Wednesday, April 28, 2010

In a past life, I was a 3 toed sloth.

It is hallucinatory how quickly this day is passing me by.  Someone must have chucked a rag soaked with ether through one of the windows in the house, or something.  I believe myself to be moving at normal speed, but the clock tells me I may actually be moving in slow motion.


It would seem that my day thus far totals to 98% time-wasted, 2% doing what I'm supposed to.

Where has the time gone?  Let's see...

Fighting the internet.  For no reason, really, other than that I must have some masochistic tendencies.  We used up our allotted amount of gigs early this month, and now the internet simply craaawwlls.  Anything with lots of pictures means I might as well just make myself a cup of tea and then come back in a century.

Eating:
chocolate chips
chocolate bread with semi-solid salted caramel atop
plain yogurt
chocolate bread with melted cheese and mustard (better than you think!)
semi-solid salted caramel.  With a spoon.
leftover dish involving bulgur, sausage, and vegetables

Drinking:
tea (2 cups and counting...)
coffee (3 cups and counting...)
water (3 sips and counting...)

Agonizing and hesitating:
about almost everything I've done today, and everything I haven't done, except the vegetables and water.


What's been slowing you down?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Is Belgium ready for The Boobquake?

Belgium is a nation that struggles with the ideas of Islam, mildly put.  There is the hubub about banning burquas, and today there may also be a hubub about BOOBS, and the unveiling of them.  We'll see though, won't we?


Today is the first ever 'Boobquake'.  This is the brainchild of American Jennifer McCreight who, a scant few days ago had the idea for women to show off their 'goods' as a response to Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi's statements that women who dressed immodestly or behaved promiscuously were to blame for earthquakes.

Yes, ladies.  Your mammaries, when improperly clothed, may be interfering with the movement of The Earth's tectonic plates, contributing to human tradgedies.  So says the cleric.  "Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes,'' Sedighi said.
"What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?'' he asked during a sermon on Friday.
"There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes." 

A Purdue University student of scientific discipline, McCreight was quite surprised at what she felt was a rather misleading declaration by the cleric.  In her blog she declared "On Monday, April 26th, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own.  Yes, the one usually reserved for a night on the town...  I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts. Or short shorts, if that's your preferred form of immodesty...  With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake...  If not, I'm sure Sedighi can come up with a rational explanation for why the ground didn't rumble."


So there you have it.  An aethiest scientist proposes an experiment to test a Muslim cleric's statement.  Hell, I'll participate.  Not as an act of protest as some see this, and not because I'm some sort of joyous tart (I am in fact, fairly modest in dress most of the time,) but rather because although I'm strongly inclined to believing the whole science behind earthquakes, I'd secretly like to believe that my boobs have supernatural, earth-moving powers.  This experiment could actually prove something good, either way.  And just imagine!  If it were true and several strategically placed women stood wearing v-necks, we could move mountains, just like.... oh... um, that guy... you know the one.

So, though normally I'm not a boob-flaunter, I'm completely on-board with Jennifers idea.  In the name of trying to help settle the matter of who's right, I will later stroll to Delhaize, a more significant portion of my chest taking the breeze thanks to my lowest-necklined shirt, and most upwardly-supportive of bras.  Experiments only work really well when the sample-size of participants is significant anyways.

As for Brussels, I'm interested to see how the Boobquake idea plays out there.  Will it have travelled through the Twitterverse and media fast enough for women here to even know, and decide to display themselves a little extra today, or not?  Will women in Brussels decide that this is something worth getting behind, since it seems that there is in some parts of the city a fairly good possibility of being harassed by followers of differing religious/moral codes for 'immodest dress'?

We shall see.  I will be thrilled with either outcome given that both seem good to me ("Yeah, science still works!"  or "Awesome!  My boobs have super-powers!")

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Le panneau solaire

I found a sunbeam in the house while studying Friday afternoon.  In images, it went something like this:
(you just need to imagine a laptop and a few piles of paper around the tiger.)


And, it worked!  The solar charge resulted in good headway on the study-front.  Huzzah!

