Saturday, December 19, 2009

Even the Polar Bears are Gone

It’s so cold outside that Santa called in sick. We’re having temperatures on the negative Fahrenheit scale, compliments of Siberia. Today when I tried to scrape the frost from Steve I accidentally hit my frozen finger and I was sure it would shatter like glass, that’s how cold I was.

I’m pretty sure man wasn’t meant to live in climates like this. It’s so cold that the squirrels in the park are throwing themselves at the electric fence. If we were meant to live in a place like this, we’d have been born with a coat of fur and a big cup of hot chocolate. And a personal electric fence.

In other news, I’ve moved in with M. The apartment is a huge mess now with all of my stuff all over the place. M went to Estonia this week and was gone a couple of days. I tried to unpack as much as possible while he was away, mostly because if I did it while he was away I could get away with throwing out a bunch of his stuff. M, if you’re reading this, I have no idea about what happened to your cutlery.

Sadly I didn’t get a whole lot of unpacking done so we’ll have to finish it tomorrow. Tomorrow we’re also going to go steal buy a Christmas tree and make a gingerbread house. My family is coming over on Sunday to celebrate my Bachelor’s degree that I received a couple weeks ago so on Sunday the apartment has to look like I have everything under control. Here’s to hoping mom won’t look under the bed or in the oven. Not that I would ever cram a bunch of junk in there to hide it. Nope. Never.

I’m exhausted after a week of working and moving, so I think I’ll head to bed. I just have to wait for my pajamas to thaw out first. Oh, and does anyone need some free cutlery? Not you, M. *

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Good Thing I Bought the Death Machine

Not only do my teeth hate me, apparently Steve hates me too. For those of you who don’t know me Steve is my car. He’s an 18-wheeler disguised as a Volkswagen Vento. Steve is a great summer car. He’s reliable and steady and while he can’t hold on to his license plates worth crap, he’s always a nice ride.

During the winter he goes from being a wonderful car to being a pain in the ass. See, Steve doesn’t like the cold. Past winters I’ve had to crawl in through the passenger side door and crawl over the center console to get in behind the wheel. We haven’t really had much of a winter over here yet, but the past couple of days we’ve had temps below freezing and today Steve decided he didn’t want to play.

I was on my way to work and like every other day, I shoved the key into the door lock. Except the lock was jammed with ice, so I only shoved the key half way into the lock. I tried a few times and finally got the key all the way in. Then, like every other day, I turned the key. Except, the key wouldn’t turn because the lock was still jammed with ice. I tried the passenger side door – also jammed. I tried the driver’s side again. Then the passenger side once more. Nothing. At this point I realized I was getting late for work, so I ran back inside to find the lock de-icer in M’s apartment. While searching through his stuff I was silently praying that he actually had lock de-icer at home or I’d have to carry a pot of boiling water out to the car.

Thankfully I didn’t have to boil water, I’m not all that good in the kitchen. I found the de-icer and ran back out to the car. I de-iced the lock and shoved the key back in. The damned key still wouldn’t turn. I tried again, nope. I tried the passenger side. And then the driver’s side. And then the passenger side once more. This time it did turn and the central locking system opened.

I took a moment to swear over being so late for work, and then, like every other day, I opened the door and stepped inside. Except, the door wouldn’t open. It was frozen solid. I tried the driver’s side. Wouldn’t budge. I tried a couple more times, then realized I wasn’t strong enough and looked around for someone stronger. Sure enough, on a lot nearby a group of strong manly male workers were, well working.

I stepped up and asked for help. They looked at me a little funny, then one of the manly men came to my rescue and yanked the door open. I use the term open in a very loose capacity here as he mostly just yanked and rocked the car back and forward like it was starring in a film about an earthquake. The door still wouldn’t open. After a couple minutes of playing “Shake the Steve” I thanked the guy for being of no help to me at all and called M see if he’d let me borrow his little silver car.

M came running home from work to give me the keys to his car and saved the day. My knight in shining armor, he is. I made it to work almost on time and when I got home after work my knight had made me dinner. Let’s all say it together: “Awwww…”

Now I just have to wait for summer and Steve to melt so I can start driving my own car again. *

Monday, November 30, 2009

Damn Those Hyenas

Am I the only one who feels like there are too many Mondays in a week? It was touch and go there for a while last week, but I made it. I finished the essay on time. And my reward was a Bachelor’s degree in political science. I now officially have a degree and I am on my way towards a Master’s. I want to say “yay!” but I know how much work I have left and it doesn’t feel like ”yay!” at all.

At the moment I’m sitting in M’s apartment, trying to do homework, but I'm mostly just listening to his washing machine. As are probably all his neighbors. It spits water and fire and it sounds like he’s stuffed a couple of wild hyenas in there and they’re now battling it out for their life. And they’re probably eating my socks as well. I can’t wait to get my own quiet non-sock eating washing machine over here. I swear, I have two legs and two feet, but somehow one sock still goes missing from every pair. Damn those hyenas.

It’s been a busy weekend. Yesterday M’s parents came over and helped us put together this:

It looks deceptively simple. A couple of doors, a frame and a few shelves inside, how hard can it be? Seems pretty straight forward, right? You’re wrong! It took M and his dad hours of blood, sweat and tears to put that thing together. Luckily, my job was mostly just to make dinner and to give completely useless advice. But by the end of the day our bedroom was pretty much done, and all that’s needed now is some art on the walls. Now that feels like “yay!”

On Saturday M, Muschu and I went to visit my parents. When my Grandpa was still alive Muschu, my brother and I would make a gingerbread house together with him every year. It used to look something like this:

Last year Grandpa was too ill to make the house with us, so Muschu and I took it upon ourselves to help our little brother with the house. Turns out when Muschu and I are let loose on a gingerbread house, not even a 13-year old boy can stop us and we tend to go all Barbie on it. Last year’s gingerbread house, in all it’s pink glory, looked a little bit like this:

This year Grandpa is sadly not with us anymore, so on Saturday Muschu and I once again helped our little brother with this year’s gingerbread house. Turns out Barbie wasn’t enough. This year’s house looks like a My Little Pony chew it up and spit it out all pink and white and fluffy. I’m not sure our very macho teenage brother is all that happy with how it turned out, but he’s the one who ate all the green candies so he can just blame himself.


Monday, November 23, 2009

43 hours, 26 minutes. (Not that I'm counting...)

Very quick update today. This essay is killing me. I probably shouldn’t have sold my brain for some candy bars and toe jam, I’m thinking that was a bad idea after all. I have 16 more pages to go and less than 44 hours to do it. If I don’t make it the world will collapse into itself in proper 2012 style. Or I’ll fail the class, I’m actually not sure which one, I’ve lost perspective completely. One of these days I’m going to realize that procrastination is a bad thing. It’s what Satan uses to drive people crazy.

Clearly that moment hasn’t come yet, as I am obviously procrastinating again. Just shoot me now. And wish me luck.

