Thursday, March 31, 2005

My Flat in London

I'm going to London on Friday. Here's my flat.

American Embassy = 5th Circle of Hell

Well, I did it. I went to the Embassy to get some paperwork notarized. What would have taken me ten minutes in the US took me three hours and $30 bucks and not a little tension

Since the Embassy only "helps" folks from 9-12, I showed up at 10 am. I walked up to the first of the machine gun wielding, sun glasses wearing, gum chomping guards and smiled politely and showed my passport, then joined the queue. He was wearing a quasi-mechanics/astronaut jumpsuit, bristling with communication devices and badges, acting all bouncer-y, workin' the velvet security rope. I was third in line. I stood there for twenty minutes while the two folks ahead of me got searched and patted down before being let through.

I, being in a good mood on a sunny yet brisk day, quipped, "There better be DAMN good drinks and music in there for me to wait this long behind your velvet ropes."

He smiled as much as an Embassy guard is allowed, which isn't much, and after another 10 minutes, waved me thru. I got searched, patted (woo!) and generally felt up by another guard. I will admit these guys were cute for jarheads. Maybe they do that on purpose. I ahve never seen an ugly guard at the Embassy.

After that, I got to wait in yet another line, this time on the other side of the bob-wired, fenced and security camera'ed building. You have to wait outside until they let you in, in one of two lines. One is for non-Americans seeking Visas, the other for Americans. I felt rather VIP in this line, as the Americans get let in first, but the 10 or so non-Americans in the other line stood and glowered at me the whole time. Ah well, screw them, my taxes paid for this neo-Nazi bullshit anyhow, so they can bite me if they don't like it.

(Though I did feel sorry for them after I saw the requirements for a visa, including, but not limited to: interview, background check, proof of financial viabilty, proof of income, proof of employment, detailed travel plans, any police or criminal records, a number of annoying forms and a few copies of pictures, birth certificates, etc. A two month wait for approval, and you too can go to Disneyland. If you meet anyone who is a tourist in the US, be REAL nice to them, for they have been thru hell to get to our fair land.)

Another 10 minutes there and I got into the building. Yet another bag search, more thorough this time, plus a swab for explosives, then I had to check my bag. Finally I was in the queue for the notary public services.

The tension in the room was palpable. No one was happy. Before me was a mother trying to get a renewed passport for her young son. She was obviously getting annoyed, and the woman behind the thick glass partition had that smug bureaucratic look about her, that said that she was going to follow the rules no matter what, like it or lump it. The mother started yelling. Loud.

Apparently she had been given an old form with outdated price and information for passport renewals. When she showed up with the money the form told her to bring, turns out it was wrong. The Embassy does not take credit cards or bank cards, and she did not have enough cash with her. This meant she would have to start all over. Through security again, more paperwork, the whole shebang. I felt for her. I really did. This was not her fault.

The woman behind the glass would not budge. She insisted on the extra $12. for the fees. Told the woman to go get more money! The irate mom started screaming that she was not leaving, that they could come drag her out, but it was their damned fault and they should waive the extra fees, as they did not know their asses from a hole in the ground. I was thinking "You go girl! But could you go in another line so I can get my crap done?"

Finally the people in line behind me told her they would lend her the extra money, and she could pay them back after. I would have done it myself, but I had only enough cash for my needs. She was mollified and lucky for me I got a different bureaucrat to work with.

She was pretty nice, though there was a scare about the name on the papers being a bit different from the name on my passport. I was getting worried there for a minute. I really was. I was not in the mood to go postal, though I guess I could have summoned up some rage fairly quickly by just breathing deeply in that rancid, angry room. Luckily I had photo proof to match both names, (I also offered blood and my first born, and actually got a smile!) and it got worked out.

They sent me to the cashiers window to pay, then back to the window to prove I'd paid and get the signature, then something else official, and then just a pin prick, no it really won't hurt, and then they brainwashed me and dragooned me into the military and now I am in Iraq, just kidding.

I have to admit, I pretty much laughed my way through the whole thing. How could I not? Absurdity hits my giggle button like nothing else, and folks, the US has become absurd. The irate lady had already let them know exactly how the rest of us felt, we all knew how ridiculous this experience was, and so I was able to just smirk my way through it. I smirk really well.

I hope, though, that it is the last time I have to go there. It's just too awful. I wonder what the Norwegian Embassy is like in the US?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Spring cleaning...not

I have been queen of the really long post lately, but I will try to make this one short and absurd.

It's about 49 degrees outside, and in Norway that means spring cleaning. Which brings me to my thoughts on...dust.

There is too much of it, I think. I mean, I just don't understand where it all comes from. I grew up in a dust free house. I still, to this day, don't know how Mom does it, but there is NEVER any dust in my parents' house. I do remember her cleaning the glass surfaces daily, and I guess she dusted daily, too, but it never seemed like a big deal to her, she just did it. For me? Dusting? Big, sighing, stomping, grumbling, must-have-loud-music deal. My attitude towards cleaning basically is revealed in the following phrase:

"Dust? Didn't I just do that last year?"

Seriously, growing up in my mom's Teutonically spotless, no big deal, dust- dare- not- enter home, I really don't think I was given the mental tools to understand dust. I don't think I ever knew it existed, or what to do with it if it did show up. (Like dirty laundry, I never knew what that was either. My discarded clothes got tossed in the hamper, and appeared magically clean in my closet. I am still perturbed that they don't hang themselves up after I wash them, what's that all about anyhow? Can someone please invent the "dry clothes hanger upper"?) If you did see dust it was no problem, it would disapear obediently and immediately. That's just how it was in our house. I never thought about it.

So today, as I changed the sheets on the bed, I noticed that the fug in the air was, shockingly enough, dust. Dust and teensy bits of feather from the pillows and duvet. I looked around the bedroom, and my God, more dust! What the hell? I dusted before Tine and Peter's visit, and that was just in February! How damned much dust is there in the world, and what is it all doing in my bedroom?

So I got the Swiffers and I swabbed all that crap up...and more landed right where I had just wiped. Hey, what the fuck? That's not fair. I just made the effort to clean and it comes back? Damned floaty nose nipping sneeze making non-rules- following Norwegian commie dust anyhow. So I dusted again, this time opening the doors and windows wide, thinking it might float out. But I think the outside dust came in to mate with the inside dust and make baby dust.


What do I do now? Have I reached dust maximum density? Did I break a housekeeping rule and the dust has reached a no-containment zone? Do I have Mr. Creosote dust? Did I give it that wafer thin mint and there is no going back now?

Mom? Damn you and your dust free house. You had hopes for my life and raised me in a spotless lovely home, and look at me now. A dusty, sneezing wild haired daughter, madly battling microscopic dust motes and cursing like a sailor.

Fuck it, I'm a better blogger anyhow. I quit. Dust, have your way with me, I'm your bitch.

Glutton for punishment, or am I just a masochist?

After all my bitching about traveling in the previous two posts, (though really that was just two sucky days out of what was really a great trip) guess what?

More travel! I know, I think I am a sick pervert. A masochist, torturing myself with all this travel. I just have enough time to wash me drawers, and off I go again.

Going to London on Friday for a week. Well, if your good friend says "Hey, wanna use my flat on Cadogan Square?" how can you say no? So nice of her to let us stay! She'll be in Dubai golfing, she has a hard life as well.

So yeay! London! While I'm there I am going to sign up for one of those classes at Central St. Martin's, I am pretty psyched.

Then in May we are going to Budapest. I don't know much about it, so need to get a guidebook or two in London. Anyone been there? How's the beer?

But before the fun starts again, tomorrow I have a fairly nasty chore to take care of. I have to (duh duh DUH! ominous music) go to the American Embassy. Yuck. I need to get some paperwork notarized, and so must face that horrible building and those horrible bureaucrats and their horrible glass partitions, armed guards and bag searches. Going to the American Embassy is like having to go to the unemployment office, the driver's license office, the proctologist and the dentist, all wrapped into one bad experience, except they treat you worse, have guys with semi-automatic weapons standing around and the chairs are more uncomfortable. They are only open from 9-12, and on Wednesdays they don't help American citizens!. I wonder about that part, as isn't it my taxes that support the Embassy in the first place? So shouldn't they be open for me when I need them?

