working in a similar manner when we were in Germany with school, although maybe that was a radio announcement instead? Anyway, I heartily approve, even if it means more snow-shovelling for us.

I have been putting my newly-received TV to very good use: I have a spiffy DVD player (that plays European DVDs too) and it's sooo much nicer to watch things on a 32" screen while sprawled on the sofa! Also I have subscribed to Setanta US via broadband (ie to watch it on your laptop) so I can finally get a good fix of European sports - yesterday I was watching Newcastle play for no reason other than that I just could! And it means I can watch all the 6 Nations in the coming weeks, much to Nick's joy (especially since it means *he* gets to watch it while he's here, too). And because I'm a big geek, I've also acquired a cable to connect laptop & tv so I can actually watch this all on a bigger screen. Life is good. :-)

Even more excitingly, I've made concrete progress with the Girl Scout thing! Yesterday I met with a very nice woman who is a coordinator for the area, and she gave me forms to fill in and told me there is a Brownie troop very near my house where they could probably use me. Hurrah! I will also have to do some leadership training classes, but it's probably good for me, so I don't mind. I doubt I will ever be as capable with kids as Sandra is, but I can at least try...

Oh, and last night I sealed my yes-I'm-in-America-now by going to a Superbowl party! Though none of us were particularly interested in the football itself, which actually was on in a different room, and really it was just an excuse to get a few people together. It was at my colleague Sarah's house - she's actually becoming more and more of a friend, as I really like her and her office is just opposite mine so we run into each other quite a lot during the day (can you imagine what it would have been like if Laura and I had had that office setup?! It would have taken all her self-discipline to keep me away! :-) ). Anyway - it was nice to meet some new people, and everyone was very chilled and easy to talk to and on the same wavelength, and it was just a really pleasant evening.

I realise these posts are rather factual and diary-like, and not very introspective. I am, in fact, introspecting quite a lot in my spare time, as some of you on the receiving end of my tortuous emails know. I guess it's because I don't want to depress people more than necessary, and also, I find it helpful for myself to set out all the good things that have happened in a week, and remind myself that I am doing lots of things, and trying to keep busy, and it's not so bad really. It still doesn't feel like home - and I still miss everyone desperately - but I think I really need to stop living every week as a sort of countdown, and just deal with it!

Beh, questa e' stata una settimana piuttosto 'ondeggiante', nel senso che ha avuto grandi alti e bassi...domenica scorsa ero tutta ipereccitata dalla bella giornata trascorsa con la mia famiglia - e poi mi sono prontamente ammalata, di nuovo con la febbre alta. Si vede che questi germi americani sono davvero diversi da quello a cui e' abituato il mio sistema immunitario...Quindi sono seguiti altri giorni chiusa in casa, a sentirmi depressa e abbandonata, e cercando di far passare il tempo. E non andare ne' in palestra ne' in piscina. Per fortuna e' stato molto meno drammatico di quando mi sono ammalata prima di Natale, e a parte una tosse che persiste ancora, sono tornata a lavoro dopo un paio di giorni.

A proposito di lavoro, la settimana scorsa ho anche vissuto il mio primo 'snow day', o meglio 'snow morning' - in pratica poiche' aveva nevicato tutta la notte al mattino si arriva a lavoro piu tardi del solito per avere il tempo di sgomberare le strade, ridurre il ghiaccio, etc -molto bello! C'e' un messaggio preregistrato da telefonare che ti dice da che ora in poi si puo' arrivare. Ho dei vaghi ricordi di cose simili con la scuola in Germania, ma forse quello era un annuncio alla radio? Boh, comunque, ha la mia approvazione, anche se significa che dobbiamo spalare altra neve.

Sto facendo buon uso della mia nuova TV: ho un elegante lettore DVD (che legge anche i DVD europei) ed e' mooolto meglio guardare le cose su uno schermo 32" spaparanzata sul divano! Ho anche fatto l'abbonamento a un canale sportivo via internet (da guardare sul laptop) cosi' posso finalmente godermi una buona dose di sport europeo - ieri guardavo una partita del Newcastle giusto perche' potevo! E significa che posso seguire tutto il torneo delle 6 nazioni nelle prossime settimane, con grande gioia di Nick (soprattutto perche' cosi' lui non si perde le partite quando mi viene a trovare). E da grande donna tecnologica quale sono, ho anche acquistato un cavo per collegare computer & tv cosi posso guardare anche questo sul grande schermo. Life is good. :-)

Ancora piu eccitante, ho fatto progressi tangibili con la vicenda delle Girl Scout! Ieri mi sono vista con una signora molto simpatica che e' una delle coordinatrici locali, e mi ha dato dei moduli da riempire e mi ha detto che c'e' un gruppo molto vicino a casa mia dove probabilmente mi potrebbero mettere a buon uso. Evviva! Dovro' anche fare delle sessioni di training, ma probabilmente mi fara' bene, quindi non mi pesa molto.

Ah, e ieri sera ho definitivamente sigillato la mia presenza in America andando a un Superbowl party! In realta' nessuno dei presenti era particolarmente interessato al football in se, che anzi era in un'altra stanza, ed era piu che altro una scusa per riunire un po di persone. Era a casa della mia collega Sarah - diciamo pure che sta diventando sempre piu un'amica piuttosto che solo una collega, e' molto simpatica e il suo ufficio e' di fronte al mio quindi ci incrociamo spesso durante la giornata. E' stato carino conoscere un po di persone nuove, e tutti erano molto simpatici e facili da parlare e di mentalita' simile, ed e' stata una serata piacevole.

Mi rendo conto che questi post sono piuttosto diaristici e non molto introspettivi. In realta' io introspettisco fin troppo nel mio tempo libero...Credo che sia perche' non voglio deprimere la gente piu del necessario, e inoltre, trovo che mi aiuta mettere su carta tutte le cose positive che sono successe nell'arco della settimana, per ricordarmi che sto facendo un sacco di cose, e sto cercando di tenermi impegnata, e davvero la situazione non e' cosi' nera. Non mi sento ancora 'a casa' - e sento ancora tanto la mancanza di tutti - ma credo che debba smettere di vivere ogni settimana come se fosse solo un conto alla rovescia, e darmi una smossa!