Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Totally looks like...

Ok, this will be poignant for those of you that have heard of the psychic, Miss Cleo.

Miss Cleo (TV Psychic) vs. My cat Cleo

Picture of the day!

Please, oh PLEASE, someone give me a caption for this picture!

Pictures from our (not ver costume-y) Halloween Party!

Lucy and me on the new sofas!

High Five!

Sittin' on the sofa...

Sophie, the scariest one of all!

Our candy-licious spread!

Bloody cupcakes!! (Actually, pumpkin with cream cheese frosting!)


Miguel getting into Guitar Hero (and the Halloween spirit...)


Me singing! (Yay, PS2)


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Wilco at Ancienne Belgique!

This week I discovered Ancienne Belgique!

Ok, so I knew about it before this week, but I kept forgetting about it, and thinking it was farther away than it was, and I didn't check the website. This week, however, I got a copy of The Bulletin, a weekly magazine for English speakers in Belgium, that lists all the goings on. I happened to see a picture of the Flaming Lips who are playing at the AB next week, and so I immediately went to their website to see if there were any still available. (Of course not.) I also saw that Wilco was playing the very next day (Friday the 6th), and that show was also sold out. Bummer... right? WRONG!

Under each concerts there were comments listed, and after checking a few, (I had to translate many of them from Flemmish to English) I discovered that there were still tickets to be had! I used google translate to compose an email in Flemmish to one guy, Christof, who had one ticket to the Wilco show. At this point I doubted I would get it, but hey, worth a shot! A few hours later he notified me that indeed, I had the ticket! And for the original selling price! HURRAH!!

A few clumsy emails in Flemmish later, we switched to English and had decided upon a meeting place and time. I must note here, what did we ever do without cell phones??? Anyway, we met up without a hitch! He was a youngun (well, 21 yo) from Ghent (about a half hour from Brussels by train) who was a huge Wilco fan and who reminded me a bit of Mike Zeifang. His brother was supposed to go with him, but canceled at the last minute. Lucky me!

We put our coats into a locker (I'm telling you, this venue was amazing!), checked out the opening act (who we agreed was a bit too "experimental"), got BIG glasses of Stella (for a remarkably low price) and proceeded to get standing places about 5 people-layers from the stage.

I'm not even sure how to describe the concert. It was totally awesome. It was a sold out crowd (approx. 2,000 people) that obviously LOVED the band. They played a fantastic set, with an encore of roughly 8-10 songs! Jeff Tweedy had some fun talking to the crowd. He asked us why in the world would the Belgians vote themselves the most boring people? (Did they really??) He complimented the excellent health care system, as 2 band members had to use it! He teased a guy about double-fisting (holding 2 drinks) the entire concert, and got us all to sing along to "Jesus, etc." (He said we did the best of any "second language" crowd, YAY!!! hahaha, I say yay, even though I don't count in that group...)

I left Christof with 3 cheek kisses (I don't think I'll ever know the right number, it's different with everyone I meet! And it's hard to play it off if you go for an extra, or don't go for it, oy! The stress!) and "Handshake Drugs" stuck in my head. A short 15 minute bus ride and I was back home! I think I will be going to the Ancienne Belgique a lot more in the near future!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Picture of the day...

Someone wants to go shopping...

Edited for Miguel!


Oh, that Sophie...

So I posted before about my cat Sophie, and her peeing issues and the struggles with medicine. Well, we took her to the vet, this nice one that we had early on that we hunted down to in his brand new practice, Dr. Smets. We told him that we had tried so many options, from multiple litter boxes, to different litter, to getting rid of the futon where she used to pee, even to a cat anti-depressant. We needed a solution.

Well, after giving her an examination, to make sure it wasn't a physical problem, he prescribed a couple of things. I had told him how I hated the effects of the clomicalm, and he said that there were other solutions. 1. Feliway, a cat pheromone diffuser that apparently makes cats happy without side effects and 2. Zylkene, another drug to make cats calm, but totally natural, actually made from some chemical found in cheese! So no dopey, drugged up cat side effects! Yay!

So the first thing I got was the Feliway, because as much experience as I have giving cats pills (oh Phil...), I didn't want to stress Sophie out. So the diffuser has been plugged in for over a week now, and no accidents on the new sofas, or anything else! That's good, though who knows if she would have peed on anything without the meds anyway, it's pretty sporadic. So then yesterday, I got the Zylkene, thinking, oh well, it wouldn't hurt to have it on hand. Well that evening I was showing it to Miguel and we were trying to decide whether to give it to her. I shook the bottle, and the cats came running (I guess it sounded like treats?)! I put one on the floor for Sophie to sniff out. When Cleo tried to approach, Sophie grabbed it in her mouth and ran off! She was protecting her pill!

