:: 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)

donderdag 29 april 2004

So I did get to go riding, and I think I'm going to go back for some more lessons, so Marrit and/or Liselotte, if you guys have a suitable pair of pants and/or shoes I could borrow, I would be forever in your debt...

Anyway, I'm sore - it's been a while, and my horse had an unusually bouncy trot - but it was also a lot of fun. The instructor kept making me the leader, because out of the 5 'advanced' people, only 2 of us really were advanced, those two being me and Sarah (from Ireland). But Sarah was having trouble with her mount; he had a really sensitive mouth and it took her a while to adjust to that, so I ended up being the leader every single time. Plus I was the only one who spoke Dutch, and the instructor's English wasn't all that spectacular, so he asked me for words a couple of times.

It was funny - another instructor, a girl, said something about stirrups, and the guy asked her in Dutch, "What are they called in English?" and she said, "Stirrups!" and I realized I didn't know the Dutch word, so I asked the guy, "Hoe heten ze in het Nederlands?" The guy did an exaggerated double take, looked at me with an amazed expression, said "...Beugels," and then we went through the usual line of questioning about how and why I came here. That was the second time in one night, actually - one of my bike brakes snapped on the way to Parnassos, so I was having trouble stopping on the way to the arena and nearly ran into the two ESN girls leading us. So I said, "Het spijt me alvast als ik tegen één van jullie aan rijd; mijn handrem ging net kapot." The brunette stopped and stared at me and said, "Oh, je bent gewoon Nederlands!" ["Oh, you're Dutch!"] I grinned and said "Nee" and she said, "Dan heb je Nederlandse ouders," ["Then your parents must be Dutch"] and I once again said no. "Je woont hier al heel lang." ["You've lived here for a really long time already."] "Nee." It was funny to see her keep guessing.

Various Pains: right calf from being repeatedly pinched by the stirrup leather, inside of left knee for the same reason (extreme pain there, even though you can barely see a bruise), bruised-like feeling where the lines of my underwear were (that's a new one) plus the general thigh muscle aching that you get when you haven't been on a horse for a while, but I don't really feel that so much.

Next Lesson: Wednesday at 20.00. They have to give me a 'trial lesson' to see where I fit, so they're putting me in a half-beginner-half-intermediate class to 'check me out'. (I had the feeling the girl who signed me up hadn't seen me riding, but they'll figure it out.) :)

Well, Martin's going to be here in a little while, so I'll get going now.

(Confession of the Day: I am listening to Hanson.)

woensdag 28 april 2004

Why NOW? We never have storms here, with thunder and lightning and all - really NEVER, maybe twice in the whole nine months I've been here - and I love storms and wish we'd have more of them... but why is there one NOW, two hours before I'm supposed to go horseback riding? I hope it's an indoor arena, but somehow I doubt it. Stop, goshdarnit, STOP!

Fairly productive day... major grocery shopping, went to the library and copied the article I have to present (so not only do I have to do a presentation in another language, but it has to be in large part about girls' sexuality?), and bought two new shirts from V&D which I am totally in love with. They're fairly simple, tank tops with hoods and with a short zipper at the neck. One orange, one royal blue. I had to have something orange for Koninginnedag and they had them in so many colors... red, orange, green, white, two shades of blue, black, hot pink... I wanted to buy the whole rack, but restrained myself to two. However, it turns out these belong to the rare, magic, Make-Jess-Look-Thinner Shirt Club, so I may be going back for that red one...

Other news of interest: e-mailed Emmeline and found out that they've got two enthusiastic people to teach Dutch next year, so I'm not needed... but I believe we're all going to be living in the same place, La Mancha, so she's giving my e-mail address to them so that we can meet here in Utrecht... that way they might not feel so totally alone when they get to Florida.

To-Do List (some things crossed out, others added)

order those books for Jeugdliteratuur
go to the library and copy the necessary articles for my presentation (and read the articles for next week's class)
do my Utrecht in the Middle Ages essay over again
go to the supermarket
get vitamins
e-mail some more translation bureaus
try to make contact with Faith about the Paris trip and figure out if I'll travel on the 10th or 11th of June
think about a topic for my final essay for Utrecht in the Middle Ages
give Irene (ticket girl) an ultimatum about the Marco tickets
meet Elske (new ticket girl) in Zwolle and exchange tickets
transfer money from American account to Dutch account
read the article I copied today
meet new UF Dutch teachers
develop new and exciting Rain-Stopping Power

dinsdag 27 april 2004

Do you guys see the dark gray sidebar and everything on this page like normal? Because I don't... it could just be my computer, but... somebody reassure me, ok?

Correction: "Should Be Sleepin'" is by Emerson Drive, not Rascal Flatts. Thanks, Cate - I wondered why I couldn't find it in my music files... well, I suppose when you have 10 gigs of music (almost 2800 files), it does get a little difficult... LOL...

Not much new. Utrecht in the Middle Ages is turning out to be more boring than I thought at first, but only the seminars. The lectures, when we have guest lecturers, are fine, but I hate the seminars. The Americans (Michael, Dylan, and Michelle) whom I mentioned earlier, are nice, and so are Keira and Ann-Cristin (from England and Norway) but the Dutch people in that class (except for two girls) are just plain weird. Hard to explain. But I bet that's the first time you guys have heard me say that...

But anyway, Jeugdliteratuur is just the opposite with the bad-seminars-good-lectures thing - the hoorcolleges are borrrrring, but in my werkgroep, our 'teacher' is like the Dutch equivalent of a TA - a nice girl from somewhere in the south of the country - and she speaks and writes much more clearly (despite the soft G, haha). Also, today, I found out that the other girl in my presentation group, Madeline, is from Aruba, and Dutch isn't her first language either (that would be Papamiento). So we had a lot to talk about. And I gained a lot of confidence from talking to her, because she's been here 4 years and even though she has a good grasp of the language, she still speaks with a very plain accent. Talking with her and hearing the comparison, I sounded to myself like a native. Anyway, so I'm thinking I'm not going to stand up and make a little apology for my Dutch before I start - not necessary. Just do it, Jess, and quit worrying. You've made a thousand presentations in your lifetime, this one just happens to be in another language. So pull it together. No big deal.

It's one of those weeks where I have so much in my planner that you just can't find a space to write. I've gotten a lot done, but I still have to:

order those books for Jeugdliteratuur
go to the library and copy the necessary articles for my presentation (and read the articles for next week's class)
do my Utrecht in the Middle Ages essay over again (long story)
go to the supermarket
get vitamins (those two things cannot necessarily be done in the same place; Edah does not sell vitamins)
e-mail some more translation bureaus
try to make contact with Faith about the Paris trip and figure out if I'll travel on the 10th or 11th of June
think about a topic for my final essay for Utrecht in the Middle Ages
give Irene (ticket girl) an ultimatum about the Marco tickets; I'm not just going to sit and wait much longer

...and... go horseback riding! Yes, that's right, I get to go horseback riding tomorrow night with ESN (Erasmus Student Network). I don't know if we'll actually get to do anything, but they've got an advanced group, so I signed up. Got to be at Parnassos tomorrow evening at 20.45 with my bike. (Darn it, I'll miss Charlie raving about Nick in GTST! And I'll miss the Idols herhaling - I missed the show on Saturday too. I know JK is out, but I wanted to see it...)

Speaking of Idols, Boris and Maud were at Stadsschouwburg in Utrecht yesterday. I didn't hear about it until I was already sitting in class - Michelle sat next to me and during the break she said, "What's going on over at the theater? There are tons of people outside on that big field, and two buses with Idols on them, and lots of cameras, and everybody was singing and clapping." When pressed, she recalled that there had been a name on each bus, and that the names were "maybe" Boris and Maud. But anyway, so I missed it, but I did go past there on my way home, just to check, and let me tell you... biking in Utrecht is always crazy when compared to, say, Emmen, but I have never bicycled in such a crazy mass of people before! I finally just followed a couple of other peoples' lead and left the path and started riding in the street, passing everyone, because there were all these eleven- and twelve-year-old girls on the backs of each other's bikes, waving 'fan scarves' and yelling and cheering.

Please vote on my book list - I need to figure out what the third book report will be. I'm leaning towards The Indian in the Cupboard, but we'll see.