M – I know you’re reading this, and I’m sad to tell you this, but you’re not allowed to come home from work today, I need peace and quiet. Thanks.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

U R Mr Gay

Happy birthday Muschu! Today my wonderful little sister will be 23 years old, officially making me ancient. Yesterday I baked a cake for her and gave her a kick ass present (telling her she’s adopted was not the present, that was an accident, the Super Mario Galaxy Wii game was the real present) and today I took her to the movies to see New Moon. M left to get his ass kicked for karate camp on Thursday so I was planning on spending the entire weekend working on a 25-page essay that is due on Wednesday. So far I’ve done a whole lot of celebrating Muschu’s birthday, a whole lot of procrastination and whole lot of nothing on the essay.

And my tooth is having its revenge. The dentist apparently left a tiny little sharp edge on the tooth that I didn’t notice while I was there. Now I can’t stop running my tongue over that insanely sharp edge and I keep hurting my tongue. Here’s to hoping I’ll hurt my tongue enough that I can’t eat and I’ll lose a little weight. (I had a LOT of popcorn at the movies today…) The tooth and I are officially tied at 1-1.

I’m really hoping tomorrow will be a better day for essay writing, it’s clearly not happening today. I swear, I’m even thinking about doing the dishes and cleaning the bathroom. But I’m at M’s place and technically I haven’t moved in here yet so even though I’ve contributed to the mess, by my reasoning, I shouldn’t have to clean. Yet. That makes sense, right?

A Johnny Depp movie just started on TV. Looks like I won’t have to do the dishes after all. That’s a relief. *

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ziva vs The Tooth: 1 - 0

I’m back home, finally. I’m not going to eat for an entire week. That is of course a total lie, I’m already craving Chinese food. And with my brand new tooth, I’ll be able to chow down on whatever I want. See, I just got back from my favorite place on earth, the dentist’s, and she fixed my tooth! This is only a temporary fix, but as of right now my tooth is not a big gaping hole in my mouth. I’d call that a success.

I was already entertaining nightmarish thoughts about my future. I was going to end up alone and living with my 32 cats, cause no one could ever love a girl with a tooth from hell. M told me he still loved me and my tooth, but I think he was lying. I was going to end up as that old lady on the street that all the kids are afraid of. But not anymore!

One thing that sucks, though, is that I was already making plans on how to make good money on my teeth falling out of my mouth. When I was little my mom would pretend to be the tooth fairy and whenever I lost one of my baby teeth, she’d buy it from me. I figured with inflation, the new currency and everything else, my teeth would be worth a smallish fortune by now. And if they came out half a tooth a time, I could easily make some good money off of them. I have no idea what mom needs all the teeth for, but I can only assume she’s secretly into voodoo. *

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Friday the 13th: The Curse of the Tooth from Hell

I’m broken. M and I made the 2,5-hour drive to visit his parents on Friday. And now I’m hurting.

In the car on the way here my tooth broke. I was eating some candy (cause everyone knows you can’t drive for almost 3 hours without candy) and as I chewed on the candy I suddenly realized I was chewing on parts of my own tooth. Nothing makes candy taste bad like little pieces of tooth in it. I spit out the pieces of tooth and felt around a little with my tongue. Half of the tooth was gone and I was sitting there with all the insides of the tooth completely exposed. It didn’t feel great.

For some strange reason it feels like whenever we visit M’s parents all we do is eat all day long. Normally this wouldn’t bother me, but with half a tooth in my mouth, eating has proven a little bit tricky. I try to use the fork to stick the food as far into the other cheek as I possibly can, then I tilt my head to the side and try to make gravity help me keep the food away from the tooth from hell. I think M’s parents think I’ve lost my mind.

Add to that the fact that I apparently have a little bit of a relapse on my herniated disc and my back hurts as hell, which makes me walk around like Quasimodo, back hunched, head tilted to the side. I’m pretty sure the family wasn’t happy with the announcement that I’m moving in with M come January.

I have to cut this short now. Dinner is ready. Again. *

Friday, November 13, 2009

"...and it had the consistency of roofing tar!"

Last night M and I visited some great friends of ours who happen to have the most adorable little son. Adam is almost a year old and chaos on two legs. No button, book or spatula is safe when Adam is loose. It’s with great joy and a certain amount of trepidation I’m looking forward to when I’ll be the one dealing with projectile vomit, poo diapers, functioning on 2 hours of sleep a night and playing peek-a-boo all day long. It’s my firm belief that all new parents revert to the level of a 5-year old mentally, to be able to cope with everything a baby brings, (I’m not saying that you, Adam’s wonderful and very adult parents, are at the level of a 5-year old, I’m just presenting a theory here.) I also think it’s fascinating how bodily functions suddenly become so very interesting. This is an actual (completely made up) conversation between two new mothers:

Mommy #1: “The baby’s poop was black for three whole weeks after the birth.”

Mommy #2“ Really? Ours was only black for the first week or so.”

Mommy #1: “Is that so? Fascinating!”

It sure is. *

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


It’s been a while since I visited my spam folder. This is mostly due to the fact that my Russian mail order bride still hasn’t contacted me – a fact that makes me both frustrated and a little depressed. Today, though, when I checked my spam folder for notes from Anna, I noticed a couple of pretty creative, and somewhat disturbing, subject lines.

“With some extra inches you will open some extra possibilities for yourself.”

Now this is so true! I’m only 5’1 and I can barely even reach the wheel when I drive a car. With some extra inches I would be able to do a ton of stuff that I can only dream about now. For instance, I could reach the top shelf in the kitchen without using a ladder. I could see over the wheel when I drive Steve. I could go to the movies and not have to sit on a pillow. My life would be so much improved if I had a few extra inches. I think I’m going to give it a go.

I also saw this subject line:

“Nothing excites women more than a big bulge in your penis.”

Actually, guys, I can guarantee that there is nothing in the entire world that excites women less than a big bulge in your penis. If you have a big bulge in, on, or anywhere around your penis you’re probably better off seeing a doctor. Yuck.

My arm is killing me today. I’ve been vaccinating people for the swine flu all day and ended the day by letting the nurse stick a needle in me. I think it’s kind of disturbing that I let her inject me with trace amounts of the Spanish flu, but if it keeps me from oinking like a pig, I’m all for it.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Recycling FTW

I found this picture on another blog and like the author of that blog, I was completely outraged. I cannot believe the audacity of some people. They actually put a ring around that poor chicken’s leg! That’s animal torture right there. The toddler, on the other hand, seriously? Children have no manners nowadays.

On an unrelated note, I just ate an entire ox at a Greek restaurant. I won’t need to eat again until Christmas. I could probably feed all those little baby penguins in Antarctica all winter long just by regurgitating little pieces of ox.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

It Never Snows in Libya

Thank heavens I went all MacGyver on Steve’s ass last weekend, because today I had to start my day by brushing a thin but very cold layer of snow off my poor car. I love the first snow of the winter. It always makes everything seem so light and clean and beautiful …and cold as hell. Also, the first snow is usually pretty harmless and melts away in a few days. Nothing at all like the snow storms we’ll be having in January. Come January I’ll be planning my imminent relocation to a place that is entirely filled with stuff that isn’t ice and snow. Like Libya.

Until then, I’ll be enjoying the light dusting of pretty white stuff that covers the ground tonight.

