Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Halloween in Norway is a kid's holiday. Like Easter in the States. They don't really do costume parties for grown ups here (expats do that more than anyone else), and showing excitement (as a grown up) about Halloween is looked at with bemusement, like if a grown up in the States was really excited about an Easter Egg hunt.

So you can imagine the indulgent, yet bemused, smiles I got on the train Wednesday and today when I brought in my Halloween Jack O' Lantern trick or treat bucket full of candy to share with coworkers. Everyone on the train smiled at me, I wonder if they think I belonged on the short bus or something. I wasn't sure what to think, I've never been smiled at that much on a train in Norway EVER. I guess I'd smile at a grown up with an Easter basket. Which is basically what I looked like.

Since Halloween and Thanksgiving are my favorite holidays, and neither of them are noticeably celebrated here (though I did see that there was alot more Halloween stuff out this year than ever before) I always get a little homesick this time of year. I'm missing out on both my favorite days. I used to throw a Halloween party every year in Austin that was pretty well attended. My friends and I sort of co-opted certain holidays (I had Halloween, Bookhart had Derby Day, Kirk had New Year's, etc etc) and we always knew where we would be on that day. It was nice. I miss that.

I won't even go into Thanksgiving. I loved it whether I was with my family or Rich's. It was always great, I could eat and drink myself silly, and I didn't have to buy presents. What's not to like?

Well, anyhow, I've got the candy ready and the picture above stuck on the door for our one trick or treater who comes every year. The kid who lives across the hall gets a good haul from us.

Trick or Treat, y'all! Have a good one!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Birthday pouf

Birthday pouf, originally uploaded by karlakp.

My friend Bassim brought me two 'poufs' from Egypt for my birthday. I have always wanted one. Now I have two! They look great with our stuff. I love them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A quicky post before I run to catch the train.
  • Why must I run to catch the train you ask? Why, I'll tell you. Because my effing bank has changed some stuff on our account and I have to go ask WHY. But the bank is only open (ha, I so wanna be a banker) from 10 to 3:30. Seriously, 5.5 hours a day. So in order for me to track down these fuckers I have to take time off from work. HOW is this customer service, I ask? HOW!? With the bank fees these guys charge, they should be open 24 hours AND give me coffee and donuts every damn day for free. (EDIT: It took me over half an hour to get some attention and service once I got to the bank, mostly because the one woman there who called my number (it's a number queue system) doesn't speak English and made me wait for another person who did. I get her every time. As this bank is in an area that has a large English speaking populace, and is the suggested bank for a large expat company, you'd think they would have a more skilled staff, language wise. I always meet other English speakers there whenever I go. I was about ready to burn the place down. Finally got my questions answered, but have to go back Monday to sign some stuff. MORE hours off work. Grrr......that online bank with the cheaper rates everyone tells me about is sounding better and better.)
  • It snowed like crazy last night and, as happens every year, everybody is all, "Huh? Snow? In Norway? What a surprise!" Then they all go out and drive with their 'sommerdekk' tires on the cars when they really should have 'winterdekk' and then they all get in wrecks on the icy snowy roads. and are surprised that this happened. Yes it is a bit early for such a heavy snow, but it's NORWAY and SNOW HAPPENS EVERY YEAR.
  • But damn the snow is beautiful when it is fresh like that. All fluffy and white and so clean looking. It had a tint of wildness to it this morning as the wind blew and there are still a few golden leaves on the trees that fluttered to the ground and landed on the pristine snow. Strange to hear wind blowing through leaves on trees when it is snowing. I wasn't sure what was wrong until I identified that sound. Usually snow is so perfectly silent, hearing it with rattling leaves was very odd.
  • I have a headache.
  • We meet with the people who will rip up our apartment today to go over terms and logistics. Oy. This will not help my headache. (EDIT: they were very nice.)
  • I was thinking as dressing up as either a pirate or Sarah Palin for Halloween. Sad thing is, if I came to work as a pirate, no one would notice the change. Sigh.
  • For that matter, they might not notice either if I dressed as Palin, for I do occasionally wear dressy uppy office clothes for no real reason. If I went fully into character and talked like her all day, though, they'd probably just throw me outside for being annoying.
  • I could talk about laying pipe all day and justify it as a business discussion. That would be fun. And you can, almost, see Russia from our window, though first you have to look over Sweden and Finland.
  • Hmm, maybe I actually AM more qualified than Sarah Palin, come to think of it. Sure have more world experience. Karla for Vice President! (Yes please, can I have the 150k worth of clothes?)
  • I think I busted my brand new popcorn popper. I keep overfilling the thing and it all pops up and overfills the lid/bowl. I have to get better on the measuring. I loves me popcorn popped with real butter.
  • Still snowing out there. Brrr.....
  • I'll be going here on November 13th. Comme des Garcons, woo! I want the jacket/dress. Unfortunately, so does everyone else.


