Saturday, February 21, 2009

This gives a new meaning to the word "Pussycat"

So, as you know, my 2 lovely kitties are in heat, and have turned into little whores, sticking their lady-bits into whatever they can.

So, I'm n the living room, playing on my PS2, and I take a break after a level, and I hear from the kitching "I'm hot blooded, check it and see/I've got a fever of a hundred and three..." Cats cooing and meowing away. I go in, and say Miguel, what are you listening to? "Foreigner." So I said "I don't think I can take listening to "Hot blooded" while the cats are running around doing their kitty cat sex thing. So he went to the next song. The next song which I thought would be better. And what was it, you ask?

"I. Can't. Get. No... Satisfaction"

I groaned and said, "What, do you have it on your 'cats in heat' playlist??"

Friday, February 20, 2009

What a day...

So today was one of those doozies of a day when hiding out in the apartment and sending Miguel out for food seems totally acceptable.

This morning was fine, I bought food for lunch, waited for Miguel to get home, the usual. Just before he got there I was petting the cats and they were acting strange... they were over-affectionate, quite vocal and kept sticking their little butts in the air. My next thought: shit, their in heat. As soon as Miguel got in we called the vet and made an appointment for them to get spayed. So for the next couple of days we're gonna be living with those two little cats sticking their little va-jay-jays in our faces. Awesome.

So there really wasn't anything I could do about that right then, so I left for work, a little early because I had to get there before 3. No problem, I left at 1:45 (normally it takes about 40-45 minutes, I left extra time). I get the first and second train, no problem. I get up to the tram. Now, that station, Montgomery, is the beginning/end of the line for 2 trams, the 39 and the 44. I take the 44. The one up there when I got to the platform was the 39. Ok, I sit and wait. But there was some drama that I didn't understand, people that were waiting for the other one were getting on the 39 after the driver said something. What he said, I have no idea. I figured it didn't apply to me, because I had to get to Terveuren, the end of the line. So I wait, no problem.

The 44 pulls in, I get on, I sit down, put my ipod on and start to play solitaire on it. I get about halfway, and the driver starts herding everyone off the tram. Oy, what now?? I had no idea. We all stood around for a while as the tram went back the way it came. Then another 44 came up to where the last one had been. We got on. I realized as I got on... wait, this isn't a tram. This is a bus! Cue me paranoid staring out the window, looking around and back at my fellow passengers. (Some of whom were I think some kind of sports team, a bunch of guys, some in Jamaica colors, talking and laughing very loudly). We're stuck in traffic and I'm getting paranoid about the time, checking the time on my ipod. I also had forgotten my cell phone, so I couldn't call if I'd wanted to. Then, the bus stops and everyone gets off... but me. Then the bus goes again, and I decided to ask the driver to make sure it was going to the end of the line. It was.

We made it to Terveuren where Dana (Faisal's mom) was waited in her car. It was 3:01.

So that was it? That was the whole bad day? haha NOPE.

The first part of the day with Faisal was fine and normal, except he didn't take a nap. He was pretty wired, and Dana said it was optional. So I thought he would be fine. We even went for a walk to Aldi (kind of a discount grocery store), and that was fun. We got back and played, read, drew things, etc. Then we were talking about cats, and I was teasing him about his cat (my cats' mother) whose name is Duck-Cat (Duck for short). I was saying "you named your cat after a bird, how silly!" Which he loved, for the record! He laughed and said "tell it again!" Then he got another idea and said "Hey, look at this" and picked up 2 of his plastic dinosaurs and chucked them at me, one hitting me right in the nose. Now, I know he didn't mean to hurt me, but he did, so I explained to him calmly why we don't throw things and that it had hurt me. Then came the tantrum. Not screaming, but throwing his books on the floor, shaking the table, etc. Thank god it was 6:30 and Dana came up and helped me diffuse the situation. She helped me explain that I wasn't angry, I just didn't want him to throw things at me. Dana had to give him a little package of fruit snacks to get him to get back to normal. He's getting his nap next time. Oy.

So then we go to the car (by the way, I usually leave at 6, Fridays 6:15, so 6:30 was late), go to the tram station, I get on, and settle in for the ride home. But there is something up with the stupid tram and the driver gets everyone off at the SAME STOP as on my ride there and we all got on a 39 tram to get back to Montgomery. I get on my first train, and THAT is messed up and only goes half the distance I need (2 stops!) before they announce end of the line, wait for the next train. So I was extra-super late getting home around 7:45, and hungry, tired and grumpy.