Going to order those books now...

zondag 25 april 2004

You know you're an exchange student when: you count how many periods you're going to have before you leave, and then divide your American tampons into the appropriate number of piles.

Also, "Should Be Sleepin'" by Rascal Flatts is in my head, if anyone wants a modern country music experience. The Sunday boredom even provoked me to sing it into the computer mic.

Heading over to my bed now to read some of one of my new books...

Big big props to "Stacker" for fixing my computer yesterday! LOL! And he wasn't even in the room... gotta love technology... Anyway, the virus is gone and so are those annoying ad bars. WOOHOO!

After my candle incident yesterday (don't ask), I decided to redirect my boredom in a more constructive direction - rearranging my room. I admit that the other setup was probably better, but hey, I was bored. And I threw a bunch of stuff out - those bike pumps that didn't work, the split boards from when I broke my bed (Peter, do you still want it when I leave?), two shoe boxes, etc. Anyway, to make a long story short, I'm starting to think that the available suitcase room might just possibly be enough after all.

But I have to add to the masses of junk yet again, because I have to read and report on three childrens' books for my Jeugdliteratuur class. One has to be awarded the Gouden Zoen, another must be recognized by the Jonge Jury, and the third is our own choice. For a book to get the Gouden Zoen, it must be originally written in Dutch, so that one's probably going to be the 2004 recognized book, Lopen voor je leven, just because it sounds reasonably interesting. The Jonge Jury can recognize books that were originally in English - I haven't found one yet that I like, but I'm still looking, because it would go twenty times faster if I could read the book in English. If I can't find one, I'll fall back on something from Carry Slee (Dutch) - a lot of her books have been recognized and look interesting, the kind of death-and-dying and/or serious-teenage-problems books that Mom always teases me about liking.

(Note: this Dutch-English translation thing can be really weird at times. I kept hearing people talk about this book they'd loved so much, 4 vriendinnen, 1 spijkerbroek, so I thought I'd check it out. What should pop up but the cover of a book I have at home, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Same book! Wonder why they did the title so differently? To make it simpler, I guess...)

Anyway, the third book is my choice and that will almost definitely be an English book, because I have a ton of old favorites and why would I read something new in Dutch, which would take a million years, when I have so many good options already? I couldn't think of any of them, but then I did a search on Barnes & Noble and found a ton. My first thought was Harry Potter, but that's a cop-out - a million people will do that. So I kept looking, and now it's between the following ten (in alphabetical order, so as not to indicate preferences):

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlotte's Web
Cheaper By the Dozen
The Indian in the Cupboard
Mary Poppins
The Secret Garden
Tuck Everlasting
A Wrinkle in Time

More keep springing to mind every second; I'd better stop. But anyway, I still own all of those books as far as I know, except for Tuck Everlasting, but I checked it out of the library so many times that I might as well own it. I could do a report on any one of those without having to read the book again or look up a single thing; I have them practically memorized. Anyway... votes?

zaterdag 24 april 2004

The pix from Spain are up!

And I get to go horseback riding on Wednesday!

But I'll keep it short for now... The Indian in the Cupboard is on TV and I was addicted to that book series when I was younger...

P.S. Why doesn't anyone leave comments? I go to all the trouble to switch systems, and now nobody comments... *sniff*...

Yahoo, all the bad things from yesterday have faded into the background - I got my Staatsexamen results! I SMSed Antoanete and Mirela that I was having problems with the site and asked if they had any idea how to view the results, and Mirela answered with the address of another site (which I had already tried, but apparently too early, because the link which I had to click wasn't there then) and so I've finally seen the results. It says if you have 500 points or more for a section, you've passed it. I had:

lezen [reading] 569
luisteren [listening] 530
schrijven [writing] 594
spreken [speaking] 589

So now I wonder how many points it was 'out of'... like, you have to get 500 out of what? 600? 700? 2000? Oh well, the point is I passed. Writing was the best, like I expected - I felt really really good about that section - but strangely, speaking was second best, only 5 points behind writing, and I felt HORRIBLE about that section! It was the last one of the whole test and I came away with a really bad feeling. Then came reading and then listening was last. I expected writing first and listening last - I'm even that way in English (right Mom?) and the listening section was right after lunch so I was falling asleep - but I expected it to be the other way around with speaking and reading. How in $%& did they judge me as speaking better than reading?? Which means both active skills are better than both passive skills. WEIRD. Oh well. I'll shut up now. Point is, I have officially passed, YAY!!! I should get some sort of diploma in the mail in about a month.

It's gloomy outside, but we have approximately three sheets of toilet paper left and I just drank the last of the milk, so I'm going to Edah with my oh-so-stylish bike basket. Ta ta...

vrijdag 23 april 2004

Grrrrrrr. Jess is disappointed and mad. About two different things.

Okay, here goes.

Linde and Alette and Samantha were planning to come back to Florida with me when I went home - we had all kinds of plans, like a Florida tour, a little road trip up to camp, a visit to Disney World... all that. My parents love Linde and the feeling is mutual, so they were all going to stay with me. Then they'd go home, I'd have a week or two to get everything organized, and then Martin would come.

Well, the girls aren't coming.

We knew Samantha was a long shot - financial reasons - and sure enough, she can't go. But Alette has an internship starting 1 July which she can't take two weeks off from, so she can't go either. And Linde, my last hope, has the opportunity to go to South Africa in February 2005 with her school. It's a 4-month program and it only costs E2800 - that includes the flight and three meals a day. She's always wanted to go there, and she can see other friends of ours from camp whom neither of us have seen for two years. So I can't be mad - especially since her new idea is for me and Alette to come visit her there in May or June - but I am disappointed.

As for the 'mad' part, that's about plane tickets. Now that they're not coming, I'm free to book my own ticket. School ends in early July and Martin's birthday is on the 20th, so I thought I'd leave around the 22nd or 23rd. But I've checked every site I know, and even asked Tristan for some new ones, and the absolute lowest rate I found was E848 - which is, with the current exchange rate, about $1000. Normally, it's $500 or a little over. I didn't know prices went up so high in the summer. Oh, I knew they went up, but not so-high-as-to-almost-challenge-your-credit-card-limit up. Anyway, so I have no idea how I'm going to get home. We'll end up paying it, of course - not even I am willing to volunteer to swim that far - but that SUCKS. And if it stays that high, Martin's going to have trouble getting over to visit me, too. BAH!!!

I started packing today - just the stuff I don't need anymore - to get an idea of how much stuff I'm going to have, and would you believe that my big suitcase is already almost full? Even with the SpaceSaver bags. I thought I'd done a pretty good job of keeping the 'new stuff' to a minimum, but apparently not! You can't even see a difference in my room. I'm going to leave behind a lot of stuff - my old tennis shoes, my bedding - but still. I've got a little room left in the big suitcase, and then two large travel backpacks, plus my carryon backpack with the indispensibles. And I don't even think that's going to be enough.

And did I mention that the girls were supposed to take some of my luggage as theirs, so that I'd meet the weight limit? Well, there goes that theory. I can just see myself trying to lug all that stuff around Schiphol on my own. And not only that, but I'll wind up paying extra, too. Three bags and a scooter to check, and then a carryon bag. For one person. Well, yes, it was for a year. But still.

A certain person is now preaching at me for being disappointed that the girls aren't coming, saying (translated) that I can waste my time with tons of plans but that that will never ultimately lead to happiness. Shut up. I'm allowed to be disappointed. I was really looking forward to that. I just need a hug. That and some money. I have just enough to pay my last month of rent and pay for groceries and maybe one or two more phone bills. Why hasn't Wim e-mailed me about another lesson? And why haven't those translating people returned my e-mails about jobs? I want to go home so I can finally WORK instead of having to be this pathetic little girl begging her family for money! Liselotte's going to use my other Marco ticket (at least, that was the plan, but things have certainly been changing lately, haven't they?!) and I'll get E60 from that, but after that I don't see any other income coming (pun)... I just transferred the last of my National Merit money over so that I can pay my rent on Monday. Oh no, and I promised Faith I'd meet her in Paris... there goes another E150...

