:: 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)

woensdag 31 december 2003

Current Music: Garth Brooks – “Calling Baton Rouge”

Well, so here’s the last post of 2003. Assuming nothing major happens within the next 10 hours, that is. Anyway, wow – over 1300 hits since August. Pretty good for ‘just a blog’. Granted, a third of them are probably me, but still. :) Thanks to everyone who reads. It’s good to have friends.

Nothing new to report except that I’m stupid, I forgot to give Mom and Dad the La Mancha application. So now I have to mail it to them after all, so I have to try to bum an international stamp off someone. I could buy some, but I only need one and I don’t see myself needing any more in the near future, so what’s the point?

L is supposed to call me today about tonight… so I’m sitting here, wiping out the rest of my dark chocolate Hersheys Kisses, waiting. I haven’t really done anything since the last post except sleep and send a few e-mails, so I’ll wrap it up here and go watch Silence of the Lambs or something. Ciao!

dinsdag 30 december 2003

Current Music: 4 Strings – “Take Me Away”

Hallo weer! I barely know what day or time it is – I’ve been sleeping so weird the past couple of days. P was here, as I said, but we fell asleep and somehow slept for almost 12 hours… woke up at 23.30, the exact time when he was supposed to start work in Almere, so he was outta here like a houseafire (southern expression :))… and then the whole everybody-left-me thing started to hit. So I stayed up for a couple of hours, ate some leftover pasta, chatted with D, mailed a few people… then went to sleep again around 6 or 7 in the morning, had some very strange dreams (a sample: there was one about talking cats, then one about P being in the hospital, and the one I woke up to was about being stuck swinging on a trapeze with a yellow plastic foot loop, in front of a TV, blocking everyone’s view), and woke up again around 12 with the sense of I-don’t-wanna-do-anything… but I was out of milk, and I needed that for my mac and cheese… plus I had 400 euro in my wallet (leftover euros from parents ;)). So I decided to take my new scooter for its first real ride.

Fun, fun, fun!!! I’m not a big fan of the brick paths through the centrum – you don’t notice the different surfaces on the bike but on the scooter everything vibrates – but beyond that it was really fun. I went to the bank first, where the line was the longest I’d ever seen it (I was number 190 and they were at 161 when I got there). But I got done, then went to the Albert Heijn in the Hoog Catherijne. I just pushed the scooter as it was – it would have been too much of a pain to try to fold and carry it – it’s HEAVY, no matter what they say about ‘only’ 28 pounds or whatever. Plus, this way, I could push it with my foot when I was in low-density people areas. :) The battery started to die on the way home, but not until I was almost to the bridge, so it wasn’t that bad. (But that’s not 15 miles, is it?? It’s supposed to go 15 miles off a full charge. Maybe it’s because I left it switched on the whole time, so I could push with my feet in the station.) Anyway, I like it a lot. The bank teller asked me if I’d bought it here in NL, and a couple other people asked me questions along the way, like this guy by the station on his bike who wanted to know how much it cost and if it had a motor. Anyway, I think it’s really cool. Except, one question: Dad, where did you put the manual?? I thought you said it was in the box, but it isn’t. Maybe I dreamed that too. :) LOL.

Tomorrow’s Oud en Nieuw, or Oudjaarsavond, or New Year’s Eve… whatever floats your boat. :) I’m going out with L and A and their friends, don’t know where – all I know is that it costs 20 euro. I’ll keep you posted. :)

Speaking of posting, I can’t post this yet because my Internet is mysteriously gone again. This is really ticking me off. Oh well, everybody official is gone for the holidays so what can you do?

zondag 28 december 2003

Current Music: Rascal Flatts – “These Days”

Wow, it’s been an entire week since I’ve posted anything. A lot has happened. I stayed in Lopik from Saturday until Tuesday afternoon – it was busy because P has such an unpredictable schedule, and I was by myself in the apartment a lot, but that was a NICE apartment… wow. And he had to leave his puppy there, so I got to play with a dog a little… LOL… and I discovered a really good book, Het Veilige Huis by Nicci French. I think those books are originally in English but I started reading it in Dutch because M, the girl whose apartment it was, didn’t have any English books… anyway, it was easy to read, so I want to buy it (in Dutch, since that’s the language I started it in) and finish it. Anyway, then came back home and discovered my digital camera was missing. (I think someone must have taken it out of my bag, because I distinctly remember putting it back in my backpack before leaving Lopik.) Phooey. But anyway, so then I went to sleep and woke up at 5.30 the next day to go to Schiphol… and pick up my family!

Well, I got there on time, but their plane touched down almost a half hour later than the monitor said. There were these kids running around with balloons and party blowers, driving everyone crazy… anyway, but they got here, and we got on the train with all their stuff and came back to Utrecht. We basically just dumped the stuff in my room and went into the city – did a little shopping and looking around, had lunch at the same pancake place I went to with P and S, bought groceries, and came home. Mom and Dad crashed out and Catie stayed awake (but grumpy). When we were all awake again, we had a little Christmas – I gave them the things I’d bought them and they gave me all the stuff I’d asked for. ;) I got my mac and cheese (FINALLY!!!), plus other stuff – my scooter (YES!!!), two DVDs, five books, and a black shirt and a pair of kick-butt black-and-white pants (the general consensus is that I look noticeably thinner in that outfit – um, may I have six duplicates please, one for each day of the week??) We cooked at home that night – my macaroni plus some Albert Heijn ravioli – and went to bed kinda early.

The next day, Christmas, we went to Amsterdam. Van Gogh museum, Anne Frankhuis, shopping, and the Hard Rock Café. No point in going into all the details, but it was a nice day. I had never taken the tram before and we got turned around a few times, but it all worked out. I used a lot of Dutch on this day – I really liked being able to speak it when the rest of them couldn’t. It was a good conversation starter, especially with bus drivers and stuff – I had actual conversations with people, which I don’t usually do here simply because I can’t think of anything to say. But I liked that; it’s what I would have done back home. Oh, and I had this awesome sandwich in the café of the Anne Frankhuis – salmon and cream cheese and sprouts on a bagel (except they were out of bagels, but it still tasted almost the same). YUM!!!

The next day – Tweede Kerst – we climbed the Dom. Except that I forgot Mom has confinement issues/claustrophobia/whatever you want to call it, so I don’t think she had as great of a time as I had hoped, but the view from the top is impressive no matter what you think of the journeys up and down. :) Then we went to the gift shop and then had a snack in a little café – patatjes and hot chocolate for Catie and me, coffee and a ham-kaassouffle for Mom, and a frikandel speciaal for Dad – woohoo! Of course I had to eat some too. :) Anyway, then we headed home for a while and then to L’s house for dinner. Her family invited us ages ago. Anyway, that was (for me) the best time of the whole trip. I hadn’t seen L for a long time because we’re in school in different cities, and her twin sister A was finally home from Mexico so I saw her too. Funny, this was only the second time I’d seen A, yet I feel just as comfortable with her as with L, whom I’ve known for almost two years. That twin thing, I guess. And she was amazed by my Dutch because last time she saw me, in November of ’02, I could of course barely do anything. But her Spanish is really good now, whereas I could barely understand her before through her accent, so I guess we were both surprised by each other. Except that I can’t speak Spanish anymore… waaahh… :( Anyway, this was a really great evening.