This is a picture I took at the cemetery today when I visited Grandpa’s grave.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

When I Grow Up I'm Going To Marry MacGyver

Happy Halloween! I hope everyone had a great Halloween and got happy and/or drunk and dressed up in scary outfits. M and I went to a party with a 1980’s theme. At first I was a little worried about finding suitable clothes and stuff, I was like 4 years old in the 80’s, but luckily Muschu came shopping with me and we found the ugliest cutest black mini ruffle skirt with gold specks on it. Hot pink tights, huge hair and nasty makeup and I totally looked the part.

We had a great time at the party, but I was a little sad that we didn’t get to dress up in scary costumes and scare the crap out of little kids. The 80’s theme was fun and all, but we were about as threatening as Switzerland. My friend Zelma looked gorgeous, though. She should definitely dress up in her 80’s wear more often.

But I have to tell you, the best part of the weekend wasn’t the Halloween thing. It was the fact that I got dad to screw on Steve’s new license plate! Steve looks great now, plates in all the right places. Almost like new (if it were 1995). And then M and I channeled MacGyver. No, we didn’t defuse a bomb with shoe string, a piece of bubble gum and a paper clip. We got down and dirty in true MacGyver fashion and changed the tires from my pretty summer tires to badass studded winter tires, using only a jack lift, a wrench and a screwdriver. The screwdriver wasn’t entirely necessary, but we figured more tools would make us more efficient. And MacGyver would definitely have used the screwdriver. Or a rusty nail. I’m not sure if it made us more efficient or not, but we did manage to change the tires. Steve and I are officially ready for winter. And tomorrow M will start growing the mullet. MacGyver rules. *

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Puncture Wounds for Everybody - Come Get Your Own!

Today I was stopped by the police, stuck by a needle the size of an iPhone and came thisclose to touching someone else’s poo. As you can probably tell, it was a pretty average day.

Why is that whenever we’re stopped by the police, we automatically assume we’ve done something horribly wrong and we’re going to go to prison for the rest of our lives?

Oh… M just informed me that I’m the only one who thinks that and the rest of you know you haven’t done anything wrong. But that doesn’t change the fact that whenever I get pulled over, or the police wants to check to see if I’ve been drinking (they do this a lot, apparently I can’t drive in a straight line to save my soul from hell), I have a checklist that I mentally run through as I wind down the window.

And that’s what I did this morning when the cops stopped me on my way to work. Vodka bottles hidden from view? Check. Seatbelt? Check. Makeup? Check. Headlights? Check. Dumped the body from the trunk? Check. Keeping a steady 10mph above the speed limit? Check.

Basically, I had all bases covered. All except one. How the hell could I forget “All license plates still attached?” The nice policeman checked to see if I’d been drinking, which I hadn’t since it was only 9am and on Saturdays I don’t start drinking until 11am. And then he casually remarked on the fact that one of my plates was missing. I immediately broke out in a cold sweat and started hyperventilating. I was so going to prison. A big girl named Olga was going to make me her bitch and I’d never get to say goodbye to M. I was so screwed.

I grabbed the steering wheel in a white-knuckled grip, hoping that if they tried to take me away they’d have to take the car with me. Then I stammered something about getting the plate and screwing it on next week. The cop looked at me like I’d just sprouted a pair of antennae on my forehead but told me to have a nice day and let me go.

Olga is going to be pissed when she hears I’m not going to be her bitch after all. I’m a total catch.

I got to work on time and we set about giving 500 people their flu shots. I have a humongous slight fear of needles and therefore spent 6 hours trying not to look at the nurse while she tortured hundreds of innocent souls with needles that looked more like swords than needles. She kept stabbing them over and over and over again. I was there simply to get the patients’ names and birthdays and to record the flu shot in their charts. Why this had to be done that close to the person with the needle in her hand I don’t know, but more than once I gave a frightened little shriek and jumped off my chair when the syringe was a little too close for comfort.

The only pause in the needle torture was when the town drunk, Barry, came in to the hospital and proceeded to shit his pants, literally. He then sat down in the waiting room and grabbed his closest friend Mr. Vodka. After several tries to get Barry outside, he finished Mr. Vodka and pulled out his you-know-what and pissed all over the floor. Then, as every good party, it all ended when the cops came and took Barry away.

My day ended when the nurse finally managed to strap me down and pumped me full of flu vaccine. I was so proud of myself for not passing out, that I’ve spent the rest of the day telling everyone that I got the flu shot so they’d know I’d had a huge needle sticking out of my arm today. Sadly, no one really seemed all that impressed. Except M. But I think he just wants to get laid. M – if you’re reading this, it ain’t happening, I had a huge freaking needle sticking out of my arm today, I’m traumatized. *

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Guy Who Invented the Snooze Button was Probably Just Jetlagged

The trip to New York has really screwed with my sleeping pattern. Going there is easy. You just have to stay up a little longer and then you’re allowed to sleep way into the afternoon and it’s still morning in American time. But coming back – yuck! You have to go to bed 7 hours earlier than you’re used to, and also get up that much earlier, which is just about as fun as sticking your head into a pot of boiling water. I’ve never actually tried the head in boiling water thing, but I used to work at a place where I’d randomly get splashed with hot oil and that really sucked.

Where was I? Oh yeah, I haven’t slept properly since I got back from NY. Which is also why I can’t remember if I already ate today or not… My brain is mush. The first night after we got back I got a decent night’s sleep, but I’d been awake for 32 hours prior, so when I woke up, I was still exhausted. So exhausted, in fact, that I kept sleeping all through the morning and woke up in the afternoon. This made sleeping pretty much impossible the next night, so I fell asleep at 4am. And spent the next day napping. I’m calling it napping and not sleeping because I woke up every 30 minutes and thought to myself that I really should get up now.

The day after that I tried a new approach and got up at 6am after 3 hours of sleep and ploughed through the entire day with double vision and I think I even fell asleep standing up at one point. I thought this was a good idea, but turns out it just made me so tired that I fell into bed at 7pm. I slept until 3am and was wide awake. Again.

I’m confident that sooner or later I’ll get my body back to normal time, but in the meantime, I just hope that people who know me won’t be too pissed when I can’t remember who they are or where I am simply because I’m too tired.

I have to say, though, the trip was totally worth a few sleepless nights. I was looking through the pictures from the trip and found one of a dead cockroach. I didn’t kill it. Casey did. He’s one of my friends from North Carolina who came to see me, and also happens to be the person who gave me the name Ziva. English is not my first language, it’s not even my second language, and apparently I say some pretty stupid stuff every now and then. Stuff that isn’t English as much as it is complete and utter gibberish. So he named me after a character on NCIS, Ziva David, who knows about a million different languages but still manages to get the simplest sayings wrong when she’s speaking English. Personally I like to think he calls me Ziva cause she’s kickass and exotic, but he only does it whenever I have bad luck in my use of English… Oh well…

Anyway, that’s not what I was saying. What I was saying was that Casey killed the cockroach. He did it in the New York subway, by stepping on it. (That was never a choice when we played Clue (Cluedo) growing up, but it definitely should have been.) At first we weren’t even going to ride the subway, but then we realized we can’t come to New York and not ride the subway. So we went down there and did our very best to try to get mugged.

First we tried standing at the weird automatic ticket thingies where you were supposed to buy the tickets and tried to figure out how to buy a single ticket. I’m going to go out on a limb here and call the thingies “ticket machines.” We didn’t get mugged at the ticket machines. So we tried taking a few pictures of ourselves buying the tickets, looking as touristy and muggable as humanly possible. We still didn’t get mugged.

