Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween, Frida Kahlo

IMG_00000046.jpg by karlakp
IMG_00000046.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Frida kahlo! Apparently I did such a good job with the unibrow that people thought it was real. ha!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Just...breathe

2013 is a bitch.

I am trying to hold it together but it's kind of hard right now.

I have moved into the house, and it is beautiful, absolutely stunning.
So, yeah, that's my morning coffee and the view. Nice. 

But, my Dad had a stroke on Sept 28th. A big nasty, massive stroke. We were due to close Monday, and move Thursday. Rich came from Norway to close and help with the move, that had been planned for over a month. I stuck around in Houston on the word that the stroke wasn't that bad, Mom told me in no uncertain terms that I should stay here and focus on what I was doing, until my brother called me on Tuesday to say, yeah, it's bad, he had a second stroke. So I left the move to Rich and went to Missouri to be with my family. 

So, that's basically where we are right now. Dad's still in hospital having all kinds of therapy to rebuild him, and we have hope, but it was really touch and go for a while there and with a stroke this bad, we don't know what his prognosis is. The house, my primary focus for SO LONG, is now something I just need to get through, a thing to worry and add stress and more stuff to deal with. I stayed in Missouri for a week, we drove back and forth to the hospital every day to see dad (200 miles round trip) and I came back because I have to get the house in some semblance of shape before going back to work Monday (I took all of what is left of my vacation to be with my family, though I will say my boss is being HUGELY understanding and so very cool with me right now.) Dad will be in hospital for likely another 3 weeks and my brother will stay with Mom most of the time. I will go back when Dad gets out to help out. 

I guess I've reached a point where the stress has broken, kind of, like, I can't BE any more stressed so, I just won't be. It has helped crystallize what is important (Dad, my family) and what is not (everything else.) 

So that is what's up. 2013 is officially a bitch. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Too much work too little time

So, I guess I have largely abandoned this blog, though that was not my intention.

I am just so FUCKING busy.

And when I get really busy, the last thing I want to do is think about what I did all day, I just want to get past it, move on and get on with the next bit of whatever i have to take care of.

The new job is absolutely overwhelming. I can't really say that I like the American way of working, everyone is so in fear of losing their jobs, there is no real creativity of work or the ability to have any real input into anything, just buckle down and do it so you keep your job.  I didn't realize how fearful the American worker is, if you find injustice in something, you can't speak up. What the hell? Our new office is also very stratified, which I don't like, there's even a meeting room for executives only, the rest of us plebes aren't allowed to go in without an executive to hold our hand. I call bullshit. That is SUCH crap, I can't even begin to express my disdain for it.  After all those years in the relatively equal and team oriented Norway, this kind of thing is very hard to take. Norway changed me more than I know, I guess, I see the whole American corporate world through very socialistic eyes, and I don't know that I will ever really be comfortable in it. I think people should be respected for who they are, not how much they make.

I do find the work interesting, though, and I am learning an awful lot.  It's a bit like boot camp, and I am very stressed out, but I do find the small achievements rewarding. In the past 4 months I've been to Alaska, Trinidad twice, Paris and England, so I guess travel is part of the gig. I think I will eventually be pretty good at the job, though there is a huge learning curve, and I am being expected to work at a level like people who have been doing this for 20 years, but I am holding my own as well as I can and that is the best I can do right now. I really have to find a way to handle the stress, though.

Oh, and I bought a house, I close in just over a week, Rich is flying in to the closing, and, um, will see it for the first time. Yeah, he hasn't seen the house yet, because he is not living in Houston yet. Seems better financially,  this late in the year, for him to work out the year in Norway. It kind of sucks, because I have been SO stressed out at work PLUS buying a house and doing all that shit solo, but the house is amazing and I can't wait to get into it and I think he will really like it. I will post a picture of it, with the proviso that it looks much bigger from the outside than it really is, it looks almost castle-like. It's four stories, a townhouse kind of thing, so it looks MASSIVE from the outside.  But the 4th floor terrace has views all the way to downtown Houston and it is light and bright and so full of windows. It was the first house I saw, and I looked at about 20 more, but I always came back to this one, so in the end I just said, yep, this is it. So, here's some pics of the new house. The mortgage on this place will be less than half the rent we paid in Oslo!

The kitchen was the thing that clinched it for me. That window!!! It's so light and bright in there.

I know, I know, it looks massive. I KNOW........


I can't wait to watch a storm roll in from my lofty 4th floor perch.....

God knows when I will post again, and I am sorry about that. but I guess maybe you can see why I haven't been posting much....things have been just insane.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

cat in pub window, London

IMG-20130914-00660.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130914-00660.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
I'm in London. At a pub. There's a cat in the window. The bartender is a redhead from Ireland. I've fucking missed this.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Trinidad

IMG-20130827-00586.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130827-00586.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Earth, pool, sky. I'm traveling again!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Austin

IMG-20130811-00545.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130811-00545.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Having a short but busy weekend in Austin. Oh, and I bought a house yesterday....

Sunday, June 30, 2013

When 40+ year olds hijack a kid's water slide birthday party.....

IMG-20130629-00318.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130629-00318.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
So this happened last night. That is a 2 story inflatable water slide next to my friend Anne's house. There was tequila. And soap.

She hired it for her son's 9th birthday party. They had like, a million kids there on Friday, they stayed (the kids) until almost 11 at night. Anne slept late the next day, then she invited HER friends over for night 2 of the water slide extravaganza. And, lucky me, I am her friend! (One of her oldest, I've known her since we were 11.)

So over I came, armed with bikini and Daisy Dukes. Of course, it being Anne's house there was no lack of booze and tequila and generous helpings of food (they're Greek, they feed people, rather like we Krauts do.)  We noshed and guzzled and giggled. And tried to stay cool....

Because...did I mention it reached 105F in Houston yesterday? It did. It so totally did.  It was so hot I literally could not move. I tried to go shopping and gave up, it was too hot to walk through the air. I did not have the energy to make air move so that i could get through it.

It was HOT. When it's that hot, getting drunk and sliding screaming down a water slide at midnight with a bunch of other drunk 40-somethings seems a really sensible idea. And as you get drunker, adding soap to the water on the slide makes A LOT of sense, because it makes the ride slipperier and faster. It also makes your eyes go bright red and your hair look like it belongs to a hedgehog being pulled backwards through a log as it dries, but hey, the soap did add viscosity to our sliding efforts.  Though next time, if that much lubing of a 2 story water slide is needed, I might suggest this instead. 