All images are my own, The tiger is the Metro Toronto Zoo's.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wandering mind, restless body.

Today feels more like the day to wear next to nothing and lie on a warm beach somewhere, doesn't it?  Or maybe a day to bask in great music and fantastic weather, eat, drink, and soak life in, inhale it deeply, dance provocatively with it.

I believe I have spring fever.

I'm checking out who's playing which days at Pukkelpop, at the AB, I even went further afield out of curiosity to see how the club-calendar is shaping up for Ibiza this year.  I clearly do not have studying on the brain.  More like sand, sangria, sunshine and sea-air kissing my skin, and fabulously fresh seafood.  Mmmmm.  Just close your eyes with me for a second and think of this.  Yes.

If I could only meet myself halfway for the day by magically transporting myself and my studies to a sunny beach, complete with umbrella, daiquiri, 28 degrees, and not too much wind.  Mmmmm.  I'd be in complete comfort, and I'm sure I'd be totally focussed.

But... for the time being (at least in body,) I'm here, on my couch.  The coffee-table makes a pathetic plea for me to look at my notes, and as it approaches noon I believe I may have sufficiently quelched my wander-lust for the day after spending a solid 5 hours indulging it completely.  It doesn't tire easily.

Today I am the caged tiger, pacing about my little space while remembering, almost tasting the grasslands.

And you?  If you could be anywhere today, where would you be?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Iceland






Coinciding with the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, I stumbled across the trailer for "Heima" a documentary that covers the return of Sigur Ros to their homeland (Iceland,) in 2006 after touring the world.  Upon their return home, they performed an unannounced tour of surprise concerts in breathtaking, isolated, wild, and intimate venues.  I have since watched it, and it is an intimate portrait of a band I knew little of, but always knew about.  The visual aspect is beautiful, and features landscapes I have yet to see with my own eyes, but have dreamed of seeing (and hearing, and recording,) for more than a decade, now.  It fuels my desire to go there, and makes me think that I'll need at least a month.


For now I'll have to settle for breathing small bits of Iceland in.  (While I thought of this romantically, when I told boyfriend he asserted immediately that it was not toxic.)


"As much as I definitely enjoy solitude, I wouldn't mind, perhaps, spending little time with you sometimes, sometimes"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mon petit vulcan

"I keep calm 
admiring the lava, 
I keep calm."   - bjork, "possibly maybe"


This verse rolls around my mind today.  Perhaps it is that like most in Europe, I've had volcanoes on the brain in some manner or other over the past few days.  Or maybe it's that this eruption matches up fairly well as far as timing goes with eruptions of other sorts.


I note that many people have been in turmoil the past few days.  The number seems high to me, disproportionate to the norm.  The volcanically-stranded travellers do not make up the bulk of this number, either, though I'm sure their anxieties contribute to the pot on the collective-unconscious level.  Double, double, toil and trouble.  We are all little volcanoes, "eruptions and disasters".  We move between dormant and active phases, but recently it seems we all have something churning, smoldering, urgently burning, seething, or boiling over.


And was that me, sputtering with indignation the other day and spewing a little black cloud of my own?  It was.  Like many other bloggers, the writing here tends to be a little self-involved.  Blow ups, and fallouts go here along with joys, absurdities and the rare informative bit.  I do realize my personal problems are really quite inane; big only to me in the moment, while I stand in my tiny epicentre, keening absurdly, some sort of reluctant drama queen.


Today the lava courses cooly, more lethargically under the crust, the ash cloud has died down, there is no spectacle.  I am distracting and distancing myself, contemplative, self-soothingly occupied with freshly baked bread, warm soft garments, internet meanderings, massive cups of herbal tea, and words, words, words.

Monday, April 19, 2010

It was a beautiful time...

Spring had sprung, and the sun had been shining, and we'd had the first barbeque of the season.  I'd been taking pictures of fresh blooms, branches contrasting the blue-sky backgrounds, and making tiny steps with the roof-garden.  I was beginning to feel a little more like it was ok for me, like things were finally beginning to work for me.  Where last year this time I suffered a constant feeling of insecurity and worry, this year I felt... slightly more like I belonged and was even possibly welcome here.  I was thinking of building on things, investing myself a little more into the fabric of being here.


