:: eye of the storm ::

About Me

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

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current mood:
current mood

Life List

(already accomplished)

Become a PA

Visit all 7 continents

Take a SwimTrek trip

Bike through Western Europe

Raft the Grand Canyon

Improve my Spanish proficiency

Go on safari in Africa

Trace my roots at Ellis Island

Vacation in Hawaii

Work on a hospital ship in a Third World country

Celebrate New Year's in Times Square

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

See the ruins at Pompeii

Swim in Capri's Blue Grotto

Tour Mt. Vesuvius

Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain

Tour the Colosseum

Visit the D-Day beaches

See the Mona Lisa

Visit the palace at Versailles

See the Acropolis and Parthenon

See the Egyptian pyramids

Hike the Inca Trail

Walk El Camino Santiago

Take an Alaskan cruise

View the Taj Mahal at sunrise

Hike Table Mountain in South Africa

Climb through the Amazon canopy

Walk at least part of the Great Wall of China

Get laser hair removal

Learn to surf, ski, and snowboard

Learn to drive a stick-shift

Learn to play the piano

Go on a tropical cruise

Ride horseback on the beach

Ride in a hot air balloon

Get tickets to the Olympics

Go to adult Space Camp

Witness a shuttle launch from up close

Build a full-sized snowman

Sew a quilt out of my old race T-shirts

Update and continue my Life Scrapbook

Become the oldest person to ever do the River Run

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

(unlikely dreams)

dinsdag 29 juni 2004

Yes, yes, yes, I know I haven't updated in forever, and I'm sorry! But the camp internet has been down (still is, actually - it worked for a couple of hours this morning and then died again), and my phone has no service up there either, so I've been a bit out of the loop. I'm on a night off at the moment, and we're at the library (aren't we smart? ;)) so I finally have a little time on the computer (and a fast connection to boot!). I wish I could get on MSN, but it doesn't seem to be possible on this computer...

Mom will recognize this post, because I pretty much just pasted in an e-mail which I just sent to her, but it's new for the rest of you.

My cabin is pretty good for the most part. The girls are twelve, plus we have one 13-year-old (a head taller than all the rest) and one 11-year-old. There are 13 of them (11 returning and two new girls) and they all know each other from back home, even the new ones. They're loud girls (strangely, the tiniest girl, Sydney, who's blond and brown-eyed and could pass for seven years old, has one of the loudest voices I've ever heard on a child!)

I'm starting to get a handle on who's going to be 'trouble'. My favorite kid is Shannon, the 11-year old - she's little, with a smile that will melt your heart. I just really like that age group, eleven... Anyway, I first thought Emery was going to be the worst one (tall, blond, skinny, from Miami, incredibly loud, and MUST have attention every second of the day), but she's starting to calm down now. It's actually one of the new girls, Chesley (no, that is not a typo!) who is taking her place as troublemaker. I really think they must have slipped something into the nachos at lunch today, because I could not get them to be quiet at rest hour for anything. I ended up having to take away some of their flashlight time (quiet time on their beds after lights out, to read or write letters or whatever) because they would just NOT shut up. (...And I just remembered I forgot to tell Christine that before I left, oops...)

Oh yeah, and my co-counselor is Dutch! Christine van Kampen is her name, and I checked the board when I first got there and saw that and thought, "Y'know... that sounds kinda..." but then dismissed it as wishful thinking. But I got there and introduced myself and heard a little accent, so I asked where she was from and she said, "Holland." I said, "Really?!" but I said it in Dutch, "Echt waar?!" and you should have seen the look on her face... priceless!!!

And if you can believe it, she's from Utrecht too! So we've been sitting around talking about places we both know (hey Lilo... Christine is also a big frequenter of 'The Jam'!) and differences between the two countries. It's not like Linde, where there could be a best-friend-type connection or anything, but we get along well and we spend a lot of time talking (in Dutch) because we each sort of ease the other's transition - she can speak her native language to me and feel a bit closer to home, and I can speak Dutch to her and not feel like the whole country has been snatched away in one fell swoop. We're even teaching it to the girls (their first lesson was 'mag niet!' ['that's not allowed!'])

Swimming classes are okay, although the whining is worse than usual since the lake is (even I will admit) REALLY cold (since they've had so much rain). My sixth period is full of little tiny girls who will make up ANY excuse to get out of swimming, and my first period is full of great big girls who are the same way... :) but overall it's all right.

I'm keeping up the whole healthy-eating thing too... my cereal every morning and not having any canteen. The only unhealthy thing I've had here so far is brownies at lunch one day. I think that's actually my first chocolate since I've been back. Weird. Oh, and I swam to the buoy today and yesterday with Vanessa, one of the lifeguards who has become my replacement for Lindsey Waller, who always swam with me last year. Vanessa swims a LOT at home and is quite a bit faster than me, but I've learned that if I go at my own pace instead of trying to keep up, it's a lot more fun for me. Yesterday it was so cold I had trouble breathing (so the girls weren't lying!) and we were both kind of gasping for breath when we reached the other end, but today it was a bit warmer and we didn't have any problems; we swam the whole thing in about twelve minutes, and that was with a chatting break at the buoy. And I know I must still be in pretty good shape, because I can still swim the entire way freestyle without stopping! Anybody know how to measure a distance across water...?

OK, this is long enough now. But I would appreciate e-mails! I'm not sure when or if the Internet is going to be back up at camp, but I've discovered the library now, so things will work out. And the first chance I get, I'm going to hunt down a cell phone store to see if they can do anything about my phone.