Things I learned last night:

  1. Don't go down backwards on your stomach if you have lower back problems. That last little dip and upthrust as you launch into the water hurts. 
  2. Be careful of your wobbly ankles (I twisted one, though not badly.)
  3. If you are heavier or lighter, you will slide much faster. If you are in the middle (like me) you just sort of land on your ass somewhere in the middle. Anne's husband, Nick, man, he was FLYING off that slide, a couple times he overshot the pool and landed in the grass (which was hilariously funny as drunk him was trying to figure out what the hell happened.)
  4. I know we are a totally different generation from our parents, now, I mean, can you imagine your  parents, at the age you are now, sliding down a water slide after a night of drinking tequila? The mere idea gives me fits of giggles, thinking of my parents doing that. (My dad might've but not my mom, it would get her hair wet, and that is verboten.)
  5. What was cool was that Anne's teenage son and daughter joined in with us at one point. I would've NEVER deigned to join my parents doing something like that. (I mean, all those OLD people acting so WIERD.) Teenage me was an asshole. Anne's kids are cool. 
I wasn't missing Oslo last night....Texas beat Oslo hands down on this occasion. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

There's good bars in Houston.... I like a good dive bar.

IMG-20130622-00293.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130622-00293.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Another weekend, another bar.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

fixed the photo issue! Presenting: beer!

IMG-20130615-00283.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130615-00283.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Well, I think I figured out the disconnect between Flickr and the blog. So  I can send pics again. Good.

So here's a picture from yesterday, I met a friend at the West Alabama Icehouse. It was a bit of a dive bar weekend, 3 icehouses, taco truck tacos, un-airconditioned and sweaty. Really pretty awesome, all told. I do like a good dive bar.

I've been very busy.

So sorry I haven't been posting. I've been so busy, and so many things have changed, it's actually gotten to be too much and when it gets like that, I kinda just go quiet, because how do you write about so many things happening at once?

I just haven't felt like talking about it all. Sorry.

Since Alaska, I also went to Trinidad for work, which was exciting and also very stressful. And my cousin Edward came to visit last week and we did a Tour de Tejas, well, a little one, taking in Austin, the Hill Country, San Antonio, and Houston. It was his first ever visit to the US, and I think he enjoyed it. I gave him the full Texas treatment, including this:


Yep, that is Vard with the cop that stopped me for speeding. I got off with a warning, and Vard got a picture of a lifetime.....note his shit eating grin. The cop was a cool guy. And I deserved to get stopped, I really did. If you pass a cop going 75 in a 60 (though I honestly didn't know the speed limit was 60) you should probably get stopped, if only for being utterly stupid.

I know I keep saying I'll be better, and I am saying it again....I'll be better about posting. One problem I have been having is that for some reason Flickr isn't connecting with my blog anymore and I can't get pictures posted from my phone, like I used to. That is pissing me off. And making me post less regularly because I can't just shoot them over from my phone....


Monday, April 29, 2013

Alaska

Just back from the UK for work. And now off i go to...ALASKA!

Holy crap, bucket list or what?

Texpatriate keeps rilling along.

Sorry haven't been posting. I will catch you up this weekend. But first gotta go to Alaska and run with the big boys.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Camel Riders

Camel Riders by karlakp
Camel Riders, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

Camel Riders (from 2007, I just came across it).

Original caption as follows:

What I was thinking while taking this picture, "Ow my ass. Ow my ass. Ow my ass. Wow this is cool. Ow. "

Why is the guy to the right eating his shirt?

Minion? MINION! Here! Now!


Monday, March 25, 2013

Hair of dog. Maybe the tail too.

IMG-20130325-00292.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130325-00292.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Some hair of the dog at London Heathrow BA lounge. After last night, I might need the entire dog.

My little Winchester hideaway

IMG-20130324-00285.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130324-00285.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Where I stayed in Winchester. The window under the peaked roof was my bathroom, and the window to the left of it was the bedroom. Can highly recomend the Wykeham Arms if you ever go to Winchester. Really, could find no fault. They even gave you free Fuller's London Pride in the fridge!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Green.

IMG-20130323-00278.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130323-00278.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Freezing cold yet so incredibly green. At St Cross Hospital almshouse. 14th century.

Friday, March 22, 2013

breakfast room

IMG-20130322-00266.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130322-00266.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
This is the breakfast room at my hotel. C'mon, seriously? How lucky am I?

Cathedral

IMG-20130322-00272.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130322-00272.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Winchester Cathedral is my route to my hotel.

A quickie from Winchester.

I'm in Winchester, England for Hannah's funeral. It being my family, though, we are told not to wear black, bright colors only, so I think the array of loud colors will be astonishing. I for one am wearing a neon green cashmere J Crew sweater with floral jeans. (And a coat and umbrella, the weather has been shockingly bad except for a brief respite this morning, snow warnings all over England.)

Winchester is an utterly gorgeous town, so Olde Worlde it's almost cliche. To add to it, I am staying at a pub hotel, a rather nice one, as it turns out, and rarely have I stayed somewhere so perfect. The pub is around behind Winchester Cathedral, through an ancient stone archway and along a walled road. The room is gorgeous, the curtains are an embroidered floral that is so pretty I really want to steal them. The bathroom is huge, the bathtub gushes lashings of ass-boilingly hot water. My bath last night was like making Karla soup, I just stewed myself into a lather and came out sweaty and pink. I slept SO WELL last night. Almost no jet lag today. The hotel has free wifi, free Fuller's London Pride in the mini fridge, and the (award winning gastro) pub is directly across the skinny medieval road. The pub even has an original Thomas Crapper toilet in the loo, of COURSE not only did I take pictures, but when I used it, I tweeted from the Crapper. (Seemed to be something I must do. A pee tweet. Check my twitter feed to the left for tweets and pics. (er, not of me peeing, btw.)) Breakfast (included) was the best french toast ('eggy bread', as my cousin corrected me) that I have ever had. I am enjoying my stay here so much that I feel guilty, actually, as the reason I am here is so heart breakingly sad.

This morning we met to plant a tree in Hannah's honor. To say my cousin, my beautiful, heartbroken, destroyed cousin is showing the strain is an understatement. He is a gorgeous man, but right now his eyes look faraway and even when he smiles his big goofy smile, I see the pain and confusion lurking. Hannah's best friend (also named) Hannah is here, and poor girl, she can't stop shaking. She is so distraught, her body shows the stress even if she tries to act like she's got it under control.  It was at her house that Hannah fell down the stairs. I can't imagine, just CANNOT imagine the pain she feels as well as Edward. I don't know how she is going to bear up, life has given her some incredibly harsh blows the past few years, I don't think one person should have to go through all she has gone through lately.  All I can do is hug her and give her a xanax if needed. That is really all that CAN be done right now, sometimes you just need the chemical help. The tree planting felt like a burial. The sun came out briefly, and against forecast. I joked it was because I had a huge umbrella with me and no sunglasses. If I had not had an umbrella, it would have poured. Remember from past posts, I do have this power over the weather. The moment I went and bought cheap sunglasses, the sun went away.