I was beginning to feel a little optimistic, I think...


Perhaps it was all just some sort of pleasant sunstroke-hallucination, feeling like things might be better.  Tonight I find myself in a confused state after what should have been a good evening was marred by the surprise arrival of a dark presence.  The "accountant" has returned.

Like a newborn pile of offal, it presented itself today, declaring with a strange almost-smugness that since I'd not yet calculated the cost of the vegetables and my brochette from yesterday's barbeque, I must have been secretly trying not to pay for myself.  Ah yes, and that Guinness last week wasn't free, you know.

.... (this was the moment where my thought bubble would have read only "WTF?")

I admit that though I did pay attention to the price of my Guinness when we went to the pub, I later forgot to pay (forgetting sometimes happens for us mortals, you know,) and am actually glad to have been reminded (I have said before that I am fine with, and rather prefer to pay my own way,) though I am not glad for the manner in which the reminder was delivered.  What bothers me most about this is the assumption being made about my character.  It is as though the worst possible, most illogical assumption about why a bill is not settled (that I am some kind of gold brochette-and-Guinness-digger,) MUST be the TRUTH.

If I weren't the one IN the situation, I'd be laughing at how very odd and horrid, and hilariously surreal the situation was, from my safe distance.  It is some unexpected and novel form of torture, a visit from the accountant.  However, since I'm in it let me just bring things back to reality for a moment...

To fill things in a little: we regularly hold onto receipts and settle up later at home.  Often the turnover on settling up is not more than 48 hours, simply because I don't like to leave things hanging.  I'm the one who does the figuring most of the time, and just in case of any doubts or questions, I stash the used receipts in a little nook, where they stay for a good month before they are recycled.  I do this because I prefer that there are no questions or doubts when it comes to the mingling of money.  I have always believed that love and money should be kept rather independent of each other.  Now, let me say that for all his accounting, the accountant is miserable at holding onto receipts.  Which is where our story begins and ends.

This morning at 5am before work, I could only find the receipt for the vegetables from the barbeque last night.  (As it turns out, the accountant LOST the other receipt.)  So, I decided that rather than doing something stupid like waking him up to ask him where the receipt for the butcher was, I'd wait until I saw him after work this evening to ask, so I could then make the calculation.

In the irrational network of his neurons, my failure to calculate and settle up despite the missing information needed to do so amounts to me being a swindler of sorts.  Part of me is amazed, really.  I am in awe of the giant gap in logic.  It is bridged, as near as I can tell, by some kind of irrational primevil instinct relating to territory and property which crackles and arcs across the gap like an electrical current.  My hair stands on end, and I feel it would be wise to back away, to distance myself for my own good.

Though I am frustrated, confused and disturbed, more than this I am crestfallen.

Friday, April 16, 2010

In which I emerge from my little hole.

*squinting in the daylight*

Oh, yes, it's been 5 days already, hasn't it, without a peep here.  Sorry.

What have I been doing?  Well... working and studying, mostly.
Yes... I've been having a period of exceptional focus, and I've been planted with butt on couch, studying my little arse off.  Having a deadline of May 1st seems to have helped immensely with my focus...

Cookies have helped too, I think.  Well, my brain... not my bum.  My local Delhaize finally got the Tintin tins of cookies I'd been hunting for weeks, and well... my studies have pretty much been fueled by cookies and caffeine.  And I have realized I have zero self control while studying.
Hurrah die cookies ist alle!  (stop glaring at me, Wii.)

In other news: Do you know what "Tuning" is here in Belgium?  It is the French word for when people modify their cars, trying to make them look all super-fast or pimped out.  I have a very bad photograph to show you, which may tell you a little something more about the particular area in which I live.
Why yes, that is a spoiler* on the top of that van, there in front of us.  It's a shame I couldn't capture the home-made racing stripes on the sides of the vehicle.  We were in hot pursuit, trying to get a reasonable photo, while dying laughing about the super-awesome modifications, because it goes so fast mec (man), that it might start to come off the ground!