Next we tried standing by the big map of the subway, looking like human question marks and asking each other which way to go. It didn’t work so we went downstairs to the platforms. That’s where I saw the cockroach scurrying past us on the ground and I said “Wow, look, there’s a cockroach!” And Jenn started screaming, Muschu became paralysed with fear and Casey stepped on the cockroach. It made a very satisfying crunching sound when it died. At that point people were looking at us like they really wanted to mug us, but since they didn’t, we grabbed our cameras and took pictures of the dead cockroach and of the platforms and of the trains. Inside the subway train we again took a bunch of pictures and said stuff like “Are we sure we know where we’re going?” and “I can’t believe we’re on the subway in New York!”

Personally, I can’t believe we actually survived that ride. No one shot us and no one pushed us onto the rails and no one even mugged us. And this in the city where people make radio requests like “This is for Dana, I’m sorry I stabbed you.” I consider myself very lucky.

I have once again forgotten what I set out to write about when I started this post, but it can’t have been that important. My lovely boyfriend, whom I love dearly but whose name escapes me at the moment, will be here soon so I’m going to have to cut this short. Maybe I have time for a nap before he gets here. *

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Finding Mrs. Liberty in the City that Never Sleeps

Last week I went to the Big Apple in the grand ole U.S. of A. My mom has recently graduated from university and now has a Master’s degree in caring science and my dad has recently turned 50. They decided that we were going to celebrate these two occasions with a family vacation to the States. Now, I haven’t lived at home in 6 years or so, but if mom wants to treat me to a vacation in New York, I’m definitely game.

Turns out I have sort of forgotten why I was so happy to move to my own place 6 years ago. My family is crazy. And when we’re all together we’re even more crazy. We actually lost my little brother twice before we even got to our gate at the airport. And apparently we look a little bit like terrorists cause my sister, you know her as Muschu, was stopped in security and they searched her for all sorts of dangerous things like tweezers and water bottles bigger than 100ml. They also x-rayed my bag twice cause it looked suspicious. I think it might have been the axe I packed, but I also had a pair of tweezers in there so I can’t really be sure.

After Muschu and I had been checked by security, we tried to board the plane, but sadly Muschu was still wearing her terrorist outfit so they took her away to another room for a “random search” and made her take off her shoes and checked them for lethal bottles of water and other things she might use to hijack the plane. Luckily they let her go after a while and we could all board the plane and be bored to tears for almost 9 hours while practically sitting in the laps of strange people and eating yucky food.

Eventually we made it to New York and made an attempt at crossing the border into the States. They asked all the required security questions but when they heard I’d been in the States once before, the warning bells started ringing. They made the rest of my family go ahead and took me with them to another room because there were some “problems with my fingerprints.” I’m pretty sure they’ve just never seen a person who actually came back to America after already visiting it once. They probably just wanted to make sure I wasn’t crazy or anything. Luckily they let me go pretty soon and we were able to keep going. We went outside and expected to see the SUV we had ordered to take us to the hotel, but instead saw this:

Yep, that’s a limo. This thing had the turn radius of a handegg field. While we rode that sleek white beast to the hotel, Japanese tourists on the street kept taking pictures of it. It was awesome.

And then we realized we were in New York. Holy crap.

I loved it. And I soon realized Manhattan is the easiest place ever to navigate. Every street is numbered so you can’t get lost even if you tried. The first day we went ice skating at Rockefeller Center. The second day we hopped on and hopped off the hop on and hop off buses and went to the largest department store in the world: Macy’s in New York. If you want to get lost in New York, just go inside Macy’s. I swear, entire floors of clothes or shoes disappear when you turn your back to them and when you try to find them again they’re full of men’s socks or Martha Stewart tablecloths. Macy’s New York is like Rose Red – alive and growing on its own.

I actually spent a fair amount of time searching for the Statue of Liberty. I found her at Toys“R”Us, next to the Ferris Wheel, but she looked a little blocky…

Then I found her at a store, but she looked a little furry:

Then I thought for sure I found her at another store, but she looked a little yellow…

Then I found her at yet another store and this time she was both yellow AND furry.

And at the M&M store I found a whole flock of Statues of Liberty!

But then someone finally told me she was actually in the water and lo and behold, there she was.

We also saw the UN HQ and the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, Times Square, Ground Zero, Central Park, MoMA, the NY Public Library and went to a musical on Broadway. We saw the Phantom of the Opera and I have to say it was truly amazing and worth every penny.

I realized something while on vacation. Everything is big in New York. The buildings…

The meatballs…

Even the pigeons are HUGE. This one was actually bigger than the Chrysler Building:

The police cars were tiny, though…

New York is a very busy city. Everyone is running all over the place, cars everywhere, and the thing I really hated: everyone yells at you while you’re in line and trying to order fast food or coffee or whatever. They keep shouting “Next! Next! Next!” And if you’re not fast enough running up to the counter they give you a dirty look and make you feel like crap. And then they keep interrupting you while you order with “Anything else?!?” And make you feel like crap for actually ordering more than one cup of coffee. After the first time we ordered something at Starbucks my entire family was in shock and I think we all felt like crying a little. Thankfully, we made a full recovery and toughened up for the rest of our stay.

At the end of the week my awesome friends from North Carolina came to see me and we did the tourist thing together. I love them dearly and they are going through a difficult time right now, so it was really great to see them. We had a wonderful time – thanks guys for coming out to see me, I’m thinking about you!

All in all, New York was awesome. Sure, I barely heard any English, and I was afraid to make sudden moves around most of the people there and the street signs were just as frequently in Spanish or in Chinese as in English, but it was still wonderful. Pretty damn cold, but wonderful. And big. And no one was stopped in security on the way back home. Apparently Americans are not nearly as nitpicky about who’s allowed to leave the country as they are about who they’re letting in. Imagine that.

And now I have a Dwight Schrute bobble head doll and a magic 8 ball to tell me the answers to life’s all questions.

So, magic 8 ball, will I ever go back to New York?

“Better Not Tell You Now”


Friday, October 9, 2009

Chuck Norris can Sneeze with His Eyes Open

Today U.S. President Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. Those of you who know me well, know that I study international law and human rights and such nonsense and am kind of a pro peace, con death and destruction person in general. But this made me confused. At first I thought they had given him the Cool Black Dude Prize, and that made perfect sense, then I thought they’d given him the Most Likely to Succeed Prize, and that made perfect sense too, but alas, then I realized that they’d awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize and that didn’t make any sense whatsoever.

They awarded him the prize for “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Sounds good, yes?

To my knowledge so far he’s done a lot of talking, made a lot of promises, almost managed to close Guantanamo Bay, killed a fly in a pretty neat manner, and done some more talking. He has NOT, however, closed Guantanamo Bay, he has not put an end to the two wars the USA is highly involved in in Afghanistan and in Iraq, he has not negotiated peace in the Occupied Territories and has not cured cancer. Now, I’d get the Committee's choice if he HAD in fact negotiated peace in the Occupied Territories or cured cancer, but as it is now, he had only been the US President for 2 weeks when he was nominated for the prize and at that time he hadn’t even killed the fly.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely think Barack Obama was a great choice for the title of Leader of the Free World, ahem, I mean President of the United States of America. God knows he was a better choice than McCain, who grew up with T-Rex and would have left the throne to Soccer Mom when he died of old age. And I definitely think that one day, in a few years; Obama would have earned that prize through action, not through rhetorics. I’m sad to say that I think the Committee got this one wrong.