Oh! Just thought of one last thing. Aunt Patsy, are you going to be home during camp session break (16-17 July)? And if you are, do you possibly have room for me to do some laundry, take a shower, and sleep there for a night? It's okay if you say no, but that worked out well last time, so I thought I'd ask again.

Hope to be updating again soon!!!

dinsdag 22 juni 2004

I have absolutely no desire to update, although I do intend to keep up the site now that I'm back. My room is a wreck (my mother and sister have used it as their own personal depository while I've been away) and I'm trying to unpack from NL, pack for camp, pack for Gainesville, and clean up a little better... all at the same time.

Anyway, but yes, I am back and I am safe, despite the hour of circling Atlanta and the two-hour delay to Jacksonville. I'll update a bit more extensively tomorrow or Thursday, but right now I have enough on my plate.

As for how it is to be back: weird. The toilets are too low, the coins are too light, and the air is too humid. But nice, too...

zondag 20 juni 2004

Forgot to tell you guys about the little boy in the train yesterday. I don't know what it is with me and kids! I was sitting in the area 'between' cars (on the 'balcon' in Dutch, don't know the English word), next to the doors, on a 'klapstoel' (chair that folds out of the wall), because I had so much stuff. (I had to bring the scooter to Martin so he can bring it home for me in August; that way I only pay $40 extra instead of $120.) Anyway, so I was sitting there, but the door was open into the car I was facing, and there was a mother sitting with her two kids - a girl around five and a boy around two. The mom had her back to me; the kids were facing me. I couldn't see the girl because she was next to the window, but the boy was sitting on the aisle and he kept looking at me and breaking into a face-splitting grin, one of those where you have no choice but to grin back. The second or third time we smiled at each other, he climbed off his chair, walked out onto the 'balcon', and came right up to me and stretched out his hand. I took it in mine and said Hi and smiled, and he grinned back and then went back into the car. About fifteen minutes later, he came out to me again, but this time he stretched up his arms to be picked up. I hesitated, thinking, What's that mom going to think when she turns around and her kid is sitting on a stranger's lap? but then he started trying to clamber up on his own, so I went ahead and picked him up so that he wouldn't fall over with the motion of the train. Just as I did, the mom turned around to look for him. She called him sharply to her, so I set him down and he went. To try to un-freak her a bit, I smiled and told her that he was really cute, but she just sort of grunted in return, and she didn't let the little boy out of her site for the rest of the trip.

So what am I, a kid magnet?

I can't believe I'll be home in 30 hours. I am so not ready. Neither Martin nor I could sleep last night; we both woke up around 4.15. I had been having a Jurassic Park-style nightmare about a dinosaur eating a four-year-old girl with red hair.

Random thought: where is that $35 I have carefully saved all year so that I would have a little money when going home? I have a sneaking suspicion that it's found its way into the depths of that huge suitcase. I have an even sneaking-er suspicion that I'm going to forget to look for it tonight in Bilthoven. Bah.

(P.S. Just noticed that one of my posts is there twice. Don't know why Blogger keeps doing that. Once again, sorry. Going to fix that now.)

zaterdag 19 juni 2004

The first half of yesterday stank.

OK, elaborating.

I left Emmen and went to Utrecht, planning to go home, switch some items around in my luggage, bike to Parnassos to give Pauline my bike, turn in my last paper at Trans, and then go to the station to meet Linde at 13.00, where we'd go to Den Haag instead of Scheveningen, since it really wasn't beach weather.

Sounds easy, right? Wrong.

The train wasn't delayed as far as I know, but I still got to Utrecht later than expected. In a bit of a rush, I took the bus to my apartment, quickly figured out what I would need and what I could leave, and at twenty to one, went and grabbed my bike. I SMSed Linde that I wouldn't make it at 13.00 but that we could try for the next train, and I SMSed Pauline that I was on my way... and then I took off for Parnassos.

Well, I wasn't even under the A2 (which runs right past the apartment) yet, when the chain fell off its housing. That had never happened before and I was cursing a blue streak that the one day it would choose to happen would be the one day I was in a rush and the one day I had to sell the damn bike. So I spent twenty or thirty minutes sitting on the ground trying to fix the chain, my fingers covered in grease. I almost had it at one point, and then it snapped back off again. I had had it by that point so I just walked it to Parnassos (yes, all the way from Rheyngaerde to Parnassos!), sitting on it to coast down the hills and walking the rest of the way. With greasy fingers, a sweaty face and shirt, and a heavy backpack. And, oh yes, it started raining about halfway there.

After a debate with Pauline about whether or not Sander would really want the bike, I left with E30 in my hand and went to turn in my paper. I called poor Linde (still standing at the station) on the way to say that I wasn't going to make the 14.17 train either, and we settled on the next one, the 14.47. So I hoofed it, and to make a long story short, we ran for our lives and caught the train with about 30 seconds to spare.

Once in Den Haag, however, the second half of the day became great. We walked through the Binnenhof, where all the government activities take place, and went to an old prison, complete with torture chambers, and took a guided tour there. The guide was a bit weird, constantly saying 'Geen enkel probleem!', but it was a good tour, all about Cornelis de Wit and how he and his brother were wrongfully tortured and killed.

Then we had cappuccino on a terrace and Linde gave me a present - a necklace of different shaped stones, all with tones of blue and green. She has one with purple, which she wore to the Marco concert, and I guess she remembered that I had admired it. Sweet of her. It'll go with that ten-euro dress I got in Paris.

Anyway, so then we headed back to Utrecht and went out to eat with Liselotte, which was the best part of the night. We went to Connaisseur (hope I'm spelling that right), a place where you order a three-course meal and choose from all different starters, desserts, and main courses. We all had nachos as the main course... yum! I was hoping to find enchiladas, but I have yet to come across those in this country...