*A spoiler is the 'tail flap' seen on F1 cars.  It's intended purpose is to prevent the car from being lifted off the road when travelling at very high speeds.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yesterday (a post in pictures)

Gasp in amazement Belgium.  You are seeing the blue part of the sky.

For this brief period, our street smells of flowers.

Not even Cockerill's sulpherous belches can outdo them.

Why not celebrate a gorgeous day with a scoop?

Friday, April 9, 2010

You may not judge me.

We'll leave that to the Wii fit.  It's got the whole 'judgemental thing' going for it anyway.

We will not discuss the details of what happened in the alcove of doom today.  Other than to say that it is still doomed, and only a true masochist could enjoy making anything there. My kitchen table now bears resemblance to Giza, with it's pathetic, alcove-sized offering of pyramidal cakes.  They sit naked, sucking into their tiny, moist interiors any last traces of decorative motivation I may have had toward them.  Doom cake.  Sugary, yes.  Fun?  Erm...

Don't look at it for too long, it will drain you, too.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

We are the champions, (for now, at least.)

We TOTALLY "King Arthured" the Commune as hoped!
(Ok, yes, it's more immigration talk, zzzzz for some, helpful to others.  I promise to write about something sugary and fun, and totally un-governmental tomorrow.)

Round One finished early yesterday morning, with the keeper of the bridge of death calling Boyfriend to let him know that all was well, and that no further paperwork was in fact needed.  I am, in the eyes of Belgium, officially divorced.
Taking advantage of what seemed to be a fortuitous day for administrative matters, we ran to the Mairie de Quartier and made our legal declaration of cohabitation.  It's crazy how sometimes things can move at a crawl, and others they can zip right along.  Squeaky wheels we are I guess, and yesterday we got what we needed.  I must say I strongly applaud the governmental initiative of creating the Mairie de Quartier.  It functions like an express-line, really, for certain services the Commune performs, no appointment needed, and even open late!

Boyfriend thought champagne was called for, but I stated that the bubbly should be brought out when I have my carte-F with the permission to stick around and continue working after my current visa has expired, (it's not over 'till it's over, after all.)


In the end we celebrated this small victory with another fizzy friend as our dinner companion; Vinho Verde.  I have loved the stuff since we first tasted it while vacationing in Portugal a few years back. (Very lightly sparkling, crisp without being too dry, and lovely with seafood, or on a hot day.)


Presently we are preparing for Round Two, which should be tomorrow morning.  We will submit various proofs of our "stable, long-term relationship" and ask the Commune to apply the special annex that would allow me to continue working during the period of time our request is administered.  Today I attempt to assemble and organize these proofs chronologically.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

She is the keeper of the bridge of death... (Monty Python clearly had experience with Belgian administration.)

Adventures with the joys of Belgian administration creep into my sleeping hours for the moment.  Last night I dreamt about not being able to get where I was going due to a series of small problems, including losing and then re-finding my bag and coat while on public-transport.  The confusion with my lost items added up to my passing my intended destination, and ending up in a very seedy part of town, at night, with strange people.  A few friends behaving strangely tried to offer odd advice, or to point out how bizarre the whole evening was, while I attempted to regroup myself and to hop a streetcar (tram) back to my missed destination.  This was when my brain finally decided that the dream was crap, and opted to wake me up.

I know exactly why I had this dream.  It's all about the cohabitation visa we're after.  Yesterday Boyfriend came home quite agitated.  He explained that he had received a call from the Commune, and the woman on the other end tried to explain to him that we were missing a paper in the bundle comprising my notarized, legalized, and officialized divorce certificate.  (The divorce must be recognized here in Belgium before we can begin the process of declaring ourselves legal cohabitants - which is the start of the process for the aforementioned grail, I mean, visa we seek.)

Apparently this particular administrative peon felt that we needed a translated copy of the actual, original divorce document issued by the court in Canada.  This, despite the Consulate telling us "no" when we'd asked them specifically if we should get the document translated, as well as an official at another nearby (and more experienced with immigration,) Commune providing the same "no" here whom boyfriend had called to ask the same question prior to our leaving for Canada.

