:: eye of the storm ::

About Me

A 27-year-old PA student who wants to visit all seven continents, write a book, work at a pediatric clinic in Africa, and basically meet as many of the world's challenges as possible.

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current mood:
current mood

Life List

(already accomplished)

Become a PA

Visit all 7 continents

Take a SwimTrek trip

Bike through Western Europe

Raft the Grand Canyon

Improve my Spanish proficiency

Go on safari in Africa

Trace my roots at Ellis Island

Vacation in Hawaii

Work on a hospital ship in a Third World country

Celebrate New Year's in Times Square

Visit all 50 states (29 to go: AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, ND, OK, OR, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY)

See the ruins at Pompeii

Swim in Capri's Blue Grotto

Tour Mt. Vesuvius

Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain

Tour the Colosseum

Visit the D-Day beaches

See the Mona Lisa

Visit the palace at Versailles

See the Acropolis and Parthenon

See the Egyptian pyramids

Hike the Inca Trail

Walk El Camino Santiago

Take an Alaskan cruise

View the Taj Mahal at sunrise

Hike Table Mountain in South Africa

Climb through the Amazon canopy

Walk at least part of the Great Wall of China

Get laser hair removal

Learn to surf, ski, and snowboard

Learn to drive a stick-shift

Learn to play the piano

Go on a tropical cruise

Ride horseback on the beach

Ride in a hot air balloon

Get tickets to the Olympics

Go to adult Space Camp

Witness a shuttle launch from up close

Build a full-sized snowman

Sew a quilt out of my old race T-shirts

Update and continue my Life Scrapbook

Become the oldest person to ever do the River Run

Live to be a happy, healthy 100 years old - at least!

(unlikely dreams)

dinsdag 23 september 2003

Current Music: Elton John - "You'll Always Be Beautiful In My Eyes"

For those of you whom I haven't complained to yet... my computer is dead. Completely. It won't even start Windows. MediaMarkt had to ship it off to some other place in Holland that fixes only Compaqs, and they told me that I am most likely going to lose EVERYTHING on my hard drive. THAT SUCKS!!! Most of it is backed up, of course, but that's 4,000 miles across the ocean, and besides, there are a lot of important things that aren't backed up. I'm very dependent on my computer - I download a lot of music, I write a fair amount of little stories, etc., I save a lot of chats which I read later on, I save website stuff - and now everything I've done since I've had this computer is gone. That means at least four story-type things, one of which was really long and might have turned into something good, at least 75 songs, some scheduling stuff I was working out for UF, everything I've saved having to do with this site, and my half-finished Linguistics paper which is due in two days. So I've spent most of tonight on S's computer trying to redo it. Sigh. Why do these things always happen to ME???

So the computer crashed on Monday, and then today my bike got a flat and I can't pick it up for two days. Bad things happen in threes, right? Wonder what's next - me getting hit by a car or something?

On a more cheerful note, H is coming to visit tomorrow (and probably staying until after the weekend) and D might come down on Thursday night so the 4 of us can hang out. That was fun last time until we all ended up fighting... let's not do that again. ;)

On a not-so-cheerful note, it's 1.24 and I have class tomorrow morning, yet I haven't showered or finished my Boswell homework. So that means it's time to stop playing with the website. Just wanted to let you guys know what was going on. Sympathy is welcome. :) And so are SMSs, since that's my only somewhat-computerlike way of contact now - 06-42211771.

Goodnight. Good morning. Whatever.

zondag 21 september 2003

Current Music: Jurassic Park theme & Free Willy theme

You know your Dutch soap operas are too predictable when an American can feed the actors their lines. I was watching GTST on Thursday (talking thoughtlessly in Dutch to the TV and the characters the way I always do during that show), and the old guy Robert made this whole romantic meal for that woman (forgot her name again)… wine, lots of candles, etc… and even though they’d had similar stuff in other episodes, you just knew that this time they were going to hook up. So afterward, he was putting on his coat to leave and the woman looked at him and said “Robert?” And he looked at her, and I said mockingly, “Wil je blijven?” A second later, the woman echoed me. I laughed for about ten minutes, LOL! Maybe I know Dutch after all! ;)

Am I a nerd because I feel satisfied after doing homework? S went out somewhere tonight – I don’t know where and I didn’t ask, probably just next door to the Germans’ or something – but he didn’t even ask if I wanted to come. Guess he’s given up on me… LOL! Oh well. Anyway, I couldn’t have gone anyway because I had to do the homework that I’d put off all weekend. That sentence diagram took FOREVER! There was only one, but it took me at least 20 minutes. Well, no wonder… the sentence was “The deceitful cat from China promised the rather unfortunate mouse that he would leave a piece of cheese on the floor in the kitchen”… you try to relate all those words and phrases together, haha! But I’m always happy doing those… it’s fun, like putting a puzzle together.

And the Boswell homework went fast. We’re learning right now when to use a te and when not to – which verbs require one and which don’t, etc. That’s something I asked about a long time ago, and nobody could give me a good answer. So I just sort of learned it through listening, but I didn’t realize that until tonight. When I started the homework, at first I tried to follow the rules – checking to see if the verb in the sentence was on the list, etc. – but that was slow and dull and the paragraph (about the Elfstedentocht) was fairly interesting, so after a couple of sentences I just stopped thinking and just started reading the paragraph aloud. And as I read, I automatically put in the ‘te’ or left it out, without even thinking. Very weird… kind of like my brain wasn’t connected to my mouth. Anyway, so apparently I just sort of instinctively ‘know’ that – not in all cases, but in the common ones, the ones I’ve heard most often. That’s cool. I wonder what my linguistics professors would think of this? I know this is my second (third, really) language, but I learn parts of it as though it were my first – with no conscious idea of the rule behind it, just knowing that it is, knowing what sounds right. Maybe I’ll ask them on Tuesday.