I mean last year the prize went to someone who one day said “I’m done with being the President of this peaceful and boring country, I think Kosovo needs peace.” And then he went out and got Kosovo peace. Not to mention that he helped Namibia secure its independence years before he became the President of the boring, peaceful country. He’s the Chuck Norris of peace, if you will. When he enters a country, the insurgents run for cover and maybe even cry a little. When Barack Obama enters a country, the insurgents mostly want to catch a glance of him to see if he really is as tanned as Berlusconi seems to think.

And frankly, does the country that got football so horribly wrong really need more Nobel Prize winners?

Sorry about the foray into political issues, now back to your regularly scheduled blogging. *

Monday, October 5, 2009

Stick a Fork in Me, I'm Done

Someone stole the front license plate off my car. They left me with the back plate and a sad and lonely car that looks like it’s been thoroughly violated. I can’t tell you how sick and tired I am of people constantly taking my stuff. I have barely had time to replace all my credit cards and diver’s license from when my wallet was stolen and now I had to start my week by trying to figure out how the hell you go about replacing a license plate.

Turns out all it takes is a couple trips to the DMV, one trip to the police station and 8 Euros. I’m trying to think of it as a useful experience, but frankly, I can’t really see the good in it. Except that now I can steal someone else’s plates and leave them a polite note telling them how to go about getting new plates. That would be pretty nice of me.

I’m also working at the hospital this week while trying to do my homework and make my deadline on Wednesday. And I didn’t sleep last night. Whenever I closed my eyes I saw detached license plates jumping around and begging me to reattach them. It was scary. What I am I trying to say, though, is that I am exhausted. And it’s only Monday. And my spinning class starts in an hour. Yuck.

Luckily I know this week will get so much better when I leave for New York City on Sunday! We’ve already decided that we’re going to go ice skating at the Rockefeller Center and do tons of other touristy stuff. And I’ll even get to see my friends from the grand old US of A. Someone could steal the freaking roof off my car and I’d still be too excited about the USA trip to care. Although, I bet getting a new roof for the car is a lot more of a hassle than getting a new license plate… *

Friday, October 2, 2009

Denial ain't just a River in Egypt

This is the time of year when we start telling ourselves that summer wasn’t that much fun anyway and that temperatures below freezing are a nice change. This is also the time of year when you can start telling which students are foreign just by looking at what they wear.

When the temperature drops in the fall, local students sport sensible fall wear - perfectly in tune with the weather. And this is no small feat. Fall over here is like a schizophrenic on acid. One minute everything is peachy keen, the sun is shining and birds are singing. The next moment it's raining cats and dogs and everything that isn't bolted down gets a free air ride. And we're not talking happy summer rain either. This is rain that's so cold it makes Antarctica sound like a fun place. This is rain that doesn't obey by the umbrella laws, it moves horizontally and freezes your face clean off. You can always tell who got caught in the rain by the look of sheer horror on their frozen faces.

Anyway, what I was saying is that local students can adapt to these freak conditions. Foreign students get confused. The first time the temperature drops below 10C, that's 50F for my metric-challenged readers, foreign students run out and buy the biggest, baddest winter coat they can find and spend the next 10 months looking like the Michelin man. Sometimes I feel a little sorry for them, but mostly I just gather my friends and play this game we like to call “Spot the foreign kid.” I also like to tell them that in a few more months the ground will be covered in three feet of snow and that the temperature will have dropped to -10C. That’s 14F for those of you who don’t use proper units. The look of dread on their faces is hilarious.

Oh and a little update on the death machine: The death machine is working perfectly. Nowadays, I just have to think about blow drying my hair after a shower and my hair will automatically dry itself and fall in perfect curls down my back. In fact, after that first time of using the death machine, my hair has been in a state of chock and it doesn’t even become wet anymore. Best buy ever! *

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Vintage is In

Hungry? Craving a snack? How about a nice meat sandwich made with 27-year old vintage meat? Yes, I said years, not days or weeks or even months. The Swedish government has sold 27-year old meat to the rest of the world, mostly to Poland. I’m not quite sure if this is their attempt at trying to give the rest of the world food poisoning so they can take over the world, or if it’s just the Swedish way of saying “Hey, you seem nice, have some rotten meat!”

Luckily, the Swedish government was only allowed to sell the meat as people food outside of the European Union. Because clearly it’s okay for people outside of the EU to eat three decades old meat. Inside the EU it was supposed to be used as animal food. Probably the Swedish government also thinks road kill bolognese is a real meal somewhere.

The Poles sent this meat to be used in schools, bars and catering companies. Until someone took a look at it and realized that it actually looked a little like someone had already eaten it once and it had taken a not so nice ride through someone’s digestive system.

Apparently the meat was found in various stages of decomposition. No shit? 27-year old meat is decomposing? I can’t even make meat last a week in my fridge. I wouldn’t want to know how many preservatives have been pumped into this meat to make it reach the tender age of dinosaur without growing legs and walking away.

I don’t know what the policy regarding rotten meat is in your country, but where I live we usually just throw it out. My best guess is that in Sweden rotten meat is a delicacy of epic proportions. They probably age the meat to perfection, leaving the meat in cans for decades to let it achieve the perfect level of decomposition before they consume it. I’ve taken the liberty to make a little reference list so you can rot your meat the same way the Swedes do:

1-2 years past expiry date: This meat is still edible according to most people’s standards. Swedes won’t enjoy this at all. Leave to rot.

2-5 years past expiry date: This is better. When tasting, look for nuances of spoiled fat and stale preservatives. Swedes love this.

5-10 years past expiry date: This is when the decay really sets in. At this point Swedes look for a funny color to the meat and a smell resembling a mix of dirty socks and blue cheese. Connoisseurs will be satisfied with meat of this vintage, but if older meat is available, they will inevitably go for that.

10-15 years past expiry date: At this point Swedes will sigh in satisfaction as they take in the smell of prime decomposition. Most of the day-to-day meats will reach their prime during the 12th year of rot and should be eaten at this stage.

15-20 years past expiry date: If you can find a can of this vintage, you are in luck! As finer meats near the 20-year mark, they will achieve an entirely new level of decay. The color will resemble the rainbow, heavy on the green. The smell has lessened, and you won’t in fact smell anything at all until you add a drop of water and stir with a special device used solely for this purpose. It’s called a “sked”. Google it. This is a real treat to Swedes and if you serve a Swede meat of this age, you will have made a friend for a long time to come.

20-25 years past expiry date: A delicacy only available to the greatest and most determined connoisseurs. Leaving meat to decompose for this long requires hard work and excellent restraint as the meat releases irresistible fumes during the entire process.

25-30 years past expiry date: The meat the Swedish government sold to Poland was 27 years old and a true rarity. It had most likely reached a state of putrefaction seldom seen outside of certain meat fetish circles. It’s not known why the Swedish government willingly is selling this meat, but we can only assume the country has suffered a constitutional crisis and will be reborn as a dictatorship any day now.