Last day, the 27th. Everything was back open again so we went shopping. I needed (still need) new shoes but we couldn’t find any. I was getting a little sick of the whole togetherness thing by this point and I don’t think I was much fun to be around. I did like the translating stuff (made me feel important :)) but I had to constantly give directions, explain things, suggest things, etc., and it got tiring. I forgot how different it is here – I’m so used to it all now, and I have my own little routines and patterns. I didn’t anticipate having to take quite so much initiative. But it all worked out. Anyway, so they all left this morning at 10.15, and if my estimates are right, they’re already back on American soil, probably waiting in Atlanta to get the second plane to Jacksonville. They’ll be home around five, so 23.00 my time. It’s 19.21 now.

Plans for the next few days: P is coming here – uh – tonight, tomorrow, whatever day it is, when he’s done working. (Around six in the morning, whichever day you consider that to be. I’m not going to sleep – what’s the good of us being on two completely different sleep schedules? – so to me it feels like ‘today’.) Then on Wednesday – Oud & Nieuw, or for the Americans, New Year’s Eve – I’m going to L’s house again to celebrate with her and her family and friends. (OLIEBOLLEN!!! Yum yum yum, LOL!) The New Year is a really big holiday here. Anyway, and classes start again on the 5th. Oops, that reminds me, I should take a look at that article I have to write a 2000-word paper on… (child’s play for a former IBer, but the article is around 50 pages long, so… yeah.)

Okay, well, my Armageddon download finally finished, so I’m going to watch it. Ciao!

zaterdag 20 december 2003

Current Music: Journey – “Any Way You Want It”

Okay, so I have a new favorite movie… The Green Mile. It was on Net 5 Thursday night. I had never seen it before and it’s really good! I love movies like that, that you have to figure out… P was watching too (says he’s seen it 11 times), and I kept SMSing my reactions… and funny, the three things that I couldn’t figure out where they fit – the bladder infection, the mouse, and the brain tumor – all turned out to be healed by John Coffey. So that was the link. And I even cried, which I never do during movies – I think the only other one that got real tears out of me was Armageddon. (Yet I still want to be an astronaut. I just want too many things! Astronaut, EMT, interpreter, doctor, author, teacher… LOL!) Anyway, the only disappointment was that it wasn’t realistic. Up until John mysteriously healed the bladder infection, the whole movie was fairly believable – and I liked it that way. I like movies that COULD be true, and this couldn’t. Plus, they never explained how it was POSSIBLE that he had these powers. But aside from that, I loved it.

Speaking of movies, Mona Lisa Smile came out in America yesterday. But I looked it up, and it won’t be out here until the end of January. Oh well, only a month, that’s not SO bad…

I’m going to meet R, the guy who’s buying my Shania tickets, at the station at 2 PM to make our little ‘exchange’ (it always feels like a drug deal, LOL! Meet up with someone you’ve never seen, money changes hands, you say ‘thanks’ and ‘have fun’, then part three minutes later.). Anyway, then I’m going to Lopik, where P is staying this week to take care of a colleague’s dog. That’s 30-40 minutes from Utrecht, but there’s no train station there, so I’ve got to go by bus. I think I’ve worked out which bus (195) and which stop (Vogelzang) it is, with the help of the Internet… or we might very possibly see a sequel to last month’s movie, “Jess Lost in Bilthoven”… LOL!

W says he’s coming back to Holland on Wednesday too! I wonder if he’s on the same plane as my family?? When he told me that yesterday, it didn’t even cross my mind, but it’s very possible – I mean, they’re all coming from Florida… hey W, is your aankomsttijd also 7.55 on Wednesday morning??

OK, well, nothing else to say really.

donderdag 18 december 2003

Current Music: Cheap Trick – Mighty Wings

People are stupid, they don’t THINK!!! I was at the Albert Heijn and just as I was walking in, a tall mid-20s guy with chin-length blond hair and a beige wool coat came barreling out. Right past me. Nobody yelled or said anything, and people often run through the station if they’re trying to catch a train or something – but then when he was about halfway down the corridor, I saw him give a glance over his shoulder, to see if anyone was chasing him, and then I realized something was wrong. Sure enough, the cashier he’d run from grabbed the phone and a few managers came flying out, and we all realized he’d just robbed the store. The two girls in front of me started babbling excitedly, “Ik dacht van een grapje!” en “Nooit gezien!” and stuff, but I was just plain mad. Why don’t people REACT? If that cashier had yelled for someone to stop him and I had realized something was wrong, I could have grabbed him – I was in perfect position – or at the very least I could have yelled down the corridor for someone else to stop him, that he was a thief. But they all just stood there and watched. Stupid! Anyway, I don’t know what he stole, but it must have been small because I couldn’t see him carrying anything when he was running away. Maybe he reached over the counter and grabbed money, or maybe it was cigarettes or something… I just can’t think of any reason to steal from the supermarket, of all places. Like I just told T, if you’re going to steal something, make it worthwhile… LOL.

Going to eat now.

dinsdag 16 december 2003

Current Music: Cheap Trick – Mighty Wings

I am in an absurdly good mood right now. Unfortunately, the only thing I’m accomplishing with it is annoying my sister, who’s trying to do homework. So I’ve turned to posting…

I have to give W another English lesson tomorrow. All I can say is, if he can read and understand these articles he wants to talk about, he does not need my help… LOL! These are even worse than Stanton stuff… the sentences are so long that even I, an intelligent, highly educated (D: and modest ;)) native speaker of English, lose track of what the point of them are.

Okay, according to my sister, we have a brother who lives in Hawaii and they’re all going to visit him and go surfing instead of coming to see me. He is the oldest, which would make me the middle child and unrelated. (Catie, then explain to me how YOU are related to him and I’m not, if I’m older than you but younger than him??? This is the stuff Jerry Springer is made of…) Sorry, LOL, this is a typical Catie and Jess conversation.

N verbally abused me via e-mail for not keeping up my Spanish… yeah, yeah, I know… and I want to, I really do, otherwise why did I work so hard for SIX #$%^&*@ YEARS?!?!?! It’s just hard to focus on more than one language at once…

Just got off the phone with P… one of those long, rambling conversations… OK, one guess what he gets to do in February? There’s a certain company that’s going to be traveling through the Netherlands ‘on tour’ and they want dog security… so guess which company… Cirque de Soleil! How unfair is that… he gets all the fun jobs, LOL! Only problem is, he has a clown phobia. (Which, I’ve just looked up because I forgot, is called ‘coulrophobia’.) The threat was something along the lines of, “So if even one clown comes toward me, he will have a very large dog in his face… and then he really will have a red nose!” LOL!

S just left for Paris again this afternoon… he’s staying with H for a few days and then they’re meeting up with A and some friends of hers and all going skiing. Sounds nice. I’ve always wanted to go skiing. But my parents are coming, and I didn’t have 250 euro to spare. Besides, I wasn’t invited. Maybe some other time, with someone else... Anyway, a plus to him being gone: I can ‘take the wall’ for the Internet indefinitely… woohoo!!!

OK, so tomorrow: English lesson and trip to Albert Heijn. Friday: nothing – I could go to class but I’m doing a paper and not the oral presentation, so it’s not really necessary. Saturday: meet R to give him his tickets and get my 125 euro (which I sorely need, so woohoo!). Sunday: go to Lopik to see P (he’s staying there for a while to take care of a colleague’s dog while she’s out of town). Monday: nothing (we’re on break so no class); I may still be in Lopik anyway. Tuesday: nothing; Wednesday: family arrives!