She went into the corner, and proceeded to try to figure out what it was. She would try to eat it, but it stuck to her little kitty lips and she couldn't get it off. Then she would drop it, pick it up again, and the saliva would stick it to her mouth like glue. She even had to pull a squirrel move, using both of her front paws to try to get it in, all the while protecting it from Cleo. Eventually, while trying to chew it, she punctured it, and white powder spilled out onto the floor.

This she tried to sniff, and ended up (while exhaling) blowing some of it into her face. She then licked it all up and walked away. Such a strange little cat!

So we thought ok, this is probably a one off, she won't do this again tomorrow... I shook the bottle again, and took out a pill and put it on the floor, and sure enough, as soon as Cleo came near, Sophie was off with that pill, and when she finally punctured it, she licked up all the powder! So there you have it! My strange little cat who won't eat ham or chicken scraps (while her sister will devour them), and who is apparently stressed or depressed, will happily self-medicate! Problem solved!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rough Day

I'll finish writing about the wedding later, but I feel the need to blog about today...

I've showed you pictures of my little cat Sophie. She is so sweet, and loves nothing more than to sit on my lap (or my chest or knee, if my lap isn't available). I love her to death, but we've been having our problems.

She has had trouble, really, since we got her, with peeing in places she shouldn't. We keep making the mistake of trusting her, thinking that because it's been a while since the last accident, she's grown out of it. We always end up regretting that trust. The other day, we decided to leave the bedroom door open during the night, and we nearly made it, but at about 8am, while Sophie was innocently (or so I thought) sitting on my leg, I started feeling something very hot. Yep, she peed through the comforter and sheet, down to my leg and the mattress. Now mind you, this was 8am on a Saturday. VERY grumpy and upset, Miguel and I get up to throw everything into the washing machine (actually took 2 loads, as the machine is tiny), flip the mattress, remake the bed, etc.

Now, this was the final straw for me, and I decided to take her back to the vet. I had finally found our first vet, Dr. John Smets who has a great manner, good, modern technique and speaks English very well. I had been to a different vet about the same problem, and he prescribed Clomicalm, which is an animal antidepressant that really only served to make Sophie very groggy, disoriented, grumpy, frightened and drugged. This made me upset, stressed, guilty and very nearly sick to my stomach. We lasted 3 days. It took her about a week to return to herself.

So, I went with Miguel to take Sophie to Dr. Smets who gave us a couple new options, both natural, that god-willing, will work. One of them is Feliway, which is a cat pheromone diffuser, which I bought yesterday and installed.

Now, I was told it would take a few days to really kick in, so that's fine. But this morning Sophie was meowing pathetically outside the bedroom door, begging for attention. I finally obliged, deciding to watch her at every second. Cleo of course came barreling in too, and jumped on the bed. Sophie followed suit and IMMEDIATELY went for the spot where she peed the other day, and got into a squatting position. I wasted NO time and kicked her (through the duvet from underneath) off the bed. She ran off and hid behind the futon in the living room. I'm telling you, it did not take her 30 seconds in the bedroom to do this. So I'm trying to be optimistic, but it's becoming more and more difficult.

So that was how I started the day, and the rest of my day has been spent cleaning and baking. I am making brownies for the cafe downstairs to sell on Saturday. This is our first collaboration and I'm really hoping it goes well, so there's pressure. So I made the first batch and put it in the oven, and then sat down to look over the recipe again. It's my grandmother's, and it makes some of the best brownies ever. Of course, that was when I realized that, instead of putting in a teaspoon of baking powder, like the recipe said, I had put in a teaspoon of baking soda. Not good. It smelled weird and rose WAY too high. As soon as it was cool enough I dumped it directly into the trash.

I then cleaned the dish (and all the rest of the dishes I had dirtied) and proceeded to make the NEXT batch of brownies. Of course, I broke a plate in the process. While they were baking, I did the dishes AGAIN (I had also done the dishes from the night before, right before I started baking). It's times like that I reeeeally miss having a dishwasher. I was nervous while that batch was in the oven, because I still have to do one more batch today, and I really don't have time for 4 batches of brownies in one day. Thank god that batch was ok, and now only one more to go. Lord.

I also have a lesson today, which I think (and hope) I'm prepared for. All I really feel like doing, though, is curling up on the futon with the good cat (hahaha) and watching a movie.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wedding Week!

So I've been back in Brussels now just over a week after 2 and a half weeks in the US. I was there to get MARRIED. I'm a WIFE now. So now it's time to blog about wedding week! One day at a time...

