Friday, December 29, 2006


I was looking at our website, figuring out what needs fixing (suggestions welcome, by the way) before things get so crazy I don't have time for it. The website links in the Blogs tab need updating - so many people don't really look at their sites once they're married. I like ours, and hope we'll keep using it - I enjoy fiddling with it, and I love how it makes it easier to have a central place where people can find out about your life. I don't link it from this site because the people who need to know about it already do, and others have no business with it. Look at those save the dates and nifty invitations, people.

Anyway, it made me all sentimental, happening across the well-hidden Alter Egos page, and the explanation of the site. My Turkish colleague was right - women do lose their good sense when they marry.

Ordinary Day

Someone is subversively playing "I'm a believer" over the intercom, the corridors are empty, the fire alarm is not working and generally everything indicates that today is the last work day before the new year.

I just had lunch with someone who put their bible study book across from my book - Pratchett and Gaiman's Good Omens. It's a wonder that nothing burst into flame.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


An entirely non-scientific IQ test tells me that my IQ is 135, which if of course nonsense, but oh well, I was feeling stupid lately, and it made me think.

Last year when I was feeling much smarter, I took the same test and scored 115, which sounded right and confirmed that I am fairly average and besides, I never did believe in IQ tests and in fact rather remember being bored halfway and leaving when I took it in highschool.

I am tired and dazed, and why am taking test while working anyway?
My, what shameless for-profit liars they are.

Not a good sign

Those of you who know me a well will know that I can be a little (and only a little) paranoid, particularly when it comes to health issues. It seems that I am a bit of a hypochondriac, simply because I have very hard time telling apart "real" symptoms and things that are stress- or otherwise psychologically caused. Part of the reason for this is that my reactions to stress vary greatly, and my body will cunningly con me every time. When I ended up in the ER in Hungary at four in the morning with excruciating pain, they ran every test they had on me and found nothing. Does this mean I am crazy? Does it mean that they were stupid? Probably neither, but the fact is that in their book I was perfectly healthy*.

When returned to Belgium earlier this year I got a mystery rash that persisted for weeks. Doctor didn't see any reason for it, I had all sorts of fears about it, but in the end it just went away.

I had fairly serious burns earlier this year, and in the ER was almost relieved to have something obvious and clearly diagnosable and treatable.

And now here I am, with yet more paranoia and anxiety. It becomes harder and harder to get rid of, as I find out about the fallibility of tests, doctors and other exorcists. Oh well, at least this piece of anxiety doesn't involve me having any horrible diseases.

*which did not stop them from keeping me in the hospital for days, in spite of my protest

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Drive thru

I already knew, I guess, that Christmas in the US is a strange thing. Yesterday, however, my experience thereof reached new heights as the Spouse & I were driving through some new and (for me) unexplored part of the city on the way to dinner*.

There was a drive thru nativity at one of the churches on the way. Tragically enough, we did not have time to visit this particular celebration of the birth of the Saviour (what with being on our way). And I guess that time is of the essence, as people get a quick religious fix on their way home? I tell you, soon they will have drive thru blessings for the religiously distressed, a quick stop between grocery shopping and picking the kids up after football practice.

* With, as it happens, Drek and his Sainted Fiancee, whom you will know from his erratic semi-serious blog.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I am listening to exceedingly happy classical music - the piece is one with which I am really infatuated. That is good thing, since it is supposed to be our wedding processional. Sometimes making decisions isn't so bad. Today has been a pretty busy day, and things aren't exactly slowing down, but yes, this is mostly the fun stuff.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Mi mi mi

Shoes. I bought shoes today, and talked to a DJ and saw yet another florist.

Weddings are weird, but I think ours will be fun. You know what? We're even sort of on schedule with stuff. It's amazing.

And I am very pleased with the shoes.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Things you never thought you would be doing

There is a long list of things I never thought I would be doing, one of which is reading the bible with the Spouse on a Tuesday morning.

Why are we reading the bible? Well, church wedding, and there you go - we're trying to select a reading for the service. We met with the minister yesterday, and she seems entirely nice and reasonable.

A minister. It is odd that there is this minister wo will do our wedding. All this God-ness. It's odd. Still, it is a church, so such things are to be expected.

Time to pick that reading, then.


It has been too long.

This is not entirely surprising what with Christmas and work and travel and weddings. We're in Florida now, which means we are in the middle of arrangements, and it's busy; but it also means that we are away from the usual stress for a bit. It is good to have some headspace for the wedding again. It's nice to be able to devote some energy to it, not just sheer force of will.

We're making headway, invitations are sent, and basically things are on track. It's nice to think about the little things, the creative things, the fun things about getting married - music, flowers, cake of course. Special touches.

Life is good. Little threats loom, but there, I won't worry about it now. Life is good. I am tired, and well-fed, and watching The Constant Gardener. I should focus on that. More blogging later.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I am the rulingest

Some time ago I told you all that I am something of a glorified secretary. This still holds true - I do the filing, invoices, figure out people's expense notes. I am, however, now particularly glorified. Not only have I been promised business cards, the ultimate outward demonstration of a stash of Professional Goddess points, but I have been given an extra title, a much fancier one than my main one. Moreover, I am now in charge of the relationship with one of the biggest players in the field we work in, and have talked them into* visiting us and lending us stuff.

I rule.

*I admit that they did not take much convincing, but I still impressed my boss, who already has an opinion of me that is much higher than any of my modest talents warrant. Not that I am complaining.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

In the head

This is a really interesting story - a bit creepy though, and while I know that we have come a long way since the lobotomy, it still makes me shudder. Still, a development worth keeping an eye on.

Nothing much

Today is a busy busy day so I'll keep this short - besides there is not much to say. My dad has left for home, sadly. At the end of the week the Spouse and I are heading to milder climates for Christmas and wedding stuff. Florists. Cake. It'll be good to have a bit more time to spend on all of that. Meanwhile there is of course frantic Christmas shopping.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Most of the time

These last fews posts have really gotten me thinking about forgiveness. I once asked my sister's then-boyfriend which was better, to forgive or to forget (in line with my questions about what to do when Armageddon comes, and my questions requiring a response on a scale from 1 to 10). He said it was better to forget, because who can truly forgive when the offence is remembered. At the time I thought that that was a pretty sensible.

Recently, I have come to remember another thing which pertains to forgiveness - I think the quote is from Anita Brookner, and it runs something like this: "Once a thing is known, it can never be unknown, it can only be forgotten". While this may seem like like a marginal difference, I feel that forgetting always has the potential of remembering. And if and when you remember, and if you have not forgiven, aren't you back where you started?

I make the above point because this happens to me all the time. For long stretches of time I will forget offences against me and things I am angry about; in fact I have been know to forget the topic of an argument during the argument itself. This in itself is fine - resentfulness is all about having a good memory, and I'd rather do without. However. Sometimes I am reminded of some old insult, and I need nothing more than that spark to be as angry about it as I ever was before.

