Moving: suddenly but not-so-suddenly, a big decision clicks

I made a big life decision, and it took less than a week. I’m selling my house and moving to a much smaller rental apartment.

The idea of making a change germinated 18 months ago. I was recovering from major knee surgery after a trip-and-fall in the summer of 2019. I was on a day trip to Italy from Slovenia. (I talked about this on @theweeklyreview, if you want to hear the tale of how I ended up in a Trieste emergency room for 30 hours without a phone charger: “Putting the Trip Into Day Trip”)

I came home to Portland for surgery, and I was not mobile for three months. A little later, I was visiting the apartment of a young friend who recently moved here, and I thought, “I could do this.”

My house is big for one person. When I moved here in 2008, I had young nieces and nephews who enjoyed sleeping over. During App Camp For Girls, I hosted out-of-town volunteers. The house has upstairs rooms, and a downstairs basement where laundry gets done. Thanks to my awesome surgeon and physical therapists, I am able to do stairs again. But I don’t love it. There will always be a twinge, a reminder of the accident, of the fact that I’m just getting old. I saw how easily one’s life can change in the blink of an eye, one paving stone can change your future. It could (read: will) happen again.

It’s a good time to be selling a house. I was on the verge of doing a major (read: expensive) landscaping job to control my out-of-control hedge and thinking about refinancing to take out some cash to cover house maintenance projects over the next few years. My sister pointed out that maybe it was time to sell anyway.

And it just clicked. The clincher was that there are some very nice new apartments a block from my house. I like my neighborhood and neighbors. I could postpone the decision about whether to buy something smaller and where I would be willing to move.

So I have a lease starting soon, and I’m doing small sprints of decluttering and recycling to get the house to a pre-pandemic state of neatness. Moving is a big stressor, I know, but the fact that I’m feeling excitement instead of anxiety now is a sign that I’m doing the right thing.

In an alternate timeline, I’m in the air, winging my way back home after a month studying Slovene in Ljubljana. 😢

The A380 had already been changed to something else so the regret is not as great. (I really wanted one last 380 flight.) ✈️

July 27 LHR-YVR itinerary screenshot

Today is the anniversary of the Tumble in Trieste, when I tore up my knee while on a day trip from Ljubljana, resulting in an early departure from my planned month in Slovenia.

Lesson learned: don’t walk and look at your map at the same time. 😕

The Centre for Slovene as a Foreign Language (@centerslo) is now tentatively offering a USA- and South Africa-friendly schedule for the 2020 online course, depending on demand.

It’s an awesome challenging language for which I’m willing to get up to do the class at 7 PDT! You?

It’s official. The Slovene Summer School program at the University of Ljubljana will go online only this year. Time to look into canceling my trip. 😭😭

  • The good news: I can still take the course!
  • And good news for everyone else: You can take it too!

The only gators I see in Gainesville are students and alumni. But who knows what’s lurking in this swamp on campus? 🐊

(I almost went to school here. It’s so weird to reflect on how different life would be…maybe.)

Made a side trip to Gainesville and paid a visit to the childhood home of Mr. Tom Petty. They named the public park down his street after him. 😍🎸

Today I am thankful for my stepmother. She’s very kind and good to my father. I’m looking forward to walking around in some nearby parks and seeing the Florida flora and fauna with them.

53 degrees in Orlando. First time ever I brought a fleece vest to Florida and actually needed it.

My Favorite Eight photos - 2019

My guinea pigs Ada and Grace

Jean and guinea pigs

Littlest nephew for a sleepover

nephew cozy in bed

Old friends Jean, Rosie, Peggy

Jean, Rosie, Peggy at party

Sonoma sunset

Sunset over vineyards

MacDonald in Miami

Siblings and dad in the pool

Lekcije slovenščine

Slovenian flash cards

Post-knee injury podcast rig

Jean podcasts from bed

Nieces and nephs

beautiful young clan members

Hand-picked—no algorithm needed

Favorite Eight title card

Slovenia: one of the few countries to be designated the least risky place to travel on Travel SOS’s 2020 map, along with Iceland, Norway, Finland, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

For my Slovenia 2.0 trip, I will not venture into the riskier areas, such as Trieste. 🇸🇮

To catch my flight to Release Notes Conf, I’m up at Slovenia o’clock, the time of day I can reply to folks in Slovenia in real time.