We kicked things off on Tuesday night with a concert. But not just any concert, U2!!! (And Muse!!!) Cutter, a dear friend of mine, and, in fact, the officiant at the wedding, works as a videographer for U2, and so was able to get us in! Us being my parents, Miguel, his mom (my mom's best friend, Lisa) and me. We had amazing seats, but abandoned them to go to the "Red Zone" and ended up being about 15 feet from Bono and the Edge. It was pretty sweet! They played a great set, though I think they got too caught up in their theatrics and causes (Bono especially), which was distracting from the music. This is coming from the girl who generally only goes to concerts in small venues for a more personal experience. Anyway, it was a great show, and thanks to Cutter for getting us in!!

Wednesday, after sleeping in, it was all errands and packing to leave for the beach the next day! Busy busy busy, but not much to talk about!

Thursday we got up at a decent hour to finish packing, pack up the cars (Mom and Dad were taking one, Miguel and I were taking the other) and set out! (which we of course didn't do til around 12 noon...) The drive was uneventful, and we made it within 6 hours. As it turned out, Nana, Papa, Uncle Gary and Alberto were all already there, so we had a nice happy hour turned dinner with them!

Friday began the chaos. People arriving, hair consultations, nail appointments, etc! After all the appointments it was time to try to calm down and get ready for the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner! We met at the Village Beach Club, and everyone that was in the wedding walked out onto the beach. We were organized by my planner, Kathy, who took charge immediately. Most of us took off our shoes as we prepared to do the walk through. As it turns out, we are a hard bunch to manage, as we get distracted easily and have a tendency to dissolve into giggles.

Then came the dolphins. As if we weren't already distracted enough, dolphins began leaping out of the water. There would be a dorsal fin, and another, and then one would just go for it and leap clean out! It was amazing, and as a result, none of us felt too secure about what we were going to have to do the next day.

We then all hopped into cars and proceeded to Argyle's. the chosen place for the rehearsal dinner. They had a BIG sign that said: "Congratulations Brody and Miguel!" That made my night already, my name was in lights! Inside, we had a happy hour and mingling time, and were then directed to our tables. Miguel and I had a little table isolated at the front. The only problem was, we spend all our time together, we wanted to mingle more! So we took breaks from our eating and got in the way of waiters so we could talk to everyone. I stole fries from my 6 year old cousin, Austin, took a family shot (not the picture kind) with Mom, Dad, and Jake, a cousin shot, we celebrated Pat Cunningham's 18th birthday with cake and a song, listened to Seamus sing, had European Union Flag cake, made a few speeches and really just had a blast!

After that, it was on to the s'mores party on the beach! We arrived and immediately saw even MORE people we wanted to see! I talked so much I never even made a s'more! And then, not 30 minutes later, it started to POUR down rain. There was no point in running, it was better just to realize you were going to be wet, and have fun with it, which we did! I would even go as far as saying we frolicked. The only casualty was Vince's glasses, which we did find, but they were smashed. Sorry Vince! We hung out (very damp) for a while before changing into dry clothes, but even then we continued partying in the house until about 2am, when my mom intervened, saying that we had a big day tomorrow and needed sleep! Yes mom...

But this is already long! I will write about the big day, but later! I will leave off with saying that I'm sorry there are no pictures in this post, but if you want to see some I'll give you the link!
Password: 100309letson


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Every now and then...

We need to stop and smell the roses.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Return of Picture of the Day

Here we have Bob L'Eponge instead as "Bob le Gaufre" (Bob the waffle). How very appropriate!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back in Belgium

I'm back in Brussels, and while I am glad to be back, and glad to get back into the swing of things, I have immediately been made aware of the flaws of this city (and country). And no, I'm not just talking about the weather!

Just in the last couple days:

1) Slow service at restaurants/cafes- Now, I know this is the case in a lot of Europe, and I know that I'm American, and that the American system for servers (getting paid basically nothing and working for tips) is seriously flawed. And I even know that it's nice not to be bothered sometimes when you just want to sit with a coffee and a book, or with a beer and some friends for an extended period of time. However, if you need to make a movie or something, it is best not to even try to go out. Getting the check is an effort, and I have succeeded, once, in walking out on a 50 EUR tab (don't worry, I went back to pay the next day). We stood outside of the restaurant debating whether to go back in that night for 10 MINUTES, and no one came out to make us pay, or even noticed. Then the next day, it was actually difficult to pay. So I guess the restaurants here (like the public transportation system) run on guilt.

2) Bandwidth caps- These are basically a limit on how much you can use the internet, download and upload things. This is a pain in the ass. As soon as you go over your limit (20-50GB per month) not only are you charged per GB, but internet speed falls to about the same as dial up. Very few other countries have such things, and I'm sure if enough people complained about it they could be removed, but the people here seem to be overwhelmingly passive, and so, while living here I must conform. (This leads into the next topic...)

