The days are short and dreary and gloomy. It's cold. It's wet. There's mud.
It's almost impossible to get out of bed in the mornings. I mean, seriously hard. It feels like 5 am and it's actually 9am and there's no sun and and it's raining because the snow won't quite stick and ARGH!!!!!! I drag ass out of bed like an old lady with arthritis. This is the hardest part of the year for me, by far. I can handle the cold, I can even handle the snow (ice is a bit tricky) but the dark kicks my ass EVERY year. It's when I get homesick, when I miss Austin and warmth and sun and having a beer on my back deck in 60 degree weather and telling everyone how cold it is and ohmigod I might need a sweater.
However, and I always have to remind myself of this, the darkest day is December 22, and from then on the days get longer. Light WILL come again. And it happens fast, just as fast as the dark comes. And then we gain three minutes of light a day. That's 30 minutes in a week and a half.
Just let me make it through the next 3 weeks.....and sorry if I am not awake in the mornings. I'm hibernating.
Seriously, the best cartoon ever. Click on it to make it bigger.
Just as an fyi, something like 85% of Norwegians are members of the Church of Norway, which is the national church, but that's only because they are sort of registered at birth and have to make the effort to resign their memberships, which most don't bother. Most Norwegians don't go to church regularly, though Confirmation seems a popular teenage rite of passage.
Back home now. The flight from Gatwick was a bit late leaving and I was sweating BULLETS when we got back to Oslo, as if I didn't catch the last train I was in for one helluvan expensive taxi ride to get home. (Like, REALLY expensive.) Luckily I managed to catch the exact last Flytoget (The Airport Train) and was home by 2am. Tired. Oh so tired.
Fell asleep and was awakened in the afternoon by the fire alarms going off in the building. Hotfooted (coldfooted, actually, as I neglected shoes or coat) it into the lobby where a bunch of very good looking, tall guys in uniform took one look at me (pillow lines running from forehead to neck, hair on end, makeup not where it was originally applied and pajamas a mishmash of whatever was closest to grab when I got home) and told me to relax, it was just a test, go back to bed. Me? Vain? Nah. Then I realized I was up too late to even call in sick to work, I mean, calling in at 1pm seems a bit too late, so I just went back to bed and figured I would deal with it tomorrow.
I'll tell you what, I feel OLD today. OLD and UGLY. I am at a low ebb. Day Two. Headache, tired body, tired soul. Plum tuckered out. I had a nice time in London, I really did, but I also felt out of sorts and like I was searching for something, but what that something was I am not sure.
I thought I wanted an "It" bag, and I checked out all the usual stores where one would go for such a thing. But, I just can't allow myself to spend that much on something that really is only meant to hang on your arm and announce its price. I would, (and could!) I guess, if there was one I REALLY liked, but they all are too MUCH, too many pockets and buckles and furry bits and shiny bits and I just don't need my bag to announce how valuable I am to the world. It's like the feminine equivalent of the man who buys the Ferrari, and I really just don't feel like I have that much to prove. I appreciate good quality and will pay for it, but I don't need some designer's name stamped all over the place to prove I can appreciate it. I instead got a really nice olive green leather hobo bag at the Gap for 55 pounds. I just like nice soft leather and a good shape, you know? So no "It" bag for Karla.
I had a nice meal or two, saw my exhibit at the V&A, wandered about and saw my favorite things, but sort of felt restless and stressed, like I was meant to be doing more than I was. I certainly wasn't sleeping. I wasn't really finding anything in the shops I wanted. (I returned the velvet skirt I bought, I just didn't need it. Never fear, though, as I got a pair of ROCKIN' velvet trousers at Cos instead. Much more practical, and black, and WASHABLE.) I might, actually, be shopped out. I might, actually, have been there and done that AND bought the t shirt. So....now what?
I think I miss my husband, also. Damn that large lump of man. would have been nice to go to a pub or three with him. He's back from his work trip tomorrow. It'll be good to see him. Until, that is, he asks, "What's for dinner?'
Rat 1) Saw "Ratatouille" tonight. ADORED it. That was the BEST movie. Gorgeous to look at what with the views of Paris and all, cute story, and the characters...Oh, I am in love with that little rat. His little pink nose...he was SO cute. I've always thought mice and rats weren't as nasty as other people do (granted don't want them in the walls of my house as they can be destructive) so that movie sort of reinforced my not quite hatred of them. Brad Bird can do no wrong in my eyes, what with him doing Edna Mode (my favoritest cartoon character of all time) in The Incredibles, which he also directed, and now this.
Rat 2) Saw a little rat running along the rails at Holborn Tube station after the movie. He was the same grey as the floor. Looked just like Remy. Then a train came and ran over him (didn't squish him, just ran OVER him) and I thought of Remy running under a car in the same way. EEEEEK!!!!!!!!!