1st, originally uploaded by karlakp.

First winter snow. It's a big 'un!

Monday, October 27, 2008


VOTE!, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Here's my mail in ballot! If I'm doing it so can you!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

crisp norwegian fall day

Today was one of those perfect fall days where the air crackles with cool freshness. So crisp it burns your teeth.

I always am amazed at the difference between the air and water here and the air and water in Texas. Here it is crisp, sharp, so clear it can cut you, whether water or air. There is nothing soft about it, it's exhilarating and refreshing. It energizes you, but it is not calming in any way. You can see forever and the colors and shapes are so vivid, so sharp. The water is crisp and peaty, it's slightly green in the white bathtub or against the frozen ice in winter. But green in a clear, filtered way....there is no vagueness to it. It's very easy to drink, and so cold that ice is an affectation.

Texas air is soft, hazy, caressing, relaxing. You can feel it on your skin, all around you, like a weight. It settles on your skin like an invisible cloak. Colors are a little bit muted (except at sunset, when they blaze orange and pink on the clouds). The water tastes of where it comes from. Sometimes in Austin you can taste the algae from the lakes west of town. It's not unpleasant, but it can be a bit strange if you aren't used to it. (Makes me think of that old saying, "I never drink water. Fish fuck in it".) I noticed when I was in Austin a few weeks ago it felt like the air was hugging me. So completely, 180% different from Norwegian air. (Like so many things from Texas and Norway.)

Today, in this brilliant crisp bright fall air, everyone in Norway was out walking. Or, at least, everyone in our part of Norway. The trails in the woods, along the pathways, around the lake, anywhere with trees or nature, were crowded with hearty looking people of every age, families of all colors, walking. Moms, dads, kids, grandparents, Texpatriates, all out. Some with walking sticks and Goretex jackets, some with back packs and hiking boots and water bottles, some, like me, merely with an iPod a pony tail and some sneakers.

Everyone walking. A walk in the woods in Norway is the answer to everything, whether that might be a headache, a thrown out back, a cold or cancer. (Possibly the only thing they don't tell you to walk for is a broken leg, at least at first.) Whenever I've gone to the doctor here, they invariably tell me, after my appointment, that I should go out for a walk in the woods to reset myself. My chiropractor was insistent on it, after every session, that I walk for a half hour after the appointment and walk, also, on the weekends. In the States, they give you antibiotics or a pain pill. Here? A walk.

Judging by this weekend, there will be a lot of healthy people in Norway next week.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I'm not dead. This is a surprise to me.

Ok I have had a really busy week. So busy I didn't have time to check any emails (personal or professional) and am now swamped by emails from Move, various Democrats, the Democrats Abroad, a variety of on-line shoe stores, jewelery making newsletters, LL Bean. Anthropologie, J Crew, Boden and Nordstrom's (how damn much on line shopping am I expected to do?) about 15 forwards from my aunt who forwards everything she gets into her computer back out again (love you, but don't have time to read it auntie!) and so on and so forth. Work emails? Oh god can't even begin to face that, and won't til Monday.

The delete key is my friend.

However, one exciting thing happened this week in my severely neglected personal life. One little beacon of light and hope for a better future landed in my mail box.