Oh, and to add to the frustration: I have to leave my apartment on 30 June. I know Martin says I can stay with him for the full three weeks after that, but I was raised to know how long is too long to impose on people, and I'm not going to do that to his parents for longer than a week or so. Anybody else out there want to offer me a bed for a few days this summer? *makes puppy eyes*

So it's Friday again... I'm still in Emmen at the moment, and Martin's just left for work. I'm about to start typing a (short) essay, but I thought I'd post here first...

I ended up coming here late Tuesday night instead of Wednesday morning, and so on Wednesday we went to CenterParcs, another of those indoor water parks. The best thing was the wildwaterbaan... I could have done it all day! Then Thursday - yesterday - we went and looked at new cars for Martin, and then he had a football game that night. And you know, I'm proud of myself - looking at all those new (and used) cars, I did not immediately think, "Wow, I want this one... no, that one... no, no, THIS one..." ...I just wanted MY car, my Beetle. It's nice when you're really satisfied with what you have.

Oh, but I did drive a stick - Martin's current car - and really, that was so easy! The only sticks I had driven before yesterday were a Passat, a Mustang, and Lotte's Ka; I don't remember much about the Passat or the Mustang but Lotte's car was really difficult - you had to move the clutch and the gas in exactly the right way, or you'd pop the clutch and have to start over. Yesterday it went much easier; I went all the way into third gear and only popped the clutch one time, while backing up. Martin kept complaining that I was too far to the right (it was a narrow road where you're apparently 'supposed' to drive in the middle) but that was just our different 'training' - in America, if you have a road on which traffic flows both ways, you automatically stick to the right. Here, you don't, because the roads are much narrower. But anyway, so I was proud of myself again. :)

Mom, what's the status on the package? Along with the sport pants and the DVDs (Selena and Stepmom), could you also maybe send a new bottle of Excedrin? Oh, and another roll-on stick of that perfume Catie talked me into? She knows what I mean.

Hmm, okay, the keyboard is doing some very weird things all of a sudden - all the symbol keys are mixed up. I wanted to write more, but I'm gonna go before I lose this post...

dinsdag 20 april 2004

Nog iets: David heeft een website net gemaakt, en omdat ik als eerste sta op z'n lijst van lieve mensen :) ga ik dat bewijzen door z'n link hier te zetten! Klik dus hier om z'n site te bekijken!

Well, Children's Literature is officially taught in Dutch and all about Dutch children's literature. Doesn't look like there will be a single word of English spoken throughout the course. (Needless to say, I am once again the only non-Dutch student.) And this is not helped by the fact that the teacher speaks very softly and has the worst handwriting I've ever seen. But it just counts as an English elective for me back home and nothing I really really need, so I'll stick with it - I like a challenge. And, due to a horrible room mix-up (and a 10-minute bike ride to practically the other side of the centrum) I ended up meeting a whole group of girls and pairing up with one of them for the presentation we're going to have to give in a couple weeks. (Yes, a presentation, meaning Jess stands up in front of a room of native speakers and stumbles along in Dutch. Reserve your tickets now!) But at least we scored a good topic - 'het meisjesboek'.

And my other class was good too, the seminar for Utrecht in the Middle Ages. There's going to be more work for that class than I've become accustomed to, but nonetheless, there are nice people in there. The seminar groups are only ten or eleven people each. Ann-Cristin is in my group, and so are Michael, Dylan, and Michelle, all of whom are American and all of whom I vaguely know from the last block. Michelle and Dylan even go to UF. Then there's a girl from England, Keira, and the rest are Dutch. After class, Ann-Cristin and I went and got coffee at this place which is kinda like Starbucks. I forgot the name, but I know I had a Harmony Coffee (recommended by Ann-Cristin), which is a cappuccino with white chocolate (even white chocolate shavings on top), and also a bagel with mozzarella and pesto and basilicum and tomato... YUM YUM YUM! I don't think the meal was worth the almost-7-euro I paid for it, but still, for once in a while it's lekker. Then I went to the V&D and bought two posters for my room in La Mancha, a book by Michael Crichton (WHY ARE BOOKS IN ENGLISH SO EXPENSIVE HERE?!?!?!) and a very very late birthday present for Tristan... hope I see you soon so it won't be any later than it has to be, haha. Oh, and David, I saw a birthday present for you too, but didn't buy it (yet), since you can't be bothered to get your @$$ to Utrecht to pick up the presents you already have... LOL! ;)

Anyways, my current amusement is this survey... once again, ripped from Chris. Probably no one cares, but every once in a while I have to lapse into teenagedom... although I'm not as bad as this.

So here we go.

I AM: Special ;)
I WANT: 518 million dollars
I HAVE: $518.56
I WISH: That I spoke really fluent Dutch
I HATE: That I've lost my Spanish :'(
I MISS: Taco Bell
I FEAR: Getting trapped underwater and not being able to get my head up
I HEAR: Scott listening to American sports radio on his computer
I SEARCH: (fruitlessly) for the digital camera that went missing in December
I WONDER: If I'll pass this Children's Lit class
I REGRET: (pass)
I LOVE: So many people!!!...
I ACHE: My butt, from sitting on a hard bike seat and now this chair
I ALWAYS: Send at least three SMSes a day
I AM NOT: Tall
I DANCE: When I'm in the mood
I SING: Until people tell me to stop
I CRY: Rarely
I WRITE: school assignments, this blog, and the occasional short story or journal entry
I WIN: Every air hockey game my sister and I play
I LOSE: Every air hockey game Martin and I play
I CONFUSE: The general population
I NEED: To eat something
I SHOULD: Be working on an essay
You keep a diary: Yes, infrequently
You like to cook: No
You have a secret you have not shared with anyone: I thought it was no... but... Yes
You set your watch a few minutes ahead: No
You bite your fingernails: Not since I was ten
You believe in love: Yes
The weirdest person you know: Mom tells me all the time, "You are SO weird!"
The Loudest Person you Know: Erin, Mandy, Mike...
The Sexiest Person you Know: Me! :)
The Person that Knows the Most about you: A tie between David and Tristan... but Elise and Linde are high on the list, too
Your Crush?: Uh, my boyfriend?
Most Boring Teacher: We just got new ones... so... Dick Schram
Take a shower everyday: Yes
Think you know you've been in love: Oh yes
Want to get married: Not sure
Have any tattoos/where?: Nope - if I got one, it'd be a star or ladybug on my ankle, but I don't really want one
Piercings/where?: Two holes in each ear
Get motion sickness: Never... well, okay, once (very slightly) on a boat...
Think you're a health freak: No way
Get along with your parents: Yes
Like thunderstorms: Yes
SIGN: Aquarius
HAIR COLOR: Light brown with highlights
EYE COLOR: Hazel (greenish-brown)
PARENTS: Yes, two :) haha...
SIBLINGS: Catie (younger sister)
LIVE WITH: Scott, my roommate
FAVORITE RELATIVE: Outside of my immediate family... probably my cousin Megan, haha! (She's 11.)
COLOR: Green, blue, and yellow
DAY: Saturday
SONG: (at the moment) Andrew WK - "Ready to Die", Clouseau - "Vroeger is Voorbij", and Cheap Trick - "Mighty Wings"
FOOD: Cheese enchiladas
SEASON: Summer
SPORT: Basketball, swimming, and horseback riding
DRINK: Water
VEGGIE: Potatoes and salad
CHOCOLATE MILK, OR HOT CHOCOLATE? Hot chocolate, because then you get whipped cream
VANILLA OR CHOCOLATE? Depends what it is
WRITTEN IN A JOURNAL? Does this blog count?
MISSED SOMEONE? David and Tristan... haven't seen either of you in forever!
FOUGHT WITH YOUR PARENTS? No, that hardly ever happens
FOUGHT WITH A FRIEND? No, that happens even less frequently
1. Marco Borsato
2. Volumia
3. Clouseau
4. Andrew WK
5. Shania Twain
6. Shakira
7. Mackenzie Phillips
8. Veldhuis & Kemper
9. Vanessa Carlton
10. Elton John
1. Eat a bug? If I were on Survivor... or if it was chocolate-covered ants!
2. Bungee jump? If it were cheap and I had en empty stomach... sure
3. Hang glide? Definitely!!!
4. Kill someone? Not unless I had a really good reason
5. Have sex with someone you don't love? Nah
6. Kiss someone of the same sex? Sometimes girls kiss on the mouth here... Jorinda does... so, sure... but not making out!
7. Have sex with someone of the same sex? Um, no
8. Parachute from a plane? Yeah!
9. Walk on hot coals? With shoes :)
10. Go out with someone for their looks? No
11. For their reputation? No
12. Be a vegetarian? No way I'd give up ground beef tacos!
13. Wear plaid with stripes? On Tacky Day
14. IM a stranger? Done it a hundred times :)
15. Sing karaoke? Done it
16. Get drunk off your ass? No
17. Shoplift? No
18. Run a red light? Only that light coming out of Faith's neighborhood at, like, one-thirty A.M.
19. Star in a porn video? Pfff... like they'd want me
20. Dye your hair blue? Only temporarily
21. Be on Survivor? Yeah
22. Wear makeup in public? Sure, 0.1% of the time
23. NOT wear makeup in public? 99.9% of the time!
24. Cheat on a test? Gotta love those situations where the teacher has to leave the room and everyone starts talking... LOL
25. Make someone cry? Hmm... I broke my mom's nose (accidentally!) and she cried...
26. Call your math teacher a motherfucker? I don't have one currently, but Mrs. Wade from Stanton, YES YES YES!!! What I wouldn't love to call her...
27. Kick a baby? What sort of question is that?! NO!!!
28. Date someone more than ten years older than you? I don't think so, no
29. Cuss out a priest? Haha... in his eyes I'd already be a heathen... so why not?
30. Take a job as a janitor? It wouldn't be my choice, no...
31. Wear a tho-tho-tho-tho-thong? Not often, but yeah
32. Stay up all through the night? Done this a lot of times... just last week, actually, on the way to Tenerife
33. Drink straight espresso? I don't know, does it taste good?