PS. I’m booked to return to Ljubljana for a do-over next summer. Bonus: I won’t be in the beginners group. 🇸🇮 🕜🇺🇸🕞

This flight alert was confusing for a split second.

In that other universe, the other Jean had an amazing time these last two weeks…and is also practically fluent in Slovene.

Made it to Munich Airport. It turns out Montag ist Schnitzeltag at Airbrau, so things are looking up. Flight tomorrow to Portland.

I had a mishap in Trieste today. I tripped and tore the tendon in my left knee. I’m spending the night in the hospital and then figuring out how to get back to Ljubljana and then Portland for surgery. So I’m out of commission for a while. 😢

Cool slo-mo I made in the butterfly atrium at the Arboretum yesterday. I wish I had gotten the name of this beauty. One of our Slovene teachers called them the supermodels of the exhibit. 🇸🇮🦋

Has anyone been to Trieste? I’m going tomorrow for the day just to commune with the ghosts of history. I’ve got Jan Morris, Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere, on my Kindle. 🇸🇮 🚌 🇮🇹🚶‍♀️☕️🚶‍♀️🍝🍷 🚌 🇸🇮

Vocab homework sampler:

trg = plaza

črn = black

prst = finger

čmrlj = bumblebee

Slovenia, I’d like to buy a vowel? 🇸🇮🙏

I have 45 minutes to get ready for school, including finishing my homework and packing my lunch. I feel like I’m 11 years old again. I didn’t work this hard when I was an exchange student! We spent a lot more time just hanging out and attending the occasional lecture. 🇸🇮📝😬

Where my head’s been the last week: “rewrite the sentences in dual and plural.” Slovene has a dual form, in addition to singular, plural. 🤯

I slept all weekend, my brain was so full. But I did get Micro @monday with @pratik published, and managed Discover curation again. 🇸🇮

Achievement unlocked: first scooter ride in Ljubljana. 🛴🇸🇮

(It took me a week to get up the nerve, with @rosemaryorchard’s San Jose mishap in mind.)


I’m not sure why I waited so long, but I’m finally watching Good Omens. What a production! I’m so enjoying it, so much so that I broke my rule of “only 1 hour per day of English-language TV while in Slovenia” rule. I will make up for it over the next week. 😬🇸🇮

City soundscape: the bells with a view of Prešeren Square, the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, and the Ljubljanica River.

It’s karaoke night In Ljubljana for the summer students of the Slovene As A Foreign Language course. If I had a transporter, I’d zip @verso over here quick because I’m getting a lot of blank stares when I tell people it will be fun. 🎤😳

Lunch with @anzet. Yes, I am drinking a beer. I spent 3 hrs. learning about Slovene’s extra pronoun category for groups of two. Ex. “I/jaz” (sing.), “we/mi” (plural), and “midva” (me + one other). Or “medve,” depending on the binary gender of who the 2nd person is. 🤯🍺

Anze and Jean in Ljubljana

1 in 20 Slovenians are beekeepers. Yesterday we had a tour led by the director of urban beekeeping. I learned a ton of interesting facts, but did not have the nerve to hold a frame like my classmate Mark. 🐝

Mark holds a frame from an urban beehive in Ljubljana

I had to take a break from publishing a new episode of Micro Monday this week. Pre-Slovenia trip preparation sunk my good intentions. I plan to resume next week.

In honor of Canada Day 🇨🇦🎉, check out episodes with @vasta (#27), @bitdepth (#38), and @mikehendley (#55).

Apparently I am in the right place. 🎤🇸🇮

Prvi dan šole = first day of school. I have all the relevant jitters. 🇸🇮

(What should I wear? Will I like the teacher? Will the other kids like me? What will a beginner like me be doing for an hourlong placement test?)

After translating a bit of the Bosch manual (it offers Slovene, Croatian, Servian, Macedonian, Albanian and Bulgarian versions), and not being able to find a credible manual online), I decided to turn off the machine and open it. The spin cycle was done. Still a mystery… 🧺

Bosch Washer Hive Mind, new question: The spin light is blinking. (See video.) I could swear I didn’t overfill the machine with clothes but could it be out-of-balance? What should I do next?

