10 things to know if your date/partner/spouse is an interpreter

by an interpreter married to an interpreter (the one in booth n. 4 on your left)

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  1. The toothpaste rule

You’ll need two separate toothpaste tubes… to avoid quarrelling over who gets to keep the toothpaste: the one who leaves or the one who stays?

  1. Netflix/film/tv show night

Be prepared for endless comments about how crappy the subtitles are. And for compromises: at one point we have ended up watching a series in Swedish with Croatian subtitles.

  1. News talk

Accept that the conversation will mainly revolve around the news from the weirdest countries in the world (in our case, covering the whole spectrum of our combined languages: all the Nordic countries, the UK, the US, a good part of South America, Spain, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Croatia, Slovakia and of course Italy, inter alia)

  1. Lists of words everywhere

Don’t throw away that scrap of paper! And no, it doesn’t matter that it is the back of a receipt from the supermarket. We jot down notes on virtually anything, and we need those for our meeting.

  1. Whining

Our job is unpredictable, and tiring, and frustrating. With the notable exception of my husband, we as a bunch kind of like to complain. Don’t try to stop us. At one point we will get tired of all the whining and change subject.

  1. Suitcases

We come and we go. Do not expect us to unpack the moment we get home. After all, we’ll probably be leaving so soon that we don’t even need to unpack half the suitcase.

  1. Outlets

After spending our days like fish in an acquarium, we need outlets. Plenty of interpreters take up meditation, yoga, or pilates. We clearly need something more intense and like to sweat the stress out. Together my husband and I run 150 to 200 kilometres per week. Support your significant other and do not try to talk them out of exercising…

  1. Wandering eye

Although neither of us has it, we have noticed an impressive rate of wandering eyes among interpreters. I believe it is due to the act of listening and speaking at the same time, hence reflecting the split occurring in the brain.

  1. Forgetting things

We need to store an unconceivable amount of information in our brains in a very short amount of time. In order to keep functional, we also need to delete it as soon as possible. But together with all the names of chemicals, Syrian activists, scary diseases, gardening tools, pig breeds, varieties of aromatic plants, and god knows what, we forget birthdays and dates and names too. Be kind.

  1. Tip-top shape

Most of the interpreters I know are super fit. My theory is that we cannot afford to take up too much space in our tiny tiny booths…

In a nutcase: we have some weird traits, but we are also fit, super smart and usually dedicated, as it takes a lot of hard work to become (and stay!) an interpreter. In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen… marry an interpreter.

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Happy birthday my love! Plus race recap

This morning I woke up next to a thirty-year-old husband. Happy birthday my love!

We woke up and had cake for breakfast (of course), then headed to Jette, an area in the North-Eastern part of Brussels where we had never been, for an 8 k race. We had not done any specific training at all, but sometimes we just grab the opportunity to run with other people and explore the different “communes” of this city.

We ended up with a 1-2 finish! Francesco won the men’s race and I came in second among the ladies. We had to run on a 2-loop cross-countryish course, with continuous hills and ups and downs, party in a park and partly in the woods. We enjoyed the atmosphere of the race and Francesco got a huge cup and a full Happy Birthday song in French when he was awarded his first place prize. You can check it out towards the end of the video!

 

And here is my race on Strava, in case you’re interested (I am probably unveiling a secret, as there is no information available about this race on the internet, so this is the only place where you can find it. Make the most of it!)

https://www.strava.com/activities/1154483642/overview

Brief update by Francesco: It was the best birthday I’ve ever had. I got two whole (small) cakes just for me, I won a race, I could watch both the F1 GP and the MotoGP, I got an interesting book about running and philosophy, a whole collection of local beers, and I even got a surprise party in the evening. Chiara invited some friends to our place without telling me and we ended up having a wonderful dinner where we could also proudly show some of the pictures of our wedding. The final surprise consisted in 30 muffins of 4 different kinds that Chiara had baked the day before…amazing. Loved every second of it; thank you to all those who made this such a special day and thank you to my wife…I love you and you are the best!

(Sweet) potato wedges

We all have crazy lives, busy weeks, demanding jobs, and sometimes when we get home after work all we want to do is just lay on the couch and open a bag of crisps (and possibly a beer). Well, most of the time when Francesco and I get home from work we have to resist that urge, change into running clothes, and go out and do hill repeats, a fartlek session, or even just an “easy” run (which more often than not feels everything but easy).

But we also know how to spoil ourselves. I love to cook and we both love to eat good, healthy, and tasty food. We need it to fuel our runs, our activities, and our mind, but we also need it to feel well, happy, and loved. I cook every day, mostly twice a day, and Francesco does the washing up – and in both cases it is an act of love.

So today I want to share with you a recipe. It is a very easy one, but potatoes are comfort food and sometimes you need just that. I said one recipe, but it is a double recipe, as there is one version for “regular” potatoes and one for sweet potatoes. Here you go!

