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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Reporting from my couch – recipe of the week

You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion.

Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

 

Oh, Sunday. I had almost lost hope you would come. I am still waiting for my husband, but he is coming back tonight, so it’s all good.

Today I ran a 15k race in the morning, for which I didn’t have any expectation as I knew it was super hilly and it turned out to be muddy as well, and took it as a tempo run on a hilly course. I ended up in 15th position among all the women and in 7th for my age group. I spent my afternoon studying for my upcoming conferences for the next few days and watching the Chicago marathon at the same time, from my couch, with a steaming hot cup of tea with milk. I will be on the road again on Tuesday, because I have an assignment in Milan, but I will be back on Wednesday. It will be my last mission for a while. Travelling over the last two weeks really took a toll on me, and having this Sunday afternoon to spend at home was a much needed break.

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I went out to shop for groceries and couldn’t find half the stuff that I needed. Although that was frustrating, I ended up making a cake anyway. Here it is.

Ingredients

180 g flour

5 tbs butter

3 eggs

150 g sugar

lemon zest + lemon juice

salt

250 g ricotta cheese

16 g baking powder

a couple handfuls of blueberries

 

Preheat your oven at 180°C. Beat your butter and sugar together vigorously, add eggs and beat some more. Add ricotta cheese and lemon zest + lemon juice (a good squeeze), and beat slowly until well blended. Add flour, salt and baking powder. Mix everything until smooth and creamy. Add in blueberries, transfer to pan and bake for 50 mins to an hour. Let cool and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

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(… I wasn’t patient enough. The cake hasn’t yet cooled down but I have already had two slices).

P.S. First week over 70 km for me!

Rainbow stir-fry

SnapseedI couldn’t let a week go by without a new recipe, even though I barely had any time to cook. I missed not being at home – and next week I will be away even more! – but today I immediately grabbed the opportunity to eat as many veggies as possible.

This may well be the easiest recipe ever for a great completely home-made stir-fry. I adapted it from http://www.superhealthykids.com

We got a colourful, healthy and nutritious post-workout meal and even managed to save and freeze one portion for the hard times (read: those times when I’m working abroad and Francesco needs some comfort food straight out of the freezer).

RECIPE

Wash and chop all of your vegetables. I used 1 head of broccoli, 1 red bell pepper, 3 medium carrots, 1 onion. Throw them into a pan with olive oil on medium for 5 mins, then cover them and let steam for 5 more mins.

In the meantime prepare the sauce. Half a cup of soy sauce, 1 generous teaspoon of honey and 3 teaspoons of grated ginger root: combine them in a small pan over medium heat, and add 1/4 cup of water where you will have mixed 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Stir until you like the texture, then put to the side. Take your chicken breasts, chop them up into bits, quickly dust with flour, and cook over medium heat. Add in a tablespoon or so of sauce. Add to the first pan together with udon noodles, stir in the sauce and finish cooking (4-5 mins). Enjoy the easiest and healthiest stir-fry ever!

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Crazy Friday nights… running in Schaerbeek

This week we set our sight on racing in yet another neighbourhood. Francesco ran the Schaerbeek 10k yesterday night, and guess what? He won! I played the supportive wife – loud cheering included, of course. I was bursting with proud as every time he passed in front of me he was leading: I know he likes to run in front, and it was lovely for him to win after leading the race from the first metre.

Considering the pitch black and the crazy course – which went into a school and the city hall, up the stairs, down the stairs, etc etc – his time was excellent. We stayed for the prize-giving ceremony even though it was soooooo late for us – we are usually in bed by 10 pm ;-P Another crazy Friday night is in the books…

SnapseedAnd this is what happens when he is so fast all you can see is the reflective part of his shoes. From behind!