I did a bit of shopping on the high street, bought a cute white crochet'ed dress and a wicked cool black tight peplum dress. Seems I am now a size 10 UK. And of course I hit the lingerie at Marks and Spencers. I do like shopping here. (Who am  Ikidding, I like shopping pretty much everywhere....)

At 2:30 we meet to go to the crematorium for the 'colorful' ceremony, where we are supposed to not cry. I don't know how THAT will be possible, but I have decided I am going to bring as much levity to the proceedings as possible and give Edward the laughs that I can. I bought a stupid, insanely dumb toy, a yodeling pickle, that I found in Houston, and gave it to him last night, along with the 'widower's' package of a nice bottle of Jack Daniel's, a carton of Camels, a shot glass and some salsa. If I were in his shoes, I'd only want to smoke, drink and eat random spicy things, so that's why I brought that.

So here I sit, alive and in luxurious circumstances, while my dear cousin's life has fallen apart in moments, and dammit I wish I could do more than I am. He says he'll come visit in Houston. I hope he does. The warmth and hot sun, and the general friendliness of the people, would be good for him.

So, now I will go change for the next part of this sad, beautiful day. Waterproof mascara needed.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

The girl in the mask

IMG-20130316-00236.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130316-00236.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
There were masks.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ft Worth, cowtown

IMG-20130315-00205.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130315-00205.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Ft Worth, Texas. Downtown.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Driving

I didn't realize, living in Norway without a car for 7 years, how much I had missed driving. But now that I am back in a car, I see, oh, I see, how I have missed it indeed.

 I was in high school when Dad gave me my first car, my 1967 Corvair, a convertible with two carburetors and an automatic transmission that had two gears (first and everything else). I suddenly saw the freedom a car could give me, especially in a town like Houston. That car became my identity, my refuge. When I was angry, when I was sad, or when i was happy, I'd retreat to the car and go for a drive to think, to rage, to celebrate. It was my private space, my escape. I drove hard and I drove lustfully.

Those habits, those intrinsic built in motivations that I developed when I was 16, have not changed.

There is, for me, something sensual about driving. The Corvair wasn't terribly fast off the mark, being a rear engine vehicle and an automatic, but once you got it going, once it shifted clunkily out of that first gear and into the long huge 2nd gear, it just got faster and faster until that big old gas guzzling engine screamed and roared as I pushed it onwards. It was a temperamental bitch, but when it went, oh how it soared. I never found the top speed of that car, though damned if i didn't try.

My second car, another old convertible given to me by Dad, was a 1964 Renault Caravelle, a happy litte cast-iron rear-engined car with the cutest fins flaring out the back,  that ran and ran and hummed along with the best of intentions, even if it didn't have the braw power of the Corvair. I remember Mom driving me and my brother around in it when we were very little. I will never forget that car, how it felt so solid and wobbly all at once, how the engine gave me its all, how the steering wheel would start to vibrate in my hands at exactly 54mph and stop vibrating at 60mph, how i learned how to drive a stick shift in it, when I had to get from Houston to Austin, and I had no other option but to learn on the fly.  I remember that with the Renault I had a mechanic in Austin named Jonathan, who was a well renowned Citroen/Renault expert, and I talked about him like most women talked about their hairdressers, and i brought him cookies and treats whenever he had to fix something on the Renault. Something always went wrong with it, but Jonathan fixed it cheaply and thoroughly and I trusted him implicitly. (Apparently that little Caravelle, named Clarabelle, is still going, still on the road, somewhere in Seattle.)

And forward to now, having in the interim had the 1990 Honda Civic (4 wheels and 4 gears) and the 1997 Subaru Outback Sport, which I brought to Norway when we moved there and sold at a massive profit even though the car was 8 years old when I sold it. Each of my cars has had its own personality, I've loved each of them for their own strengths and weaknesses, rather like one does a lover. Now i have the WRX, which, for me, was the dream car, the car I always wanted. I don't know why it's the one I always wanted, when there are so many other sleeker, nastier, more elegant and faster rides, but for me, right now, the WRX is what makes me happy. I don't question it. To question my choice of car would be to question who I am, and right now, I just don't fucking care or have the energy to do that.

So tonight being in the maelstrom of emotion and angst that I have lately been going through, I found myself reverting back to my old teenaged, pre-Norway self. I needed to escape. So, I drove. I drove fast, and I drove hard, and I had the music loud (NIN Closer being an all time favorite) and I sang and cried and thought and shifted and sped and roared. Driving, for me, is therapeutic. It's sexy as fuck. It's me and the road and that shifter in my hand and my feet on the pedals,  and it's the possibility of death, and it's nihilism, and it's fast reaction and quick decisions and it is life, my life, maybe your life,  in my hands, entirely in my thrall, split seconds of excitement and daring and power.

It is me, totally and completely in control, utterly one with a fine tuned machine that can cause destruction or joy, can induce spine tingling, intense pleasure mixed with a sense of being God.

Maybe that's it. When I drive, I am God. I am testing God, I am saying fuck you, I can do anything I want, at that moment  I literally have my life in my hands and I can do with it what I wish. Like the NIN song, it brings me Closer to God. That turns me on. Driving turns me on.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Rest in peace, Hannah

The past week has been heart rending in so many ways. Closing out my life in Norway, saying goodbye to so many good friends, to Oslo, to the apartment, to a way of life,  and finishing my life in Europe. 

But nothing, and I mean, nothing, could possibly be as heart breaking as the news I got on Saturday morning, that my dear cousin, Hannah (my cousin Edward's wife) had an accident while out with friends and was terribly injured.   From what I understand, she fell and hit her head and the damage was too great. She was taken off life support and died two days later, in Edward's arms. 

Hannah and Edward were that couple everyone wants to have around, fun, sparky, funny, adventurous. they loved each other totally, had a gorgeous little house in Winchester, good careers, and were well set for a long life together. Hannah's sudden death is such a tragedy, such a young life taken for no reason at all. 

We are a close family, Edward and his brother Carl are my Mom's youngest sister's boys, and they are the cousins I know best, that I would visit in Germany or in England, and Edward and I have had a fair few drinking nights in London. I've known them since they were little, they are 10 years younger. They are my closest relatives outside my parents and brother. This is such devastation for us all.