Oh, and hey, a package arrived today from Aunt K with a present for each member of the family. Since it was written on the package exactly what it contained (stupid international customs), I decided I could go ahead and open mine. :) And wow, did you really knit that yourself? The joke between me and S is that I have a Persian cat around my neck (he has cats back in Florida), but it’s really pretty! Plus it’s warmer than my other scarf and it’ll go nicely with my gray coat. I can’t believe you actually made that… you could start a business, you know… I’m in awe of people who can do ‘crafty’ things since I have neither the patience nor the aptitude for most of it. (Okay, photography, and scrapbooking if I’m in the mood, and yeah, even the occasional hideously ugly wall calendar, but really USEFUL stuff… nope.) So thank you very much!!!

Well, I had a nice day today – I met N and S at the library at 11 to look up that article for our papers, but I didn’t wake up until 10.10 so I was racing around the apartment like a madwoman… but yeah, whatever, I made it. Anyway, so we were absolutely hopeless in the library… first we had to put our backpacks and coats into tiny lockers (yes, because we’re going to steal books in our coats) and that was a five-minute drama of my coin getting lost, etc. Then the two of them thought we were looking for a book, and led me very competently to the English section, where I informed them that we were looking for a journal, at which point all bets were off. So we found the journals, but not the volume we needed. The journal was called, of all things, Language, making it ridiculously difficult to look up on the computers, etc. Finally N went to ask the librarian while S and I tried to find it on the computer, and the librarian looked at the piece of paper and asked, “Heet het ‘language’? Oh, wat erg!” I cracked up and called over, “Zei ik ook, ja!” Anyway, we found it, but not without making a lot of noise and disturbing lots of people. It turned out to be 50 pages long, and yes, we copied it… for all three of us. Then on the way out, we were getting so silly that we actually almost got into an argument over which way we should walk to the stairs… hard to explain now, but at that moment it was a ‘Stanton moment’, meaning that something is hysterically funny while you are doing something intellectual, and it’s impossible to explain.

Anyway, so then we went to a little café by the Dom and had hot chocolate and discussed whether the two brothers sitting next to us with their parents looked like Macaulay Culkin. But the place was out of whipped cream, which sparked a five-minute solution suggestion (“Carry a little squirt bottle in your pocket!”). Anyway, then we went to class, got bored and left after the pauze (we’re exempt from the final for high quiz grades, so we didn’t really need to be there) and S went home to Rotterdam while N and I got sandwiches and parked ourselves on a bench on the Oudegracht and just talked for an hour. It was nice to just spend time with friends… I don’t do that enough here. Anyway, one interesting thing: this clown came over and parked himself in between us – didn’t say anything, just sat there. So finally N asked, in English, “Is everything okay with you?” He said, “Yeah, with you?” then turned to me, “You too?” and then got up and left. LOL! Speaking English makes them run. :) (That’s the way to get out of those survey-people’s questions at the train station too, by the way – tell them you don’t live in the Netherlands.)

Okay, well, as much as I don’t think it’s necessary, it’s two in the morning and I still haven’t read more than one page of those two articles. (I had to call P and complain about how even I couldn’t understand them, and he was on the way home so that turned into a rambling conversation producing, among others, the incredibly intellectual conclusions that: A. Spike is a terrible name for a dog and Joey is a good one, B. I talk too much (and this is a surprise?...), and C. nothing should ever be forced against ‘natural direction’ (he had just heard a story about a guy with a Coke bottle stuck up his… ahem).

So… on that note… going to read articles now. Ciaooooo!

Current Music: Marco Borsato - "Margherita"

No Ilse for me, or for P, and as I predicted, he was NOT happy… LOL. Oh well, he’ll have guilt-trip material on his parents for life!

S’s grandmother passed away… he wanted to go home for the funeral but the tickets were too expensive at such short notice. It’s sad… I was having bad dreams before I left that something would happen to my family while I was gone. Oh well, if it does, nothing I can do, but still. Anyway, S had been on the phone with his mom and I could tell someone had died, but when I asked, he didn’t want to tell me anything. But his cousin let it slip when he called. Oh yes – his cousin called at some godforsaken hour of the night – I didn’t have my glasses on and couldn’t see the clock, but it was dark – and said they’d found a cheaper flight and could I wake S up. So I did, and he said ‘tell him not to worry about it’. Damn, why does the phone have to be in my room, it’s never for me. Everyone calls me on my cell except American family, and they never call anyway. I haven’t even spoken to my sister in four months. Anyway, I’m afraid I was pretty rude to his cousin… I said something along the lines of “it’s the middle of the night over here, we’re sleeping”… Oh well, he doesn’t know me and is never going to, so what does it matter?

New subject. I remember D telling me a long time ago that “Margherita” was his favorite song by Marco Borsato, and since then I’ve heard that same opinion from other Dutch people. So I listened to it again and wow… now that I can understand it, I definitely see why. The lyrics are more difficult in places than other songs by him and since it was a slow song, I never really listened to it. But a few days ago I did and now I love it. No real point in putting the lyrics here without translating them, so I did, but be warned, they’re not half as pretty in English. This is giving me a whole new respect for interpreters, haha! (I have a translating class next block… this is good practice. :)) Anyway, it just doesn’t ‘feel’ like it should be capitalized, so it isn’t.

in de verte spreekt een stem / in the distance there speaks a voice
die ik herken van onze ruzies / that I recognize from our arguments
over kleine misverstanden / about small misunderstandings
over grote desillusies / about large disillusions (???)
en ik hoor de kille klanken / and I hear the cold sounds
van jouw ingehouden woede / of your suppressed rage
maar wat kan ik meer dan janken / but what can I do besides sob
als ik dit niet kon vermoeden? / if I couldn’t have suspected this?

In een waas hoor ik je zeggen / in a daze I hear you say
dat je alles op wilt geven / that you’re giving up everything
dat je alles met je meeneemt / that you’re taking everything with you
wat me lief is in dit leven / that means anything to me in this life
en ik luister hoe jouw woorden / and I listen to how your words
langzaam opgaan in de zinnen / slowly grow into the sentences
die me treffen als een bliksem / that strike me like a lightning bolt
van vernietigende kracht / of devastating power.

deze kilte maakt me gek / this chill makes me crazy
en dit gevoel is angstaanjagend / and this feeling is terrifying
maar je woorden malen verder but your words grind on
en m‘n ogen kijken vragend / and my eyes watch, questioning
waarom zei je mij niet eerder / why didn’t you tell me sooner
dat je zo van me vervreemd was? / that I was such a stranger to you?
waarom sprak je over liefde / why did you talk about love
als je nooit van mij gehouden hebt? / if you never really loved me?

Ik verlies het van de wanhoop / I lose it from the dispair
en ik voel m’n tranen branden / and i feel my tears burning
en ik zou niets liever willen / and i want nothing more
dan m’n hoofd weer in jouw handen / than my head in your hands again
maar wat tot een uur geleden / but what until an hour ago
nog zo veilig heeft geleken / seemed so secure
is ‘n hele grote leugen / turned out to be a big lie
en ‘n kaartenhuis gebleken / and a house of cards.

Het is net of iemand anders / it’s like someone else
in jouw lichaam is gekropen / has crawled into your body
en ik heb niet eens gemerkt / and i didn’t even notice
dat ie naar binnen is geschopen / that he had kicked his way in
om jouw liefde uit te wissen / to erase your love
en m’n wereld de vernielen / and destroy my world.
wil er niemand me vertellen / will somebody please tell me
dat ik alles heb gedroomd? / that i’ve just dreamed it all?

Mooi liedje… sad, but still beautiful. I think everybody has had someone like that in their life… or they’ve been someone like that… or known someone like that…

I wrote to Dr. Matheny yesterday asking about my credits, now that I know for sure exactly what I’ll be taking in the third and fourth blocks. Hopefully he can figure out ways to transfer these wacko classes onto the UF system. And I hope I can actually get real CREDIT for some of this stuff, credits I NEED, instead of just elective credit – because God knows I’ll have enough of that, LOL.