I got my mail-in ballot! I'm gonna vote today and mail that sucker in! Woo! I think I'll post a picture of the ballot, for this is a historic event.

That was the only piece of mail I opened all week, come to think of it. Email or snail!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Democrat Broad

Democrat Broad, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Here's my friend Pam in her new Democrats Abroad t shirt. The campaign button is Obama, natch.

booga booga booga

I'm stressed! I'm stressed! I'm stressed! I'm gonna start making crazy booga booga noises soon, like insane people in old movies do.

I have so much on my mind right now that I have heartburn all the time and I can't.!

Skip the following paragraph. It's bad for your health.

I'm stressed about work and the craziness that will be next week and will I get it all done and not forget anything as I'm supposed to be this great organizer but I feel totally like I am missing something and I am stressed about the work that has to be done on this flat that I am dreading worse than visiting the gyno which is saying alot and I can't stop thinking about all the fucking details that we will have to work out before someone comes in and tears up my HOME and I am stressed because my tits are killing me because I started a new bcp which I actually like because I've lost 5 pounds from it and it's stopped Aunt Flo cold which is awesome but I really don't want my boobs to get any bigger than they already are or I might just fall over and never be able to walk upright again and my damned boobs grow everytime I try to take bcp and this is the third time now in the past 4 years and that is three cups sizes that never go away and I never wanted big boobs ever and I am stressed about winter coming and having to wear socks and tights and boots all the time and I am stressed about having to change over my wardrobe from summer to winter which just makes me worry about the work they are going to do on the flat again and will they RUIN ALL MY CLOTHES but they won't fit my anyhow because of my huge new boobs and what the hell will I wear for 6-8 weeks while we aren't living here and how do you pack for that long and I hate it hate it hate it hate it because Rich is also stressing which makes me stress because he always wants to talk about HIS stress just as I am falling asleep which wakes me up again and why does he DO that it drives me NUTS even though I want to be there for him but why can't he talk to me after work like NORMAL people and so I am also kind of tired because of the stress and the heartburn and the sore boobs and the apartment that farts and the fucking construction workers who are replacing the roof of the building next door who started throwing the old tiles 4 stories to the ground at seven thirty fucking AM this morning and it sounded like sonic booms and so now I hate them and then the elevator was broken this morning from the people who are doing the work on the flats in my building and if they break the elevator their first day of doing this work then what the hell are they going to do to my apartment I mean they can't even not break the elevator and I am supposed to trust these people with all my worldly possessions I don't THINK so and then don't even get me started on the US election because if McCain wins I will barf for days and that's just bad all over and of course the economy is in the toilet though it's not affecting Norway too badly but you never know what will happen and maybe I'll just go and take me and my sore growth oriented boobs and try to have a nap because maybe sleep will make me not stress but I can't sleep and and and.....dammit.

If you made it through that non-sentence than you must really be bored. I do feel a bit better though. Thanks for being there. (Or not. whatever you want.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

News Junkie

Here's a list of the podcasts I download daily.


Day to Day
Fresh Air
Story of the Day
Wait Wait Don't Tell Me
Other stuff:
BBC NewsPod
A Prairie Home Companion
KUT Morning NewsPod
NBC Nightly News
ABC World News
Russell Brand
Stephen Fry's Podgrams
This American Life
Travel With Rick Steves

I don't really have enough time to listen to them all each day. I have developed a new routine in the morning where I plug my iPod into the little speakers Rich gave me and listen to NBC, ABC and Nightline news in the morning as I get ready for the day. On the train to work I listen to BBC NewsPod. If I have time and the frigging trains are late, I catch one or two NPR Stories of the Day as well.

I save the light stuff for the trip home, so maybe a nice dose of Prairie Home Companion and KUT NewsPod. My absolute favorite is Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, which has made me laugh out loud on the train a few times (sign of insanity). I recently started listening to Stephen Fry's Podgrams, and holy crap are those fun, but he doesn't do them very often so I sort of save them.