30 years and more past expiry date: Meat this old cannot be eaten anymore. It is believed that a delicacy of these proportions would leave the digester in a permanent state of bliss due to the severe case of profound happiness they would achieve. I don’t recommend you try this since you will never be satisfied with normal, non-rotten meat after you try it.

I hope this reference list serves you well and that you succeed with the decaying. I know you’ll get many interesting and wonderful culinary experiences while on this decomposition voyage, but I also know you won’t be sorry. An entire country full of Swedes can’t be wrong… Can they? *

Saturday, September 19, 2009

How About a Nice Punch in the Face?

My boyfriend is an idiot. Today he willingly ran a half marathon. That's not a real marathon, but pretty freaking close. Well technically it's half the distance of a real marathon, but since a real marathon is, oh about a million miles long, I think a half marathon qualifies to make him an idiot. There was no gun pointed at his head, no money being offered, no cute African children to save. Nothing. He ran "just because it's fun." I tried telling him that going to the movies is fun, petting a puppy is fun, reading a good book is fun. Hell, even punching yourself in the face is fun compared to running a half marathon. In fact, the next time he's thinking about running for the sake of running, I'm going to suggest he punch himself in the face a couple times to see if that would satisfy his need to torture himself.

The weirdest thing is that he came home and was all happy. "Hey honey, I'm home! I just ran until I couldn't breathe and my legs fell off, but oh I feel sooo good now! Lemme just crawl over to you and I'll give you a nice sweaty kiss." Also, he wasn't the only one doing it. There were a ton of people there, all just as eager to cripple themselves as effectively as possible and compete about who vomits first. The guy with the bald spot won.

This is his own fascinating narrative of the run: "First there was the starting shot, then I ran, and then I ran some more and there were cows and then I ran and then I finished." That's awesome, Forrest. Personally I think he left out the part where he couldn't feel his feet anymore and he went into cardiac arrest, but I guess those are minor details.

And you know what? He's done it before! Twice! And he still did it again. You'd think after doing it once you'd be satisfied in knowing that you can do it. You'd know that you're the man and if for some reason all cars stopped working, all public transport ceased to exist and there were no more camels to ride on, you'd still be able to get to work on time. But to then go and do it again? Yeah.

M, I love you, but you're an idiot. I'm just saying.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I Will Wait

Did you know the latest spam craze is colon cleansing? I didn’t either until I ventured into my spam folder today. See, I’ve noticed lately that the jerks sending out spam are becoming increasingly creative. It used to be you’d know instantly when something was spam and you didn’t even feel slightly tempted to open up it up. Subject lines like “Enlarge your penis!” come to mind. Firstly, I don’t have a penis, so with a subject line like this, you’re immediately alienating 50% of readers. I’m sad to say that the other 50% are actually very likely to open up emails like this. I wish those people would realize that by sucking/pumping more volume into their manly parts, they have to take that volume from somewhere and that somewhere will always and forever be their brains.

Another one is the ever faithful “Medication you need” subject line. This is particularly disturbing because it implies that 99% of people need medication of some sort. Mostly they offer little pills to make you look skinny and feel good about yourself. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to actually take the pills or just throw them at really skinny people. That would certainly make me feel better about myself.

And here’s a favourite of mine: “Fuck her like a stud.” Nothing good could ever come out of that one. Ever. I’m just saying.

Most of these spam emails are sent from an account owned by a person with a Spanish name. Mostly when I see that Pablo or Manuel has sent me an email, I just delete it right away. Now, this is easy cause I live in a place where people named Manuel would stand out. But tell me it wouldn’t suck to live in Spain or Mexico? You’d never know if all those enlarge-your-penis emails were spam or if your friends were trying to tell you something.

But this was good old spam, with good old subject lines. They were straight to the point and targeted a specific audience, mostly impotent men and gullible women. I like to think I’m neither of those, so I was safe. Until now. I’ve been receiving a new form of spam and I hate to admit this, but they’re good…

I got a spam the other day with the subject line “I will wait.” And I have to say, this made me curious. You will wait for what? The apocalypse? A little blue pill to help you with that erectile dysfunction? The bus? The possibilities were endless.

The email was sent by Ron Acevedo, and frankly, I was just dying to know what Ron would wait for. I went against every unwritten rule there is and opened the email. Turns out Ron was lying and he was in fact a she. A she named Anna. Anna was from Russia and clearly in love with me. She was searching for the love of her life and realized that I might be a little surprised to hear from her like this (which I totally was since I hadn’t planned on indulging in a Russian mail order bride until after I had finished university), but she was looking for “a dating in Internet”. Personally I can’t find the “dating” in “Internet”, but I can find “Inter” and “net”, so I’m assuming the “dating” is hiding somewhere between them.

Anna clearly felt we shared a connection and gave me her personal email address so I could contact her if I felt like it. This made me feel incredibly honoured, it’s not easy to trust over the Internet, with or without dating, and here she was, giving me her personal email address. She had also attached a picture of herself, but at that point I had fallen in love with Anna and couldn’t bear to destroy that connection by looking at my bride before the wedding, so I didn’t open the picture.

Sadly, while answering Anna on her personal email, tragedy struck. I accidentally deleted her email address, I also deleted the email she sent me via Ron, and even managed to empty the trash folder permanently before realizing what I had done. Needless to say, I was devastated.

Anna, if you’re out there, please contact me again. I will wait. *

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Important Stuff Coming Right Up!

This week I’ve been really good with my exercise. On Monday I went spinning, on Tuesday I went to the gym for a light workout and yesterday I went to the gym again with my sister for a slightly less light workout. I did the thigh thing and the butt thing and the abs thing and lots of other things. It didn’t really feel that bad, but then this morning I woke up and did the screaming in agony thing. My muscles are killing me. I think they’re trying to escape my body, but someone put evil skin all around them and now they can’t get out.

I spent the entire day at work trying to ignore my screaming muscles. Oh, and working, of course. Not like I would ever spend the entire day just surfing the internet. Nope, not me.

After work I mooched dinner at my parent’s place and then set about ignoring my homework. First I volunteered to do Muschu’s homework. When she said she didn’t need any help, I tried to get her to come to the gym with me again – I thought maybe more exercise would get my muscles to shut up so it seemed like a good idea at the time. When she didn’t want to do that either, I tried to get Zelma to come out for a walk with me, but she was busy doing important stuff. This made me feel a little depressed cause I didn’t have any important stuff that needed doing. (Except my horribly slightly overdue Bachelor’s thesis, but I usually file that under torture, not important stuff.)

Anyway, since M was doing the karate thing tonight I finally just gave up and did laundry instead. It was a thrilling night. I’m off to bed now. You know why? Because tomorrow I have some real honest-to-god important stuff to do. Yay! *

Monday, September 7, 2009

China in My Heart

Frankly, I’m a little disappointed. I thought I’d be independently wealthy by now, but I guess my brain didn’t quite do it. Next time I'm selling my kidney.

M and I went on a road trip this weekend. We got up on Sunday and spun one of those old globe thingies to choose our destination for the day. It said China. Thinking China was a little bit of a stretch for a one-day road trip, we went to Google Maps instead and did a very boring time/distance estimation. We decided on a tiny coastal town some 90 miles to the east. Not exactly China, but close enough.