I have absolutely nothing to do today. My life is so boring… LOL. No, it’s just that I don’t have class every day anymore, so I have less to occupy me.

maandag 15 december 2003

Hiya! Not much to say right now except… I just updated the Friends page (about time, hey… D (the Zwolle one), you can stop being mad now!). ;) And O, I just got your Christmas card, dat sterretje vind ik echt héél mooi! (Maar mijn postcode is 3545, geen 3534! LOL!)

Here’s my week… Today were mini-tests 4 and 5 in Second Language Acquisition (both went well enough that I kept my average above 7 and thus do not have to take the final exam, go me!). Tomorrow is the Ilse de Lange concert if P can go… if he can’t then his parents will… at least someone will have fun. :) Wednesday I’m meeting N and S at the library before class so we can try to find that article, copy it, and work on our papers, and then Thursday I have an English lesson with W (which, oops, means that I have to start reading those articles we agreed on…). And Friday… class at 15.00 but no plans beyond that.

OK, going to post this and then unhook the cable from the router. S just left so I can ‘take the wall’ now, woohoo!

zondag 14 december 2003

Current Music: Richard Marx – “Hungry Eyes”

(Well, the Internet’s working fine today, knock on wood…)

And they caught Saddam Hussein! Wow! I think everyone had sort of given up. It was just a typical Sunday – I had been up for a while and around 12.15 I just flopped back into bed for lack of anything better to do… and then S came flying into the room and flipped on the TV. I got up, put on my glasses, and saw ‘breaking news’. “What?” was all I needed to say.
“Apparently they think they’ve caught Saddam Hussein.”

So they really do have him. Awesome. I was SMSing everyone, telling them – M was in the library and she called me asking for the story. Exciting stuff. But still… hiding like a rat in a hole. And he even had a gun on him at the time he was apprehended. I would definitely have thought he’d kill himself before letting us find him. S keeps claiming it’s not that easy to do. I keep asking him how he knows. :) Because if I were Saddam, knowing that not only could I never return to power but that I could never venture freely into public again – that my entire life as we as humans know it was gone – well, I would have just shot myself months ago and been done with it. Better than living in underground holes for the rest of your life. But that’s me.

I’m trying to charge the battery to this digital camera… do you guys suppose that a blinking yellow light means ‘charging’ or ‘something’s wrong’? LOL! I can’t find that crappy little American converter that I brought, so my laptop’s running on battery now and I’m charging through that converter. Hope it doesn’t take longer than, say, two hours, otherwise my laptop will run down. Anyway, I’m just realizing that it’s December and I may have a kick-butt scrapbook and a lot of pictures of Auschwitz and Utrecht and stuff, but I don’t have any pictures of my friends, and those are the ones I’m going to cherish most. My problem is that I wish I could be behind the camera and in front of it at the same time! And that my spiffy camera less cumbersome was. Because I –

((Um, wait. Is that English? *think* …No, it should be ‘and that my spiffy camera was less cumbersome.” Sorry guys – I was just watching a Dutch TV program, and that’s some of the grammar sneaking in. Weird. I don’t think I’ve done that before.))

Back to what I was saying. Because I love photography, really love it. And my big camera takes amazing pictures; the clarity is like nothing else. A couple of those Utrecht/Auschwitz pictures – the ones that I stuck in my scrapbook – look honest-to-God professional, like postcards. But dragging it around everywhere sucks. I wish I could, though… but when I get into one of my ‘artsy’ moods with cameras, look out! I’ve been like this ever since I got my first ‘real’ camera, my gray Canon (which I still use) when I was around eleven. (Catie, remember how I used to make you pose for me? In the tree and stuff?) And I’m definitely in an artsy mood now. I downloaded a bunch of new MSN … um… afbeeldingen, what are those in English? Those little pictures that you can stick on the side of the message window. You know. Anyway, one of them is a closeup on two people, a guy and a girl, with their cheeks pressed together, so half of the face of each person is in the picture. Got my creative juices flowing. I want to take a nice picture of me and P, and one of ‘the Boswell foursome’ (me, M, A, and C), and one of me and L (I know I already have a couple, but I mean a good one), and ones of P (the Utrecht one) and M and D and, oh, just everyone!

…But the problem is, I want to be in a lot of those pictures, and I just don’t trust other people with my big camera. It’s not that I think they’ll hurt it or take a completely out-of-focus picture (you can switch it to fully automatic, after all) but when I have a picture in my head of how a photo should look, I have to be the one to take it or it just won’t come out right, it won’t match my ‘vision’. And half the time it still doesn’t, even if I do take it. When photographing people, I have a preference for close-up pictures, I mean really close ones, with just people’s faces in them. And all too often, when people take pictures for you, they make them ‘nice and neat’ zeg maar, with the heads and shoulders and upper bodies of the people all there, and a good portion of the background. And that’s a perfectly nice photo, and sometimes that’s even better. I have countless pictures like that.

But imagine how much more dynamic it would be if you had just the faces? If you get it right, it makes a picture jump out at you, sets it apart. Like that pic in the ‘foto’s’ section of me and Catie. I always get comments on it. And that one of baby D, where all you see is her face? Wish I had that one on the site. I had to edit that one on the computer to get it like I envisioned it, but it came out so well. Some of you have seen it. Those kind of pictures, when they come out just right, really grab people’s attention. But the point is, other people can never exactly match what you have in your own head, never. Unfortunately. So you just have to hope for the best. Or do it yourself. Or edit it on the computer. But then you lose the crispness when you print it out… you just can’t win.

((I wish I had a telescopic lens… I saw some baby photos once where the photographer focused only on, for example, the baby’s mouth, or eyes. You had to see them – they were gorgeous. But I can’t do that even with my amazing camera. Oh well, maybe that’ll be a present to myself someday.)) :)

Okay, I am really rambling now. Anyway, I’ve had a basically non-productive day – glued to the TV like the rest of the world, and trying to do a little research to find one of the articles on the list so I can use it for my paper. The problem is, none of them seem to be online. Which means I either have to hit the library or get permission to use one of the articles I did find, which are not on the list. Neither possibility has me dancing and singing.

Speaking of singing! I need to SMS P… the Ilse de Lange concert is in two days, and he practically worships her so I gave him a pair of tickets for his birthday present. I think he found out the ‘verdict’ from work sometime yesterday night. It’s most likely a ‘no’, which means he’ll be in a foul mood – not only because he can’t go, but because he promised the tickets to his parents. Haha!

Time to go to sleep…

zaterdag 13 december 2003

Current Music: Marco Borsato & Trijntje Oosterhuis – “Wereld Zonder Jou”

Dismal day, this. Rain and wind and gray skies. Glad I don’t have to go anywhere. Anyway, it fits my mood. M, the girl whose room I was going to take, finally talked to her huisbaas yesterday and he said he wanted someone in the room that he already knew. So now some guy is moving in. I think I’ve exhausted every Dutch and English curse word I know, LOL… I don’t want to stay here. S and I go through stages – times when we get along really well, and times when we barely speak. This is a ‘barely-speak’ stage.

