Archive for the 'General' Category

All this relaxation is starting to hurt

Posted by sue on 10th August 2008

So, it’s been 11 days since my last day of work at the American School of Languages, and I’m starting to feel the toll that rest and relaxation is taking on my body. No kidding! It turns that, rather perversely, my body actually got accustomed to at least one hour per day of walking up and down hills (normal walking to work and lunch and home) and the moving around I do at school while I’m teaching. I wouldn’t say teaching is a particularly active job, but it’s not all that sedentary either– I certainly don’t sit in front of a computer for hours, or do any one thing for extended periods of time. I’m always moving around the school, getting materials together, making copies, reading a bit, always in fairly short stints. But now, without my walk to school, I’ve been getting less regular exercise and sitting for longer periods, reading a book or surfing the Internet.

So, twice this week I woke up in the morning with a sore back. Not fair! I guess I’ll need to balance my loafing with more exercise the rest of the month, until I go back to the old routine in September.

Posted in General | 37 Comments »


Posted by sue on 2nd August 2008

For those two or three of you who have lamented our virtual abandonment of this blog, good news! I’m not working for the whole month of August, and have vowed to post 15 blog entries during the month, to share with you the details of Portugal living that I have, up to now, cruelly withheld from my eager readership.

I’ve decided to begin with coming clean about a few things I’m embarrassed about. portugues.jpg

First item on the list: Portuguese. This is the cover of a Portuguese language textbook. I’ve owned this book since sometime in the fall, and have yet to finish working through it. My Portuguese is terrible. I mean, really, really, embarrassingly terrible, even after 15 months of living here. I can order food, and coffee, and drinks of various kinds, and sometimes understand miscellaneous things that are said to me, but I’m still really a beginner at the language. Not sure what to do now– study really hard these last couple of months, to end with a feeling of accomplishment? Or give up, thinking that I’ve lived here this long operating mostly in English, so surely I can carry on this way until I leave?

Posted in General | 30 Comments »

“Susan laughed, but it wasn’t funny.”

Posted by sue on 7th March 2008

In case you’re wondering whether I’ve changed much in the time I’ve been away from the U.S., well, it’s hard to say. I’ve certainly been living in my own little universe lately (thus the lack of communication on this blog), but there are certain things about me that seem to be constant. I know this because the things that my new friends make fun of me for are the same things that my old friends make fun of me for. Things I’ve been made fun of for lately:

I’m still a generous laugher- everyone is about 80% funnier around me.

I trip a lot when walking around (but don’t worry, I rarely fall down, and I haven’t broken any bones lately). Lisbon’s streets & sidewalks are quite uneven and I’m still quite klutzy.

I still talk too loudly when I’ve been drinking.

I’m still a home improvement perfectionist- I helped with some painting at my school and insisted that we paint the wall behind the bookshelves (when the shelves had already been temporarily taken down, of course), just in case the shelves had to be changed later, or didn’t fit exactly back where they had been. And it was just the right way to do it, dammit!

Posted in General, Portugal | 24 Comments »


Posted by sue on 7th January 2008

We spent 5 nights in Paris this past week to celebrate the New Year, see the city and to visit friends. Paris is of course a grand, beautiful city, with lots and lots to see. We’d visited once before–just 3 days back in 1998. At that time we hit some of the main tourist attractions, so we didn’t feel the need to do the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre this time.

We did, however, walk around Montmartre to Sacre Coeur:

We also visited the Musee d’Orsay, which houses lots of works by the Impressionist painters (and Pre- and Post Impressionism). The building itself is very cool, because it used to be a train station and hotel.

The best part of the trip was the fact that we were welcomed to Paris by actual Parisians, Lee and Lauren Sullivan, with whom we shared a few lovely meals, including New Year’s Eve. Merci beaucoup!

All in all, we had a lovely time. A couple things did make a appreciate Lisbon a little more, though: Paris is very, very expensive, and this time of year it is cold!

Posted in General, Photos | 50 Comments »

Bonne Annee!

Posted by sue on 1st January 2008

Len and I are celebrating the beginning of 2008 in the City of Lights, and wish all our friends and family a very Happy New Year!

Posted in General | 3 Comments »

Waaaahhhh! Where’s my coffee???

Posted by sue on 24th October 2007

Len is currently in Boston on a business trip, abandoning his self-proclaimed Mr. Trophy Mom duties. I’m now left to make my own coffee and breakfast in the morning, and my own dinner at night, and keep our 5 plates, four pans, and 4 sets of silverware clean for the purposes of those meals! Plus working lots and taking Portuguese lessons.

I’m not too proud to admit that I’m a bit a wreck this week, adjusting to Len’s absence.

