polyglot in training

He’s got the biggest balls of them all


October 09, 2022 :: 3:51 PM

proof that the ability to provide perfect *mic drop* moments is in my DNA

Was supposed to study Ukrainian today. Decided that fucking around on YouTube was a better way to spend my time.

But I watched the 2022 Ukrainian Independence Day concert, so that counts, right?

I might have posted three of the best performances on Facebook… ya’ll are lucky I didn’t spam my feed more.

 

- - - - - - - - -

A while back, I had a Ukrainian lesson that went off the rails. I don’t know if I mentioned it here, and I’m too lazy to look at the archives…

Anyhoo.

The tutor asked me what the weather was like and I blanked on the word for sunny.

Which led to a dive into a very deep Ukrainian music video rabbit hole, starting with this one.

Behold: “Sunny” by Kalush

 

I looked at the lyrics, and well…

Заправ мені борщ, як вмієш ти, приправами

Which translates to: Season my borscht with seasonings as you know how.

Ukrainian song lyrics are weird.

Happy 40th, Epcot!


October 01, 2022 :: 11:56 AM

I really need to rethink my priorities.

I got tired of answering message after message during Irma (which was our first hurricane as Florida residents), so I started posting #bluedotupdates on my Facebook page. Normally with a screenshot of the current conditions. Of course, hurricanes are hard to predict. They can change course in the blink of an eye. Like, for Irma, it was headed straight for Sunrise, so we decided maybe it would be smart to go north west. Well, Irma decided to go there before we could totally make our minds up. Probably a good thing that we were frozen by fear…

We’re located between Miami and West Palm. Closer to Boca than Fort Lauderdale. We are often in the Cone of Uncertainty. We are often nervous. We are often scared. The #bluedotupdates are often soothing. People know where we are and how we’re fairing. While I can get exhausted thinking about what could happen, and answering the same “Are you guys OK” day after day, I appreciate that people care.

I mean, it’s not like I have many friends… mostly acquaintances. People I want to meet up with when they’re near… then blow me off after making tentative plans. And I get it - I absolutely suck donkey balls at staying in touch with people. I hate the phone, but I would rather talk than text. Texting takes too long and I’m never sure where the conversation actually ends. Quick likes on Facebook are more my speed, but they don’t breed intimate friendships.

I’m a fucking walking disaster.

But anyhoo… that’s not the point.

The point is that I’m Facebook friends with three members of my blood family. Two that I was really close to growing up and one that I became close with recently. M & C are my aunt’s daughters and L is my godfather’s oldest.

I’ll give you one guess as to who reached out to see if I was OK.

I’m tired of being angry. I’m tired of being hurt. I’m tired of letting that branch of the family tree live rent free in my head. (...And if you read the archives, I tend to say the same things about my mother.)

The sad thing is that I know therapy would probably help with bits and pieces of that, but every therapist I’ve ever seen wants to dive into the minutiae of my parents’ alcoholism, the physical and mental abuse my mother put me through… and I know that that’s probably the root of all my problems that are outside the scope of the bipolar.

But.

It’s easier to work through that shit here than it is to talk to a complete stranger. I don’t know. Despite everything, I’m still a little protective of my family. Not that they deserve it. (Well maybe my father does. He tried the hardest to do right by me… but the rest of them can go fuck themselves.) Here I can edit my word vomit. Dial back the emotions. Engage in unhealthy behaviours. *shrug*

Maybe I like constantly feeling like shit.

Who knows.

 

- - - - - - - - - -

In other news, and not really in order of importance:

  • We went to Universal last weekend for Halloween Horror Nights. The only house worth the price of admission was the Halloween (1978) house. We had express passes - which is the only way to do the event, tbh - they’re great if we want to do certain houses more than once. (We can justify the cost of those since the HHN ticket is included in our annual pass.) Since we had early access, we were able to get into Halloween before the doors opened to the crowd. And it freaked me the fuck out. (That movie is the only one to consistently scare the shit out of me no matter how many times I’ve seen it. I hear the music and my blood runs cold.) We also got lost in the house. There was one room that was a hall of mirrors and… GAH! That, of course, was the one room we couldn’t find our way out of.  We used the express pass to go through it a second time (when the wait was two-ish hours) and it scared me even more the second time, despite knowing where the jump scares were.