Next complaint: my internet is working intermittently. It’ll work for a few seconds/minutes, then die for an hour. Even if I’m plugged into the wall. And this is a serious problem because I have to choose an article from the list we were given, find it on the Net, and see if I want to use it for my linguistics paper. And I have to have it chosen by Monday. And I don’t even know if any of these are available online, I’m just hoping. So the Net better get its act together. Plus I have to post this. :) And, worse, I’ve got a total of six emails waiting to be sent. One to a friend, two to authors of those articles to see if they know where I can find electronic copies, one to the UF International Office confirming my credits for spring semester, one to my professor asking about the paper, and one to the coordinator of the First Responder program at UF. I do everything via e-mail, especially now that I’m so far from home. Stupid connection, I depend on you… doe eventjes normaal, zeg!

But I did get my coat yesterday. It’s pretty – quilted nylon, long and gray, with deep pockets. I also did laundry yesterday, and grocery shopping – aren’t I productive? :)

Phooey, there goes the Net again. What’s with this?! And why does it always happen on the weekends when there’s no one to complain to? Just like the toilet. God, I want out of this place! Or I want S to get out. We’re going to kill each other. He keeps talking about trying to find someplace in the city, about how he might want to stay here permanently, but he hasn’t done anything about it. My gut feeling is that he hasn’t really made up his mind yet.

Personally, I think he likes the idea of living here more than actually doing it. I kinda doubt it’ll pan out. Certainly there are a lot of reasons for him to do it – soccer, H, the fact that he’d like to go to school here – but I just have a nagging feeling that he won’t go through with it. I don’t think I would. I mean, I could live here, definitely. If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far, it’s that. And who knows what the future will bring, maybe I will. But I wouldn’t do it now, after you’ve just spent a year on an exchange program. Go home for at least a few months or so, and see what you feel upon going home. Be sure. Otherwise you might get a couple years down the road, when you’re in so deep (school, etc.) that you can’t get out, and get a major homesickness attack. Especially since all his friends here will be going home too. As far as I know, he only has one Dutch friend, A. The rest are exchange students like us. He doesn’t have a lot of ‘ties’ over here and I think that might cause a loneliness problem in the future. Plus he never speaks Dutch unless he has to, in a store or something. And he only barely passed B1, with ‘voldoende’, and now he hasn’t had any language classes for weeks. He wouldn’t be comfortable using that language to, for example, make friends. Not that I’m completely at ease either (yet), but I get closer every day. Oh well, who am I to decide what’s best for him?

And, just to continue the stream of complaints, I downloaded Jill and Agent, as I said, but Agent crashes the computer every time I use it. It never did that before. Also, I don’t like this annoying Windows button stuck next to my Alt key on the left side. Most games are Ctrl = jump and Alt = fire weapon, and with that extra button in between there, I always hit it instead of Alt, thus reverting back to Windows and then crashing the computer if I try to resuscitate the program. Sigh. At least Jill works, even though there’s no music. Now I just have to get used to using my ring and pointer fingers instead of middle and pointer. That’s the only way to not hit that button.

I’m going to stop for a while, because I’m not going to be able to post this anyway. Two closing thoughts: french fries with mayonnaise are lekkerrrrr (so are frites speciaal), and – eleven days till the Weather family’s first international vacation. Should be interesting. :) I get to be interpreter, map, guidebook, and agenda all in one… hope I’m up for it… LOL!

vrijdag 12 december 2003

Late-night phone convo:

Me: “Did I already tell you about what happened yesterday?”
P: “Don’t think so…”
Me: “There was a girl next to the station who got hit by a bus.”
P: “Ooohhh… Was the bus okay?”

I talked to Dad on AIM last night and he says he bought me something for Christmas and that he thinks I’ll, quote, LOVE it, unquote. I asked for a hint and he said “If you ever need it, you’ll be glad I gave it to you. …And you’ll be REALLY glad I gave it to you instead of you having to buy it yourself.” But he wouldn’t say any more. So. Yeah. Twelve days till they get here.

I figured out how I can do the paramedic thing – did some research last night. It takes three semesters to become a paramedic, but to take the class you first have to be an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), which takes one semester. And to be an EMT, you first have to be certified in CPR for the Professional Rescuer (different from normal CPR) and take First Response, a 40-hour class. I should be able to do both of those things in J-ville over the summer, then take the EMT class during fall semester. (And then, if I decide to, spend the next three semesters – the rest of my time at UF – on the paramedic class.) But I think I have to do that at Santa Fe, the community college in G-ville – I’m pretty sure UF doesn’t offer it. Which sucks, because I’ve already got a really full schedule for the next two years. The EMT class is 40 hours a week, within clinical rotations on weekends, and I’ve got a 17-credit class schedule planned out for myself already. Can we say busy?? That means I most likely won’t have time for a job. Oh well, I’ll make it work.

But CPR again… geez. I’ve been re-certified almost every single stinking year since I was ten years old! And yes, I had the ‘special’ CPR that I need for this – that came as part of my lifeguard training. But it’s expired now – expires after one year – so I have to do it again.

But you know what’s weird? That they teach different techniques in the classes. Not just more information in the Professional Rescuer class (although that too), but different information. When I got re-certified this summer at camp, that was of course just regular Adult & Child CPR, and I took an immediate dislike to the woman teaching it – don’t know why, I just felt an immediate ‘bristling’. Anyway, we were working on the mannequins in small groups and something she told us to do didn’t ‘kloppen’ with the way I’d been taught – I think it was the Heimlich maneuver on an unconscious victim. I’d always been taught to give abdominal thrusts with the heel of your hand, simulating the normal maneuver as closely as possible while the victim is lying on his or her back. But she was telling us to simply give chest compressions the same way you would for normal CPR. That didn’t (and still doesn’t) make any sense to me; the reason the Heimlich works is that is forces your diaphragm to push air upwards and expel the object. So how are chest compressions – used to artificially beat your heart - going to have any effect on the diaphragm whatsoever? Seems to me that all that’s going to do is mess with the rhythm of your heart. So I called her on it, and she was impressed that I knew that and admitted that that was the ‘better’ method, but said that it was only taught in CPR for the Professional Rescuer and that we couldn’t use it since we were only being certified for ‘normal’ CPR. When I told her I’d had the other certification the previous year, she said then that *I* could use the method I’d learned, but no one else in the room could because doing things you aren’t trained for can get you in legal trouble if the family sues or something. I thought and still think that that was a crock. If they know one way is ‘better’, why don’t they just teach us that method? I mean, this is ultimately about saving lives, yes??? Idiots. Hope I never choke around someone who’s been trained at Ton-A-Wandah.

Just got my phone bill… EUR 96,22. That’s lower than the last two months, but it’s still ticking me off because there’s 19% tax on it. My *actual* costs were only 80 euro. Sigh.

Okay… well… guess that’s all. It’s 12.23 and I’m still sitting here in my pajamas. I have class at 15.00 and then I need to go grocery shopping, AGAIN. And I need to figure out my money situation. I have enough in my account to pay off the phone bill, but not to ALSO pay the NT2 people. And I still want that coat. And I need to reload my Chipknip. So I’ll withdraw like 150 from my American account, buy the coat, then go deposit the rest at ABN-AMRO. Today.

Which means I’d better get moving. Goodbye…

woensdag 10 december 2003

Got my Boswell results today – passed with a ‘goed’, the highest possibility. M and A too. Yay!