Rat 3) My father is rat three. He sent me a bunch of pictures of everyone back home eating turkey and gravy sandwiches. MY turkey and gravy sandwiches. Mostly my brother eating MY turkey and gravy sandwiches. Kit, get ready for lesson number 313....it's gonna hurt.
Got up and headed over to the V&A to book my tickets for the Couture show. The place was packed so decided to book ahead for the next day and then get the hell out of there. got tickets for 10:15 Sunday.
Left the V&A and walked over to High Street Kensington. Ate lunch at Wagamama. Mama is right, the place was packed with posh mums and dads with their very loud children. Thanks God I wasn't hung over, I would not have survived the noise. I had a very spicy ramen soup and gyoza. Finished there as fast as I could as did not enjoy the screams of the children and parents, and wandered about the area, stopping to check out the new Whole Foods. It's a bit confusing, and the layout is guaranteed to frustrate you as you try to get around the prams, carts, baskets and people. Plus the checkout was on a different floor from the majority of the food, which was wierd. And it's really expensive, one off the displays was "free range natural hen's eggs" at a price of 35p EACH. That's about $20 a dozen! I mostly went there for some of my usual good smellies and some vitamins I can't get in Norway. (Vitamins are ridiculously expensive in Norway and not much variety.) Anyhow, loaded up on some stuff there and got talked into buying a shower gel from a line that "Madonna uses when she travels". If it's good enough for her it's good enough for me, I say!
I also went to Waterstone's and got some books and Jigsaw where I got a GORGEOUS velvet skirt. By 5 pm I was tired, my back was killing me and I was carrying about 35 lbs of books and stuff, so legged it back to the Tube and went back to the hotel to rest for a bit. The Tube, by the way, this whole weekend, has been a NIGHTMARE, so crowded and horrible. First time I have been here where I really have been hating it. I'm pretty much walking everywhere if I can.
After a bit of a rest, caught up with a London Walks pub walk through Fitzrovia, an area I am not that familiar with. It's right above Oxford Street and west of Bloomsbury. Interesting area, lots of good restaurants and stuff. The tour guide (David, he's the guy that writes the very florid London Walks brochures)(seriously, he uses words like "thanatophobe") regaled us with perfectly enunciated and very actorly stories of his misspent youth working in that area. In between his vignettes I had nice chats with a woman on the tour, an American who works for United, and we discussed (and solved) all the world's problems over some half pints of wheat beer. (Samuel Adams makes a very nice wheat beer.) She was cool.
Came back to the hotel, crashed hard.
Woke up a bit late, so had to hurry to get to my appointed time for the V&A exhibit. It was gorgeous, but I will say it was a bit "Couture for Beginners". I've had a passion for fashion history since I was a little kid, so there wasn't a whole lot there I hadn't read about, seen or heard about, but it was nice to see quite a few very nice Balenciagas close up. That man knew how to make clothes. The tailoring and precision that went into it, there really is no equal. The show was pretty packed and it annoys the FUCK out of me when people stand in the way of an exhibit description when they are looking at something else, it's like MOVE already, let someone ELSE in now! ARGH! There was also an exhibit on the life and photography of Lee Miller, of whom I knew very little, and she is a FASCINATING figure. I bought her biography and am completely engrossed in it. What I love about the V&A is you learn something every time you go, even if you think you might not.
After the museum trip I ate hummus and "the chicken" at Maroush, which was as jaw-achingly good as I remember. Satisfied, I pushed through the crowds at Harrods and wandered up Sloane Street, peeking in at Prada where I fell in LOVE desperate LOVE with her new "resort wear" skirts and dresses. Oh so very 50's New Look, giant full skirts in unabashedly feminine florals. Oh so gorgeous, and only 2800 pounds! I didn't buy one. Dammit.
As I wandered on up Sloane Street towards King's Road I saw a Supermodel. She was walking right towards me and passed me and I thought, Hmm, cute girl, nothing out of the ordinary, though strangely familiar, then thought about it and realized I'd seen her face plastered freaking EVERYWHERE for the past few years. She was about my height, skinny, of course, and wearing a leopardy spotted coat and high tops or some such. Pretty much the de riguer eclectic model uniform. The women behind me noticed her too.
King's Road was its usual crowded self. (Just heard on the news a Porsche jumped off the road yesterday and killed someone on the sidewalk, I always wondered when that would happen as people drive WAY too fast on that street!) Lots of new shops and things there. Marks and Sparks is having some nice stuff right now, got a couple of skirts there. They did not cost 2800 pounds.
(Rant time! Now for a pet peeve of mine: Why is is that when they line a skirt, the lining is too narrow for the outside of the skirt and so, even though the skirt fits, the lining ends up being too tight and ruins the look of the skirt? This happens ALL THE TIME now, like the designers cheap out on the inner materials, and so you have this lovely full skirt with a shitty cheap narrow lining inside and it doesn't fit! If the skirt is a size 12, make the damned lining a size 12 as well! Don't take away my fun with wearing a full skirt by ruining it with a narrow lining!!!! Please! My second pet peeve: Lining a stretchy skirt or pants with a lining that does NOT stretch, thus negating the purpose of having a skirt or pants that can stretch! GAH!)
