Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

There's a way nasty windstorm going on outside. The wind cuts and it's mixed with big snowflakes/sleet. Umbrellas work only to a point. The wet gets under, over and around anything you wear to avoid it. My hair, after today, looks an awful lot like that poodle down below......

Which probably explains that we only had one trick or treater this year. And he was the kid from across the hall. (Well, ok, another explanation could also be the fact that we live in a coded entry building, so no one gets in here without an invitation or a wierd magnetic key and keypad thingy that lets you then enter your code.) Anyhow, he was dressed as Dracula. Hopefully the cape will keep him warm on his rounds.

(insert awkward transition here)

A while back Bookhart asked us to post what we do on a day to day basis...what is a typical day for us? I don't really think I have a "typical" day anymore, but I can tell you that at work right now I am so mired down in red tape and stupid organizational busywork that I could just scream. The only thing keeping my humor up is that everyone else at work is pretty much in the same boat in some way shape or form, and we all know it is NOT of our making or even the company's making. What is it about?

We are working with a company in India.

I'd heard that India can be a nightmare of red tape and regulatory busywork, and I'll be damned if that was not spot on. You send them a list they request, and then they come back wanting three more like it, but with small differences that honestly they could have done themselves merely by rearranging the spreadsheet....and then everything has to bear an official company stamp and the signature of whatever poor fucker did the list/spreadsheet/form/whatever. And lately? That poor fucker is me. And let me tell you, organizing documents and forms with original signatures from people that are scattered all over the world is not exactly my idea of a good use of time. Especially when most of those forms don't REALLY need original signatures, they could be scanned and emailed or just emailed as an Excel document with no change in information or whatever. Because, really, how important can my signature be? I'm just the flunky doing the gathering. But sign and stamp I do. DHL is making a bundle off of me.
It's honestly just the absolute WORST example of what bureaucracy can do. I am so impatient with things like this. I hate officialdom for officialdom's sake. (This applies equally at embassies and drivers' license offices.) This has been a big test of my patience, detail orientation and sense of humor. The scary thing is, when I leave for my high school reunion? It still won't be done and I will have to hand over the stamp to someone else....yet anotherr poor fucker down the line.

Monday, October 30, 2006

With friends like these.....

Email I got today from my "dear friend" Karla May:

Subject: If you were a poodle.....

(Karla opens the email and snorts with laughter)

Text: ...you'd be THIS poodle.

With friends like these, who needs humility?

Sunday, October 29, 2006


What did you do with your extra hour earned when you "fell back" from Daylight Savings Time today....?

I took a nap. Free sleep!


The plague has taken residence in our abode. Run away from us, run quickly. Ye who know us in Norway, avoid us, for yay we do carry death. The red X is on the door and we are quarantined. Oh woa was us.

Yep, Rich is sick too. It's a veritable slothfest around here. Pyjamas have been worn for two days straight. Tissues run amok. Nose sprays multiply like pointy little bunnies. It's a bad bad scene.

So, to remember happier days, pics from Istanbul, including.....SHOPPING!

Here's a sneak picture my Dad took of me at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Yes, I do have a very serious face on. It's because, probably, I had just asked the guy what the price of that scarf was and he named some outrageous price, so I, in return, put on my "You are fucked in the head" face. It's all part of the game. I have learned there are two kinds of people in the world, those who like to bargain (me and my father) and those who don't (surprisingly, my mom.) I fucking LOVE bargaining.

This is Zincirli Han. The hans are little courtyards off the bazaar, or sometimes kind of in the middle, (it is a vast and "byzantine" place) where the traders and caravanserie used to rest and store their goods. It was also a place for travelers and their livestock to stay in the old days, when going from trading place to trading place. They can be very charming. This one is famous for being occupied by jeweler's shops.

In the Grand Bazaar.

The sort of thing you can buy in the Grand Bazaar. (ahem.) I also got some in black. Because, hello? When will I get back there again? You quickly learn, if you like it, bargain for it and buy it, because God only knows when you will ever see embroidered silk and leather lined boots again in your lifetime. (grin)

Ok ok enough of the shopping (and news break...... OH MY FUCKING GOD IT'S SNOWING. GET ME THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!). Colleen always has a rule when traveling: You must do at least an hour of actual touristic sightseeing before can you go shopping. Like eating your vegetables before dessert. So, here's some pics of non-shopping related stuff.

Street scene outside a restaurant we had lunch. Istanbul is a buslting vibrant city. It is peaceful in no way shape or form. Except maybe in the Hagia Sophia or the different mosques.

A view of the Bosphorus I got when I pointed my camera out an open window that was a bit above my head in the Hagia Sophia.

A small courtyard inside the harem at Topkapi Palace. The whole thing was covered in the most beautiful tilework. There was alot of decoration. Every surface was painted, tiled or covered with something.

Byzantine mosaic in Hagia Sophia.
The building was the most amazing edifice I have ever been in. Just imaging the things that have happened there, the history that has passed in out and around it....fifteen hundred years of time and humanity. 9th century Viking grafitti? .... written by someone from half a world away, just casually left on a banister that I leaned on!

Everyone should see this building at some point in their lives.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Fried Coke.

And now the world goes "poof".

Friday, October 27, 2006

Random Surrealism Generator Giggle

Over in the left hand side of the blog, over there (pointing to the left, down a bit) is the Random Surrealism Generator. It is a source of endless amusement. Every time you come to this blog it says something different.

My RSG for the moment said: Satanists! Three of them! All of them fluffy!


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Pictures from Turkey

I've been uploading some pics from Turkey on my Flickr page. Just fyi.


So yesterday I went to the local Apotek (pharmacy) so see if I could find ANYTHING to help me with this cold/plague. Besides a small and expensive selection of weak cough medicines and nose sprays, there wasn't much. Norway has very strict rules on medicines, and so stuff like Nyquil (which contains alchohol) and most of the sinus stuff (which has stuff to make you sleepy or just feel floaty) you could buy in the US is verboten. (Norway's alcohol rules are so strict that rubbing alcohol is sold by prescription here, in case someone would use it to make moonshine. Seriously. I shit you not.) And dammit, I wanted some good old- knock- me- on- my- ass SOMETHING to make me forget who I was and blowtorch the snot right outta me.