It’s official – our princess is Catharina Amalia. Sounds like my sister – Caitlin Amelia. But they’re going to call her Amalia. That’s good – they found a name that works both in Dutch and Spanish. (For those who don’t know, Máxima is Argentinian.) I don’t know why I keep saying ‘our’ princess… I guess because I feel like I’m a part of it since I was here when she was born. I don’t really like the idea of a monarchy – I mean, I come from America, I’m diametrically opposed to that sort of thing – but I still like them all as people. They seem a lot more personable than, for example, George W. Bush (or, as Google calls him, Miserable Failure… LMAO!) One last thought: I wish English had a diminutive suffix. ‘Prinsesje’ (or ‘prinsesita’ in Spanish) are so much nicer of words than ‘little princess’. All we have is ‘princess-ette’ and that’s stupid. :)

New topic. I was worried about P since I hadn’t heard from him in a while – imagination running wild, etc. (I mean, he does have a dangerous job, he’s always telling me about the people he catches with weapons and how he wants a bulletproof vest) – but I just found out the real problem: his dog. He works with a police dog, I’ve said that before, and the dog attacked him the other day. (But he’s okay.) This was obviously unexpected, since the dog is not only his work partner but also lives with him at home as his pet, so someone noticed the fact that the dog often rubs his face against the ground, against P, against whatever’s handy (something I had also noticed)… so they did an X-ray to see if there was something wrong ‘inside’, and it turned out the dog has a brain tumor, making him unpredictable. So he obviously can’t work anymore, and since he’s a highly trained police dog capable of extreme violence, he can’t be adopted by a family or anything. So he has to be put down, and P had to get a new dog. And on top of all that, his personal phone is in the shop until Monday and he just got his work phone back this morning. (Which are the only two places my number is.) So I’m very sorry about the dog, but he’s happy with the new one and I’m glad that he’s okay, that we’re okay, etc. (I’m understandably a little hypersensitive about anything that looks like ‘distancing’, no matter what the situation, so now I feel very relieved.)

I found a great coat at H&M today – long, gray, quilted nylon, only 40 euro. I liked it, but didn’t buy it, because I couldn’t stop thinking about how I was going to fit it into my suitcase. I may end up going back for it, though… Mom, what would you do? I have a coat already, that’s true, but not a long one… and it’s cheap… and it looks nice…

I think I’m going to have to withdraw a bunch of cash from my American account and deposit it into my Dutch one… I have to pay 54 euro with an… uhh… what’s that little piece of paper called that you use for an opdracht? An acceptgiro or something? Anyway, so I have to pay that for the NT2 and then my as-usual-far-too-high cell phone bill will automatically be withdrawn… so… yeah.

Downloaded Agent and Jill of the Jungle today – the two games I loved when I was younger and have never found in any store because they’re so old, like 1992. So I downloaded the shareware versions. But I remember once – only once – playing Jill 2 and 3, which I have really never seen, not even as shareware. I think I got them from my uncle. But then they got lost somehow… I think that was my first computer, or did I even have my own computer back then? I can’t remember. I know I got my first good one for my 16th birthday… Dad ran a red ribbon all through the house and I had to follow it, and then it ended up in my room at a brand-new computer! I was so stoked… I had that computer for three and a half years, up until this past July, when Mom and Dad bought me this laptop so I could take it overseas. And it rocks, if I may say so. :)

I’m being very clever and condensing my CDs and DVDs to one small 12-disc book. That way Mom and Dad can take the enormous heavy book home with them when they go. How am I accomplishing this? Simple… copying all my CDs to my hard drive. I’ve already finished. Then I’m only in trouble if my computer crashes again, knock on wood. What’s that in Dutch? Afkloppen. Anyway, I only have a fraction of my discs with me, but so much the better. I am excited to go back though – I can’t wait to be set up in La Mancha with my computer hooked into my stereo the way it is at home. My stereo is an AWESOME 51-disc changer, so I can have like half my collection in there at once, and plus I can hook the speakers into my computer so I can play my mp3s through the stereo as well. The one down side is that it’s fairly old so it doesn’t play burned CDs, but so what?

Anyway, so now I’m watching DVDs for ‘one last time’. I just finished Bridget Jones (the one DVD that like everybody has) and now I’m moving on to Dirty Dancing. I fell asleep for like four hours this afternoon so bed’s not happening anytime soon. (No class till 15.00 tomorrow, so no worries.) Bye…

P.S. I get to go to Paris! Not very soon, but still. One of my best Stanton friends, F, is studying abroad this year too, on an island next to Africa, and when she flies home she’ll be going through Paris and staying a few days. So I get to take the train and meet her there. Yay! I haven’t seen her since May and I’ve never been to Paris. So – cool! (But weird to think that she left after me and will be home before me… That’s good though, because she’s got a boyfriend back home and I definitely know how the long-distance thing feels. Good luck, F!!!)

A girl about my age got hit by a bus today. Right by the station. I was coming out of the Hoog Catherijne (I’d been to the Albert Heijn to buy the aforementioned toilet paper) and I waited for the bus in the intersection to move so I could cross the street. But it didn’t move, and finally I saw a transportation guy come hurrying toward the bus and jump inside and shut it off. So I assumed the bus was broken down, and I followed the stream of people going around the front of it. Once on the other side, I got the real story. There was a crushed bicycle under the front wheel, and a blond girl around my age in black pants was lying facedown in the street next to it. There was blood, but I didn’t stop to gawk and see where it was coming from – just crossed the street. Then I parked my bike and turned back toward the bus. I could see what had happened – she’d crossed against the red light (or maybe her brakes went out like mine), realized she wasn’t going to make it, swerved left to avoid the bus, but not far enough. Her one stroke of luck was that she was thrown off the bike – the bus wheel was sitting on top of her bike, but had just missed her, thank goodness.

My automatic reaction was to go over there and help – I had pulled my gloves off without realizing it, although I still don’t know why. There were no medical personnel there yet, just a few young guys, and if it were America, I wouldn’t have thought twice. The same unconscious impulse that made me pull my gloves off would have also carried me right over across the street to the girl. But then I stopped and thought about the language thing. I didn’t want to get in over my head with something this important. I was no better than any of the other rubberneckers then, just standing there undecided. It seemed like forever, but it must have only been about half a minute before I talked some sense into myself – all I had to do was go over there and ask the guys if I could do anything. I’m no doctor or nurse, but I know a lot about medical things and I did work in a hospital for four years. I could do *something*.

But just as I’d made up my mind, I saw two guys on either side of the girl hoisting her to her feet. She was crying and her face was all dirty and skinned up, and then I saw where the blood was coming from – her mouth. They helped her inside the bus, and THEN the police finally arrived and came running over. For crying out loud, there’s a station less than a block away, and the cops are always hanging around that intersection trying to stop people from running red lights. But when you really need one, you can’t find them. Sigh. Anyway, then the crowd started drifting away, leaving the crushed bike and the puddle of blood. I still had that ‘sense of duty’, and my adrenaline was still racing, but there was nothing I could do anymore. I definitely need to investigate that paramedic class when I get back to Florida – as sorry as I am that things like that happen, the fact is, they do, and it gives me a rush to be able to help. That’s why I like being a lifeguard, reading medical books (or, as Mom calls them, ‘death-and-dying books’), watching ER… Anyway, so the girl is okay as far as I know, and that’s what counts. I tried to look the accident up on the Net, but couldn’t find it.

Other news: picked up my residence permit so now I’m legally a resident until 15 July. Oh, and I need to look up a topic for my linguistics paper. Aaaannnnnd… I get my Boswell results tomorrow. Wish me luck!

dinsdag 9 december 2003

Okay, I’ve never complained about S on this site before, but he doesn’t read it anyway and I’m getting so fed up that I’m about to explode!

The latest exchange:

Me: “If you’re going out anyway, could you take the garbage down with you?” [I had already taken the bag out of the can, set it in the hall, and put in a new one]
S: “Uh, do you have some aversion to taking it out yourself?”
Me: “No, but I always do it, and it’s cold out there, and you’re going out anyway.”
S; “I’ve done it like the last two times!”
Me: [getting mad] “Maybe so, but I think I’ve done it every single time before that!”
S: “I doubt it…” [hoists bag] “…It’s not that hard!”

