November 19, 2011

Cabin Fever

In all my years playing basketball, at some point during each season, I hit a point where I start to go a little stir crazy. I think I'm reaching that point here now, but I’ll explain a little further…

The first red flag came during our drive home after our game last Saturday. The five hour ride was taking forever as we hit fog and slowed to a 90km/hr pace (no, I will not translate this into mph for you – just know that we usually drive 110-130km/hr on the highway).  Around hour three, I started to get restless and nauseous as I shifted from one uncomfortable position to another. Thank God one of my teammates offered to switch places with me to let me rest against the cold window. Our pit stop at 2am couldn’t come quickly enough and I basically bolted out of the van as soon as our driver put it into park. Even after our break of fresh air, when I piled back into the van I felt claustrophobic and sickly until we arrived at home, at 5am.

This week hasn’t improved much as far as my sanity is concerned. Perhaps in preparation for returning home (although I can’t say for sure that that’s the real reason) I started making jokes to myself…my favorite being a one liner, “untranslatable,” which I say to myself about any custom that differs from how we do things in The States. From the way people greet one another to phrases that I really want to use (like “C’est poubelle,” which literally translates into “It’s trash,” but can’t be used in the 'that’s not worthy of my attention context,') I find myself getting weird looks from teammates and giggling to myself more often than usual.

On Wednesday, I was helping coach the little kids’ practice when I took the giggling a step further and laughed so hard I cried. The kids were warming up with some basic Judo drills (ahhh Europe!), and my station was learning how to fall the correct way – tucked chin, not using your arms to cushion your fall, curving your back so you roll a little bit, etc – when one of my little players who is probably only around 25 kilos (55 pounds) went so stiff and plopped so hard while making a priceless face that I cannot put into words just made me lose it. After she fell she gave me this look like, ‘Wow,THAT did not feel right,’ which just made me laugh harder until I had to walk away to recompose myself. I couldn’t explain what was so funny since once again, I found it untranslatable. ;)

That brings me to Thursday. After our morning practice I went to the sideline to lay down and put my legs up against the wall to stretch. After I moved to get up, I looked down at my sweat marks that had transferred to the ground, and saw a beetle. Now, I was a psych major in college, but I think creating ink blots out of my own sweat is a little over the edge, probably even for Rorscach.

I think it’s fairly normal for people in my situation to lose it a little bit around this time of year. I’ve been here 4½ months now, seeing the same people and places day in and day out. Thanks to daylight savings time, there are only so many hours of sunlight I see each day; the weather is getting colder, keeping me indoors, and the Aquarium trip really let me down. I mean with all those things going on, it’s almost shocking I’m still coherent at all...

November 14, 2011


Some of the 2,500 fish
 Today I decided to go to the Limoges Aquarium. Ranked #28 of 38 things to do in Limoges, and having a day off from basketball, around 1pm today I thought, “why not?” I put on ‘real people clothes’ (jeans and a sweater as opposed to my normal sweatpants and sweatshirt), popped in my earbuds, and strolled toward town to see “plus de 2,500 poissons!”

Now I didn’t count, so I can’t be sure, but I think they might be falsely advertising the 2,500 fish. First of all, I didn’t need to put on real people clothes, since I was the only person in the entire aquarium. Secondly, if I wanted to, I probably could have run around the whole aquarium in less than 15 seconds. After I got over the realization that it was listed #28 of 38 for a reason, I decided to make the most of my time with the fish.

During my visit, I saw sharks, sting rays, turtles, seahorses, catfish, Nemos, and what I thought were the most disgusting/interesting attraction: eels. There were three eels in a tank together, two of which were white with black spots on them, and the other looking like it came right from Ursella’s underwater lair in The Little Mermaid. I watched them slide over and under one another as they opened and closed their mouths and wondered whether or not they got along with each other like the fish from Finding Nemo did. Gosh, it must suck to live in a tank.