3) People are PASSIVE- If there is anything wrong here with service (restaurant, internet, phone, cable, heating, etc.) the way to deal with it seems to be to just accept that there are flaws and move on. No one wants to deal with said flaws, it's too much work, so they just let them go. The sidewalk on Chausee d'Ixelles has been torn up for God know how long (I trip every single day I go out) and does anyone ever think, hmm, perhaps we should fix this? Nope. (Part of the problem is there are large stones set in sand. Sand which shifts over time, causing those large stones to crack under the weight of so much foot traffic.) We just turn a blind eye, or, in this case, stare at our feet so we don't trip. With this explanation perhaps you can see how Belgium went without a government for 8 months.

4) The Post Office- I never have good luck at the post office. When packages come for me, apparently they ring the bell, but I'm suspicious, because even when I'm here ALL DAY, I don't hear it, and then have to go and pick whatever it is up. Also, I had friends visiting a couple months ago, they wanted to send some Italian olive oil back home to friends and family, so I took them to the good old post office (where the queen of mullets -short bangs, short above the ears, straight and all the same length in the back down to the base of her neck- is always on duty). Over a month later I went back to retrieve something, and they show me a beat up package which still contained it's bottle of olive oil. It took me 10 minutes of broken English to get them to give it to me, but also to get out of them that it had been sitting there for 2 weeks, and I hadn't been given any kind of notification! And the final straw: I sold my old laptop on ebay a few days ago, and I needed to send it out to the Netherlands. I took it to the post office, and surprise: it wasn't all that expensive! (yay) However, because it was over 3 kilos, it could not be insured. They don't do insurance. What the hell??? They actively try to sell you on insurance for packages in the States! And it was not allowed! You'd think the bigger the package, the more likely it should be insured! So fingers crossed it gets to its destination...

ALL of that said, Belgium is a nice country to live in. I have a nice apartment, I live in a great neighborhood and I enjoy my life here. But maybe, just maybe, they should put ME in charge of a few things.... (Muahahahahaha!)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sorry for the long absence!

I've been back in the good old US of A! I know, I know, I was just here, but I had to come back, mostly for vacation purposes, but also to make some decisions about the wedding. I go back to Brussels on Friday.

I spent my first night at home here in my parents' house, eating Chinese food with my good friend Lena. Somehow in my sleep-deprived, travel-addled state, it was all I could think of eating. I was more tired than usual due to my ridiculous trip.

Ok, so I know August is a really bad time to travel, high ticket prices, crowds, etc., and yet I decided to do it anyway. Of course, I didn't have a whole lot of choice, those wedding decisions weren't going to decide themselves, so away I flew, adding a nice chunk of change to what I already owe the parental units. The problems started when I got to the airport in Brussels...

I was told at the ticket counter that the economy class of the Continental Airlines flight I was supposed to be on was overbooked. Sad face. But, they were giving upgrades! Happy face! So in my overly optimistic mind-set, I marched right through security, not stopping, not passing go, not even collecting 200! I get to the gate and there is a very long line, God knew what for. There was a free woman at the desk, so I went to talk to her, but one of the people in line said "There's a line, ya know!" so I was forced back. After waiting line for about 10 minutes to be asked the same security questions I had already been asked, they said I couldn't go through, because I didn't have a seat assignment! Then I went up to the free woman at the desk. I gave her my prepared schpiel which included "I just got married!" She glared at me. "You have to wait like everyone else!" (she said sternly.) If she had been American I would have been put in first class, or at least business!

So she took my ticket and I was free to go get the bottle of water I had passed by before in my effort to get to the gate quickly. After that errand, I returned, and the same woman told me I still didn't have a seat assignment. Miguel read off the European passenger rights to me on the phone (if I had been bumped off the flight there would have been a new flight and money!) but alas, I was called at the last second and given a boarding pass. I looked at my seating assignment, knowing that little number would mean nothing to me until I was on the plane. And oy, did it mean something to me then!

I was in the worst seat possible. Directly in front of the bathrooms (noisy, the seat didn't recline) and in the middle. Being in the middle sucks. A lot. I like to get up and walk around and have easy access to the bathroom. The guy on the aisle kept falling asleep (how he could, god knows), so I think I only went to the bathroom twice. During the whole 7-8 hour flight. Twice. Normally I go 4-5 times. Grr. Nor did things get better after that flight was over. Oh no...