It's all added up to make me a total news junkie. ABC and NBC news is always from the night before, but I feel pretty up to date. The NPR gives me a break from the doom and gloom of mainstream US news. It's gotten to the point that when I read the news on the internet, I'm all, "Yeah yeah I know that already gimme somethin' I DON'T know!"

Can anyone recommend me more podcasts in the news/entertainment/wry commentary/comedian vein? None of those one minute ones, I hate those, but something in the 15 minute to one hour range.

I guess my chicken is defrosted now. Time to roast the bird (thank you French Laundry recipe!) It's a chilly wet evening, good for a nice chicken and stuffing, with lit candles and a good book. I've given in and bought the Stephanie Meyer vampire series, which I am on the third one. It's ok, not great, but ok. I have some problems with the main character always being led by men and doing very little for herself. Show some backbone honey. But maybe she gets stronger as it continues.

Harry Potter is still better by a landslide.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Afartment. Flatulent Flat.

Our apartment farts.

For realz.

The heating is provided by hot water that goes under the floor and there is something strange going on with the water pump or something, as every 15 minutes or so our flat goes Frrp FRRp FFFRRRPPP. It sounds exactly like a fart, and, as I told Rich, it is obviously the right place for him to live as it also sounds JUST LIKE HIM, though, luckily, Rich does not fart quite as much or as loud. (I would have sent him to a doctor by now if that were the case.)

The sound comes from the laundry room, I would hazard a guess that the floor heating valves are in there. It's LOUD. Luckily these farts don't stink, or we'd have a BIG problem.

Frrrppp.....Frrp....FRRRPPPPPPPP. There it goes again.

In other news, yes we are soooooo fucked with this bloody work they have to do on our flat and we are in negotiations about it now. The rest of the people in the building are finally realizing what a pain in the ass this is, and are getting up in arms. We are going to do a collective agreement as to what we want for reparations and when the work is to be done. My Norwegian is getting much better just by the hard concentration I am doing with all the legalese. In the US you'd totally have a class action law suit. Here? Just some annoyed people having a collective meeting about what we want to demand in damages. We'll see which works better.

I wonder if their apartments fart?

I am balls to the walls busy at work so will try to post as I can. Next week, don't count on much....will be my busiest week of work ever in this job.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

nap excuses

Jet lag is a great excuse to take naps.

You can take a long ass nap (yesterday's was 2 1/2 hours), be late for work, be late to met your friends, and if they comment on your lateness, you just say, tiredly, "Jet lag." And they nod sagely with understanding (all of us expats having been there many times) and you are off the hook.

Of course, this only works for three days, max, before you have to start being on time again. Because, as expats, all your friends also know how long jet lag lasts.

Luckily, now it's the weekend, so I can continue to nap without guilt. If anyone comments, I can just say "Weekend". And they will once again nod sagely and with understanding.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

my hair likes Norway but despises Texas

My hair has certainly made its choice as to what country it prefers.

Norway by far.

In Norway my hair is full, glossy and fluffy with curls. Looks like a Pantene commercial.

In Texas? Stringy, frizzy and not so much curly as just unruly.

I think it's the water. I noticed that in both Austin (where the drought has the unfortunate effect of making the water smell like algae) and Houston, I never felt like I got all the shampoo out of my hair, and the Curls Rock that I always use just sort of weighed my hair down. The water in Texas is quite soft I think. And my hair did NOT like it.

Back here in Norway, the harder water cleaned out all the residue and the Curls Rock is effective once more and my hair is happy again.

Now if only I could say the same, as it is hard to come back after spending time with all my family and loved ones in the SUN and WARMTH. I'm always a bit down after a trip home. I get over it, as there is lots here I like, but it takes a bit of adjustment just the same.

So excuse me if I am morose.

However, I did manage to get re-registered to vote while in Texas and just sent off for my ballot today. So at least I got that taken care of.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

12 damn near perfect hours

Coffee Fairy leaves me coffee and a Sunday paper outside my hotel room. Glory! Sunday paper! Rich and I miss the Sunday paper ritual most of all. Read paper, drink coffee and laze around.