Liselotte gave me a present too - those plastic photo hangers I'd wanted. They're like big sheets of plastic that you hang on the wall, but they have lots of pockets in them to stick pictures in. She and I had been shopping two or three months ago and I had seen them and freaked out, because I'd been looking for them for so long. I didn't buy them then because I'd been trying to be a bit careful with money, but I was really touched that she remembered that I'd wanted them. And it was a great dinner - Linde and Liselotte hadn't known each other before then, but they seemed to hit it off right away, and so it was very 'gezellig'. Lotte even wants to come to Schiphol with Linde to see me off - how sweet is that? :) I really have great friends.

So I slept over at Linde's house last night, Alette came and got my bed this morning, and I turned in my keys... goodbye Rheyngaerde.

And goodbye Scott, who mysteriously disappeared as we were in the middle of moving the bed out. Oh well. His loss.

donderdag 17 juni 2004

Can you take off the keys to laptops? I’ve noticed recently that there’s a lot of junk down in there – hair and dust and a few crumbs – and I’d like to remedy that situation…

I’ve been busy helping Robin with her blog for the past couple of days; check it out if you have some free time.

I’m listening to Jimmy Buffett to put me in the Florida mood, haha... is he touring this year?

I’ve got to e-mail Linde and see if we’re still going to the beach tomorrow; they’re predicting storms and lower temperatures.

Martin and I went to CenterParcs yesterday to swim – they’ve got slides and a wave pool and a ‘wildwaterbaan’ where you get swept along all kinds of slopes and bumps and then land in a whirlpool. That’s the coolest thing there, even though I hurt some different part of my body every time I do it. :) Yesterday it was my hand; I was swimming away from M, who was chasing me, and we were in a dark cavelike place, plus I had my goggles with the sun protection on, so I couldn’t see anything at all, and I swam into a wall and scraped up the back of my hand. M laughed for about ten minutes.

I wonder how much extra I’m going to have to pay on Monday? Mom, did they count that scooter box as a piece of luggage when you guys came, or was that in some other category? I hope I run into some other people at Schiphol who are going to Jacksonville, haha – then I can see if I can con them into checking one or both of my travel backpacks for me.

It’s hard to adjust to going back home. I think I’m going to have a harder time ‘fitting in’ in America than I ever did before. It’s not just that I’ve learned new ways of thinking and new ways of life, but that I have in many respects lost the old ones. I’m sure it’ll come back fast, but it’s strange.

Plus, leaving just sucks. Next week is the finale of GTST, for example, and I’m going to miss it. That’s a very small thing, but it’s just an example. Life is moving on, the Dutch world keeps turning, and I’m ‘stopping’. Going home isn’t all bad – I get to go to camp, I get a new cell phone, I’ll get my car back, I have a new job, I get to do a bunch of new classes, I can look for a UF basketball league, I can see my baby second cousin (that’s what he is, isn’t he? The son of my cousin?) whom I’ve not yet seen, my aunt and uncle and cousins will be in their new house in Jacksonville, I’ll of course see my own family again... yes, there are lots of reasons to be glad about going back. And I’m not as torn up about it as one might expect. But I’m going to miss Martin and all my other friends terribly, and I’m really going to miss the free, open attitude of this country. As I’ve said before, I know not everything here is perfect and not everything there is horrible, but half the people of America are walking around with sticks up their asses, and it drives me nuts.

Martin’s at work now, and his sweaty, dirty parents just got back from a bike trip to work in their garden (it’s not usually possible to have a ‘real’ garden in your backyard here, so they have a plot in a ‘group garden’ about twenty minutes away). He’ll be back around nine, then tomorrow I go to the beach with Linde (going to SMS her as soon as I’m done here...), then Saturday Alette picks up my bed and I come back to Emmen, then I go back to Utrecht late on Sunday and Linde and I take the car to pick up my suitcases from Rheyngaerde, and then we wake up early Monday morning and I go to Schiphol... and sit for nine hours in a plane... and go home.

woensdag 16 juni 2004

We're going to CentreParcs, yippee!!! :)

dinsdag 15 juni 2004

Look at this amazing camera.

I fell in love with Faith's digital camera this weekend in Paris - she has a Canon Powershot, an A70 I think, and I couldn't keep my hands off of it. It's high time that I get a new camera. I have three, a gorgeous manual Minolta, a 'normal' camera which I've had for years and years, and my digital one. I hardly ever use the Minolta because it's heavy to tote around, but I love it because there's definitely a difference in the quality of the pictures. I can look at a picture and know instantly which camera I used. The 'normal' one is a Canon which I got for Christmas about seven years ago - it's by no means top of the line, and it's also very heavy, but it does the job.

And then there's the digital one, which I despise more every day. Dad gave me his hand-me-down before I left, but it got stolen back in December, and I've been using the cheap replacement ever since. It's flat, tiny, and light, uses a tiny memory card which I can plug directly into my laptop, and it's supposedly 3.1 megapixels, but that's where the good things end. There are a lot of problems with it. I didn't realize I had so many 'beefs' with it, but once I started writing this, I couldn't stop. :)

First, there's no optical zoom - the only way to zoom is digitally, which means the picture gets grainy and blurry (and not just a little, either) if I zoom.

The second problem is the instability of it - if your hands shake at all, the pictures comes out blurry. Very few people can take a clear picture on the first try with it.

Which leads me to my third problem - the LCD screen. It's very small and also very grainy - it's almost impossible to see if a picture itself is blurry or if it just looks like it is because of the quality of the LCD. I sometimes get to my computer and start viewing the photos, only to realize that half of them aren't even worth saving.