And, for the privilege of them signing my papers, I get to pay $30. Joy! I swear it's almost worth it to just pay for a flight back to Austin to take care of this sure would be more fun.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

a to zed

Accent: American standard with a touch of Texas Kraut
Bra size: 36c-d
Chore I hate: dusting
Dad’s name: Terry
Essential make-up: moisturizer
Favorite perfume: Penhaligon's Love Potion Number 9 or Narcisso Rodriguez
Gold or Silver: silver
Hometown: Houston Tx
Interesting fact: when I whistle I breathe in, not out. Only way I can produce a sound.
Job title: That's just so limiting isn't it? Call me an Observer of Life.
Kids: none
Living arrangements: rekkehus on the Oslofjord
Mom’s Birthplace: Schwarzwald, Germany
Number of apples eaten in last week: 1/2
Overnight hospital stays: 3
Phobia: anything with more than four legs or an exoskelton
Question you ask yourself a lot: What is my purpose? Why?
Religious affiliation: Ostensibly Lutheran, but really, none
Siblings: One brother whom I adore
Time I wake up: between 9:00 and 11.00 am
Unnatural hair color: just went back to my own shade of auburn.
Vegetable I refuse to eat: brussel sprouts and red, yellow or green peppers.
Worst habit: cuticle picking
X-rays: ankles, knee, brain, teeth
Yummy food I make: chicken tortilla soup
Zodiac sign: Leo with enough Virgo to feel guilty about it

Cribbed from Tracey.

Tourist Suckage Two, Electric Bugaloo

(cue music, voiceover)

"And in last week's episode.."

"Holy Tourist Hell Batman! What happens next?"

Well, let's recap, shall we?

Stinky stale-aired bus, cramped multi-cultural tourists, phantom voice charmingly and skitteringly weaving stories of the Scottish lands, sullen bus driver, wet rainy day. Me, upset stomach, wanting to be anywhere BUT on the bus, and now I've got a freaking migraine. There is a hell and I have landed in it. I am paying for my sins now, on Easter Sunday. God, your joke is on me, I get it.

So, yeah, the migraine started. Mine are usually visual, and this one was no exception, though I was surprised how fast it started. Boom, there they were, the blinkies. Looking at stuff just hurt, the light and the motion, it all hurt. Rich told me to look out the window at a castle or something, and I just told him that I could not see anything right now, take a picture, and I'd get to it later.

That's when Eastern European Stinky Food Couple opened the Herbs From Hell. I still don't know what it was, was it food? Cologne? some sort of hand lotion? What? But if you took all the strongest smelling herbs you can think of, lavender, eucalyptus, smelling salts, Vicks Vapo-Rub, and something kind of pork smelling, and rolled that all up, you might have an idea of what rammed its way into my olfactory senses and would not budge. I thought I would die. Now I could not see due to the headache, or smell. Great.

I closed my eyes, wrapped my scarf around my head, and prayed the bus would crash.

It didn't. It stopped at Stirling Castle instead. That did not suck as much as I was expecting it to. Stirling is a nice castle, it really is. Lovely views, nicely placed, lovely town running along the hill the leads to it. Very nice indeed. Parts of it were closed (the parts I wanted to see of course) and others were being reconstructed, but whatever, at least I was off the bus and away from the smell. Even my headache lightened up some, escaping that bad air.

Stirling Castle was having a big Easter Kiddie Day. The place was swarmed with chilluns. They were everywhere. All screaming. Good for the old noggin.
There was this grown up guy dressed in 17th century costume, all in green, even his tights, running around the castle hollering and being chased by hordes of excited little boys. He'd dash into an alley or an alcove, lose the boys, then run madly back through the arches and the courtyards, as the boys discovered he'd lost them and change tack to get him again. I later found a sign saying something along the lines of "Mac Mackenzie, the Notorious Criminal, is on the loose. Reward for his capture. Beware; he is fleet of foot and sly of wit. If you spy him, please report immediately to the Captain of the Castle". Of course there was a portly guy strolling around in a redcoat uniform, big black cape and tricorn hat, with a big Captain badge on him, being accosted by little boys hopping up and down, screaming and pointing at the green man whizzing around the castle trailing more little boys. (It was pretty cute to see, actually. The boys were having so much fun, I am sure their parents were glad the little buggers were getting worn out for the trip home.)
There were also wizards and minstrels and magicians and owl exhibitions, and more captains and I think a few wenches as well. The kids were losing their minds. But it did not make for good historical contemplation, or give much rom to move. Plus, it rained.
We had an hour and a half at Stirling, which gave us enough time to see the castle (what we could see of it as alot of it was closesd for renovations) and have a hugely overpriced but satisfying lunch.

After our hour and a half was up, we headed (me, reluctantly of course) back to the bus. The Late Couple was late, again. The Child Who Would Run Amok was running, you guessed it, amok. The newly annoying Group Of Three Single Guys from the Middle East were back on the bus, but they smelled so strongly of cigarette smoke I wondered if they somehow bathed in it. One of those guys chewed gum the ENTIRE trip, and not quietly either. I think he was a special demon sent to torture me. They spent their time at the castle kicking around a soccer ball they found and ogling the women.

After Stirling we went to a pretty town whose name I can't recall. We had 20 minutes there. Rich and I headed straight to the nearest pub and had a pint. Only enough time for one pint of course. Got back on the bus. The damn Late Couple was 10 minutes late again. Seriously, who do they think they are? Are we on this earth to suit their time table? I think not. I really, really, am bothered by people who are always late. Personally, I think it is just rude and kind of passive agressive, like a power play, whereby you being late gives you power over others. If I were the bus driver I would have left them.

After the pretty town, we drove through the Trossachs, which were gorgeous, and then caught a boat ride on Loch Lomond. By now my migraine no longer had the visual symptoms, just the vice like grip on my skull and the associated tiredness. The boat ride was nice and mellow, it was too foggy and cold and rainy to see anything (of course) though we did very much enjoy the new stereotype that has been making its way about Europe more and more.
They are the Loud Pushy Badly Dressed Yet Arrogant Russians. Have you come across them yet? They apparently have enough money to get out of their country and sight-see, but not enough money to get out of the acid washed jeans, painted t shirts, mullets, and Michael Jackson leather jackets from 20 years ago. They push everyone around them, chatter and argue amongst themselves. Watching them take pictures of each other was priceless. We tried to get pictures of it, but failed. One kid, he was about 17, in a big oversized black leather jacket, tight acid washed jeans and vinyl dress shoes, posed like Tom Jones for every picture. Head cocked to one side, mouth pouting,legs splayed, hand just to left of crotch. ("Hey, lookee what I got here for you, you lucky babooshka!") The same for every picture. What was he, a rock star in training? His compatriot, she was about 25, had a uni brow that woulda made Frida Kahlo jealous. She wore a beret, and some sort of para military Santa Fe look, with an Indian blanket as a skirt and combat boots. She posed for her pictures by standing bold upright, frowning and directing a piercing gaze from under her beetling brows and hat. She was scary, and needed to shave her upper lip.

The boat ride was about an hour, we saw nothing, really, as the fog was too thick.

Finally, the day was over and we could make our way back to Glasgow. I was never so glad to get back to a place in my life. Even Rich, whom I called Pollyanna all day, was glad to be back.

After another bad night's sleep and a 6am wake up call, Monday was our day to be mistreated by RyanAir for our flight back to Norway. (Note to RyanAir employees: Would it kill you to say "hello" before you screwed us? Can you pretend it's foreplay or something? Just jumping right into the rudeness, it somehow doesn't work for me, you know? If you really wanna screw me, at least look me in the eye, ok?) Glasgow Preswick Airport sucks ass. We waited in line for almost an hour to get mistreated by those assholes. I won't mention how the trains were under engineering work and so it took us an hour and a half to get to that crappy place, when it should have taken half an hour. Or the bus driver we ended up with who, we think, got us lost on the way to the airport? No I won't mention that. I think you get the point.

As Dave Barry says:
"We travel because, no matter how comfortable we are at home, there's a part of us that wants-that needs- to see new vistas, take new tours, obtain new traveler's checks, buy new souvenirs, learn new words for "transfusion", and have all the other travel adventures that make us want to French-kiss our doormats when we finally get home".

Monday, March 28, 2005

Tourist Suckage

Being a tourist can totally suck ass. Our last two days in Scotland, based in Glasgow, are an example of how.