That flight was into Newark, NJ. There had been, and were still, thunderstorms all afternoon. And I mean ALL afternoon. So I picked up my luggage to go through customs. No problem. I took it to the designated luggage drop off area and waited in another line. I then showed my boarding pass to the guy there. "I'm sorry ma'am, that flight has been cancelled." "Say what now?" Crappity crap crap.

On to the Continental window. My connecting flight was supposed to leave at 2:40pm. After waiting in yet another line the woman says "I can get you on another flight that leaves at 9:00pm." *jaw drops* I ask "Don't you have anything else?" her: "Are you ok with flying into Reagan National?" me: "Dear god, yes!" her: "I can get you on a flight at 5pm." me: "Done! And make it a window seat!"

So smooth sailing from there eh? No problem. Just a few hours... MMhmm. So I go to the gate for that flight. I sit for a few minutes, and BOOM delayed. Keeping in mind I got to the airport about 8am. I sit a while longer. BOOM delayed again. A few more minutes BOOM cancelled. Say what now? The tell us to go to the Continental desk. Wait in line. Again. I get to someone and they say "That flight isn't cancelled." ????? Go back to the gate, but now it's another flight there, not mine. I check the board, and now my flight is set to leave from a few gates away at 7:45pm! RAPTURE!!

The rest is easy. I got on that flight and made it home. TA DA.

There's more to tell, but not now. I just saw Julie & Julia and was in a blogging state of mind, not knowing what the hell I would talk about (I never really know), and here is a super long entry! Voila!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Anna's Visit!

Anna left a week ago today after a wonderful visit! We had a week of wandering around Brussels, hanging out and just generally enjoying each other’s company.

She got here on Wednesday of last week, and after my customary visit to Belgium’s only Starbucks, we were on our way back to my humble abode. The bus ride was excruciatingly slow because it was rush hour, so it took ages to get back. Miguel helped carry the bag upstairs, and I let Anna settle in for a well deserved nap.I got her up around 12:30 so we could meet Miguel and a couple others for lunch at El Vergel (our fave lunch spot). That was delicious, as always, and a fun lively atmosphere.

The rest of the afternoon was chilling, going grocery shopping, and mini crime night (NCIS and CSI Miami). Exciting, I know!

The next day, Thursday, was quite cloudy, but after lunch we decided to attempt a walk to the Grand Place. We got about halfway there when the clouds broke apart and it started POURING. Like, these clouds were not messing around, we’re talking BIG, fat-ass rain drops that were VERY cold. So we decided we needed to take shelter somewhere (as neither of us had an umbrella), so we ducked into this cafe, Au Cherch Midi, where the proprietor promptly shooed us out, saying they were closed (even though there were loads of people at tables, eating and drinking). I’m never going there again! So then we were stuck out again, to wander until we found a ledge to duck under. Mind you, were completely soaked and cold at this point. We did go into this cool furniture shop that had some pretty amazing pieces, but a single pillow cost about 400 EUR. We were followed around by one of them women that worked there, she probably thought we would steal something, or damage it beyond repair. After that, we found ourself a ledge and an overhang and stood there for about 15 minutes, waiting for the rain to let up. Did it? Not really. We got tired of waiting, so when it had lessened to a pour, we ventured out.

On the way back I stopped to pick up a free magazine to use as an umbrella-substitute, and was complimented by another passer-by (in French) at my ingenuity. We made our way to Veritas (a place that had umbrellas) and I went over to pick one out. At that point we were very close to home, but I didn’t own one at all (stupid cheap umbrellas, always breaking), so I decided it’s now or never. I talked to a couple of girls also looking at umbrellas, about how there were cheaper places to buy them, but they broke and why clear umbrellas are better. Anna and I then went home and dried off, and decided leaving the apartment was overrated.

The following day, we actually did make it to the Grand Place, and all around Brussels without rain spoiling our plans (though we brought the umbrella anyway). We wandered all around the center, and did lots of touristy things (like get Anna one of those disposable cameras). We saw the royal park, the Palais Royale, and lots of other things. We got her some chocolates to take home, and some good cookies at Maison Dandoy. After that we dragged our butts back home.

We also went out for a lovely dinner that night at Belgo Belge (a Belgian restaurant we live really close to, but hadn’t tried yet). Anna treated (bc she’s awesome) and we had some great food. I had duck breast in Kriek (cherry beer) sauce, YUM. We then went to l’Ultime Atome (another restuarant/cafe very close) and got dessert (Dame Blance, vanilla ice cream with melted Belgian chocolate poured on top, again, YUM). We returned home stuffed and happy.