1030 am
Sunday paper completely pillaged, take shower and get ready for day in leisurely manner.

Meet BFF (one of 2, yeah, how lucky am I?) Julia at Matt's El Rancho for my 'dish of craving': Bob Armstrong dip (queso mixed with guacamole, pico de gallo and ground beef) and shrimp tostadas. Served with a swirl margarita (strawberry and lime) and a Coke. I am fat and happy (and burpy). Hopefully this will last me for a half a year or so.

Julia and I go to Last Call for a bit of shopping. In an unusual role reversal, SHE buys stuff and I don't.

Head down to Octoberfest at NXNW brew pub in North Austin. Meet Lee, Mags, Bookhart and Pod (among other friends) and get to see my godkids Her Majesty and Wonderboy. Exclaim at how they are growing like weeds. It is expected, after all. Wonder Boy has big feet and his hair was sprayed with orange hairspray that made him look like fire, and Her Majesty is tall and skinny and was sporting some fabulous cowboy Boots (as was I, my kinda kid!).

Leave NXNW and go to HEB grocery store to get a few essentials that can't be found in Norway. (Febreze, corned beef hash, corned bread mix, Ro-Tel tomatoes and Rich's Aveeno body wash). Get sad and slightly annoyed at ALL THE STUFF I CAN'T BUY THAT I REALLY REALLY WANT. I'd kill for Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. Try not to gnash teeth at price of things....usually at least 1/4th what I pay in Norway.

Back to hotel to change clothes.

Arrive at Town Lake to take a walk. Perambulate around the lake (really the Colorado River that runs through the center of town) and enjoy watching the sweaty shirtless men jog by, the people rowing on the river, feeling the breeze and the sun on my face and generally storing up memories of sunshine and warmth for the coming cold months. When I get homesick this is where my mind goes. I love this place. Realize won't have any warmth even close to this until December, when we go to Thailand. Makes me a bit sad. I am a warm weather girl at heart.

Back at hotel. Freshen up a bit for dinner.

Go to the bar at the Stephen F Austin Intercontinental Hotel and sit on outside terrace and watch the clouds race by and the sun set in downtown. It's a bit breezy and Austinites are out enjoying the cooler weather and the appearance of clouds, which they have not seen in a while. Read fluffy magazine, drink reisling and build up appetite for dinner. Just me and my thoughts.

Go to Roaring Fork restaurant and eat dinner. Decide to eat two appetizers, so have a wonderful 'white corn' tempura shrimp (5 fancy fat fried shrimp) and tuna tartar with guacamole. Washed down with another glass of reisling. Find that two appetizers are quite filling. Those shrimp rocked. Tuna needed....something.

Back at hotel in jammies. Finish packing in preparation for going to Houston tomorrow for last night in Texas. Make blog post. Watch Desperate Housewives, I am SO out of the loop on it.

Watch Austin news for last time and lights out. Comfy bed holds me in its soft luxe embrace. Dream time.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Today in pictures (with a bit of last night, which was actually today, as it was after midnight because we PARTIED!)

Post Davestin, the party continued.

Jaye gettin' down with a bad ass burger at the Jackelope last night. I would have given her my virginity for a bite of that burger, except that ship sailed long ago. And the fact that I don't do girls. Neither does she. Which sort of ruined my virginity offer.

Dave stunned at Mag's assets. Um, brains, I meant brains.

Karla May hiding under my hair. Either that or I grew another tiny head. Please note my new glasses. And my new head.

I just HAD to do it. The place was filled with velvet paintings of pneumatic pulchritude. It begged for tweaking.

After way too little sleep, a nap and a facial and brow wax today, these boots came into my life. The picture doesn't really capture the gorgeous pointy box toe, "roach killer" style. The toes and heels are lizard.

One of my favorite bars EVER. I've got the logo t shirt and panties to prove it.

Mean Eyed Cat interior. It's dedicated to Johnny Cash.

Back to the hotel room. Drunk me wondered why the asswipe was tied with a pretty ribbon. Is it a gift?