...Okay, now that I've sufficiently bored you all... (and I even deleted some questions!)... goodbye.

Okay, I have officially changed the Comments system - all the blogs I read seem to use Haloscan, so I figure I'll jump on the bandwagon.

Let me know if this service works better than the old one. And if anyone can explain to me exactly what a Trackback is... (I have a general idea, but still not quite sure...)... then I would be eternally grateful. I think it has something to do with people being able to link to specific posts on my page... so you people with blogs or LiveJournals or whatever you have, give me some attention! LOL.

maandag 19 april 2004

Does anyone have experience with bikini waxing, and would you recommend it? I'm getting really irritated with shaving all the time (and yes, that pun was most definitely intended).

Why is it that on days when I already have a lot going on, I manage to be the most productive? Classes started again today, but I only had one, Utrecht in the Middle Ages. Scott thinks the teacher is flaky (he's already had her for two classes), but I rather like her. Emmeline, my teacher from last block, talked to us the same way she would talk to a wall - as if someone had just pressed the Play button. Quirine (yes, that is her name, and not a new cough medicine) asks questions and engages us, even if it's not the most interesting subject in the world. And I need that, otherwise I zone out. She does it perfectly - she addresses the whole class, not picking out any one person, and then if no one answers (whether out of not wanting to or truly not knowing), she changes the question and rephrases it and uses metaphors and examples until something becomes so obvious that someone just has to answer it. I'm not saying the class is the most interesting one I've ever had (that honor would go to Mr. Warren in 6th grade), but her technique is perfect. Ann-Cristin was writing little notes to me the whole time about how she thought she was going to hate the class, but I don't think I will.

We did have an assignment on the first day, due tomorrow, yes, that's true, but it was only 500 words and it was not academic in any way - talking about our first impressions of the Middle Ages. I've already finished it, but the ink cartridge is still empty (I thought Scott would have fixed that by now) so I had to then hand-copy it. Bah. But I was proud of a certain bit of it - the same sort of 'writing with imagery' that made Mrs. Mackey in 9th grade think I was some sort of a genuis (until we got to the 'real work' kind of essays... she was then disillusioned... haha...) anyway, here it is: [...] the first image I see in my head is, to put it simply, a crowded one. I picture crowded streets with makeshift vendor stalls and customers in dirty clothing, packed closely together. I see low wooden buildings, some of which are dark taverns where men with missing teeth drink mugs of beer and devour big turkey legs. And then there’s the other end of the spectrum; I can also visualize knights in crude metal outfits with long swords, and kings in big gray castles with roofs like jagged teeth, like I used to draw as a little girl.

Not as good as that imagery essay in ninth grade, but then again, that wasn't the point, now was it?

Anyway, moving on. Turns out about half the class is Dutch. I haven't talked to any of them yet, but when the teacher asked if any of us non-Dutch kids spoke Dutch, I was the only one to raise my hand. Scott (rightfully) kept his hand down, even though he was in my class at UF and has done some Boswell here, so I know he can handle himself in the language, at least to some extent... but he could never claim to be able to 'really speak' it.

Anyway, so after class, Ann-Cristin and I went to buy the book (a really little one, only 7 euro... the reader's not available until Thursday) at Broese, and I ended up buying two other books too.. both in Dutch. Upon checking, I realized they were both originally in English, but I couldn't find the English versions and I really wanted something new to read. The teacher teased me by saying that I could buy the Dutch version of the book, and I actually almost did, but unfortunately Broese didn't have it... so I did the sensible thing and went with English.

We were both starving, so we went over to V&D and got sandwiches - roomkaas (sort of like cream cheese, Americans), chives, herbs, and lettuce on a roll. Might not sound so great, but trust me, it was. Then we went wandering through the store. Koninginnedag - Queen's Day - is on the 30th, so there were all sorts of orange things and Dutch-flag things on display... so we each bought a (cheap) Dutch flag on a stick, and Ann-Cristin bought an orange shirt while I opted for two new photo frames and two postcards which I couldn't resist (one of a cresting wave, one an extreme close-up of a deep red rose). I now have 4 photos in frames:

+ the one of me and Catie from three years ago (yes dear sister, that one which you hate and I love)
+ my favorite picture of Martin (you guys have got to see this when I get access to a scanner, he's tipping his sunglasses down so you can see his eyes and I swear that pic could be in Seventeen or something... LOL...)
+ the one of Joy, Katie, Linde, and me lying on the beach in Jacksonville, from summer 2002... I love that picture
+ and one of me and Martin on the boat on Tenerife last week.

Now I just need one more, for the pic of me and Linde on the boat in Amsterdam. I love that picture too. I don't know why, but if she's in the picture, both of us always look really, really good. Oh, and maybe that black-and-white photo of the four of us in front of the house... and Mom, I still want a family photo!!!...

Sorry, I digress.

Anyway, after the buying spree, I rode my bike home (a man saw the flag sticking out of my bag and called, "Koninginnedag nu al vierend?" [Already celebrating Queen's Day?] or something like that... I had headphones on... I just laughed and said, "Nee, nog niet!" [No, not yet!]...) and I actually did the wash. How awesome am I? But the door got jammed and wouldn't open, so ALL my clothes were stuck in the washing machine behind a door that wouldn't open. Two other women started helping me, and we eventually had to unplug the machine. But I did get my clothes.

Then I cleaned off my desk, because when you have nice photos in frames, you can't have clutter around them. So two of the pix are on my desk, and the two postcards are propped up here, too.

And then I started making a list of the stuff I have to take to La Mancha in August. I've got to do a major sort-through in my room - once again weeding out books (3 categories: take along, save for own kids, and take to BookMine to trade in) and clothes (categories: take along, give to Catie, give to Faith [friend], and take to Goodwill) and all my other stuff. I am planning to do a MAJOR clothes cut-down. The problem is that Linde and Alette will be along, if everything works out, and probably Samantha too. They'll leave around 6 August and then Martin will arrive not long after that. Time crunch! But I'll manage; I always do. I'm supposed to move into La Mancha on the 16th, or at least that's what I put on the application, but I bet I could push for a little earlier if I needed to. I think I can take everything in the Beetle in one trip, except maybe my bicycle. It fits in there, I know from experience, but I don't know if everything else would fit around it. Maybe I'll enlist Mom's help with the van.