I have been on the computer ALL DAY. I got up late and went to various chatrooms, etc. for a while, then started MSNing with some people I met through those, then MSNed with D for at least two hours (I lost track :)), then took a homework break, then chatted with the other D… and now I have a (probably computer-induced) headache and am eating vruchtenhagel from the carton (again) to try to stave it off with caffeine. But I have a feeling that all that’s gonna happen is I’ll be up all night, LOL!

I have a four-day weekend in October – where should I go? And who wants to come along? ;)

D and H may come to Utrecht on Thursday – yay!

Time for Jess to sleep now… morgen: geen Engelse Taalkunde, wel Boswell. (Ik wou het liever andersom…)

Current Music: Veldhuis & Kemper – “Ik wou dat ik jou was”

Weekend! S and I went out with A to a pannenkoekenhuis Friday night and had really good pancakes. (I love goat cheese, by the way!) Then A came over again yesterday and we three went to a Turkish market close to Central Station. We had these Turkish pizza things that were soooo good! She’s also calling her friends for us to see if anyone knows a good hairdresser for me and S – the situation is getting a little desperate, haha. :) I think I want to do something else with my hair, but I don’t know what. I just know that I like it the length it is – it’s too short to get in my face, which I love. And I’m not a big fan of bangs. So if anyone has any low-maintenance ideas for extra-short, wavy hair, let me know, OK?

The Gator game? I don’t even want to talk about it. :( S and I were so stoked that we finally had a way to listen to the game (radio via GatorZone.com) and then it all just went down the tubes. S has changed his MSN name to “Fire Zook now!” LOL!

My computer situation is slightly better – I can once again receive e-mail for some reason, although I still can’t send it. (I’ve been sending things through my Comcast address when it’s really necessary, since that one works fine.) I’m also annoyed at “secure” websites, LOL! Everyone knows that I’m always on the computer, but I have a constant problem with finding nice people to chat with – it’s all guys wanting cybersex. So I’ve been surfing around on sites which have member profiles on them. And now on one of them I’ve discovered a few people who seem cool, but I can’t contact them without paying 25 euro or something for a subscription to the site. So I’ve been viewing the page HTML of their profiles, looking for a ‘crack’ in the system where I might be able to get their e-mails (since they obviously had to supply one in order to join the site), but there is none, at least not that I see. And I’ve sent e-mail to the Hotmail and Yahoo addresses with those same nicknames, as a long shot, but that didn’t work either. Phooey. Since when do you have to pay money in order to meet people???

Sigh. Today’s a homework day. (Sundays are no good for anything else here, because everything’s closed.) But there’s no Engelse Taalkunde tomorrow – only Boswell. I can handle that… it means I can get up a little later, yay!

OK, going to heat up some macaroni now. Bye!

donderdag 18 september 2003

Current Music: Acda en de Munnik – “Slaap zacht, Elisabeth”

Excitement of the day: I have registered and I AM NOW AN OFFICIAL UTRECHT RESIDENT!!! WOOHOO!!!

We had to wait in line for literally over three hours, but at least we got it done. And I met a bunch of people in line, including two really nice girls from America who were standing next to me (one from Wyoming whom I like a lot, and then one from Virginia). We all exchanged numbers and we’re planning to go out sometime, to Tivoli (club) or something. And then there were these African guys behind us, and then the Belgians from my building and oh, just everyone. So the wait wasn’t as boring as it could have been. And once we got to the table, I finally met B, the coordinator I’d been corresponding with before I got here. We always wrote in Dutch because she was impressed that I could speak it, and I wanted to practice, so then today when I handed her my passport to take my name down, she did exactly what Hannie did - immediately looked up and said, “Oh, jij bent Jess!” and was really happy to see me.

Sigh. We’ve been given our first Engelse Taalkunde assignment – actually, we had it on the first day – and it’s a 3-4 page paper analyzing the pronunciation of a young child 2-3 years old… the son of this famous linguist. Well, I had already started to work on it, but then our professor (the Dutch one) asked us in class Tuesday, “About the Amahl assignment… everybody look at the way he says ‘parsley’. Where does the ‘r’ go?” Everyone started yelling out answers like “It’s assimilated into the ‘a’ sound,” and stuff, but then he held up his hand for quiet and said, “The answer is – it was never there.” Know why? Because this linguist guy is British! So now I have to rethink everything I’ve already written and make sure it works for British English as well as American. Sigh. It’s not that much of a problem, but it struck me as funny. I was so happy to have something in English to do, and now it turns out that even my English isn’t perfect for what we’re doing. LOL!

J, the Swedish girl from upstairs, told me yesterday about this really nice swimming pool that’s apparently just over the bridge – meaning, like, less than 5 minutes by bike. I just ate a broodje Mario and ice cream with E, the American from Wyoming, but after that’s ‘settled’ then I plan to head over there. Poor S, stuck in class… I have nothing nothing nothing on Thursdays. (Maar vrijdag wel… en dan is S vrij… dat wou ik liever, denk ik… a three-day weekend.)

