1) A coworker is offering Mandarin Chinese lessons to our organization once a week over the lunch hour. We had our first class this week. I took four years of French in high school, and two and a half years of Italian in college. I’ve even got a year of eighth-grade German under my belt (wo ist Claudia?) But let me tell you something about learning French, Italian, and why you care so damn much about Claudia’s whereabouts: It is nothing like learning Mandarin Chinese.
Considering I barely have a grasp on English-as-my-first-language, I don’t have very high hopes of becoming fluent in Mandarin any time soon. But in our first lesson, I did manage to pick up a few language basics, and even learned a few key words and phrases like, “hello,” “my name is,” “thank you,” and “horse.” We were also taught the very important lesson about making sure you have the right tone whey saying the word “dad”—one wrong inflection and all of a sudden you’re talking about poop.
Also, I shit you not, they passed out fortune cookies during the lesson, and this was in mine:
What are you trying to tell me, Mandarin Chinese lessons?
2) Earlier this month I finished a thirty-day cleanse. For a month I cut out grains, dairy, sugar, and basically anything that was not a lean meat, vegetable, an occasional fruit, a nut, or a seed, and was told I’d feel like absolute bliss and wouldn’t miss the “dirty” foods (the aforementioned grains, dairy, sugar) at all. And I made it. I fucking made it through.
I know! I’m as surprised as you are. I learned a lot of terrific things about my body and how it handles food, and it really challenged me to break out of my normal kitchen cooking routines. Those were the good parts. The bad part is the woman running the cleanse needs an editor. And possibly a lawyer. Because when you are neither a licensed nutritionist nor a licensed dietitian, a trained counselor or anything of the like, I don’t think it’s a good idea, in your daily motivational email, to send out messages that encourage people to lie and tell restaurant staff they have food allergies when instead they just would rather not have cheese on their sandwich because they’re staying away from dairy. Or that if something is broken or toxic in your life, “Just drop it!” Because that works well if you have a job, are supporting a family, or trying to fix a relationship that is in a rough patch. “Fuck it all! I’ll just drop it!” But then again, what do I know? I am neither a licensed nutritionist or dietician, nor am I a trained counselor, and also I missed pasta for the entire thirty days. It was not bliss.
3) Speaking of pasta, I went out for a big bowl of it last night with my girlfriends, and over dinner we were discussing how growing up we’d always wanted to go, but had never been, to Wisconsin Dells—a common dream of many a Chicagoan child in the 1980s. This then lead to a conversation about Indiana Beach, and whether or not it was still in existence (it is), and what, exactly, it was. (All you could really glean from the television ads back then was Indiana? Not just about corn.) This then lead to my question, “Did you know there’s a town called Santa Claus, Indiana?” At which point I learned that one of my best girlfriends is in possession of the knowledge that Santa Claus, Indiana, is where Jay Cutler, quarterback for the Chicago Bears, grew up. I don’t know why we all found this so surprising; Beh Beh often is a font of knowledge you didn’t know you should know. But there you have it, Jay Cutler, the golden child of Santa Claus, Indiana. (Feel free to insert naughty/nice, lump of coal, or any other Christmas-related jokes in here. All the ones I’ve come up with are rather uninspired.) If you didn’t know, now you know.