vrijdag 30 januari 2004
donderdag 29 januari 2004
Went home Wednesday, got back early today, had a nice visit. Bought clothes, got a new digicam (which is also a webcam :)) and an mp3 player for my birthday (which is tomorrow… or, uh, actually in 28 minutes… and then I’m 20 years old! Weird.), had Starbucks, went to the beach, visited with my grandma and aunt, et cetera… and now I’m back, YAY!!! And there’s snow on the ground… according to P there was a weather alarm yesterday. And according to D (the Enschede one… I know far too many Ds ;)) the trains to and from Schiphol stopped running just after the time that I took my train to Utrecht. So lucky me, I made it!
Everybody’s asking for comparisons now, and my answer is still about the same. I do miss the small things – the weather, the beach, my car. But whenever I talked about NL, I referred to it as ‘back home’ – just automatically. And after the first couple of days there, it was like I had ‘charged up’ on all the Florida I needed and I was ready to come ‘home’ again. And it also seemed like everything I ate was sweet and/or fatty – the only three things I ate that were really satisfying were ‘my’ macaroni, the Publix shrimp, and Aunt P’s chili. I was always asking for ‘real food’ and that’s not something I normally do, junk food junkie that I am. :) And while it was a relief not to have to think about every word that came out of my mouth, in a way I missed the challenge of daily Dutch. And more than once I caught myself about to say dank je wel’ to a waiter, or ‘alsjeblieft’ to a cashier when I handed them money. Weird. Anyway, conclusion: it was a nice trip, but I don’t feel ‘done’ over here yet, so I’m glad this wasn’t the real thing. I’m not homesick the way I was afraid I might be.
The flight back was fine. On the way over, I was seated next to a drunk soldier (American) who had been over in Iraq for the past year or so. But on the return trip (there, it just happened again, ‘terugreis’ came to mind before ‘return trip’) I was next to an Iranian guy who had lived in NL for 20 years, whose wife was Peruvian, and who was moving to the States (Kentucky) for the next three years. He was really nice. The one amusing moment: the bilingualism. The people on the speakers said everything in English and then in Dutch, of course, and when we landed, they started to do the same thing. “Good morning ladies and gentlemen, blah blah blah…” and then once the English was done, the woman started in on the Dutch. She said, “Goede-“ and then the speaker suddenly cut out. Literally almost the entire plane (or at least all the people around me, me included) called together, “-MORGEN!” Really really funny… maybe you had to be there. :) Also, there was an older guy sitting in front of me and when he first got on the plane, the greeter said to him ‘Goedemiddag’ instead of ‘Good afternoon’ (although she did say that next). He stopped short and asked, “Hoe wist u dat nou?” and so he and I joked on the way to our seats that he must have a ‘Nederlands gezicht’ (Dutch face) or something… he seemed really nice. (I got the feeling he wanted to ask me about speaking Dutch… he kept looking at my USA passport. ;) But he never asked.) The flight back definitely gets my vote. But still no video screens! Delta needs some serious upgrading.
So I’ll be 20 tomorrow (in four minutes) and I have no plans. Pathetic, isn’t it? I could have stayed in Florida longer and had my birthday there, but I just felt like being here. But I don’t have any plans, first of all because I just got back and I haven’t really had time to plan anything (not that it would have worked even if I had tried) and everyone that I would want with me is really spread out, like I said before. P is working, L and A are in Leeuwarden and Breda for school, and D has quite enough on his plate at the moment, neem ik aan. :) (But you do need to get down here sometime soon, ‘cause I have a whole bag of stuff for you, and something small for your dad too…) The other D offered to take me with him to Brussel, to this big party he’s going to, but I passed on that for various reasons. And I don’t know what T’s up to. Oh well, maybe something will just fall into my lap within the next few days… who says you have to celebrate ON your actual birthday, anyway? :)
We are out of toilet paper. We were on the last roll when I left… does S not poop or something? Actually, he was probably in Paris – that would also explain the week-old outdated milk in the fridge.
