Saturday, January 4, 2014

MsCaroline: Lessons Learned in 2013



Cathay Pacific Chinese New Year Parade 2013.  Yes, that was last year.  Read on for lessons learned.

#2 in the ruins of Beng Mealea, the least known but best temple the Asia Vu family saw in Cambodia.  Which MsCaroline never got around to blogging about.  So sue her.

MsCaroline was going to start off 2014 with a deep and philosophical quote about bettering oneself or looking for the good in humankind, but most of her readers know that she is unlikely to do either during the coming year, so she feels that she has little credibility in this arena.

Rather, in keeping with her post from New Year's 2012, she has decided, instead, to pass on Life Lessons that she has learned in the last year in the hope that she may save someone else from the sorrow that can only come from hasty or poorly considered decisions.

Without further ado, here are the Top Lessons Learned by MsCaroline in 2013.  May none of you need to learn them in 2014!

1.  Keep it Simple, Stupid (or:  Finish what you start)  This first advice ('kiss') is given by writing instructors all the time, and with good reason.  MsCaroline (who is -shockingly- a certified teacher of the English language with a couple of degrees under her belt) knows this and has taught it for years to her writing students.  She tries - mostly unsuccessfully - to take her own advice, but this is almost always an abject failure when it comes to Travel Blogging, an area which which is destined to be her Waterloo. Caught up in post-vacation excitement, MsCaroline consistently overwrites, overdescribes, and overphotographs her travel experiences, leading to Blogger's Burnout and a strong desire to throw her laptop out the window after the first post or two. Observant readers need only to think back a few months to the Asia Vu family trip to Hong Kong and Macau  or to the more recent trip to Angkor Wat to realize that MsCaroline has never finished up her travel descriptions of either (and may never do so.)
More Beng Mealea.  A brilliant post that will never be written.

In the New Year, MsCaroline is planning to stick to a more conservative travel writing format, which will look like this:  "We went to ______________ for _____ days/weeks/months.  It was fun/not fun.  Here are some photographs.  MsCaroline recommends/does not recommend that you patronize the following establishments.  The end."  

Yes, it will be marginally less entertaining, but at least MsCaroline will not lie awake at 4am thinking about all that she has left undone and adding 'blog posts' to the Litany of the Unfinished.
Pre Rup - another worthy temple too long ignored.

Life Lesson for 2014:  Finish what you start.



2.  If You Go Shopping for a Cat, Do Not Buy a Dog.  Regular readers will have noticed a significant decrease in MsCaroline's blogging frequency, dating almost exactly to the day that the AsiaVu family went out to adopt a cat and impulsively bought a small and beguiling dog of questionable breeding and heritage (but with adorable bat ears.)  As it turns out, the dog in question is, at 5 months of age, turning out to be Something between a French Bulldog and Boston Terrier But Probably Mostly Boston Terrier.  She is a Highly Active Animal with Many Neuroses -most noticeably, a strong aversion to being alone,which she demonstrates in a variety of ways.

Despite her small size (she is still just under 5kg) she is remarkably nimble and can climb, jump, or otherwise scale nearly any barrier that is erected to contain her.  MsCaroline could go on at length about all of her charming idiosyncrasies, but it would just make her cry be pointless (in addition to violating the 'KISS' advice above.)  Suffice it to say that, when the AsiaVus returned last week from a brief ski holiday to collect their 20-week-old darling from the boarding kennel (attached to their veterinarian's office,) it was revealed that she had managed to escape from the boarding facility part of the building and was found roaming through the office, where she created a certain amount of damage chaos before being apprehended, including dismantling the office Christmas tree.  The words 'separation anxiety' and 'hyperactive' were used in the subsequent conversation, as MsCaroline hung her head in shame and wondered if Reform School For Dogs was a Thing, and, if so, where she could find one in Seoul.  MrLogical, on the other hand  (living up to his name once again) cheerfully paid the bill, tucked the dog under his arm, and did not concern himself one bit about the Incident at The Kennel. He pointed out that, while the dog was more than happy to walk 5 or 6 miles without appearing to tire and did have her 'whirling dervish' moments, she also  slept peacefully through the night (in fact, she will happily sleep until noon if left to her own devices,) was loving and friendly, sat and stayed on command, walked pleasantly on a leash, did not bark or bite, and was marginally housebroken - not to mention that this was the dog's first experience in a boarding kennel.  In his book, this was a fairly well-behaved 5- month old puppy, and the Incident at the Kennel was nothing to worry about.

While MsCaroline recognizes that MrL is probably correct, it is her nature to focus on the negative, and she has therefore been fantasizing about how much better her life would be right now if she only had come home with a cat. 

 Life Lesson for 2014:  Stick to the plan or be prepared to face the consequences, however adorable. 




3.  Sometimes, what you know is enough, or:  if you have not been skiing in over 15 years, it may or may not be a good idea to take a 'refresher' lesson. Corollary:  if you do take a refresher lesson, hold out for the right instructor.  After 11 years in the American Southwest and 1 ruptured disc, MsCaroline doubted that she would ever get on skis again, despite having learned in Austria as a youngish teenager and having enjoyed skiing on the East Coast throughout her young adulthood (eg, 'before children.')  For whatever (misguided) reason, after all this time, MsC booked a short ski holiday in Pyeongchang (location of the 2018 Winter Olympics) for the family, and gamely struggled into ski gear for the first time in nearly 2 decades.  The first day was a pleasant surprise, and by the end of the day, MsC was competently (if not gracefully) moving down the piste, and almost remembering how to do those parallel turns.  But alas! MsCaroline - was not satisfied with this (her tragic flaw.)  She decided to take a private lesson to get a few pointers on balance, weight distribution, and turning, which - she reasoned - would help her improve more quickly, and hasten her improvement to the point where she would soon be schussing gracefully down the piste.