Sometimes I think I have an anger management problem. I will get really quite angry about things, at people, and then, like a narcoleptic going to sleep, I will forget. Like a gas stove burner or a light switch. This is odd. As such, I have come to accept that sometime soon I will have to start curbing my anger, and start thinking about it and dealing with it, rather than bursting into flame. Bursting into flame can be very useful, if you do it well and politely, but in everyday life I don't want to be the person who gets grumpy and nasty every time my husband forgets something, or every time someone overlooks a small courtesy. As you can imagine, both of these things happen frequently.

You know, I used to think I had some big underlying blaze of anger; but maybe I don't. Maybe I am just petulant, and used to getting my way, simply because I asked nicely. Maybe I should just learn to put things aside a little, let go for a moment. Relax. Yes. I am trying hard, and I need to learn quickly. I remember this poem from Tanis MacDonald, a Canadian poet I once came across, where she talks about how with love, you should starts small and persist. Learn to love a piece of toast, and watch it congeal. And still love it. I think this is how I need to learn to forgive - in bits and pieces, starting with the dirty kitchen floor.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

See, I'm all emotional now

Sometimes things just kind of catch you unawares.

I just got some pictures from a friend's wedding. She's an old friend, and a good one, and I miss having her around. They looked so happy, and it made me so happy to see them. It's good to see a good love celebrated, it's good to see it when people's faces light up. I was sad to miss the wedding, because it was such a great reason to throw a party, such a lovely thing to witness.

She wrote to me and told me all of the things that I needed to hear (see, it's always an advantage to have people around who remember what you were actually like when you were fifteen). She of course also guessed who I was talking about.

The whole thing reminded me of why I am bothering with this wedding, and it reminded me of how cool my friends are. How come we always remember and forget the wrong things?

Mind you, I should probably tell her about that. And about Dr. Evil.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It begs the question

It takes a lot for me to be angry with anyone for longer than five minutes. I am just not the type. I don't have the stamina. All the same, every once in a while it happens. Not often, of course; once every six or seven years perhaps. When that happens, when I get angry with someone, it takes me a very, very, long time to forgive, or better still, forget.

It would be good to forget.

I think of that song -
"Don't waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long, and in the end, it's only with yourself.
Remember compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements."
But the fact is today I was reminded of someone I used to know, a friend of mine from before. Someone whom I called my friend, and who never was - oh when I was sillier, and clumsier, and a teenager. People do thoughtless things at that age, and I should know that, and leave it at that. The truth then, is that I threw away his few letters then - not love letters - and am glad that I did. They meant nothing. I still have the bank statements.

Today I was reminded of this faux friend (very much in the way of faux fur) and it was a happy thought - I was reminded of him and tempted to send him an article he would be interested in. I don't have his email of course, why would I need it? And so I googled him, and found someone who may or may not be him, and I was envious and angry; this person who might be the one I was so angry with for so long seemed to be doing so well.

These are the times when I wish I were a christian, because the human spirit resists letting go, resists forgiveness. Was it that I wanted the things he (maybe) has? Heavens, I don't even know what that would be, exactly. No. Of course not. I am quite happy here. But his achievements looked so much better than mine, and it becomes hard to tell whether it arouses my ambition, or only my envy. The two are hard to untangle.

You see, right now, I am a somewhat glorified secretary. Does that mean I don't enjoy my job? Well of course not. I like my job, I like like the team, and I love all the techie stuff I get involved in. Moreover I am starting out in the sector I wanted to be in, the sector for which I gave up my silly dreams of academia and my corporate years. I sincerely believe that the work being done in this very building is more valuable than anything I would have done at a university. What's more, I believe that my particular job is more useful to society than anything I could have done at a university. Don't get me wrong, I am not generalising to all university activity, but my being a PhD student at some university, digging into, say, the works of Lord Alfred Douglas just wasn't going to change the world much. Give me demonstrating technology that will drastically impact people's lives any day of the week.

When I interviewed for this job, the interviewer noted that I would be well suited for a PhD programme. I don't agree - I think I have neither the academic skills nor the persistence for it. He pointed out that taking this job was a choice, and it is one I made fairly easily at the time. Bloom where you're planted, people here say, and so I bloom, here in this city and in this building. For now I just want to be good at what I do, learn more, and be a good spouse. I work hard at that one, because the silly notion of someone being the best thing that ever happened to you...well I think it applies here. Whenever I look at someone else, and being human only, I do, it only ever reminds of how much better I have it, how much harder it would be to be with anyone else. Oh, I expect I will not always feel so, but as long as I remember, most of the time...

Have I convinced myself now?

Mostly, I think. It is hard to try not to want to look glamourous all the time, but I am happy, and what's more, if said faux friend is an academic now, I almost certainly earn more money.

You see, forgiveness and charity have almost reached me, but not quite.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Not all

I am tempted to write about wheelchairs today, because there was a really sad wheelchair in my day today. At the time, there was a cranky 92-year-old in said wheelchair and there was nothing I could do to make her feel any better.

It is not my job to make anyone feel better, but it helps.

Since I left the corporate world, I am now, so everyone keeps reminding me, in the business of changing people's lives. For the better. I enjoy that part of things almost as much as I enjoy the part of my job that involves me playing with expensive gadgets and talking to inventors.

Lately, I have heard so many inspirational stories, seen so many people with inspirational lives, that it becomes easy to forget that some people's stories aren't inspirational, only long hard struggles to keep what they must inevitably lose. Like time. There is so much work being done on knocking down the walls that people face here; but some walls just can't be broken down.

Friday, December 01, 2006

South paw

For the record, I am indeed left-handed. And I doubt that any of you will fully read this, which is a shame. It is a splendid piece of oratory. Ok - I'll give you a teaser then:

"Supersensitive? Quibbling? Not on your life. Left-handers, arise! You have nothing to lose but your chains. They probably don't fit you anyway, being made for the right-handed."

Oh, and it is about much more important stuff, but hell, it's funny too.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Well, you have probably noticed, I haven't been blogging much. This is not such a bad thing, since nobody ever reads this nonsense anyway, but well, I like to blog.


I leave at six am and get home at six pm and last weekend we drove 1800 miles and this Friday my dad is coming over and then there is the wedding and Christmas shopping and learning to drive and frankly I don't know when I will resurface. So this is to let you know that I won't be blogging as much, since by the time I get round to it my sense of humour is generally exhausted. So I'll try to do this every other day or soish, rather than every dayish.

God, when did I ever get to have so much more life than time?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thanks, and cops

So last Thursday was Thanksgiving. The Spouse and I went to see his family, and had the Proper Thanksgiving Dinner, which was lovely. We drove there and back, and in the process acquianted ourselves with Thanksgiving traffic and the fact that local cops in South Carolina are very, very bored.

Certainly there is much to be thankful for this year - the Spouse, relative good health and spirits, plenty of good luck, plenty of loved ones to love one.

But at the moment I am most thankful for my bed at the end of a long, weary day.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

He's eeeevil

The head of my new workplace is not, in fact, evil. He is intelligent, very well-respected as well as generally admired. For his positive impact, that is, not his evil genius.