My next task: fix my phone. I’ve somehow set it to ask for my PIN every time I unlock the keys and it’s annoying me. Sitting down with the manual now…
Oh – 0.00. Happy birthday to me.
zondag 18 januari 2004
Hoi! Well, I looked up grad schools – there are about 15 of them in this country if you include the technical institutes and all. I found a list with links to the sites for each one, so I spent a little time looking at that, eliminating the technical schools and the schools that had no linguistics-related degrees available (plus Groningen and Maastricht because I don’t really want to be at the tail end of the country) – and it turns out there are 4 possibilities for me, 2 of which look really cool: Universiteit Utrecht (where I am now) and Universiteit Leiden. The Utrecht program is in English lasting two years and the way they set it up looks really neat – you pick a ‘major’ and a ‘minor’ from the 8 interest areas of the program, things like language acquisition (which would definitely be my major!), syntax, psycholinguistics, etc. And Leiden is cool for one reason: they’re in the process of developing a new master’s program called ‘vertaalkunde’ (vertalen=to translate, -kunde=art, so something like ‘the art of translating’)… which if it pans out is something that I would DEFINITELY want to do! Except I think the program may be in Dutch… oh well, we’ll see, that’s still years away. But at least there are possibilities here… and good ones at that! Anybody ever heard of a master’s degree in translating? LOL! Me neither! :)
And I’ve struck a deal with O – I’m going to give her swimming lessons, LOL! Well, one swimming lesson, anyway. Which is going to be fun – I haven’t seen her since August so that’ll be really nice, and I suspect she’s right and it’ll turn into a ‘lachdagje’… (lachen=to laugh, dagje=’little day’… sounds cuter in Dutch). If we get half as crazy as we do over MSN (sample of topics: my seven children (don’t ask), sex in shopping carts, and opening a commercial company), then it’ll be a verrrry interesting day! LOL!
What do people here do for their birthdays??? Mine is the day after I get back from my trip home, the 30th of this month, and I feel like I should plan something, but I don’t know what. I’ve had some great parties at home – the indoor pool, the rock climbing wall, etc. – but if I were home now… well… if I were home now, I’d probably just go to Olive Garden with my family, and maybe do something else with a few G-ville friends. Nothing big. But everybody’s so spread out here – it’s not like you call people up and if they’re not doing anything that night they walk over to your dorm. The people that I would really want with me are at all ends of the country… L in Leeuwarden, A in Breda, D in Raalte, P in Buitenpost… everybody’s so spread out, and plus they’re all working. I mean, I could maybe get T, P (the Utrecht one), and M over here, but I don’t know what I’d do with them once I got them here, LOL. I guess I’ll be antisocial this year and sort of ignore my birthday… or maybe inspiration will strike somewhere over the Atlantic, LOL…
The international office here SUCKS! I’m afraid my translating class (the one in Dutch) that I’m signed up for this block has been canceled – I can’t find it on the website anymore. Plus nobody has gotten any confirmation from them that we’re actually signed up for these classes at all. Anyway, so I’ve e-mailed them, but I haven’t gotten an answer yet. And if that class HAS been canceled, then I need to know NOW so I can sign up for something else, otherwise UF is going to start sending me those threatening e-mails with something like “You are currently not enrolled for enough credits to remain a full-time student…do something about this…”, LOL… So: answer me, you morons!
Can’t believe I’m going home in three days! I’m not going to get to see E in Atlanta after all because my layover is only an hour… *sniff*… but I still have all kinds of plans for good old J-ville and G-ville. Many of them involving MY CAR!!! So – hey little sis – we may end up fighting over it… but I’m only there for a few days and I’ve dumped a ton of money into that car… so be nice… OK? ;)
Okay, going now… don’t know exactly what I’m going to DO, but going now.
vrijdag 16 januari 2004
Geez, it’s been a whole week! I don’t think I’ve gone that long without posting since I got here! But okay, here comes the news. I’m going to try to keep it short. Which means it won’t be. Maar goed…
Finished my paper, turned it in. I have thus no more school until at least 2 Feb and I think it’s actually 9 Feb. Let’s look that up… Well, the Dutch Present-Day Society one starts 9 Feb but I can’t seem to find the listing for the other one. It’s probably the same, but I heard of someone in this building whose class has been canceled (she asked the professor) but the ‘powers that be’ haven’t officially notified her of that yet. It’s a ‘test’ now, to see exactly how incompetent the Utrecht people are (very). She has different requirements than I do so it’s not a problem for her, but for me it would be because I have to have 12 credits per semester and it was a struggle to find even these classes that interested me. Heads will roll if I go to class on the first day and am told, “Sorry…”
Oh, and note to self: I need to remember to look up grad schools here. I did that once a very long time ago and found a ton of stuff and didn’t have the patience to sit there and try to puzzle it all out. My Dutch is better now, so let’s try again. :) I’m thinking maybe NOT Utrecht… we haven’t had good luck with them so far, but maybe they’re all like that. But in comparison to UF and how attentive they are to you there… wow… this is a whole other world.