No luck. I bought whatever they had, but really, saltwater nasal spray (called, humorously enough for me, Miwana, like "Me wanna nose spray!") or even Otrivin (yet another nose spray that works for a bit, but doesn't solve my myriad other problems) just does not give me the yaya's that a good heapin' does of Sudafed or Contac does. Dammit.

So there I was after my trip to the Apotek. I was in my sweats, with my scummy old sheepskin lined Ugg slides and my horrid but warm down coat that feels like a walking duvet, shuffling through the little shopping center and blowing continuously into a ragged tissue, when I saw a Fashion Gal of the first order. She had on her beautiful warm toned expensive brown sweater, her just perfect jeans tucked into fierce boots and she carried the latest Chloe Paddington bag, the one with the big lock on it (that I have looked at in the shops, but that lock weighs like 2 lbs and I'll be damned if I want a purse that's even HEAVIER than what I already carry and has a big stupid lock on it). And I'm looking at her sashaying around, and I'm thinking, "Hey! HEY! I'm a Fashion Gal too, you know! Just because I am having an off day and feel like death warmed over and look like the village idiot, does not mean that you are any more fabulous than me! I'm just on a break! A break from fabulousness! You just wait til I feel better! I've got nice handbags at home, too, you know! I'm just too sick to carry one right now!"

I hate being caught on an off day. Whatever. I blew my nose and shuffled home in a fog of snot, dizzyness and chills. I promise I will return to fabulousness next week. This week? Lost cause.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Worst. Fucking. Cold. Ever.

Brief pause/rant in the middle of all the Turkey fun.

This fucking cold will NOT let go of me. It's the 5th day of this peice of shit and I swear, now? I really think I do have the plague. Minus the buboes and death. Hopefully. You can never be too sure.

What really sucks about all this is that every day this cold is different. One day was the deep chest cough. Then the sore throat. Then the combo of the two. That hurt, no lie.

Monday I didn't go to work becuase I thought I'd take it easy and make sure I was ok, that was the day I felt weak and dizzy. Yesterday I did go to work and had to come home with bad chills. And now? Oh now is fun. Now is the Snot Monster. My nose is so snotty it itches to breathe through it. I look like a medieval idiot, sitting here with my mouth open, my face droopy and bleary eyes, just trying to see or breathe. I'm hawkin' up loogies the size of....well, really big loogies.

This is seriously pissing me off, y'all, not least because I don't have the medicine for ALL these contingencies. I have cough medicine (expectorant/decongestant). I have Nyquil (nightimesnifflingsneezingcoughingachingstuffyheadfeverso I can be stoned medicine). And I have Benadryl, see the desciption for Nyquil, except it's really only all about being stoned. I can't take the second two and be a functioning adult human in the daytime, and the cough stuff is doing fuck all for the itchiness and heaviness in the middle of my face.

The only thing worse than me having this? Is when Rich gets it. Because a) things hit men harder and b) I really am a shitty nurse.

Back to regularly schedule travel goofiness.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Inside a Turkish Bath

I went to the Cemberlitas Hammam in Istanbul. There were separate sections for men and women, so I can't tell you what happens on the boy's side, but here's what's what for the gals.

Put away all modesty. You will be naked in front of other people. Deal with it. The only people who wore swimsuits were some Americans and they wore these huge one piece suits and it just looked stupid. . They did not stay long. So, yeah, there were naked women, everywhere, all laying around on this big marble platform in the middle of the room. All lying there sweaty and soapy and lazy like. It did, indeed, look EXACTLY like what you imagine a Turkish bath to look like. I was also quite proud to note that, bodywise? I got nothing to worry about. I was definitely in the top 15% of the body attractiveness scale. This means, obviously, that no matter what you look like (or think you look like) there is gonna be someone there that makes you feel good about yourself....and someone who won't. I think I am not all that modest a person, because I felt entirely comfortable. Maybe it was just the essentially feminine feel of the place, but I really just wasn't bothered at all. Hey, we all have the same stuff, just at different levels and with different resistance to gravity.....it would have been very different if it was unisex, obviously.

The bathing room was beautiful. All greyish taupe marble, with a huge octagonal marble heated platform in the middle of the room on which all the naked ladies lounged, building up a sweat. The ceiling was domed with circular holes pierced in it that looked like bubbles (there were star shapes, too), that let the light in. It streamed into the room in swirly rays. Around the room were alcoves with washing stations in a variety of water temperatures. There was no decoration, just the dominant sculptural shapes in the room which gave it a restful appeal. The eye could wander without pausing, or could focus on the light rays. Calm, peaceful. The building was built in the 16th century.

Pretend like you are 4 years old and your mom is giving you a bath. That's pretty much what it feels like to get washed. From the minute you enter the 'hot room' you are in the capable hands of the very "seen it all" women who scrub you. And scrub they indeed do. First, after about 15 minutes of obligatory "lounge and sweat" time, the lady came over to me and dumped a bucket of warm water over me. Just...splash. Then she grabbed a scrubby hand mit and scrubbed me. First my backside, from toes to ears, then, when she wanted me to flip over for the front, she smacked my ass with a loud "pop" noise as a sign for me to flip. That surprised me a bit, and also explained the occasional smacking noises I heard as I lay in my sweaty snoozing lounging phase. I hadn't been spanked in...well, ahem, anyhow.... I flipped. She scrubbed the front of me next. She didn't exactly ignore the naughty bits, but they aren't exactly concentrated on, either, so it never felt wierd or uncomfortable. Just...motherly. It was thorough, and pleasing, and just very soothing.

After the scrubbing came the soaping. She took this thing that looked like a gauze bag (I was never sure what exactly it was) and somehow with that thing she created this HUGE bubble of suds that she sort of whisped over my body, letting the suds go where they wanted. It felt fizzy and strange. I was about 6 inches deep in bubbles. I looked around the room and some other women were also in the sudsing phase and it looked like nothing so much as a car wash, except people were getting sudsed instead of cars. She doused me with the suds, front and back with yet another smack on the ass to flip. When I flipped this time I felt like a greased pig and nearly slid right off the marble platform. It was SLIPPERY.