We thought we were getting better at colouring in the lines, this time.  Including the surprise scavenger-hunt the Consulate in Toronto sent us on in order to have the legalization done, (which we completed successfully,) we thought we had done it all, completed all the steps.  We thought we were pretty safe.  We had two very different authorities who both told us that no, we did not need a translation of the original divorce certificate.  One a commune, and the other THE Consulate.  In fact, the Consulate in Canada is the only body that can perform the legalization of my divorce certificate for it to be recognized in Belgium.  One would think they might be the authority on what makes something from Canada passable here, no?  However this particular peon in our Commune felt yesterday that she knew better.  And therein is the frustration.  As time winds down on my permis de séjour, this woman is holding things up with her questions three, and so we hate her.

She probably doesn't actually look like this.  At least not on the outside.

Boyfriend was very calm (though seething inside) on the phone with her, and managed to convince her she should check with her boss, because she was certainly wrong in contradicting the word of the Consulate.  Today Boyfriend will again be speaking with her, and if he doesn't hear what we would like to hear (that everything is in fact, ok after all,) then he will be speaking with peon's boss, explicitly explaining that we directly asked this question TWICE, and received the answer that a translation was NOT needed.  He will demand that peon's boss explain why it is that the ONLY body who is able to perform the legalization of such a certificate answered directly and flatly that "no", we did not need a translation of the document in order for it to be legal in Belgium.  He will attempt to incite doubt into the mind of peon's boss, in the hopes that peon's boss will step away from his own ego long enough to make a few phone calls and discover that in fact, a translation is not needed.  If not, we just may have to play ball with peon and her boss, for No Good Reason.

Though there are many frustrating bits about it, I'd have to say that this is truly the worst part about dealing with administration in Belgium, and seems to be the frustration of expats all over... it's that nobody actually seems to have the whole story, the whole procedure down-pat.

Many of us come from nations where the list of documents you must bring with you is clearly and completely spelled out online, or on paper, or by phone.  Even in several non-official languages.  These are nations where you show up at the government office (even without an appointment!) take a number, wait, and present the documents asked for.  Though you might have had to queue for a bit... or wait a week or two for process, in the end it works like it should, within the estimated times given to users of the system, without unpleasant surprises.  All quite civilized, I think.

For those of us coming from nations like these, it seems rather like a game of cowboys and indians here.  The 'Wild-West', as it were, with everyone trying to be Sheriff, seeming to make the rules up as they go along.  The lists of required documents or procedural steps vary from commune to commune, (seemingly at the whim of the administrators who work there,) rather than remaining standard by the letters of the law,  The fingers on one hand of this administrative body appear to have no idea what the other hand is doing though they are supposed to be functioning as parts of a whole body.  Hell, to continue the metaphor, at times it seems the index finger has no idea what the thumb on the same hand is doing.

At any rate... it is what it is.  It's frustrating as hell, but I accept that I am here, it was my choice, and therefore I have little right to oppose the system or to claim to know better.  And it's because of this, because we both (one a Belgian, the other a Canadian,) know that sometimes (often) the whole system here is a little (a lot) 'quirky like that', that we will also be demanding the names and numbers of several commune-approved "translator-notaires" who could perform this seemingly unecessary suprise step in the process.  We'll ask for several, because we know that if we get one name, it's likely to be the notaire who is on vacation, or who only works Tuesday mornings between 9 and 10am, or something like this.  We want to be assured we can find the soonest available one should we have to run this fool's errand.

But, for today (as we approach the bridgekeeper and her gorge of eternal peril,) we are hoping that all the phone wrangling ends up something like this Monty Python clip, with our defeating the peon's confounding efforts, much in the manner of Arthur, here.

Fighting your own absurd battles administrative or otherwise?  Please, do tell...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

DYING of BOREDOM (or, sometimes I am a 5 year old trapped in a 31 year old's body.)