I woke up to this gorgeous sight in the other bed in my room. Apparently Karla May got so attached to my hair she came home with it. Also, apparently, we both snore.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The debate, the hotel, the Dave

One of the main reasons I have ever envied rich people is because I envision them having a minion who brings them their morning coffee every day. I've always wanted that, to have my coffee brought to me, without my asking, just when I want it. This would be my main reason for wanting to be rich. (OK that and the private plane. But that is really it.)

This hotel brings me my morning coffee every day between 8:30 and 8:45. Just delivers it right to my door. They leave it outside and knock and go away.

I freaking LOVE that. It's like being rich, like I've hired a Coffee Fairy. Everyone should have a Coffee Fairy.

So now I am drinking my coffee and watching the Ellen Show. I heart Ellen. I love the way she dances.

I watched the debate with Dave last night. I just like that dude. How can I not? If you ever meet him, buy him a Jaegermeister right off the bat. Trust me on this one.

Anyhow, the debate. My main point I want to make here is this:

If you want FOUR MORE YEARS of yet another yutz saying NOOKYEWLAR instead of NEWKLEEAR, then for sure vote for McCain/ Palin. I swear to God, if she said nuclear wrong one more time I was going to explode. I rather like how Biden very clearly pronounced it correctly after every time she said it wrong. Like, nyah nyah, I can say it right!


Tonight? DAVESTIN! Bloggers untie! Buy Dave his Jaegermeisters and let the party begin!!

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Heaven is a newly redone hotel room with incredibly lush beds, lying there watching your flat screen tv, remote in hand, and catching up with the news of your hometown. In the background is the soothing sound of the air conditioner unit lulling you ever so gently closer to sleep.

The free wifi doesn't suck either.

They are going to bring me my morning coffee in 15 minutes.....

Do I have to go home?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

So many thoughts

I'm in Austin.


It just is home.

The drive to Austin was so much fun. The Prius is good on the road, it goes 80 and you don't notice how fast you are going. It's a bit slow to get started, but once it's going it's a swift little car. I used three gallons of gas to get to Austin. I filled up the tank which was almost empty, before I left Houston, and it took 8 gallons. And I did ALOT of driving in Houston. Pretty safe to say this car is saving me alot of money in gas. So going to Austin I just drove along and listened to Led Zep cranked(got the 'best of' cd) and reveled in being in Texas, on the road, in the country. I sort of got teary eyed when I saw some guys working on a fence, wearing cowboy hats and boots and just looking so Texas. Teary eyed from happy. Like, Ah Yes, I Am Home. I know this. I AM this.

Oddly comforting to know that I can come back and know that it is home, know that I belong, and know that it is a real and true part of me, this state and this place. It's not a figment, it's not me assigning some unwarranted value to a place that is all in my head. No. Texas is me, I am a Texan and it is where I have my roots, no matter how far they stretch when I am away.

Of course, being here, I am doing so much shopping that I am probably going to bring half of Texas home with me. I just keep finding awesome deals everywhere, totally scored at Last Call again today, the most gorgeous silk skirt, it's a showstopper, flowy silk charmeuse with a colorful butterfly print on cream, ankle length..Plus got some new glasses yesterday, just picked out frames at Lenscrafters (which I never had luck with) and had my current prescription copied, and it worked a treat. Voila! New glasses. Dolce and Gabban cat eyed frames, black. Not as strong as the Kirk Originals, but strong enough.

Stayed last night with my bud Julia and her partner Heather and my godson Griffin. Griffin is talking! Holy crap! When did that happen!? He's a cutey.

The hotel I am staying at is nice. I Pricelined it (I did that last time I came to Austin as well) and got a great deal. Priceline totally works if you research your options ahead of time. Works especially well in Austin, downtown doesn't have too many hotels and so you can make a good assumption that where you stay is going to be ok. Free wi-fi here if you join their points club.

Meeting Bookhart tonight, after first meeting with Po and his wife Mil. Can't wait to see everyone!