The trip there was uneventful; we stopped by another town, checked out the place where M did his military service and such. Then we got to our destination and found a harbor. Sadly, what we wanted to find was a beach. After some driving around, we found this:

And on the other side of the beach, a hugely ugly factory. These pictures are taken with my phone, so you can’t really see how beautiful the beach is and how ugly that factory is, but use your imagination.

At this point of the trip we were starving and needed to find food ASAP or we might wither away and die. We drove past small streets that looked abandoned by all of mankind and at last found a big residential area. We drove around in big circles, but soon realized that either the people in this town never ate, or we were just too stupid to find the main street. Eventually we did find the main street. It looked like this:

Did you notice the complete lack of people? Yeah, so did we. How about the fact that it looks more like a dirty alley than a main street with restaurants and whatnot? Yeah, we noticed that too. How about the fact that the photographer is apparently useless and you can see more of her shadow than you can of the street? Yeah, my bad, sorry about that.

We also saw the Loch Ness monster. To tell you the truth, I expected it to be scarier.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope, it’s the front end of a plane nailed to a huge pole in the middle of the woods. And a lot more scary than the Loch Ness monster.

On the way back, M let me drive his car. My own car is called Steve. It’s big and blue and not entirely unlike a tank. It runs more like a ship than a car and weighs roughly as much as Mount Everest. It takes one minute to reach 60mph and when you’re turning the wheel you actually have to grab it properly and use every bit of strength you have. Once I was rear-ended at a red light and the car that hit me was leaking fluids and was crumpled and losing bits of plastic left and right. Steve didn’t have a scratch.

M has a cute little silver car that has a lot more horsepower than Steve. It hardly weighs more than I do and you can turn the wheel using the tip of your finger. I’m sure M thought that putting me behind the wheel of that and letting me take it out on the highway was a good idea, but I’m also pretty sure he regretted that later. I’m not sure if it was the 20mph over the speed limit, the zigzagging between slower cars or the general disregard of all traffic rules that did him in, but he was gripping the seat pretty damn hard the entire ride home. But I had a blast.

Happy Monday! *

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Brain for Sale

My brain has a mind of its own. I know this sounds a bit strange, seeing as how my brain, in fact, houses my own mind, but that's beside the point. My brain has a mind of its own. And apparently that mind is horribly afraid of oversleeping and being late. So afraid, in fact, that whenever I have to get up earlier than 7am, it wakes me up in the middle of the night and makes sure I can't go back to sleep. Apparently this mind completely missed the memo about those little things called alarm clocks. It keeps me wide awake until I decide to get up and start getting ready. And it keeps me wide awake the entire time I'm getting ready for work and only when I get in the car and start driving is it properly reassured that I won't go back to bed and be late.

At this point that mind stops keeping me awake by force, and just settles back for a smooth ride. When this happens, my own mind takes over. Now, keep in mind that my own mind hasn't had more than 3 hours of sleep and is still in a mild coma. What invariably happens next is I turn the radio on as loud as I can stand, hoping that this ancient method of torture will help me survive the 30-minute drive without falling asleep.

That's roughly what happened again this morning. Then I spent the entire day at work marvelling over the fact that it apparently isn't enough that time can stand still, it can also run backwards. I noticed this when I kept looking at my clock and every time I checked it was getting earlier and earlier. I would love to talk to whoever said it was okay for time to do that.

But, I digress. For reasons explained above, I am selling my brain to the highest bidder. Any takers? *

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Death Machine

Ever since I was old enough to blow dry my hair I’ve heard horror stories of blow dryers turning into flamethrowers, making bad hair days seem like nothing but a mild annoyance in comparison. I have a slight aversion to fire in my hair, so I tend to listen to my blow dryer and whenever it sounds like it might become engulfed in flames, I turn it off. So far this hasn’t happened too often, but the other day when I was using my faithful blow dryer of 10 years, it finally exploded in a gigantic fireball. Or, as my loving boyfriend will be the first to point out, mostly just started sounding funny and turned itself off, no drama, no nothing. Frankly, I was a little disappointed, I had waited for the spectacular fireworks forever and this is what I got. But still, I was cautious enough to actually go out and get a new one instead of using the old one until it died of catastrophic failure as everything else I own. The old one I hid in the bathroom in case the new one meets a sudden and fiery death.

My new blow dryer is the size of a small pony. It’s pretty and silver and has purple buttons. Also, it has enough drying power to cure monsoon season and the power it uses could supply a small African country with power for a year. But it’s very pretty.

Excited about using it for the first time, I washed my hair and sat down to read the safety instructions. Did you know you’re not allowed to use it in the bathroom? This, of course, makes perfect sense cause I’d much rather dry my hair in the kitchen anyway. The instructions also stated that small children and people with a mental handicap aren’t allowed to use it; at least not without guidance by a responsible adult. I think my blow dryer will be safe as long as I don’t let my boyfriend my sister most of my friends small children use it. There were more instructions, but since they all seemed completely ridiculous I chose to ignore them and just get on with it. By now my hair was almost dry already, which is a good thing cause you weren’t actually allowed to use the blow dryer on wet hair. I would have loved to know what lawsuit prompted that warning.

With the safety instructions fresh in mind, I tempted fate and took the blow dryer into the bathroom and fired it up, no pun intended. At this, three things happened simultaneously: I instantly went deaf, the neighbors called the cops and my boyfriend thought the world as we know it had come to an end and ran for cover came running to my rescue. The thing sounded like a jet plane taking off in my bathroom. I now understand why it was the size of a small pony – jet engines don’t come any smaller. After I had explained to the neighbors that I wasn’t in fact torturing small kittens with a chainsaw and pulled out my boyfriend from underneath the bed reassured my boyfriend, I turned the death machine on low and tried again.

Not only did it sound like I had an F1 car in the bathroom, it also tried to burn my hand off. The pretty shiny plastic became so hot I was surprised it didn’t end up in a molten puddle on the bathroom floor. And this is what I was supposed to aim at my head. Even after I turned down the effect and only used it on low it felt like it would self-destruct at any second, probably while doing a pretty decent impression of an active volcano.

But on the plus side – it did dry my hair pretty damn fast, so I might just keep it anyway. If my apartment goes up in flames, you’ll know it wasn’t me – it was the death machine. *

Monday, August 31, 2009

Needed: Scooter Repellent

Italian people are nuts. And not your garden variety slightly-out-of-whack nuts either, but full out insane-as-can-be nuts. I spent my one week of vacation in Rome this summer. Rome is beautiful. And filthy. And only slightly less corrupt than the eternal pits of hell.

Let me tell you about our first day in Rome. To start off the day on a good note we got up at the ungodly hour of 3:30am. We drove 2 hours to the airport and then sat 3.5 hours in a plane that could fall out of the sky at any moment. I was very aware of this little fact on account of my very rational fear of flying.