Why do I keep seeing pictures in my head of him stroking a cat?

Personally, I think it is a combination of a certain type of smugness, and a certain type of son. I keep having to stop myself from calling him Scott. You know, strict besuited father, somewhat dishevelled, somewhat rebellious son.

Must not address anyone as Dr. Evil.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

There is no joy...

Quite like watching a 800 pound Hawaiian play the ukelele.

That said, it'll be Thanksgiving soon, and I am almost ready for the all-American experience. I hope it will be fun. Warm. Fuzzy. Whatever.

I'll be singing All you need is love all the way to the ATM tomorrow. Because when you have some money, all you need is love. When you have love, and no money, love is nice, but money wouldn't hurt either.

I ramble.

What I mean is that I do indeed have love, and now some financial stability. Not bad, even if I have to get up early for it.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Cauliflower, or the beauty of the universe

This is the most impressive feat of horticulture I have seen in quite a while. I wanted to share the fractal beauty of the cauliflower, in case you were starting to doubt the universe.

Yes, work is good, yada yada as my boss would say. I'll blog about it sometime. Oh, and I have a green card, Which is amazing, and about a year ahead of schedule. And we just saw Happy Feet, which is odd, and funny. It has one joke in it which, all by itself makes the movie worth seeing.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Closing time

Today was my first day at my new work. It turned out unexpectedly well. Maybe this means that I am a cynic. Anyway, it went well, and I am pleased about that.

I am also extraordinarily tired; tired from getting up too early, tired from sleeping too little, tired from all the stress and tired from walking a long way in heels.

Today is also a good news day, a very good news day, but since the good news is not absolutely and utterly certain yet I will not jinx it by mentioning it here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Today I got my learner's permit and a haircut. My last day of freedom was spent mostly at the DMV. Tonight the Spouse is coming home from his trip.

Tomorrow I start work.

I talked to a friend today as well, who is thinking of going back to school. I am not. Right now I have no ambition. I suppose it'll come back someday. Just being here now gives me so many options I didn't have before. Hmmmm. And that's pretty nice.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A book tip

I just finished reading How would a patriot act? by Glenn Greenwald. It is the first thing I have read in a while that is truly bipartisan and truly intelligent and well-informed.

The man also has a very well-known blog which I have added to my list. His post about Feingold is especially interesting.

It is a very small and inexpensive book, and with Lakoff's Don't think of an elephant it is my bookrecommendation for anyone with any interest at all in current US politics.

Lately, I have been reading a lot of non-fiction, particularly on politics. Time for the TDEC to read some Austen.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


For some people life is simple. For Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller The Five Languages, 3 million copies sold, life is simple. He is a successful marriage counsellor, himself happily married, and like a cookbook, his book gives the impression that his is the best way to make pumpkin pie.

Speaking of pumpkin pie, I need to learn to make it. That most American of holidays, Thankgiving, is coming up, and I am going to have to at least attempt to make the Spouse not miss his out-of-state family too much.

Anyway, as part of our not-so-premarital sort-of-counselling, as suggested by the church where we will get married, I am reading the above book. For a person not prone to self-help* books, reading this book is a strange experience. Chapman uses some pretty awful gender stereotypes, and makes some seriously annoying absolutist statements**; all the same I am mesmerised.

Self-help books always have a somewhat biblical air, not in their style, but in their self-confidence that theirs is the truth. Perhaps that is why I am so fascinated - since I am uncoverted on both counts, I don't quite enter into the spirit of things, but nonetheless sometimes wonder if perhaps they do have the right end of the proverbial stick.

Chapman has a point, I concede, and I am reading his writings in a spirit of openness and, er, dialogue. You know, we take the little tests at the end of the book; we talk about it. I don't know if any of it helps with the problems we don't (yet) have, but it certainly is fun doing quizzes together. Quality time, as the man himself would say.

*As Aretha Franklin would say - thank you, I'll get it myself
**Like "being in love is not love". As if the experience of being in love brings nothing to the relationship in the long term. Sigh.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I guess

I have a job. It pretty well paid. It seems pretty interesting. I start next Wednesday.

I am not sure how I feel about it. I guess it is a good thing; but I will miss my free time. I will enjoy earning a living. It will be quite the adjustment.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Yet another

I have yet another interview with the same people who interviewed me before. Wonder what will happen. Normally I would care more, but I am a wreck, too much election enthusiasm and too little sleep. Still, a good election to watch. Especially with a few friends around, and some booze.

Life is good. But sleepy. And confusing.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Tomorrow is the mid term election here. I hope the Democrats do well, but mostly I am looking forward to the late-night tv coverage. It is as times like these that one misses the BBC.

Fit for service

Recently, I have started exercising a bit more. For those of you who are visualising me running 10 miles in the freezing cold, well, you obviously don't know me well. No, I only mean that I have been ignoring the elevator, doing sit-ups and weights. Weights are fun. I am a wimp, but I promise that by the end of February I will be a slightly, mildly fitter wimp. It is good to have goals.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I seem to be doing well with the Quest these days - work permit in pocket, money freed, gainful employment in the works, not to mention spending more than two weeks at a time with the Spouse, formerly the Fiancé.

Actually, most of this afternoon was spent listening to two people dealing with health issues* I can't even begin to contemplate. It was interesting to see how people deal with such complex issues. It made me think about all the stuff that's been going on lately in my life and how I have come across so many people who have suffered tremendously or who face major obstacles. I'll not offer any uplifting stories of redemption; mostly I am astonished by how many tactics people devise to make their daily lives liveable. I don't know if there is redemption in that, but it is something.

Not because of victories
I sing,
having none,
but for the common sunshine,
the breeze,
the largess of the spring.

*I'd share, but it's not really for me to do so

Pass Go, collect $200

This morning I had an almost transcendent experience. I went to the post office, picked up a letter, called a number in Hungary, spent about ten minutes on the phone and finally, finally, finally set free my (albeit minimal) savings. All being well - and with Hungarian banks one should never assume that all is well - I will now be able to spend actual money which I earned, rather than trying to somehow not spend money at all. Moreover I just activated my internet banking, which is brightly showing me my new, non-blocked balance.

Trust me, you have no idea how happy this makes me.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


As of today, I am officially authorised to work in the US. A small applause, a beer and a piece of chocolate, both Belgian, are in order.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Local politics

You may not believe it, but the Republicans will come and destroy and partisan postings.

I am, I think, kidding, although my mostly completed post was just mysteriously annihilated by a Republican website.

Anyhoo, I was sharing the exciting local election battles. Actually, what I was sharing was a beautiful example of counterproductive, yet brilliant PR. Please go and watch "Steele hates puppies". Michael Steele is a fervent Republican running for the Senate here, and while the ad was far more intentionally amusing than anything I have seen lately in politics, the Democrats predictably countered with a list of Steele's praise and support of Bush, stating that "Steele likes puppies - but he loves Bush".