E-mail and Net still broken, and Yvon has no idea when they’ll be fixed. I am absolutely disgusted. Do I really need to say anything else about that? It’s now been almost 2 weeks… I think it might be time to kick up a stink about lowered rent. Well, we’ll see.

woensdag 17 september 2003

Current Music: Marco Borsato – “Hart van een winnaar”

School, school, school… I’ve decided I like the syntax teacher better than the phonology one. Not because he’s American, but just because he’s friendly, you know? Or maybe it’s just because I like syntax better – it makes more sense, rather than just memorizing a bunch of symbols. Oh well, anyway, it’s going well. We were diagramming sentences today, which I was really good at back in G-ville, and anyway, I like it – it’s like putting a puzzle together. This guy’s method is a little different – or maybe Tomomi just let us do it the easy way – but I like it nonetheless. He gave us an ambiguous sentence (I had actually had the exact same sentence before, ‘The girl looked at the man with the telescope’… see how there are two meanings?) and had us diagram both possible ways it could be interpreted. And it was so funny to hear everyone around me discussing it in Dutch! None of us could keep straight which ‘tree’ was which. “Deze is ‘het meisje dat met de telescoop naar de man kijkt’.” “Nee, die is ‘ze kijkt naar de man die de telescoop heeft’.” “Niet!” “Wel! Kijk…” and on and on. It was great fun. But I still don’t know if my professor can speak Dutch or not. You’d think so, but he speaks English just like I do and I have yet to hear him speak any Dutch… and the students ask him one-on-one questions in English instead of Dutch the way they do with the other guy… so who knows?

I’m not liking Boswell quite as much as I did at first. Apparently, being in C-level means we only get to do boring things as examples. Scott’s book has fun things like songs, but ours is supposed to be more difficult Dutch, which you apparently find only in less interesting stuff like newspapers. Today we were watching TV about Prinsjesdag (day where the official decisions about money and the economy of the country and all are announced), reading an article about a space wedding (OK, that one was okay), and listening to a radio program about adult education. That last one especially was just soooo dull. When I’m listening to something boring, it makes me not care as much about understanding, thus I don’t try as hard. Plus I don’t think my teacher really likes me. (She thought I was speaking English in class today, but I wasn’t, it was the American woman next to me whose Dutch is so bad, but I don’t think she believed me.) Hopefully the other one will be a little better. We’ll have her on Friday.

Definitely time for some food now. Oh, but one last thing: my Net is still broken, so if you want to talk to me, it’s MSN or nothing. Or snail mail, of course. (Mom, your postcard arrived today – thanks!)

Seeya later!

dinsdag 16 september 2003

Current Music: Madonna – “Die Another Day”

First words exchanged between me and S this morning:

“Jess, what’s the past tense of ‘vragen’?”

Ah, the joys of being a Dutch-learning exchange student…

maandag 15 september 2003

Current Music: Madonna – “Die Another Day”

There was a party on Friday up in C7. Was fun – they really went all out – candles and a DJ-type person and stuff. And that’s a corner apartment, so they had two balconies and a really big living room and stuff. I met a couple nice people – a French girl who’s my age (yes, 19 – that’s a first!) and a really nice Irish girl who reminds me of camp people. N and I were both in a dancing mood and wanted to go out, but we needed student IDs to get into the Woo (student club), which we don’t yet have because of stupid Dutch red tape. So we didn’t go. I eventually got sick of the party and went back home, and then 10 minutes later S came down too, with C and N and L, and we sat around and talked until 2.00. Then they all left, but we’d been talking about restaurants and worldwide cuisine and stuff, so then S and I decided we were hungry, so we made tortellini and had ice cream and went to bed around 3.00. Thus I got up at 11. Nice.

And the internet situation is still going downhill. I can look at MSN Messenger and see that I have new messages, but now I can not only not write mail, I can’t read it either! Not through Outlook and not through the website. This is really getting annoying. I guess I have to start complaining again… *zucht*

New amusement: ilse chat. It goes really slowly, but it can be fun.

BOSWELL STARTED TODAY!!! And it was actually cool. I was kinda worried at first – after all, I totally skipped the B-course and I’ve only been living in Holland for a month – but it was great. We didn’t have our normal teacher (Ciska or something) today because she was sick – we had this guy Edwin instead, as a sub, but he was fine. Hard to understand at first – he pronounces ij like e - but I got used to it. And this is my level. I was worried that everyone else would be better than me, but I’m actually one of the better ones… or at least as near as I can figure – it’s only been a day. The class is full of different nationalities – there’s another American woman, older than me, and then a man from Iraq and a couple of Swiss people and Spanish people and Germans and an Arabic lady and oh, all kinds… some of whom are very difficult to understand because of their accents. I guess Edwin thought so too, because we were going around the class reading parts of a ‘stukje tekst’ (can’t think of the English term) and he had to correct the pronunciation of every single person, but then I read and all he had to say was ‘uitstekend!’ and asked me to continue. :) Go me, go me…

And it sounds arrogant, but finally, finally, it’s all new and different and challenging, not review. We’re doing stuff now that I used to ask about back at UF, like when to use which of the ‘little words’ (toch, al, even, maar…) and stuff. Finally, I’m getting my answers. And I had my ‘shining moment’ too… Edwin was explaining about split verbs that can look exactly the same (in the infinitive, anyway) but mean different things because the stress is on different places in the word – like voorkomen and voorkomen, or ondergaan and ondergaan. Their meanings are totally different because of where the stress lies, and I was the one to figure out why. When the stress is on the preposition, it’s something physical – e.g. ondergaan means to literally go underneath something, like a bridge. But if the stress is on the verb itself – ondergaan - it’s metaphorical, meaning in English ‘to undergo’, e.g. a test or something. And all of them are that way – material versus metaphorical. He was explaining and nobody understood how they were supposed to be used, but all of a sudden something just clicked in my head and my mouth fell open. I can never hide it when I get a brain wave… which is one of the greatest feelings in the world, by the way, when you suddenly completely understand something that made no sense a second earlier. (IB people, you know what I’m talking about.) I got that stupid grin that wouldn’t go away (D: the BSG!) and kept saying under my breath, “Ik snap het, oh, ik snap het!” Then Edwin asked for an example of the usage of ‘ondergaan’ and nobody could tell him. So he looked at me and winked and said, “Jess?” because he had seen the faces I was making, and so I gave my theory and it turned out to be right. I had to explain part of it in English because I just didn’t have the Dutch words for it – I barely had the English words for it at that point – but I was right anyhow, so go me! (But then later I got called on for – of course – the one sentence in the exercise that I didn’t understand, and did it completely wrong, so I had a ‘stupid moment’ too, LOL!)

