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 director...hm...I 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 TheKnot.com 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.