Sigh… that’s just not the kind of thing S *thinks* about! (By the way, he only did it the last ONE time… I know, because I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed the can was empty and so I thanked him for it.) Maybe all guys are like that, I don’t know, but does he honestly not notice??? I really do take that smelly garbage out ALL the time – we’ve been here four months and I don’t believe he’s ever done it a single time before last week – that being the reason I thanked him, hoping he might CONTINUE that behavior once in a while… hint hint. And not only do I empty the nasty kitchen can, but I empty the living room and bathroom cans into it before I take it down.

And I buy the toilet paper… literally every single stinking time! OK, so the girl in the house uses more of it, but still. Every time. S has bought paper towels a couple of times and detergent once. Aside from that, anything that we share, either I buy or I do. Yes, I can be slack about dishes, but I always DO them. He acts like he’s the only one living here. When I did my laundry a while back, he decided less than 24 hours later that he had to do his too, so he threw all my still-soaking-wet stuff on my bed to hang up his own. When A came for dinner, he only made enough for two. And with this whole Internet mess, he complained every bit as much as I did, but I must have gone to the office five or six times trying to resolve things and he never even tried once.

Oh, and did I mention that we talked and talked about maybe getting a printer? I needed one once in a while for class, and we talked about getting one and sharing it. I even pointed a few cheap ones out when we were in the stores. But he showed no interest, so I backed off and decided if it was just me needing it, I’d save my money. So I started using the printer in the office. But now that HE has a class where he has to print things out, he went to MediaMarkt without talking to me and bought a printer all by himself, which I’m sure he wouldn’t let me use more than once unless I paid him for half of it. Which I would gladly have done, and he knew that, but the point is he didn’t consult me and still hasn’t. I guess I’m coming across as not very pro-active here, that *I* should talk to *him*, which of course I should. Problem is, I can’t remember everything if I try to talk face-to-face. I tried putting it in an e-mail but it just got meaner and meaner so I didn’t send it. Sigh. They’re all small things, really, but four months of small things… I’m sooo glad I’m getting a new room!!!!

Speaking of which, I should SMS or call M… she said she’d call me after she talked to her huisbaas and she hasn’t yet. Now that she’s got me all excited, she better come through!

Boswell test today… except for a small portion of the listening, it was pretty easy. The opdracht was especially good. We could choose between two topics and one of them was organ donation, a special interest of mine, so I know I did well. No class tomorrow, and then we get the results Thursday. So I’m now officially fluent in Dutch, or supposedly. Strange thought.

Okay, now that I’ve vented… bye.

maandag 8 december 2003

Current Music: Marco Borsato - "Afscheid nemen bestaat niet" (het nieuwe liedje... mooi!)

HAHAHAHA… Everybody go to Google right now and type in ‘miserable failure’. Then either click “I’m Feeling Lucky” (Ik doe een gok) or just search and look at the first result. LMAO!!!

Nothing else to say except: Máxima had her baby! And it’s a girl, like I hoped! The rumor is that her name will be Catharina Amalia. I hope not… that’s too much of a mouthful for someone so cute. I also heard that Emma was a possibility – I like that better. Anyway, there were orange flags and a Dutch flag on the Dom this morning, and there were 101 shots fired in 4 cities. And this little girl has no idea all the hullabulloo that’s going on just because she was born. Wow.

Anyway, I’m amazed by how personable the royal family seems to be – Willem-Alexander, at least. He came to the press conference with no guards, with his newborn baby in his arms (in a cloud of white satin) and answered questions and joked with the press. Someone asked about the possibility of the baby’s becoming queen (she’s second in line) and he looked down at her, paused, then grinned and said, “Uh – vanavond niet!” (“Not tonight!”)

Bedtime now… again, it’s so late as to technically be the 9th. So I have my Boswell exam *today*, at 9.15.

So I’m supposedly fluent in Dutch now. Hmmm. Okay.

zondag 7 december 2003

Current Music: De Dijk - Ik kan het niet alleen

Hallo allemaal!

Well. Turns out I have to write a paper after all for Second Language Acquisition. The options were an oral presentation in groups or a paper, so I originally chose the paper – I always express myself better in written form, and besides, I didn’t have a group. But then these two girls who sit behind me in class, N and S, asked me if I wanted to be in their group, so I said okay and shelved the paper idea. But now that we’ve gotten the list of topics, we reached a mutual consensus that we barely understand these concepts ourselves, let alone trying to explain them to other people. So I’m doing the paper again. 2,000 words, which sounds mammoth to N and S but isn’t all that bad to me – it’s only half of my IB paper.

H is here again from France… always nice to see her, but she got here Friday night and P (mine :)) was also here then. 4 people in a two-room apartment is not ideal. I told S, “Let’s just try not to trip over each other, okay?” LOL. Can’t wait to have my new room… M (the girl whose room it is) said she’d call me after she talked to her huisbaas… what’s the word… landlord? Something like that. Anyway, but she hasn’t called yet. Hope it works out.

I got into the gedichten (poems) mood a little late - on Sinterklaasavond instead of before. (Non-Dutch: it’s tradition to write poems for each other on Sinterklaas and give them as gifts, together with a small present.) But whatever, so I started writing poems. I had been out searching for a present for S since he put a chocolate J in my shoe (which had been my original idea, by the way, a chocolate S), but Albert Heijn didn’t have any more letters or pepernoten, and everything was closing early because of the holiday. So I got on the way-too-crowded bus home and ended up sitting on a luggage rack and scribbling a poem on my little notepad. I was surprised by how easy it was – I finished it in the span of the 10-minute bus ride. They really are easier in Dutch. Anyway, I’m sure there are a few errors in all the ones I wrote, but I think this one is largely correct and if not, the Dutch people know what I mean (in their poems I attributed it to the fact that Sint and Piet come from Spain… haha!) and S won’t notice anyway.

Anyway, so it went like this.

Sint en Piet zaten te denken
Wat ze jou zouden gaan schenken.
Eerst dachten ze van een lekker chocolade S
Maar dat heeft Piet net gegeven aan Jess.
Toen dacht Sint van pepernoten voor zo’n meneer
Maar Albert Heijn had er helaas geen meer.
Dus ze hebben gewoon dit gedichtje gemaakt
Want ze hebben echt veel aan je gedacht
(En ze kunnen ook ná vandaag komen, echt waar!)
Alvast: prettige Kerst en gelukkig Nieuwjaar!

For the non-Dutch speakers… it just says basically what I told you – that the letter and the pepernoten didn’t work out so Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet just wrote him this poem. I also said (second-to-last line) that they could also come after ‘today’, (that way, when I find something, I can give it to him). The first couplet is sort of a ‘typical’ way to begin (rough translation: “Sint and Piet were thinking what they would give to you”) and the last line is more of an American expression I think – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year – but since it was for S it was okay to do that.

Anyway, so then I got inspired and started writing more, for practically everyone I knew, but I didn’t really finish many of them – only the ones for P, P, and M. (And P’s and M’s were a lot the same – “Een talent voor onderwijs is ook te merken aan jou / (Twee Florida studenten in Nederland, ondanks de kou!)… That type of thing.) I did have a present for P though – those Ice Breakers mints that Mom sent – but they were in the Lost Package (looks more dramatic to capitalize it, don’t you think? :)) together with my pants, computer stuff, book, chocolate, etc. Sigh.