Once I was all soaped up she got some more buckets of water and unceremoniously dumped them over me to rinse. You know how fish look when they are dumped out of a net and onto the deck of a fishing boat? They kind of slide around and flop? That was me getting rinsed. I was a wet flopping sliding gasping fish, slithering around on that big marble platform. There was nothing to hold onto except the edge, which I did for dear life or I would have washed across the damned thing and ended up in a puddle on the floor across the room. It was like being in a soapy tsunami. Graceful I was not.

She then helped me up and took me over to one of the many and beautiful side alcoves. They all had troughs of water in three temperatures (hot warm cold) and were not ornate, but were very sculptural and elegant. (The link to the baths actually has pictures of most of what I am describing, so you can see it. No nekkid people, it's work safe.) She sat me down on the floor at her feet next to one of the water troughs and proceeded to wash my hair, using the bucket method. That was not actually all that nice, as I am very particular about shampoos and always use conditioner, so my hair ended up feeling very tangled and rough. But still, it was cute, sitting there at her feet while she washed my hair just like my mom did when I was 5.

After she washed my hair she took me to the drying room and wrapped me up in a towel. I told her thank you in Turkish (phonetically it goes Tesh uh KUR eh dehr em, and took me three days of practice to say right). Apparently, and rightly so with the difficulty of saying it, not many people make the effort and after I thanked her she broke out into a huge grin and patted my cheek just like a mom. I swear I wanted to hug her. The Turks love it if you even TRY to speak their language.

The women who washed us wore only underwear. They were also, well, zaftig. None of them would have won a Miss World contest. However, the lady who washed me had the softest skin I have ever seen, or felt. My god, that woman was glowing. I think, working in the humid environs of the baths with not much in the way of work uniform to wear, that on breaks they just scrub themselves. And I'll tell you what, the results were amazing. To a woman, they had soft, blemish and cellulite free skin. Smooth and lovely. I would kill for skin like that.

After the cleansing I had a massage in an adjoining room. It was ok. Oddly enough a Russian woman was the massage therapist. There were TONS of Russians in Istanbul. I haven't figured out the connection, but it was surprising how strong the Russian element was in the town.

After the massage I went back into the main room to have a final rinse, and then got my clothes back on and met my father (who had his own bath in the men's section) for the walk back to the hotel. We both glowed with cleanliness and relaxation. It was cool.

Monday, October 23, 2006

pictures from Ephesus.

Last Monday I got up REALLY early and caught a 6:30 am flight to Izmir, from where I got picked up and taken to see the ruins at Ephesus.

They were cool. Here's some photos, with commentary underneath.

Ephesus was one of the biggest cities in the world in the first century AD. The amphitheatre seated 25,000. The accoustics are still perfect. Two French guys started singing way down in the pit, there, while I was up top and I could almost hear them breathing between verses. And the view..oh the view. The harbor used to come up to the end of the road, in the distance, there. See it? And there were shops and stuff all along the road. I could really see how bustling and amazing it once was.

Winged Nike. Yeah, THE Nike that inspired the shoes. Apparently you get a hint of the swoosh in her robes. See it, just barely, under her right wing? Swoosh.

The tourist highway. The place was packed. But we all fit pretty well. It must have been an amazing city. There is a covered museum that protects the remains of some terraced houses. The painted walls and mosaiced floors were exquisite. They had hot and cold running water. Gorgeous.

A view down towards the library. You can see the harbor area in the distance. The amphitheatre was around the the hill, you'd go towards the library and then right, along the tourist highway.

The remains of the library. It must have been an awesome building. The detail work was incredible. I had problems getting pictures because there was a large group of very loud Americans who kept taking group shot after group shot right in front, and always dicking around with their overly advanced digital cameras. Is it only me who's noticed, or has the digital comaera totally slowed down the picture taking process? I used to be polite and wait for folks to take their pictures, but it takes so damned long now, I've stopped waiting. You get three to five seconds and then I am walking on. Sorry, but if your camera takes that long to take a photo, you need to get a disposable and hurry it along.

View from below the amphiteatre. To my right and behind was the road to the harbor.

Me posing on the latrines. Ephesus has some of the few remaining latrines from the Greek times. They were very advanced, apparently, in their plumbing. The latrines sat above a stream that washed all the ick away. The more important people got to sit on the holes that were at the beginning of the stream, I believe, so that they did not have to smell the offal of others. It was a communal thing, for men only, of course. They had musicians entertaining them while they crapped. Women apparently had to go climb a hill and squat behind a bush. Hmph.

Sign advertising the modern day toilets. This sign cracked me up. It was for the toilets on the way out of Ephesus. I did indeed feel the magic atmostphere, though it cost me 75 cents, not 50. I didn't really notice 25 cents more magic atmosphere. No music or lute players or anything. They did have toilet paper and soap, though, so that was pretty magical compared to some places I had seen. AND they had sit down style western toilets, not those stand up kind like alot of places.

I spent the night in Selcuk, which was not far from Ephesus at all. From there I could walk to the Temple of Artemis (one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, of which almost nothing is left), St. John's Basilica, the Virgin Mary's House and some other sites.

In Selcuk I also learned the Turkish wine is pretty tasty when you drink it, but it will definitely hurt you the next day. I spent the evening hanging out with some folks at Jimmy's GuestHouse, where the very charming and darkly handsome Jimmy (Scorpio...always Scorpios) plied us with Turkish wine. The folks at the table included a cute 20 year old Aussie named Kate, a guy named Daniel from LA whose dad was the drummer for the band Little Feat, a contemplative guy named Ben from Atlanta who grew out his beard and was doing the wandering backpacker thing like a pro, and a guy from Austin who I ended up having mutual friends with back home. (Never fails, does it?) That's the thing about Austin...it's a small town with far reaching tentacles. We all talked about the blues, bars, beer, how we all hated Bush (president, not band) and how we all loved Turkish food. It was a very memorable night. My favorite thing about travel is the people I meet and the conversations I experience.

I got up that day at 4am and didn't get to bed until after 1 am. I packed alot into those 21 hours, and I crashed HARD.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

lesson #1

When going to Turkey, don't bother getting your visa ahead of time.