We arrived in Rome dressed for the sort of cool summer weather we have over here, and immediately realized we were going to melt. Well we couldn’t very well change in the middle of the airport so with some difficulty we moved on and located the local trains. We took the first train into Rome and ended up at Tiburtina train and metro station where I proceeded to get my wallet stolen. This was a particularly good idea, I thought, since it gave us the chance to socialize with the locals. Tiburtina train and metro station happens to have a police station attached to it, so the next thing we did was spend the most disturbing hour I’ve ever experienced at a Roman police station. No one knew English, they all had massive amounts of fire power on their person and everyone was screaming at each other and waving their arms. They made me sit in a chair and questioned me about what had happened and made me write an account of it. They took away my passport and left us alone in the middle of chaos central with gun wielding maniacs and women who were giving me the evil eye. But at least they had air conditioning.

By the time we left Tiburtina I still didn’t have my wallet, I was hot as hell, I was thirsty and hungry, not having eaten anything since 3:30am. So we took the metro and jumped off at a station that was supposed to be pretty close to our hotel. Turns out “pretty close” isn’t so close when you’re toting a 30 lbs suitcase behind you on narrow cobble streets while being chased by angry scooters. By the time we got to the hotel I was praying vacation would be over soon and I could get some rest. The rest of the day we spent practically sleeping on one of the three gazillion tourist buses that flock the city like parasites. It was lovely.

The next day we started exploring Rome for real and soon realized that nothing in Rome is where it is supposed to be. The Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, they’re all just strewn all over the place in the weirdest locations. At one point we were trying to find the Pantheon and when the little back alleys got smaller and smaller we thought for sure we were lost and we’d never see our hotel again. Turns out we were wrong and some idiot hid the Pantheon behind a dumpster and then built a bunch of houses so close to it that the streets are so narrow you can barely even drive a scooter down them. Knowing the Italians they’d probably still find a way to cram seven tourist buses and a Fiat side by side down the street.

Don’t worry, though, if you’re in Rome and are having a hard time finding it, I’ll help you out. First, get on a tourist bus and ride with it for several hours until you think you might have heard the tour guide say something resembling “Pantheon”. Get off the bus, consult your map and start walking in any random direction. When the streets start to get darker and too narrow to drive on, take a left at the end of the alley with the dead rat, behind the dumpster and the scooter you’ll find the Pantheon. You’re welcome.

Romans take things seriously; especially their driving. Traffic lights and stop signs are viewed merely as friendly suggestions of how you might want to act if you were so inclined. Romans are not so inclined. The one with the loudest horn usually goes first. This made me wonder how come not more of the cars were equipped with external horns on the roofs with much bigger capacity for making noise. After a couple of days of quiet observation I realized this is due to the fact that were you to mount an external horn on a Roman car it would either A. fall through the roof of the Fiats that for some reason are made out of plastic and only slightly bigger than an average size Barbie car, or B. not work. Nothing works in Italy. This statement is of course, as stated above, based on completely scientific observation made during a three-day period while eating gelato, dying of heat stroke and trying to survive crossing the street.

Speaking of, crossing the street is something that is not recommended during your stay in Rome. M and I tried that once. After almost being run down by one tourist bus, three red Fiats travelling together, a horde of scooters and a pack of evil Segways, we realized that walking 68 miles on the other side of the street to get to the same place wasn’t all that bad after all. It’s all about perspective. After we got home my ignorant sister asked me if we rented scooters while we were away and I just started giggling like a crazy person. I don’t think she quite got the joke, but I happen to know that the life expectancy of a person riding a scooter in Rome is roughly 2.5 minutes.

It was 95 degrees in Rome. I live in a place only slightly warmer than the North Pole. While the Romans dressed in jeans and shirts, I wore as close to nothing as I got away with and carried with me 3 bottles of water at all times – one to drink from, one to pour over my sizzling skin and one in case I couldn’t take it anymore and needed to drown myself to put an end to it. Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty. At Saint Peter’s Basilica the guard told me most respectfully I couldn’t enter wearing next to nothing, and kindly asked me to cover my legs and shoulders. I considered respectfully punching him in the face, then I considered kindly asking him to kiss my ass, before finally reminding myself that I was entering the womb of the Catholic Church and would probably be struck down dead by God if I entered wearing next to nothing. The fact that I’m not Catholic somehow slipped my mind. I think it was the heat.

All in all, I had an amazing trip. Don’t let my ramblings fool you; Rome is truly beautiful and one for the most amazing places I have ever seen. I’d go there again in a heartbeat. Maybe. Now I just need to replace my lost credit cards and driver’s licence. Oh the joys of travelling. *

Friday, August 28, 2009

An Army of Jackhammers and some Friendly Furniture

Today I woke up at the crack of dawn to the sound of someone tearing my apartment building down. Naturally, this made me feel a little unsettled, but seeing as it was indeed in the middle of the night, I did my best to fall back asleep. Sleep, however, eluded me. I like to think this was due to the fact that I was already well rested and didn’t need any more beauty sleep, but when I looked in the mirror I looked vaguely like the love child of Chuckie the doll and Courtney Love. This is of course due to the simple fact that I did indeed need a little more beauty sleep and the reason I couldn’t sleep was the army of jackhammers trying to take over the earth.

When I finally gave up and got out of bed, I went to the window and realized the army of jackhammers had suddenly disappeared and been replaced by a lone worker with a shovel. But I swear, it must have been the shovel from hell, cause the noise it made could have woken up the dead. Of course, by the time I’d brushed my teeth, the shovel of mass destruction had stopped making noise and everything was quiet and peaceful, but since I was up I couldn’t really justify getting back into bed anymore.

Thankfully, my BFF Zelma called and asked me to come meet her at her new apartment, which I gladly did. She’s in the process of moving in and has been putting together furniture and stuff all week long. Today’s project was a table and a lamp.

I happen to know that when God created earth, he also created IKEA to fuck with mankind. Then he gave IKEA to the Swedes, who immediately put a bunch of blonde chicks at work on opening random packages and taking out a screw here and a bolt there, to cause maximum amount of confusion all around the world. Famine, drought and war pales in significance to that 25mm screw that was supposed to come with the package, but didn’t. IKEA furniture looks friendly, has friendly Swedish names and comes in a million pieces in teeny tiny packages and with a short, practical manual to help the customer lose the pieces in the most efficient way put the teeny tiny pieces together to form something slightly resembling the picture on the box.

When I moved into my current apartment, I bought an IKEA book case. It was white and friendly and called Expedit. It came in seven parts plus a few screws and bolts. The user-friendly manual was 30 pages long. Yep, 30. After two hours, one broken nail and an undisclosed number of colourful curses later, I finally had my book case. IKEA didn’t think I needed a hammer, but I used one anyway.

This is about how far my friendship with IKEA extends, but I’m always open for new experiences, so Zelma’s table and lamp sounded like fun. The lamp was a piece of cake, we freed it from the mile of plastic wrapped around it and put it together in no time at all. The table consisted of, not surprisingly, four legs and a table top. All you had to do was screw the legs on and you were good to go. Except each leg had to be screwed on using about 30 huge monster screws that were supposed to go into tiny little holes. We only had one screwdriver so we had to take turns trying to force the screws down the holes. After about 82 screws, Zelma’s arm fell off and I had to take over. By the time we were finished we were breathing hard, we were sweaty and warm, our arms and hands ached and the table was looking a little bit wobbly. But since it actually resembled a table we called it a victory and went out for Chinese food. Life is good. *