My fourth complaint is the shutter speed. I press the button to take a photo, but the picture doesn't actually take for almost a full second after that, which gives plenty of time for people to walk in front of your shot or for other things to happen. And it leaves out any possibility of candid shots - you have to hold up the camera too long for it to go unnoticed.

Fifth, the camera operation speed itself is terribly slow. If I want to turn on the flash, for example, the LCD screen goes black, the red light starts flashing, and it takes twenty or thirty seconds before it's ready to be used.

Number six: the automatic power-off function. It goes off after one minute, which I think is too fast. Five minutes, okay. Even three minutes. But not one minute. I can't tell you how many times I've turned it on, waited for a good shot, raised the camera, and then had it turn off. It's especially annoying when I've wasted those twenty or thirty seconds to turn the flash on, and then it turns itself off.

Number seven, the last one I can think of for now, is minor, but still a bit weird. If I take a picture, it shows up on the LCD for ten seconds or so, then goes away and the screen once again shows whatever is in front of it, ready for the next shot. However, if I try to go back and view the picture I've just taken, I can't. I can view the second-to-last one, and all the ones before that, but not the very last one. I was mystified by this, so I tried it once after totally emptying the card - I took one picture and then tried to view it, but the camera told me there was no picture available. Very strange.

Anyway, so that camera is going on my wish list. On the website, it's $400, but maybe it's less at BestBuy. Or maybe there's another one almost as good which is cheaper, or maybe Dad has another hand-me-down. In any case, I want a nice digital camera to use as my principle camera; then I won't have to drag all three of them everywhere. I love the concept of digital photography, because you can see the pictures right after you take them and you don't have to sit and think, "Okay, I'm wasting a shot, I better make this good." But I didn't realize exactly how bad mine was until I used Faith's this weekend. Wow. And it's a year old, too.

Other notes: I still have that pain in the back of my mouth, and now it's gotten worse, and localized to the side of my tongue, way at the back. I must have bitten it in my sleep or something. But it's a real pain, because every time my tongue moves against my teeth, it hurts. Which means I can't eat, drink, spit, lick my lips, or even swallow without pain. Hope it goes away soon.

Going to CentreParcs tomorrow to swim, yay!!! :)

zondag 13 juni 2004

Apologies to those who read the site within the past couple of hours; Blogger 'farted' while uploading my entry and it appeared three times. I've fixed it now.

Only a week left. Every time I think about it I want to cry.

14 - see Marrit, have lunch with Pauline, Wim's last lesson
15 - check-out inspection, (hopefully) turn in my last paper, then go to Emmen
16 - Emmen; Martin's day off
17 - Emmen
18 - beach with Linde (Scheveningen), sleep at Linde's (in Bilthoven)
19 - Alette takes my bed away :) back to Emmen
20 - leave Emmen, pick up suitcases, sleep over at Linde's again
21 - go home... I won't be back until Christmas. :'(

Forgot to mention... Faith got chased by a swan down at the lake yesterday, when we were having lunch. (We had some really, REALLY good Normandy cheese, too!) She went up close to the swan and tried to take a picture, and it kept walking towards her, so she thought "Oh, he's friendly!" Well, I remembered the geese at camp, who are absolutely not friendly, so I yelled to her to be careful, and so did the guide.

Then I turned back to talk to some other people at the table, but one woman who was facing the lake kept up a running commentary. "She's trying to take a picture... he's coming towards her... she's backing up... he's still coming towards her..." I sort of tuned it out, but a few seconds later she said, "And now she's running...." and sure enough, Faith was running full speed away from the swan, who was still advancing toward her. Luckily, he didn't chase her. We all cracked up, especially when she grabbed one of his feathers off the ground and called it her 'trophy' for getting away.

Paris was... interesting. :)

I got there Friday (took the new Thalys train, which made Martin insanely jealous), and immediately got into a battle with the hotel receptionist. I needed to find Rhonda and Margaret, but I only knew their first names, not their last.

"Hi, I need to look up someone's room number, but I only know their first name."
"What number?"
"No, I need to look up a number."
"What name?"
"That's the problem, I don't know their last name, I only know their first name." Emphasized by one finger pointing up, but no, unfortunately it wasn't the middle one.
"What name?"
*sigh* "Do you have first" - again the finger - "names on the list, or only last names?"
"What name you need? Dar-no-fall?" Faith's name, the name I had checked in with.
"No, I need to look up a room number for someone, by their first name."

Finally I just leaned over the counter, scanned down the list, jabbed my finger at the name Rhonda, and said, "That's probably it."
"Oh. Two-oh-five!" he said, with a bright, expectant smile.
I muttered a thanks and walked away.

So I did find them, and they were awesome - the kind of people you feel immediately comfortable with. That was not so with their cousin Karen (an anorexic aerobics instructor who doesn't know how to cook, has never even taken the top off her stove, and eats nothing but crap... all I saw her ingest was cappuccino) and her two kids Ryan (22) and Adele (18), but hey, you can't have it all. So we went out to dinner and then climbed the Eiffel Tower - at least, Adele and I did - and got home around 0.45.

The next day, Friday, I got up at five to wander my way to the airport to meet Faith, did eventually find her (a miracle) and we spent most of that day shopping and riding the Metro. I wasn't the pleasantest of company after having had 10 hours sleep the past two nights combined (Wednesday night was Marco Borsato), but we managed. I finally bailed and went back to the hotel to get a couple hours' sleep, and then Faith came in with the things she'd bought and woke me up and we went out again to do some souvenir shopping and let her see the Eiffel Tower, which she'd missed because she hadn't been there the previous day. We got home at a decent hour, but she and I laid in bed talking until some ungodly hour of the morning so it was another late night. Thank goodness for naps.