Annnnd: I’m going home this Thursday!!! No, Dutchies, don’t rejoice yet – only for a week, to visit. I’m getting the sense that Mom really wants to see me (yeah? ;)) and I don’t have any school until February. So if anybody has any requests (besides D and his Starbucks, LOL! I have a good surprise for you regarding that, btw, but my lips are sealed…), speak now or forever hold your peace! And if anybody’s into the whole surprise-her-at-the-airport thing (LOL… not much of a surprise dus), I’ll be back at 8.00 on 29 Jan (the day before my birthday… for some reason I wanted to have my birthday here. I don’t have any plans or anything, but I just felt like it. Maybe because then it comes six hours earlier! LOL!)
Plans: visit Gville (N, if you’re reading this, make plans to swim! LOL!), go to the beach (it’s going to be 20 degrees!!!), see Mona Lisa Smile (it’s coming out here in Nederland on the day I leave), buy shoes (LOL Mom), drive my car, get a haircut, hit Barnes & Noble and Starbucks (I have no doubt I will be joined by a certain younger sister on that venture), maaaaaybe visit Stanton (probably not), definitely hit Target and Lerner, join in on the deliver-Aunt-P-back-to-South-Carolina mission, and… uhh… that’s all I’ve thought of for now. Oh, no, wait, one more thing – you guys wanna hear a story? So I book this ticket online while chatting with Mom via MSN, and right as I click Confirm, Mom says – “Oh, and you need to go to the dentist!” LMAO! I was like, “No, I changed my mind, I changed my mind!!!”
Cool stuff done lately: went to Duinrell (think that’s the name…?) with D and T yesterday – that’s like a water park but indoors. Hot tubs and a wave pool and best of all, TONS of slides. But I’m hurting today – there was this one slide where you go so fast that it’s impossible to sit up, and then it spits you into a big funnel-like thing and you go round and round like a whirlpool and then fall out the middle. I thought it would be cool, but no – I believe I’ve found the one water slide that I don’t like. But maybe that was just because I (both times) forgot to put my hands behind my head. The bottom isn’t all that smooth, there are seams and stuff, and I have a sore lump on the back of my head from that. And my neck hurts too, but I don’t know if that’s from that slide or just from all the water wrestling D and I were doing…? The wave pool was fun though – they say to stay out of the corners, so of course where did we go… it’s fun getting slammed up against the wall! :) Oh, and I was a ‘sandwich’ at one point too… D in front and T behind. (Something like - D: “Hey T, kom op – broodje Jess!” T: “Nee, ze vindt het niet lekker vanachter zo!” LMSA!!!)
Trying to figure out still more stuff that I can take home and leave home. But I refuse to check anything. Ideally, I would take just my backpack. But that might be a tight squeeze. So then I thought, okay, my big backpack. But then there’s no space for my laptop and I definitely want to take that. So I have to strike a balance. Oh well, it’s doable.
Okay, this is long enough. Tot de volgende keer!
vrijdag 9 januari 2004
Gave W another English lesson today. He went to Berlin over the holidays and didn’t do so well with the English there, according to him, although his children were fine with it – therefore he’s finally beginning to accept what I’ve been telling him from the start, that he needs help in casual conversational English, not written formal English like these education articles are. So I’m going to hunt down some English-print magazines with ‘normal’ writing in them so we can read aloud and discuss. That’s a relief for me as well as being the right thing for him – quite frankly, those articles, while readable, bored me to tears. But he’s a very pleasant conversation partner in normal interaction. Today I basically sat there and talked for an hour and a half – he wanted to practice his listening skills because he’d had trouble with the headphone-tour at the museum in Berlin – so I talked about Christmas and New Year’s and my family being here. I asked him once if I was talking too fast and he said no, that he understood every word. (He was proud of himself, I could see.) I tend to ‘talk with my hands’ a lot and ‘dramatize’ things (dialogue, etc.), as everybody who knows me knows, plus I talk loudly, so maybe that helps.
