Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Today's horoscope..oops!

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

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

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

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

So much for that horoscope!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Big Texas sky.

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

A long-held tradition, renewed

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

Monday, January 21, 2013

outfit of the day

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

OoTD. It's a thing.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How I roll, yo

Things are heating up here in ex-Texpatriate land.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Meet my baby

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

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Grocery shopping (the honeymoon continues)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 12, 2013


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

The honeymoon period

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I made the Galleria my bitch.

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

I bought a car today.

Hello Subaru WRX.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, January 06, 2013

a stream of consciousness post/email I sent a friend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Packing (procrastinating). No! I mean PACKING!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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