Anyways, the best part of my trip to the aquarium was the English translation of the signs next to the different tanks. My favorite, which I took the time to write down said, “The seas house gods and fabulous monsters (that’s a pretty loaded statement) but they also hide real treasures you can discover…the tank in front of you presents this particular environment as we have recreated it with porcelain debris (naturally, treasures and porcelain debris are basically one of the same) …if you look closely, you might see seaweeds have developed on the porcelain debris. The fish in the tank do not live in a polluted environment (very reassuring, thank you enthusiastic sign!)!”

After seeing the aquarium, I’m a little concerned about what the 29-38th attractions in Limoges entail, but we’ll save those for another day…

November 7, 2011

Let's Dance...

Back by popular demand, this is a blog about me being awkward.

After our game on Saturday, my teammates and I decided to go dancing. I need to preface this story by painting a picture of what it means to go ‘dancing’ in Europe. First of all, you don’t actually leave to go out until 1:30am, and even that is early. Just like you never want to be the first guest to arrive at a party, a 2am club arrival is borderline inappropriate. Now for those of you who know me, you know that 2am is bed time. Back at home, 2am is actually, “I’ve already been asleep for three hours what do you want from me?” time. But because of the time difference, I do tend to stay up later when I’m in Europe. Even so, 2am is still “I’m in bed snuggling under my blankets” time.

That being said, this Saturday I decided that I was going to fully commit to the night. I was going to embrace the fact that I was going to get home really late and be really tired. I committed to the night with every intention of sleeping until noon the next day.  

As 2am rolled around and we rolled up to the club, I was in a pretty good mood and ready to dance. After about two hours of dancing and witnessing a small altercation, the music changed from fast group dancing to a slower, more intimate selection. Now, prior to going out, one of my teammates mentioned that her very tall guy friend was going to be visiting to see our game and coming out with us afterwards. After showing me his picture and getting a solid seal of approval, all my teammates were very excited to see how I might interact with a boy (let’s face it, basketball teams are great - the camaraderie, the friendship, but sometimes you miss being around members of the opposite sex). As the music changed, my teammate came over and told me her friend would like to dance.

I hope you’re ready for this.

I like to dance, I really do. I didn’t when I was young. During those rough teenage years dances were tough on me – I was so much taller than everyone else that I was overly conscious of what I might look like on a dance floor that I forgot to just enjoy the music. I like to think I do a much better job of that now. Of course it helps that because I’m part of a basketball team, now when I go dancing, I constantly have tall people around me and no longer have a hard time letting loose on the dance floor.  

Here’s the catch: I don’t usually slow dance with my teammates. In my 24 years, the times I have slow danced with my friends, boyfriends, or sister, I have always been the same height as, or taller, than my partner. So, as I approached this 6’10-7’ boy to dance with, I immediately started thinking, ‘Oh my God, where do I put my hands?’ ‘Where do I put my head?’ ‘Holy crap, his hips come up to my stomach.’ ‘How is this going to work?’

Thank goodness that poor boy a) did not speak English and b) didn’t seem to notice me giggling to myself. For a whole song I stiffly kept my hands on his hips. Then, one hand moved up to his left shoulder, the other stayed glued to his side. I tried putting both hands on his shoulders, but that just seemed too uncomfortably high of a reach (Is this how most girls feel when they’re dancing with a guy?). Finally, and judge me if you want, I found the most comfortable spot for my hands were up on the outside of his biceps (not a bad resting spot for the obvious athlete ;)).

After about five songs of my struggling to be led (let’s face it, I have some control issues that transfer to the dance floor), struggling to be tall enough for our hips to line up (seriously – IS this what it feels like to be an average sized girl?), and struggling to find an appropriate spot for my arms and head, my teammates called me over and were ready to head home.

So by 5am, I had conquered a new first (dancing with someone taller than me). When I got home I snuggled into my bed, and let the droning sound left ringing in my ears from the club music sing me to sleep.