Anyway, but I have a ton of homework – for phonology and Boswell – so Jess is going to go be good now. Ciao…

zaterdag 13 september 2003

Current Music: Kelly Clarkson – “Miss Independent”

Found the song – yay! *sings* “What is this feelin' takin’ over / Thinkin’ no one could open the door…” Fun song! :)

S and I have been cleaning for the past couple hours – whoever lived here before us were absolute pigs! I cleaned the kitchen, he cleaned the bathroom, and then we split the vacuuming. (So D, you can come over now without fear of asphyxiation, LOL!) And let me tell you, that kitchen was unquestionably built by and for Dutch people. Jess, a.k.a. Shorty, had to stand on the counters to reach the top shelves to clean them. Oh well, I didn’t die, so it’s all good.

And I’m starving, but I can’t make tortellini because the kitchen floor isn’t dry yet. So I think it’s time for a ‘fietsexcursie’, LOL, with my mp3 player full of new songs, to get a broodje Mario. (And no, Americans, it’s not illegal here to ride your bike with headphones the way it is at home. Cool, hey?)

Back later…

Current Music: The Pointer Sisters – “I’m So Excited”

Hotmail will still not let me send mail. SIGH! Not through Outlook and not through the website… in fact, the website won’t even let me log in, not even if I try to trick it by accessing my Inbox through MSN Messenger. Yet I can still receive mail through Outlook. There’s definitely still something wrong with the Internet here. I can’t see the counter at the bottom of this page either (although you guys probably can, because D says he can), I can't view my guestbook, and I can’t load anything that involves logging in – no Hotmail, no Bravenet, no ESPN, etc. Yet, for some inexplicable reason, Comcast seems unaffected – proven by the fact that you’re seeing this post right now. I can log in, edit files, whatever I want. WEIRD.

Random annoyance: and the version of “Miss Independent” (Kelly Clarkson) that’s circulating on Kazaa is corrupted. They keep airing that music video over here, therefore it’s stuck in my head and I’ve tried to download about 15 different ones and they all start buzzing after about 15 seconds. (And no, THAT’s not my computer, because other songs download fine.) If anyone has that mp3 on their hard drive in good condition, can you send it to me through MSN Messenger? (If my computer deigns to let me even do THAT… *zucht*)

No real plans for today… we’ve got to go to the supermarket AGAIN (we’re still ending up there every two days) and the Croatian girls are giving a party in their apartment tonight – guess we ‘opened the floodgates’, zeg maar, with that thing the other night. And then tomorrow we’re having dinner with M, and then Monday Boswell starts! Woohoo! After all the planning and frustration and e-mails… we finally made it!

vrijdag 12 september 2003

Current Music: Hans de Booij – “Annabel” (yeah, again)

Ha. Ha. HA! Jess CAN cook! LOL! So OK, nothing fancy, but still… scrambled eggs with cheese, ham, and tomatoes taste like gourmet when you’ve been living on pasta and peanut butter sandwiches. :) And now I’m eating vruchtenhagel straight from the box because it tastes like something I used to eat as a child, some sort of candy, I think, but I just can’t place what that something is… like Sweet-Tarts, but not sour. I’m hoping that if I keep eating it, I’ll remember…

Current Music: Hans de Booij – “Annabel”

This song has given me another favorite name for if and when I ever have a daughter… I like the name Annabel. Always have, ever since I read No Flying In The House when I was about eight, but this song re-reminded me of it. But if I have to have enough kids to use up all my favorite names, especially the ones for the girls… well… let’s just say I could probably start my own football team. :) LOL!

Anyway, we had a little get-together last night in the field out behind Park R… S and C and I organized it and then a ton of people came. S brought his new football (=soccer ball) and then one of the Aussie guys brought an Aussie football (which looks like a rugby ball) so we played with those for a while, and people brought chips and drinks and stuff, and someone made these little marzipan things with nutmeg and walnuts… lekker! I left around 20.45 to get a jacket but then once I got back to the apartment, D was online, and I had missed having internet :) so we chatted for a while and then he left to get ready for work, and I was out of the ‘party mood’ by then so I just took a shower and went to bed. S is rather disgusted with me, I think – he thinks I’m a party pooper (or something) because I don’t like bars (but I do like dance clubs!) and I don’t drink much and I don’t usually want to stay out really really late… but my theory is, I’m here to have fun, whatever my personal definition of that may be, and experience things that are different from home, so why should I waste my time doing things which I don’t enjoy and which I can do at home in G-ville just as well as here? So okay, so I’m not like 99% of the exchange students here. Big fat hairy deal. Like O and I always say: who wants to be normal?

OK, now that that’s out of my system… ;) … sorry. Every once in a while I just get annoyed by that situation. Anyhoo…

Jags game is blacked out this Sunday because not enough people bought tickets. :( Come on, J-villers, what’s the matter with you?! How do you expect your team to get any better if you don’t show your support?!

A just called S to say that she knows a girl who has rooms! We haven’t called yet – we’re still debating whether or not we actually want to move, if that option becomes available. True, it’s @#$%^&* expensive here at Park R, and pretty far away from everything, but we have high-speed Net (a huge plus for me, no matter how crappily it’s working at the moment), it’s furnished, and we each have our own bedroom. Depends on what the girl has, I guess… we’ll probably end up giving her a call.