I have had two realizations today, both disturbingly late. One, that I forgot Tristan's birthday, which was 25 March. (Yes, I have already apologized profusely.) I saw something in the V&D today that made me think of him, and that's when I realized it. (Once again, SO SORRY!!!) And two, that John hasn't been online in more than a month (MSN Plus has the technology to tell me this), when he is usually there at least 16 hours out of every 24. And John, I've already e-mailed you, but I'm saying it again... I know your life hasn't been especially stress-free and problem-free lately, and I'm getting kinda worried - a month is unheard of for you - so please let me hear from you, okay?

Tomorrow I have a seminar for Utrecht in the Middle Ages from 11.00 to 13.00, and then at 15.00 I have my first class of Children's Literature. I still don't know whether that class will be taught in English or Dutch and whether the books we'll read will be English or Dutch. But it's the last block and I wanted to give myself a challenge.

I did some more 'research' into the master's program in Utrecht, and made a major discovery - something new. They now have the absolute best program I could possibly want - just developed, working together with the University of Amsterdam; nobody's even done it yet. The first class will begin in September 2004; I'll start in September 2005 if everything works out like I want it to. I know I said I would keep my options open about staying in America, and I am still interested in the paramedic course, but this is just so perfect!!! The one-year Translation master program that I wanted to follow now has a second option, a two-year version of the program. The first year would be basically the same as the one-year program - general stuff - and then in the second year, emphasis is placed on learning a third language to a 'capable' degree, if not fluent (that would obviously be Spanish for me) and then using English, Dutch, and that third language to specialize in one of three areas: professional translation, literary translation, or interpreting. Those ALL sound awesome!!! That's unheard of in America, a master's program specifically to teach you to be an interpreter. That opens the option up for me again, and since there'll be a focus on Spanish too, that makes it just PERFECT! PLUS, since I'm international and not eligible for the government grants that the Dutch students get, there's a huge possibility that I can get a 10,000 euro scholarship for every year that I do the program. (And the costs are only 4500 per year.) Can you be in love with a master's program? LOL!

Anyway, the reason I started looking at all that was because Martin and I have been talking (AGAIN) about what we're going to do... he's in the process of trying to move out, but there's a lot of instability and uncertainty in NS (the train system) right now - there's even a possibility that they will install 'ports' in many of the stations in the next few years and conductors would then serve no purpose anymore. So his situation is uncertain, and so is mine since I have no idea what I'll be doing for work and where I'll be doing it after I finish at UU. Anyway, the choices for him are Emmen, where his parents live (and where he still lives) and Zwolle, a city about an hour away. Zwolle is a bigger city with (obviously) more job possibilities, but Emmen is far better to live in because of the prices - you can get an incredible house for 150,000 euro, and in Zwolle that's just a 'rijtjeshuis'... one of the houses that stands connected to other houses. And to rent, the waiting list is three years long... and sadly, that's not a joke.

So it looks like it's going to be Emmen. I balked at first, despite the great place we could get (yeah, we, because obviously if we're still together when I go back to the country, I'll probably be living with him), and the job possibilities are not so great there for either of us - not impossible, but Zwolle is still better. But then I remembered that if I'm living with him, I will get a train pass to ride for free. That's not a discount, that's FREE, and nine out of ten times, the bus drivers will let you on with it too (even though they're not supposed to). So for school I would have about a two-hour trip to Utrecht, but it wouldn't be every day... and I hate to admit it, but for me, that would actually be a good thing, because I have never been someone who can study at home. I can write papers, as long as I can use the computer (pen and paper just don't do it for me), but actually sitting down and hitting the books, no. However, I have learned that I can focus in the train. I'm not sure why that is, but for me, home is home and the outside world is where you work and study and do the 'important things'. So all that traveling might actually help me.

Anyway, and the other waaaay-long-term plan (this is still in the 'dreaming' stage, but we both still really like the idea) is to live in NL for a few years and save up some money (which would also be easier to do in Emmen - everything's cheaper there) and let Martin take an English course (LOL) and then move to America. In comparison to here, 'big' things like houses and cars are cheaper in the USA. So the 'dream' would be, live over here for a while and save as much money as possible (in Euros - also an advantage!) and then, when the time is right (if and when his train job falls through, etc.) then we'd move to America and take advantage of that exchange rate which is screwing me over this year. Haha.

Anyway, sorry, I am really in a digressing mood tonight. I think this is the longest entry I've ever posted.

Hey Dad, it's already your birthday here! Happy 49th!

Anyway, I'll wrap this up. I've already talked about tomorrow - school all day long. Then Wednesday I'm going to Emmen and I think we're going to go to Centerparcs to go swimming, YAY! And then I think Martin's mom might cut my hair - the little braids are falling out and she really can cut hair; she does the family's as well as some friends and neighbors, and she only charges 2 euro... haha! Thursday I'm free again, and Friday I have one class, Children's Literature. And this weekend I should get my Staatsexamen results in the mail, seeing as the #$%^&*@ site will STILL not load so that I can see them!!!

On the schedule for NEXT week (as in 25 April to 1 May)... Koninginnedag and the Idols finale! Boris is going to win, but I still hope Maud makes it to the final and not JK...

Oh - anyone looking for a good song: download "My Friend" by Julian Thomas. David sent it to me last night (he and I and Olga had a rather silly three-way chat on MSN) and now it's stuck in my head. How does he do that???

Okay, I am really going now and I promise not to ever write such a long entry again. :)

zondag 18 april 2004

Boring boring boring day. For some reason I woke up and barfed around 5.30, then went back to bed and woke up around 9 feeling absolutely fine. Readjusting to the non-Spanish food, or something?

David was supposed to come over today but isn't, so I'm still sitting here in my pajamas, surfing around on the computer. I've mailed two vertaalbureaus (translation companies) to see if they need any more freelance people. I was a bit mean to Broadcast Text Amsterdam, the ones who do the subtitles for Net5 - I told them that I saw a lot of backwards numbers and literally-translated expressions, and that it seemed to me that they could use a native speaker who might actually understand what was being said. But don't worry, I was polite, and that speak-your-mind thing is (thank goodness) considered an asset around here.

(Backwards numbers... yeah... Dutch and English have different systems once you get above twenty. If you say twenty-one, for example, in Dutch it's one-and-twenty (één-en-twintig)... that's why there are backwards numbers.)

Further news: two Internet quizzes (both stolen from Chris):

Which Political Extremity Are You? Apparently I'm a fascist. The description says: At the distant bottom-right of the political spectrum. Fascism supports total civil opression, particularly for minorities, who were prosecuted. However, it does open up to a free market. It has been attempted and failed in countries including Italy, and socialist version of it called Nazism was tried in Germany.

Hmmm. Right.

This one I had already done - several times - the Myers-Briggs test. We had to do it at camp every year during the counselor orientation week; I was always somewhere around ENTpj (Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving/Judging). That was the real test. According to this one, I'm an ESTJ (Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging), and it says that I am an 'administrator', with possible careers being"government employee, pharmaceutical sales, auditor, computer analyst, technical trainer, project manager, officer manager, factory supervisor, credit analyst, electrical engineer, stockbroker, regulatory compliance officer, chief information officer, construction worker, general contractor, paralegal, industrial engineer, budget analyst, data base manager, funeral director, cook, security guard, dentist."

Can anybody see me doing ANY of those things, except perhaps security guard? (No jokes about my cooking!) And if 'government employee' includes FBI agent, then yeah, that works too. But for the rest... no way!

Yes, Jess is bored. The boredom has reached extremes when she starts doing online tests. (Even more extreme when she starts talking about herself in the third person...)

zaterdag 17 april 2004

Yes, I am back! With a tan, a handful of photos, and little braids in my hair. The pix aren't up yet - once again, I have to wait for Scott to leave - but I must say, Martin is a genuis. Why? Because he took my crappy little digital camera and not only took a good picture with it, but took a good picture of ME with it! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I, Miss Unphotogenic, now have a photo of myself which I actually really, really like! (Mom, back me up on this one - I sent it to you. It is good, isn't it???)

Anyway, I'll try to give a short summary of the trip.