Anyway, so P (the male one :)) was here on Sinterklaasavond/Sinterklaas so I gave him his, and after he left I thought it would be cute to go stick P’s and M’s poems through their mail slots anonymously. So I took my bike and went to M’s house first. And I’m really glad I came from the side that I did, the door side, because her big front window had the curtains wide open and I could see a hand doing something with a wrapped present. I couldn’t have crossed that window without her seeing me. But luckily I was on the door side, so I slid along the wall and stuck the paper as quietly as I could through the mail slot, then ‘buggered off’ (Aussie :)) as fast as I could in case she’d heard me. But I don’t think she did, so that part was ‘gelukt’. Then to P’s house. I had a feeling I was going to run into her – just a feeling – so I was very careful, looking at all the people at the bus stop, etc., making sure I didn’t see her. So then I turned onto the Poortstraat, thinking “Almost home free”… and she and S (her S) were walking towards me! Rats! Foiled again… (“Ik ben Zwarte Piet; het was niet de bedoeling dat je mij zou zien!”) But oh well, I just gave her the poem then and she really liked it so that’s all that matters, right?

Anyway, so now I’ve written a really really long entry and it’s pretty much all about poems. Shutting up now…

(P.S. Oh yeah... Mom and Dad and C will be here in 17 days! And I downloaded Bend It Like Beckham and it actually works! (Once I downloaded the right codec, that is.) Woohoo!)

woensdag 3 december 2003

Current Music: De Dijk - Ik kan het niet alleen

It is late late LATE - technically the 4th, as you'll see from the date - and I don't know why I'm still awake... oh yes I do... I'm WIRED!!! And can't stop singing. LOL!

Aaaahhh... Elton was amazing! J and I took the train and then the metro (which is COOL!) to Ahoy, and our seats were good - 21st row was a bit far back for my taste, but we were dead center. Anyway, he started out with a bunch of songs that neither J nor I really knew - newer ones, I think - but then the second half was great! He sang "Candle in the Wind" and "I'm Still Standing" - my two favorites - one after the other, and of course everyone stood up for "I'm Still Standing" and then didn't really ever sit down again... LOL! And I didn't know he sang "Sacrifice"! When he did it, I recognized it, but somehow I'd never known it was from him... one of those songs you hear in the dentist's office and never really 'place'. Anyway, he did all the 'good' ones :) and then left for a while so we could do the obligatory clapping and 'we want more' screaming, but then he came out - out of his stage clothes and in a track suit - and signed some autographs along the front, then thanked everyone for their support and sang "Your Song", changing it a bit so that it fit as of he were singing to the people of Holland. He did the same thing earlier with "Crocodile Rock" - someone who worked on the setup was celebrating his 5-year anniversary with his boyfriend, and so Elton changed the words to fit 'Alan' and 'Dale' - the guys' names - into it. You know, I never really thought about it, but maybe Elton feels more comfortable in Holland because being gay is so normal here? Hmm. Anyway, he also said something which he would never have dared to say if he hadn't been in Europe - he was talking about Reagan and said something like "I don't know what it is about those Republicans in America but it just seems like they have a few less brain cells than everybody else." Everyone cracked up, myself included... but it made me glad I saw him at an international venue. He's English, I keep forgetting that, and not American, so he of course has opinions like that. You just don't generally hear them. :) Anyway, it was nice because he felt very 'real'. Complaints: he overdid the pointing-to-people-and-smiling thing between songs, and he (in general) didn't talk enough in between numbers - he just swung from one right to the next. The few times he did talk, people really listened and as I said, it made him seem more 'real'. He should have done more of that. But overall he was awesome. The best parts were when he was just by himself on the piano, though - with the whole band behind him it made the words hard to understand (not to mention tried to change the beat of your heart, it was that strong of a bass... LOL!)

Anyway, I have to go to bed now - I've got to get up at 7.30 as usual, and then I have to come back and clean myself up and go to Doetinchem to give W his first English lesson. And I'm *scared*... LOL... I'm only 19, how the &^%$ am I supposed to teach a school principal?! Well, I'll ask Saskia for some tips tomorrow - the first day is always the hardest. I'll be fine. Anyway, then P's coming by after he's done with work (in A'dam) and staying here since he has to go to work in Utrecht the next day... no real point in driving from A'dam to Friesland to Utrecht, is there?

Goodnight!!! *sings* "It's no sac-ri-fiiiiiice at all!"...

dinsdag 2 december 2003

Current Music: My Big Fat Greek Wedding (I just downloaded the movie, and it's playing behind this window as I type this.)

Ah. Aaahh. AAAAHHHH!!! You are not going to BELIEVE all the good things that are happening to me lately! Listen to this:

1.) I had my appointment today with the SINIAC teacher (as did A, M, and C) and all four of us were 'toegelaten'. I was in the room the shortest of any of us - I was answering one of her (WEIRD) questions and then she cut me off and said, "Oke, ik hoor het al - jij mag SINIAC doen!" :) :) :) I don't think I'm going to do it - no money for it, first of all, but second of all, here's my theory. It might sound a bit arrogant, but if I'm good enough to be allowed into a 'near-native' course, then I'm probably good enough to not need it. You can't learn everything in a classroom and I'm starting to feel like I've reached the point where the rest of my learning is only going to come from practice, interacting with people, etc. I'm going to start with university classes taught in Dutch next block, and also, I'm speaking it more and more. Today I didn't speak any English until P called me when I got home (and that should rightfully have still been Dutch, but my phone acts up at home so English is easier.) I went to school early this morning, then had the interview, then went shopping with A, M, and C in the Hoog Catherijne (and we always speak Dutch together, regardless of the fact that we all speak varying degrees of English too - once you get to know someone in a certain language, it's very hard to change that, even if you try.) Anyway, then I had an afspraak with M (another one :)) and S (another one :)) - the new TA who's heading to UF in a couple of weeks. We filled her in on everything - what to expect, etc. She's really nice. I'm glad the class is getting somebody good.

(Note: I've stopped translating 'afspraak' because in English we don't say 'appointment' if you're just meeting a friend for a drink - we don't really have a word for that, we just say we're 'getting together' with someone or 'meeting' someone. So no more translation of that word. Deal with it. :))

2.) J finally agreed to go to Elton John with me after I dropped the price to 45 euro. (If anyone knows how to make the Euro symbol on the keyboard, please tell me!) I wouldn't have been able to get more than that anyway, even if I had sold it in front of the stadium, because 45 was the, um, 'vaste prijs' - don't know the English for that... the amount that's on the ticket. Anyway, so now I won't be alone, and I'm getting money, and I get to see Elton!!!

3.) My first English lesson to W is (probably) Thursday... aaaahhhh! Nervous about that, but hey, that's normal.

4.) And... the best news of all... I'M GETTING A NEW ROOM!!! P (the Utrecht one :)) rocks - she has a friend who's going to South America from February till July and wants to rent her room. 5 minutes from the centrum, 240 euro per month, and with Dutch people! It's a 'normal' student house, I think - my own room, and sharing the kitchen and bathroom with the rest of the people in the house. Like what M has. It's right by M, actually, close to Weerdsingel. The one downside is that there's no Internet - I can 'inbellen' but there's no 24/7 connection like here. (Dial-up - that's the English.) But I don't REALLY need Internet for more than a few minutes - to receive and send mail (which I can write in advance) and to post to this site (which I can also write in advance). Anyway... NEW ROOM! CHEAP! CLOSE TO CENTRUM! AAAAHHHH!!!

I think that says it all. I am SOOOOO lucky!!!!!!!!

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