AND the cats were in heat and acting kinda nuts. But Miguel, being the great guy he is, went out and got me take out and made me feel better. So for now, the stupid transport system here can bite me.

The end.

PS. the good news is, my computer is now fixed, though going to get it is a bit of a story. Not for now though, for later.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Weird Belgium

So we have tv that we don't pay for. We get a good few channels including BBC1 and 2, some Dutch channels with subtitled English programming, etc. I can't really complain. But we were doing a bit of research to see if there was any way we could watch the Oscars. It turns out one company did buy the rights, and it's one of those premium channels, etc. We don't get it. That in itself does not bother me. What does is that, even if we wanted to switch companies and pay, even if we wanted to order that fancy shmancy movie channel and stay up all night watching the Oscars, it wouldn't work. They don't offer service in our area. They offer it in other parts of Brussels, no problem. But Ixelles, nope, it's a no go. That particular telecom company only offers mobile phone service in Ixelles.

That would not happen in America. It would be like HBO saying, ok, you're in DC, but, oh, in Northwest, sorry. We don't offer service in Northwest. Can I interest you in a keychain instead? Yeah. So there you have my rant.

Congrats Miguel!!!

So this isn't about me at all!! Miguel found out today, not 10 minutes ago that he will be getting an indefinite (so, basically permanent) contract at Eurocities in June when his old one runs out! Job security! Yay!!! So that is the news, real update later.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oh, Belgium

So this isn't a full update, but just a bit of complaining about Brussels in a humorous way. 

So today Joan and Maureen (Miguel's aunt and cousin) got here from Dublin. It was my job to go out and collect them at the airport. I checked the bus schedule and thought, heh no problem. The weird thing was, I knew the bus I wanted, the 12. The 12 is the express to the airport. The 21 is the non-express to the airport. Hence, the 12 is the one I wanted. I decided on that, checked the times and where it went (Place Luxemburg), and thought ok, that works. Miguel said I could pick it up in front of Fat Boy's (the American burger place in Place Lux).

So I got up this morning around 7:30 and got ready to head out to the bus stop. I got there, and in front of Fat Boys there are signs for the 21 to the Brussels Airport, with a separate tariff (price) to go to the NATO building. It also lists the 12 in the schedule, but not in detail. Ok... A 21 comes by and it says NATO, I ask, and it does not go to the airport. I looked all around Place Lux for other signs, but nothing. So, fine, I go back to Fat Boy's and I wait. 

And wait.

And then, there's a 12, but it didn't stop! So I start chasing it, like a dog, through Place Lux. And out of Place Lux. And away I go, catching up at stop lights. This goes on for a while, but finally, I lost the bus. Shit. 

I start walking back. to Place Lux, coughing and sniffling and sweating away despite the chill. All of a sudden, there is another 12! Shit. I ran again. I chased it a slightly shorter distance back to just at the corner of Place Lux where it stops, lets people off, and I get on. 

And wait. For nearly 10 minutes. Where I was, where I had chased the bus to, was, in actuality, the end of the line! So there I sat as my breathing gradually slowed waiting for the lights to come on and the engine to start. About 10 minutes pass. Finally, we got going. 

The upsides to all this were: 1) Starbucks at the airport (the only one in Belgium that I know of) and 2) On the way back, I was THE expert on the bus. I was trying to get Maureen and Joan tickets for the bus, and the machine wasn't working (it's a euro more expensive when you buy on the bus). There was a queue that I supposed was angry at the hold up. I eventually gave up on my transaction, and when the man behind me had trouble, I explained it to him. Then the rest of the line started to ask me questions about the fare, the bus itself, etc. After explaining everything to about 10 English-speakers and taking control of the situation, the bus arrived and we got on. The came the questions about where the bus stops, and if I would tell them when we were in such-and-such a place. All of this I did until we got off the bus where I had got on. So I came off as an expert, having nearly failed to ride the bus once. The airport should totally hire me. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Long overdue...

This post is dedicated to Tracy, who reminded me that I need to post more. I know I should, but time seems to pass too quickly!