I also had a laugh when I saw a Vietnamese Restaurant named "Phat Phuc". Teehee. That was down King's Road.
Caught the Tube back to the hotel from Sloane Street and am resting my sore feet. Will catch a showing of Ratatouille at 8, have wanted to see that for AGES, but I Norway they mostly dub it in Norwegian at the theatres near me, so am catching it here. Might have a beer before, or possibly after.
Tomorrow more running around before I catch my flight. This weekend went fast.
Well, so far so good. London, as always, rocks. This town makes me happy. I get a smile just being here.
I checked into my hotel room yesterday night and discovered they had upgraded me to an "Executive Room". It's all newly refurbished, with a huge bed and all the usual business hotel amenities. Not much of a view, it just looks down into a drab Victorian courtyard but I generally don't find many hotels with views in London. After all the kerfuffle with downgrading my choice of hotel (this one is much cheaper than my first choice), it's very nice to know that this hotel did not disappoint. The room is very big by London standards. I'll probably stay here from now on, unless, of course, they hike the prices, which is what will probably happen. Free wireless, too, though I had to have them reset it as it did not work last night. The little wireless strength meter on my computer screen ebbs to the very lowest level...I hope this post does not disappear.
I got up late this morning and headed over to Covent Garden. It's within walking distance of the hotel. Today was quite cold, but clear and even sunny at times. Checked out my favorite haunts, all the shops I like, etc. Popped in to Kirk Originals and had my glasses tightened and had a nice long chat with Seamus, the guy who works there. The glasses there are SO cool. Went, also, to my favorite travel book store and got my uncle a birthday present.
Hotfooted it back to the hotel, dropped off my loot, and then went around the corner to Cosmo Place (yes this is a real lane) and had a WONDERFUL lunch at a little Italian place. Great calamari, some penne with pancetta and onions, and a couple glasses of red wine. It felt like Italy. A couple came in, husband and wife, and she obviously had MS in its later stages. It was so sad and yet also sweet to see the husband take care of his wife, picking her up out of her wheel chair, getting her situated just right, making sure she could eat her food properly. His love and care for her was almost heartbreaking.
I was fairly tipsy after lunch. I was due in Regent Street to meet my aunt for coffee and shopping. We planned to meet outside the Wedgwood store. God people are annoying. It is so hard to walk with so many people around, and then some bonehead has to stop right in front of you or blow smoke on you or bang into you. Walking down a crowded sidewalk can be way worse than being stuck in traffic. At least in traffic all the cars are headed in the same direction. Anyhow, Tante Tine was sporting a very cool new pair of glasses and looked in fine form. I dragged her to Uniqlo which has some AWESOME cashmere at great prices and then went to COS, which is a shop by H&M that offers a higher level of quality and design than the usual H&M, where I found some incredible velvet wide legged pants (oops, sorry, TROUSERS). After a while we met up with my Uncle Peter and cousin Edward and went for a couple beers at a pub, thence to a very cool yet VERY cramped Moroccan restaurant. The food was excellent, but the place is so small and cramped with tiny rooms through hobbit-sized doorways, it became a running joke with everyone there about fitting all the people into the tiny spaces....like clowns in a VW Bug. The food made up for the somewhat uncomfortable seating. I don't think I could take Rich there, though. He's too tall for the place.
Anyhow, it's now just past 10 and I am too fat and full to go to a pub, which is what i had planned to do. Instead I am going to hang out here in the room, digest and watch the BBC. Yes, I am old. (Burp.)
One of the biggest bummers of being an expat is the non-event that is Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, so it always makes me a little sad to miss it. I like it because it's not about presents or cards or buying stuff, it's about gathering together, stuffing you faces, and then lying around and chatting or napping, whichever you can manage. I've managed to get home for Turkey Day a few times, had a few in London, and experienced one truly horrible one here in Norway where my car was broken into and I did not discover it until I was getting in to it to go buy the turkey. That might have been my lowest ebb here in Norway.
Well, you live and you learn and so one thing I do is to treat myself to a little something to replace the something I am missing.
And hello everyone back home. Eat some white meat for me, douse it in gravy, go nuts! (Mom, you KNOW I am jealous that I won't get turkey and gravy sandwiches tomorrow! Don't let Kit eat them all!) I hope you all in the US take the time to enjoy the day, relax, stuff your faces and whatever you do...DON'T go shopping! There's plenty of time for that later.
Yesterday was a full long day of meetings at work. LOOONG day. It was followed by a dinner where we were all assigned seats randomly so as to foster everyone in the company getting to know each other. I noticed, with a giggle, that there were very few women as compared to the number of men (the line of work I'm in is overwhelmingly staffed by men) , so women were rationed out at one per table. That really didn't suck, at least from the girl perspective.