Race recap by Francesco

Here comes my race recap… It was a nice race in the end, interesting, even though I’m glad that Chiara did not take part in it because I would have been sooooo worried otherwise (see “running in the dark” or “run up and down the stairs”). The start was not as messy as I feared it would be, despite the fact that after 300 meters there was a sharp turn to the left, and I decided to take the lead right from the beginning. Thank god I did so: when we got into the park (a couple of km after the start), it was pitch dark, no light whatsoever, and I just followed the red light of the bike right in front of me, trying to understand where to go. The road was also bendy, with a couple of sharp and slippery turns, and it was also quite hilly: I did not know the place and facing it in the dark was not easy, but I got out of it with 10″ on the following group (Chiara was there to cheer me on and keep me updated on the gaps). Then, we entered the neighbourhood and it was nice to run in its wide streets, even though the audience was a little bit silent and there where cars almost everywhere. The police was escorting us, so by honking and flashing their lights, they were able to make them move, but it was not so relaxing for me, since I had to run in all that mess. After a while, we got into the first building, a school: I crossed a gym, a couple of halls, one classroom (I think) and then got out in the street again…after a hill, several turns, another couple of hills and some downhills, it was time to pay a visit to the mayor: we entered the city hall, climbed a couple of flights of stairs and passed through the office of the mayor, who was standing there to give us a “high five”. I was so focused on where to go and avoid losing too much seconds on the others that I totally ignored him…I hope he did not get angry at me for that! Nevertheless, with the stairs and the turns in the offices and corridors, I almost lost the entire gap I had built and therefore I had to push also on the last few km to secure my first place. 

At the finish line, I was happy; it has been the first time after a while that I had the possibility to run a race as I like it (always in front, setting the pace and just trying to keep the others away with a good, steady pace) and it is always nice to win. All in all, I can recommend the race if you are looking for something different and you are not afraid of running in the dark or up and down the stairs: the organisers are really committed to the success of the event and the competition is good, as much as the atmosphere is friendly and easy-going. Schaerbeek is not so runner-friendly as far as the traffic is concerned (with the exception of the parks), so maybe the race can be a good excuse to run in the streets and discover them (and the buildings) in a particular way. Once again, Chiara and I had a nice experience, discovering a new place thanks to the Run in Brussels Challenge and our passion for running.

Here comes the link to an article published by a local newspaper: you can find some pics if you are interested in the event! DHnet article

He asked… one year ago

A year ago my husband asked me to marry him. I cannot really explain how that memory will forever be truly special. I guess it was so heartfelt and so natural and spontaneous. Francesco’s proposal perfectly, magically embodied who we are. We are down to earth, and so incredibly in love.

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It was a Sunday in September. I was working and he had just taken part in a 60+ k trail run in the Dolomites the day before and was about to leave on an airplane (see: I’m leaving on a jet plane…)

He woke up before dawn and had his entire family wake up to drive all the way to me, just to be sent off to a café to have breakfast by my mum who wasn’t ready to welcome everybody in the house just yet. I’m still wondering how my fiancé – who can never keep a thing from me or resist the temptation to show me my presents in advance – was able to pull it off without crumbling under the pressure. But he did.

When we went back to my parents’ place everybody sat down in the living room and Francesco went to talk to my mum, who told me to go to the kitchen. We were left alone. Francesco looked a bit tense, which he never is, but I thought he was maybe just tired from the effort of the trail. He took out a tiny ring box. Then he said:

“I had plenty of kilometres to think about this. It is hard to go down on one knee…”

I could tell his legs hurt. But he did go down on one knee. “Will you marry me?”

The rest is history…

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… Waiting for better times ;-)

DSC_2670Sometimes not training is much harder than any training. Setbacks are part of the journey, and it is normal to feel down when you can’t do what you like. I have a minor knee issue and was only able to do some strength training today because running hurts too badly, but hopefully we can fix that soon. In the meantime, I want to share some reflections with you.

But this is also the time to look back at what we have done together. I had never run until about two years ago, and Francesco only started coaching me about a year and a half ago. Since then, he has taken me to the point where I’ve run a full trail marathon, 2 half marathons and a good handful of shorter races (not necessarily easier though!). We’ve run some races together, some on our own, some for each other, as in the case of a relay race.

I broke the 2 hour barrier in my very first half marathon, which was also my first race ever. On my second half marathon I smashed my PR by more than 10 minutes, finishing strong in 1h45′. We ran our first trail marathon together, on our honeymoon, and won it. I had never run a trail race OR a marathon before, but all I could think was that all the training that we had done had really paid off. Having a coach can make all the difference to your running, really, both in terms of motivation and in terms of the results you can achieve. So I thought I would post a sample week of the training that I do, in case you’re interested. You can also follow us on Strava and contact us for more information.

Here is my past week of training:

MON

20′ warm up + 30′ fartlek (3′ hard 2′ easy)x6 + 5′ easy

TUE

AM 35′ + PM 30′

WED

rest day

THU

AM strength training

PM 15′ warm up + 10×200 @40” (200m jog in between) + 1000m @4’20”

FRI

40′

SAT

20′ warm up + 10′ tempo pace + 5′ easy + 5′ hard + 5′ easy

SUN

8 k race (2nd place for me)

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!