Saturday, however, was the really nice day. We got up at 9, ate the crappy hotel breakfast again, then headed over to the train station where we were supposed to meet our group at 11.45 for the Monet's Garden bike tour. (That's not in Paris, it's in Giverny; the company has a bike shed near the train station there.) We were early, so we went shopping, and Faith bought a bikini. As she was putting her clothes back on in the dressing room, I said, "Faith? Uh... how much time do we have?" There was a pause, then, "Um... five minutes." So she paid really fast (and got an Intuition razor as a free gift, which she gave to me) and we ran to the train station... and couldn't find our guide. Turned out Faith's watch was slow and we were late. We did make it, but not without a lot of confusion, panic, and running.

So we got there, got the bikes (AWESOME bikes, fat tires and easy to pedal and shift gears), went to a nearby market, bought lunch, went to a picnic spot next to a river (Mom: we were actually in the southern edge of Normandy...), then rode to the actual gardens. And it was totally irrational of me, but I was getting so angry at some of the people in my group. They kept ringing their bells just for fun, and bumping into each other, and losing their balance at the slightest thing. I've been living in a country where biking is a major mode of transportation, and to go from that to this... I could have expected it - did, actually - but it still made me (irrationally) very angry. The whole group went far slower than I'm used to, and every time I heard a bell, I moved to the right like you're supposed to and looked over my left shoulder to see who wanted to pass me. Only nobody wanted to pass me, because it was just the group being stupid. Oh well - at least the bike had nice fat tires so I could ride no-handed.

So, the gardens! Colorful, beatiful... and very crowded. I was disappointed about that; it really took away from the atmosphere. But it was nice to see 'for real' the images that I'd seen in Linnea in Monet's Garden when I was little. (That book was there, in the gift shop, along with a bunch of other stuff; the place was huge.) We went through the water lily gardens (you can walk on the Japanese bridge now, but I kinda think you shouldn't be allowed to) and then the normal flower gardens, and then through the big pink house itself. Then some poking in the gift shop and then the bike ride back. Train back to Paris, where Faith and I did some last-minute shopping before everything closed up - I got 2 cute little dresses for E25, amazing. One is the proverbial little black dress, and the other is a blue-and-white flowered one. Both are halter dresses and very comfortable. Faith and I also bought cellulite cream (it was 2 for E30 and we were curious if it works) and I have presents for Mom and Dad and Catie, too. ;) (And yes, Mom, I got your sunscreen!) Ducked into a restaurant for dinner, sat next to a Dutch family (I tried to talk to them, but the dad wasn't very friendly), then headed back.

So now hear about the night receptionist, a big black guy. Last night, Faith was trying to look up the airport taxi service in the phone book, and we were standing at the reception desk to do it. She had to run upstairs to get her flight info, so I stayed downstairs and kept looking. The guy asked me my name and where I was from, so I told him, and then he asked, "How old are you?" I answered that I was twenty, but then asked, "Why?" He didn't really answer, but his eyes shifted from my face to my boobs and back again, and he muttered a couple of words I didn't catch. I ignored him, heaved a mental sigh, and went back to the phone book, but a few seconds later he asked, "Are you married?" Staring at my chest as he asked. Needless to say, I found a reason to leave. Fast.

Speaking of my boobs (here I go sounding like dooce again) - why is that every single picture I have of me from the past few days has a cute little smiling face and then an EXPLOSION of a chest? It's not even funny, it's so bad. Especially the ones from Monet's garden and the ones where I'm leaning against Martin at the concert. Jesus. Maybe I can't blame Reina for asking if I'd had an enlargement...

Verdict: It was nice, but not awesome. I'm glad I went, because I saw some things I'd been hearing about all my life, but I'd never want to live there. I missed the Netherlands, actually, because I know I'm going home in a week and I want to spend my last few days here, not in some other city. That reinforces for me again how at home I feel here. It’s not just 'abroad' in general - I wouldn't live in France or Africa or Poland if you paid me - but it's this country. I'm not looking forward to the 21st.

So now I'm home, and Scott has apparently been living like a slob. The kitchen is a mess, with a full trash can, pizza boxes balanced on top, dirty dishes in the sink and on the stovetop... and, the worst indignation, he still has not bought toilet paper. I left on Thursday, for crying out loud, and it's Sunday night. There were approximately two-and-a-half sheets on the roll when I left (I did that on purpose, to make him realize that it doesn't just magically appear, that yes, I HAVE BEEN BUYING IT all year long... plus I like the idea of always-dignified Scott having to hop into the kitchen, in front of the window, with his pants around his ankles, to grab something vaguely paperlike), and instead of buying new TP, he's simply moved the roll of paper towels into the bathroom. Seems to be planning to live like that. Oh well, doesn't bother me - I'll be going to Emmen either tomorrow night or Tuesday morning and I won't be back except to grab my stuff on the 20th, so I'm sure I can survive till then.

(P.S. I just tried to publish this, and it’s a good thing I’m in the habit of highlighting and copying everything before I move on to the next page, otherwise I would have lost everything. Stupid connection. Also, something hurts at the back of my mouth on the left-hand side, but it’s not a tooth. It hurts to move my tongue in certain directions. Which means it hurts to chew. Weird.)

donderdag 10 juni 2004

Marco was AMAZING!!! And we were reasonably close to the podium, about ten meters back. (No, I have not suddenly learned how to estimate meters; I heard a guy behind me say it on his cell phone.) I am short, so I had to wiggle a bit to be able to see anything (a guy in front of me was constantly ducking out of the way of my camera, so I told him (in Dutch of course) that he wasn't in the way and he said, "You should have brought a stepladder!"), but we had a great time.