The hotel was overpriced, overheated and the bed was so soft I had to cling to the edge not to roll over onto Rich's side. It was decorated in a "Scandinavian minimalist chic" style that ended up being totally impractical and not very comfortable. It was cold and rainy the whole time we were in Glasgow. It is possible for it to rain up and sideways. Believe me.

On Sunday we took a bus tour, this time to Stirling Castle and Loch Lomond. I knew things were not going to be good when I got up that morning after a bad night's sleep with an upset stomach. (Oh and PMS? Yeah, oh happy happy joy joy. Tolerance levels were at zero.) After a cold and wet early morning trot across Glasgow, we found our tour bus. We got onto the bus to tour guide. Apparently this EIGHT HOUR TOUR OF SCOTLAND was going to be completely automated, with a recorded voice telling us what to look for. It was guided by GPS, but frequently was ahead of or behind the location it talked about, and sometimes the cd(?) skipped. I was vastly annoyed by this, as the brochure specifically said that it was a guided tour. Who would we ask questions of? But no, this completely full bus was guided by a phantom voice and one harrassed bus driver. Let's call this example one in "tourist suckage".

So, as I said, the bus was completely packed. Now, excuse me for the stereotypes that I am about to perpetuate, but as a tourist, you realize that stereotypes exist for a reason. They are, in many cases, true. So on our bus, we had the following stereotypes:
Seated directly in front of us, the Eastern Europeans with the Stinky Assed Food. They brought bags of food with them to eat on the bus, this couple, and everything they opened smelled to high heaven. Stinky sausage, stinky cheese, stinky bread (!!), stinky something else vegetable-y that I could not identify, and something herbal that smelled so bad i had to cover my nose. Yet another level in tourist suckage.
Behind us was the Asian Technology Obsessed Couple. Everything they had beeped, clacked, clicked or whirred. They were so freaking noisy I could have killed them.
In front and to the right, the Other Asian Technology Obsessed Couple. This time the guy used his video camera the whole time, which was not really annoying so much as funny. I mean, how many videos out of a wet bus window can you possibly do? "Oh, here's the one where it was raining in Scotland." "And here's the one where it was raining out the bus window in Scotland. I think there is a castle out there, but it's raining. And there's fog too!" "Oh, and here's one, out the bus window, in Scotland. See how it's raining? And foggy? That time I got the curtains, too, see?" That guy was the WORST videographer I have ever seen.
Next to us, were the People Who Ate Alot Of Curry and Did Not Bathe. Arg. My particular favorites. They always sit next to me on any flight or bus ride I take, so I should not be offended that they followed me yet again. They're practically my best friends.
Subgroups on the tour later were identified as: The Loud Americans, The Couple Who Were Always Ten Minutes Late and Held the Tour Up, The Guy Who Smacked His Food and Popped His Gum (he must die), The Phone Guy, and the Couple With the Small Child Who Let Their Child Run Amok.
Sometimes I really hate being a tourist. Me? I was The One With The Scowl On Her Face. Next to me sat Resigned Husband.

Anyhow, the tour got started. The computerized yet pleasant voice did its best to entertain. The smelly curry guy snored through the comments. Techno Asians beeped and clicked.

First stop, Linlithgow Palace. This place has a torrid, fascinating and varied history. Mary Queen of Scots was born there. It was recreated in the 16th century to remind Mary of Guise of the French Rennaissance Chateaux she grew up with. The place is multi-roomed and many storied.

We had 13 minutes to see it. 13 fucking minutes.

Problem: I had to pee. Bad. The bathrooms were a block and a half away. The toilets on the bus were broken. It was a choice between: see Linlithgow, a place I had always wanted to visit, or pee. I could not do both. (Well, theoretically I could, but I would either have to change pants or get arrested.) First, I burst into tears when I realized the choice I had to make. The bus driver must have thought I was insane. (See reference to PMS above?) Then, I went to pee. So, I totally missed Linlithgow, and had a damned hissy fit in the parking lot on top of it because I was SO DAMNED PISSED OFF. Why even bother stopping? What the fuck?

But at least I got to pee, though it did cost me 20 pence and the turnstile thingy at the bathroom entry whacked me in the ass as I went throught it. I peed alot though, and flushed twice, so I like to think I got my damned money's worth.

After the Linlithgow Fiasco, as I will now call it, we got back on the bus and headed off down the road. The stale air was rife with smelly food, unwashed bodies and beeping electronics.

Then I noticed something was amiss with me. Oh no. Crapping crappy crapness. Hellfire and damnation. In addition to my pms and dodgy stomach, (with no toilet to repair to in case of emergency) I was getting the distinctive and unmistakeable signs of a migraine coming on. Blurred vision, lights and wiggles. This. Was. Not. Good.

Tune in later for Tourist Suckage Two, Electric Boogaloo.

(by the way, blogger totally fucked up this post, and it's taken me three tries to get it to post. the evilness lives on....)

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Edinburgh, the Highlands and thence to Glasgow

Greeting from Glasgow.

We got here about an hour ago. Have already had a pint at the oldest pub in Glasgow. Let no one say that I am not an intrepid and purposeful tourist.

First to recap:

The evening of that last post we went on a ghost tour with Mercat tours. our guide was named STeve. Steve was a damned smart guy, but he was far more interesting talking as a person rather than as a tour guide. His canned shpiel sounded very canned, but if you asked him a question and got him on a riff, he was fascinating. Andyhow, we went into some spooky vaults and heard some scary stories, it was fun and a bit creepy, but no unbelievably so. Mostly cheesy, though Rich swears he felt a 'cold draught'. He has seen a ghost before, when we were in New Orleans, so I guess he has the psychic sensitivity. Me? Not so much, I'm too obnoxious for ghosts to let their presence be known to me. I think I step all over them, and right into them, and they go spook someone else because I am just too hardheaded and self centered to pay attention to them! I did trip over some rocks, though, in the vaults, and am really trying to find a way to attribute that to ghostly interference. Maybe they put the rocks there?

The next day we went to Edinburgh Castle and to Grassmarket and hit a pub or two. One was really great, the White Hart, the bartender was really nice and we chatted with him for a bit. Oh, I also went to St. Giles Cathedral, and spent about an hour talking to the volunteer there, this nice older gentleman who took me on the 'cute girl tourist tour' and showed me all the hidden secrets of the cathedral. He was a hoot, he had a wicked sense of humor and really knew his history. I enjoyed spending time with him. He pretty much ignored Rich, he had too much fun flirting with me, it was cute. We were pretty tired that evening, we walked alot, so it was an early night.

Yesterday we went on an all day bus tour into the Highlands. We pretty much saw all of Scotland in one day, including but not limited to: Glencoe, Pitlochry, Inverness, Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, Ft. William, Callander, past Stirling and Linlithgow, and back. Loch Ness was incredible, and I will (after my pics are printed) post definitive proof of the Loch Ness Monster, here! On This Blog! Yes, it's a scoop and a world debut: The Loch Ness Monster Does Exist. And I have the photos to prove it. Wait with baited breathe, y'all. It should be cool.

Today the 'haar' came to Edinburgh. Apparently, the British Weather Authorities have decreed that you can only have about three days of good weather, and they send the crappy weather back in promptly so as not to spoil anyone. The haar is this light rain that does not heed the laws of gravity or physics and falls in every direction. You don't feel it falling, then suddenly you are soaked and cold. It's pretty freaking crappy. I was in it all day today. My hair? It's doing some stunning frizz. But nevertheless, I was tough and went on a walking tour of the Royal Mile and did a bit of shopping today, then at 4 pm we caught the train to Glasgow.

And here we are. Tomorrow another bus tour, to Stirling Castle (going in to see it) and to Linlithgow, hopefully going into there too. Also to Loch Lomond.

That's all for now. More beer, and Rich wants some Cajun food. I know, I know, Cajun food in Scotland? Well, we had pretty good luck with Mexican food, so why the hell not?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Hello from Edinburgh

Another town, another bloody wanking awful keyboard. GAH!

Right, so Edinburgh. Edinburgh, Edinburgh Edinburgh.

Fucking AWESOME town. Really. It's truly amazing.

First, our hotel.

Parliament House Hotel. Three Star hotel, in a Georgian building, right by Calton Hill. We got a room on the top floor. Room 14. If you ever come to Edinburgh, do yourself a favor, just run right over to the Parliament House Hotel, and book yourself a room on the top floor. (Rms 13, 14 0r 15). We have the MOST delicious views. On one side we can see the Firth of Forth (five six?) and on the other we can see the big hilly thing whose name I just forgot. Big cliff? Former volcano? Part of the land of Holyrood House? Yeah, that big cliffy thing. Really awesome views of the city as well. And directly below us is a graveyard, and we all KNOW how much I love graveyards. There's even a big obelisk we can see from the bed. The room is nice and big too. SWEET!