But he’s still thinking in Dutch – I know that because he transfers Dutch mistakes over to English, most notably substituting ‘as’ for ‘than’, e.g. ‘My children were better with the English as me’. (Which comes from the growing tendency of Dutch speakers to err and say ‘groter ALS ik’ instead of ‘groter DAN ik’.) However, he does say ‘me’ instead of ‘I’, so that’s something. I mean, of course ‘I’ is the technically grammatical way, but nobody talks like that, so at least he does something casually, unconsciously, going on ‘feel’ without a conscious translation.
Speaking of which, I just find it so weird, all the things that I know unconsciously in Dutch and never knew I knew. I’ve said this before, but every once in a while it still surprises me. Endings of -en, for example – I was thinking about that on the train today. Simply explained for the English speakers: there are certain times (very often, actually – at least when the adjective comes before a noun) when an adjective takes an ‘e’ on the end, such as ‘de mooie auto (‘the beautiful car’) – but not when there’s an adjective with -en, like ‘afgelopen’. You don’t say ‘het afgelopene jaar’ (‘the past year’), that’s just wrong, it’s ‘het afgelopen jaar’ with no E. And when we were given an exercise like this one in class, I knew it was wrong – I knew automatically how almost all of them should be done – but didn’t know why. I had just never thought about it. ((Note: one counter-example that I thought of: ‘gemeen’. You can say, for example, ‘mijn gemene zus’ (‘my mean sister’). Maybe it only works with participles.)) They say this unconscious learning doesn’t really happen anymore after puberty, but with me it seems to, at least some of the time. I mean, you can be taught something and do it correctly enough times that it begins to sound right to you, of course – but if I’m not still capable of unconscious learning, how do I instinctively know things like the ‘e’ and the placement of the word ‘er’ before they’ve been formally taught to me? I mean, I don’t do it right 100% of the time, but often enough that it’s no coincidence. I couldn’t let myself pay too much attention when we had the ‘five uses of ‘er’’ lecture at Boswell – if I think too much about it, I’ll do it wrong. I just have to let it come out.
Because I’m learning differently now than I used to – back at UF I used to consciously think word by word, committing things to memory – word order, ‘concrete’ translations, etc. But now I can just scan a sentence, and if it’s something unfamiliar, I just think ‘harder’ for a second – hard to explain – I don’t think anything specifically, I just feel like I’m stamping the ‘pattern’ on my brain – and then the next time, nine times out of ten I’ll do it right, whatever it is. There are a lot of words in my brain now that don’t ‘carry’ translations with them in my thought process – like ‘overstappen’, for example, or ‘gezellig’, or ‘indrukwekkend’. There are mental images, impressions of exactly what they mean and how they should be used, but no English word jumps up and tags along with it. And I’m saying more and more stuff that I didn’t even have conscious knowledge of. Yesterday I was talking to the TV the way I always do during GTST, saying something about a character, and then I said, “Waar slaat dat nou op?” The next minute, I heard my own words, and I understood them, but I couldn’t have translated it into English if you paid me. The closest thing is probably ‘well, what sense does THAT make?’, but the point is it just fell out without me thinking about it and I had never said that before. And I have no idea where I learned it. That happens every once in a while, and it’s exciting. Is this just me, or does this point happen to everyone who learns a language?
Sorry, I’ll shut up now. It’s just exciting to be able to use myself as a test subject for language acquisition, seeing as I’m studying that very thing right now…
Anyway, other news. Saw P after all on Wednesday (actually Thursday, we met at Schiphol at 2 AM, haha). Got back to Utrecht early Thursday evening and did my usual eat-TV-computer-book thing… and today I got up at 7 to go to Doetinchem for W’s lesson. Oh yeah, and I found that book I wanted - Het veilige huis by Nicci French. I went into Bruma because I thought you could get stamps there. Didn’t see any stamps but did see that book, so I bought it. But I have GOT to figure out how to get that application to La Mancha, pronto. I’ll ask Yvon and Ted on Monday if I can fax it.
