Monthly Archives: November 2009

I has a yay.

So a frequent argument DrBob and I have is that he keeps going to all these exotic places for conferences and such, and he never takes me with him! He says it’s a working trip, he wouldn’t be able to spend any time with me at all, and I believe him, but here’s the thing: I don’t need to be entertained in a fabulous foreign city, all I need is a guidebook and a museum card. But when I point this out, he doesn’t believe me. And, just like a man, he doesn’t dare test my assertion by actually taking me on one of these trips, because he secretly knows I’ll prove him wrong.

Anyway, my birthday present this year is he promised to take me somewhere. This isn’t a test of my assertion, because he won’t be working on this trip, it’ll just be one of the little mini-holidays that we do occasionally. First I picked Seville, but it turned out to be too expensive. DrBob kept suggesting places like Cyprus and Tunisia, which I resisted because he’s a total beach-monkey and I am a city-weekend… monkey. I know he needs a break, and a good wife would have lied to him for his own good and said oh no, I love sand fleas and sunburn, and what mosquito allergy? You must be thinking of someone else. But drat it, it was my birthday present, so I held out for something culture-y. And he found a reasonable fare to…

Barcelona.

Wheeee! Three days between Christmas and New Years, while the kids are at the Oompas!

Gotta go read my Barcelona books!

Song du jour of the day: Just Fine, by Mary J. Blige.


a geekmama’s dilemma

Another fab thing about living in the Netherlands is that I can FINALLY watch sitcoms after eight years in the TV wilderness. The kids and I have gotten fond of Malcolm in the Middle, though it’s after the Sniglet’s bedtime, so I have to, um… tape?… it for him. It’s some tapeless feature of our TV-box, is this what Americans mean by TiVo, maybe?

Anyway. That leaves only weekends for me and Ignatz to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer together, because that’s too scary for the Sniglet (probably). I need something Snig can watch with us, and it’s past time to start trying to turn him into a Trekkie. Also, before Buffy, Ig and I watched all of Star Trek: Enterprise, and then we went to see the most recent Star Trek movie, so chronologically speaking, we should be watching the original series next. And therein lies my dilemma.

Ebay has the three original seasons, in the cheezy plastic boxes in bright primary colors. But there is also the recently remastered version, more easily (and probably cheaply) available. But… remastered? Spiffed up sets and enhanced digital effects may be all well and good, but they couldn’t really remaster the acting. And I’m not sure, but I think perhaps William. Shatner’s. Acting. kind of needs the cardboard sets and shake-that-flashlight special effects to go with it, you know?

Hm. Anybody seen the new spiffy version yet? What do you think?

Song du jour of the day: Knights of the Round Table, by Monty Python.


managers, makers and…

Some of you have read this before, because I linked to it on Facebook a month or two ago. It’s an essay by Paul Graham, and it basically divides people into two groups, based on the way they work: in a nutshell, managers deal with people, whether gathering information or distributing it, and their job can be done in 1-hour increments. Makers, on the other hand – writers, programmers, designers – need at least a few hours to produce anything really good, and interruptions can be devastating. Having written, programmed, and designed, I can attest to the truth of this distinction.

However, I’d like to add a third category: mamas. These are people for whom there’s no point in starting anything complicated, EVER, because they are perpetually on call: children fall down, kitties throw up, phones and doorbells ring, laundry needs to be rebooted, husbands feel chatty, and none of this happens on any kind of predictable schedule (except maybe the laundry), and everything else needs to be fit into the cracks between these events – cracks that may be several hours, or several seconds. My favorite are the interruptions within interruptions, where DrBob asks me to proofread something and I’m halfway through when the kids raise a ruckus downstairs and then DrBob gets an infuriating email he has to tell me about right away and then the kids zip upstairs and one of them wants to play computer and the other one’s hungry.

Yeah. This is on my mind lately because I have this part-time job that I’m trying to fit into these cracks. It is proving to be a challenge. I have 500 titles to process, and I think I managed maybe 30 today. Argh.

Song du jour of the day: Sweet Sweet Baby, by Lone Justice.

P.S. Hey, WordPress says this is my 1000th post! Howbout that?


the other thing we did yesterday…

was go to the library! There were a lot of things I didn’t like about living in the boonies. Okay, not the boonies, it wasn’t even a village, claims DrBob, despite the fact that the German word for village is “dorf” and we lived in DORFen, so frankly I think my point is made. No, apparently it was a TOWN. A town of 13,000, with no movie theater, no place to take a dance class, no place to buy not-already-used children’s clothes, and okay they did have a library, but it had, like, 100 books. Bustling metropolis, there.

ANYWAY, Utrecht has a whole library SYSTEM! And some of you may not recall what a complete library junkie I used to be, but I was so excited to be moving to a city with a real library. And then we got here, and I went there once and got a card, and that was it. The Sniglet was with me that day, and was too crabby to let me look at books, so I didn’t check anything out, and I never could get around to going back. I have no idea why, except, I guess, that I’d fallen out of the habit after eight years in Germany.

However. The Sniglet doesn’t like to read, so he doesn’t get a lot of practice, so he isn’t as good at it as a 9-year-old really should be, and besides: how can ANYONE who shares DNA with me AND DrBob AND Ignatz not like to read!? I mean, I just… can’t make sense out of it. You read to your kids, you let them see you reading and enjoying it, you talk about books = you raise kids who read. There is no other possible conclusion. So in a pathetic attempt to grasp at some shred of faith in a logical universe, I’ve decided that we just haven’t found him the right books yet. And I put my foot down and said we. Are going. To the library. Every week. Yes, we are. I don’t care. Yes, now. Put on your shoes.