Saturday saw us up and out by 1pm for more sight-seeing and the like. We walked through the Sablon, to the Grand Place, saw the Mannekin Pis, got waffles, saw a movie and got the bus home. Sunday, the church bells woke us all up around 10, and we wandered around groggily getting our breakfast together. The rest of the day (and Monday) we spent walking around more, getting souvenirs (for Anna), chocolates, going out to dinner etc.

All in all, I would say it was a VERY successful visit! (Pictures coming soon!)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hit and Run

On Tuesday, Miguel and I decided to take a walk in the royal park after work. We made it about halfway around the perimeter, when we heard “SCREEEEEECH, CRASH!!!! SCREEEEEECH, VRROOOOM” After the first screech, we turned to look, and saw this navy blue sports car, complete with spoiler take a turn WAY too fast, slam into a parked convertible Mini (knocking the back bumper clean off), and then tear away.

Being that hit-and-runs disgust me (how inconsiderate can you be, I mean honestly), I wanted to do something about it. We stood looking around for quite a while, talked to a couple other witnesses (there were loads, it was a nice, bright day and there were a lot of people in the park, as well as leaving work) and continued on our way. I wanted to call the police, and Miguel was saying he didn’t have the vocab in French. We were still walking and talking about it, when we saw some federal police right across the street, and talking to one of our fellow-witnesses, no less. We decided we had to go over and share what we saw, and it turned out the guy knew some English. The guard from next door came over as we described the car, and started ranting (in perfect English) about how this happens a lot, and people are so inconsiderate, etc. After Miguel gave the officer his ID, we said goodbye to the guard (who left us with the remark that more people should be like us, haha) and continued on our walk.

So there you have it, there’s always something going on!

Monday, June 29, 2009


(I might get in trouble for this...)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Porte de Namur Street Party

For the past 2 days there has been a massive street party, right outside my window. Streets blocked off, the smell of grilling meat, masses of people, mostly Congolese, swirling through the neighborhood. It's been quite something.

There have been bad parts, deafening music, mostly African (I assume West African), one song blending into another for hours and hours. Fighting our way through the crowds, Miguel and I lost each other on a number of occasions. Having to keep a close eye on ALL belongings, moreso than usual. Also, the fish they grill smells like the salt fish in the stores around here, like fish that's been dead for a long time...

There have been interesting/funny parts. Looking at knockoff bags (sorry, I will not buy a Gussaci bag, no matter how "authentic" you claim it is), interesting outfits and some fun music. Just tonight they played "Beat It" and as we watched out the window, a guy on the street started dancing, the actual choreography, MJ's choreography! A crowd gathered almost immediately, and began clapping and cheering, and then, offering money. All of these people, waving 5, 10, 20 euro bills at him, not unlike one would do at a strip club (not like I know about that from experience...) and he took the money! Apparently it's a sign of appreciation.

I have to say, there is MAJOR respect for famous African Americans here. Obama is practically idolized, and it seems there is some serious appreciation for Michael Jackson here. So maybe, just maybe, we're not so different after all.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Picture of the day...

This is what you can do with cupcakes and googly eyes.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Warning, it's a long one!

I'm now back in Brussels (have been for a week) after my trip home to the US and my mini-break in Dublin and London.

It was such a treat being back home, especially since I hadn't been in 5 months! My room, my house, my family, my friends, nothing had really changed. I did notice a few odd things though: For starters, my bed seemed very high and the toilets seemed low. I tried many times to race up the stairs to where my room is, to no avail. I always tripped on the last step or two, it seems my legs/feet forgot how many there were. Getting back into driving was easier than I expected, and not nearly so nerve wracking as I was prepared for.

I went into Washington, DC a few times, and felt as though I was seeing the city through different eyes. It was clean and inviting. Familiar, but fresh. It made me look forward to moving back there eventually. I think part of the change has to be in some way related to our wonderful new president, Mr. Obama. This was the first time I had been in the country with him as president, and it made me feel very proud, and more patriotic than I have been in years.

Two weeks passed very quickly, and then it was time for "The Great Schlepp." I packed my bags, one big, one small, and was driven to the airport by my parents. After checking my luggage (not too heavy for this flight) I went to my gate. Imagine my joy when I found out that my Aer Lingus flight had scheduled a last minute stop in Boston on the way to Dublin. This was just dandy, especially since on the way to DC from Dublin we had to stop in Shannon because something was wrong with the plane. But oh well, so Boston it was.

We gained quite a few more passengers there, including 2, who took the seats next to me. I was in the middle row where there are 4 seats, and this was a mother and child, and they took up the remaining 3. They couldn't leave me one freakin barrier seat. So I immediately started building up my grudge against them. The woman asked me if I would be willing to swap seats with her husband, who was in the row behind us (after I finished watching my movie, she suggested). I agreed, since he had an empty seat next to him.