Not much else to tell. T and I have a ‘movie date’ Monday night, and then I have another lesson with W on Friday so I’ve got to scrape up some English reading material. And fast… the only English magazine I have here is Cosmopolitan hahaha… Oh wait! Oh oh oh… I just looked at my shelf of books and I have a GREAT idea!!! The UnDutchables!!! That would be a great thing to read from – it’s funny, casual, and interesting, and it’s about a subject he knows about. Go Jess! *pats self on back*
Going to heat up the last of my mac and cheese now…
maandag 5 januari 2004
Grrr. Grrr. GRRR! I’m going to vent for a while here, so brace yourselves. P just asked if someone would please take a gun, show it to his boss, and explain very carefully exactly what was wrong with ‘the system’ - namely, that everyone is being overworked, new shifts on a moment’s notice, etc. - and I think I’m very soon going to be that person. (Joking, of course…) We had… uhh… afgesproken?... ‘planned to get together’ yesterday evening around 21.00, but then he got a call that he had to be somewhere at 4.30 the next morning. So, one strike. Rescheduled for this afternoon at 14.00. Then turned out that the meeting he had that morning was a two-part meeting, thus lasting almost all day, thus he couldn’t do his normally scheduled shift. So they had to change his shift… to a twelve-hour one, from 22.00 to 10.00. Two strikes. And then he has another one at 17.00. Three strikes. I honestly think they’re trying to kill him… he slept 15 minutes last night, got up at 3.00, and is now going to be awake until 10.00 tomorrow morning. And then he only gets 7 hours respite to sleep (at the office, no less) before working again. If I’m lucky, I’ll see him around 1 or 2 in the morning tomorrow night, but at this moment I’m (understandably) sort of doubting that. He’s going to have a talk with his boss tomorrow morning but I don’t really see how that’s going to do any good.
It just sucks… it’s been two weeks since we’ve seen each other for longer than ten minutes (we’ve dropped off things a couple of times – my scarf, the camera charger – but that’s all). We’ve been MSNing and SMSing more than usual to make up for it, but it’s not the same… and it can’t just be me; he has other people in his life too… it’s annoying for him because he feels like all he ever does is work and sleep, and it’s annoying for the rest of us because we rearrange our schedules to make time when he has time, and then everything switches again. Anyway, it’s frustrating for everyone involved, so I hope he hammers his point across tomorrow. I know none of it is his fault and that he hates it even more than I do, but we were on the phone last night and he said ‘This feels like a long-distance call’ and I agreed – because it did feel like he was really far away – and then he said softly, ‘Well, after July it’ll be much further.’ Ouch! Do I really have to think about that now? But anyway, that sort of made me think about the fact that there’s a ‘time limit’… which makes it all even more frustrating.
Okay, well, now that that’s off my chest, on to other things. S should be back… hmm… any minute, actually, or at least that’s my guess. I think he has class tomorrow so he should be back tonight… that was the other reason it sucked to have to reschedule with P, because it’s always much gezelliger to have someone over when the other housemate is not there. When H is here I know they always want me to leave, and to be honest, I feel the same way when P’s here… so… yeah, outta luck. Anyway, S should have lots of stories to tell – he went to Paris for a while, then they went skiing, and then I think he went back to Paris…
Anyway, Belgium was cool – but they talk so funny! LOL! I notice it much more now that I’ve been living in NL than I used to when M would talk in class. Anyway, so T and I went to this little American grocery store – I think I said that – and it was sooo strange to see all the familiar brand names again! Campbell’s soup, Reese’s cups, Hamburger Helper… LOL! The prices were about 3x what they would be in America, but hey… once in a while you gotta splurge. :) So I got mac and cheese, Campbell’s Double Noodle soup, Reese’s (of course), and a couple other small things, like a bag of Combos. (Three bucks! At home it would have been like 99 cents.) Then we decided to make it a ‘truly American day’ and went to Pizza Hut… haha! Anyway, it was nice to spend some time hanging out with T… one of those times when you feel like you’ve known the person for a thousand years.