When I got there, I felt all smug that I had gotten my visa in advance, only to notice that there was NO line at the visa window and I could have done it in approximately two minutes.

So much for feeling all prepared and smug.

Urg. Feeling woozy..... back to bed. More lessons in the days to come including: how to behave in a Turkish bath, how to deal with Turkish cab drivers, how to say thank you in Turkish (it's like, 6 syllables long and took me three days to get right), why Russian tourists in Turkey should all be on "What Not to Wear", why you should beware ot Turkish wine, and how to avoid buying a carpet.

back but half dead


I'm back from Turkey but I have the plague or something. I feel like shit that's been stepped on, smushed around on a shoe bottom and then swiped all over a door mat.

I feel BAD.

Everyone there was sick or had a cold, it was rampant, and so now it's my turn.

So I am going back go to bed. Now. If I am perkier tomorrow I'll try and post some stuff.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

quıck hello

Quıck hello from Turkey.

All ıs well, though I am on a strange keyboard and hungover as hell. I caught an early flıght yesterday from Istanbul to Izmır and from there went to see Ephesus. It was amazıng. Really ıncredıble.

I go back to Istanbul today and ın fact the car ıs outsıde waıtıng to get me back to Izmır, so gotta run.

Of course I have storıes to tell when I have a chance.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Is there such a thing as beforemath? Like, I had a straight "a" average in school beforemath, but aftermath it dropped to a "c"? Cuz, that, like, totally happened to me?


So, I got my passport back with the visa in it. AND the nice lady at the embassy gave me tons of brochures about Turkey. She's awesome. I heart her.

My bank card, alas, is toast. And I can't get another one before I go. It takes a week! Jeez, so much for service. So I got some USD out of the account here and will have to do an exchange once I get to Turkey. NOT my favorite solution. Luckily I am there with my parents...so, Dad, can I borrow some money? It'll be just like high school. Except now I can drink and cuss and I don't have a curfew. Well, not if they don't give me one......

I am not hungover after my "whine cure" of yesterday. So that's good. I do, however have cramps and will be flying on Day Two. So, pity me. Or, maybe more to the point, pity any poor SOB who dares fuck with me on that day because they will be destroyed. Destroyed by the withering glare of the Girl with the Evil Passport and Non-Magnetized Bank Card of Doom.

My dear husband has my useless passport pictures from yesterday pinned to his bulletin board above his desk. He says they are really good and "you can never have too many passport photos". Um, ok. How come it's always the things you don't really want that they say you can never have too many of? Like socks. You can never have too many socks. But seriously, who the fuck cares about socks? Not me. Unless they are in odd numbers, that pisses me off.

Which leads us to a good example of laundry aftermath.....

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


CrankyButt Jones is dee-runk. (Quit laughing, Kjersti.)

It's twoo...once you stop drinking? And then you drink? After a long stressful day? You get dwunk qwicker.


CrankyButt Jones

I had this friend, Sandy, who always came up with whimsical names for people in certain moods. (I say "had" a friend only because i haven't heard from him in yonks, but it can easily be amended to 'have' if only I ever hear from him again). Anyhow, I am not sure if it is Sandy's term or if it just sounds like a Sandy-ism, but today I am CrankyButt Jones and that ain't no lie.


Jesus. You know when you are THIS close to just going off? That's me. Right now. Today was a litany of Things I Hate.

Today we got our Norwegian visas updated and pasted into our passports. It took over three months for the visas to get approved. So today we got to be officially re-residented. The new visas require a passport photo. It seems stupid to have yet ANOTHER passport photo on a visa which is inside a passport, which already has a photo in it, but whatthefuckever, that's the red tape brigade for you and so we brought photos along. BUT, they said mine was not good enough, (no duh, when are mine EVER?) and I had to retake it. So I down to the lobby to get yet another fucking passport photo and the machine stole my last 5 kroners, and I had to go begging from a not very happy woman at the post office for change. I finally got the picture (after three failed first tries including one with me adjusting my hair, another with me looking like I was yawning and the third where i was fighting off a sneeze, but all showing me with my lovely 'wet hair because I wasn't expecting a passport photo today dammit' expression) and brought it back upstairs. Only to have the woman behind the counter sheepishly tell me that she already had the photo I had brought with me LAST time and it was ok to use! All that frustration and 40 kroners wasted! Did I mention I hate having my picture taken?


Then, because I wanted to truly torture myself, I ambled over to the Turkish embassy to get my visa for my upcoming trip to Turkey. Because, yes, I could get one on entry to the country, but from my experience that stuff always takes AT LEAST an hour or more and after a very early morning flight facing the crowds at the visa office is NOT my thing. So I thought I'd beat the rush by getting one here instead. An hour of holiday time is so much more valuable than a few hours of home time, I reasoned. Why, oh why do I listen to myself?

The Turkish embassy is in a lovely old house in the west side of town. I got buzzed through three different gates and doors to be met by a small glassed in room wherein sat three men smoking furiously. I think that was their job, to smoke in that room. They pointed me to a lined sheet of paper on which, I assumed, I was to fill in name, address, and reason for visit, etc., and then I went and sat down in a different, non smoking, but equally small waiting room to wait for them to call me in. After a while of sitting, however, I noticed that there was no communication between those with the pad of paper and those doing the work, so just HOW was I supposed to get my visa stuff going when no one knew what I was there for? It was not a take a number situation. Everyone just sort of hung around, like sitting in this dowdy room was the way life was and that was that. I went up to the inevitable glass security window through which you must shout (this being an embassy specialty) and hollered that I was an AMERICAN and I needed a VISA. Everyone else hollered too, so I was not special. The guy behind the shout window waved at a woman in the corner and said his colleague would take care of me.

But he never told her about me, so when she appeared at the window half an hour later on an apparently random mission, I pounced and asked her what I needed to do for a visa. She said "Go to Turkey, get one there". Haha. Thanks.

I explained that I had a wierd schedule and would rather do it ahead of time, if possible. She gave me a form to fill out and told me to wait some more. Ok.

After another half hour I brandished the form and passport in her face, and she checked it over and said "ok", gave me an encouraging smile and took it back to another room. She was back in five minutes. She told me her boss said they could not accept my passport.