So we flew into Glasgow yesterday on RyanAir and it was a smooth flight. Train to Glasgow, short stroll thru Glasgow to other train station, another train to Edinburgh. The trains are really cheap and very efficient, way better than in England. From Glasgow Prestwick to Edinburgh Waverly in about two hours, and the hotel is close to Waverly. Badda bing badda boom and you're there.

Ate at the Hard Rock last night, yeah a bit of a cop out, but we were hungry and there it was. The food was ok, portions kinda small, beer and service good.

Today we got up and book trips to Stirling Castle, Loch Ness and the Highlands for Friday and Sunday. Then we went to Holyrood House. If you know me at all, and by now you must, you know I am a huge history geek and I literally got chills as I walked thru Holyrood House. Mary Queen of Scots freaking lived there and went thru some of the worst experiences of her life there! I got to go into her bed chamber and see the exact spot where the murder of her secretary, David Rizzio, occurred. This made me extra shivery as I had been reading a biography of her (by John Guy) and read about the murder just last night, so it was quite fresh in my mind. Her husband, Darnley, was a real twat. (Read the book.) They also had lots of things she used during her lifetime as well as a lock of her hair. Wow!

Rich decided to go climb the tall craggy cliffy thing (I will write the name of it next post, I hate being a dumbass right now) after the tour of Holyrood and I shot off back down the hill to come here and then will go book a tour of Mary King's Close tonight.

Oh and one last note: The weather has been pretty good. Today I am wearing a long sleeved t, a light cotton safari jacket and a fun floaty skirt and I am fine. The wind keeps lifting my skirt and making me play "Marilyn Monroe on the air vent", so more of Edinburgh has seen my ass than I am totally comfortable with, but then, the guys in kilts must know my frustration as well. Nevertheless, it feels spring-y here and so I am just damned happy to be wearing the floaty skirt and not freezing my frequently exposed ass off!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Me and my Homie.

My Gay Weekend in Amsterdam

So I'm back from Amsterdam for a day before heading out to Edinburgh tomorrow. (Ok, ok, get it out of your system, everyone all at once "Karla you suck!". Yes, I know...)

Karen and I had a great time in Amsterdam. After she got there Friday morning, we wandered off and hit the Rijksmuseum and the Leidseplein and took a canal boat tour. We had reservations for the evening's Randy Roy's Red Light Walking Tour. I had done it in June, but had so much fun I thought it was worth it for Karen to experience it as well. Kimberly, the guide, remembered me! And let me just say, this second go round was just as good as the first.

We went thru the red light district again, this time I was a little braver because there were five of us on the tour. So I actually looked at the hookers and waved and we all went into a peep show, which was kinda icky but kinda funny. All these faces peering thru these little windows at one very bored dancing girl, about half the "peepers" were curious women like me and Karen, the rest were guys who looked kind of forlorn.

Kimberly then took us to this little bar in the gay district called De Barderij. It was so nice. (See pictures below.) An old building with this little windowed alcove off the back, it was so cosy and friendly there. I could have stayed all night. We just had one beer there, but the bartender invited us to come back later for the drag show. We said we would.

Karen and I were hungry, so we went and had Vietnamese food at a restaurant up the road. It was EXCELLENT, some of the best I have ever had. I am a sucker for Vietnamese food. Yum. We walked around for a bit, then went back to the Barderij.

They were SO NICE there. It was an older crowd, kind of like if your favorite uncle was gay, and this was where he went with all his friends. They welcomed us and took us under their wings, it was lovely. One guy (we found out he is the brother of the performer) translated all the songs they sang. The WHOLE bar sang songs and joked and laughed and we linked arms and sang with them. (Luckily one song's lyrics constisted of a bunch of "la la's" so that one we could do, the rest were in Dutch!) The performer's brother bought us a beer. The bartender checked up on us to make sure we had a good view of the show and were happy. It was, simply, amazing. I got teary eyed at one point, at how friendly these total strangers were to us. It truly was a wonderful example of how good and kind people can be. One guy (who had already complemented me on my "fabulous" glasses) kissed my cheeks three times, the Dutch way, when we were leaving and told me that he could tell I was a very nice woman, no really, a VERY NICE woman. I felt the love, I really did.)

The whole weekend, pretty much, was centered around the gay lifestyle. I'm pretty sure our hotel was a gay establishment, though they did not have a rainbow flag. Probably 65% of the patrons were gay. I felt very safe there. The bars we went to, gay. The people we met, gay. I loved every second of it. As a traveling woman, I think there are few safer places to hang out than a gay bar. No pressure from horny guys hitting on you, you can just sit back and be a human being with everyone and be yourself. It's great.

On Saturday night Karen and I saw the show at Boom Chicago. That was fun. Then later that night I introduced her to the coffeeshop culture. Not that I am an expert, it was only my second time, but she had never been to one and never even smoked, so I big sistered her thru it. It was fun watching her face as she tried it. Her eyes were huge, I could tell she was nervous but she rapidly calmed down, and later we shared a milkshake. We went to the Amnesia Coffeeshop (great name!) which was comfortable, sophisticated and on the Herrengracht in a very nice neighborhood. Karen picked it, and a good choice it was. She turned 38 while we sat smoking. I doubt she will forget that birthday!

We slept well that night, very well.

The view from the window of De Barderij. It was really lovely, You can't tell it's a red light district, can you? Karen took this and the other two pictures.

Karen, the fabulous chanteuse Claudette Ball, and me. Our new best friends.

The drag show at De Barderij. It was great fun and the people were SO NICE. Like having a bunch of really fun big brothers.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Amster-damn fabulous

I'm in Amsterdam. This town rocks.
I love travelling. Always have. Whether it's a roadtrip, plane trip, boat trip, train trip, macht nichts, it's all good. So here I am in Amsterdam, at a totally crappy internet cafe, and damn I'm happy. Why? Because I'm travelling and that makes everything different and special.

Now, that happy happy might be because i just had two very large beers and some seriously kick butt nachos at a place called the Harlem Cafe. That place rocked. Just a tiny place with a bar and some tables, the bartender was the waiter and he tended to everyone with charm and aplomb. (Ha! Aplomb! I get so eloquent after beer.) The nachos were good enough to rate as Texan, and the beer was called Palm, it was a Belgian dark ale, and yummy it was, too. If you wanted to see a menu the guy just grabbed this big chalkboard and brought it over to your table, propping it on a nearby chair. Simple yet effective.

I also had a score shopping. Shopping here is so much better than in Norway, I got two very funky skirts and a pair of shoes, and it was CHEAP! Half the price I'd pay in Norway, so nyah nyah to the boring retail folks in Oslo, you suck and I got good stuff here instead!

The hotel I'm staying at (my friend Karen joins me tomorrow) is called the Hotel New AMsterdam and I highly recommend it. The staff is extremely friendly (my new gay best friends) and the rooms are small but spotless. It was just renovated a year ago. Hotel New Amsterdam. It gets the Karla seal of approval.

The only thing that has me in a tizzy? Crossing the street takes a battle of will and strength. When you cross a street here you are taking your life in your own hands. Some lady on a bike nearly ran over me. After I had already checked both ways for cars and bikes, she appeared out of nowhere and nearly creamed me. Then she yelled at ME! Now when I want to cross, I check both ways for about 5 minutes before sticking a toe into the street, and then I run screaming for the other side. Whew!

So to recap: Don't cross the street unless you have to; eat at the Harlem Cafe: stay at the Hotel New Amsterdam. Shop in the Jordaan.

Right, my blogging duty is done for the night, I am now off for more beer. I hope I can find a nice pub on this side of the road, because I just don't think I have the strength to face crossing the street again. I think for the rest of this trip I am just making right turns. I'll get to know this square block REALLY well.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Soooooo ready for spring.

I'm really ready for Spring.

Amster-damn good time

I'm off to Amsterdam tomorrow.
I deserve it. I really do. I read it's a balmy 50 degrees there. Woo!
I'll be back Sunday night, but will try to blog any worthy goofy happenings while I am there.