  • I’m running a ridiculous amount of races between now and Wine & Dine: 5K tomorrow, two 5Ks next weekend, a 5K the weekend after that, and a half marathon the weekend after that. Then, I take the weekend off for my first trip back to UConn in years. (And I almost got a room in Storrs before remembering that the football stadium is in East Hartford… I’m close enough to the stadium to walk to the game.) Have I mentioned that I HATE running?

  • My Stetopher fic is a struggle. I haven’t figured out the actual plot yet, so it’s eleven chapters of backstory / exposition. I’m oddly OK with the struggle; it means the characters are more in character than most of my fan fic. I’m also loving bouncing in between the three characters thoughts. It’s a fun project, even if it makes me want to tear my hair out.

  • I’ve taken a break from using italki for Ukrainian lessons. I’m not feeling it right now. I just haven’t found the right teacher and it’s frustrating. I found a (online, yet a true classroom setting) class based in NYC, affiliated with a Ukrainian group that I am familiar with and trust. When I was going through everything with the class organiser, I mentioned my struggles with italki. It boiled down to: there’s a huge difference between a native speaker trying to teach a language and someone who has been trained to teach that as a second language. I looked into teaching English as a Second Language a few years ago, and opted not to because I would essentially have to relearn English. Yeah. No. It tracks. Except now, I’m in the ridiculously odd position of using the Яблуко text for a third class. And, that book has been written in to the point where I have to retype the assignments because I can’t just take a photo of the page. Plus, the paper is C2S so I can’t write in pencil. It has to be pen, and it can only be one type of pen. (Staedtler triplus fineliner, if you must know. It’s the only one that doesn’t smudge… but who the fuck prints a textbook on coated paper?!?!)

    At any rate, we have that basic chapter one conversation: How are you? Fine. (Як справи? (Добре!)) What’s your name? Wendell (Як вас звати? (Вендел)) Where do you live? America (Звідки ви? (З Америки)) What’s your profession? Accountant (Яка ваша професія? (Бугалтер)) How old are you? 47 (Скільки вам років? (Сорок сім)) —and next thing I know, I’m in Beginner Two. ACK!!!! Also, it is an absolute bitch to switch between languages on the keyboard. First world problems?

Мамо, це не сон!


September 25, 2022 :: 9:57 PM

as seen at St. Mike’s

A photo of Lviv popped up in my Facebook memories today and I abruptly started to cry.

Fuck me. This war needs to end.

 

- - - - - - - - - -

Since someone asked, and it wasn’t really a Facebook post, here is - in a nutshell - my journey. (aka: WHY THE FUCK DO YOU POST THIS UKRAINIAN SHIT ALL THE TIME? Also: fuck you, former friend.)

My grandparents were from a village in Poland, which would become a part of Ternopil Oblast, Ukraine.

They were captured by the Germans and were forced labor in northern Germany, which is where my mother was born.

When she was 3, they came to the US.

She rebelled hardcore against the old school Ukrainians.

There’s a story that I’ve heard a dozen times, that when my mother first brought my father home to meet the family, it didn’t go particularly well. For him.

Supposedly, my grandmother chased him down Pine Lane, waving a broom, and shouting ‘я тебе дам!’ (which translates to “I’m going to give it to you.”)

I think we all understand what exactly it was that my grandmother was going to give him and it certainly wasn’t going to be a bowl of her borscht.

Oh God, to hear about the reactions… you would have thought the world was going to end because my mother married AN AMERICAN.

Anyhoo… they got married in ‘69 and I came along in ‘75.

She tried to get me to go to Ukie School, but I was painfully shy back then and remember being miserable. I can’t remember why I stopped going, but I stopped. With that, my formal Ukrainian language studies ended, and I was left to pick up as much as I could by osmosis.

(It wasn’t very much, as Future Wendell would come to learn.)

So.