(Hey D, this is for you: I was just chatting with my sis and we were talking about Mom (hi Mom… *grin* *hug*) and then C said, “Yikes, MITR”… (snap je die??) I told her it was a good thing I had had so much acronym practice, HAHA!!!) ;)

School is still going well, except that now I have to relearn all sorts of linguistic stuff in Dutch, LOL! I already know it (sort of… *blush*) in English, and of course it’s English we’re studying, but the phonology half of the course is taught by a Dutchman so there are a lot of comparisons to Dutch and we’ve been given whole worksheets full of charts, etc., for Dutch… so now I have to relearn things like the names they use here for points of articulation, classification of sounds, phonetic symbols… This language has some different sounds, e.g. vowels, and of course the ‘g’ in the throat, represented by [x], whereas in English, [x] means something else… can’t remember what… LOL! So there are a lot of similarities, but definitely enough differences to make it weird, especially since LIN 3010 was months ago and is not exactly fresh in my memory… and these students seem to have had either (a) more recent linguistic coursework than I, or (b) more of it… probably (b). (I have yet to meet anyone younger than about 22, so they’ve probably all been studying for longer than I.) They have this stuff at the top of their brains whereas I have to think really hard and try to pull it up. I could use my UF notes… wish I’d brought them. But I like a challenge… so look out, Engelse Taalkunde! :) (Enne… Boswell begint maandag! YAY!!!)

Anyway… (oke P, hier dan komt een beetje Nederlands voor jou! ;))… zondag gaan we (S en ikke) bij M mee-eten, yay! We hebben haar al één keer gezien maar alleen om ff wat te drinken, en we hebben helaas bijna geen NL gesproken (ik schaam me diep! :))… dus zondag zal leuk zijn, denk ik. (En we kunnen Lange Wapper (d’r konijn) uiteindelijk ontmoeten, haha!!)

Time for dinner now… tot morgen!

donderdag 11 september 2003

Current Music: Elton John – “Tiny Dancer”

After five days… THE INTERNET IS BACK! WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!

P.S. Today’s the second anniversary of 9/11…

woensdag 10 september 2003

Current Music: Elton John – “You’ll Always Be Beautiful In My Eyes”

Hallo allemaal – sorry dat ik zolang niet geschreven heb. Our internet broke on Sunday – some construction people snapped a cable or something – but it’s supposed to (FINALLY!) be fixed tomorrow, so I’m writing a post now in Word and I’ll paste it in tomorrow, barring some unforeseen disaster… *crosses fingers*. So this will be long.

Well, classes have started – or, rather, my one class has started: English Linguistics. Part of it is phonology, and the rest is syntax. It looks pretty easy – so far it’s the same stuff I did back at UF – and I like the teachers (an American and a Dutchman). I feel a little out of place in the class because I’m the only non-Dutch student in the class and all the other students speak Dutch to each other when we’re not ‘officially’ in class, but that’ll improve, I know, and I do like being a native English speaker because apparently the aim of this course is to ‘get inside the heads’ of native speakers. Well. That’s easy. ;)

I do have one complaint, however – stupid Dutch scheduling. I’ve never seen such a ridiculous system. My particular class is divided alphabetically into two groups, then each of those two groups is split into phonology and syntax (taught by two different teachers), and then we meet at certain times for the first three weeks, then switch times for the rest of the course… I don’t see why we can’t just have one teacher and one group and one certain time and have that be it! And this isn’t even as weird as it gets – at least this is all from 11.00 to 13.00 and in the same room. The Second Language Acquisition course I want to take next block meets from 9.00-11.00 on Mondays in one place, and then from 13.00-15.00 on Wednesdays and Fridays in another place. Why do they do stuff like that?! It makes it so hard to schedule other courses when they jump all over the place and have some of the stuff in the morning and some in the afternoon! If I want to take that class – and I really do; it sounds so interesting, especially since I’m over here learning a second language – then I have to switch to the morning Boswell class, and then ask the teacher for special permission to miss Mondays of class so I can go to Boswell. It’s so ridiculous! I don’t want to miss Mondays. I just want to take the @#$%^&* class! Sigh.

Changing the subject… S and I are practically living on macaroni and tortellini enzo these days – we have no oven, no blender, no toaster… only a microwave and a burner… so we’re really limited in what we can cook and it’s ticking us off. I’m glad I have the bike for exercise…

Exercise. That reminds me. I accidentally went to the wrong ‘group’ of my syntax class on Monday (that was for the A-L last names, but I didn’t know the system then) and there was an Italian girl in that half, whom I knew from the exchange student day on Saturday. I was close to the front of class, and she was near the middle. So at the break (yes, they have a break in the middle of class… I haven’t decided yet whether or not I like that) I got up and went over to her, and the first thing out of her mouth was, “What sport do you play?” I was kind of taken by surprise, but then she asked, “Swimming?” and I said, “Yeah, swimming and basketball” and she nodded like, yeah, I knew it. I was really surprised and asked her how she knew, if she was a swimmer herself or something, and she tried to explain (in broken English) that no, she wasn’t – it was just that because she was sitting behind me, she’d noticed my broad shoulders. (We had a shoulder-comparison contest on the waterfront at camp and I won, LOL – I even beat K, and she swims for her college.) So apparently you can tell just by looking at me that I’m athletic. Hmm. Camp counselors (from when I was a camper) are the only ones ever to tell me that – they all used to ask if I was a swimmer. (But the funny thing is – back then, I wasn’t! LOL!)

Anyway, so: exercise. Here, that’s my bike. So after I had my first riding-my-bike-in-the-freezing-Dutch-rain experience (today, coming home from class), I coasted up to the Rheyngaerde bike shed thinking nothing but “Oh good, now I can go inside and get warm and dry,” as I squeezed my brakes… and snap, there went my right hand brake AGAIN!!! This is getting really ridiculous (D: TIGRR!) – they just fixed my brakes on Saturday! Sigh again.