Martin came over on Thursday afternoon and we didn't sleep until Friday night - I think the total was 38 hours of being awake. We took a taxi to the station around two AM and then a train to Schiphol, then sat around and waited and waited and waited until our flight left at 6.00. We were right across the aisle from two of the most spoiled kids ever, little boys. The older one could at least be quiet, if not sit still, but the little one, around two years old, cried and screamed constantly. Grrr. Anyway, it was a crappy flight with no free food, not even free earphones. We got to Tenerife (for those who don't know, it's Spanish property, which is why I said I was going to Spain, but it's really in the Canary Islands, next to Africa) around 10.30 and took the (free) bus to our hotel with all the other Sunweb customers. We were the last ones dropped off (and the first ones picked up on the morning that we left, grrr again).

Anyway, that first day, Friday, we just sort of wandered around the area (hilly!) and laid in the sun a bit and stuff... and enjoyed the fact that since we had an all-inclusive package, that we could eat literally all day long for free... anyway, so I'll do the rest of it a bit shorter, with just the highlights.

Saturday: More of the same as Friday, but add in the getting-annoyed-at-the-beachfront-telemarketers part. They stand along the boardwalk and hand out fliers and try to get you to come into whichever restaurant or bar they're pushing, and ask where you're from and all. Really annoying. But we came up with a good idea - starting a massage business in Tenerife. There are tons of tourists who would take advantage of that - it's a gold mine!

Sunday: We go to AquaPark, a water park just up the hill from our hotel, and pay E30 for a six-day pass. (The alternative was E20 for one day, so we figured it would end up being worth it.) Later that night I get the front portion of my hair braided by a woman on the beach. She asked for E50 and I paid E25... 25 is still a lot, but it's a lot of work and takes skill to do, and my hair is short so that makes it doubly hard. And it HURT!!! But it looks great...

Monday: We go on a boat excursion to see dolphins and whales, with a bunch of the other Dutchies from our Sunweb group. We laugh and talk and eat paella, and I jump off the side of the boat and swim in the ocean. (Don't worry, it was allowed, haha!) I was glad for the braids, since they kept my hair out of my face. That lasts a good portion of the day; then we just shop a bit that evening.

Tuesday: We go back to AquaPark and do a few slides, but don't stay long because it gets cloudy and cool. Then we play football (soccer) with some people from the hotel, and then do the usual stuff again - wandering around, shopping, browsing, playing air hockey, and eating ice cream.

Wednesday: Parasailing! There were two blond British boys on the boat - brothers, one about twelve or thirteen, the other around eight or nine. They went first (together) and then us. It was fun - cold up there, but fun. Martin took that great picture of me on this day, while we were waiting to go. Unfortunately, we don't have any pictures of us in the air. Plus more shopping and eating and laying out by the pool.

Thursday: We wander around, buy food/stuff for the trip home, play more air hockey, and go to AquaPark again to take more pictures and see the dolphin show. Martin's managed to lose the tickets, but they had our names somewhere so they let us in anyway.

Friday: We wake up at 6.15, stumble around blearily getting dressed and the last few items packed, then get on the bus and go to the airport, sit and wait at the airport for a while, get on the plane, and proceed to be seated right next to the same screaming toddler.

(We seriously almost went crazy; Martin, who had the worst headache of his life, even gave in and took some of my Excedrin, and he hates taking medicine.)

So then we went to Utrecht, then to Emmen where I got my photos developed (and where I found the AquaPark passes, in Martin's suitcase), and then I came back today...

(One last gripe: the Staatsexamen results should be on the site now, so WHY IS THE SITE DOWN??? Too many people with the same idea?)

More tomorrow!

donderdag 8 april 2004

Okay, so Scott finally left and I was able to upload my photos. I apologize for the quality of the thumbnails - I can't do anything about that - but the large versions look good. Go check it out! --->

See you all when I get back! And I expect a full mailbox! ;)

This is officially my LAST post until at least 16 April and probably a bit after, because in four hours I am going to Spain!

One piece of sad news: this girl was a friend of my sister's from bowling and a friend of mine from when I was Spanish Honor Society president (together with my best friend). Sad.

Is anyone else having trouble with the comment service besides me and Olga? I'm asking this question so that I'll remember to switch it when I get back. Any recommendations?

See you in a week!

woensdag 7 april 2004

Okay, I've posted way too much today, and this is my last one, I swear. But while I'm thinking about it... Mom, if the package issue ever resolves itself, then along with the stuff I already mentioned (the black sport pants, those two DVDs...) could you maybe scrounge up a couple John Kerry buttons or pins? Surprisingly, the American elections are a big topic of conversation over here too, and I want to make it clear where my loyalties lie...

...or, rather, where they do NOT lie, since I know basically nothing about Kerry except that his name is not George Bush. GWB's dad was president a few years back, his brother is the governor of my state and now he himself is president... I have had quite enough of the Bush family, thank you very much.

(Now that I'm getting fired up...) One of the last straws for me was the gay marriage thing. What exactly is the matter with it? They don't choose that lifestyle - in the (translated) words of one of my bi friends, "If I had a choice... life would be much easier for me if I were straight." So really all you're doing is promoting prejudice among the American people. You could use your position to do so much good, and instead you behave like a Southern Baptist redneck* - discriminating against gays, bringing religion into all of your speeches, and turning everything over to your frontmen because you don't know what the @%^& you're doing. No matter what Clinton did in his private life, at least we felt secure with him, like we had someone who could think for himself and knew what he was doing. Being president is not about what YOU personally believe or think; it's about what is best for the 280 million people you have to care for. You are not only promoting close-mindedness, you are treating our country and it's resources like a kid with a new toy, and doing whatever YOU want without thinking about the consequences or about anyone else.

A new bumper sticker Mom saw: "We're making enemies faster than we can kill them." Too true.

*Southern Baptist Redneck = generally, someone who's not very bright and who believes that their way is the only way and will not listen to anyone else's opinions. However, you can be Southern Baptist without being a redneck and you can most certainly be a redneck without being Southern Baptist. (I have now conveniently left myself a loophole as to not offend anyone; isn't that nice of me?)


I guess I'm the last person on earth to hear about this - Pauline and Anna told me about it today. It was in the Utrecht newspaper with the headline (translated to English) "George Bush Inspires America's Youth", with a huge picture of the kid yawning behind the President. How awesome is that? (In case I haven't made myself clear, John Kerry will definitely be receiving my vote in November... the first presidential election for which I am old enough to vote.)

And this is just way, way impressive. If only everyone were so eager to learn. (Thanks, Pippa.)

Martin just SMSed that someone just committed suicide by throwing himself onto the train tracks. The train going in the opposite direction hit him, not M's train, but he was still freaked out and who can blame him? That happens more often than you'd think; M has seen it before; he told me once that "you don't even have a person anymore" if they choose a sneltrein or Intercity (fast trains, 150 km/hr, which don't stop at every station). Ugh. And not just the train, either - Linde was in Amsterdam back in October and she was standing at a station and saw someone throw himself in front of a bus.

Everyone asks, "What could bring you to the point of not wanting to exist anymore?" They say, "Things always get better." And I'm probably one of the least suicidal people I know, but still, if you think about it, it's understandable. Why are we here, anyway? We're really just animals, highly evolved apes. Sure, we have higher brain function and consciousness of our own existence, but we're all going to die anyway. And what is the point of our lives? [More on this in a second.] You work your whole life trying to earn money and have a good house and a good job and all those things, but then after eighty years, longer if you're lucky, you die anyway. So why not just skip the whole rest of your life, if it holds no joy and no one and nothing you care about? You could sort of look at death as the 'next phase' of the life cycle - nobody knows what comes next, but we all get there eventually, every single one of us, so if this world holds nothing for you anymore, why not just move on? I can definitely see how some people could start to think that way, and along the same lines, I also understand why intelligent people have a far higher suicide rate than those of average or low intelligence.

Just to clarify: these are not my own personal thoughts. I love life far too much to ever do something like that. But to truly think about and understand how someone could get to the point of suicide, I think you have to see it from a point of view where it all starts to make a weird kind of sense.

However, my theory on the meaning/point of life: all beings are born with an innate desire to stay alive (probably so we'll procreate and carry on the genetic line) which manifests itself in the form of a fear of death; almost all of us are at least a little afraid to die. And you never see rabbits or dogs or fish committing suicide, or hanging out with predators. But we have a higher consciousness than any other animal has ever had, so we have the ability to question that built-in stay-alive mechanism - something that was never meant to be questioned. Nature is shooting itself in the foot.