Accordingly, she presented herself the next morning at the Ski School and requested a private lesson with an English-speaking instructor.  As it turned out, all the fluent instructors were already booked, but, if MsCaroline didn't mind, they could provide her with an instructor who spoke basic - but not fluent - English.  Would that do? Sure, MsCaroline (who is, after all, slightly impatient) said -after all, how much English did one need to communicate some simple instructions? - and gamely trundled out of the Ski House behind her 25-year-old instructor, who introduced himself by saying, "My English, only little" as they queued up for the chairlift.

My ever-perceptive readers have probably already followed these statements through to their logical outcome:  namely, the lesson was an exercise in frustration for both of us and deep embarrassment for one of us (MsCaroline would like to point out, though, that the lack of success in this lesson was entirely her fault, and not the instructor's, who had fairly represented himself as not speaking much English.)  In the first place, MsCaroline had learned to ski approximately 10 million years ago and therefore could not remember the last time she'd done a snowplow ('wedge') turn, much less how to do one, which is where the Instructor wanted to start.  In the second place, there was a lot of emphasis on weight shifting which the Instructor conveyed by shrieking, 'UP!'  "DOWN" and "PUCE!."  It took at least an hour before MsCaroline understood that 'PUCE" was, in fact, meant to be 'PUSH" and the Ski Instructor was trying to get her to put her weight on that foot.  What was even more frustrating was that MsCaroline was PUCE-ing - really, she was, which was borne out by the fact that she was turning - but had no way to convey this to the instructor, who simply shook his head and shrieked some more when she pointed out mildly that she was - and even louder when she would forget to ski in the 'A-position' and parallel ski instead (No 11! Only A-position!)  At the end of the lesson, the instructor gravely pronounced that she should 'A-position MASTER.  No 11s! Today! Tomorrow! Tomorrow! Always, A-position!'  

MrLogical pointed out helpfully (having been an intermittent onlooker during those 2 painful hours,) "You were doing a lot better before you took the lesson"  which, while annoying on both personal and financial levels, was probably the most useful thing MsCaroline had heard all day.

Life Lesson for 2014:  It's OK not be an Olympian.  Stick with what you know if it makes you happy:  but if you want to improve, hold out for the right instructor.  









Happy 2014, Lovely people! 

8 comments:

Nance said...

Even if MrL is right, I think you're perfectly within your rights to consider all the pitfalls of the incident. I'd do the same thing.

Merlot is still immensely cute, but that can't be enough. Dogs are inherently worky, as you now know. It will be interesting to see which of her breed characteristics wins out once she is done being a puppy. Bostons are active and Frenchies are lazy lapdogs. I know you'll keep us posted.

MsCaroline said...

Well, we have always had at least one dog in the house - often two - since our marriage in 1991, and I have raised 3 lab puppies during that time, so I would have said I was well-qualified to raise an active dog, but the whole 'apartment in the city' thing is throwing me off terribly. A big problem is that there is no yard for her to run around in - even a game of fetch has to be undertaken in the living room (an iffy proposition with an unhousebroken puppy.) In addition, walks in Seoul city streets= challenging in and of themselves, which makes dealing with an energetic dog even more difficult. Now that she's able to walk on her leash without jumping at every passerby or freezing in terror every time a car passes, my goal is to walk her for a good 30 minute or more a couple times per day and see if that helps with her overall behavior. While she has periods of high activity, she also can sleep for hours at a time as long as she's had some exercise already that day. We'll also be moving the Yellow Dog to Korea this summer and are hoping that helps as well. But you're right - I will be sure to keep you posted!

BavarianSojourn said...

Happy 2014 my friend. With regards to the travel blogging - do what works for you, it's your blog after all. With regards to the little dog - but she's soooo cute (but I knew she was the reason you had less time for writing though) and with regards to skiing, the apres skis is what I tend to go for alone! :D

Trish Burgess said...

Lovely to have you back blogging again. Always puts a smile on my face. With regard to the travel blogging, I find the best thing is to write it up in small chunks. There will always be parts of the trip that won't make the blog but can stay as part of your own memories.

MsCaroline said...

Thanks, Emma - as far as Travel Blogging goes, I just have a really hard time paring things down - so much I feel needs to be told, and then of course I get bogged down - what I really want is unlimited time to write and edit as much as I'd like, and of course, that's not going to happen! Couldn't agree more with you about the apres ski. Little dog is still cute - but I'm not so easily fooled these days!

MsCaroline said...

Trish - thank you - it does feel good to 'be back'! My problem with Travel blogging seems to be the 'small' part of 'small chunks'. Even my 'small' chunks are usually quite large, and by the time I get to the last bits, I'm burned out. I really need to work on editing, I suppose. Maybe a New Year's goal (NOT resolution)?

Stacy Rushton said...

That has got to be the cutest small dog I have ever seen! She is just ADORABLE! It's part of nature's plan so we don't choke them when they keep peeing on the rugs and escaping from captivity and wreaking havoc.

I'm sorry that the travel stories burn you out but I can say honestly that you can be as long-winded as you like and I will still be your enthralled reader.

So, Re: The ruins of Beng Mealea
Expect the papers any day now. You will be served.
:)

Mandy Indonesia said...

I love these shots! The atmosphere - lonely, but beautiful - is incredible. Wow!