The good news is that I have finally reached packing nirvana. This can only be reached when you get to a point where you travel enough that you always bring the same stuff wherever you go. You just don't give a flying fuck what you pack because, let's face, it, you will hate everything you've packed the minute you get there anyhow. When I try to get creative with my travel wardrobe, it always goes wrong, so I now can pack in ten minutes flat because it's always the same stuff. And then I get bored with it all, as usual.

I mean, wearing a black cashmere turtleneck every day gets boring. Even though I do have three of them in rotation. The poor boy ribbed one, the flat weave one, and the one that's a little stretched out but softer than a bunny's ears.

Those with some jeans, black pants, black skirt, black boots, my Lucchese cowboy boots, some fabulous jewelry, something colorful, something funky and something sparkly, and there is my packing routine. Lately, in fact, I don't pack enough stuff. I've come full circle from packing too much to carry to fitting it all in a backpack. It's kind of freeing, but it also makes me wonder why do I have such a huge wardrobe if I wear the same damn stuff every day?

Sigh. I want summer. In summer I travel with floaty skirts, tank tops and fun fluffy things. I can't wait for that.

Scandinavia invades SXSW. Can I come?

I'm from Austin. I volunteered for four years for SXSW. As a volunteer, I hung out with people I would never have met in my normal life (Sharon Osbourne? Peter Bogdanovich? Penelope Spheeris? Jeffrey Tambour? Lloyd Kaufman? Hello?!) and got to go to some truly excellent parties. I have not been back to SXSW for two years now, and I gotta say, it kinda bugs me to not be there in the fray.

Here's a link to an article in the Austin Chronicle about the Scandinavian bands attending SXSW. Nordic night is always a lot of fun. And in yet another strange twist of Austin Connections 101, the guy who wrote the article was a friend of mine in high school. We used to hang out together at lunch in the outside "freaks" area. Hi Greg!

Is it wierd that I am totally homesick for Austin, and that I want to go home to see Nordic bands I can see here anytime? How fucked up is that? Maybe I just want to go and speak my little bit of Norwegian and blend the two disjointed parts of my life. Who knows. Whatever, right now I feel really jealous of everyone at home and I am feeling homesicker than hell. (Homesicker? Is that a word?) Homesicker. Yeah, that's me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A big ol' necklace I made for a friend of mine. It's made with some coral she bought in Rome. It weighs about three pounds. It looks really great on, a collar of color.

Nobel Peace Prize

Today I got an unexpected treat.
I went to the meeting of the PWC, this club I am a member of. It's a women's club for English speakers in Oslo and surrounding areas that meets once a month. It's a nice social event with refreshments and we generally also have a speaker come talk to us about something of interest to us as women, expats or resident Norwegians.

Today we had a really great speaker. Her name is Inger Marie Ytterhorn and she is one of the five appointed by Parliament committee members on the Nobel Peace Prize Committee! I can't tell you how honored I feel to have been able to meet her and listen to her experiences on the Committee and have her tell us how the Peace Prize Laureates are chosen. It was really fabulous.

Every year I have tried to go into Oslo on the day the Prize is awarded. I really feel like it is an historical event that should be noted. And how cool to live right here where it is awarded and be in the middle of it all! So, to get to meet a member of the Committee, one of only five folks in all the world who choose the recipient of such a prestigious prize, is quite remarkable. And they are the ONLY ones who choose, no one else has anything to do with it, and their word is final.

Wow, I don't think I am explaining it right, but I really feel jazzed to have met her and gotten an inside scoop on the workings of the Nobel Committee!

Eddie Izzard and the Norwegian Rock Star

So, I guess you all remember that I got a ticket to the Eddie Izzard show on Sunday night, right? I only assume you knew because down there somewhere on this page it is written in really huge letters that I got a ticket. So, yeah, I went to the show, solo.

The conundrum of what to wear to a transvestite comedian's show on a snowy wet and COLD night in Oslo cannot be understated. I finally came up with what I thought to be a good, yet warm and funky, solution. I wore a snug black cashmere sweater over this fun poofy black tulle skirt that comes to about knee length, with over the knee tight black leather boots. Warm, funky, slightly 80's Madonna Goth, or so I liked to think. I finished it off with a big, long,flowing multi strand pearl necklace of my own making. Wardrobe issues figured out, I covered it all up in my black duffel/sleeping bag coat and headed off into the cold snowy night for Oslo.

The theatre was wedged into this tiny little alleyway on Karl Johannsgate, and believe it or not there was NO SIGN that Eddie Izzard was playing! Just a discreet sign for the theatre. There were two posters for the opening comedians, where someone had written under their pictures "Opening Act for Eddie Izzard" but no mention of his show itself. I kept wondering, how the hell were you to know he was there? How did anyone find out about the tickets? I asked a couple of people later, and they all said they found out by mistake on his website. See, it's a total conspiracy, I tell you! Norwegians keeping their secrets and not letting us know about the good stuff!

The doors opened and everyone scrummed to get in. The theatre was TINY. Really small, teeny tiny, but pretty. It's like they shrank a normal theatre, with box seats and proscenium and all, to 1/10th size. There were maybe 300 seats. I was sixth row sixth seat. SWEET! I was so close I could see his nose hairs!

The bar inside was hopping, so I had a beer and waited for the show. Two Norwegian comedians did their opening routines, they were pretty funny, though I only got about 15% of what they said. The fun part for me was seeing them be so animated, as, in general, Norwegians are not animated when they talk. So to see them make faces and yell and stuff was fun for me.

There was a half hour after that before Izzard came on. I started chatting with the guy next to me, he was separated from his girlfriend in the seating arrangement. He seemed pretty cool, nicely dressed, intelligent. We chatted about travel and such. He had been to SXSW in Austin, had recently been in LA for two months, lived in Berlin for a couple of years, etc. Like many Norwegians, well spoken and well traveled. I asked him why SXSW and he said he was in a band. I asked which one and he said "Madrugada". (On the link he's the guy in profile.)


If you've been in Norway for ten minutes, you've heard of Madrugada. They are BIG here. He was the bassist. It DID explain why all these people kept coming up to him and talking to him. I was so clueless, and to be honest I don't think I have heard any of their songs, but I guess I should go buy an album now, huh? Anyhow, purely by mistake I was seated next to Norwegian Rock Royalty. My friend Julia here knows them, though, so I am proud to say that the freaky wierd Austin network never fails me and has once again stood the test of random, "I'm from Austin do you know so and so" interconnection.

So finally, after I am sure I embarrassed myself by not knowing the Rock Star, (**not the first time I have embarrassed myself with celebrities unknown to me, see list below**) Izzard came on.

I was a little disappointed that he was not in girl clothes. He was wearing a red sports jacket, jeans, a blue shirt and hiking boots. He looks just like my friend Oliver in Austin. Truly, just like him. He proceeded to talk about, in no particular order: Vikings, Viking boats, Minimalist Norwegian museums, kiosks, flies, bunnies, bees, microphone stands, Star Trek, rhinocerouses, cab drivers in US and Norway, creatures with long ears, sharks, God, the Koran, Christians, Buddhists, Jesus (and Mary getting it on with Archangel Gabriel), more Star Trek, Superman's suit, Americans, and why hornets suck.

I got the feeling that he had a basic outline to keep him on track, and then just riffed around it. It felt very spontaneous and off the cuff. I enjoyed the hell out of it. The best bit, for me, was when he brought up the fact that he thought the folks who wrote Star Trek didn't go far enough with the possibilities of the phaser. Why just have "Stun" and "Kill" settings? Why not have "Lose all your memory" or "Pebble stuck in shoe" or "Got a really bad wedgie" settings as well? Then he would act out the ideas. I'm not sure which was funnier, the physical part of acting out the ideas, or the ideas themselves.

It was a helluva lotta fun. I was home by 11:30pm.

** Celebrities I have had conversations with but did not know they were famous until afterwards, when someone told me:
The ButtHole Surfers
Sonic Youth
Hal Ketchum
Kelly Rippa's husband, he's short but cute
Roky Erikson
David Crosby
Harry Knowles
...and I stepped on Billy Bob Thornton, though did not know it until someone asked me if I knew who I just stepped on....

Announcing a New PhotoBlog

I've started a photoblog, but in typical Karla style, this ain't no normal photoblog.

It's sort of a world participation, let's all take goofy pictures, virtual on-line party kind of thing.

Karla's Big Head Photoblog.

