occupée.

I love studying language, but it’s a lot of work.  Not just because you have to memorize and practice and repeat word upon word, though.  It’s a lot of work because each language – and each dialect of that language – requires learning the culture, too.  Sometimes it’s things like realizing, in French, it never rains cats and dogs but “Il pleut comme vache (cow) qui pisse”.  Other times, it’s things like realizing why Potawatomi Podawadomie Padwadadadada… or Ojibwe Ojibway Ojibjakwejralsjkdfasd… haha… why they’re spelled a million different ways, and none are incorrect.  Well, native languages were oral so it’s all phonetic.  (In Ojibwe and Potawatomi, for example, there are even two “methods” for written language – a single and a double vowel spelling.)

This past week, as I will be earning (or “winning” – gagne, in French) overtime money on a holiday week, I’m finding myself not only ridiculously overworked but also overlooked.  It’s like everyone forgets they sent me six emails between midnight and 5am with a stack of work to do the next day.  They’ll ask, “Can you do this or are you busy?”

Well, define busy.

It usually comes down to who is “less busy”.

So I was thinking about “busy” – I mean, what is busy?  And I’ve decided, in American English at least, it is a highly cultural word.  Working Americans are always “busy” – sometimes way more than European or Australian counterparts.  Overworked.  Never stopping.  As fast as replying as the Internet connection.

But in French, one would ask me, «Est-ce que vous êtes occupée ?» which literally means Are you occupied?  There is no “busy”, per se.

Cultural context, for sure.  In France, I would say that I’m occupied, surely, but in America, I might say I’m working on something – but that’s not busy enough and so here’s ten more assignments.  Of course, I’m not saying the French don’t respond the same way or take on more work.  It’s undeniable that their work culture is less stressful, as nearly every country in the world compared to America,… I just find the difference in words amusing.

Also, the word for a lawyer is avocat – the same word for avocado, hehehe.  In trouble?  Better get yourself a good avocado and go on into court.

Timing.

I spent the majority of my weekend in Tennessee.  It took my friend and me arriving to absolutely every scheduled event exactly on time for me to realize how stressful day-to-day scheduling has become.  I already have experienced the stress from the other perspective, when I worked in third world countries and a contractor doesn’t show up or call for a couple of days which is apparently completely okay over there.  That stressed me out because I was on a schedule.  But what about when you can make your own schedule and be stressed by yourself?  We didn’t need to meet my friend, do the Louisville Slugger tour, taste-test at Jim Beam’s, hike Mammoth Caves, honky-tonk in Nashville… but we scheduled ourselves to do all of those things.

I just got so accustomed to the stress and success of the weekend that, when tragedy struck leaving the Smokies and Knoxville, I was completely unprepared to be stranded in southern Kentucky without a car.  The timing has kept us from getting to work today, finishing things we had to do,…and I have to feed my cats again.  The timing then restricted us to shops being closed on Sundays, places being booked on SuperBowl Sunday, an impending storm limiting our travel, and even plopping us down in the most remote corner of our entire voyage.

But the timing has also made many more things evident which are positive.  I have finally had to forcefully resolve the small, persistent problems in my new car which are actually big problems that somehow flew under the radar when the dealer sold the car to me.  I have a new perspective on how to handle and prepare for these situations, partly thanks to a conversation I had with a friend.  It also made me realize how much patience my friend Jess has and how amazing Jeff is for offering to come “pick us up”.  That would be a 12-hour roundtrip and he didn’t hesitate to offer help in any way possible.

I just think timing is a funny thing, how it can keep you from seeing something or be so perfect at making a little thing obvious.  I just hope it doesn’t decide to show me too many things on our drive home this afternoon…

Coffee & Whiskey

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“Give coffee to change the things I change… and whiskey to accept the things I cannot.”
I saw this quote while surfing briefly on Pinterest and thought it was funny – and quite true.  Although I don’t condone turning to liquor as a way to handle your problems, I choose to interpret this silly meme with light humor.  I do like my whiskey, but I am a huge craft beer fan.  As a cook and an artist, I think craft beer is just another form of culinary art – and perhaps one of the most finicky.  Whiskey, too, is that way.  So there is no wonder than my two favorite places to be are in a fair trade coffee shop or a quirky microbrewery, one generally for work and the other for entertainment.
So, yes, I’ll take that coffee or tea as my moment of indulgence without interrupting a stream of constant work.  It keeps me alert and relaxes me at the same time.  It can be my motivation to get up and get going, and it can be as subtly a form of art at the hands of a barista as brewing alcohol is to the brewer.  Of course, when I’m not working hard at something or meeting up with people to plan, develop, and execute new ideas, I’m likely going with a group of friends or even venturing into a new city on my own and meeting all kinds of people at some kind of microbrew joint.  In a way, it is me accepting things I don’t want to accept, like unwinding after a long week that maybe didn’t go as well as I had hoped.  But instead of moping around, I make a treat out of my time spent experiencing new places and talking with new people.  It’s my way of realizing that there’s more to life than whatever’s been on my mind while simultaneously indulging with like-troubled people over a great glass of whatever the house recommends.
This week, take a moment to enjoy your coffee while you work, and don’t be afraid to brave a new bar seat, different conversation, and perhaps a drink you hadn’t been willing to try quite yet.