It is my first season of exposure to American political battles, and I track them with morbid fascination. I am so used to the polite, non-personal attacks in Belgian politics, and I have a hard time taking any of the political ads seriously. They are more entertaining than they are engaging, but then the Belgian ones aren't all that engaging either.

The model of democracy as entertainment must still be Britain. Prime Minister's Questions especially are more compelling, funny, relevant and engaging than any of the above, Steele's ad included. The weekly confrontations between the leader of the country and any member of parliament with something to say genuinely does make democracy look viable. With Tony Blair as said leader, you get some particularly wonderful exchanges - the man is the greatest political speaker/demagogue of his age. Margaret Thatcher, while engaging in some very reprehensible actions, certainly wasn't afraid of a good argument; nor did she lose her sense of humour about it*.

It occurs to me, that for a country so dominated by the media, US politics lacks really good, spontaneous speakers on centrestage. How is that? I saw Barack Obama on tv last week, and for a really popular politician he can't seem to parry challenges very well. Maybe there is just not that direct, face to face public accountability that the British Parliament (with all of its many flaws) has. It's shame, a bit of challenge does keep politicians on their toes, and keeps the debate open - even when it doesn't help.

*Did I just get nostalgic for Evil Maggie? I don't think so. But one has to respect the woman's formidable personality, much like one has to respect our friend Tony with the Jesus complex for his capacities as a speaker.

Good morning

It has been a while since I have posted for the simple reason that over the last couple of days I have spent too much time being either doubtful or angry, and in no mood to blog. I am still fairly angry, but huzzah, not doubtful anymore. It occurs to me that I can usually trust my instincts.

This is of course about wedding stuff. A blog is no place for me to think aloud about it, and considering that I've been reading How would a patriot act?, I'd much rather talk politics. Once and for all then, I'll stick to a few simple rules for this wedding stuff. Iz is playing in the background this morning; Iz is good. Life, in general is good. And if things and people cost too much energy, then it is time to find a way to approach things differently, or put them aside for a while.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Another quick update

So I had my second interview for that job today. More test stuff, more hanging out with the people I'd be working with. They seem lovely, and that's a big plus. We'll see if and what they'll offer me (and I think they will).

In addition I have offered to help my volunteer work get a grant to employ me. This would take time and energy, but I certainly would get useful experience out of it, as well as, possibly, a job.

Between that, the job I'm interviewing for and the translation work I will probably be doing for the Spouse's work, I may soon have more work than I know what to do with.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

So now what

What is it with me and jobs that I don't quite want? So I interviewed for the job yesterday, and it went well. Sort of. The atmosphere was good, my potential boss seems really cool, job sound interesting.

Hm. Downside?

Considerable. I'd be expected to work long hours and some weekends about half the time, no overtime pay, no time compensation (what I really want). The HR don't like his...vibe. I don't like the organisation's policy of kind-of-exploiting their staff because it is a good cause.


They asked me back for a second interview tomorrow.

Ugh. I have no idea what to do.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


UPDATE: Yay! I just spoke to the very affable HR director and am meeting him tomorrow at ten. Yikes!

Yes folks, amazingly enough, I have just called a Human Resources director. Not spoken too, alas, just left a somewhat flustered message. Three years of having an impeccable telephone manner and here I am reduced to flustered messages. Does this mean that I have been asked for an interview? Why, yes, indeed it does. The job is fairly administrative, non-profit, and looks like lots of work for little money, and hey, worth at least talking to. Frankly I'd be stunned if they accepted my demands (I really can't put it any other way) for lots of time off for wedding. Still, it is encouraging.


I just licked 120 envelopes. Just another 15 to go.

Who says wedding planning isn't fun.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The past that is past

I have been playing with Google Earth. I was, in fact, revisiting my past, the place where my past used to be. I was looking at Belfast, where I spent a semester some considerable time ago, and got to see how the new student buildings look - they tore down some of the old ones, including the one I stayed in. Good thing too, they were ugly as sin, though oddly enough they did change your sheets for you every week.

The site was, and probably is, beautiful though, I remember it lighting up like a village at night. I also remember waking up to surveillance helicopters, and, Orwell aside, it sure beats waking up to construction.

Someday I must go back to Belfast, to see how it's been nicefied, how it now has more crime and less terrorism, how it's been modernised. Someday I will have to force the Spouse to go and see the city that built the Titanic (and is proud of it too). We'll go and see Samson and Goliath (or not), the Crown Liquor Saloon, Maddens and the Ulster Museum with its view of the cemetery; we'll ignore the murals, the monuments and the history, have an Ulster Fry, go to Castlecourt and wallow in the cold, wet, rainy, provincial glory of the town.

Friday, October 20, 2006

More than you need to know

We all have an image of ourselves - a set of statements that describe the person who you think you are. Let me give some examples:
- I am a morning person
- I am a literature person
- I am terrible at sports

Yesterday evening, after an evening of planning and work on the website (go see it! nothing big actually, but lots of work), I had a bit of a bad patch. You know all that stuff they say about women being under lots of cultural pressure? That's all true. More importantly though, lately I have been putting on a little weight. Nothing dramatic, my clothes still fit, I am still healthy and within parameters.


There is the matter of the wedding dress, which I was measured for months - pounds - ago. That fact, together with cultural expectations, which triggered a bout of self-loathing; which is where the beginning of this post comes in. Another statement:
- I have no self control about food and exercise

Is that true? Certainly it has been. But then the only way to do things differently is to do them differently. Right?

As of today then, neither corn chips, nor the elevator to our seventh-floor flat exist. These next four months are going to be very, very long.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Car mechanic

I finally fixed some of the stuff on our marital website. I love fiddling with things I don't really understand. I should have become a video repairsperson. Or a car mechanic.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The best is yet to come

I am thinking of the rather nice Novastar song. I am thinking of a time when the wedding planning will be over with and the Evil Hungarian Bank will give me my money and things will calm down. A time when I will have time for things and can take up new hobbies. That moment, when things will calm down, keeps getting postponed, but I haven't given up on it. Having said that, I do get bored when things are quiet.

There is not going to be a time when all the stuff I need to do is done, though. That's life for you. There will always be more to plan*, more paperwork to do, more taxes to be paid, more things to be fixed. I wonder how I feel about that. I wonder how I feel about the earthquake in Hawai'i. I guess mostly it is good that nobody was killed; fingers crossed that that active volcano of theirs stays put and calm. I wonder what it is like to live on a big, lovely, visible timebomb like Big Island. Like living anywhere else I suppose - keep an eye on the news and perhaps a well-filled bank account.

*Yes, I am just kidding about the babies. First pay off debt (ah, weddings and unemployment!), then save up for house, decide on place to live, buy house, then and maybe babies. I am hoping that by then I will want babies. Or not. As the case may be.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Thank god for the easy things

The Spouse and I just went to see about our invitations (second visit to the shop) and it was great. The lady who helped us was, as she was last time, all you could possibly want - friendly, personal, budget conscious, creative and decisive, but not pushy. If only all of it could be so easy.