Oh, Hannah, you beautiful sparky girl. as the song from Morphine goes, "Do not go quietly unto your grave". A life motto of mine, and one that I think you followed to the fullest. We will all miss you, and we will take care of Edward. We promise. 



Carl, Hannah with a big beer, and Edward at Munich Starkbierfest in 2010. 

Grabbing ass. (That's Rich's ass.) 

Hannah and Edward, this is how they always were. Laughing together. 

Saturday, March 02, 2013

empty

IMG-20130302-02625.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130302-02625.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
MMS-email

Empty. Alone. I sit and think. This week has been a game changer in my life. And, as it turns out, in more lives than just my own.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

deserved gift

IMG-20130228-02608.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130228-02608.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
MMS-email

My husband just bought me this. Combination Valentine's Day/Worst Week Ever prize. (He doesn't know he bought it for me yet.) Georg Jensen silver and rock crystal.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

last ootd in oslo flat.jpg

last ootd in oslo flat.jpg by karlakp
last ootd in oslo flat.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

I lied. THIS is the last ever outfit of the day shot from the Oslo flat. I opened the wine as the movers took the last box. I am so tired. The hotel is nice but the elevator is out and we are on the 5th floor. I nearly cried thinking of getting my luggage up there.

last OoTD in intact apartment

IMG-20130223-02578.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130223-02578.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
MMS-email

Last outfit of the day picture ever taken in my intact apartment. I think I look a bit sassy. This was taken last Saturday. I am not sassy today. I'm frazzled, yeah, frazzled is a good word.

wave

IMG-20130226-02603.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130226-02603.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
MMS-email

Waving goodbye to the apartment, my entire world boxed up and in the hands of others.

Monday, February 25, 2013

everything i own will be in this box

IMG-20130225-02600.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130225-02600.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

     
 The container awaits outside. My entire life will go into that big box. Right now I am surrounded by boxes of stuff, and I know how a hoarder feels, weaving their way around a warren of possessions piled up over their heads, balancing precariously. The movers load the container tomorrow.

I don't know if it's worth saying that I FUCKING HATE MOVING? I think that's pretty universal, isn't it?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fresh Salmon....the only food I wil really miss

IMG-20130224-00178.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130224-00178.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
What I miss most about Norway. Salma salmon, no bones or skin, sashimi grade. Cheap, compared to every other available foodstuff, and even cheap by US standards. You open the package, slice it and eat it right there. SO good, and never fishy or with the mealy texture some salmon can get. Wish I could hoard some in my suitcase....

Soon a beautiful memory

IMG-20130224-02598.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130224-02598.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
MMS-email

Beautiful 18th c farmhouse in Frogner by our house. Will miss walking by it.

6 hours

IMG-20130224-00171.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130224-00171.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Half packed up. The movers managed this in 6 hours. (The rest of the house is still in progress, of course.) I hate everything about this move. Everything.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It's always a no unless you ask.

Well, as previously written, I have been dreading going to Oslo. I just don't want to deal with all the things that need to be dealt with.

But, sometimes you just gotta let the little things give you joy. My flight ticket was the cheap, bog standard economy ticket, company policy, and even though I managed a bulkhead seat, I was NOT looking forward to the flight, and arriving tired, and then having to deal with all the crap I have to deal with.

So, here is one of my little travel secrets that I now share with you. Learn from me, your Texpatriate, inveterate world traveler and gadabout:

BA (and probably most airlines, but my experience on this is solely with BA) offers at the gate upgrades, where, if they have seats available, they will sell you an upgraded seat for a very discounted price. So when I checked in today I asked for a "gate upgrade" and lo and behold, seats are available that they gladly sell you for way less than you would ever pay online. Think of it as an empty seat firesale. They want to fill the seats, and I want my ass in a lay flat bed.

So here's me flying to Oslo in Business class for less than 1/4 of the business class price, and, since my company is paying the economy ticket, I don't mind paying the extra for the upgrade, as it gives me the chance to sleep, to have a decent meal, to get lounge access both in Houston and in London for my 4 hour layover and it gives me a boost in comfort and lessens the dread of what is ahead, what with the move and all.

Plus, a rather sassy white wine I am drinking, right now, in the lounge, for free.  And free wifi  and computers, and I think I will have a sandwich now, too. And there's poshy hand lotion in the lounge loo.

I love business class.

Monday, February 18, 2013

And because that last post was depressing....this makes me happy.


Here's my car parked behind my brother's car when we met up for a walk this weekend. He drives a silver VW R32. We both have hatchbacks with rumbly exhausts,  and a definitive penchant for fast driving and leaning into the turns. It must be genetic.

Things change, doors close and new ones open.

Well, I have to go to Oslo for a few days to close out the flat, get the movers in, finalize and finish my life in Norway.

Problem is, I don't want to go.

I had SUCH a hard time leaving, it was SO painful, that when I got to Houston I kind of let it roll off me, put it behind me, just...stopped thinking about it. It's been kind of nice. I am here, in this rather nameless, soulless flat, me and my three suitcases of stuff, and a few books and magazines and stuff I've bought since getting here. I am not burdened by possessions, the need to cook, the need to clean (bi-weekly housekeeping comes with the place) the needs of anyone's but my own,  I only need to focus on getting my job going and relearning how to live in the US.

OK, so I AM kind of (at times, very) lonely, and a bit regretful of some things, and missing some things, and thinking about some things. Trying to achieve a 'fresh start' is really hard, and I don't know that it is even possible. A fresh start means leaving behind so much, and pretending that your past is clean and tidy, and sorry, at my age, a messy past is a given and, I think, desireable,  so there is no way you can ever go 'fresh' again. Everything I was, or have done, or have become, is part of this new venture. That's why I am doing it, actually, as the me I have become is finally up to this, this clean, new me could only rise out of the old, scared, messy, unsure and un-self confident me. But that doesn't mean I have forgotten or am abandoning the old me, my previous life.

Going back to Oslo means throwing myself into what will be a week of chaos, niggling details, paperwork and instant decisions that might have repercussions later. Going back means things I don't want to face, or think about, endings that lead to beginnings, and final goodbyes that I didn't face in December because I'd be 'back in February'. Going back to Oslo is facing all those things I am avoiding. I am terrible (REALLY TRULY AWFUL) at goodbyes, and I have had far too many of them lately. They suck, I am bad at them, I hate them.  I am terrible at moving, I hate details, I hate having to suddenly decide where every single last one of my possessions has to go RIGHT NOW, only to have to decide MUCH LATER where they will actually end up.