Whafuck? Why not?
It's not good, she said. It's bad and he has never seen one like it.
Whafuck? Why? Steam began to erupt from my nostrils.
It is bad. He won't do it.
*fffrrrppppppp* (steam sound)

Apparently, the bureaucratic twat behind the desk to whom she answers had never seen an American passport to which extra pages have been added. When you get your passport, you have 25 or so numbered pages. When you have pages added, they are lettered, A-Z, and are fairly randomly stuck in between the numbered pages, in my case between pages 12 and 13 and then again, for I have done this twice, between pages 16 and 17. (You can add pages three times at no cost, fyi.) This woman's boss (she told me with a roll of her eyes) did not believe that my lettered pages were legit because he had never seen them. He said my passport must be a fraud. He would alert the American embassy.

I shat a brick right there on the floor. Was this total idiot seriously telling me (through her) that he believed I had a fake passport? A fake passport that had five Norwegian visas, stamps from 15 or more countries, and my picture and signature in at least three different places in it? And i am standing there with my big ol' American accent, not speaking Norwegian and definitely NOT taking this sort of thing in a patient manner?

I looked at the lady. She raised her eyebrows. I told her to take me to her leader. She grinned, broadly, as I guess many people do not ask that, especially tall American women, and led me directly through to The Man Behind the Desk. Who disdainfully thumbed my passport and pointed out the shoddiness of the added pages, taped in, not numbered, how could America be so lax with a passport? This is a bad passport, he said. Bad. Not good. Bad quality.

I politely said that if it was THAT bad, how come Morrocco, Egypt, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and so many other countries had deigned to stamp it AND on lettered, not numbered, pages? I was going to meet my father in Turkey, his favorite country in all the world, I said, did he want me to miss seeing my father? I was not responsible for the shoddiness of the American system of passport pagination. If they are ok with it, why is Turkey not ok with it? Isn't America the most secure country in the world? (Gleam of eye, here. He looked at me. I almost winked.)

He harrumphed and made an official sort of sound and gesture that meant, "Woman, you go sit in the very small reception room with the temperamental child and the very old magazines whilst I ruminate on this Massive and Very Dangerous Security Issue. I am at work Saving the World from your evil passport and must consult with the Very Important People sitting in the glass smoking room".

I went back to the waiting room, after winking at the woman (now my best friend) in the other office.

I was finally approved, after another 20 minutes, however they are holding my passport hostage overnight so that they can make up the visa and insert in onto what I can only guess will be the last remaining numbered page in my passport.

When I was on the way home from all this (AND I worked today people!) I went to the grocery store and my bank card would not work. And Norway does not take credit cards at grocery stores. Only the Norwegian bank cards. So I went to get cash. The machine would not even take my card in. Nor would the other machine. Or the other machine. My card just died.

I have no access to money. And I can't get a new card before I go to Turkey. I'm fucked.

AND our internet was down when I got home so I could not even find the number of who to call nor could I get online to the US bank to at least do some money switching on that account, so to be able to use the US bank card. (Though WHAT money I would use is the issue right now.It's all freaking HERE!)

I threw a fit, called Rich at work in an absolute freak out. He finally said, after hearing ALL This shit that I dealt with today, look , give it up, dig around for some coins and go buy a bottle of wine. Yes I know we are not drinking, but. you. need. wine.

I am now drinking a cheapish bottle of Argentinian red and looking at a very red piece of steak in the fridge that is about to moo its last. At least the internet started up again.

Today isn't even Friday the 13th yet. I fear, people. I fear.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

random strangeness in photo form

At Angkor in Cambodia there were alot of statues where the heads and/or bodies had been cut away by treasure hunters, leaving only the feet. Where others see tragedy, I see an opportunity for a goofy photo. I also wanted to compare my foot size to an ancient warrior's. Yes, my feet were dirty. It was hotter than Hades, dusty, and I only brought sandals. I would take two or three showers a day to cool off and clean off the dust of the day's explorations.

This was a campaign poster for a guy running for political office in Bangkok. The city was PLASTERED with them, all different faces, but very distinct "types". Millions of them. It was an endless source of amusement and photo fun. I title this one "Vote for me or I'll kill you". I kind of understand that whole coup thing better after having seen what they get for government leaders.

This was a little girl and her critter (ferret? I dunno, I'm not good at critter's names) I met in Cambodia at Ta Prohm temple, Angkor. I met alot of really interesting people wandering around the temples and ruins, and they were all so friendly and willing to share experiences. Some wanted money for it and some just wanted to talk to foreigners. It was fairly easy to figure out which was which on first sight. This girl was of the second sort, but no one was averse to a little money as a thank you.

The kids in Cambodia were so playful. These guys had a great time measuring their height as compared to Rich's. When we walked into this temple, a very small one, they all RUSHED at him en masse. They had never seen a man so tall in their lives, and HAD to see who among them was tallest on the Rich Scale.
This temple was known by all the tour guides in the area as The Dollar Temple. It was the only one that the sellers of souvenirs were allowed into. They'd all run up to you screaming, "One dollar! One dollar!", and wave their items in your face. The sellers were VERY insistent and could be a nuisance, and so were not allowed into most of the sites. It's understandable as you would not be able to see anything with all the people hanging off your arms all the time. They swarmed us everywhere else outside the sites, so it was nice to have a respite in the temples.

The one little girl doing the measuring was selling packets of 10 postcards and insisted on counting them out to me in every language she could count in, which was about 7. Good little counter. So I bought her cards, cuz, hell, her counting in Russian was pretty impressive. She only knew the numbers in the many languages, but she did have some English beyond. The Cambodians are MASTER sellers and will not leave you alone until you buy something or run away. I did a little of both. There's only so many dodgy packets of postcards one can own.

This little memory of the kids playing around Rich's knees is one of my favorite ones from the whole trip. It's always the faces you see and the people you meet who stick in the memory.