But the food – my God! I ate the Velveeta mac and cheese and saved some of the cheese to use it on regular macaroni (which I made tonight – comfort food) and wow… it doesn’t ‘feel good’ in my stomach. I feel fat… nasty feeling. The food really is better over here – better tasting and better for you. But once in a while I just gotta have that processed cheese! :)
Clothes! The one bright spot yesterday. I had a rotten day – my back was still hurting from that stupid bed at L’s house, and then my electric scooter decided it didn’t like the damp pavement and died on me, but not before it kicked a lot of mud up onto my jeans. (I hope it was just the moisture… it didn’t give me the 3-LED signal like the manual says it should, but I’m still hoping that’s it because otherwise it means the charger didn’t work and THEN we have a major problem.) Then I got some news that really shouldn’t have bothered me but did anyway – I’m fine with it now after talks with T and P, but at the time I was really upset, plus mad at myself for being upset. (Not going further into that on here, if you don’t mind.) And then, H&M cashiers are stupid – apparently the sale signs over a product are just there for decoration or something. (I bought a shirt which was marked at E9,90, and the sign over the rack said shirts originally 9,90 were now 4,90. But it still rang up as 9,90 and when I called her on it, she said something weird like “That’s not what that means,” and then said to the guy next to her, “We need to take those sale signs down, everyone’s getting confused.” So the signs are just there to look nice?) But what really made me mad was, she somehow figured out I was an English speaker and so immediately switched over. When they do that I feel obligated to respond in English instead of continuing in Dutch as I would like to, but it makes me so mad! Everyone stops and stares and listens to you and it makes me feel, I don’t know, inferior or something… because I know that everyone there thinks I can’t speak a word of their language. Why does this switching-over thing happen to me MORE often now that I’ve gotten more proficient in Dutch??? You got me. Maybe because now I dare to talk more… but anyway, the point is, the bright spot in yesterday was clothes. H&M was having post-Christmas sales, I guess, so I went in and just happened across two items – a red-and-gray striped shirt with a wide neckline, and white cargo pants with lots of zippers and pockets (haha Dad). The shirt was the only large one left – I looked through the whole rack and they had only S, M, and a couple of XS, so I was about to leave, but then I saw the last L lying across the rack below – it had slipped off the hanger. I wanted it, so then I decided that as long as I was buying something, I’d look around some more, and then I found the pants on the sale rack for under E15. The lines in H&M are always massive so I didn’t try them on beyond holding the pants up to see if they were miles too long like most Dutch clothes – I generally have a pretty good eye for what will fit me and what won’t, and figured that if I was getting a whole outfit for E20 that looked as though it would fit perfectly, it wasn’t that important to bother. So I didn’t, and when I got home and tried them on, sure enough, I have a new favorite outfit. :) Catie, it looks like something you’d wear… proud of me?? ;)
Oh, and school. It started again today, but I didn’t go because it was only presentations. Wednesday and Friday I don’t know about. Technically I do have class, but I think it’s only for preparation? Let’s see…
OUCH!!! I just nailed my elbow on the corner of the table by my bed – I was digging for my class schedule in my backpack and yanked my arm back without noticing the table there. Wow… pain! Anyway, it’s like I thought – Mondays are presentations, and Wednesdays and Fridays are just preparation for the presentations. And I’m not doing a presentation, I’m doing a paper, so there’s no reason for me to be there. The final exam is the 21st, but I don’t have to take it because my minitest average is higher than 7 (8.1). So technically I never have to go to class again, except to turn in my paper…
…which I should probably start writing, hey? :)
donderdag 1 januari 2004
Wow, New Year celebrations here are sooo cool! So I went to L and A’s house and we all hung out from 20.30 till 0.00. At midnight everybody had champagne and kissed everybody else, and then we all went outside and wow… it was a 360 degree light show! You can buy your own fireworks here, real ones, and everybody sets them off… so there were little kids with sparklers and guys setting off rockets and poppers and whatever else there was… literally the entire neighborhood was out on the street for over an hour, celebrating. (What we’d never thought about was, what goes up must come down… A took the remains of a rocket on her head. She was okay though.) Then we went over to another family’s house for a while, and then the four of us – me, the twins (L and A), and a friend of theirs, J – took two bikes and went over to a party about 15 minutes away.