Potato wedges – for two people

2 large potatoes

salt, pepper, Italian seasoning

grated Parmesan cheese

olive oil

Preheat oven to 225°C. Cut the potatoes into thin wedges (I don’t peel them, just wash them before cutting them) and cook them in boiling salted water for no more than 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes and toss them with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese (this is the best part!). Drizzle with olive oil, transfer to a baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Put the oven on grill for 5-6 minutes for the final touch.

 

Sweet potato wedges – for two people

2 large sweet potatoes

1 teaspoon of golden caster sugar

salt, pepper, Italian seasoning

olive oil

Preheat oven to 225°C. Cut the potatoes into thin wedges (I don’t peel them, just wash them before cutting them). Toss them with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and a teaspoon of golden caster sugar. Drizzle with olive oil, transfer to a baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Put the oven on grill for 5-6 minutes for the final touch.

Coming home as husband and wife

We’ve made it! Our last flight for the summer is over and we are finally home. And we are both so, so happy.

We have absorbed, enjoyed and made the most of all the love we have been surrounded by and showered with and we have now made it home again, after a little more than a month.

It feels good to be home and to be able to spend some time with each other. To go back to all the old habits, but with a new role and a new awareness. To go get groceries together, cook for each other, go back to our old running routes – which can get boring, but are also reassuring -, pick clothes from a wardrobe and not from a suitcase – even though we are quite used to it even under “normal circumstances”.

Worry not, we will be writing on the blog because we have now grown quite fond of it 😉

P.S. You will be happy to know that we have managed t bring along some of your wonderful gifts without breaking anything and ALL of your heartfelt cards. We have been absolutely blown away by all your wishes, congratulations and expressions of love and we want to keep you close.

Throwback Thursday

Wedding: #tbt

My wedding day was perfect, because I knew it would be. I was going to marry the man of my dreams, my one love, The One. What could go wrong, as long as we were husband and wife at the end of the day?

That said, any wedding can prove tricky. I had been told that there would be glitches, but I didn’t believe them. My wedding would just be perfect. And it was! But we did have glitches. So here comes my very personal list in 6 points (plus 1) on how to survive on that very special day.

  • Break your shoes in (and have a spare pair!)

I am a trainer type of girl. I do wear heels at work but I deeply care about my ankles, toes and nails and was worried about how I was going to run a trail marathon just days after my wedding. I had a pair of trainers to change into and just loved them. I wore my beautiful heels during the ceremony and even during the reception, but those customised trainers saved my life during the photo shoot.

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  • Use compeeds

On the same note, you can identify the spots where the shoes are going to cause you blisters and prevent them with Compeeds. I did find them useful, but do not try to peel them away before they come off, or you will regret it (been there, done that).

  • Have someone keep tissues handy

I didn’t want to have to carry a clutch but I did need a few essentials, and I had my sisters and my mum put a survival kit in theirs. That included the above-mentioned tissues, lipstick (which I forgot in my sister’s clutch when we went away to take pictures), stain removal wipes and contact lenses. Of all, I only really needed the tissues, but quite a lot of them.

  • Allow yourself to feel everything

I was dead calm until around 5 pm the day before my wedding, when I started feeling a sense of anticipation in my stomach. I didn’t sleep at all. The next day I went running at 5 am, under a light, quiet rain, which helped me focus. I then went from excited to impatient to incredulous my wedding day had actually come, to feeling waves of love, merriment, and a profound and deep awareness of what I was about to do. I felt the luckiest person in the world and asked myself if I deserved all that joy. And even though I got emotional even before the ceremony and I knew my makeup would suffer, I allowed myself to feel everything, absolutely everything that went through me. I cried my eyes out during the ceremony, and laughed my heart out during the reception, and I felt absolutely blown away by all the love I was surrounded by.

  • Remember it’s your (and your husband’s) day

We were so lucky to have the wedding we wanted. Still, there will be guests who will try to monopolise you because they want a thousand pictures with the bride and groom; or there could be a conversation you seem to be unable to come out of with grace; or your wedding planner could be all over you. Don’t let it get to you. Enjoy your day, the company of your friends, and most of all your newly-wed husband.

  • Have a good breakfast (and lunch, and dinner)!

I always kick off my day with a good breakfast. My mum, my sisters and I allowed for an extra half hour specifically for breakfast. And make sure your hotel has you covered for dinner! My husband was so hungry by the time we got to our hotel after we had said goodbye to all our guests that we went down to dinner still dressed in our wedding suit and dress. Everybody loved it!

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  • Pick the right guy

Once you’ve nailed that, everything’s cool.

The good, the bad… and the fun

After telling you all about our experience, the time has come to give you an overview of what this race (and everything attached) might have in store for you. Virtually every person whom we have told about our project of running a trail marathon in the mountains of Northern Mongolia has reacted with (polite) scepticism: why would we want to choose such a remote place, let alone such a hard challenge, for our first steps as husband and wife? Why not choose to spend a fortnight on the beaches of Bali or in a luxury tourist resort on some African coast?