I'm gonna make you all supermodels!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Comment comment comment!

I was getting too annoyed with Blogger comments not working and so added Haloscan commenting instead. It always seems to work much smoother on the other blogs I visit. So, comment away! Especially now that I have just realized that all the past comments have been ERASED! Aaaggghhh!

Winter's last hurrah?

Snowy morning looking northeast from our house. This picture was taken back in late November, early December.
Snowy morning looking southeast from our house.


OK, so we all know that I am not a fan of winter in general but what's happening now, it's gorgeous.

It's snowing while the sun is shining. All the snowflakes look like glitter and diamonds floating down from the sky. The snow on the ground shimmers, too, like a field of frost and diamonds, and it's just gorgeous in its cold sparkliness. It's like being in a snow globe, actually. The snow has that same shiny quality and aimless floatiness.

Really pretty, lovely to look at it.

However I have to drive in this shit in about an hour and THAT I am not looking forward to.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

That's DAMN cold

In our kitchen we have a Sub-Zero freezer that has a digital temperature readout on the front, so you know how cold your food is. It's one of those freezers that keeps your stuff REALLY cold, you know?

It is colder outside right now than our freezer temperature. So cold that you can throw water up in the air and it will come down as ice.

And I was talking about Spring the other day? HA!

Classic Picture of Paris #2

Bike locked to the fence at Notre Dame, Paris.
I wanted to stick a baguette in the basket, but didn't manage to make it happen. I couldn't get the little Frenchman with the beret to stay still long enough to pose for me. Damn.

Friday, March 11, 2005

The Classic Picture of Paris #1

Park benches, trees and a pigeon in Paris. February 2005.

Friday Q...Da Moofies

FQ TOPIC: Cinema. (And it's kind of a hard one!)

FQ1: If you could own any item from any movie, what would you take and why?
I might want Harry Potter's invisibility cloak. Ditto his magic wand. Who would not want a magic wand? With that I could get or do anything else I wanted. I would also want Renee Russo's entire wardrobe from "The Thomas Crown Affair". Those clothes completely rocked. While we're talking wardrobe, go ahead and gimme the clothes worn by Rosalind Russell in her role as Auntie Mame. Total fun funky retro fabulousness.

FQ2: If you could become any character from any movie, who would it be and why?
I'd want to be Tilda Swinton's character in Orlando. To be able to live for so long and see so many things happen, AND to do it as both a man and a woman, would be phenomenal. It would also be cool to be the Vampire Lestat. I guess I like the idea of a very long life that started hundreds of years ago and carries on until now. Being a sexy vampire rock star would not suck either.

FQ3: If you could visit any location from any movie, where would it be and why?
Real location? I want to go to New Zealand and see where they filmed the LOTR movies. (I'm pretty lucky in that I have been to many of the places where many of my favorite movies have been filmed.) I also want to go to Angkor Wat, ever since I was a kid. That's where they filmed much of the first Tomb Raider movie. I just mention that as a movie tie in, though I think it sucked ass.
Imaginary location? The land of the wizards that Harry Potter lives in. I wanna go to Hogwarts. I want to go to a place where magic, wonder and mystery are part of daily life. I want to NOT be a Muggle.

FQ MOVIE MASH-UP: Combine some items, characters, and locations from different movies to create an entirely new film! What would you call it and what would it be about?
Oy vey. That's really hard. Lessee:

We get the guys from Spinal Tap and Monty Python together and make a movie called:

Monty Python's Stonehenge, The Rock Opera
Where are they now, the little people of Stonehenge? And why are all these French people taunting us from on top of the rocks?

You can extrapolate from there.

Why I am afraid of monkeys.

This is why.

My fears are confirmed. They're killers. Beware. I'm never going to the monkey cages at the zoo again, and no, you can't convince me otherwise.

(I'm also afraid of anything with more than four legs and/or an exoskeleton, and clowns. Clowns are scary.)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Springing and karmic highs

I love Spring. Spring just makes me happy. It seems like good things happen to me whenever Spring comes around. It might just be that after the darkness and total lameness of winter, more things happen in Spring because more people are out and about, but whatever, things are hopping and I have stuff to look forward to. So in no particular order, here is:

What's up in Karlaland

1) This will be a fun weekend. On Sunday, we have tickets to see the Ski Jumping competition at Holmenkollen. This is a big deal, in Oslo, it's always completely packed. It sort of signals the end of the ski season for the year, and everyone goes to watch. It should be full of flag waving, woolly hatted Norwegians showing their national pride. I've never been, and am psyched to finally get to go!
Then, on Sunday night, I am going to see Eddie Izzard. I am so excited about that I could just pee. My only worry: How do I dress for an outdoor ski competition and an evening with a cross dressing comedian? This will be a major test of my wardrobe's capabilites, that is for sure.

2) Next week I will go to Amsterdam (for Karen's birthday) and thence to Scotland. Woo! In Amsterdam we are going to go see a show at Boom Chicago. Always a treat, great comedy and a good meal. I hear there is good coffee in Amsterdam as well. Ahem.
In Scotland Rich and I will go to Edinburgh and Glasgow. We plan to drink ale and see the sites. I am reading a biography of Mary Queen of Scots right now to prepare myself.

3) I'm considering a quick trip to London early April. Maybe I should get going on that, huh, as it's already the second week of March?

4) Last weekend my Norway Jennifer and her husband Per took Rich and I out for Dim Sum. It was incredible. Since getting here, almost three years ago, my biggest disappointment has been the dearth of good Chinese food. So Jennifer took us to this kind of divey looking place in Oslo she discovered. We went in, and Rich, Per and I are the only non-Asians in the joint. And it was packed. Then, Jennifer proceeded to order all the food in Chinese! Who knew? Damn she's talented. Anyhow, we ate until we were ready to burst, it was all phenomenal, AND it cost no more than what we would pay in the US! Imagine my glee! Great Chinese food and it was affordable! I am still happy about that, as I feel like I finally got to discover a little "secret" in Norway (a place that hoards its secrets like Viking gold) and found good Chinese food to boot!

5) And here's the one that really has me all excited (though I am still wiggly and squirming a bit with leftover happy dance from yesterday's ticket score). I got a catalog in the mail for summer courses at Central St. Martin's College of Art and Design in London. I have been wanting to take some classes for ages, and it looks like this school is a very viable option for a summer class or two. They offer cheap housing, and fascinating courses in Jewelry Design/Fabrication, Interior Design, Painting/Design for Stage and Scene, and Creative Writing. These are all things I'd like to pursue and have some experience in. I know it seems like alot of different interests, but there are so many things I want to learn more about and get my hands dirty with! It will probably end up being a jewelry class, to increase my fabrication and mechanical skills.

I love taking art classes. When I was a kid, I thought I was not artistic because I couldn't (and still pretty much can't) draw. As I got older and realized that art is not just drawing, it's opened up a whole world to me of what is possible, and I feel like I wasted my whole life previous by not exploring those options. Rich gets confused by my constantly trying new things, but when I die I don't want to ask "What if/why didn't I/what would that have been like?". I wanna say "Wow, that was cool, look what I learned and saw and did!"

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

YES!! YES!!! YESS! Oh YES!!!!!

*Commence happy dance...Karla dances with abandon and enormous freaky style*

*Do the hokey pokey and your shake your butt around*

Sixth row!!!! Sixth effing row!!!!!!

*boogy boogy boogy dance dance dance happy happy joy joy*

Specifically, for dancing, check out the move entitled "Stop it Silly" on the above link. I am doing those exact moves right now. Woo!!!!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Blast! Hell! Tarnation!!!!

There is a conspiracy afoot.

There I am noodling about on the web and I see a link on Vivi's website for Eddie Izzard's website. I adore Eddie Izzard. He's hilarious and so bloody intelligent, it rocks my world. Plus, that man does eyeliner way better than I ever could.

So I wander over to his website out of curiosity and see this. Extra dates for Scandinavia? This SUNDAY in Oslo? Fuck yeah I am SO buying tickets.

I immediately call the box office and stay on hold for like, ever, and when I finally get thru, the girl who answers tells me there are two tickets left. I think "Yeay! Finally I get tickets to something!" I tell her to book them. And feel lucky that she has two standing-room only tickets left.

