Thursday, August 27, 2015

To Netflix or not to Netflix

Me and my first world problems, you might be thinking?  But hear me out.  There is much more than TV-viewing of cool shows in English at stake here.

I have been considering signing up for Netflix for a while.  It came to France this year and, like in the US, it's not that pricey (7.99€ per month).  And you can stop any time!  I also got a taste of what Netflix has to offer while at my mom's house, where it is part of her Apple TV package.  I especially enjoyed watching the only-on-Netflix series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and the older British series, The IT Crowd (which I'd seen before in some youtube clips).  And I started thinking (cue the pros list in my head), access to funny shows and movies and cartoons in my language- we'd never leave the house (cue the cons list)!



And that's why I'm hesitating.  Juliette and Remi are very apt to sit in front of the TV for long periods of time.  A common complaint from my daughter when I say she needs to cut it off is that there's another great cartoon coming on right after.  There's ALWAYS something else on TV, I try to reason with her.  It doesn't mean we have to be here all the time.  And if we had Netflix there would be that much more to watch!

It's not just them I'm worried about though.  It's already hard enough for me to manage my own time and get stuff done what with the lure of Facebook, my blog, youtube videos, emails, accessing the work website from home, etc.  I took ages to actually finish my Mindy Project DVDs (seasons 1 and 2) because I never could find the time to sit still long enough to watch them.  Or maybe give myself permission to sit down.  Let me say I have nothing against some good TV vegging.  I'm just worried I would get even less done than I do now.

It's not that expensive though. How often do I waste 8 euro-bucks on inconsequential stuff that breaks or just piles up in my apartment? But I have to think about the other things I am considering buying or paying for...like a used iPhone or buying one through my phone subscription. It's about 250€ for a used iPhone 5.  Is it really worth it when my generic smarthone is good enough?  But my current phone camera doesn't always have the crystal clear detail of the iPhone, plus I already have other Apple products.   And then there's Zumba or a fitness membership.  Count about 20€ per month if you're lucky, so that adds up to 240€ per year...about the same as the iPhone.

So if I really think about it, I could pay 240€ for Zumba and get out of the house and off my couch more.  Or buy a better phone and take better pictures and use iMessenger all the time with my family in the US.  Or catch up on some (not all, cause I checked out the French Netflix with my friend Elsie, and it is not that same as the US one) of my shows for 96€ per year.

So in the end, whether or not I sign up for Netflix is almost an existential* question that could shape the rest of my year.  This is too much pressure for me.  I think I'll just watch a Mindy season 3 on youtube and think about it later.

*I know this is not a REAL issue.  There are of course bigger questions on this planet.  Like what to make for dinner.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

TMF Syndrome: it could happen to you

A lot of people are suffering from TMF lately. They might not even know it.  But once you hear the symptoms, you may realize you too are afflicted by this syndrome.
  • Do you find yourself feeling a bit dazed?
  • Do you have mood swings or feel a bit blue for no reason?
  • Are you suffering from thermal shock?
  • Are you a little bloated or have you recently gained weight?

If you've said yes to two or more of these, then keep reading.
  • Are you wondering why you are not doing something fun and visiting some new place?
  • Are you in need of a restaurant experience or decadent dessert everyday?
  • Are you reluctant to unpack your suitcase because it will mean your vacation is truly over?

Ah, now we're getting somewhere.  You, and I, are suffering from Too Much Fun Syndrome.  TMF affects those who have had a rip-roaring time on holiday and now have to face the fact that it is over.  After several weeks of constantly exciting and fun experiences, it takes your body and mind time to re-adjust to everyday life.  The overeating and indulging must stop, goodbyes to family and friends must be said.  The warmth and sun of your vacation time zone yield to the rather chilly and grey weather of northern Europe, in my case.
Can it get any funner than this?

Some cases of TMF are complicated by JetLagitis.  This can be much more serious as your brain still truly believes it is on Central Time.  If you find yourself waking up and not knowing what continent or house you are in, it is a sure sign of JetLagitis.  Wondering why kids aren't in school even though you know your own kid is still in daycare is also a clear indicator (in the US most kids are back in school but not in France).  Wanting to flick light switches instead of pushing them, wanting to sleep all morning or eat a hearty meal at 3 pm are also dead giveaways.

Luckily TMF with JetLagitis complications is not fatal.  It just sometimes feels like you will never sleep properly again and that going to work is the absolute worst thing in the world.  The first day back you might not want to speak to neighbors or anyone.  You may be tempted to cocoon yourself in the false reality of still being on holiday (in my case, a place I still consider home).  Your eyes can tear up a bit thinking about where you were and who you were with just last week and realizing you're not there.

Treatment is varied but actually kind of fun.  Periodically give yourself or the patient food you brought back from holiday (Pop Tarts in my case).  Allow yourself to look at holiday pictures and relive some memories, but don't obsess over it.  And slowly start seeing friends in your current place of residence.  Get out and soak in as much sunlight and fresh air in your current surroundings to remind yourself of the real time zone.

And give it time.  And don't forget to have fun where you live.  Don't save it all up for the next holiday or you could get a bigger case of TMF.

Yours truly, Dr. Milam 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Song of the South

We are back in Alabama now after about six days of road-tripping through parts of Canada and the northeastern US.  And it seems it only takes a few days of me being back in my old stomping grounds for memories to start flowing back.  I don't even know if memory is the right word. More like feelings and flashes, sounds and smells.

It feels like a poem or stream of consciousness babbling in my head. I return here and almost step back into my old life- walking down to the mailbox on baking hot days, entering supermarkets with cold a/c blasting and browsing Betty Crocker cake boxes- as if I never left.  My accent seems to come back as if by magic (or do I put it on to fit in again?), droppin' the "g" and using expressions I almost forgot existed. 

I forget that I wasn't always happy in my old workaday life here, that every day wasn't like being on vacation.  Because now I am on vacation and that does make a difference.  But home has a special flavor that I love to taste again.  Here are a few impressions and pictures…
One of my mom's crepe myrtle trees.

Dappled sunshine in my mom's yard. Crepe myrtle trees in every color.

Cicadas and crickets singing all day long. Balmy evenings and slightly cooler mornings.

Peaches and corn on the cob and farmer's markets.  Southern-style decorations and tanned college girls in pony tails.
Durbin's Farms in Chilton County.

Middle-aged men in college football polo shirts, American flags everywhere and pick-up trucks that look like monster trucks to me (and especially Juliette).
Another pick-up, er, monster truck.
US-themed bunting.

The renovated split level and one-level houses in my mom's neighborhood. A few front porches with gracious ferns hanging on the ceiling. Shutters that don't necessarily shut but are for decoration.

Familiar intersections and shops interspersed with new places I've never heard of.  Darkened movie theaters on hot summer days, back-to-school sales while I'm still playing.

People talking about their weekend on the lake or travelers coming home from beach trips on the Gulf of Mexico. Little children who say, "yes, ma'am." (Not mine, for the record, though she should take a cue from the others…)

Things that I used to slightly scorn or outright shun seem cozy now, as I smile kindly at my surroundings. 

Sometimes you need to leave home to appreciate it more.  And as I still have just shy of two weeks, I have to say (like this air freshener) "it's all good."
Pete the Cat says it, too.