I'm supposed to be studying and/or choosing a mutuelle but I'm doing neither.  I am having one of those rather unfocussed days, where I'd loooove to be distracted by something fun, and where I must make no effort whatsoever to find said distraction.  Not a good state of mind to be in when I'm supposed to be focussed, working on important things for myself that must. get. dooone.

Worse (or better,) yet, the internet is totally not cooperating.  There is nothing interesting in my immediate circles of the interwebs.  And I just haven't the energy to go hunting.  *whiiiiiine*

Maybe another coffee?  *goes and makes coffee*

*sigh*  I suppose it's time to use a little self control, and get myself in gear for at least a few hours. :(  *stomps foot*  I don't wanna study.


byeee.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Updates and Mild Blasphemy

As it turns out, Boyfriend was not abducted by towel-stealing bandits (phew.)  He was just sucked into the vortex of work that sometimes occurs when things are installed for clients, and then they don't work right away just as they ought to.  I think this actually more stressful for Boyfriend when compared to his being abducted by bandits.

Do I have a mutualité yet?  No.

Did I garden?  I did take the pot where my chinese chives used to live, and water it.  Then I tried to turn the soil with a fork, and realized that in fact, my chinese chives had survived a winter of not being watered while sitting neglected on the windowsill.  Tough buggers.  So um, yes I gardened... I uh, conditioned the soil for my chives.

Boyfriend and I also engaged in some guerilla gardening.  If you see strangely placed or shaped patches of daisies in the neighbourhood, it's probably our fault.

Did I bake?  No, no.  I did eat almost a whole jar of Marshmallow fluff over the past week, however, and for some reason I feel this should be noted in the baking area.  It should possibly be classified as gluttony.  I'm sure the Wii will sort that out for me.  Some think that Marshmallow fluff is an abomination, but as a bit of a geek, I think the stuff is genius.

Trenchcoat: no dice.  Suppose I'll actually have to look for one this week.  How pedestrian.  Wouldn't it be great if you could really just tell people that your new coat fell from the sky, as if it were some sort of Easter present from the risen one?  I'd totally call it my Trinity-trench, or maybe my Jeezus-jacket?  I'm going to be hit by lightening today, aren't I?

Air Guitar Belgium!  While Braine-L'Alleud is possibly not the most populous place (and therefore did not bring out the most populous crowd,) I can safely say that it made for an entertaining evening.  After witnessing the spectacle, The Waffle and I are both pretty convinced we could KILL as a double-act next year.

The birthday party was attended, and the baby has been seen.  They were as one might expect.  I still have very little maternal urge, I note after our hospital-visit.  Don't get me wrong, kids are pretty cool, but I still feel nothing terribly gooey or gushy for babies.  They are mostly tiny, uninteresting aliens to me.

I have done zero homework-like things this weekend, though after work today, there is a nice long stretch of 4 days where I plan on conquering the universe in this respect.  If I'm not struck by lightening, for my mild blasphemy that is.  Ah well, He'll forgive me, right?  He's known really, for being a forgiving kind of guy.  He's got a huge PR scandal to worry about right now anyways, I'm sure he's too busy trying to smite those truly horrid, child-molesting priests to bother with me.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The expanse lies before me...

Firstly, I would like to thank Blogger for not letting me publish this last night, when it was written, and for thinking that I'd understand error messages in Dutch.  Miraculously this morning, it's working, so I'm publishing it as-is.  Just put yourself in your yesterday night for a moment, and then read.

It's Friday *happy sigh*  I seem to have the house to myself for the moment, and so I'm using the time to map out a few plans for what has already shaped up to be a busy weekend.

This evening:  Mutualité hunting.  Hmph.  I find it terribly boring, but it has to be done.
Figure out if boyfriend has been kidnapped.  He is not yet home, and as his towel is missing too, I think it's either that he's gone to play squash (and neglected to inform me that he would not be home for dinner,) or that bandits used the towel to ambush him, covering his face with it so that he could not identify his attackers.  And as they hauled him out of the house, they politely locked the door behind them.  All I'm thinking is 'if they were polite enough to lock the door behind them, why couldn't they have also texted me or something to let me know not to bother with dinner?'  Well, whatever.  I'll give it a few hours before I consider calling the cops.  The bandits did lock the door, so they deserve a head-start, right?
Read more of this book.  I should actually be reading over other things, but I indulge my appetite for tales of neurological curiosities just before bed, when my mind is to bored/tired to deal with more immediate concerns.