1992. Mom died. I became isolated from the Ukrainian community in Hartford, for a bunch of reasons, but that was pretty much the last straw. Then, I got cut off from the woman who practically raised me.

2014? I can’t remember for sure if I decided before or after Russia invaded Crimea, but I was done feeling like something was missing.

I started Ukrainian lessons. I was terrible at sticking to it - and now, *cough* years later, I still struggle with it.

But.

I went to the Ukrainian Festival at Suzy-Q.

I went to the Ukrainian Festival in Toronto.

I hired a company to do my genealogical research and had them arrange a trip to Ukraine.

Then, we went to Lviv and Medvedivtsi.

It was all over for me after that.

Something clicked. It literally felt like a switch flipped. Something in my DNA woke up and it felt like coming home.

Seriously.

I’m in this village where I barely speak the language, standing on a dirt road, and feeling like twelve different types of asshole tourist, but damn, it felt good to be there.

It felt right.

And then I came home, stopped studying Ukrainian, moved to Florida, got fired for being bipolar, and had to deal with all that bullshit.

A few months ago, I decided to pick the language back up. I’m spending more time trying to read Ukrainian and watching Ukrainian videos… and I have been finding all kinds of new music, too.

So. There you go.

Я - українська.

Not at all what I wanted to write, but it’s what you’re getting.

Привіт! Мене звати Wendell. Як вас звати?


September 11, 2022 :: 5:02 PM

insert witty comment here

Today’s 5K was a horrendous waste of time.

I was told that the course - up and down the Hollywood Beach boardwalk - was beautiful and shady and quick.

I’ll agree that it was beautiful before the sun came up and there was a nice breeze. I’ll disagree with the shady and quick. As far as I’m concerned, that wonderful shady stretch just meant that the humidity was trapped by the trees that bestowed their shade upon the sweltering masses who decided that running in South Florida is a Good Thing. And, of course, running through soup doesn’t necessarily equate to speed.

It’s the “Fire Hero 5K” - a double whammy because it was held on September 11th - and there were firefighters in full gear running the fucking thing. 3 miles in 20+ pounds of gear. Nope. I wanted to pass out just looking at them.

I’ve been thinking about a lot of things, most of them not good.

But let’s start with a good one.

My husband and I are firm believers in the fact that a guide book with only take you so far. At some point, you need to put the book down and explore. We spent almost the entire week in Lviv just walking around, just my bad Ukrainian and a city map to make sure we didn’t get too lost… and we had some of the best experiences that way.

Same during this last trip to London. We took the train out to a friend’s so we could meet up and do the Harry Potter Studio Tour together. While we were waiting at the “station” for our ride, we popped into a little cafe right there on the platform. The guy saw our Arsenal caps and… we got an education on Gunner history and lore. AMAZING. (But, he ended up being outshone by the fan seated next to me at Emirates Stadium. I learned… things.)

Also, during this last trip to London, as I so loudly put as we were walking down the road towards Buckingham Palace, WE SAW THE FUCKING QUEEN.

Fun fact - if the Queen (or I guess King, now) is in residence, the Royal Standard flies above the palace. Do not ask me where I learned that. I cannot tell you… it’s like it’s always just been in my head, waiting to be useful. Anyway, the Royal Standard was flying over Buckingham during that trip. We were going to - I think - be tourists and watch the Changing of the Guard again. (I will always try to do the touristy things, but I will not revolve a trip around them unless I absolutely have to.) As we were walking, we were just chit chatting and trying not to run over the stupid American tourists in front of us who were walking stupid slow and buried so deep in their books and maps that they didn’t realise a car was coming towards us. A car that had a flag on it. A flag that just happened to the the Royal Fucking Standard. THE QUEEN WAS IN THE CAR. AND I SAW HER.

I also let anyone within hearing distance know that, “OH MY GOD, THAT’S THE MOTHERFUCKING QUEEN.”

(Shush. Let me have my random moment of being an obnoxious American tourist.)

So yeah… kind of surreal to think that Queen Elizabeth is dead. She seemed… indestructible.