That's my philosophy for the day.

Moving away from the cheerful stuff ;) ...I just went and met Pauline and Anna at Broers (café in the centrum where a lot of students go) and we sat there for a couple of hours and talked and ate (Greek salad and spekkoek with banana ice cream, LEKKER!!!) and caught up. Pauline was my first Dutch teacher (I mean besides you, Linde, haha) and Anna is another Dutch student who studied in Florida at the same time as P. I hadn't seen either of them since December and had really missed them, especially P. That whole philosophical view on suicide that I just wrote is probably a direct product of hanging out with her; she's another of those scary-smart people. I know I go to university and that my friends aren't exactly stupid, far from it, but once in a while I miss the Stanton IB community, where all of us were capable of that kind of thinking. It makes such a difference. I can see it in my sister, and I miss it. Pauline is one of the few people who challenges me to think, even when she's not being a teacher, so it's doubly nice to hang out with her.

Oh, and she has a friend, a gay guy, who's also going to Tenerife (with his boyfriend) on Friday on a very early plane. What are the odds? I'm sure it's the same one. They were both short names beginning with H... I'll keep my ears open.

Only 29 hours left to go!

dinsdag 6 april 2004

"Je hebt me kennelijk geblocked in je MSN, is daar nog een specifieke reden voor? Zou dat dan graag van je horen."

It has been over two months, but since you apparently can’t take a hint: yes, I have blocked you from MSN. The reason is, quite simply, because you are creepy. You e-mailed me because you were interested in my exchange-student situation – not unusual – so I answered you even though you are 47 years old. But then you started talking about meeting me in person and taking me to dinner, and you started calling me ‘dear’ and wanting to join into MSN conversations with my friends. That was weird enough, but then you asked, “So an old guy like me would have no chance?” meaning 'with me', and then “Is it the age?” Somewhat taken aback (because I had initially thought you were joking), I answered that you were old enough to be my father, and you then told me that you couldn't change that, but that you 'still love [me] like a daughter'. That was the night I blocked you. You have to understand that my generation has been raised to be acutely aware of the dangers that the Internet can present, and all of those things put together were giving me an extremely creepy feeling about you. I’m sure you would tell me that you 'didn’t mean it that way', but I have a lot of experience with Internet contacts and I trust my instinct. You will not get a second chance from me; you are blocked and it will stay that way. Feel free to read the site – it is, after all, open to the public – but after this I will not respond to any attempts at contact.

Okay, this is the last you're going to hear from me tonight. I'm done with almost everything; I've even updated the popup content in two of the sections ('Me' and 'Random'). I'm working on making the photo page a bit more presentable - that should probably wait until I get back from Spain with all the new photos, but I'm obsessive and so I have to do it now, LOL. And the Friends page is simply too long, no one reads it anyway; I guess I'll chop some people out. But it's 2.12 and I want to shower and go to sleep, so goodbye for now.

See what you think of the new layout. I know the sidebar is a bit dark, but I'm restricted to "web colors" and so that's the best I can do.

No other news except that Wim canceled on me so I didn't go to Doetinchem; I sat at home and watched TV and played with my website and got addicted to Phil Collins' "Look Through My Eyes."

P.S. I must have signed up for Blogger just in time or something - because I do not have an ad at the top of my page. I tried to create a new blog tonight, and it appeared with a banner at the top. Tristan has the same problem. But my current blog doesn't have this, as you can see, and neither do the old old old blogs that Erin and I made. I guess I got lucky for once.

maandag 5 april 2004

Okay, how did I miss this? We have a tenth planet now?

Go to this site, and the red two-piece is the one I bought yesterday. The bottom is a little too big and the top a little too small, but hey, whatever – it fits.

Everybody go sign Lotte's guestbook, because she’s awesome and offered to drive me and Martin to Schiphol on Friday morning (at 2.30 AM). That means no paying for a taxi and no night train. Which means we can leave a bit later. Woohoo!

And the exam wasn't horrible! They screwed things up and scheduled two classes in the same room at the same time, so we got started late, but it really wasn't bad! Let's see if I still think that when I get my grade...

Going to eat and watch ER. I might post more later if I think of something urgent. Ciao!

Quick update before I go to bed:

Went to Emmen Saturday afternoon, and then a phone call came that Martin’s football (Americans: I mean soccer) game for Sunday got called off. That was a good thing because we could sleep in later and swim longer. We were at the pool for close to four hours. There were too many little kids to do much ‘real’ swimming, but I got to dive a few times and we went on the slide a couple times and there was a wave pool and stuff. I’m noticing that these Dutch indoor pools are way more elaborate than anything we have. At first I just thought the one in Raalte was really really nice (that was the first one I ever saw), but no, they’re all that way.

And our tickets for Spain came in the mail, too – and our flight leaves at 6.00! That’s SIX O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING! And of course we have to be there 2 hours ahead (the ticket packet says 2.5 hours ahead) and we have to go with a night train anyway… bottom line is, we have to leave here at 2 AM. There’s not even any real point in sleeping. Bah. Oh well, it’ll work out – jet lag is nothing new by this point.

Anyway, after swimming we went to the centrum in Emmen and just walked around a bit and looked in a few sports stores – and guess what I found?! Mom can answer this one… what treasured article of clothing did I have five years ago which (we strongly suspect) was stolen by Elizabeth Scoville at camp and which I have never been able to find again? Yes, that’s correct… a sports bikini!!! It’s red and pretty. :) It’s not TYR, my old standby, but Adidas… and here comes the real shocker… in the land of expensive clothing, a bathing suit which would have been around $65 in Sports Authority was FORTY BUCKS! Awesome! Anyway, nice to have that for Spain.

And I did my homework – printed the translations and finished the essay. She never specified how long the essay had to be – I suspect 1500 words, because that’s how long the last one was, but she never said so… so I just wrote until I couldn’t think of anything else, which was somewhere between 650 and 700 words. My first sentence was something like, “Honestly, if it were an option, I’d just retype the same essay I wrote at the beginning of the course.” But anyway, it’s done, and I did actually have some real thought in there, like the Dutch prejudice towards Moroccans and Turks and blacks. I’ve never come across one Dutch person who doesn’t hold at least a little bit of an ‘attitude’ towards those groups, particularly people who have jobs where they have to interact with all kinds of people every day. (Example: Peter, a security guard, absolutely hated those ethnic groups, especially Moroccans, and Martin, a train conductor, is the same.) From what I’ve seen of those minority groups here, the prejudice is not unjustified, but after being raised in the land of “all men are created equal” and being taught that racism is something only uneducated people subscribe to… well, it offends me, whether I want it to or not.

So those things are done, and then I got on the train and came back to Utrecht. For some reason, I got a headache as soon as I stepped out the front door of Martin’s house and it lingered. In the first train, from Emmen to Zwolle, I was incredibly sleepy and nodded off a couple of times even though I was uncomfortable (sleeping on top of my backpack, haha). I woke up a bit in Zwolle if only because my headache returned with a vengeance once I got out of the train. I got a candy bar to try to push it off with the caffeine (Mom’s trick) and then I remembered I had my Excedrin with me (I’ve gotten in the habit of taking it with me; I tend to get headaches when away from home for longer than a day, not sure why) so I took two of those. The train to Utrecht finally arrived and I got in, and since it was a sneltrein it was actually comfortable enough that I could sort of twist onto my side and rest. I moved my head very, very slowly when I had to change positions, and the Excedrin finally kicked in. Whew.

So here I sit in Utrecht once again. And I have an exam tomorrow and it’s 0.07. So I’m going to go and shower now and hope that my internet connection reappears while I’m in there. Ciao!

vrijdag 2 april 2004

Wow! Check this out! Not only does the Google toolbar block popups and let me search whenever I want to, but I can even BLOG from it, WHENEVER I WANT!!! JUST ONE CLICK, AND THE BLOGGER WINDOW POPS UP! How cool is this?!?!?!?!?!

Okay, I am way too easily amused. :)

It's strange, the way certain things remind you of certain people. You think about something seemingly random and you get an immediate mental image of someone in your mind. I just tried to play the movie Silence of the Lambs and, as always, it made me think of Peter - we watched that movie the first time we met. I had never seen it before then, so maybe that's why.

