(1) Friday. Trung, a guy in our unit, had his 21st birthday party in our common room. It's hard to explain Trung unless you know him, but he is short, Vietnamese, NOT shy, does NOT have ego problems, and is convinced he is the most well-endowed guy within the Dutch border (and won't hesitate to tell you so) ... and yet we all somehow like him anyway. Don't ask me to explain. As a present, Dia and I wrote him a poem (which we read out loud) which included references to his cat obsessions, sexual experience (or lack thereof), pronunciation issues, unfortunate haircuts, and tendency to ask stupid questions. (But it ended on a sweet note, and everybody, Trung included, thought it was hilarious.) Anyway, so his party basically involved about 75 of his nearest and dearest, lots of (repeated) Lou Bega music, some chips and chocolate, a little dancing, and quite a lot of alcohol (of course). I didn't actually end up drinking anything myself because I was running around doing other stuff and chatting with different people (including a Danish girl I'd never met who speaks perfect American English and whom I got along really well with) but some of the other partygoers apparently did - well, at least one. At 5:00, pajama-clad, I stepped into our bathroom for a last pee and was greeted by... an interestingly-colored surprise sprayed over the walls, floor, and Porcelain God. Gross. I went storming back into the common room, where about 10 people (mostly from our unit) were still sitting, and demanded in Dutch, "Who puked all over our bathroom?" This caused (a) quite the stir, and (b) an immediate argument as to who had to clean it up. Ugh.
(2) Saturday. Today should have been spent working on my thesis but ended up with me meeting Marrit by the Dom for cappuccino (in the afternoon) and Christine at the Neude for hot chocolate (at night). Fun times, fun times. It was great to see Marrit again - she has a 'real job' now, even if she doesn't like it much, and she and DK have been together over five years now (wow)! And of course it's always great to see Christine. I'm glad she and I are actually getting together on a regular basis and not just meeting up once and then forgetting each other again. Meeting her was one of the biggest coincidences ever - the ONE Dutch counselor at Ton-A-Wandah 2004 gets paired with the ONE Dutch-speaking American counselor in (I assume) the entire camp network... and not only that, but we ended up getting along so incredibly well! We make fun of each other shamelessly, and never miss a chance to get in a 'dig', but that doesn't diminish our ability to talk about serious stuff. I'd probably have to count her as one of my best friends, and we don't even live in the same country. Oh, and if I get my Eurail act together in summer 2006, she's considering hopping on the bandwagon for at least the Italy branch of the trip. That would rock.
(3) Sunday (today). Efteling day! The weather was gorgeous all day long, cloudless blue sky and yellow-orange leafy trees. It didn't start so auspiciously, though - My planned 7:15 wakeup time became 8:03, with Marijt standing over me (thank goodness the door to our unit doesn't always lock completely!) and saying, "Jess, it's 8:00, we're supposed to catch the bus in 8 minutes, get up!" Reflexively looking at my desk, I suddenly realized my alarm clock was gone. Not on the floor, not pushed along the desk, just gone. Turning my attention to the task at hand, I got dressed, threw some stuff into a purse, and hurried with Marijt to the bus stop, at which point we realized that the bus we were supposed to catch did not even exist (thank you kindly, 9292ov.nl) and therefore we weren't actually late on account of me after all. The bus came at 8:21 and our train left at 8:34, so it was an extremely close shave, but we did make it.
Anyway, we met Britt and Hebe at the Den Bosch station (where it turned out Britt had been in our very same train, LOL) and took the Efteling bus. Hebe is nuts about the Efteling and had everything all planned out - where we would go first, where the lines would be longest, etc. The other three of us basically just followed her all day, but she turned out to be almost infallibly right, so that was actually kind of nice. :) We hit:
- the Python (modern roller coaster)
- the Pegasus (wooden roller coaster)
- the Sprookjesbos (lit. Fairy Tale Forest, with all kinds of fairy tale 'creatures' and displays)
- something that was exactly like the Mad Tea Party (spinning teacups, only in this case it was primary-colored cauldrons and the ride sang a song in French about cannibals and not wanting to die)
- Carnaval-something-or-other (like It's a Small World, but with a different theme song... 'DA da-da, DA da-da, DA, da-da...')