For those who didn't know, the group was Linde, Alette, Martin, and me. We all met in Rotterdam, laughed over the fact that Linde and I were dressed almost exactly alike, then went to McDonalds and then got ice cream. We took the tram to the stadium (after L and A almost got run over by a car...), waited in line for 30-40 minutes, finally got inside, then went in the wrong direction. We eventually got straightened out, but we collected about ten little keychain lamps in the process, because they were giving them out at every door. (Americans: during slow numbers, people often light their cigarette lighters and wave them slowly in the air, so these lights were a safer substitute.) Then we plopped down on the ground, slightly left of center and about ten meters back, and waited.

First came the 'All-Star Band' at 19.30, very short performances by a number of people, including Veldhuis & Kemper and Boris. Marco came on at 20.30. There was a big silver satellite-dish-looking thing in the middle of the stage (the whole thing was done in silver, white, and purple) and as the music swelled, it slowly turned around, and Marco turned out to be inside it. Then he 'flew' out towards us (harness) and the show began! He started with 'Laat me gaan', and after that I lost track. I called Liselotte during 'Zonder jou' and 'Afscheid nemen bestaat niet' and let her hear bits of them. (Everybody was doing that; Linde and Alette were calling their little sister at, like, every other song to let her hear bits, because she had so badly wanted to come.) Lotte SMSed back with, "Sounds good!" The two best songs were 'Je hoeft niet naar huis vannacht' (where L and A and I were jumping up and down and screaming with our arms around each other... that number is just so much better live!) and 'Afscheid nemen bestaat niet' (where M and I stood the whole time with our arms around each other, thinking 'If only that were true...')

Oh, and we're on the DVD! I guess they're doing it in pieces this time, a bit from every night, instead of just taping one night... Marco got on the mic a little less than halfway through and said that he loved hearing us sing along with him, but that he wanted to hear us sing by ourselves. So we all sang 'De bestemming' (with our swaying lights, of course), and he said afterwards that that would be on the DVD. So: COOL! I don't know when that's coming out, but I might actually be able to find myself... just look for two people in lime green shirts (me and Linde) right next to each other.

Anyway, I took my digital camera along (stuffed it in my pants while we went through security) but it was hard to get very good pictures of what was happening on the stage; there were too many people in front of me and we were a bit too far back. Martin had better luck - he's taller and could aim the camera a bit better without having to hold it over his head - but by that time it was getting dark and the pictures weren't coming out at all anymore. The two best photos were one of me, Linde, and Alette in the tram, and one of Martin and me sitting on the ground waiting for the show to start.

If you are the author of one of the two e-mails sitting in my Inbox, I apologize that I can't read them. In twelve days, I will finally be away from this cursed Internet. If it's important, call or SMS.

I'm leaving for Paris in approximately 15 minutes, so you won't hear from me for a few days. How will you all survive? ;)

dinsdag 8 juni 2004

What do you think of my new title bar??? :) Oh, I love Photoshop...

TOMORROW IS M-DAY - ALSO KNOWN AS MARCO BORSATO DAY!!! And no, we're not going at 9.00, haha... try 15.00.

Martin's going to be here in about 10 minutes so I have to go now...

maandag 7 juni 2004

Robin has her own site! She's been posting at DotMoms, but now she's started a blog of her own, and with good reason - the woman can write! Be sure to check her out, and don't forget my other hilarious favorites dooce, finslippy, and Laid-Off Dad while you're at it!

I’m in a venting mood, so here it all comes. First of all, I absolutely cannot stand Martin’s brother’s girlfriend. Actually, I’m not alone in that. I know I always say how much I love the Dutch openness, but really, something has got to be done about this girl. Her name is Reina, which in Spanish means ‘queen’, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. There are simply not words...

Martin had told me that the first time he met her, she had told him within fifteen minutes that he wasn’t as ‘caring’ (‘zorgzaam’) as his brother. I thought he must be exaggerating, but yesterday, she and Olaf (M’s brother) came over, and the six of us barbecued. And again, within fifteen minutes (I really have no idea how we got onto this topic, but...) she had told me flat-out, “You’re sturdier [‘steviger’] than I am. I’m taller, but I’m thinner, too.” If there were ever a time when I wanted to punch someone in the face… I mean, who SAYS that sort of thing to people? Especially people you’ve just met?

And it doesn’t end there. Well, I suppose the outrageous rudeness ends there (unless you count the fact that she went on to ask me if I had had a breast enlargement, to which I flatly said NO – like I would choose this! – after which she proceeded to trying to guess my cup size...), but there’s also the way she talks. Ve-ry slow-ly and clear-ly. (And no, that’s not her trying to overcompensate for English not being a first language or something – I’m talking about Dutch here. There’s never any English spoken in that house; Martin can speak a little and Reina claims she can too, but I’d be interested to hear the proof.)

And oh, is it annoying, listening to her talk. She doesn’t only talk slowly and clearly, she talks as if her brain has been sucked out through her ear canals, as if there’s just an empty space there which occasionally sends out a few echoes. We were all laughing over stories about how Olaf had abused his canary (which is now his parents’ canary), keeping it in a tiny cage and not feeding it if it ‘didn’t listen’ to him. Reina’s contribution to the conversation was a scolding, “O-laf! Je mag geen die-ren mis-han-de-len!” [“O-laf! You can’t a-buse a-ni-mals!”]