I don't want to face the airports, the long flight, the cold, the ice, the packing the essential things I left in Oslo to bring back with me to Houston, leaving Rich yet AGAIN, this time not even leaving him at 'home' but him going to a different place to live that has never included me (just as my flat now has never included him.) Am I abandoning him? Is he abandoning me? Is that even fair to ask? I just know he doesn't know what he has in store for him, yet, when he might come to Houston, what will happen. He's not getting answers from his company. It's extremely annoying.

I dread that last moment in the empty apartment that was my home in Oslo for 3 1/2 years, and, as it turns out, my last ever home in Norway after 10 1/2 years. That last echoing sound of that empty gorgeous apartment, bare of all the items that made it our home, its naked walls once again ready to encompass and reflect the taste, possessions and the lives of other people, as it has time and time again for 120 years. That last clunk of the solid old oak door as it closes upon a life well lived, as the lock clicks and an era ends.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Most amazing grocery store EVER

I keep messing up and getting lost, going places by mistake and getting totally turned around, but today that actually worked in my favor, because I found the COOLEST grocery store. It's called "99 Ranch Market" and when I pulled in to it, I was thinking it was some lame old Texas family grocery store, you know, with crappy selection and a large selection of white bread and Velveeta, but wow, was I wrong and boy, am I glad. 

99 Ranch Market is, as I found out, a HUGE Asian grocery store, the likes of which I never imagined or conceived of. I used to trawl the Asian grocery stores in Oslo, and thought they were neat, with their cheaper prices, 'exotic' Asian spices, and selection that was slightly outside the usual (in a constrained way), those little Oslo 'immigrant' stores are SO far away from this that it's like comparing a 7-11 to a Costco. Both stores, yes, but other than that, not the same at all. 

For example, they had fresh fish, and by fresh...well, I mean, FRESH. You can pick a fish, a giant prawn, a lobster, whatever, and they will fry or steam if for you right in front of you. (Hopefully after its death.)  

I have never, and I do mean, never, seen so many dumplings, gyoza, pot stickers, egg rolls, spring rolls, steamed buns, dim sum, noodles, meals, soups, and just, anything you can imagine,
in a frozen section. Aisle upon AISLE of delicacies. It was INCREDIBLE. I just wandered
up and down all the rows, exclaiming and grinning like a loon. I felt very Country
Mouse visiting the city. 


The housewares aisle was awesome, I am going back for some of those bowls, though I am wondering how sandals got mixed in with the pots and pans. Maybe to keep the women from being barefoot in the kitchen?  

Can you spot the item that does not belong in this freezer? Sometimes things were a bit random.  Egg roll, lumpia, prawns...and Eggo? Is this a version of chicken and waffles that I don't 
know about? 

Fo'shizzle they gots Beef Pizzle! (I don't think the bull was happy about giving up his pizzle, though his er, pizzle berries were one compartment over. As were his feet. And his tail.) 

I wandered around for the better part of an hour, they have EVERYTHING, including a great fruit and veg section (even with Durian fruit) and a bakery which I hear is great. There is also a 'home' section, which seemed to consist of mainly items aimed at the ladies, during a certain time of the month. And hair dye and more dumplings. Maybe there are dumplings aimed at cravings? I dunno. I'm just trying to figure it out. 

Anyhow, here's what Yelp has to say about this grocery store.   It's interesting, I haven't seen any advertising, I guess they keep it to the Asian communities, and if so, it's the most well kept awesome secret EVER.  Oslo people, you would be stunned into silence at seeing this place. I am, as well, having been here for a month, and having already been to Whole Foods, Central Market and HEB. It's just, well, wow, basically. 

Wow. 

Friday, February 08, 2013

Thursday, February 07, 2013

sorry

I just don't feel like blogging.

Not sure why.

I have been kind of busy, workwise, but homewise it's pretty quiet.

But the muse is not with me, and even though I have stuff to write about, it's just not in me right now.

But you know me, I'll be back......soon.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Today's horoscope..oops!

The heady thrill of excessive behavior will tempt you today, but it is time to take a more conservative viewpoint on things. Watch your money, avoid going shopping, stick to your diet, and don't overeat. Cutting back in the places where you tend to go overboard will not be as difficult as it may have been in the past, partially because you have recently learned some lessons the hard way. Food is not going to give you any comfort today, so ignore your sweet tooth.

I just read the above horoscope while having a mochochocalattayaya from Starbucks, with a yummy Fatty McFatFat egg and cheese 'artisan' sandwich, wearing a dress (very not conservative)  that wouldn't be out of place in that movie 'The Secretary" with Maggie Gyllenhal (I love that movie) and with plans to go out every night this week.

As for watching money, I just bought a car, paid my property taxes and in doing so have spent more money in a week than many people spend in a year.

The sweet tooth bit? For dinner last night I ate cookies. That is all, just cookies.

So much for that horoscope!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Big Texas sky.

texas sunset By Karlakp
IMG-20130127-00077.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Texas sunset. I've missed the big Texas sky. The Norwegian one is beautiful, of course, but so is Texas'.

A long-held tradition, renewed

IMG-20130127-00072.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130127-00072.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Reading the Austin Sunday paper in bed. A tradition I have sorely missed. I'm in Austin catching up with a few friends and getting my hairs did. The car provided for a fast and fun ride up, which I plan to enjoy just as much on the way back.

Monday, January 21, 2013

outfit of the day

IMG-20130121-00051.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130121-00051.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
My colleagues in Oslo and I have been sending each other pictures of the outfit of the day. We always liked to admire each other's fashion sense, so this is a nice way to keep it going. Today's outfit on my end was a sassy mix of J Crew pencil skirt, H&M sweater and a little leather jacket I got years ago in Italy. Finished with some Via Spiga pumps I just got, stiletto, but not too tall, pointy, but comfy all the same.

OoTD. It's a thing.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How I roll, yo

Things are heating up here in ex-Texpatriate land.

Let's see, where to start. First of all, HOW FUCKING MUCH DO I LOVE MY NEW CAR???? A whole fucking lot, that's how much. She's definitely RubySue, and I realized, when it comes to cars, I am a big ol' lesbian. (Please note, I am ONLY a car lesbian, I am not a lesbian in any other way shape or form.) I love RubySue, she turns me on. Her fast throttle, the short throw shifter, the way her leather (heated) seats cup my ass. The smell of her. Mmm, RubySue is the girl for me.