Now onwards and upwards, time to address some more save the dates. And do my American presidents puzzle.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Not political

After that previous post there is some very different stuff too.

I am not good with politics. People who know me know this. I am loud, yes, opinionated, absolutely, but fuzzy at best and not very well-informed. Considering that I started blogging on Total Drek it is ironic that I more or less gave up on doing so regularly for the simple reason that I am not up to it. Again, it may be my brain atrophying.

Maybe I was never particularly suited but more oblivious before. Living as I do with someone who constantly questions whether or not he is a Good Person I do, occasionally ask myself the same question. The answer that I have come up with is that I am not good a following things through. This is why I volunteer. I am good at that kind of stuff. If you give me a framework and some place that uses my skills I will show up and be dedicated and creative. But I need that framework, that trust that the organisation is a conscientious one (easy, in a non-profit that has eight people on staff, all of whom you know).

Other than that I am useless. Sorry. I am not really a critical thinker, or at least not for any extended periods of time. In spite of a great deal of education.

It's my party and I whinge if I want to

Here's my self-centred rant of the day. Ok so I am wedding planning, right? Moreover, I am planning an American wedding, which is quite different from what it would be in Belgium. I have bridesmaids (I think) at least one of which kind of knows what the frame of reference is here. I have a location. I have a caterer. I have save-the-dates and almost have invitations. Rather, I should say we because the Spouse and I make an effort to be in this together.


The Spouse is of course really just terrified of the whole thing, and needs to be gently eased into involvement. My bridesmaids, while being wholly adequate friends, are hardly your typical bridesmaids and besides, are an ocean and many seas of custom and tradition away from here.

My friends, ah, my friends, I love them. They're great. They're really not into weddings*. That's good, you know, that's part of why they are my friends.


It sucks, and, ladies and gentlemen, I cannot quite adequately explain just how much it sucks, to have to be entirely self-motivated. I have help, that's not it. I have plenty of practical help. Yet sometimes, nay, often it would be nice, lovely and wonderful to not be the only one to take any pleasure in the proceedings. The hell of it is blatant enough, how about the fun?

I guess it is my fault for having steered clear of the girliest of friends.

Has anyone noticed that reads The Not? Very Not indeed.

*and if you click on that link, please read more than just the title. it's important.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Not quite there

Yesterday was the Spouse and I's two year anniversary (of dating, not marriage obviously), which is why you didn't hear from me.

Two years. Not bad at all I think, and it seems both longer and shorter. Our official first day of being together and last year's anniversary were both pretty great*. Yesterday wasn't quite up to that standard, mostly because it was a weekday, but it was still nice. I would love to do something grand and romantic this weekend, but think that there are too many practical constraints. Sadly.

All of this, this second anniversary stuff feels like living together - less romantic, but a sight more tangible.

Still, grand and romantic was nice, for the day at least.

Sorry about the diary entry folks, you really should know better than to read this nonsense. Instead you should be checking the news, or the weather. I think my brain in atrophying from the combined effects of allergy and wedding planning.

*define anniversary. The actual anniversary was the last day of my stay at the time, and therefore mildly miserable. The designated substitute was spent in an out-of-the-way part of Florida and involved a great historic hotel and spectacular dinner.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Today is kind of a hard day. I am not feeling great (on the verge of being sick) and have some fairly intense volunteering planned for the late afternoon. It'll be my first time interpreting for a client, and I am quite apprehensive about it. With my tiredness in addition to that, I am not sure how things will go. I just want to sleep, and forget about that, and the fact that I supposed to make dinner for a friend this evening.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Professor and the Madman

The book by Simon Winchester that is, about the creation of that walrus of the English language, the Oxford English Dictionary. I have been reading it fairly intensely, in between wedding planning, volunteering and watching V for Vendetta.

I have also been standing under other people's umbrellas, since mine broke. It is almost, or perhaps entirely, worth it to have a broken umbrella to have someone offer you half of theirs when you're not expecting it.

So? The Professor and the Madman is pretty good, and I am about two thirds of the way through. It is a good book for language geeks (a category to which I belong enthusiastically) and maybe some other people. Winchester has obviously picked up some of the OED's language, which is both apt and mildly amusing. He also has that Oxbridge don pomposity that makes him say some very silly things, like that the OED is the best and most important reference work, not only so far, but that will ever be written. How imperially English of him. Not that it bothers me - the attitude suits the topic, and besides, I am a sucker for Victorian mysteries and unusual words...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The best thing on the map

I am back, sadly, from this honeymoon.
I won't bore you with the honeymoon part of it (pools, sunsets, beaches, cocktails, pda), but Hawai'i is well worth a post in its own right.

We went to Big Island, at the Spouse's advice. He'd been there and loves the place, and me, I liked the idea of going to the least tourist-flooded island we could easily get to. I looked up pictures and all that, and it looked nice enough. Well, none of what the pictures showed or the Husband said quite conveyed the reality.

The Big Island is, at any given time or place, beautiful. It is more diverse than any place I know. I don't really know what to say about it, or where to begin. Some random observations:

- There are a lot of people who bring their misery with them on holidays. There they are, in this fantastic location, having paid thousands of dollars for the privilege, and they still look like they're stuck in rush hour.

- People in Hawai'i really know what to do with a piece of ahi.

- Agriculture can also mean an islandful of family-run small coffee- and fruitfarms.

- While people in Hawai'i, as in most tourist places, are not always entirely worthy of one's unwavering trust, they are certainly a lot friendlier about it.

- I have never been anywhere where people are so acutely aware of the value of natural resources, and of its limitations. In a way it is like a scale model of continental living - the impact of development* and environmental change is very direct and visible. An interesting, and scary, experience.

- There is no end to the joy to be had from a ukelele. Particularly when accompanied by the littlest, most beautiful voice to come out of such a lot of musical greatness.

But really, it is just an amazing place. For once I am putting up some of my pictures here, just to make the point. I have never felt quite so privileged simply to be in a place. Oh, and did I mention there's turtles?

*It's amazing what a famous "green" name can do to a development. The local community voices some doubts.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Turtles, I have seen turtles!!

Yes, the honeymoon was lovely, beaches, sunsets, all that, thank you for asking.

But turtles!!! It is hard to beat turtles.

More on turtles and other fun stuff later. I am in Phoenix just now, sadly on my - our - way home.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Heading west

This is my last post till next week. The reason why I will not be blogging is that I will be on honeymoon, entirely unreachable, and hopefully blissful. Quality time with the Spouse will be very nice indeed.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Swiss army knife

As Brother Barry said
As he married Marion
The wife has three great attributes
Intelligence, a Swiss army knife and charm
(Billy Bragg, The Warmest Room)

I don't vouch for any of the rest, but at least I have the Swiss Army knife now. It was purchased for our upcoming honeymoon, and while its immediate usefulness is obscure to me it reassures me greatly.