Work has been ok, my little charge was still recovering from the flu last week, and so wasn't terribly energetic and was even less able to communicate. He had a tantrum last Friday that started before I got there. It turned out he was hungry, but unable to say it, and so lots of tears and screaming ensued. Thank god his mom was able to help me for the first half hour or so. I'm going back tomorrow, so I'm hoping he's all better and ready to play.

The other thing about work is, it feels great to finally be earning some money, even though it's not much. It makes me feel a bit more like a functioning member of society.

In other news, I finished another book this past week! Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach. Great book, both hilarious and educational. If you haven't done so, go get a copy and get reading. The book I read before Stiff was World Without End by Ken Follett, which was so much like Pillars of the Earth it was almost annoying. Still, totally addictive and wonderful. Right now, I'm on Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik, which is such an inspiration to me. It's about an expat American in Paris, there are so many things I can relate to, and I just love it. Thanks for the recommendation, Kathleen!

So I suppose I should take this opportunity to talk about the weekend, which was really fabulous. Friday night we were totally lazy, but we made up for it on Saturday! Between cleaning, grocery shopping, baking and partying there was almost no time left to sit down! After grocery shopping Miguel and I went to this awesome store, HEMA (kind of like a Dutch Target). I got this great fish sticker book and a kinder egg (chocolate egg with a toy inside)... And yes, I am still about 5 years old. After all the errands I made chocolate chip cookies, we ate dinner, and set off for the party and Fionnuala and Siobhans'!

I don't really know where to start on the party. I'll say this, the beer and wine were flowing freely, as was the conversation in at least 4 different languages. The cookies were a huge hit. We tried to do some group Irish dancing at around 1 or 2am, which I'm sure the neighbors were thrilled about. Chocolate was hidden in bras. There was an argument about which TV show was better, Married with Children or According to Jim. Classical music came on the ipod, and we all decided it was too posh for our party. And the rest was just general nonsense. Fun was had by all. Almost the entirety of Sunday was spent recovering.

Sunday evening we had people coming over, Rachel and Chris (Rachel works with Miguel) and I got it into my head to cook! I made sticky chicken, rice and green beans! The sticky chicken was pretty awesome. I haven't had it in years, and it reminded me of when I was little and ate it, and would have a plate full of bones and soiled napkins. We ate it in a more civilized (or should I switch to UK English? civilised?) way that night, but Miguel and I ate the leftovers the next day and had sauce from ear to ear.

By the way, sorry (esp. sorry to Anna Cima) for the lack of pictures in this post. I don't have the right pictures to illustrate things, my camera has been used mostly for photographing the cats. I swear I'm not obsessed...

Oh! I totally forgot the biggest news of the last 2 weeks! We got new heaters!! Ones that really work, and are cheap and keep us warm and are not smelly! Our apartment is almost too warm!

Now, I don't know if I've talked about the ordeal it's been getting these heaters, but it's been insane. I started trying to obtain 2 new ones (out of the 3 in the apartment, the one in the bathroom worked, the one in the kitchen would be on for about 10 minutes, and shut off and stay off, the one in the living room gave off a horrible smell) in October. We had several visits from Fernando, the building maintenance man, who then got the flu. A couple weeks later he says he can't fix them anyway, we need to call the gas company. That appointment took over a month to get, and then they said well, we won't have new ones for you until late January or early February. Great. That's winter. So we had to get these electric heaters that the landlord paid for, but they cost a pretty penny to run, but we have yet to get that bill.

Now, the arrival of these new heaters was a much anticipated event, the only problem was the installation itself. Service here in Brussels leaves something to be desired. The guys smelled very strongly of cigarette smoke and BO, were noisy as hell and made a total mess of the apartment. I was asked to help them break down a box (I'm pretty sure it's not my job...) and they left another huge box in the kitchen for me to deal with for myself. They didn't do a thing with the old heaters and left them in the hallway. They scared the shit out of the cats, and even let one out who I had to chase down the stairs. The heaters also smelled awful when first turned on, so I had to open all the windows. But I will say this. All of that doesn't matter now that I can be warm. I love them and would go through it all ten times over to have these heaters.

Anyway, I should probably wrap this up. To those of you that have made it this far, kudos to you. To Anna Cima, who I'm pretty sure hasn't made it here... for shame. I will try to post more frequently from here on out. :-)