Tomorrow:  I hope that the most perfectly gorgeous spring trench-coat will fall from the sky and into my arms at an amazing price, while various errands are run during the day.  More concrete plans include trying to find a place around here that caters to real runners.  Because honestly... in one year the lack of selection I've seen in these parts is kind of frightening.  I may contemplate gardening, but 'it' will probably not happen.  I may bake something, but this as well, is unlikely to happen.  I should probably read the non-neuro-geek stuff, and do homework-like things, but sadly this too, will probably not happen.  Merde.

Tomorrow night:  Air Guitar Belgium! (Braine L'Alleud edition.)  Though not all competitors are interesting or even good, what fascinates me is how much these people are so completely, as boyfriend says "in their trip."  Though I'll admit I'm personally hoping we get a gem like this guy (trust me and watch past the paper-cheetah um, amorousness,) or this lady.  This will be followed by a showing-of-face at the (2nd) birthday party for one of boyfriend's good friends whom I refer to as 'Boyfriend's other girlfriend', since he is actually a thin-skinned teenage girl hiding in a 30 year old metrosexual man's body.  After sufficient face-time has been logged, (meaning the birthday girl will not take insult,) we will go home to sleep.


Sunday:  Possible baby-visit.  I'm a pseudo-aunt, did you know?  Our planned visit on Thursday to the hospital was cancelled when the baby refused to latch-on and feed.  This caused the new mother terrible distress and panic, resulting in much crying into the phone to Boyfriend that we could not come that night.  Of course, I'm sure the nurses saying how small the thing is, and asking if the parents were sure they knew when the baby was conceived didn't help to put mom at ease any.

Hmm.  No Boyfriend yet.  My cellphone keeps ringing too, but I can't find the darned thing.  Maybe that's the bandits calling to ask for a ransom?  Suppose I should try a little harder and go find it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Expat Anniversary

Today is my first expat anniversary.  I landed in Belgium a year ago today.  I think I can still remember what I wore on the plane, and I also remember the movie I struggled to watch while in-flight.  I hadn't slept for about two days before, (which is why I was struggling to watch the movie.)

April 1st, my sister drove me to the airport.  She cried all the way home after dropping me off.  It wasn't just because we'd said goodbye though, it was because she'd never realized until picking me up at my apartment that day, exactly how MUCH stuff, much of it treasured, I'd left behind for this.  My sister recalls all the books, and the cocktail dresses, I left behind.  My mother was shocked to learn that a silver duck piggy-bank I'd had since childhood, and had held onto well past it losing an eye and it's bottom-plate also was left behind.  The fact was I'd decided to store the things that would be most practical first, and I simply ran out of time and space in packing up the rest and trying to find it a place to wait for me.

I don't regret it though.  There were some nice books, and some lovely, sentimental things that I'd spent a lifetime collecting.  But moving here was very much like parting with all my creature comforts, and my friends.  It opened up a blank space, and left me with a scary sparseness.  There was very little comfort in the beginning, and I felt at times, rather like a lost and panicky deer in a sterile white plastic room.  Confused and very ill at ease.  It forced me to re-examine and question myself, to develop new coping skills, and it forced me to create, bit by bit, new comforts here.

I knew that coming here wouldn't be easy.  Leaving everything for one thing never is, and in your moments of worry, going back to that everything seems a hell of a lot better than fighting for that one thing, that reason for being here.  I thought it would be difficult, and it was.  But I also thought I was probably a quick enough learner and tenacious enough to make the jump even when waiting another year or so might have been wiser, might have made the transition easier.

I can't say that a year in, all is well and that I've got it all down-pat.  But looking back over my first year here, I can say that I'm glad I took this chance.  I think it's given me and taught me much more than another year among my creature comforts possibly could have, and that's worth celebrating.

Chitika