That was where things started getting interesting. :) We only had the two bikes, and Linde had already drunk a few glasses of wine and champagne and claimed she couldn’t ride one, so she rode behind J and I rode behind A. We had a nice ride – screaming out Happy New Year and generally disturbing the peace – but then we couldn’t find the party and had trouble getting through to call someone to get directions (too many people on mobile phones) but we did eventually get there. It was someone’s house, and they had a carport-like area set up for us. It was a little overwhelming for me at first – loud music, lots of smoke, tons of people I don’t know speaking a language not my first – but I ended up having a good time. S, one of the twins’ good friends, is really sweet, and I met a few other nice people too. So we danced and drank and talked (screamed, over the music) and had a nice time. P also called and said maybe he could come by for a little while after he was done working (yes, on New Year’s Eve, poor thing) so that was nice too.
But then I noticed that L was looking drunker than I’d ever seen her, even talking funny. It was understandable – she normally doesn’t drink to excess, but it was New Year’s Eve and so she’d been drinking even before we left her house, which she probably forgot to take into account. Anyway, I told her that, and she stopped drinking, but it was too late; a few minutes later she went to the bathroom and threw up. J and I were sitting in the living room (with everyone staring at us because we were speaking English… I got asked about six times to speak Dutch, my response being, “Wat moet ik dan zeggen?”) drinking S’s ‘special cocktails’, and A came and found us and said that L wanted to go home. And she really didn’t look very good, kind of gray. J and I were having a good time and not really ready to leave, but we did anyway.
Anyway, so the bike ride home was the funniest part of the whole evening. J was also very drunk, and she’s a little crazy anyway, so I was laughing so hard at her all night… she went to a summer camp in America like L did, so her English is very good and she likes it better than Dutch, so we sort of slid back and forth between languages all night. But anyway, she’s also extremely tall, even by Dutch standards, and she had ridden her bike over but she, like L, was in no state to ride it back. So A and I pedaled. L sat behind A and the idea was for J to sit behind me. However, since I was riding her bike (at a height of barely 1,64), I was pedaling with my toes (with severe pain in my crotch after a few streets, LOL!), thus the bike was swerving from side to side and J kept insisting that she was seeing double. Anyway, she finally got on but we were naturally moving much slower than the twins – both of us are heavier than they are, plus it was impossible for me to pedal very fast – but J knew the way home so we just went slowly (a couple blocks behind the twins). It was one of those times when absolutely everything is funny. J kept talking about how she needed her birth control pill because “I’m gonna have, like, a thousand babies”, and she at one point addressed a burning fire beside the road. Then when she was giving me directions, she said in a perfectly normal voice, “Left right straight.” Which of course did not help AT ALL… And as we were laughing about that, P called. But I needed both hands to steer the bike so I passed the phone to J. I figured he might be done working, so I told her, “Vraag maar of hij klaar is.” But she paid no attention to me, started a cheery little conversation about, “Hi, I’m a Dutch friend of Jess’s, you’re working, that sucks, you must get like 300% pay for that, blah blah blah.” So I said again, “Hey – vraag maar of hij al klaar is!” Still nothing, continued on with her merry little conversation. She never did ask him if he was done, just chatted away, told him I’d call when we were home, and hung up. I sighed and said, “…Of niet!” but then that was funny too and we were off again…
Anyway, so we got home around 5.30 and J went home since we didn’t have a bed for her, and the twins and I crashed and woke up around 14.00… and IT WAS SNOWING!!! We ate, watched a movie, talked, J came over again… and it kept snowing. Then L had to go to work and I didn’t really want to stay anymore. I was having a good time but I knew if I pushed it, it wouldn’t be fun anymore, so their mom drove me home. We had to scrape off the car… lots of snow, at least to my eye. Picture a 50-year-old mom with long gray hair and a teenager looking at the most snow she’s ever seen, throwing snowballs at each other! LOL!
So now I’m back in good old Utrecht. No plans for tomorrow, but Saturday I’m going to Belgium with T, a friend from Emmeloord. He’s around 24 and lived in America for a while (was married to an American girl but now divorced) and so he, like me, wants mac and cheese… so we’re going to Antwerpen. And to make it a fully American day, we’re going to Subway… apparently there’s a Subway in Amersfoort. This I gotta see!