I know, it sounds whiny. But is it interesting how, when you’re out of the house for long hours, it can leave so much work for your spouse who is home more than you are. Of course I should know, since in the L.A. days, the grocery shopping and food preparation and financial management and laundry (though I stilll do the laundry because I’m picky about how to properly hang up clothes to dry- thanks for the training, Mom!) mostly fell to me when Len was working long Sony hours, but being on the other end is a whole new experience.

Posted in General, Portugal | 23 Comments »

One Year pEur-Africa party

Posted by sue on 21st October 2007

It was one year ago today that we arrived in Fez, Morocco, to kick off the crazy overseas adventure that has brought us to Morocco, Spain, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, France and Portugal.

We are now Masters of the Mediterranean(TM)! We’re adventurous enough to want to live in different places, but, evidently we still insist on good, California-like weather!

We sort of doubt any of you exist, but if you do happen to be one of those who has been following our story from the beginning, take a look back to the very first post from Morocco: Morocco First Post.

When we left, we decided that we would live overseas for at least one year, no matter what happened. (Of course, we HOPED we’d find some place that we’d fall in love with and want to stay forever.) But now, we have permission from our one-year-ago selves to fly back to the U.S. tomorrow. As it happens, Len is flying back to the U.S. tomorrow, back to his childhood home state of Massachusetts (for 10 days, on business), and I’m staying here, with a full teaching schedule through the middle of December.

The state of things so far? Good, though I confess we haven’t found that place that begs us to stay forever. We’ll be in Lisbon till June ’08 because I’ve promised to teach at my school till then, but after that, who knows? We’re taking offers.

Thanks to our long-time, steady readers. And the occasional ones too. We thank you for your eyeballs and your comments (from which we can infer the number of eyeballs). Comment more!

Posted in General, Musings | 34 Comments »

The Challenge of Travel Writing

Posted by sue on 3rd October 2007

So, I’m reading The Book of Disquiet, by Fernando Pessoa, one of Portugal’s most famous poets and authors (therefore, not famous at all. Ouch!). He was one depressed dude. He writes, “Everything wearies me, including what doesn’t weary me. My happiness is as painful as my pain.” Seriously, this is not a guy you want to invite to your next cocktail party (which is just as well, since he died in 1935).

But, he might just have a point about travel writing:
“[Travel books] are worth only as much as the imagination of the one who writes them, and if the writer has imagination, he can as easily enchant us with the detailed, photographic description…of scenes he imagined as he can with the necessarily less detailed description of the scenes he thought he saw.”

He points to the challenge we have here at Squid HQ. Communicating interesting tidbits about overseas living experiences has less to do with the inherent exoticism of living in Fez, or Cairo, or Lisbon, than it is about how good of writers we are. It turns out that we’re naturally rather boring people, and even worse writers. Sorry! We’ll work on it.

We’re going to the very north of Portugal this weekend, and also plan to visit Galicia, the area of Spain that’s north of Portugal. I have Thursday, Friday, and Monday off from teaching (a little break between terms) and we’re taking advantage of the long weekend to see more of the country. We’ll try to think of witty, observant things to say about it all. Or just drink lots of wine. One of the two.

Posted in General, Musings | 38 Comments »

On the way back to Portugal

Posted by sue on 19th August 2007

I’m heading back to Lisbon tomorrow after my U.S. vacation. Len has been off on his own U.S. jet-set, and will be back in Lisbon on Friday, where we’ll get back to work.

Since my Aloha to Lil, Gary, and Heather trip to L.A., I’ve been back in Iowa for a few days to visit my family. The first few days were pretty brutal– I helped with some construction projects on the family homestead, which reminds me how much I don’t miss the morass of home improvement that I was stuck in when we were working on our house in Culver City! Then I drove to Des Moines to celebrate my one and only nephew’s birthday with the whole family (he’s 9 and this is the first time I’ve ever been around for his birthday– does that make me a bad aunt?).

I kind of wish I could stay longer, because my high school class is having our 20-year reunion on September 1, but I really want to get back to Lisbon to get on with learning Portuguese and teaching. We’ll probably be there only about 9 more months, and I have to get on it if I want to be able to speak Portuguese and make some friends there!

Posted in General | 38 Comments »

SIGGRAPH 2007 and Bad Luggage

Posted by len on 2nd August 2007

We’re heading to the U.S. for the second of our official “Escape from Europe, What Were We Thinking?!” tours.
If you’re in Los Angeles, San Diego for SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group on Graffiti and PHalafel), or Iowa then you can see our impossibly dull Middle East/Europe slide show!
Going from August 3rd to August 14th in LA, then Iowa, Denver, D.C. You name it! We’re there!
Unless you name other places.

Posted in General | 44 Comments »