So this sparked a conversation between us, and it turns out she wasn't SO bad. She and her husband were American, going to their house in Ireland. She had taken a sleeping pill and brought with her a thermos of white wine, which she had gotten from a post-security airport restaurant. She seemed quite tipsy as it was, and offered me a couple glasses, which, how could I refuse? She basically told me her whole life story (having adopted her daughter from Russia, how she didn't really like the American world view, etc.) before passing out. I never did swap with her husband, both were asleep before I could get back to my movie and finish it.

We landed in Dublin a few short hours later, and surprisingly, getting through the passport check/customs was a breeze. I then found Siobhan's dad without too much trouble, and we were on our way to their house. We arrived, and I was famished and exhausted. He grilled me a couple rashers of bacon, I made some scrambled eggs, and we had some toast and tea to go with it. It was just what I needed. I then retreated up to my room for a good couple hours of naptime.

I spent the majority of the rest of the day watching tv and hanging out, waiting for Siobhan to get home from work. When she did get home we had a light dinner and went to see a movie, Last Chance Harvey with Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. It was a nice movie, though nothing spectacular.

The next day I took the bus into town and caught a glmpse of this odd jacket on the guy in front of me. It looks like it would be ideal for a motorcyclist, but he was riding the bus... Anyway, I spent the afternoon wandering all over Dublin, listening to random buskers and then meeting up with Miguel's Aunt Joan and cousin, Maureen. We had a drink in a cafe, chatted, and by then it was time for me to go meet Siobhan and get home. We got a ride from her sister, which was very nice, and then decided to have a girly night in. We got some popcorn, some Rock Shandy and a copy of Bride Wars. We also brought her dog, Bob in to watch with us. He kept staring at me, and his stare was not unlike the dramatic chipmunk on youtube.

Early the next morning we were off to London! We got a taxi about 7:15am, picked up Bronagh and we were on our way! I miraculously didn't have to pay anything extra for my luggage and we made our way to McDonald's for the breakfast of champions, and then to the flight.

We arrived in London Heathrow, and of course, the Tube was down because of a strike. One painfully expensive cab ride later, we were at our hostel! (which was right by St. Peter's Cathedral) We went to a cheap place for some lunch and hunt out back at the hostel for a few hours. Hey, we were tired! We then got all dolled up to go to dinner and the Britney Spears concert. To those of you who are judging me right now, I fart in your general direction.

We had some good food at Ye Olde Cock Tavern (no joke). I had fish and chips, and we all shared a pitcher of some cocktail I can't remember. Then we were off to find the bus that would take us to the O2 stadium (fuckin tube). It took a year and a mitvach to get there, by which time we had missed Ciara. Eh, no big deal. Brit Brit was the main attraction. Too bad our seats were in the last possible row!We could still see (in was a concert in a round) but not well enough, and there was no big projection screen (big mistake O2). Still, it was a fun concert!

We got lost on the way home and wandered for about 45 minutes before getting back to our (very nearby) hostel where 2 other girls, Emer and Mairead were waiting for us. We had a chill night so we would be rested up for the next day. The Tube was back up and running, but we decided walking was better, and so we wandered all over the city before returning to the city. The girls went to see Avenue Q (which I had seen) and because I didn't have a lot of money, I stayed in and had a nice evening in. (I was still jet lagged, after all.) I did go out for an evening walk to take some pictures:
The next day we walked all the way down to the West Bank, saw loads of street performers, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the London Eye, etc. I'm afraid those pics will have to come later, seeing as this is already the longest blog entry in the history of the world. And no, I have never exaggerated in my entire life. I hope you managed to get through this post, if you have, congrats! You win!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

So I'm back in the States and have been for 2 weeks now. I'm back in Europe on as of Tuesday and back in Brussels as of Saturday the 13th.

I've had a good time being back, I have grocery shopped (and ate) to my heart's content, watched a bit too much tv, seen lots of friends,
attended one wedding...

and have seen 3 movies (thus far).
-The Soloist- wonderful, moving, true story
-The Hangover- hilarious, silly, entertaining
-Drag me to Hell- scary, funny, campy, wonderful
And tomrorow I'm going to see Up (the new Disney/Pixar film).

I have also done a good bit of shopping for "necessities." It's been a good time, but I'm looking forward to my triumphant return to Europe (and to Miguel). And now it's less than 4 months to OUR wedding, how crazy is that?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Snow White came to Brussels

So, little tidbit (because I am procrastinating), Tomek, the Polish guy we were out with last night was talking about going to Germany. He actually didn't know where in Germay he was going, but he knew it was where Snow White was from. None of us had heard of this part of Germany, and were all kind of skeptical. Fast forward to today...