Another day, another call, and all in all the morning proves that one really should do one thing every day that frightens one - like ask your downstairs neighbour to turn down the music, secretely fearing a large male with an unforgiving mood (it turns out to be a smallish, and friendly, woman). It also proves that the best way to find things out about people's plans and thoughts is to ask them. This straightforward procedure is often overlooked. Finally, it proves that things that need getting over with should be done sooner, rather than later, and that the universe often opens doors just when you give up on unlocking them.

Persistence and organisation are useful qualities. I am trying to train myself. Anger management is something we all need at some time or other. I am trying to train myself in that, too.

Anxiety is increased by caffeine and any but a few selected tv shows. Anxiety is not logical and cannot be reasoned away. Your body tells you what your mind can't. Like a bad habit, anxiety must be unlearned and replaced with other thoughts. So: I may have to give up coffee and tea altogether, and try to keep my intermittent bouts of anxiety out of a doctor's office. I think I may go and lie on the floor now, and try to remember how to let go of things.

The conclusion? Be prepared, but remember to keep sharp things folded up in your pocket. And in your checked luggage when travelling.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Update on the potential job - it would be a six-month assignment, and I would be doing pretty much anything they can throw at me. The fact that it is temporary makes it somewhat more feasible, although I am reluctant to consider living away from the Spouse even for a limited period of time. It would be a really interesting job, setting up something new and learning lots. It would be good for my self-esteem and for our finances.

Needless to say, I still haven't a clue as to what I would do if they offer me a job*, and this is making me restless. Well, that and the wedding planning; speaking of which, I have started to update the Spouse and I's site for the wedding, so have a look if you remember the link. I've more or less done the English and will do the Dutch version sometime today.

*and offer me a decent amount of money, and give me enough time off for the wedding and Christmas. Otherwise out of the question; am not jeopardising wedding over job.


Hm. I just got a call from my old boss. She was a very good boss, and generally a cool person. The reason she called was, well, kind of to offer me a job. This is funny, because she didn't actually mention what the job would be, only that it would be in Pittsburgh. For those of you who don't know much about US geography, Pittsburgh is quite far from Baltimore, about five hours by car. And for those of you who aren't quite up to date on me, I am actually looking for a non-profit job rather than a corporate one.

One would think that was no harm in at least sending off a resume, and seeing what comes back. The question, however, is twofold; first of all, is there anything they can offer me that would make me move to Pittsburgh (keep in mind, this is a corporate service centre)? Secondly, if so, then do I really want to return to corporate slavery? It is likely that almost any decent job they're likely to offer me is going to pay better than anything a non-profit can offer. Such is the nature of non-profit organisations.

Hm. So how much do I want a change of career, and how much do I (we) need me to have a good well-paying job?


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Help someone

I am on yet another marathon phonecall to my Evil Hungarian Bank. I have arrived at the point where if I had the money to sue them I would. However, I obviously do not. Any tips anybody on how to get one's money for recalcitrant banks?

The best thing I can think of is to file a complaint with the embassy and also with any international banking agencies I can find. This will, however, take a lot of time as I have to collect all information, and is not likely to help in any big or swift way.

PS: Note to self - control recent voracious appetite by calling Evil Bank. The resulting anger will be sufficient to obliterate all thoughts of croissaints for hours after, and will necessitate several laps around the block to regain calm zenlikeness.


It has been six years since I have lived in any one place for more than a year. In that time I have lived in five countries, had four jobs with two employers and attended five different universities. About a year and a half ago I started thinking that maybe the international stuff was losing some of its glamour.

When I was in highschool I wanted nothing more than to go abroad and be cosmopolitan; and once I started college I did just that. It was all I could have hoped for and a lot more. It changed my life in almost every way.

It may have been because I met, no, started dating* the Boy, later to be the Spouse. Maybe it was because all of the moving was wearing me down. But I started longing for home. Not Belgium, not any specific place. A place to be, a way not to be so temporary, not so unsettled. It has takes that time to figure out how and where that home was going to be. Not an easy decision by any means.

So here I am. Not for the next thirty years, sure, but long enough to make it worth the trip to Ikea. Long enough to not have an expiry date.

Is it everything I hoped it would be? You bet.

*There was a long, long interval between when we met and when we started dating

Friday, September 15, 2006

Thanks for you visit, and please come back soon

Just in case I needed any confirmation that I live in a somewhat strange country, I have just discovered that there is a place called King of Prussia in Pennsylvania. What is it known for? Yes, you guessed right, it is known for having a really big mall.

How, you might ask, and why do I know about King of Prussia, also referred to as KoP? Simple. In my continuing attempt to follow the ever more bewildering locations popping up in the blog stats, I noticed that one of 18511 citizens of KoP visited my blog. Thank you. I feel honoured.

Much like with children's names, people seem to have no compunction about giving their towns bizarre names. I am not sure if I think that is endearing, or mildly obnoxious. I think I'll go back to reading about nice, sensible people like Franklin who confined their quirkiness to science, rather than bestowing it on unsuspecting towns or offspring.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Due to technical difficulties

This must be my year of technical vexations. Now that my computer is working again, I can no longer reach my Evil Hungarian Bank, nor is my Evil Mobile Phone Company processing my top-ups. Things like that make me so very angry. Must be calm and zenlike. Must be calm and zenlike.

American History

It is a rainy day, and as such perfect for the reading of American history, my most recent undertaking. I figure that as a guest in this country the least I can do is to take an interest; moreover, the past is so often used in the current political battles that I feel I ought to at least know what the past is.

There is a small stack of two history books and two political books waiting for me, and I am most of the way through 1776. What I really should be doing is reading the travel guide for our honeymoon, since we are leaving next week, but I figure I can count on the spouse to take care of that side of things and then I'll leech information from him.

Of course in Maryland and the surrounding states, history abounds, and I have been to Monticello, DC and Philadelphia, as well as to a well-nigh endless series of Civil War battlefields and Lewis and Clark stuff. Trust me, I am learning fast. Besides, it is an interesting experience in two ways: I get to learn about US history, as well as about how the US represents its history.

This man Washington isn't exactly winning my heart. I'll go with Jefferson any day of the week, slave owner or no. Their respective memorials in DC really are quite apt; the military man vs. the intellectual, no wonder I side with Jefferson.

Enough of this fragmented soliloquy. Time to gain some more actual knowledge and coherence.

Update: so I finished 1776. Huzzah.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

And like I always say - if it's not baroque, don't fix it

I love classical music. I grew up in a house full of baroque music. I spent a fair amount of time listening to tiny excerpts from some of my favourite music, an exceedingly frustrating occupation since I don't have the complete versions. So my tip of the day is: go out and find some of the classical music hidden in your collection. Now play it. Isn't that nice?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Crazy, just crazy

Most of the time I think I have been taken over by alien life forms. Some of the time I think that I have turned into someone I don't know by all this new technology. And then there are some times when I think I should get over myself and enjoy the show. Actually, yes, I should not worry about being excited about the religious wedding. Even if I am being mildly obsessive. Truth be told, I am generally a little obsessive about most things I enjoy. Enjoying planning one's wedding is normal, right?