As with any properly done Norwegian dinner party, the alcohol flowed VERY freely. We started with pre dinner drinks in the bar, then dinner was served with white wine for the first course (salmon, natch, it's ALWAYS salmon) and then a really nice Italian ripasso with the main course (steak...hello, it's all MEN!). After the multiple refills of white and red wines, they then brought out cognac after dessert and, "for the ladies" an bonus of Bailey's (which I gave to one of the guys).
Then it was back to the bar for beer and champagne.
The good news is my coworkers now know that I am fun to drink with. The bad news is that I am not as much fun the next day. The demeanor at the meetings today was decidedly subdued, one guy sitting next to me nodded off mid-discussion. I'm pretty sure everyone had a hangover. I know I have been hurting but bad today. Not helped by the neighbors on the other side of us banging and building and hammering starting at 8:30 am. What the FUCK is going on that everyone has to make so much noise?
I was going to pack for London tonight but I think that can wait until tomorrow. Right now is a bath and a light dinner. And more ibuprofen.
Today was just crapnacious. Like, I was almost in tears over a variety of frustrations and NONE of them really worked themselves out. Work sucked, life sucked, the day sucked. And amazing how you can make plans one day and the next day they not only change, but they are ripped twisted and frayed in a matter of seconds. Mondays SUCK.
Tomorrow I have a VERY long day at work. Luckily, and for the sake of my sanity, beer will be involved in the very latest part of the day.
Tonight wine was had. Within five minutes of opening the front door to home, the wine bottle was open as well. It was a bottle I had been saving, a Riesling I bought in Prague. (Who knew Czech wines were so good?)
If those fucking jackhammers are pounding on our living room wall again tomorrow I might well go ballistic. (This, by the way, had been written about in the post that got destroyed by my email, but yes, we were awakened by JACKHAMMERS pounding away on the outside of our living room wall this morning at 7:50 am. As we live on the fifth floor, this was quite a surprise. You might well surmise that starting a day in such a manner does not bode well for the remaining 18 hours.)
I am having a DAY. And I blogged ALL about it and then the fucking email I use decided that, just as I hit send, it would make me relog in, thus completely eliminating my post and making me start agin.
And I really don't want to do that right now, but I am just going to say that this is Triple Whammy Monday and I was well and truly fucked before I even got going this morning.
On the way back from the gym (yes! The gym! where I worked out! a lot!) I saw a little pirate.
Seriously, this young girl came floating out of the fog on the sidewalk and first thing I thought was, "Pirate? Here? Wha?"
She wore fleece lined cuffed boots that she didn't lace up so they sort of flopped around her legs. Around her waist she had tied a fringed scarf that hung down to meet the tops of her boots. It floated out behind her when she walked. With her long wavy blonde hair, short solid stature, swaggering walk (created by her waddling just a bit so her boots didn't trip her up), leather jacket and the scarf around her hips, she just looked like a pirate and that is that. I don't think she MEANT to look like pirate, but the poor swaggering victim of teenaged fashion certainly achieved the essence of the look perfectly.
Yar me hearties! Thar's pirates here in Vikingland!
The Jaeger Schnitzel at the pub SUCKED. A Jaeger Schnitzel, at least I know it, is a weinershnitzel (breaded pork cutlet) with a rich brown mushroom sauce. Heaven with beer. Whatever they served at the pub was meat patties (though I know not what kind) with a sweet/sour tomato pepper sauce. It was sort of like bad Chinese food, though I am fairly certain it was not meant to be. this is the first time the food at the pub has seriously let me down. Thank god I order fries with it and not boiled potatoes or I would have been hosed. The only boiled food I like are eggs. Seriously, do not boil my veggies for I will not eat them. And, really, what a waste of a perfectly good food, to boil it until it loses flavor? I never understand that.
I wasn't really feeling terribly sociable on Friday I must admit. I just didn't feel the mojo. Conversations went past me and I could not keep up with anything. Ever have that? Someone asked if my grandmother died or something. (Yeah, but four years ago!) Anyhow, I left by about 8pm. Was in bed by 10 and didn't get up til 11 the next morning.
As a sort of reward for my failed Friday Eat-a-thon, I am making my last tube of Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast. I had brought some back from the US in September, but two of the three tubes popped in my luggage (they were wrapped well, of course, so no leakage) and this is the sole intact survivor. They are set to expire soon, and low carb diet be damned, I will NOT miss out on those.
Not that low carb is working.
I'm going to have to go to Plan B. Smaller portions, and working out. Gym here I come. Bleagh.
If I can FIND the gym that is. It is SO foggy out there. It came in yesterday and it's been a real Pea Souper (slight pop culture reference, anyone anyone?) ever since.
