Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Today has been quite busy! Miguel's aunts and cousin are coming into Brussels tonight to stay for a couple of days!

I'm trying to be a good hostess and have the apartment clean and a nice dinner awaiting their arrival. The place is clean enough, I made brownies, coq au vin and I have a soda bread in the oven (it is St. Paddy's Day, after all!). So I'm finally having a sit while the bread bakes and the stew reheats!

Maybe it's time to start celebrating...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Stubborn, Optimistic American Abroad

There are so many differences between Belgium and the US. It's hard to know where to begin, it's also hard to stop myself from complaining sometimes. But...

I'm sure I've mentioned the lack of "service" in "customer service." Well, here I go again! On Friday night, Miguel and I went to the movies to see Shutter Island. The theater was packed and the movie was fantastic, but the problem came when I got home and realized I had forgotten my super-awesome Sigg water bottle in the cup holder of my seat. Miguel, being the wonderful husband that he is, and it being late (10:45pm, weirdos are out by then) offered to go back to retrieve it for me. So off he goes, braving the weirdos and clubbers on my behalf. Sadly, he returned a few minutes later, water bottle-less.

At first I thought he was joking when he said he had no luck. Apparently, the woman there said that he couldn't go up to the theater because there was a movie going on. Also, though he made it clear that it is an aluminum bottle (so I don't have to keep using plastic ones), she said it would probably have been thrown in the trash. Uh... what? She also radioed the clean up crew, who said they had cleaned the theater and found nothing. This was Miguel's report. He told me to leave it be and we could check again in the morning.

Maybe it's because I'm American, instilled with such values as optimism and stubbornness, but I was not about to accept that answer. I looked up the movie showings, and when Miguel had gone back there was no movie showing in that theater! Oy vey. So, to Miguel's protest, I equipped myself with my Swiss Army Knife and my cell phone and headed out to wage my battle with UGC Cinemas and retrieve my beloved water bottle.

I arrived (after talking to Miguel on my cell all the way there) and walked in feeling good. I explained in my horrible French that I had left my bottle there. She said yes, your husband was here, but there is a movie going on now. I said, in my stumbling, but forceful French, "No, there is no movie in that theater, I was in the last showing that ended at 10:30." She looked at her board and said ok, go ahead. Already I had done better than Miguel!

I schlepped up the stairs to theater 14, went through both sets of doors and burst into... a pitch black theater. I quite literally could not see my hand in front of my face (as Groucho Marx would say, "You wouldn't get much enjoyment out of that!"). I didn't dare to walk forward for fear of tripping over the seats, so I went back to the hallway. Luckily, I had brought my ipod touch, which has a handy dandy app called "flashlight" which is just a white screen that gives off just enough light to make a difference. With that on, I inched down the aisle seeing wrappers, plastic water bottles, etc. everywhere (they obviously had not cleaned that theater) until I came upon my very own light blue aluminum one! Triumph!

I went back downstairs thinking 2 things: How I won, and how I would gloat to the woman downstairs, but more importantly, to Miguel! The American way works! Of course, once I saw the woman again, I held up the bottle and said happily the equivalent of "I find it!" and then tried to push, rather than pull the door, looking more than a little like an idiot. Oh well.

So there you have it. Score one for the foreigner!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ga Ga for Gaga!

So this is a blog normally devoted to the trials and tribulations of living in Belgium. Well, and my cats. But I feel the need to post a little something different tonight.

I just bought my tickets to see Lady Gaga in concert in Antwerp! Love her or hate her, most people know of her, and have heard at least one of her songs or seen one of her crazy outfits. Some people dismiss her as "too weird" while others are of the opinion that she is, well, not all woman. Me, I find her (and her music) fascinating, intoxicating, bizarre, fun, addictive and just plain genius.

Her latest video if for the song "Telephone" which is featuring Beyonce. It is some kind of crazy mashup of Tarantino (Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill), Thelma and Louise, Michael Jackon, Madonna and of course, GAGA.

Just watch it. Trust me.

I also really liked this break down of all the action and themes.

So that's it for now, I cannot WAIT until May! Gaga, here I come!