To be fair, it won't exactly be a traditional wedding; but not quite eccentric either. We like it that way. All I can say is: I have a dress; we have a location; we have a caterer and a DJ. That's not bad for a week's work. And you know what? I am going to enjoy picking the music.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Purely practical

For my lovely family/friends who read this, here is some stuff you may want to know if you didn't already:

Religious wedding. Remember, the Spouse and I are yet to, er, confirm our matrimony in the sight of God. Fortunately, this ceremony will be accompanied by a largish party, which we have gotten quite some way towards organising.

Practical details? Well, we'll keep you posted on our website, which should be updated in a week or so. The tentative basics are: Friday, 23/02/2006, Orlando, FL. We have a probable location which I will also post on the website.

We'll keep it fairly casual, and fun (hopefully). Hope you can join us.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I have quite a temper sometimes, and can be fairly short-fused. I like to think, nonetheless, that I am generally mild-mannered as well as opinionated. At times like now, when something fairly small upsets me, I always wonder whether it is me.

Is it?

It try to be reasonable, but by nature I am hot-headed, and when angry, am rather fierce. Right now I am trying to rein myself in. Most of the time. Some of time I am just angry.

Zen, Beast, Zen.

Speaking of beasts, I always did identify more with the Beast than with Beauty in the fairytale, only I look cute and fluffy. No matter, I can sprout fangs and claws at a moment's notice.

Worry not, I purr like a kitten most of the time.

The wedding stuff is going well though...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Here I am then, in Orlando on official bridal business, scouting out locations. So far so good, really, have at least shortlisted candidate, and am dealing fairly well with the weddingness. Trying to keep things moderately simple. Not so easy. The list of things I do not want is so much longer than the list of things I do want. Fuss. A gown. A veil. The wedding march. A muchness of stuff.

I wish the Spouse were here.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


So I recently finished both Robin McKinley's Beauty and Alexander McCall Smith's The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency. I was in the mood for happy books, and these were both definitely happy books. They are also fairly good books, and that certainly counts for something. I respect craftsmanship, especially when it is unpretentious.

Beauty is well-done, and meant to appeal to the mousy-looking book-obsessed girl in all of us. It certainly worked for me. The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency is an optimistic picture of Botswana, of life, and, to some extent, of crime. Bad things happen, but they somehow tend to be peripheral or have a happy end.

Anyway, time for something more...serious. I am tackling an American classic - To Kill a Mockingbird. I'll let you know what I think.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Patrick Stewart Is Your Friend

Officially, my Spouse is the Trekkie, and I am the non-Trekkie. In reality even a Belgian gets lonesome sometimes, and some days, when I need a reprieve from the high life and my books, I watch Star Trek: The Next Generation. On Spike, a channel I otherwise despise, from 3 to 6 pm.

TNG is the only programme I seem to be able to watch on a regular basis without becoming fidgety. Why? I hear you ask. Yes, indeed, because of Patrick Stewart, the smoothest voice in the universe, the sexiest bald man in tv.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Not a review

Five years of full time education about literature and the study thereof; you’d think it would help. I just finished reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, a book recommended to me by a friend, a teenage boy she knows, and a random stranger who walked up to me on Charles Street as I waiting for the bus. It is hard to think beyond the visceral reaction I have to the book. Maybe I am glad about that; I am not sure.

The rave reviews the book gets describe it as “A soaring celebration of the victory of love over time”. Maybe all this is too personal. Maybe that is why I can’t read Time Traveler’s Wife and believe it a victory. It is a beautiful book, well-written, no, I mean beautifully crafted. It is a good story, and insofar as it is science fiction it is unobtrusive, convincing. A victory, I dare say, in writing. But not a victory of love. It makes me anxious, this book, and sad. Not right away, but gradually. The pattern is too familiar, too realistic, the big & small disappearances, the irreparable loss. How is that a victory?

We have suffered such a loss

Maybe this is why I don’t like all too intellectual literature. One should never outsmart emotion, the power for direct impact that a book has. That this book has. It is rare that I read anything that cuts so deep without leaving me feeling violated, abused. Emotion should also not be used as a literary tool, and Time Traveler’s Wife carefully abstains. What do you want me to say about it? Read, if you want. I am sure many people read it differently than I do. Tell me about it, if you want. I am going to make lunch now – I’ve deserved a break.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Under pressure

There was a period of a few months before I moved to the States and the magical land of wedlock when I kept obsessively checking relationship sites and statistics about marriage. I kept asking myself questions, kept wanting to make sure that we could beat the odds. That we'd be happy.

What did I learn? That the fact that we are in our late twenties, from the same type of background, middle class, married for the first time, white, and college educated will stand us in good stead. I'll spare you the things that work against us.

I told one of my friends, the friend, in fact, who introduced us. I think if she had been there rather than on the phone she would have beaten me with a pillow.
"Stop looking at statistics"
So I did, until now, and now only for this post.

Why? Why all this anxiety? I was never worried about marrying the right person - he so obviously is. I was just worried about the odds. I've been thinking about it and I have some ideas of why that is.

Me: I am critical, demanding and never especially expected to marry

My parents: Divorced. Yes there is a statistical correlation. Also: a lifetime of paternal cynicism about weddings.

The Universe: Too many stories about divorce, too much emotional blood and gore in public.

What should I have learnt? Maybe this - that there is no such thing as odds when human relationship is concerned, and that you never know what the next roll of the dice will be.

I'll take my chances. Life is so much better now.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Food plays a very important role in my life. I love my food, am an avowed foodsnob and I love cooking for my family and for my husband. Having said that, I am neither creative nor especially good as a cook. Cooking for company makes me nervous.

Tomorrow night I am set to cook for a colleague of the Spouse's. I am mildly apprehensive. The colleague is French, which doesn't help. The French can be so particular about food (this guy seems pretty nice though). Btw, I notice that Americans call main courses Entrees. This is completely ridiculous. Entrees, purely linguistically, are starters. Not ever main courses. I mean seriously, if you are going to import word at least remember the meaning. Anyway, so I am making dinner for the three of us. Wish me luck.

Here's a recipe that's too intimidating for me to cook. I am making something easier.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Random noise

So the Husband and I just moved sometime ago. Not far, a 5 minute drive, but a world of difference. No more filth and pests, but a nice clean little flat, decent view, 20's building, decent management, walking distance to two supermarkets and three pubs, right on a main busline, soon to be across from a Barnes & Noble.

Nice, right?

When we moved in they were finishing the building across the street, and they still are, so it was noisy, but they are pretty much done now. Only now they've opened a new building site just behind this building, and now that is being quite, quite loud, with no perpective of it ever ending. Imagine it: every morning, including weekends, the noise starts at 6 or 7 am, and lasts till about 4 or 5 pm.