The cinnamon rolls are ready and iced. I am gonna stop writing now as I don't want to get gooey super sweet icing on the key board. Jealous, fellow US expats? Oh are they GOOD. YUM. (grin)
FUCKING cold out there. I had to break out the old grey military coat. It's vintage and heavy HEAVY wool and it weighs about 15 lbs. It fits me perfectly, as if it was tailored just for me, and it cost me $15 at the City Wide Garage Sale in Austin sometime in the mid 90's. I never wore it in Austin because it was too warm, but it certainly works great here. Snuggly warm and deep pockets. What else do I need? (Well, one in black would be nice...)
OK, so what was I going to say?
I love NaNoBloMe month. Everyone whose blog I read is being posted on all the time, which gives me a great evening of blog reading. And, as it's mostly good friends whose blogs I read, it is very refreshing to see what's up on a more frequent schedule. So, ladies and you know who you are, keep up the good posting work! I may not always comment on your blogs or email but I am keeping up with you!
My reputation as "Your Cruise Director" has made itself known at work. (I always seem to be the one who organizes parties for my circle of friends.) I was tasked to arrange a Christmas "Piss Up" for our team. Yes, those were the words used. (Which, honestly, how much do I love my job? It's not a "Holiday Party" or a "Team Gathering", aw hell NO it's Piss Up, a Knees Up and believe me I can understand those terms well!) As we are a small team, and it's all guys (I am an honorary boy on these occasions).....well, steak and beer sound good to me, hmm? (My first choice would be a brew pub evening, but to my GREAT annoyance there are no brew pubs in all of Oslo that also serve food! I asked around. How can this be? I mean, what the fuck?How lame is that?) So in December we are going to a steak house and then to a beer place across the way, or possibly a beer place and then a steak house, but whatever order, how cool is it that one of my tasks for today was to organize an evening where we all can get drunk? And ,even better, I got complimented on my "initiative" for doing so. I'll obviously have to plan more drinking excursions, maybe they will make me president of the company based on my "initiative".
I brought some plants to work for my office and to my great joy they have not yet died.
That is all the news for today. I think. At the pub tonight they are serving Jaegerschnitzel, so, yeay.
Winter has arrived. Brrrr, it's friggin' FREEZING out there.
This morning it was minus 7 Celsius. I'm never really sure how cold that is in Fahrenheit, but judging by all the Norwegians at my office saying how cold it is, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say pretty cold. You know it's cold outside when I see everyone in their big poofy parkas. I know I put off wearing mine until it's so cold I just have to wear it, and i bet they do the same. (Parkas/puffy coats just aren't THAT attractive when you actually need to wear them EVERY day for warmth, no matter WHAT the latest trendsetters from Vogue say.) It's parka/duvet coat weather. No lie.
For some reason the cold is REALLY bothering me this year. The past few years it sort of bounced off me, but this year I just can't warm up. I'm cold ALL the time, even in bed. Usually I get really hot when I go to sleep, and end up tossing off the covers, but now I burrow under the covers and don't even stick out my arms. I'm just a little tuft of hair peeking out of the duvet. And, with the dark mornings, there is really NO incentive to come out. It's like the whole Earth is telling me to take a nap, all day every day. And I really, REALLY want to. Right now I kind of wish I was a bear and could just hibernate. Hibernate all fat and furry in a cave and come out skinny, hungry and ready to kick some ass in the spring. Sounds kind of good, doesn't it?
You know, I did some thinking on yesterday's post about that research about how curvy women are smarter, and it's kind of pissing me off.
I mean, do they ever do surveys about MEN'S bodily attributes affecting their intelligence? Like, have they ever done a survey saying men with big shoulders are smarter, or men with tight asses are smarter, or men with no chest hair are stupid, or men with huge dicks are...well, we won't go there.
I guess it's just kind of annoying that women can't just be HUMANS with a mix of intelligence, size and personality that is just random and scattered. Why does our intelligence have to be correlated to our attractiveness? Why do they think it matters how big our waists/hips are for any reason other than health or making the perfect pair of jeans? Why do they constantly have to study us for our outside attributes as opposed to just being a part of the human race? Have they studied men in regards to this hip/waist/brain ratio, or whatever ratio it is that makes men attractive? Seriously, who CARES what makes a woman smarter. Maybe it's just genes, study, hard work and a healthy loving family when you are a kid.
Next month they are going to say that women with curvy shapes increase glabal warming and cause cancer.
Seriously, this is a load of shit. I am so tired of these studies. One day eggs are bad for you, the next they are the perfect food. Take vitamin d, don't take vitamin d. Fat is bad, fat is good. God, no wonder we are all scared and confused and don't know what to eat anymore!
Researchers, you can take your studies and shove them up the curvy ass of your choice.
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Well, the latest research says that curvy women are not only sexy, but also smarter and have smarter babies. Something about storing Omega 3 fats in our asses, and some drivel about waist to hip ratio (the direct reason why I can't find any damned pants to fit me)(So why is it that I have the perfect hip to waist ration and yet no pants fit me?Hmm? Why? I blame you gay boy designers who try to make us all look like tiny hipped flat chested boys and not the hot curvy babes we are. OK, I digress, back to topic. Damn you.) Honestly, it all sounds like a load of crap to me, but willya look at that picture of Nigella? Damn, where can I get that dress? She and I are pretty damned similar in build, I could wear the HELL outta that dress.