I don’t know. The other stuff that’s been weighing on my mind… I thought I was ready to talk about it, but I’m still not. Two people know about the panic attack at the gas station and the google search that destroyed my Friday night and most of Saturday. Just two… any more and the thought of sharing that kicks up another flight or fight reaction.

I’m not ready to talk about Phoenix Day, or my Ukrainian lessons… none of it.

So, this post was pretty pointless.

I guess most of them are, but this one is even more so than usual.

pssst…. we saw the Queen

 

двадцять neuf


September 03, 2022 :: 2:55 PM

During my Ukrainian lessons: think in Ukrainian, speak in French.

My running coach is on vacation, so I decided to load up on local 5Ks to make sure I get some outdoor miles.

I’m very disappointed and mostly confused about today’s 5K.

I ran intervals a bit - started out way too fast and burned out, so I walked for about a little more than a mile, and then I went back to intervals. According to my Garmin, my first few runs were at a 9/10 minute pace and my walks at 17. That was pretty decent, but my runs really should have been at a 12/13 mm. I watched my Garmin the entire second half to keep my pace in the slower range. And… surprise! I felt better. It just goes to show that - IN THIS CASE - I should not listen to my body. Apparently, my body thinks a 9mm is my speed. It’d be nice if it were sustainable, but I can’t even do a 30 second run interval at that speed without wheezing and seriously questioning my sanity.

But, then I finished the course and looked at my Garmin.

In “feels like 90” with 86% humidity, I ran 3.35 miles at a 15:15 pace. I WAS THRILLED..

And then I looked at my chip time.

It didn’t matter what I did in the end. My chip time was 16:30.

ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!

I walk a fucking 16:30. Without intervals.

And I RAN this time. That should have helped…

I know my pace is thrown off because my distance was off and it makes me question a lot of things. Like I started my watch late and yet still hit mile markers a full quarter mile after the watch registered a mile.

It might be the foot pod. I forgot to take it off my shoe when I got dressed this morning and it’s calibrated to the treadmill. (I used three different data sources to make sure the foot pod was recording a similar speed. I mean, if it matches Nike Run Club, Strava, and the treadmill, then it’s calibrated correctly as far as I’m concerned.) I’m guessing that if it’s overriding the GPS, it’s clocking a quicker speed because I did an offset. I don’t know. But, at the same time, I’m scared to take it off because I had to basically reprogram my Garmin so it would read correctly. I used to have a really nice Garmin foot pod but it died and Garmin doesn’t sell that model any more. I couldn’t even get a refurbed one from them. I ended up with a Stryd pod, based on a lot of research, but I hate it. (I had to change my watch face to add one of Stryd’s data fields and now I don’t get the information I want / am used to. First world problems, I guess.)

In other news, I’m building absolutely ridiculous excel spreadsheets again.

At my new job, we’ve been hoarding paper. You know it’s bad when the printing companies can’t get their hands on a C1S 80 pound cover, or whatever.

SO. Our Production Manager doesn’t understand how to manage inventory and it’s being complicated by the fact that our inventory is spread over four warehouses and some other issues. She has this excel spreadsheet which is basically an out of control data dump. She can’t even assign dollar values so that I can properly value our inventory at month-end… and we’re sitting on about a million dollars worth of paper.

Because we’re still using Excel 2010, I really had to go back to basics, which was miserable.

I ended up taking her spreadsheet and working through the messy transactions, cleaning it up and making sense of it. I got about 25 lines in before I wanted to throw things. At that point, it was better to move on to the formulas and figure out how to get it to export some real data.

I love pivot tables, so that was kind of the endgame. It took so much trial and error to carry the dollar values, to calculate the inventory without double counting it..  but in the end, I got there.

Three pivot tables:

1) Inventory location showing stock size, type, brand, and quantity

2) Stock value by stock type

3) Number of sheets allocated or used by a job

It’s clumsy as fuck and it’s a little convoluted to get the data actually in, but now that it’s set up, it shouldn’t be that hard to maintain.

It’s honestly the stuff of nightmares.

And with that said, I’m off to find some food, play some Sims and do some Ukrainian homework.

I know. My life is SUPER exciting.

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