The answers are manifold, but can be perhaps summed up in one. We took a giant leap of faith, getting married and promising to ourselves that we would forever be together. It was only logical to take another little step in the direction of being brave and making the most of this unique opportunity and this very special time we have now. We feel extremely lucky and privileged. We can always go to Bali and join the scores of British pensioners on the safaris in Kenya, but honestly I had my doubts as to whether in ten years time, hopefully with some kids around, or in forty years time, probably with more than a few aches and pains if I continue to be so reckless, I’d be able to run a trail marathon (although after witnessing the incredible feats of our fellow runners in Mongolia, I am much more optimistic about my future running career for the long haul). The good news for you is that you don’t have to get married to run this race. Francesco wrote a beautiful post about the people we met there, and we were the only honeymoon couple there.

If you are interested, I hope this post will help you make up your mind as to whether this race is worth it. I promise I will not sugarcoat anything at all. Conversely, I hereby declare that it is my intention to point out all the things that I didn’t like, regardless of the fact that you might think I am a pain in the ass for complaining so much.

I am not a camping enthusiast. When I started dating Francesco, one of the first conditions I put was that we would never go on a camping vacation. This honeymoon of ours went dangerously close to it, but does not fall into that category because we did not have to set up our own tent and we technically had a bed. That said, do not expect a luxury accommodation. The tepies and gers all look very cute, but it rains inside – and it rained a lot during our week at the camp… In fact, we only had two dry days and luckily race day was one of them (until late at night, when the last 100k runners had to finish under the pouring rain).

The food – as already mentioned in my previous post – is very much the same all week: nothing to complain about, but if you don’t want to eat sandwiches every day you might want to bring some food from home (also, I think comfort food can go a long way when you find yourself in a new place and when the conditions aren’t always ideal). You will also have to bring warm clothes with you, as the temperatures rarely, if ever, go beyond 20 degrees, and the nights are cold (around 5 degrees). You can ask to have a fire made in your tepie/ger, but communication with the locals is very limited. Everyone will say “yes” and flash a giant smile, but rarely do things get done. For instance, we were told that we could have hot water (in a giant 2-litre thermos) in our tent any time, but whenever we asked we were reassured that they would bring the thermos, and most of the times it never materialised. There were basically three levels of (non)communication: we talked to the organisers, who talked to the people who managed the dining ger, who talked to the boys and girls who served the gers and the tepies of the guests.

The bathrooms and the showers are located in an autonomous building. The lavatories were clean, which I appreciated, but the showers have absolutely no pressure whatsoever and hot water is rarely available, which makes taking a shower very difficult, as it is usually not warm enough outside not to freeze to the bone. Considering that this is a camp for people who are training to run a marathon/100k and are pretty active, much could be improved. I am proud to say I managed to wash my hair three times over the week, mainly thanks to the above mentioned thermos of hot water, which I sneaked into the shower to have enough hot water to rinse the shampoo. On the plus side, there was a sauna available every day for 90 minutes for the ladies and 90 minutes for the men, which was nice, even though it wasn’t quite hot enough.

As for the leisure activities, we didn’t take part in too many, as our body was already struggling to adapt to the changes and we didn’t want to make things even harder before the marathon. Some participants took the opportunity to use the kayaks on the lake and do yoga, and we went on a horse riding 1-hour tour the afternoon after we ran the marathon. There is no wifi available at the camp, so we spent the rest of the time taking naps, walks, pictures, reading and writing. Getting to know the other runners and chatting with them over a cup of tea was perhaps the best part. It is so rare for people from so many walks of life to find themselves in the same place for so long and to be able to share a passion. Every one of us had a very different story to tell, but all were incredibly interesting.

The race really showed how selfless trail running is. Nobody was racing against the others. Instead, everybody was just trying to find out how to overcome the rough patches, when to push harder and when to slow down, when to tap into their mental resources and when to enjoy the scenery and stop to take pictures. At the same time, everybody was cheering for the others and encouraging them. It was truly moving to see how everybody was greeted at the finish line, regardless of their time or ranking.

The race itself went well (of course it did, we won! XD) but for some people it didn’t go as smoothly as they would have hoped. Some got lost or struggled to find the green marks that indicated the trail to follow – I was lucky enough to run with my very own hero, camel, and guide, aka my husband, who showed me the way, but not everybody could count on that. The aid stations were placed every 12 k for the 42 k distance, and then at the 55, 65, 76 and 88 k for the 100k distance. Before the race we were told that there would be drinking water for us to refill our bottles, but when we got to the second aid station we discovered that they only had hot water, so we had to carry on with what we had. There were no gels nor electrolytes or packaged foods that one could carry to have in between aid stations, so we ended up relying entirely on what we had brought. The runners who finished the 100k were very happy about the warm pumpkin soup they were served from the 55 k aid station on though.

I really liked the blue t-shirts that were given to all the finishers, even though the sizes were all wrong, as were the sizes of the technical white t-shirts that were given to the winners. Had I known, I would have bought one of the right size for 15 dollars… We also got very pretty medals: they are shaped in a little ball that recalls a traditional Mongolian badge of honour and are engraved with the shape of the two mountains we climbed and the distance (either 42 or 100). Our photographer’s pictures were also one of the best parts! It is great to run a marathon, but if you can’t prove it on Facebook it never happened 😉