Rich of course sent me this article first thing this morning with the note "See why I picked you?"
Ah, but you see...that's how I *am* smart. I just let him THINK he picked me........
In other news, my back seems better today, something must have shifted back into place some during the night. It's still sore and feels like it can go out of joint again any second, but at least it's IN place.
And in other OTHER news, I'm not as ticked off anymore about staying at a cheaper hotel as I was. Mainly due to the fact that Rich knows me a bit too well and pointed out, in a last desperate argument for fiscal restraint, "Just think of the purse, shoes or dress you could get with the money you are spending on that hotel room", at which point that little part of my brain that processes all things shopping related twigged and said "Hmm.....good point." (And why didn't he just start OUT with that argument instead of pissing me off with grumblings about 'restraint' which is really just guaranteed to make me cranky? Honey, learn how to argue!) And, honestly, I have stayed at the hotel I booked in to before, and it was just fine, even spacious, in fact. A good solid traditional British hotel.
Now, what purse will I get......?
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I'm cranky today. I threw out my lower back, I think by the mere act of sitting, and I am not happy about it. I'm walking around like a bent over old lady. Every turn of my back is agony. This happened to me once before and I ended up laying flat on my back in the living room in front of the tv, my legs up on the sofa, and I just slept there, too, because I couldn't get up to make it into the bed. I'm hoping it won't be that bad this time.
I've changed my hotel room choice for my upcoming trip to London. Prices are so absurd anyhow (I mean, you are in for minimum $150 a night anywhere that's not a rat hole) that I thought it was a fair compromise between value and price, but Rich wigged the fuck out when he saw what I had booked in dollars (in pounds it's a steal!), so I compromised and booked a less nice room elsewhere.
The thing is, for the price, the place I was going to stay was actually a good deal for London, but as I have mentioned before, the husband is STILL thinking in dollars and he just can't wrap his head around the change in value of the dollar to the rest of the world. He still thinks a dollar is worth a buck!
My back hurts! I want my mom! It's Monday and I am already having a bad week! Where's that cherry vodka dammit!
I've booked myself a trip to London end of the month. Rich will be traveling for work and I have been wanting to get back to London (there are a bunch of exhibits I want to see, most notably one at the V&A) and so I took the plunge and booked me a trip. As a treat to myself I booked myself a room at a very small posh hotel off Sloane Street. A single room is tiny and expensive, but I might as well get a really nice room in a great area for not much more than a crappy room is costing at other places. (Besides they give you tea and cookies at 4 pm, champagne at 6 pm and hot cocoa before going to bed. That's worth a few extra quid in my book!) I'm looking forward to hanging out on King's Road again, even if the Chelsea Kitchen is closed.
London is absurdly expensive for hotels now, especially with the dollar being in the shithole and some of my fallback hotels (notably one called the Southwark Rose, I like that one) aren't available. Ironically I used to stay off Sloane Street/Cadogan Square when I visited Colleen and Karen, and now I see how much money I saved by visiting them...so thanks guys for letting me crash at your posh pads! I'm thinking fondly of you now that I am ponying up the big bucks!
DAYUM we had a windstorm last night. It totally blew over one of our heavy deck chairs and scooted everything else around on the deck. I thought the building was gonna blow over, and I definitely heard glass breaking somewhere near us.
Today was a bit windy but not as bad as last night. It wasn't too cold today either. You learn that when it's windy that means it won't be as cold as if it was still outside. Wierd, the wind sort of scrubs up warmth or something. Doesn't mean that the wind doesn't sort of FEEL colder, though, because it can be pretty cutting.
In other news, I tried on the Cavalli blouse I got yesterday and I have to say, that thing is the BOMB. It fits PERFECTLY. In fact I think maybe they cut things for taller people this go round, because the sleeves are long enough, the waist is where my ACTUAL waist is (and not that damned Empire shit) and the shoulders are in the right place as well. I am very pleased. I trolled around looking for this one dress that i liked, but it is all sold out online and in the stores, except for the leopard print jeans....and sorry, this ass ain't wearing tight leopard print, that is FOR SURE.
I got energetic today and reorganized "my" room. It's the way-too-small bedroom that is my office cum dressing room cum closet. (heh heh she said cum.) I got rid of something like 25 t shirts. I have way too many t shirts. I must say, I feel much better now that I have things in a relative form of order, I've been feeling overwhelmed lately with stuff, all stuff, and really want to reorganize, regenerate and basically rearrange all our things so that I can feel a little more in control. Rich won't be happy when I have him moving around furniture this weekend.......
Tonight's pub night. I am liquoring up ahead of time with a snootful of cherry vodka. Cuz, you know, I am on a diet and all that beer is FATTENING.