I decided to look it up, and apparently (according to Wikipedia) the story of Snow White has a ton of parallels with Margarete Van Weldeck (1533-1554) who was very attractive, had problems with her stepmother, grew up in Waldeck (a town in Germany) where children (known as dwarfs) worked in mines, etc. THEN, Margarete moved to Brussels! Where she attracted the romantic interest of several nobles, including Phillip II of Spain, who wanted to marry her, but she fell victim of a poisoning! (And died at the age of 21.)

So there you have it, the possible (probably) inspiration for the folk tale Snow White came to Brussels.

Holidays in Brussels...

Are great. Today Miguel has a day off, so we slept in, and then noticed the market just outside the window! (Living in Boniface has its advantages.) So we got dressed and wandered around before having a lovely breakfast of eggs, bacon and tea on the terrace of L'Ultime Atome (the same place we had drinks last night, they must be getting sick of us over there) and enjoyed the lovely weather.

The only problem with holidays here, though, is everything is closed. It's worse than a Sunday! We had to go into town to buy the beer I wanted to get for my dad (Tripel Karmeliet and Kwak), but it all worked out, and now it's time to pack!

It's going to be weird driving again, and not having to lug groceries up 3 flights of stairs. Hurrah vacation! USA (and Whole Foods), here I come!

Reason to love Brussels (other than the chocolate)

Tonight I went out for drinks with a few friends to say goodbye before my big trip to the States. we were all talking and having a good time, when I looked around and realized what an interesting group we were (at least based on nationality). We had:

1 Irish/Spanish
1 Irish
1 Belgian
1 Jordanian
1 Polish and
1 American.

Yep, Brussels is pretty cool.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dora the Explora

Today I was babysitting Faisal, and after his nap I told him he could watch part of a movie/DVD, and he chose to watch some Dora the Explorer. I had heard of it, but I had never watched it before today. I haven't seen a show that brainwashing since Barney. It was made to make kids repeat after the characters on the screen, so everything is said very slowly, in simple terms and at least 4 times over.

I had Faisal turn it off after about 10 minutes and we proceeded to play with "tracks" (trains). The entire time, he wouldn't talk to me, he was repeating the dialogue of the show. Particularly "We're a team, there's nothing we can't do!" but when he said it, it was like "We're a teeeeam." He sounded like a brainwashed zombie. Just saying "We're a team. We're a team. We're a teeeeeeam." Actually, scratch the zombie, it was more like he was a ghost haunting someone with that phrase. Plus, I don't think zombies can say anything besides "Braaaaaains..."

Yeah, I think I'm gonna avoid Dora from now on.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I must miss the States a lot. For the last 2 out of 3 nights, I've had dreams about going grocery shopping back in the US of A. The first dream was in Giant, the second was in Whole Foods. I absolutely cannot wait to go. Is that sad?

Mmmm, America.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Things and Stuff

So it's been about a week, and what has happened?

Brice went on to this farm near Liverpool to learn about joinery and live in a teepee/wigwam. (I told him he had to go to that farm because he got to live in one. If I could, I would, just to say I had.) Miguel and I then had to get used to having the apartment to ourselves again, ourselves and the cats, that is.

We're all doing fine, though Miguel did get hit by a car today! Ok, it was more like, the car was backing up very slowly into him, but he is totally fine, not even a bruise. We banged on the car though to let the woman know we were pissed.

Oh, I've been trying to come up with something to put on the walls (they are kinda boring as of now) and it occured to me I could paint them with a design or a mural or something. Since we are living in a very art nouveau neighborhood I want to do something, well, art nouveau-y. I've been doing some sketches to test things out...

Feel free to leave thoughts or ideas!

So now, just to remind you all that I have cute cats, I present you with...

1) Plotting kitty
And 2) Sleeping kittyAnd, for good measure, both cats together on my awesome new (used) chair!
In other news, both Miguel and I got our hair cut today (at different places), he's not so happy with his, but I love mine! (this picture also featuring my semi-new glasses!)And since this is already a picture heavy post, I may as well include another couple from good old photobooth! (Sophie the just plain cute and Cleo the camera hog)

Oh, Miguel and I went to see "He's Just Not That Into You" tonight (the premier here in Belgium, cue "ooh"s and "ahh"s). It was pretty good, cute. Not anything AMAZING. Also, Jennifer Anniston has seen better days... (Does saying that make me mean?)

Anyway, Brussels is fine otherwise. Really nice weather, outdoor cafes, trees with leaves, indoor picnics, friends, it's pretty good! I do miss home though, and am really looking forward to my visit!

So, I guess that's it for me for now! I hope everyone is doing well and had a great Eastover!