Friday, October 06, 2006

You tube giggle

Here's 8 minutes of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) being an absolutely hilarious horny bugger. (And I mean bugger in the US sense, as in "annoying person", not a buggerer in the British sense...)

a little ranting, a little kvetching, and some dancing

I am endlessly entertained by the "readers respond" section of the Aftenposten. There's always something fun there. The first letter? About orange pee? In response to this article? Hilarious! And the second letter, by a guy named Gary Barrett? In response to this article? Well, let's just say he's my new hero, because if ONE MORE person shoves me, pushes me or cuts me off on the train to get the last seat even though I am OBVIOUSLY heading for it, I will go postal on someone's ass. Seriously, how hard is it to stand back and wait for people to get OFF the train before you get on? In England if someone behaved this way on the Tube they would get a right good telling off. So Gary Barrett? You rule. Really.

That was the rant.

Now for the kvetch:
I am wearing a sweater that is so itchy it is actually itching me through a whole other shirt. What the fuck? How can a sweater be sold that itches so bad that it goes through layers of clothes with its itchiness and scratchy nastiness? DAMN! And it's really cute, too, but I think I have to get rid of it. This is inSANE. I hate fall and having to cover up again. Summer was so nice. Just a tank top and off you go. I haven't itched in months. Damn. It's back to the season of scratch.

(karla removes sweater....aaaahhh.)(brr. now I'm cold.)

Now for the dancing. Every so often I hit iTunes to get me some more booty shakin' music, to help me motivate for the workouts and also, just to sort of keep up with the times. I mean, I'm aging here, folks, and gotta make an effort to keep up with the young un's. Though I fear what I buy is all still old person music.

Here's what I got yesterday:

Daft Punk, Technologic
Peaches, Tent In Your Pants
Goldfrapp, Strict Machine and Oh La La
Fischerspooner, Emerge (DFA Remix)
Scissor Sisters, Comfortably Numb
and, of course, the most recent episode of Project Runway. Is Vincent insane or what?

And in the other news that is making me dance, that I am not ranting about AND that does not make me itch or kvetch....to the left, there, that purple majestic dress in front? Ta Da!!!!! I found the dress for the reunion! Woo! WOO! It's by this Danish designer called Malene Birger, and it ROCKS, yo'. It's silk in this graphic print with purple, green and yellow, and it's got a full skirt and a tie waist and it sort of manages to be sexy yet covered up all at once. It has one button at the neck and then one at the waist, so the middle is open, but underneath it has a slip to wear under it so the girls don't do a J Lo and need to be taped down. Long sleeves with little cuff links. All floaty silk charmeuse. Cleavage, class and sass, aw yeah. AND it matches the yellow Coccinelle bag and shoes to perfection. I didn't want to wear yet another black dress...and DAMNED if I didn't find color! They have to special order it for me from Denmark because apparently this is THE dress of the season (trust me to pick the one thing that is hard to get) and all the size 42's in all of Oslo are sold out as it's running small. But there is one on the way to me (the lady who owns the shop really went out of her way for me, and I LOVE her) and judging by how the 40 fit, I am fairly certain it's gonna be perfection.

I'm psyched now......armed and ready. I've decided that the goal, here, is not to look 20 years younger, but to look 20 years BETTER. At least I feel better in my own skin than I did when I was 17.....

Also? Bookhart just posted some of the funniest links ever, all in one perfect linkylicious post on her blog. I am especially snorting coffee over the one about euphemisms for female masturbation, but all are equally hi-larious. Her blog constantly reminds me why I thought she was the coolest girl in the dorm when I met her in 1986. Fuck, dude, that's 20 years ago last month! I've known you more than half my life! LYLAS, beeyotch!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

blood! gore! lasers!

I try to keep the blog fun and funny, but sometimes dammit, I just don’t feel it. The weather lately has been rainy and dreary in the extreme, the days are getting shorter and I really, really just find it hard to get out of bed. However, pretty much everyone I talk to is also feeling the same way, so I know it’s just this time of year. No snow yet to brighten the light, the rain is a sad drizzle and I can feel nature withdrawing for the upcoming winter. The Darkness is approaching.


There has been a bit of excitement here and there, though. The other day we had this freak electrical storm with massive (and very close) bursts of lightning and thunder. And, as we live in what is basically a tin box on the roof of a building, I definitely was worried about that lightning. I made Rich sit down, because if that lightning came through the ceiling, it would hit his big ol’ head first thing, him being the tallest thing in the house.

Then on Tuesday morning, Rich was getting ready for work and I was desperately trying to not wake up (“just five more minutes and I’ll get up…ok, five more…OK ok five more…”). I heard Rich go "Ow...oh...ooh!" in the bathroom. Not a normal holler, but like, with an edge to it. I knew it wasn't the usual cut himself shaving ow...it was quietly panicked, with a bit of an upturn in his voice that means ‘eek!’

So I got up and went to him, and he had gashed the living shit out of his hand on the sharp edge of the shower wall. This shower has been a problem from the start. It’s made of glass blocks and it’s edged with this aluminum strip that was not put on flush and so the edges are KNIFE sharp. It’s actually a hazard. Here we are in this posh flat, and they build the shower in the cheapest way possible? I don’t get it. Anyhow, he got the top of his hand but good and it just sliced like a ripe peach. Really gross. You could see the workings of his hand. He was trembling and freaked out, but it wasn’t bleeding that badly and he said it did not hurt. We put a towel on it while I looked around for a bandage and he got dressed. I bandaged it up and was surprised that I did not feel sick. Not sure why, I always thought I was a squeamish git but apparently not. I found something to wear and managed to get my hair somewhat down from its pillow-centric state and then we had to find someone to stitch him up.

SO, we weren't sure where to go to get it fixed. The hospital? That's in the next town, about an 8 minute train ride away by express train, or an expensive cab ride. Couldn't think of anywhere else to go, it was 8am and would anything be open anyhow? Our doctor is in a town that is not on the express train line, and we didn't know of a local place we could go. Did we have to be registered at a doctor to go there?. Are any of the legesenters (local doctor's offices) open and could we go w/o an appointment? Is there an emergency clinic? Maybe we should have figured this out sooner?

Rich insisted he was ok to take the train, his hand really wasn’t bleeding, just sort of oozing, and the train is actually quicker than a cab in the morning rush hour. As we waited for the train I called work to say I'd be late. My boss, who rocks, said the local legesenter was very good and we could probably get in there, because she had gone there in an emergency once as well.. And best of all, it was only about 300 feet away.

