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! *