I’ve also been having bad dreams – not every night, but often enough that it’s weird. I never have bad dreams, but in the past week I’ve dreamed (a) that people were chasing me trying to kill me, (b) that five guys tried to rape me, and (c) (last night) that I accidentally killed three tiny babies, including one with big blue eyes whom I was really attached to, while trying to hit someone (don’t ask… I don’t know). And then I had that train wreck dream before… and some others, but I can’t remember them now. It’s just so weird. I keep waking up in the middle of the night from these annoying dreams, and that, combined with the bike exercise, is making me fall asleep at weird hours during the day. (Mom: I’m adopting your 15.00 ‘naptime’, haha.)

S and I went out with A last night to a movie – a ‘sneak preview’, so we didn’t know what the movie was until it hit the screen. We took my bike there, but since S absolutely refuses to ride on the back for some reason, he pedaled and I rode on the back. It’s actually a fairly pleasant way to travel; the part that sucks is jumping off at every stop, because the blood collects in your feet while you sit there and then it hurts to jump off. Plus you have to really trust the person driving – I had ridden on the back of L’s bike several times before (including with three very large bags) and that was fine, she’s a born-and-bred Hollander and she knew exactly what she was doing, but with S… the American who hasn’t ridden a bike in 10 years… I was a little nervous, LOL! And it was a little shaky for me at points, mostly on hills, but there was nobody on the road and we both escaped with no major injuries. :) Anyway, the movie turned out to be Identity, and it wasn’t bad – a lot of blood and stuff, but cleverly done. (And don’t tell me that’s the reason for my bad dreams – they started way before that.) Anyway, then we went to Mick O’Connell’s, the Irish pub for the international students, which was packed - absolutely stuffed – because it was Tuesday and that’s when everyone goes there. I don’t like the whole bar scene anyway (I always feel out of place because I really just don’t like most alcoholic drinks – they don’t taste good to me at all) but this was just insane. I did see a few people I knew, and there was a lot of English being spoken, but that didn’t really make it any better. A had to leave to do some homework, and I had class today, so I left with her and took the bus, and left my bike for S.

The Swedish girl, J, came down today and the three of us talked Dutch like we planned. In situations like that, where I know I know what I’m doing, I have absolutely no trouble speaking. I just don’t like talking when I’m afraid I’m not going to understand the person’s answer. I feel intimidated talking to ‘real Hollanders’ so I clam up, and then I get frustrated with myself. J’s 33 years old and a veterinarian, with 2 small children, and she’s only been studying for a month on her own, using the Help 1 book, but for that length of time she’s surprisingly good – she even said ‘ik heb ___ gedaan’ at some point, which impressed me, that she’d picked that up on her own. Even her pronunciation is usually decent. She says Dutch is similar to Swedish in some ways, so if she doesn’t know a word, she just takes the Swedish word and ‘makes it a little bit Dutch’… LOL! Anyway, she’s an A-level, S is a B-level, and I’m a C-level, so it works out nicely. His Dutch is simple enough for her to understand, and I know enough that I can correct both of them, LOL… I feel weird doing that, like a know-it-all, but they said they want me to, so… yeah. (And it does feel good to be in the ‘teacher’ role. I really think I’d enjoy teaching a language, if I don’t become an interpreter…) The problem is that now I’ve forgotten a lot of the rules that I used to rely on, so when someone asks me why something is the way it is, I often can’t tell them anymore, like I used to be able to. It just is. My Linguistics professors would say that’s because of Universal Grammar. :) That’s the way I always learn a language – I learn the rules, and then after speaking correctly for a while, I forget them and just talk. So it’s funny to see S kinda going through the same stage I went through. For example, he was saying “Ik vind Nederland heel verschillend dan Florida” and I corrected him, saying that it should be ‘anders’ instead of ‘verschillend’. But then he wanted to know why, and I couldn’t tell him. I could give examples like ‘een groot verschil tussen ___ en ___’ and ‘allemaal verschillende dingen’ enzo, but that was it. He was asking me stuff like “So you say it this way if it’s an adjective?” and stuff, and all I could say was “I don’t know – that’s just how it is.” I guess this is how P and M felt when I would do stuff like that, asking about rules and such. Weird – the shoe’s on the other foot now. :)

Guess what I found out? They’re tearing down this building. Right after we leave – literally right after we leave – it’s being ripped down. That kinda makes me wonder even more why we pay so much to live here…

I’m getting S hooked on GTST now, haha! He says he’s only watching because of the ‘lekkere meisjes’, but hey, you gotta start somewhere… ;)

Hope the Net’s back tomorrow so I can post this. But now it’s 21.52 and I’m going to go read some of my Boswell book and try to tune out S yelling and throwing things at the TV – Oranje is playing again, and they’re losing, so he’s in a foul mood. (But he admitted to liking Celine Dion yesterday (“If you tell anybody, I’ll kill you, but…”), so he can yell all he wants, LOL!)


zaterdag 6 september 2003

Current Music: S yelling at the TV (Oranje’s playing Austria)

Well, that exchange-student thing was a load of boring-ness... except for the intro speech by the international director, Jeroen Torenbeek. That's the guy who came and spoke at UF, the one who gave me and S his cards with his personal address and phone numbers and everything. Anyway, he's really funny and had everyone laughing hysterically... giving us lessons on how to use an umbrella, how to use a bike, and then how to use them both together. (And yes, he did ride a bike across the lecture hall!) Very amusing. I also met some new people - a girl from Madrid who lives one floor above me (yay, Spanish practice!), a girl from the Czech Republic, and then a bunch more Australians. I still like C the best of them, the girl we met Wednesday (she and I spent most of the intro speech talking about how good-looking the Dutch boys are, LOL!), but there are sure a lot of Aussies here – more Aussies than Americans, I think. I've only met 3 other Americans - 2 boys from Montana and then a girl from Miami (who actually used to go to UF). And then of course S. And me. And that’s it, so far.