For you see, in Oslo, if you don't get tickets to anything you want to see within MINUTES of them going on sale, forget it, you ain't gonna go. I don't care if it is Grease Five: The Golden Years, Hand Jive In Wheelchairs, the tickets are guaranteed to be sold out. It's amazing how fast it happens, and considering that this AIN'T that big a town, where the hell do all the tickets go so fast? I think everyone is just starved for things to do here, honestly I do. Do these people just stay there by the phone waiting to call for tickets every damned day? And is it only the same damn people with the fast fingers who get the tickets in the first place? And can I please have them rubbed out, Guido? You call your guys, I'll keep the engine running. The trunk's open.

So here I am, totally psyched that these tickets are available. Then I hear "Oh. I'm sorry." And I'm like, "You're sorry WHAT? WHAT are you sorry about?" And she says "Those tickets just sold".
Now? Those tickets sold between when I said "Hell yes I will take them" and her pushing the "Sold" button on the computer????? What fucking monkey spanking sack licking asswipe got in there so fast that they took MY TICKETS TO EDDIE IZZARD AWAY FROM ME????????

That's it, it's time for the heavy artillery. Yep, you heard me. I'm gonna go talk to the Man.

I have small hope. The girl said she'd call me tomorrow if anything comes open. I gave her every phone number I could think of, and some that I didn't even knew I remembered. Including if a Norwegian woman calls you about tickets for Eddie Izzard, just give her your credit card details and I will pay you back ASAP, ok?

Poem by Ben

My godson is a talented boy. His Dylanesque poem captures the essence of home life, does it not?

I'm not dead.

I'm not dead. Which, to many people I know, is considered a good thing. Being dead would suck ass, not least because who would keep up this entertaining and informative blog?

I did end up with a migraine last night, but one of those wierd visual ones, where your eye sight goes all disco-ball and you get flashing lights and shit? It only happens rarely, and only lasts a half hour or so. Then I spend awhile cringing waiting for the headache, but this time, no bad headache. Though for me, a "bad" headache is kind of a relative term, because I am one of those headachey people, where if there is a day I don't have one I am kind of surprised. I get them from neck tension, eye strain, hormones. A strong smell will bring one on, as will flashing bright lights or loud high pitched noises. So a migraine may well go largely unnoticed with me in the mayhem of the rest of the head achey bits. I've learned how to deal with it in my own ways, and now I pretty much just suck it up and get on with it.

So yeah, I have a slight headache, and a rather annoying sore spot on the side of my kopf, but nothing I can't handle. I am considering taping a pillow onto the part of the roof where I slammed my head, though. Think duck tape will work?

Monday, March 07, 2005


I hit my head today. On a part of the ceiling upstairs, it's one of those uneven multi level things. Really bashed my head sideways right into it, kind of on the temple. You know when you hit your head or your funny bone really hard and it hurts so bad you instantly start cussing really loud while semi-crying? Yeah, like that.

It still hurts. I think I am getting a migraine. I'm getting those visual wavy spots that are the big sign of one coming on.

crapness. time for darkness.


You get what you pay for

Here is an interesting article on MSNBC (which has really good travel articles) about the low fare airlines dilema in Europe.

Which follows what I have been saying/doing all along: Yeah the upstarts can be cheap, but also be sure to factor in addtional costs and time when trying to get to those dinky little airports, and see if it is really worth the savings. Lately I have been using SAS or BA, their fares have been really competitive, and they offer direct flights to the "good" airports instead of to the regional ones far away. And the luggage issue also factors in. RyanAir is trying to make people do carry on only, which can work sometimes, but not always.

It comes down to a balance between money, convenience, the "annoyance factor" and hidden costs. For me, if it is a difference of $50 or so, I will always take the bigger carrier. If it's a bigger cost difference, then I weigh the options. Which will piss me off more: the extra expense or the three hours it takes for me to get to and from the airport?

It's a game, now, and I call it Travel Craps. Cuz, you know, it can be really great if you win and it works out, but it's total crap when it doesn't.

I am off to Amsterdam on St. Patty's day, and thence to Edinburgh. Never been to Edinburgh, but have been to Amsterdam and LOVED it.

My brother. The funniest guy in the world.

My brother cracks me up. Totally. I mean, there are very few people in the world who can make me snort milk out my nose. (Or Coke, which believe me, really hurts.) And he is one of them. Sometimes just looking at a picture of him sends me madly giggling.

My brother, Chuck, is a huge guy. He's 6'5" of huggy bear funny, strong as a moose, but the sweetest and gentlest of men. In high school the football coach begged him to be on the team, but he refused and played tennis instead. Little guys would want to fight him, and he just laughed and said, "No thanks." Because, honestly, those little guys had no idea how strong he really is, and he did not want to hurt them.

Remember that part in the Princess Bride where Cary Elwe's character is trying to throw Andre the Giant? He grabs him around the waist and grunts and groans and throws his weight around and Andre just looks down at him like "Yeah? What?".

It would have been like that, if Chuck let the little guys fight him.

Anyhow, this picture of my brother just has me giggling everytime I see it. His friend Rob sent it to me, titled "Snafuracing Posterchildren". His face and the crooked glasses, it's just funny.

He is a car racer and also teaches folks how to drive competitively. (He's very patient!) He wins just about every race he attempts. That man can DRIVE. We come from a car family, he and I. That's my Dad in the picture with him. He's an inveterate car guy, collector of classic American and French cars and the odd Vespa or two. (No "normal" cars for us. My first car was a '64 Corvair convertible, my second was a '62 Renault Caravelle convertible.) Growing up with all those cars, is it any wonder that my brother now races and I am something of a car snob myself? Automatic transmission? SUV? I fart on your lameness. Pah!

(Mom's the maverick in the family. Absolutely no interest in cars. She just wants it to work. She won't even put gas in the car, sniffing, in her particularly Teutonic way, "That is your father's job". I once showed her how to do it, and she said "Oh, that wasn't so hard. So now I know what your father is doing when I send him to town to get gas for the car!")

My brother's racing team is called Snafuracing. (One of their mottos is "Snafuracing. A drinking team with a racing problem". ) That's one of his cars there in the picture. It doesn't look particularly racy, but Chuck's M.O. is to come to the track with a car that does not look like much of anything, then drive circles around the guys with the flashy cars because he knows EXACTLY how far he can push his own car, and exactly what it will do on any given corner, straightaway or curve. Plus there's always a little somethin' somethin' unexpected under the hood. Kinda like my bro....something special under all that big guy humor.

So, to my funny brother, I love you. And I'm damn proud of you, too. So there.
(Private to Kit: Now, for lesson number 573 in DON'T FUCK WITH ME!)

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Three chicks

Right, so there is a new "blog meme" going about and I thought I might as well go ahead and give the girl take on it. (Vivi and Karla May, you guys are tagged with this one, too, so start thinking now!) This actually ties in with a conversation I had with a friend of mine here in Norway, we already made our choices, so here goes:

Three Women I Would Go Gay For.
(But only in theory, not in real life, cuz, like, I really don't like girls, in *that* way. No offense, honestly, I'm just not wired that way. Though at times I wish I were!)

Angelina Jolie. She's pretty much a guy already, really. A guy with tits. And really amazing lips. And man, I wish I had her legs. Not wrapped around me or anything, but attached to my body, like, as in, MY legs. Crap, anything I say here is just gonna sound like gay innuendo, isn't it?

Tilda Swinton. Ever since I saw her in "Orlando" I have been fascinated with her. Performance artist, actress, all around interesting person. In Orlando she was also very trans-genderish, so maybe I like chicks that are sort of boyish? That's cool. She's tall like me.

Liv Tyler. She's so damned beautiful I can't stand it. And she doesn't follow that Hollywood line about being so skinny that you resemble a lollipop. She's got a nice normal figure and an exquisite face. I really just wanna talk to her. And borrow her clothes. Can I be her kinda gay best friend?

So there, what does that tell us about my taste in chicks? I guess that I like them tall?

Friday, March 04, 2005


The weather outside is horrible. I have many good books to read. To my mind, this is not a bad thing, as I can lay around and read and not feel buggered to leave the sofa.

So, hence this new Karla-ism:

May my ass and brain grow in equal proportions.

This might be less funny if I had not opened a very decent 1997 rioja just now.

Addendum to this post, three hours later:
In telling my Mom my new Karla-ism, Mom replies, "Do you want your head to be THAT big?"
Thanks, Mom. Backpedal all you want, you can't apologize enough for that one.

Me, jealous? Hell yeah!