It's not like it bothers me or make me sad or anything - there's just a little wire in my brain that runs those two sections together. And I think that's interesting. I mean, I guess we all have that, objects or situations which a certain person is connected to in our heads, but it's not always conscious.

There are a lot more examples, and they're all totally random. My new white pants remind me of Tristan every time I put them on, because of a comment he once made. The song 'Vrij zijn' always makes me think of Linde, because we got dressed to it in the morning the first time I was in Holland. Ice Breakers mints will forever remind me of Pauline, because she got so addicted to them while in America. There are four songs - 'Can't Stop Loving You', 'We've Got Tonight', 'Engel van m'n hart' and especially 'When You Say Nothing At All' - which I will never be able to listen to again without thinking of David. The crunching sound of cars driving on pebbles makes me think of camp. If I see images of the World Trade Center disaster, I think of Mrs. O'Connor, because that's whose class I was in at the time. And the jingle of keys always makes my ears perk up, because when I was a little girl, the sound of keys jangling outside was the cue for, "Daddy's home!"

Anybody got a 'connection' like that which springs to mind? Leave a comment!

Everybody go download that song by Kane, “Dreamer.” I don’t know if it’s popular in the States too, but it should be: he wrote it two weeks before his wife died of cancer... and recorded it the day after. Tristan told me that about two months ago when it came on the radio when we were in the car.

Dutchies: ik heb advies nodig... als je iets echt wilt (en als het uiteindelijk jouw beslissing is), maar als je ouders er 100% tegenop staan... wat doe je dan? Hoe overtuig je ze dat je je eigen keuzen kan bepalen? (Familie Heij: dit is geen 8-dagen lentevakantie-reisje naar Nederland; anders was dit makkelijk beantwoord ;) maar dit gaat over mijn toekomst...)

I’m not doing much today... just writing my essay for DPDS and maybe studying for the exam a bit if I get really bored. Tomorrow I’m going to Emmen, so I’ll definitely have awesome Internet, and Sunday I get to swim :) and Monday I have my exam. Tuesday I go to Doetinchem to teach Wim, Wednesday I’m having dinner with Pauline and Anna, Thursday I’ll be doing last-minute packing, and Friday we leave for Spain! Somewhere in between there I’ll have to swing by Trans and drop off my exam translations.

Speaking of which, what in the world is a ‘zuivelzakjasje’? “Dairy pocket coat”? LOL! I have one opinion that it refers to the color of the coat, and I have another opinion that it’s just a cheap jacket... Olga, you and your family are the resident ‘taalexperts’... can I get a hint? LOL! (The sentence is “Zeeman, in zijn beige zuivelzakjasje, was bezig de kas op te maken.”)

The Staatsexamen results should be online the day I get back (the 16th), or maybe a couple days later than that, knowing Dutch bureaucracy. And then on the 19th, Monday, block 4 starts. I hope the people in there are just as nice as the ones in block 3...

Oh – and Idols comes on tomorrow night! Almost forgot. Eric better get tossed out this week, or I’m going to have a cow. I don’t know how he’s lasted this long. I think JK or Irma should win, and Marlies isn’t bad either... Boris is also extremely good, but he already sings professionally, according to Lotte. He’ll probably end up winning, and he would deserve it, but I sort of think someone else should get the chance, someone who really needs that boost to help them on their way...

Well, Scott has the Internet so I can’t post this, so I’ll stop now (it’s 11.57) and wait until I can post it. Toodles.

donderdag 1 april 2004

Today I woke up at 9.30 and couldn't go back to sleep (because of the sun), even though it was a fairly late night last night. So I did my translations and then around 11.45 went on another bike ride. I didn't want to make it as long as yesterday so my first idea was to ride to Boswell, but then I remembered that cute little pannenkoekenhuis (pancake restaurant) that Anna and Scott and I went to that time (I also went there with Daan, before I'd been here long enough to know where in the world I was) and decided to go there instead, to see if I remembered how to get there. Well, I did. It's about 40 minutes ride from my apartment, but on the way back I found a shortcut - that's always good. :)

Anyway, this may be the last post you guys see for a while - Scott is next door playing PlayStation so I'm plugged into the wall, but a few minutes ago the Internet wasn't working when I was plugged into the router. Don't know if that's going to change or not.

I'm really proud of my first translation, the one everybody's doing - I think I've done a good job of "staying invisible" (as a translator is supposed to be) and I think it reads fluently. The second one isn't done yet - it's 'done' in the sense that the text is translated to English, but it's not 'smooth' yet; I'm still working on it. That's one that's just for me - my teacher mailed me a special, longer Dutch text to translate to English that I'm doing instead of the long English-to-Dutch one. So I have two translations, one short and one longer, just like everyone else, but for me they're both from Dutch to English instead of one of each. Woohoo! Anyway, she also wrote me a nice letter giving me info on how to begin with professional translating and saying she'd enjoyed having me in her class. And about the subtitle thing, she said, "I'm sure those companies could use someone who actually understands what the people are saying!"

Here's the one I'm finished with, in case you're interested.

Monday, March 6, 1944. Stood for fifteen minutes this morning in front of the post office waiting for Madelon. I was too early and had nothing else to do. The sun was shining, but gave no warmth. Around twelve she appeared on the balcony in her fur mantle. All the rooms on the second floor of the main post office have folding doors leading to shallow balconies, something I’d never noticed before. She bent forward and called, “I’m going to feed the seagulls!” But we’re too deep into winter; hardly any seagulls came; the crusts of bread that she tossed fell onto the street as if they were meant for me.
Just as the palace carillon began to play, she came down.
‘You look so serious today,’ she said, ‘is something wrong?’
‘I have good reason to look serious. My best friend was executed yesterday.’
I explained the why and how. I didn’t tell any more than what would probably be in the paper about it. That he underwent treatment by a dentist who had reported Jewish patients to the Germans, and that one afternoon, when he knew there were no other patients waiting downstairs, he shot the dentist dead. ‘He didn’t have a bicycle. The maid heard the shot and screamed. So once in the street, he had to get out of sight as quickly as possible. So he grabbed the first and best bicycle he saw. Upstanding citizens began to shout: Stop that thief! On Van Baerle Street, a window washer threw his ladder down across the road.’
‘How do you know all those details?’
As calmly as possible, I invented an explanation: of course I wasn’t there. His father told me… the story was perhaps a bit romanticized, but my friend was dead.

As I neared Uncle Hein’s villa, I thought: Now I’ve become an unusual young man; there’s even a special word for it, the word orphan. They don’t greet other people the way they will greet me.
Yesterday I went into my parents’ house, which is now my house, with my father’s keys, which Uncle Hein gave me. I’ve never had the keys myself, because I only came to the house during vacations, and even then only briefly.
I looked around, the way you do in houses you don’t often visit. ‘This is all mine now,’ I thought, ‘that table and those chairs, some of which I don’t even recognize. This garden, just the type of garden that old people should walk in. Absurd that it’s now all mine.’
On the table in the living room lay my own disgusting letter, unopened, which my uncle had probably put there. I stuck it in my inside pocket, wondering if I should shred it or not. I sat down somewhere and lit a cigarette. I laid the match in an ashtray which still held the ash from my father’s cigar. The linen curtains were half lowered. My parents always lowered the curtains if they were traveling. The yellow light that this created in the rooms carried a sense of traveling and not being home.
‘There’s no one here,’ I said out loud, ‘and no one will ever come home again. What shall I, the owner, do?’
I stood up and walked through the rooms. My heart beat nervously, as if I had stealthily broken into a stranger’s house.
‘Leave everything as it is,’ I thought, ‘until a thick layer of dust forms, where first mold and later plants will germinate. The garden will go wild, the vines and climbing roses will grow through the broken windowpanes and mingle with the indoor vegetation. This must go on for so long, that whoever passes by will think about a green hill and won’t be able to see that there was once a villa here.’

If you just read that and were thinking only about what was going on in the story and what you thought might happen, and not paying attention at all to the sentence structure and vocabulary - then I've done my job properly. :) So I hope you did. LOL.

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