So, the bike. Well. Remember what I said yesterday? That paranoid-sounding thing that nobody took very seriously, about me feeling like the other brake was going to go out at any second?...

Yeah. Uh-huh. Oh, yeah.

OK, the details: it didn’t happen in a very noticeable way – no big snap or anything – so I was coasting downhill by the Neude, tried to brake, then realized, @#$%, I have no brakes! I tried to stop with my feet, but I was going too fast. I had the green light, thank goodness, or I don’t know what I would have done – it’s a boy’s bike so I couldn’t just jump off the way you can on a girl’s. There was a lot of luck with me today. But then there was this guy coming from the right who just decided not to stop – I had the green light but he kept going anyway – and I had to swerve back and forth like a crazy person so I wouldn’t hit him. He shot me the dirtiest look! LOL! Anyway, I made it to the bike store in one piece and without causing any other accidents either, haha, and I left it with them for the day, and they completely replaced both brakes – handles, cables, everything – free of charge. It was really nice.

Other news… I did some more exploring on the bike, went over that bridge that S calls ‘the cool bridge’ (and found out that the real name is ‘Prins Clausbrug’… brug=bridge), found a new way to the centrum, ate a ‘kaassouffle’ out of the wall… (eating out of the wall… that’s too hard to explain… like a high-tech vending machine)… Oh yeah, and someone from the 4th floor called me – she’s trying to learn Dutch on her own, with no class, and Yvon (the housing coordinator in this building) apparently told her to call me. So she did, with the idea of setting up one evening a week when she can come down here and we can just talk Dutch for a while. Sounds like a good idea – S wants to join in, too, and P even said she’d like to come sometime. (If we can have the two of them in the same apartment without them killing each other… well… that remains to be seen.) I didn’t catch the girl’s name, but she has 2-3 little kids and I think she might be Swedish.

I’m going to go fix myself a sandwich. I’ve had a lot of exercise the past couple of days (Mom, those Old Navy khakis are sort of ‘hanging’ on me… nice feeling, LOL!) so it’s time to replace some burned calories, haha!

Oh… and P signed my guestbook and says she thinks there should be more Dutch on this page (haha) so we’ll see what we can do about that tomorrow.

Tot morgen, allemaal!

vrijdag 5 september 2003

Current Music: Madonna – “Open Your Heart”

Everybody look down. See that enthusiastic post about the bike? See it? Everyone? Yeah? Well, guess what… the right hand brake just broke. Splendid, I have the thing 24 hours and it starts ‘braking’ (LMAO!). So now I have to go get that fixed, which is going to be a pain in the @$$ because tomorrow we have orientation starting at 11, so I have to get up and go early to the bike shop… and then I just have to hope that (a) they’re open, and (b) that they can help me, because otherwise I’m screwed. Everything closed at six today, normal time (speaking as an American… I still think that’s way too early), and tomorrow is the special ‘exchange student’ day, so we’re doing stuff until literally 3 AM (well, not me, you can be sure of that! This girl’s going home to bed), and then Sunday everything is closed… and then Monday I need to be riding the bike to classes. (Well, one class: English Linguistics. Boswell doesn’t start till the 15th.) True, there’s still the left hand brake, but this is a very very old, probably about tenth-hand bike, and I really feel like the other one is also going to snap any second, especially now that it has to do all the work of braking. Sigh. Well… if you don’t see any posts for a while, you’ll know I died somewhere in Utrecht under the wheels of a car because my brakes failed. It was nice while it lasted… guess that’s what you get for 60 Euros. Scott paid 85 or something like that (what’s funny is, he has a girl’s bike and I have a boy’s bike) and nothing rotten has happened to him yet… we’ll see.

(GTST-mensen: “Dat betekent… dat het gevoel in je benen niet meer terug komt. Je zult niet meer kunnen lopen.” …And then they leave us hanging for the weekend. Argh!!!)


Bike, bike, BIKE… I finally have one!!! :-) It’s a blue and white Gazelle (only 60 Euros) and I bought a basket for the front and bungee cords for the rack on the back… it’s a boy’s bike, but so what – it works and it’s small enough for me (barely) and that’s what counts. And I love this whole basket thing – it’s black wire and it snaps onto the front with a little combination lock, so you can just snap it off and carry it into the supermarket or whatever, dump your stuff in it, then snap it back on for the trip home. Or you can leave it snapped on and no one can take it, because it locks to the frame. And biking itself is a lot easier than I thought it would be (mostly because I can follow the people around me, LOL!). S said he wasn’t going to get a bike for a while, so I went and did it on my own yesterday, and I’ve been riding pretty much nonstop for the past 24 hours… and now S is out buying one too, haha!

And the distances aren’t bad. There are a couple of nasty hills near our place, but you just have to keep thinking “Next trip, I’ll be going the other way!” :-) It’s 12 minutes to the station, 15 minutes to the centrum, and 30 minutes to the JBI, where my language classes will be. That’s exactly what the international coordinators were telling me. S was e-mailing me at camp with horror stories about hour-long rides to classes and so on and so forth… Remind me never to listen to him again. ;)

Further news… I rearranged my room, a.k.a. the living room, to accommodate the new bed/couch better. It’s sooo comfortable, especially now that I have my new pillows. I decided to not keep it folded out unless someone’s sleeping over – as a double bed, it kinda takes up the entire room, and I don’t need all that space to sleep on, so I’m just leaving it in couch form and sleeping on it that way. It’s just as comfortable, and there’s less work in the morning. ;)

As for my new phone, I guess I’m not very popular… nobody’s calling or SMSing. Besides O, the only one to send me a message yet is D (no, not you, D, the other D… LOL!). G emailed from Ireland, all excited that we can SMS now, but then I tried it and it doesn’t work. Maybe I have to put something in front of her number. We shall see…

Okay, getting hungry. I just went to Edah – didn’t really need to, just didn’t want to stop riding my bike – and I think I’ve discovered the Dutch equivalent of frozen yogurt. Maybe I’ll have some of that. Oh, and there’s this ice cream place in the Hoog Catherijne called Swirls – soooo good! I had a chocolate milkshake there today – the biggest size they had, for only 2 Euros. Granted, the biggest size they had is an American ‘small’, but who cares? Maybe that’s why Americans are all overweight.