It's good that I love her that much because I keep getting lost in Houston, so me and RubySue are getting well acquainted. Yesterday, after dropping a colleague off at her home in the Museum District, I somehow ended up downtown, turned completely around, not knowing WHERE I was. I guess I could have used the gps on my phone, but I was stuck in a web of one way streets and saw no place to pull over, so I gamely wove through the streets until I found a street name I kind of recognized and took it. Luckily, I was right, and managed to get back to the flat eventually, though over an hour after I had planned to. It wasn't too bad, I opened up the moonroof, listened to some music (She Wants Revenge sounds good on the stereo, even with that wierd woofer thingy making it all thumpy. The woofer is going away. Soon.)

I got home, desperately in need of wine, kind of jangly from the traffic. While i opened my rosé, my friend Karen, the Blogless Scot, pinged me on Facebook and we set up a skype session, her in Australia at 730 in the morning, me in Houston at 530 in the afternoon! She cracked open some morning beers in my honor and I toasted her with rosé.

See that's us Skyping! She took a screenshot!That was fun.

We chatted for a few hours and it was like being with each other at our usual bar in Oslo, so nice to catch up! While Karen and I were talking, Rich called and my friend Anne called. I had to hold them off, but Anne was insistent I come over to her house TONIGHT because her neighbors were over and they were having a bit of a drinking sesh. As I'd already had some wine, I didn't want to risk driving RubySue, so I called a cab to go over to Anne's. She lives in a big old Victorian house in the Heights. The driver either couldn't read or was the newest driver in ALL of Houston, because I had to direct him the entire way, including telling him to turn off that damned nav system and just do what I was telling him to do. He was nice, but clueless. (Definitely NOT on the level of a London black cab, that's for sure.)

Got to Anne's, and then the night got wierder. We played drinking games that included setting our Sambucca dipped fingers on fire (you hold your flaming finger up a la Statue of Liberty while taking a shot) and then there was another thing where the sambucca was set on fire and rolled around in a glass (picture below) and then a game where you hold these little electronic handles in one hand against three other people, and the last one to let go of the handle after a song plays gets shocked. Yeah, I know. It was a strange mix of torture and devil-may-care and hello-I-am-16-again with an edge of Gestapo. Except everyone was mid 40's and they all had kids, who they were trying their best to hide from. By the way, all the drinking games came from an English guy, so don't be telling me Texans are the freaky ones.

IMG-20130118-00040.jpg by karlakp
I swear, I see Anne and I am drunk in 10 minutes. It never fails. She and her husband Nick are consummate hosts, so much fun, and the sort of people that when you hang with them, you don't notice if you haven't seen them in 3 years, because you just fall right back into the fun. (I've known Anne since I was 12, btw.) I called another cab to get back to the apartment, and was home and stumbling into bed by 12:30.

And now my friend Bookhart and her daughter (my goddaughter)(and don't tease me about being a heathen with a goddaughter!)  are on their way over from Austin and we are going to have a girls night in Houston, go skating at the Galleria, and have a nice catch up.

So far, a good weekend, and it's only Saturday at noon!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Meet my baby

IMG-20130115-00031.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130115-00031.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Meet Ruby Sue the Subaru. She's mine! All mine! (Also considering Rex the WRX, but I think she's a girl. A tough, bitchin', hot girl.)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Grocery shopping (the honeymoon continues)

I went to HEB yesterday. For those of you not Texas-centric, HEB is a grocery store, one that I used to go to in Austin that has come to Houston and has somewhat overtaken the old traditional stores that I remember, such as Randall's, Rice, Kroger, etc.

Not that you care about that, but I am a fan of HEB, let's just leave it at that. So yesterday, having already experienced Central Market (which was good, but perhaps overwhelming as it is a specialty/gourmet store and so I didn't really get a flavor of a standard, traditional grocery store) I ventured to an HEB up the road to see just HOW different an American store is from a Norwegian one.

Heh. No comparison. Night and day. Heaven and hell. Black, white. Pick a polar opposite comparison and keep going, because an American grocery store SO TOTALLY KICKS THE ASS OF A NORWEGIAN ONE IN EVERY WAY, it's not even funny. (Note: the ONE thing I would have liked to have found was Salma salmon, because it's so good you can eat it raw as sashimi. But if that is the only thing lacking, I can survive, I think.)

So there I was, rattling around this grocery store. I was just done with my workout, so I was wearing a pair of workout shorts, a ratty 'Angkor beer' t shirt I got in Cambodia, and had my hair pulled back with no makeup on. The shopping basket was huge, and I had a hard time getting used to the size of the thing, but finally managed it.

This HEB starts you off in the fruit and veg section. I knew I was in a new world of amazing when I overheard a guy on his cell phone, talking to his wife, saying "The cauliflower is literally as big as my head. Does it need to be that big?" I giggled, it was too funny. Everything was massive and fresh and cheap! I couldn't believe it! And they had all these pre-chopped veggies, ready for the cooking, my favorite being the chopped onions and cilantro (coriander) in a container, all ready to go into a soup or tacos or whatever. HEAVEN!

Onwards (after buying salads and greens and salsa and guac, OH SO HAPPY) to the meat section.

Wow. Just...wow. I am going to try to stay organic (especially with chicken) so that somewhat lessens my choice, but holy shit, the meat! While I was at the meat counter, this big burly really quite handsome guy came up next to me and we chatted while waiting for the guy behind the counter to help us. In 10 years in Norway no one ever chatted me up in a grocery store, and here I am, first time out in Houston, and I have Mr Hotness himself joking with me about the seeming obtuseness of the meat counter guy. (I saw him throughout the store, Mr Hotness, and we flirted and joked in the salsa aisle, the chip aisle and frozen section. Texans are so friendly and chatty!) Anyhow, I got myself a steak, as I was going to my brother's for a birthday party that night. I may have misjudged the size of the steak, because it came out to over a pound, a pound of perfectly marbled New York strip for 88nok (if we are comparing) and it was GORGEOUS and cooked up YUMMY.

Thence to the salsa aisle, where I nearly cried, all that tomatoey spicy goodness, and my favorite salsa of all time, Arriba, is just there, for like, two bucks, awaiting my hot little hand taking it off the shelf, caressing it, hugging it, stroking it, taking it home, to lick it off the crisp, salty tortilla chip....oh damn. Sorry. I get turned on by salsa.

It's going to take me months to get used to grocery shopping again. All the brands to learn, all the ingredients to study (avoiding hormones and antibiotics and corn syrup and trans fats, that will be a bit difficult).

I filled up that basket all the way (including a 12 pack of Rolling Rock beer, which I like, for $10, so that's like, 4 nok a bottle, or basically 12 beers for the price of one in Norway) and it cost $200 all told. That includes chicken, beef, shrimp, deli meats, 3 bottles of wine (note to Gilly: I found RIONDO! We can carry on the pink fizz tradition!), laundry detergent, my favorite Kiss My Face shower gel in Peaceful Patchouli, and so on. I figure all that stuff would have cost me around $550 in Norway, minimum.