Here's a map of the layout of the new Whole Foods in Austin. This store is reason alone for me to move back home. I can't even imagine how wonderful this must be. But then, I just spent $4.00 for the skeeviest little iceberg lettuce you ever saw, so maybe I am just a little bit jealous? Notice the walk in beer cooler. Ahhh...such riches as can only be seen from afar. You Texas folks have no idea how lucky you are......

Friday Q..Trust.

FQ1: Who is an actor or director you trust to always make a good film? What is it about their previous works that make you trust them?
I don't think that I can say that I follow one director. I used to always go see any John Hughes movie but, then, I am an 80's girl. Ditto Mel Brookes, but only up to History of the World, Pt. I.
As for actors, anything with a Monty Python member attached to it is usually a good bet for me. And Sandra Bullock. I love Sandra Bullock, but then she is half German (like me) and calls Austin her favorite home, so what's not to like? Plus, I've met the woman and she can wolf whistle so loud it will break your ear drums. She's cool. I don't know why I trust these folks to entertain me, I guess I can just say it's reliably always been the case.

FQ2: Where is a place you trust to always make good food? What is it about their previous culinary creations that make you trust them? Matt's El Rancho and Chuy's restaurants, both in Austin. I've been going to Chuy's for almost 20 years now, with Jennifer. We both always order the same thing ever time. I have never been disappointed. I've been going to Matt's for 7 years or so, and I crave the Bob Armstrong dip sometimes in my sleep.
I don't know if I can call either of those restaurants the sort of joint that makes "culinary creations" but if you want a reliable plate of savory, soulful and fattening Mexican food, there are no better choices than them.
I can't write about it any more, my Mexican button has been pushed. That is just not a good thing in a land where I just saw in my local grocery store a frozen pizza that is called "Tex Mex flavor" because they crunched up some tortilla chips on top.....
Oh, and my mom's cooking, of course. That woman can bake like nobody's business. Ask me about the 12 layer mocha cake she makes.

FQ3: What's a company you trust to always make a good product? What is it about their previous stuff that make you trust them?
My Subaru is a damned fine car, reliable, fun, trustworthy and a great all around goer. It was not too expensive, it's never broken down, and I still have it here in Norway, where I will eventually have to sell it. I think when I get back Stateside I will trade up for another one, but the raciest, most jacked up WRX that I can get in a hatchback form. I will zoom around with impunity and that car will be black, damn the Texas sun, I want BLACK! And I will do some rally racing. I will have my brother take me around the track and teach me how to race SCCA style and be a macho car drivin' stud girl.

FQ YOU: What is something you do so well that people can absolutely trust you with it?
I am a good jewelry maker, I make good looking stuff that I can't break, so I know it will withstand other people's abuse, too!. Wherever I live, all my life, I find that folks fairly quickly ask me to go shopping with them to help them find what looks good on them and to coordinate their wardrobes. I appreciate the trust that people have in my suggestions, and I always try to make sure that we find them something that suits them and not the prevailing trends.
What's something that people should never trust you with?
Never trust me with Oreos. Never trust me with a freshly iced cake, for my fingers will find their way into it. Never trust me with your new puppy, I will spoil it with petting. Don't let me near vintage beads or a bead store, you won't get me out anytime soon. And I never, ever share movie popcorn, so don't even bother to ask. I will eat it all, better not trust me on that one even a little. And if you lend me a book, it might not come back in all that great of shape, so don't lend me anything you want to keep in tip top shape. I am pretty rough on books.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Great International Secret Blog Exchange!

I got my GISBE package today! How fun! My secret blog buddy is named Marisa and she is from Texas. Her package is pictured above. The hand is Rich's as he reaches for the Snickers bar. He thought that since I was taking the picture I would be too busy to stop him. Well, Marisa sent two, so I let him have it......
Her package totally rocks. She sent reading stuff and vintage postcards and beads and things to make jewelry with and candy and (be still my beating heart) BIG RED GUM! Only Southerners understand the allure of Big Red gum. That is good stuff. I never knew how much I missed it until I found I could not get it here, and now I get some everytime I go home. I was out already, so thanks, Marisa for restocking me!
And, as good things come in threes, my sweet Jennifer has sent me another package, which I will pick up tomorrow. I think she might have sent Spaghettios! Man, I could eat them cold out of the can right about now. Guess that will have to wait. Only til tomorrow, though!

Shopping for Spring....

....when it's 15 degrees outside.

Am I fucking insane or what?

I am meeting a friend today in Oslo and we are going to go try on sundresses and sandals. I think maybe we are smoking crack to have an idea like that. We will be wearing about 12 layers of clothes, each, and the idea of undressing all that stuff to try on sundresses annoys me just imagining it.

Plus even if we do find anything to buy (whether we are lucky enough to find something affordable, cute enough, or worthy of our adoration) we can't wear it for another three months anyhow.

What are we thinking? Is Spring Fever that insidious that it takes away our ability for cohesive thought?

I bet I give up and just have an overpriced beer.

DAMN it's cold out there.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Naturally Stoned on Jesus

Oh. My. God.

I am glad I was a baby in the 60's. (Late 60's mind you. Practically 70's.) That means I have no memory of things like this.

With thanks from planetdan for the rip off.

A sunny winter Saturday in Oslo

A view from the harbor in Oslo, towards the castle.
It doesn't look like it so much from this angle, but that castle is on a pretty high promonotory. (I think that is a word.) This and all the following pictures taken by Rich on Feb. 19, 2005. I gotta get me a digital camera.

Vigeland Park.
Yeah there are two guys "wrestling" above my head, but can I have a nap now? The sun is so nice. Note my giant duffle coat. Not particularly flattering, but warm as hell.

At Vigeland Park, Oslo.
Hundreds of statues everywhere in this park. And yeah, they are all nekkid.
It was a nice, cold, sunny day. If you look in the background you can see the ski jump at Holmenkollen. You can see it for miles around.

The Changing of the Guard at the Royal Palace, Oslo.

It's not all that grand, honestly. The soldiers march right thru the crowd. (Well, loose gathering of folks, there were maybe 20 of us?) There's me (obscured) and my aunt in the background. The soldiers just marched in a straight line across the front of the palace and we obligingly got out of their (gun toting) way.
Oh, and the soldiers you see? There were two more. So, maybe five in total? And they were YOUNG. As my uncle pointed out, "You know, they do get younger looking as we get older, so maybe it's just your perspective", but no, dammit, these kids were 16 tops and still had acne and baby fat. Children protecting the royal family!
See that door behind us? That's the front door of the palace. No gates or fences in this "egalitarian" Norwegian society. Just a palace plonked down in a park, with five little guardlets and a big statue in the front yard. I think they need some grass or some potted plants or something, to break up the facade just a little. It's a bit cold, you know?

Holmenkollen Ski Jump, Oslo.
Looking straight down into the "pit" where the ski jumpers land at Holmenkollen Ski Jump. See the little snowplow there on the lower left? It was actually quite huge and it is held in place by a winch and cable system, that pulls it up the near vertical slope (and keeps it from careening down the hill as well). You could not pay me a million dollars to be the guy that drives that thing. (Well maaaybe a million...)
This winter has not had much snow, so just to the left out of frame was a big snow machine that had to lift and blow manufactured snow from the parking lot, over the side of the jump and onto the landing pad. Almost as much snow fell onto the ground as landed on the jump. It remined me of Sisyphus, pushing that damn rock up the hill only to have it roll back down again. The same snow just kept getting blown and then falling down, blowing and falling, blowing and falling. I had to leave, it was driving me crazy to watch this endless task continually repeated.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

He's just one of us, y'all.....

Interesting blog post about President Bush's visit to Frankfurt/Mainz Germany.

Wow. Just, wow.

In like a lion and out like a lamb?

Or is it in like a lamb and out like a lion.....

You know, that expression about winter not wanting to let go and spring sort of having to sneak in and take over?

Yeah, that one. Well, anyhow, it snowed yesterday and it's been cold for over a week now, so it looks like winter is trying to restablish its stranglehold. And can I just say, DAMN!!

I know it's heresy in Norway to say it, but I am bummed it snowed. Yeah it's pretty, but it means it's still winter and I don't want that anymore.

Go away. Shoosh. Be gone with ye. Out out damned flake! Hit the road, Jack Frost!

Oh, hell. Looks like I am wearing the furry boots today, sigh.