So we skipped catching the train and went there. We waited about 15 minutes, while I fumed over the rude woman who kept cutting and pushing in front of EVERYONE who walked in wanting to know when SHE was going to get in. I tried shooting her dead with the laser beams in my eyes, but they obviously don’t work without coffee as the energy booster. The woman behind the glass told her to chill out, and she would be called in due time, that emergencies come first. (In my head I did the little “ha ha” from the Simpsons. You know the one…) They called in Rich fairly quickly and Boy-o got five stitches, a tetanus shot and a little talk about how lucky he is that he didn't slice tendons.
While he got stitched, I ran to 7-11 to get a coffee and ran into one of his co-workers, Grant, who’s Scottish (not that this is germain to the discussion, but I just like to always say that Grant is Scottish) and told him that Rich was SPEWING blood everywhere, like a fountain, or like the Black Knight ("It's just a flesh wound!").
OK, not.
But I did tell Grant that Rich was hurt and to spread it around work so that he’d get lots of sympathy the next day. After the doctor Rich spent the rest of the day home with the TV and a cup of coffee. The stitches are very nicely done, and I think he will have minimal scarring. It all cost about $60 and took a little over an hour from start to finish, so woo to the Norwegian health care system. I’ve always been very pleased with the health care here. Way better than in the States, at least for basic stuff. I don’t know about hospitals, but have heard mostly good things.

I went on directly to work afterwards and felt pretty gross without a shower and with some pretty bad bedhead as well. Not my most glamorous day at work…..

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

a meme...thank efffing God

Thank GOD. Finally a meme I can do that doesn’t suck. Thank you Dave for stealing it from Avitable. (Who, by the way, calls himself the Grantichrist, which totally cracks my ass up.)
I tag Bookhart, because she is suffering from lack of blog muse, and I know what that's like.

1. You can press a button that will make any one person explode. Who would you blow up?
I was already told that George Bush is too easy, and so is right out. Damn. Ok, so let’s go with…..this bitch who pushed me out of the way at the doctor’s this morning, so SHE could get to the check in window a second quicker than us? And we had an emergency? There’s rude? And then there’s just RUDE. (But we got called before her, because, hello, emergency with BLOOD, so bite me, BEYOTCH!) (Oh and it wasn't mine, it was Rich's. More on that in the next post. He won't die, though, so I can save the story for tomorrow.)

2. You can flip a switch that will wipe any band or musical artist out of existence. Which one will it be? Paris Hilton. I know she’s not really a musical artist, but she’s got a cd and so it counts. Hey, Clay Aiken is considered a musical artist too.

3. Who would you really like to just punch in the face?
Paris Hilton. Doesn’t she just need one? I’d punch her before I pushed the button that negated her existence.

4. What is your favorite cheese?
Anything melty. Muenster, mozzarella, monterrey jack. Melt it, I’ll eat it.

5. You can only have one kind of sandwich. Every sandwich ingredient known to humankind is at your immediate disposal. What kind will you make?
I’d rather like a roasted chicken on toasty wheat baguette, with some mayo, lettuce, some onion, a little salt and a touch of curry powder. Or a big ass muffaletta.

6. You have the opportunity to sleep with the movie celebrity of your choice. We are talking no-strings-attached sex and it can only happen once. Who is the lucky celebrity of your choice?
mmm…mumph…um, remember when Daniel Day Lewis was in Last of the Mohicans and he wore long hair and a loin cloth? And that’s it? For most of the movie? Yes please. “No matter what occurs I will find you”. Yes please.

7. You have the opportunity to sleep with the music-celebrity of your choice. Who do you pick?
Trent Reznor. Cuz I am sure he’d bring me closer to God.

8. Now that you've slept with two different people in a row, you seem to be having an excellent day because you just came across a hundred-dollar bill on the sidewalk. Holy crap, a hundred bucks! How are you gonna spend it?
Well, if I am having THAT good of a day, having gotten lucky twice, with celebrities, I must be REALLY lucky. I’d go to the nearest casino and do some gambling. Turn that 100 bucks into a few million.

9. You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you gonna go?
See? How lucky I am? I’d go back to Railay beach in Thailand. That was AMAZING.

10. Upon arrival to the aforementioned location, you get off the plane and discover another hundred-dollar bill. Now that you are in the new location, what are you gonna do?
Get one helluva massage.

11. A demon rises out of Hell and offers you a lifetime supply of the alcoholic beverage of your choice. It is...?

12. Rufus appears out of nowhere with a time-traveling phone booth. You can go anytime in the PAST. What time are you traveling to and what are you going to do when you get there?
England, London. 17th century, just before the great fire and then stay for a bit after to watch such an amazing city regrow and rebuild. Also to buy some land so that I could continue being really rich when I get back to now and own, like, Chelsea and Knightsbridge.

13. You discover a beautiful island upon which you may build your own society. You make the rules. What is the first rule you put into place?
Women hold all the power. Men must serve us. Men must also stay in their own quarters until we call them out. AND they should be covered at all times when out of their quarters, because looking upon their limbs may well cause us to lust after them and that would be totally their fault for not covering up. Of course, we can have multiple husbands. Men are basically our bitches, really, and useful for sex, changing light bulbs and garbage removal. And the occasional cuddle.
Oh, and cute shoes must also not rub or hurt feet in any way. Any one who makes uncomfortable shoes will be forced to wear them until their feet fall off.

14. You have been given the opportunity to create the half-hour TV show of your own design. What is it called and what's the premise?
I see…..a girl from Texas moves away from home to Europe, travels alot and finds herself in interesting dilemmas every day. Insert laugh track and away we go.
Or, screw that and just bring back Freaks and Geeks.

15. What is your favorite curse word?
Fuck.. Accept no substitutes. (THANKS Dave.)

16. One night you wake up because you heard a noise. You turn on the light to find that you are surrounded by MUMMIES. The mummies aren't really doing anything, they're just standing around your bed. What do you do?
Get my flame thrower and torch their asses. Or, if I am out of toilet paper, unroll one of them for when I go for that 4 am whiz.

17. Your house is on fire! You have just enough time to run in there and grab ONE inanimate object. Don't worry, your loved ones and pets have already made it out safely. So what's the item?
Probably my computer. Or my Lucchese boots. Or my jewelry box. One of those…whichever I thought of first at the moment..