I would like to point out that there are four things I really can't stand:
So imagine my chagrin when I got them ALL AT ONCE this morning when I went to check out the Cavalli stuff at H&M.
I knew I was in trouble when I showed up at OsloCity mall and there was a largish group of women (all blonde, tall and skinny) standing outside the door. I think I have mentioned that Norwegians aren't much for queueing or for saying excuse me, so you can imagine the horrendousness that occurred when the doors open and 100 crazed blondes in stilettos rushed the joint. The clothes were in a small space right in front of the doors, and the budget fashionistas all grabbed, like, 10 dresses willy nilly and then ran to the cash registers. The dresses went FAST. (They always do in these collections.) The slower of us all sort of milled about in a space not bigger than my bathroom, bouncing off each other and empty clothes racks (those things HURT when you get one jabbing you in the arm or the back!) in a frenzied grab for whatever was left after the faster blonde robots grabbed the highlighted items from the collection.
I left after 5 minutes, I just couldn't take it. I've had enough dealing with Fashion People in my life that I knew it was pointless to try and fight them. (And my Southern politeness is just plain offended by grabby crowds. I say sorry too much and try to be polite and in doing so I miss the good stuff. I'm not very kill or be killed, I am afraid.)
I then went to another H&M just up the road. It was busy but not as insane as the one at OsloCity (not so much 'see and be seen', more just people who really wanted to check out what was there and and see what they might find to suit them) so I managed to score a pretty sweet silk blouse and the necklace and ring that I had wanted in the first place, so go me! That H&M is sort of my 'secret' one, as I have found good stuff there before because I think people forget that store has the upper level lines as well.
As a precaution I then hightailed it to the H&M on Karl Johansgate, which was my 2nd mistake. That place was insanity squared, with the added benefit of the media filming everywhere and every two bit D level celebrity you can think of prancing about. There was this skinny blonde fake tanned chick all tarted up, standing RIGHT in the middle of the VERY busy entry way, posing and preening for the photographers with about 8 bags of the Cavalli stuff in her arms, as well as a tiny litte nerfy dog. (I'd probably drop the dog in one of those bags if I were her.) She annoyed the fuck out of me because i could not get around her. So what if you are famous, if you were THAT famous you could afford the REAL deal and not the Budget Cavalli at H&M!
Anyhow, I never managed to get my hands on the dress I was after (it looked like it might even have space for my boobs, so I am a bit bummed I didn't even get close enough to touch it), but in all honesty it does not matter because I already HAVE a Cavalli, and a real one, not one from H&M. I got it in Austin at Last Call. And it's fabulous. (I have a coat as well, also from Last Call.)
Still, I might go back tomorrow to see what has been returned and if there is anything interesting after the crows have picked over it. I am very pleased I got the necklace I wanted, so all in all it was a good experience. Much as it was frenzied here....imagine what it's like in London or New York! Thank God I am here in Oslo!
Norway has a very casual dress code for work. The general idea is that work environments have a flat hierarchy, everyone is more or less equal in importance, so no need to dress up for work. (Everyone dresses up a bit more to go out in the evenings, though. Which is nice.) Anyhow, for work it's pretty much all jeans and t shirts, though I dress up a bit more because, hello?.... clothes hound!
So, after a while of seeing only laid back outfits, it's always a bit jarring to see someone in a suit at your office. Because, if you see a suit, you know it's one of a very few things:
someone in on a job interview.
lawyers come a-callin'.
Today, it was bigwigs visiting, and we had an invasion of the suits of a very entertaining proportion. They all looked very nice, and very out of place. Ironically, our office lawyers were NOT in suits, which I thought was a nice change of pace. (Actually they normally don't wear them in to work.)
I wore a suit-esque sort of outfit today, as I knew the suit-dudes would be congregating in the meeting room on my floor, and did not want to be seen as a slacker. Though there was a lot of joking about us all who work on the floor wearing NIN t's, ripped jeans, smeared eye makeup, hangovers and combat boots today.
Regarding my post from yesterday: The dollar is now down to 5.29, while oil is up to 99 dollars a barrel. Better start looking a bit more seriously at those Priuses, people! At this point might as well use oil for money and the dollar as kindling for fires. I bet the Canadian dollar will be worth more than the US dollar within a few months...and THEN we know hell hath frozen over. I'll take pictures when the monkeys fly out of my butt.
I mean SO there. Even if I don't buy anything, I have to be there for the buzz and the mayhem. And seriously, the clothes look GORGEOUS. My problem with Cavalli's clothes (I do have a few pieces of his) has always been with room for the girls, he just doesn't design for girls with tata's. But I am hoping that maybe he created some extra boob room with this collection. We'll see.
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One thing you learn, as an American expat living in Norway, is that, unless you want to drive yourself crazy, you CANNOT think of the cost of things here, in the most expensive place in the world, in dollars. Not, especially, since the dollar has fallen into the crapper but HARD.
When we came to Norway in 2002, the exchange rate was 7.8 Norwegian Kroner to the dollar.