I'm STILL a little turned on from that shopping experience. Hot guys, cheap food, hot and cold running salsa....wow.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

SALSA!

IMG-20130112-00021.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20130112-00021.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Salsa aisle at HEB. Isn't that a beautiful sight?

The honeymoon period

Anyone who has ever moved, been an expat, or had a big life change, knows that there is a period of time, right when the change has happened and is freshest, that we call the Honeymoon Period. It's that lovely time when everything is new and exciting, you don't really miss the old way of life because everything now is so involving and head turning, and you haven't seen the ugly side of whatever it is you have just begun doing.

And that is were I am right now. Honeymoon period. (Because I know things won't stay this rosey long term, and if they do, why the fuck did I ever leave Texas, then?)

After I bought the car on Tuesday (I am giddy with excitement for the pickup day, that is my Christmas for like, 10 years, all rolled into one day), I treated myself to lunch at a Vietnamese place. I don't know if you know, but Houston has an incredibly vibrant Asian community, and the Vietnamese were big settlers here in the 70's, and they brought their wonderful food ways with them. I could eat Bun every damn day. Wednesday I finally managed to meet up with my old high school chum Anne (dang she hasn't aged a bit) for some drinks and we had a good catch up. Some people you just fall right back into the fun with, and you know it will always be so. It's that way with me and Anne. I usually end up laughing and snorting some sort of alcohol out my nose when I am with her.

Then Thursday (another short day at work, probably part of why I am so happy right now is that settling in to work has been easy as it is still post holiday and it's quiet, when the shit hits the fan, get back to me) the weather was PERFECT.  I remember weather like that from when I was in high school, clear, warm, dry air, blue skies, I would skip school and go to Hermann Park and read Jane Austen.  (Days like that are rare in Houston, land of 100% humidity.) Well, I sort of did the same, left work and went for a walk around Memorial Park, IN SHORTS AND A T SHIRT, IN JANUARY. I was almost deliriously happy. To be WARM and in SHORTS in January, to be outside, exercising, and have bare legs! Oh joy.

I had my iPod and I just bopped along and had a moment of allowing me to be proud of me. I mean, here I am, in Houston, having moved halfway across the world. I have a job, I singlehandedly bought a car, I have a place to stay, and I did it all myself. I'm rather proud, right now, of the changes that have brought me to this place, that I CAN stand on my own two feet if need be, and while I am sure Rich won't like reading that, I think it is very important for every woman to be able to say that. To be able to say that while she loves her man, she can also make it alone if she must. The ability to be independent should compliment a relationship, make it stronger, because you CHOSE to be in it as opposed to being in it because you have to, because you can't make it alone. It feels good to be in this position of strength. Really good.

Friday after work I finally did the thing that has been looming over me: I went to the Galleria. The Big Mall in Houston. The mall that everyone knows. I used to go there when I was in high school and still think of it as it was then, I keep looking for the arcade gallery and the movie theatre, and that McDonalds that was right by the back parking garage entry. Oh well, that's gone, but....BUT...

THE STORES THERE! They have French Connection and Monsoon and some of my favorite British high street shops! And then there's J Crew and Nieman's and Saks and Nordstroms and ohmyfuckinggod I am dying.  I didn't even get to 1/20th of the stores. Not even close. And yesterday I hit the sales sweetspot, apparently, and everything was like 40% off the lowest price, which was already 50% off. I had FUN! And I am a size 8/10 now apparently, which is even MORE fun, because stuff looked GOOD on me! One dress I got at French Connection I can even consider it to be smoking hot. Black tight pencil skirt from knees to just above waist, then white blouson top above, slits in front and back of blouse. The perfect mix of demure and devastating. SIZE 8!!!!! (Note to self, quit eating these cookies you are eating or that dress won't fit for long.)

I made the Galleria my bitch.

Then I came back to the flat, did some laundry, did the dishes, had some wine, baked some of those dough-from-the-package chocolate chip cookies that I love so much (and tried to bring back to Norway a few times but it was always risky, what with the melt factor and all) and Facetimed my friend Marla and we had a lovely chat. I was in bed and asleep at 10:30. It was a good, career-gal on her own kind of Friday night.

Right now I am having my coffee and cookies for breakfast (I will admit I hate the coffee maker in this flat, so at least I know which one NOT to buy in future) and am going to go down to the gym in a bit and lift some weights. Gotta get back in the swing of that routine.

It doesn't take much to make me happy, really. But right now, in this honeymoon period, I am. (Remind me of this in a few months when I am BITCHING up a STORM and wanting nothing more than to go back to Norway, ok?)

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

I bought a car today.

Hello Subaru WRX.

Those of you who know me will remember I had a Subaru previously, an Outback Sport, that I bought in 1997 and sold in Norway in 2005. I really liked that car, it was reliable and fun to drive and it had spunk and spirit (and it never broke down.)

So coming back to Houston, where having a car is not optional, I had 4 or 5 cars on the list to check out:

VW Golf R
Audi A4
Audi TT
BMW 328i
Subaru WRX

I test drove the Golf and the BMW. I liked both. The BMW doesn't come in a hatchback, which was a mark against it, but I liked the car enough to consider going without. The Golf R was fun and spunky, and hatchback, and I seriously considered it, even to talking numbers with the sales guy, who I wasn't crazy about.

But the Subaru is just it. (I never got to the Audis.) I got in it, it was comfy, it felt right. I trust the brand, I like the feel.  And the 265 bhp certainly helped convince me of the fun of driving it. That car is FUN TO DRIVE. And it was 6-10k cheaper than the BMW or the Golf R. I got the Limited version (not the STI, that would be overkill, I think), the fully loaded one, with leather and moonroof, and I added the short throw shifter, the sport exhaust, and it apparently also has a subwoofer and some other stuff.

I get it January 21. It's amazing how easy it is to spend money, I called my credit union and had the loan via phone in 6 minutes flat, and they sent me the stuff to sign online and that is that. Wow.

SQUEEE!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

a stream of consciousness post/email I sent a friend


Well, here I am, in Houston. The flight seemed ENDLESS and I cried about 30 times, I am sure the nice, quite large guy wedged into the seat next to me thought I was insane, but hey, I was GOING through something and the tears needed shedding. 

It's quiet in here.....tick tick tick tock tick..... (This is where I talk to you as if I am talking to myself) (This may be the genesis of a blog post.)