18. The Angel of Death has descended upon you. Fortunately, the Angel of Death is pretty cool and in a good mood, and it offers you a half-hour to do whatever you want before you bite it. Whatcha gonna do in that half-hour?
Fuck like a bunny. Don’t care who. I’ll die in 29 minutes anyhow, so I just need someone able to get some freak on.

19. You accidentally eat some radioactive vegetables. They were good, and what's even cooler is that they endow you with the super-power of your choice! What's it gonna be?
The power to instantly send myself anywhere I want to be…like Samantha on Bewitched.

20. You can re-live any point of time in your life. The time-span can only be a half-hour, though. What half-hour of your past would you like to experience again?
I remember, when I went to Oxford in 1989, this perfectly, peacefully happy moment where I was sitting in the sun on the ancient doorstep of my room, at Brasenose, journaling and looking out on the quad and thinking how damned happy I was and how this may well be the best moment of my life. I had just gotten to Oxford, was jetlagged and positively ecstatic that I had a whole summer ahead of me and no idea what would happen next. It turned out it was the best summer of my life. But the anticipation of it was almost sweeter than the events that happened. Like Christmas when you are 6..

21. You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?
I reserve the right to not talk about it.

22. You got kicked out of the country for being a time-traveling heathen who sleeps with celebrities and has super-powers. But check out this cool stuff... you can move to anywhere else in the world! Bitchin'! What country are you going to live in now?
Somewhere in the UK…England, Ireland or Scotland.

23. This question still counts, even for those of you who are under age. You have been eternally banned from every single bar in the world except for ONE. Which one is it gonna be?
Opal Divine’s in Austin. It would have been Waterloo Brewing Company but they closed it down, the bastards.

24. Hopefully you didn't mention this in the super-powers question.... If you did, then we'll just expand on that. Check it out... Suddenly, you have gained the ability to FLOAT!!! Whose house are you going to float to first, and be like "Dude, check it out... I can FLOAT!"?
Dave said: Why is it every meme has to have one question that's so frickin' stupid you regret having started the meme in the first place? If I must answer, I'd FLOAT over the car of somebody I dislike strongly and take a crap in the middle of their hood. Then I could say "DUDE! Check it out... I can FLOAT!"
I kind of agree with that? But then, I also think I’d float over the White House just so I could moon GWB, et al. I’d probably get shot down as an Unidentified Floating Asshole, but maybe that also qualifies as my last half hour of life, see number 18, and that’s cool too.

25. The constant absorption of magical moonbeams mixed with the radioactive vegetables you consumed earlier has given you the ability to resurrect the dead famous-person of your choice. So which celebrity will you bring back to life?
John Ritter. He needed more time. It was just too soon.

26. The Gates of Hell have opened, and Death appears. As it turns out, Death is actually a pretty cool entity, and happens to be in a fantastic mood. Death offers to return the friend/family-member/person, etc. of your choice to the living world. Who will you bring back? Either of my grandmothers.

27. What's your theme song?
Do Not Go Quietly Unto Your Grave, Morphine.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Stuff I do differently having lived in Europe for over 4 years.

I don’t hurry as much. Pretty much anything can be done tomorrow with the same result. If you call anyone after three pm, you probably won't get a response til the next day, anyhow.

Even though Europeans are more cell phone obsessed that Americans, I find I use my cell phone very little. Anyone who really needs to reach me will leave a message at home. See above, about not being in a hurry.

I cook from scratch. I don’t use packaged foods. I don’t do ‘to go’ dinners anymore. (Mostly because I can’t. There’s very little take away here that is not merely a snack wrapped in bread.)(That being said, I'd KILL for a taco stand.)

I eat WAY healthier. However, I eat ham and pork, now, which is something I didn’t do in the US. If you don’t eat pork products in Europe, you are sometimes hard pressed to find any protein. Especially at breakfast. Ham o rama.

I walk a lot more. I also stop. Just because.

I was middle of the road liberal before I left the US. Now I’ve pretty much crossed that road to the left side. I'm almost off the shoulder.

I sleep with the window open. I MUST have fresh air in the house. Wonder how that will pan out back in Texas?

I tolerate cold a lot better. In fact, I like sleeping in a cool room.

I can do that European scarf thing. And I have a lot of scarves now. Even ‘summer’ scarves.

I understand what a ‘summer’ sweater is for. In Texas they just don’t exist.(A Texan would be all: Summer sweater? Is that like a winter sandal?) Now I actually sort of feel strange in summer wearing just a tank top and not having a sweater. Like, any minute it will snow or something. And I'll be caught out.

I also understand the brilliance that is wool socks. They really DO work in summer AND winter!

Shoes have to be cute AND practical. No more buying them just because they are cute. I also think of snow worthiness. I know, strange, no?

I’m not afraid of calling internationally any more, and I see that it is actually very easy. A lot of Americans think it’s hard or don’t know how.

I don't worry about being murdered in my bed. I do worry about being burgled. Alot.

I no longer fear there will be a roach in every dark corner, as most native South Texans grow up fearing. I haven't seen a roach in 4 years.

I also see now how easy it is to travel. Packing, planning, worrying…..It used to be a big deal. Now? Not so much. If you forget something, you can buy a replacement. If you don’t have it, you can probably do with out. Now I generally tend to not pack enough stuff!

My Southern manners have given way to a more brusque approach. No more saying ‘hi’ to everyone who looks at you for more than a second, like we do in Texas. People here will just stare at you, but won't actually ackowledge your existence even if you say hi. They'll just look away. It’s a bit startling still, at times, but also relaxing as I can just go about my business and ignore people around me instead of making eye contact and saying hi to folks. I just have to remind myself to put my southern manners back on when I go home. (There's a saying, here, that if a stranger says hi to you they are either drunk, insane or an American.)

I’m more self reliant. Norway is a self service kind of country. Ain’t no one gonna do it for you.

I don’t take anything, or anyone, for granted anymore. It can all go away in a minute. Friends move, plans change, your life can change on a dime. Life is not the goal, it's the journey. STop and enjoy the journey. It's the only one you've got.