I’m using Boomerang iOS App Store to translate words and phrases. It’s the best kind of simple app, and so low-priced: free w/ads, $1.99/year subscription with no ads. (I just sent @ishabazz and @heidi_helen a tip because I get WAY more value than that from their work.) 🇸🇮

First Slovenian microbrew with first Slovenian friend Anže Tomič (@anzet). IPA of course!

anže and jean and beer in Ljubljana.

I’m on an old compartment train, very reminiscent of my student days. And I reached Slovenia! And remembered how to say “thank you” to the Slovenian conductor when he took my ticket. (“Hvala!”) The adventure begins.

The view at the Lesce-Bled train station.

Goal #3 achieved: overnight stay at the Munich Airport Hotel. I did this in 2011–such a treat. Instead of navigating into the city jet-lagged and wilted, I just walked from the gate to the hotel to rest and regroup. Ready for travel adventure now. Jetzt geht’s los! 🚃 🇩🇪

Everyone at British Airways has been so nice. The flight attendant gave me a delightful lesson in proper scone prep, with jam and clotted cream. Then I overtiredly left my Kindle on the plane, didn’t realize until after customs, and the check-in guy is retrieving it for me. 🇬🇧

Goal #2 achieved: flying to London on a 747 from Seattle. And watching the planes from the British Airways lounge at Heathrow, taking off one per minute! 🛫🇸🇮


Goal #1 achieved. Checked in at PDX, at the gate early, with just one carry-on, one backpack, and a purse. Compare to 22 y.o. me, going to Europe for the first time with two large checked suitcases with no wheels. 🛫🇸🇮

New rule: when making big crazy plans for the future, write a blog post about why I made the plans. It was a big help to reread my six-month-old post about the plan for an extended stay in Slovenia two days before I leave.

It answers the question, “WTH was Past Me thinking?”

A Month In Slovenia

A few months ago, one of my podcaster comrades from The Incomparable, Anže Tomić, posted a link to a YouTube video that completely captivated me… which was surprising because the video featured people in Slovenia speaking Slovene. But once I started, I found that it was weirdly entertaining to watch people speaking a language that I didn’t know.

“I could learn that language,” I thought. “I could do an extended stay there, and take a course.”

I’ve done this before, but it’s been a very long time. I’ve studied French in France and German in Germany. I even studied Russian in Vermont. I love learning languages, and it’s been a long time since I learned a new one. I started looking into the options in Slovenia. Everything I learned about this small country located between Italy and Croatia got me more interested, and a plan started to form.

In the past, when I decided on learning a language, it was always with an eye to its utility, i.e. will this language help me get a job someday? For Slovene, I’m pretty sure the answer is “Not at all.” And the sheer lack of practicality made the choice more compelling. It’s also the chance to immerse myself in a Slavic language again. I love the Russian language. It’s beautiful and challenging.

And so, the vaguest outline of a plan was taking shape. But I wasn’t listening to my heart, or at least not taking it seriously. Who in their right mind goes to Slovenia to learn Slovene for fun?

In early November, Cate posted a tweet that caught my attention:

Everything is terrible lately? Let’s find something to be cheerful about… suggestions:
1) something you accomplished
2) a thoughtful thing someone did because they care about you
3) something you are looking forward to
If you have an answer for all three, your prize is hope 💜

That particular day, I was feeling hugely unproductive, bordering on useless. At first glance, I could think of NOTHING that I had accomplished in 2018. But I forced myself to give it some thought, and realized, “Wait a minute, I’ve been producing three podcasts every week. That is not nothing.” And a little dam broke, and suddenly I felt capable and even hopeful again.

I replied:

1) I hosted/produced over 100 podcast episodes.
2) People sent me nice tweets when I missed a conference due to illness.
3) Planning travel to somewhere I’ve never been. I have a cool idea.
You’re right! I do have hope.

Number 3 was the Slovenia plan. I hadn’t realized that I was quite looking forward to it. It had been a long while since I had a concrete plan for extended travel, my favorite kind of travel where I rent a flat and get to know a place, the people and the language.

So, big thanks to Anže and to Cate, who helped me reconnect with a passion I nearly forgot about. I’ll be flying in and out of Munich, and spending the month of July in Ljubljana, studying at the Centre for Slovene As A Foreign Language. The most important details (flights, flat, course, pet sitters) are sorted. I’ll be learning as much Slovene as I can in the meantime with the goal of placing out of the beginners’ level, starting with important vocabulary such as “morski prašički”, i.e. guinea pigs.