“That’s all, folks!”

woensdag 3 september 2003

Current Music: Ronan Keating - “When You Say Nothing At All”

(Thought of the Moment: I’m watching Notting Hill, which I haven’t seen in a long time, and I didn’t remember that this song was part of the soundtrack. This is/was mine and D’s song… well, one of them… comes from the ESP-thing, from not having to talk, and always makes me think about him. In a nice way, though.)

Where is my Now and Then DVD, trouwens?! I must have left it at home, but for some reason I’ve been wanting to watch it for like a week now. Why did I bring things like Monty Python, which I never watch, and leave Now and Then? :( Mom… a suggestion for that care package… ??? :-)

On a lighter note: Cell phone, cell phone, Jess has a cell phone… WOOHOO!!! Siemens M55, if anyone cares… the one I originally wanted… and It. Is. So. Cool. Tiny, orange buttons, personalize-able rings, backgrounds, screensavers, polyphonic ringtones… my only complaint is that it won’t synchronize with Hotmail, but I think that just might be because it’s brand new. We’ll see. Anyway, e-mail me if you want the number and I’ll consider it. :-)

…Well, hello again, 3 hours later… haha! I minimized this window and did things like finish the movie, hang up wet laundry, eat ice cream, chat with D and C, play with my phone… and then I realized I never posted this. Haha! Got to change the date at the top now – it’s Thursday now…

Had a good day. Orientation (oh @#$%, I still didn’t e-mail those professors! Okay, can’t go to bed yet after all…) went well, except that they are only now giving us the exact course times, meaning of course that S and I both have conflicts with our Boswell classes. Sigh. So I have to wade through more red tape. But we got our tentative schedules, did our police papers, bought food, got me a phone (and new pillows… no more stiff neck… YAY!), got an internet router (so no more switching back and forth, YAY again!)… yeah, a productive day. And I forgot to worry about being a perfectionist and just jabbered away to one of the coordinators in Dutch… I think it’s because for the first time since I’ve been here, I was not surrounded by natives, so I didn’t feel inferior, I just spoke. Which was cool.

No big plans for tomorrow… just to clean the kitchen. (A bigger job than it sounds.) And get that light fixed… it’s burned out. And maybe get our voordeel urenkaarten - discount train passes. And work out this schedule stuff. We shall see.

Goodnight. Good morning. Whatever. Ciao and aloha, they work for both. :-)

dinsdag 2 september 2003

Current Music: Matchbox 20 – “Unwell”

Hello all! Sorry it’s been a few days… been busy. And I have the Headache that Ate the World right now, so this’ll be short.

First off, I’ve moved all the August entries to their appropriate location in the archives (see right-hand column), so that’s why the page is so much shorter. :-)

Second… the cell phone odyssey continues to march on. We figured everything out – plan, provider, phone model, costs, etc. – then went to get them and thought we were making real progress… until we were informed that we had to have bank statements in order to get the cell phone plan. Which we didn’t have, since we’ve only had our accounts a few weeks. Guess when the statements arrived? Yes, today… and so S went and tried again today and discovered that the prices all changed – just today – and so the phone we want is now 109 Euros instead of 50. Sigh. So it’s back to the drawing board on all fronts…

On the lighter side, I got to see D for the first time since ‘The Talk’, which was really nice. I’d missed him more than I realized. He came over yesterday and we played with our laptops (he just got a new one) and then went out to dinner with S and H, and for drinks with M and her friends, then decided that since we both had other plans for Saturday, that we’d change our plans yet again and go to Sex Flags (Six Flags, of course… don’t ask how that alteration came about, I really don’t even know myself) today instead. So he crashed with us last night and the two of us did that today, and it was great. Hardly anyone was in the park so we didn’t have to wait for anything – we even rode the best roller coaster, the Goliath, a dozen times. Yes, 12 times! 3 at first, then later 9 more… yes, 9 times in a row. (No, we weren’t sick. LOL!) Anyway, it was good to see him and act normally around each other. (I always forget how ridiculously well he knows me – that ESP thing of ours is never going to die, which is great. He took the words out of my mouth at least 30 times over the course of two days, LOL! Even over stupid things, like if H ‘sounded American’ at a certain point during dinner…) I did have a few moments where I regretted that there was ‘something missing’… especially watching S and H together… but overall we just had a really good time together. He still knows me better than anyone – can always ‘read’ me, even when no one else can – and regardless of what’s happened, I’m so lucky to have him.

OK, getting sentimental… Moving on… ;)

Anyway, things sort of dissolved tonight – all 4 of us were hungry and cranky and ended up in a fight/discussion, J & D versus S & H – started over food, but with other stuff under the surface – don’t ask – so S and H are out eating now, D is driving home, and I’m here. H is going back to France tomorrow and S and I have orientation. But I don’t remember exactly where we’re supposed to be going… oh well, I’ll find out when they get home.

Oh oh oh... random insert... I got a new bed! Yay! It's a 'slaapbank', or a futon-like couch-bed convertible thing which I love! It's red, and folds out to a very comfy double bed. :-) I've never had a double bed, not even at home - and on the rare occasions when I have had one, I've shared it. So... COOL!!! :-D

Okay, well, this isn’t as short as I’d thought it was going to be, but whatever. :-) Slaap lekker, allemaal…

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