The exchange rate now, in 2007, is 5.34 kroner to the dollar.
Let's look at this for a moment. Here's a list of things I have bought (except the car!) over the past few days, and I've translated them into their dollar rates for 2002 (first dollar number) and 2007 (second dollar number). (Columns won't work so I am not sure how this will look.)
As you can see, the cost of living, if you think in dollars, has gone WAY the hell up. (So have salaries , though, if you want to go there.) I don't blame Norway for this, obviously, as their prices haven't really changed. I blame the US government for letting the dollar get that low.
So yesterday, I came home from an expedition to Smart Club and Ikea, stocking up on stuff like chicken and candles for the long dark days ahead (and not having a car, when I do get a ride with someone who has one, I stock up!). Rich saw the receipts and freaked the fuck OUT, hollering that I spent too much and yadda yadda. It really pissed me off for two reasons: 1) He was thinking in dollars (AND making the exchange rate like 5 to the dollar, which is horrendous anyhow) and 2) He wasn't thinking like a Norwegian. The cost of things here hasn't changed, but he was tying to think American and he is wigging out about it. And yelling at me!
A nice dinner out (but not THAT nice) can easily top 1200 kroner. The "blue plate special" at the pub on a Friday night is 119 nok, which is over 20 bucks. And we are thrilled to have a meal for that cheap. The lowest paper money amount is 50nok (just under ten bucks) and that MIGHT get you a kebab or a slice of pizza if you are lucky. (I equate it with a five dollar bill in the US for buying power.) It costs 49 kroner for a train ride into Oslo from the suburbs. A coke from the machine is 20 nok ($3.75). (20 nok is pocket change, like a quarter. Valuable, yes, but not an amount you really worry about, you know?)
Basically, 1200 nok ($225.) isn't ALL that much here. That's the cost of a nice dress, maybe, or a largish shopping trip at the grocery store. It's the cost of my monthly rail pass to get to work. 99kroner ($18.50) is, like, bargain basement for a t shirt or a tank top. The other day I got a skirt and two tops for 597 nok ($112.)(all of it half price) and counted myself ecstatically lucky.
So, since moving to Norway, my whole idea of what is expensive and not has skewed horribly. Because, if I thought of what things cost here in dollars, I would crawl under my bed and hide as I watched the dollars tick away minute by minute. So, I think in kroners and suddenly a sweater on sale for 299nok is a good deal and aren't I a lucky girl to have found that?
Next time I am sending Rich shopping and HE can buy stuff and then I can yell at him for spending too much. See how easy it is for HIM!
* A used car can routinely cost that or more. Cars are EXPENSIVE here, mostly because of high taxes. **So a gallon of milk, right now, is about 8 bucks. Gas is around 10. Just fyi. See why I sold the car?
** Norway doesn't have a legal minimum wage, this is just a guideline I found on the web.
Why yes that IS me wearing the unlined linen pants today. And yes it IS 3 degrees Celcius. (about 39 for you Fahrenheiters).
Why am I wearing unlined linen pants? Because we have BigWigs coming to our office today and I have to Suit Up. And this is my most comfortable yet stylish suit, and the linen actually looks more like tweed, so I am just going with it.
My ass might freeze off, and that can only be a good thing. If you find one in the road, please return to The Texpatriate. Thanks.
Our local cinema (Kino) is having 1/2 price movie night tonight.
Rich refuses to go, calling the movie a chick flick.
He's right, but I go see anything Jane Austen related.
Before the movie I am going to make a Hungarian Chicken Paprika for dinner
I'm making it in my Schlemmertopf, or clay roasting pot.
I better get started now so that I can eat before the movie.
I had meant to do NaNoBloMe or whatever the fuck it's called, but just do it without telling anyone I was doing it. But as I missed November 2, which is the second day of the thing, I guess I've already messed up that plan.
I'm not getting the flu. I am not getting the flu. I am NOT getting the flu.
It's going around my office and I haven't had it in ten years* and I am NOT feeling glassy and getting little chills and having a headache. I am NOT. *Early in '97, when I worked at a trendy import store in Austin, I was on my way to work (running a tiny bit late, but not that much, GAIL!) when this dude in a big "dually" truck changed lanes right as I came up next to him and I ran into him. Or, should I say, my front left fender ran into his tire. My car was toast and his tire had a red paint mark on it. (He got the ticket.) As it turned out, he was going home sick with the flu. Which, in the course of events of exchanging insurance info, etc., he gave to me. I got to work late, to which my boss (who I loved then and still love now) just said "Well, if you hadn't been running late you would not have gotten hit!" which was really annoying but true. The next day I was sicker than a dog with a fucked up car and no energy to even attempt to get out of bed. Rich was traveling, so couldn't take care of me, but I was so sick I just wanted to sweat and moan anyhow.
So, no I am NOT getting the flu. Check back with me tomorrow, when I DON'T have the flu.