- a roller coaster in the dark with a falcon (or some other big scary bird) theme
- the famous, beloved Droomvlucht (takes you through an enchanted forest full of elves and fairies and trolls and such)
- a Pirates of the Caribbean-like ride involving Arabs instead of pirates
- the requisite 'swinging boat', seen at most modern-day American fairs
- the Pagode, a slowly turning wheel which lifts up and lets you see the whole park
...and more which I can't be bothered to remember right now. I liked everything, but my favorite was probably Villa Volta, which is like a haunted house, but more complicated. You go into a room where you hear a 'legend' about the Bokkenrijders ('goat riders') and all the evil things they did (they were like 'land pirates', basically) and about how this house belongs to one of them. (It's all done in a voiceover which is (a) very old-fashioned, and (b) in a very southern-Netherlands accent, which I found hard to understand. Marijt and Britt mentioned the weirdness as well; Hebe, however, who is from the south, had the entire thing memorized!) Then in the second room, an animatronic man (very well done, blinking and natural movements and all) talks to you about "This house, this cursed house...!" Then you go into a third and final room where you file into four rows of church pew-looking things, two facing two across the center of the room. And then... scary music plays and you begin to flip slowly upside down. Or at least you think you do. It's crazy - the rows of pews are on a sort of swing, like the swinging boat, so you do move (slowly) forward and backward, like a rocking chair, feeling the pull of gravity... but the room is moving as well, except they go so gradually and compensate so well that you can't see that at all! So at some points (for example), you're feeling the pull of gravity forward on your body, down to what should be the ground, yet it's actually the right-hand wall, which was across from you when you started, or the ceiling. Et cetera. It's incredibly disorienting, but at the same time very cool. I had to admire the work that had obviously gone into it; it was flawless.
Oh yes, and we also had poffertjes (tiny pancakes with butter and powdered sugar), which were wonderful, and broodjes kroket (purely Dutch, also wonderful) with mustard, and, for dinner, McDonalds. Healthy to the core, eh?
After a 20-minute search this evening, I found my clock. It was in my bed. I suspect that it was under my pillow, because in the rush to get ready this morning, I flung the duvet around all over the place trying to think of where that stupid clock could be. But my obvious question now is, how did it get there? It couldn't have simply fallen, like I hit it clumsily, because it would have fallen on the floor. So my guess is that I for some reason, instead of just hitting it, reached out and grabbed it and pulled it into bed as it went off, then shoved it into some fabric crevice or another and went back to sleep. I remember absolutely none of this. However, I am somewhat relieved, because it means I wasn't sleepwalking. (Would you believe I went and checked the refrigerator, to make sure it wasn't there?) Anyway, it's home again.
(4) Other random things going through my head:
- I found out the dates for some of my swims this summer. Key West is June 10th, Manhattan Island is June 24th, and the Boston Light is August 12th. Tampa Bay I have no date for yet, but it's always around Earth Day, so it'll definitely be in April. I'm not planning to do the whole Key West swim (12.5 miles) this year, because I want to swim Manhattan Island (28.5 miles) and I want more than two weeks' recovery time, but some of the J-ville Masters swimmers have gotten interested now (because of my trip last year) and they want to compete this time, so maybe we can put a relay together. Or, if I completely tank on the Tampa Bay effort, I may write off Manhattan and do all of Key West. We'll see.
- I had my creative writing review on Friday and it was really good. I'm trying to keep pretty quiet about the actual comments among the other class members when they ask my grade, but this is MY blog, so I can brag here. Anyway, the teacher said that the work I was doing was beyond the scope of the course, that in seven years of teaching, he'd had only one or two other students who came close to me, and that if I wanted to 'edit' any of his assignment ideas in the future and pitch my own idea to him to do instead, that that would be fine. Direct quote: "You'll end up with an A-plus for the course if you keep going like this." (pats my portfolio) Also, he said the last piece I wrote, the one about swimming, was the best I'd done so far; personally, I thought it was long-winded and dull, but he apparently loved it. I guess the old adage 'write what you know' really is true. But anyway, that stuff was all really nice to hear; I like that teacher a lot and really value his opinion, plus we all just need praise once in a while. Rock on, Jess! :) (In the same vein, however, I have to come up with a short story idea by Tuesday. The did-I-sleepwalk, where's-my-clock, what-did-I-do thing started to give me some thoughts, but does anyone else have any ideas?)
- I go back to school on January 9th, and my graduation will be May 6th at 9:00am. Funny to actually have a date set... then I can cross 'Earn a B.A. in Linguistics' off that right-hand column list...
- I get to play paintball on Tuesday!
- I am incredibly broke. I have E109 for the rest of my time here. Of course, there's still money in my American account, and I don't have to pay for any food (in theory), and I've already bought almost everything I was planning on buying, but still... I was kind of hoping to have some money left over.
- In response to that, I have decided to hold a 'garage sale' a few days before I leave. I'll sell my bike, my heavy American-European converter, my small red Speedo backpack (bet one of the Zinkstuk swimmers would want it), my bed linens, Celine Dion body wash, and a bunch of small things like hand lotion, extra batteries, etc. I'm trying to get ahold of the e-mail address of the next girl to live in this room, so I can ask her if she wants my bike and/or linens. If she's American, she might want the converter, too - who knows?
Guess that's all for now... I was long-winded after all, but oh well...