Anyway, to move on to another rant: I am officially sick of having no money. Here, it all gets sucked up by the exchange rate, and at home, it all gets sucked up by the car. Certain people think that I spend carelessly; I really don’t buy unnecessary things that often. A lot of money goes to cell phone bills (at home I’m on our family plan), train tickets, and bus strippenkaarten, and of course there’s the fact that you have to do grocery shopping practically every day here because everybody buys everything fresh and liquids only come in liters, considerably smaller than gallons. As for fun things, I have bought, in the course of one year, three concert tickets (Elton John, Shania Twain, and of course Marco Borsato), a camping backpack, a bikini, a few (necessary) articles of clothing like T-shirts, a bottle of Celine Dion perfume, and as my big ‘whopper’ purchase, I went to Tenerife. That’s not that bad. But I am officially desperate for as many jobs as I can get. I have one, or at least I’m fairly certain I have one, back in Gainesville, and of course I have the six weeks of Ton-A-Wandah. But if anyone has anything else to offer me – translation (or anything, actually) that can be done via e-mail, or designing websites, or something else part-time… do hit me up. Please.

Saw GTST tonight - a rather touching episode - on Friday, Barbara and Valerie told Charlie that Valerie is really her mother... cliff-hanger of the century... so tonight were all the reactions. I also saw Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which I really like, cheesy as it is. The family tonight had two little boys and the mother was pregnant again - with TRIPLETS. So of course they did all the 'normal' redesigning stuff, but the big surprise was the nursery, because the family didn't know themselves if they were having boys or girls, and so the show host went to the doctor's office and found out, so the design team would know what color(s) to use for the nursery. Turned out they were having two boys and a girl, and the mother was SO happy that she finally had a girl to go along with four boys... I'd be the same way, haha. Not like we can choose, but when that day comes, I definitely want a girl...

Okay, beginning to ramble now. Guess I'd better put that to good use by working on my paper.

Until next time!

P.S. Countdown: 14 days :(

zondag 6 juni 2004

Hi! I'm in Emmen again, back upstairs being antisocial (Martin's working, his parents are downstairs), so this will be short. It's been a nice, if busy, couple of days - I went to Marrit's house on Friday, and boy, is it nice. (That's her new house, which she shares with her brother and four friends.) I'm jealous, haha! So I got the house tour, we looked at photos for a while, and somewhere in here I got an SMS from Liselotte asking if I wanted to come over for dinner, to which I said yes. So then Marrit and I went to the Vingerhoed to have lunch and catch up a bit, and afterwards I had to go to class, which was over very quickly because all the presentations are done with.

So I headed over to Zeist on my bike, but I forgot to SMS and say that I was earlier than I'd thought... I got there and the doctor's office (L lives above it) was still open, so I was able to just walk in without ringing the bell. So I climbed the two flights of stairs, expecting to find her on the couch watching movies like she had said she was. Well, the TV was on, the blanket was on the couch, and there were dishes everywhere (she hasn't been able to do them because of her hand injuries), but no Liselotte. So I knocked on her bedroom door (lightly, because I thought she might be sleeping), and got no answer. So I figured she must have run to the supermarket or something, so I sat down in the living room, started watching ER, and picked up my phone to SMS her. But as I was typing, I saw that her phone was lying in the couch. So I decided to just sit and wait... and about ten minutes later, she came walking in (she HAD been asleep), then almost had a heart attack to find me sitting there. ("Wil je dat NOOIT weer doen?!"...) Anyway, so we made lasagna and watched TV and talked, and then I left on my bike... biked another 15 km, dus!!! I'm good. :)

So then yesterday I went to Eindhoven to see 'Stacker' and get a 'city tour' haha... which turned out to be sitting in the V&D for two hours, then walking around a bit, then sitting at a restaurant for two hours... talking about everything from IQs to Independence Day vs. Armageddon to statistics to the geography of the Netherlands (I was 'quizzed' about city locations...) to the 'village nut' on his motorbike... the time flew by... and then I got back on the train for the second hour of what would be a four-hour train day...

Went back to Utrecht (hour 2)... then to Zwolle (hour 3, in the spitsuur, with every seat full)... then to Emmen (hour 4)... and then we went to bed early, because M had to get up at 5.50 to go to work and I was tired from not getting enough sleep this week, plus I had bad stomach cramps, source unknown... So we crashed out, and then he got up this morning tired and droopy while I was actually pretty awake, and couldn't figure out why. And then I realized it was my James Weldon Johnson and Stanton days kicking in again... that was seven years of waking up at six every weekday. So nowadays, I can wake up at seven or eight or nine o'clock and still be tired, but if I get up at six, I'm not only awake, but hungry. Very odd.

So now I'm in Emmen, as I said, sitting upstairs being antisocial. His mom is downstairs preparing all different kinds of meat (we're barbecuing tonight - M's brother and his brother's girlfriend (whom neither of us can stand) are coming too) and his dad is, I believe, singing. At least that's what it sounds like.

I have 15 days left, and they are all full.

7 - class; turn in my final essay about Middle Dutch which I have now FINISHED!!!
8 - last day of classes! Plus meeting Antoanette in between classes.
9 - MARCO BORSATO!!! with Linde, Alette, and Martin (poor guy, surrounded by chicks all day)
10 - train to Paris
11 - Paris; pick Faith up in the morning, shopping, then bike tour of the city at night
12 - Paris; maybe going to Monet's garden
13 - leave Paris
14 - 11.30 Marrit, 16.30 Wim's last lesson (in Doetinchem)
15 - (hopefully) see Pauline, (hopefully) Peter will pick up my bed, (hopefully) go to Emmen
16 - Emmen
17 - Emmen
18 - beach with Linde
19 - Emmen
20 - Emmen
21 - going home!