And there was much resistance. And he threatened to burn down the library and to not like anything at all, EVER, and to shout a lot once we got inside and why did we have to do this and he hates the libr- oo, magazines! Do they have soccer magazines? Cool, can we get this one? Oh hey, here’s a book about Germany, do you think they have one about Mexico?

So we got those, and a book about Egypt, and I explained the library labeling system so he could find what he wanted, and he spotted a novel about a kid soccer team and we left with four books for the Sniglet! And one for me.

Song du jour of the day: Just For Now, by Imogen Heap.


Sinterklaas

So today was the day that Sinterklaas arrived on his boat from Spain, with Zwarte Piet. It’s a big deal here, you can take your kid down to the… place where he’s going to be, here in Utrecht it was the… Weerdshuis, I think it was, but he shows up in every city at pretty much the same time, as far as I can tell. Anyway, it’s for kids younger than mine, but I kind of thought I’d take them anyway, as a sort of cultural experience. We live here now, I think we should observe at least some of the local rituals, you know? But it rained fairly heavily this morning, and I’m not all that keen on being outside, so meh.

But the Amsterdam Sinterklaas arrival was televised! So we watched that! With the Sniglet’s Dutch friend from across the street, we’ll call him, um, Vos. And there was conflict, Zwarte Piet got homesick and tried to turn the boat back to Spain, and another Zwarte Piet claimed to be Sinterklaas and sat on the throne and the kids sang and it was all very silly and stagey. And of course since this is for preschoolers, the drama didn’t last – Sinterklaas got Piet turned around, and the boat arrived at the right pier and he got on his white horse and rode to his throne and ousted the impostor and then everybody did the Macarena.

… wait, what?

Yeah. Not sure how old this tradition is, but, um, apparently it includes the Macarena. I think maybe it’s good that I didn’t know about that before. I might have been less enthusiastic about coming here.

Instead of a song du jour of the day today, here’s David Sedaris reading his essay, “Six to Eight Black Men.” Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.


hi honey…

DrBob is home from Groningen! I’m so happy to see him! He’s reading over my shoulder as I type! YAY!

Song du jour of the day: DrBob is making me use Lament I, “Bird’s Lament”, by Moondog. Whothehellis Moondog?


blah blah blog

You know, I thought NaBloPoMo would kick-start the writing-fu again. I thought if I just pounded something out every day, eventually I’d get better, more interesting, or funnier. Or something.

That doesn’t seem to be happening.

Meh.

Song du jour of the day: Mary Lou Lord. The Lucky One.


Our first Sint Maarten

Well, Martinmas was adorable, all these herds of kids ringing the doorbell and launching into song the minute I opened it. There is… quite a wide variety of songs to choose from!

The Sniglet went with his friend (yes! He has a friend, whom I haven’t told you about yet! I should get to that!) and some neighbor kids whom I haven’t met yet – I’ve rung the doorbell a few times, but no one was home. Anyway, he went out with them and I probably should have gone too, but I kinda felt that for our first Martinmas, we should participate fully, i.e. someone should be home to cheer the singers and hand out candy. And DrBob is out of town at a(NOTHER) conference, and leaving Ignatz home alone with a giant bowl of candy? There is no universe in which that is a good idea.

Song du jour of the day: Everlasting Love, by Love Affair. I saw a lobster singing this song in a bottled water commercial this evening.


culture win!

Right, so I’ve written before about Halloween in Germany, and how I love the holiday but don’t think it survived the transfer to Germany intact, right? And I may have mentioned that DrBob HATES Halloween, thinks sending kids door-to-door to beg for candy is just the antithesis of everything right and good and true, and no matter how many times I tell him “it’s not begging, they are Evil Spirits who must be propitiated,” he’s having none of it.

SO now here we are in the Netherlands, and he said, late last month (several times), that he didn’t think Dutch culture would have any kind of tolerance for kids going door-to-door and begging for free stuff, maybe something about stalwart protestants, I dunno, I’d stopped listening by then. Anyhoo, we didn’t get any trick-or-treaters (“of course not,” said DrBob, “the Dutch would never put up with kids begging door-to-door” all right all right ALL RIGHT), end of story.

Oh but no. Today I ran into a neighbor, Annemarie, at the bakery, and she said “Do you know about tomorrow? Since you’re new here I thought you might not – it’s Sint Maarten, does the Sniglet want to go with us?” Go with you where? “Oh, the kids go door-to-door and sing songs and you give them candy.”

Ha. HA! HAHAHAHAHA! DrBob is SO PWNED!

Song du jour of the day: Bruce Willis, by Kabat


school and alala! hee!

So today was the first day of my intensive Dutch course, all the way on the other side of town, twenty whole minutes by bicycle, oh the agony! (Before, it was 20 minutes to the train station, buy the ticket, wait wait wait, 40 minutes to East Station in Munich, and then at least a 10-minute subway ride to anything interesting, so this is something of an improvement.)

Aaaand what can I say? It’s a Dutch class. I took about 10 lessons before we moved, and I’ve been here two months, so I already knew everything in today’s lesson, but of course that won’t stay true. Classmates seem nice enough, teacher seems nice enough, building is your typical academic thingy, all beautiful brick and big windows on the outside, institutional linoleum and ugly furniture on the inside. They gave us a free binder! And a notebook, and a clicky-pen! Not bad for €1025, eh?

That’s right. I said €1025. They better run out of stuff I already know pretty quick, is all I’m sayin’.

Oh! And in the welcome-to-the-Netherlands department, I had my first bike crash today! Lost control of the bike, hit the pavement BAM! and that was it. No other people involved, no serious injury, though a man did stop to see if I needed help. Very nice of him, but thankfully not necessary. Aside from a scuff-mark on one of my gloves, I am unscathed.

Song du jour of the day: Everybody Wants to Rule the World, by Tears for Fears.