I'm in the temp apartment, which is nice on the surface, I guess, but the carpet is a bit tattered in places and it feels soulless. It's a masterpiece of taupe. There is a not a book or a plant in the joint, I need to nest, I think, and make it more homey.  Considering the rent on this damned place, it should be paved in gold and be wiping my butt for me! Well, it does have all mod-cons, including huge tv's in living room AND bedroom, with full on cable to the max, so I guess I can be American and watch a lot of tv. There is NO view, I look onto a wall and some other apartments, the light has to filter through into a courtyard, so that is a bit depressing. The kitchen is black, which I normally don't mind, but the lighting is very bad and I can't see anything on the counter if it's not white. I may buy a small lamp and put it on the counter, to warm it up a bit. I am SUCH a light snob. I keep thinking of the Oslo apartment, what an extraordinary apartment that is....its cool warmth, its grand funkiness. The bustling cold streets outside, the glimpse of the fjord beyond, my lovely blue and white kitchen with the huge window.... And Rich rattling around in there, alone. Damn. 

It's quiet, though, and the bed is very comfy, so that is good. And it will give me impetus to keep out of here, I suppose, and check stuff out in my new adopted city.

Funny, if i had been moving back to Austin I would've been ecstatic, so happy. Moving to Houston is a large reason why I am so upset about coming back, I think. Not that I don't know that I have my brother here, and good friends, and I grew up here. I guess I just need to get over it, right? I have a well paying job, a place to stay for 3 months, and a bright future. Right? So why am I so fucking sad. I feel like I've put myself into exile, that's why. 

I need to remind myself that the day to day life in Oslo was no different from anywhere else, and it was frustrating b/c of the lack of choice and the high price of things. Here I will have a day to day life that is not much different, but with more choice and warmer people, AND I CAN escape to wherever I want, just like before, just longer flights. I have 4 weeks holiday, I can go where I want when I want. (And let me just say, Central Market was OVERWHELMING yesterday. Part of it was being tired, part of it was having my bro there with me, so I felt rushed, but I need to go back and LEARN that place. Like, spend 3 hours just perusing. DAMN. I feel like a country mouse in the city with that grocery store. Even the milk selection had me in a quandary. What do you mean, there are different BRANDS of milk? Not just Tine skimmed, semi-skimmed and full fat? I expect to feel materially overwhelmed wherever I go for quite a while.)

I turned on the tv (the one in the bedroom, it's HUGE) and The Princess Bride is on. That's nice, that movie is not on rotation in Norway, and it's an all-time favorite. I figured out the coffee machine in the Black Hole Kitchen, and it seems to do the job ok. I have coffee, at least. I shall unpack for a bit, (I need to buy hangers for the closet, which is huge, but why have such a huge closet and then have only 12 hangers in it? It's so big that last night  I had to pee, and walked into the closet instead of the bathroom, and it took me a while to notice!) then walk up the street to the Galleria, which this road leads directly to. DANGER, I sense DANGER with that. 

And tonight is Downton Abbey, I think, right? That is starting up again? I saw a couple episodes of season 3 in Norway, but it was mid stream so it will be nice to see the start. And Californication starts up again, too. (I hope I have that channel, what channel is it on?). 

One day at a time. Big picture, big picture view. Eye on the prize, moving home is not just for me, it's for family too. Breathe. 

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Packing (procrastinating). No! I mean PACKING!

I have one suitcase filled, with shoes (cute shoes, whimsical shoes, nonsensical shoes, NOT sturdy, tough winter shoes, yeay!), accessories, lingerie, and odds and ends. It weighs at exactly 50lbs. I have two more to go. I have piles of clothes on the floor, I am trying to pack only things that are fairly unique, or that I adore, and leave the basics (cotton undies, tank tops, t shirts and gym stuff) for a big shop at Target soon after arrival. No need to haul stuff over I can easily get there.

Still, this is HARD. This packing and leaving and thinking and organizing, it's tough. I can't wrap my head around the fact that my time as a resident in Europe is effectively over. That I won't be able to pop over to say, Italy, in a 2 1/2 hour flight.

We went to Italy for Christmas, from the 23rd to the 30th, and hit Rome and Pompeii, a bit of a dream trip for us both. OF COURSE the second I got to Pompeii (after 3 days in Rome) I got sick sick sick, sicker than I have been in yonks. I haven't been sick in over a year, and I have an entire ARSENAL of good strong American cold meds in a big basket here in Oslo. It's been sitting there waiting for one of us to get sick. So, when do I get sick? When I am on vacation, without my meds, in a place where apparently the strongest thing you can get is a cough syrup that tasted like cinnamon and merely massaged the cough around and stroked its neck. As the cold progressed the hotel clerk took pity on me and wrote something in Italian down for me to give the pharmacist, who finally gave me something laced with pseudoephedrin, and that started to help a bit. (I think the note said "This lady is disgusting, please make her stop snotting, sneezing and snorting all over my nice clean hotel.")

Anyhow with the help of the drugs and a forest's worth of tissues, we saw Pompeii and it was amazing, even if I was kind of zombie-like for parts of it. (It made me oddly pliant, something Rich is not used to, and I just followed him around wherever he want. I didn't have the energy to look at maps or argue, and I think it freaked him out a bit, having me just gamely follow everywhere. Thanks, honey, for taking the lead of your drug-addled wife.) I like to think I have contributed to its ongoing preservation by the addition of lashing of my snot, sneezed all over the buildings, guaranteed to hold them together for another 1000 years or so. (I will post pics from the trip later, promise.) (Not snot laden ones, pretty ones.)

The cold hung on through New Year's Eve, including fever, and then, like the inconvenient little shithead it was, fucked off on Jan 1, with nary a recovery period needed. Woke up, felt fine. Done, dusted. No excuse not to pack, I guess.

So I keep thinking that I should pack THIS dress or THIS jacket or THAT skirt. Do I need a business suit? (My business suit is too big now. Maybe I will buy a really sharp one when I get to Houston. Because, hello, meet the only person in history who has ever LOST weight on a trip to Italy over Christmas. I should have put on double weight, it being Italy AND Christmas, but no, the cold took care of the weight gain and I actually lost 2 lbs. I actually am kind of scrawny now and don't really like it, it shows in my face.) But I will be back end of February, so I can grab some more stuff then, and  am trying to refrain from bring summer stuff this go round, though I know that I will need it by March in Texas. (Worrisome: the weather in Pompeii was FABULOUS and sunny, and I was rather warm at 60 degrees, so how the HELL am I going to get used to Texas heat again? I am going to die.)

Fuck, this time next week I will be in Houston, having already started in the new job. IwillnotfreakIwillnotfreakIwillnotfreak.......