Dilemma: I really don't want to move. I mean I really really do not want to move. I like this flat, I like the neighbourhood, the rent is reasonable, it is a convenient location. On top of that, I really hated moving, it was a deeply awful process. On the other hand, the question is whether I can live with this sodding noise. The evenings and night are quiet, and obviously that helps, since in the mornings it is usually a question of getting up and getting ready to go, but missing that last hour or two of sleep, or at least having it interrupted, is pretty unpleasant.

What should I do? Try to convince the Husband to move? Try better earplugs? We only moved in a month and a half ago.


Advice welcome.

On an unrelated note, the good news is that in a month and a half we will be on our (sort of) honeymoon. The bad news is that that means we need to start planning the religious wedding. Sigh. I am excited about being married, but the fussing about table arrangements and DJs just seems like the most unexciting thing in the world right now. This is not helped by our current state of indigence. Yes, of course I want to celebrate with our friends and family. Of course I want a fun, slightly odd day of unanabashed nauseating cuteness. I just don't want to organise it. The engagement party, both in terms of the awful planning phase and in terms of its success as a party, is a little too fresh in my mind.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Business controls

I just spent half an hour checking a budget at my volunteer work, and I couldn't help thinking that if only they could produce a more brightly coloured spreadsheet it would be just like being a corporate slave again. It made me smile. There were moments when I liked my slavery, you know.

Vexing vexing

One of those days when all infrastructure seems to be against you. Oh well, as the song goes, we shall overcome.

All is well now; I am fed, the Husband has made me a cup of tea, and I have a depressing movie to watch.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Just now I was looking at my blog stats and noticed that yesterday someone from Portsmouth viewed the blog. Portsmouth, New Hampshire, mind you, rather than Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK where I used to live. I want to go to Porthsmouth, New Hampshire, if only to see if it really is as much nicer than the original Portsmouth as it looks on the pictures. So whoever it was, thanks for coming to see Questing Beast. You made my day.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Working week

Well hello and good morning. Lunchtime, almost, actually, and evening for the Europeans. After a rather nice weekend the working week has kicked off again.

We (the Husband and I) went to see Snakes on A Plane* on Friday. Yeeesh, it is exactly as gory and silly as you would expect it to be, and it made me love Samuel L. Jackson. Platonically. Other than that we had a fairly lazy weekend, a weekend of odds and ends, one of trying to do some housework, of lots of cooking (new cookbook!). Someone told me yesterday to go back to school and you know what, much as I love all the miscellaneous stuff I am doing just not, I think that is not a bad idea. Not full time school, don't get me wrong, but maybe a few interesting courses...

*Stellegasie, you would really enjoy it.

Friday, August 18, 2006


My visiting friend left for lovely Virginia today, and so things are sort of back to normal. I cooked and cleaned, the former half of which was quite fun - trying new recipes and all of that housewifely stuff (which has its perks). I made some more progress on the Stack of Things To Read. In fact, I am, as Tom Lehrer says, "re-reading Lady Chatterly"; Tom got the wrong end of the stick, no doubt deliberately. The book is so much more about the brutalising effect of industrialisation than it is about sex. The sex is by far the least brutal, most human and kind thing there. Strange how people get offended about the wrong thing.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Things on Mondays

Another fun day, some volunteering, some shopping, a fair bit of cooking and eating. Uneventful, I guess, to the outside world, but pleasant enough. Tomorrow we are, finally, going up to Monticello, which we postponed earlier to go to DC.

Life is good, Baltimore is not too warm...I have more books than I could possibly read...

Yes. Not bad at all.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Lazy Sunday

The Husband is back, the friend is still here, and today has been a nice quiet day. Hmm. Nice.

Friday, August 11, 2006


One of my friends is visiting as of yesterday, so I've been out playing today, which was fun. Baltimore's Inner harbor and Lexington Market - I am thankful for that latter one especially; finally a non-middle-class-only market, and fun too. I got plants for the house from said friend, which had been one of those things I've been wanting to get but couldn't find at normal prices... So yay, successful day.

Tomorrow we're off to Monticello. American history and all. Can't say I'm not trying to fit in.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Wednesday, and I am back to volunteering, picking up some extra tasks. This makes my work a lot more interesting, and also more worklike. You know what? This work business isn't half bad, when taken in moderation.

I am reading Dorothy L. Sayers as well, though not while volunteering. The book, In the Teeth of the Evidence, is a tad mediocre, but generally speaking I love Sayers. If any of you like detectives with a bit of education, silliness and a sense of humour, try Lord Peter Wimsey. He is one of those characters who are well-nigh impossible to dislike, even long after on gets over one's fixation with Wodehouse and fairytale England*.

All of this reading does make me long, ever so faintly, for a Sunday drive through the Hampshire countryside.

*Fairytale England: iconically depicted by the poster above the blackboard in my English class, showing three young men in cricket whites lounging on an impossibly green green in front of an Oxbridge college, bearing the legend
"HAPPY is England! I could be content
To see no other verdure than its own"

It took me many years to figure out that this is a Keats quote, and rather unpatriotically followed by
"Yet do I sometimes feel a languishment
For skies Italian"

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

From nocturnal Baltimore: the conclusion of Pattern Recognition

We've just had a thunderstorm here, just at dusk. It was so pretty, and I stuck my head out the window so I could feel the rain on my face. Walking outside just now, the air has that new fresh smell, and things feel cooler.

I finished Pattern Recognition just as the thunderstorm was ending; good timing I guess. It's a lovely sleek book, like James Bond, but both smoother and more human, like Douglas Coupland, only less obvious. Yes. Both entertainment and literature. I can't remember the last time I came across anything like it.

On another note - I am not sure how it manages to be both contemporary and realistic (sort of) in content and yet so indebted to science fiction in style. I think that combination may actually be one aspect of the book's attraction. It accounts for some of the mixed feelings of familiarity and strangeness, perhaps, as Gibson's Cayce calls it, a "mirror-world"feel.

Lovely. Well-written, coherent, and oddly believable (somehow defying the laws of gravity, and steering clear of the debris of nitty gritty life on the ground). Read it.

You know where it was written? Vancouver.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The saga continues

I just sent the AoS*, a small step for immigration but a giant leap for a distressed international couple. Please all cross your fingers that they do not find fault with it/us. We've tried very hard. Other than that things have been very vexing; my bank in Hungary is yet again refusing to hand over MY money, claiming an error on my side. My wrath is great as I am absolutely utterly and positively sure that I got it right this time.

I am starting to have conspiracy nightmares, which may or may not have something to do with that bank, or with the fact that I am reading William Gibson's Pattern Recognition. Rather a good book as it happens, a thriller but not in the usual blood-and-gore sense (I am grateful). Gibson really does have a great insight into contemporary culture, and the perpetual feeling of jetlag (soullag) that haunts his protagonist is entirely appropriate to the disorientation and dislocation present in the kind of life we take as typical of this time. Gibson also really captures the faintly futuristic feel of the present, its technological unlikeliness. Yes. I like. More when I read more - I am about three fifths of the way through.

Those of you who actually like blogs may enjoy Gibson's - it's strange but apt.

* The AoS or Adjustment of Status is basically an application for a green card, and takes forever to process.