At least I hope I'll be going home, because I haven't received my plane tickets yet. Why not? I checked the option of 'fast delivery'. It's been three weeks! Well, I just sent a couple of e-mails to the company, so we'll see what happens.

donderdag 3 juni 2004

I saw Harry Potter last night! It was pretty good; the new Dumbledore (Sir Michael Gambon) looks strikingly like Richard Harris. Those who just watch the movies for fun (Martin) and aren't detail-obsessed freaks (*cough*me*cough*) probably wouldn't even notice a difference. The movie itself was good; there's a new director as well, the guy from Y tu mamá también, but the feared drop in quality isn't really present. Ann-Christin and Pip and I noticed a bit of difference - the first half of the movie felt a bit 'jerky', as if the director had had a laundry list of events that he wanted to include and just went down the list - but the second half flowed better and tied up most of the loose ends.

(And here I go with the stuff that no one but the real fans will get...) I say most of the loose ends, because Pettigrew escaped and we weren't told what happened to him. I can't remember myself, actually, because I haven't read the book in so long, but I'm sure that was wrapped up in some way. JK Rowling doesn't often leave us hanging. Also, the movie failed to mention the alliance between Remus (Moony), Pettigrew (Wormtail), Sirius (Padfoot), and Harry's father (Prongs). They were all Animagi (could turn into animals), and their nicknames come from the animals they became. The map with those nicknames on it is present, but the identities of the makers are never explained, nor is the fact that Harry conjures a Patronus in the shape of a stag. We see it, but we're never told that that was because the Stag was his father's Animagi identity. We're also never told that the reason the tunnel leads to the Shrieking Shack is because they used to lock Remus there when he turned into a werewolf, so he couldn't hurt anyone. Anyway, bottom line: there is SO much information in those books that of course certain things have to be left out... but I think Chris Columbus, the director of the first two movies, did a better job of choosing what he should leave out and what needed to be included.

P.S. Did Hermione punch Malfoy in the book? Because in the movie, she does, and he runs away from her. That is totally NOT in his character.

Anyway, moving on. I have a new necklace :) a present from Martin, and I also bought a new backpack. Mom, stop groaning - listen. I've been seeing all these ads at the train stations for a new anti-theft backpack from Samsonite, so I went to check it out, because remember how that digital camera got stolen in December, right out of my front pocket? I wanted to at least see if this thing was 'worth its salt'. Well, it was - there's one (flat) pocket with the zipper against your back, so no one can open it, and the other one opens like a normal backpack but then turns around the side of the pack and hides under a Velcro flap, so no one can open that either. Plus there are pen slots and a key fob and a CD pocket and a headphone cord hole and stuff, plus a cell phone pocket on the shoulder strap. Samsonite is a good (read: expensive) brand, so I didn't really consider buying it, but it turned out that they only had two left and they were on sale for only 40 euro. So I bought it, in light blue. I'll definitely use it in Paris, among other things.

And Martin checked his schedule, and he IS free for the Marco concert, and even has a late shift the day after - perfect! So he can go, and I get 60 euro :) haha... both good things! ;)

4 - see Marrit, class 15-17u
5 - go to Eindhoven for the day, then go to Emmen
6 - Emmen (barbecue!)
7 - maybe go with M to physiotherapy (his therapist is American), then go to class
8 - last day of classes!
9 - MARCO BORSATO!!! with Linde, Alette, and Martin (poor guy, surrounded by chicks all day)
10 - train to Paris
11 - Paris; pick Faith up in the morning, shopping, then bike tour of the city at night
12 - Paris; maybe going to Monet's garden
13 - leave Paris
14 - Wim's last lesson
15 - go to Emmen
16 - Emmen
17 - Emmen
18 - beach with Linde
19 - Emmen
20 - Emmen
21 - going home!

Oh, and everybody send get-well wishes to Liselotte - she fell down the stairs a couple of days ago and has numerous bruises and aches (even went to the hospital), so click on the link to her site on the right-hand side and leave a message in the guestbook! :)

dinsdag 1 juni 2004

I can send mail through the router! From both accounts! When did that happen? And what has changed?? Oh well, so long as it stays that way :) (knock on wood...)

We had a 'city walk' this morning instead of an actual seminar - our teacher took us through Utrecht and we saw all these historical things (mostly churches). We were all pretty bored, but it was better than normal class. Ann-Christin and I had coffee afterwards and then I went to the supermarket and came home, but now I have to go back to class (yes, 16.30... weird time, I know).

And tomorrow I'm going to see Harry Potter!!! I added a fourth ticket to the reservation, so it's now me, Martin, Ann-Christin, and Pip (AC's roommate... short for Phillippa; she's Australian and really cool). Can't believe we got in on the first day! :) Maybe everyone else is going to the Dutch-dubbed version. Bah. I am a strong supporter of the 'everything-is-always-better-in-the-original-language' standpoint. :)

I just sent out a mass mail to all the Dutchies that I want to see one more time... excluding Linde because she's going to Marco, plus we're going to the beach, plus she's (probably) driving me to Schiphol. And 'Stacker' saw that I had 'holes in my schedule' and offered to fill one with a tour of Eindhoven, haha... so it now looks like this:

2 - Wim's last lesson; HARRY POTTER! :)
3 - Martin in Utrecht
4 - class 15-17u
5 - Eindhoven!
7 - class 13-15u (hopefully turn in paper...)
8 - class 11-13u and 16.30-18u... last day of classes! :)
10 - go to Paris!
11 - Paris
12 - Paris
13 - come home from Paris
18 - beach with Linde
21 - Go home!

...Okay, so who wants to claim the rest of the empty spaces??? :)

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