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Month: July 2010 (Page 1 of 4)

Very Brave

Today we went to the fair out in Indiana. Joel’s putting together a video for me that I’ll post later. For tonight I’ll just leave you with this teaser.

Anthony couldn’t have been more excited to hold the python. Afterward he kept telling people “I got to pet the snake. I was very brave.”

Dark thoughts

Hate is such a strong, ugly, nasty word. There are so few words that are as ugly. The words that are as ugly? Usually are related to hate in some way.

Sometimes, if I let myself think too hard I start having hateful feelings. They usually start as sadness. Then anger at the fact that I’m sad. Then the real ugliness tries to creep in.

Because sometimes I’m still so angry.

Angry at what I feel was taken from me.

Angry at what I believe to be unfair treatment towards me.

Angry at actions that I absolutely don’t understand and may never have an explanation for. And even if they were explained I doubt the answer would satisfy me.

It just feels so fucking unfair.

Then I feel my whole body tense. My teeth clench and I only breathe in short, shallow breaths. My shoulders tense up and I can feel my forehead furrow. My nostrils flare. Often I start to shiver.

If I let myself at that point my thoughts start to get so dark and ugly. I have caught myself wishing physical harm and even death on certain individuals. I am not even a little proud of this.

How dare they make me feel this way? How fucking dare they.

Then I remember, I control how I feel. I remind myself to take deep breaths. I unclench my teeth and purposely relax my forehead. I am so not letting them give me wrinkles. I roll my neck from side to side with my eyes closed and focus on my breathing.

I will not hate them. No. It only hurts me.  I refuse to let them make me unhappy.

You know what? My life is good. Actually, my life is unbelievably fantastic. No sarcasm. Hating only gives away my control of my feelings and, after all that’s been taken from me, I refuse to allow that to be taken too.

I am still hurt, angry, confused and rejected. However, hate? I will not do that. I will not think it. I do not hate them.

Hate is such a strong, ugly, nasty word. It’s one word that is never allowed in my life.

Hearts of coffee

I love coffee. Like, a lot. I tend to have an addictive personality so to prevent brown teeth and headaches I limit my coffee to just special treats. Still, I do love coffee.

Several months ago I was offered a job as a barista at a little shop that was planning to open soon. Construction took longer than expected but I’m finally getting started. Yesterday and today I was privileged to have training at Intelligenstia roasting works in Chicago. We learned the art of making espresso. Yes, it’s an art.

We also were taught actual latte art.

Lovely isn’t it?

It is NOT as easy as it looks. At. All.

However, it is so much fun. I know so much about espresso now and the drinks that are made with them. Obviously there is much I don’t know. There is so much more science behind making coffee than you’d ever expect. Our trainer used all kinds of big words that I was only remotely familiar with. Since I’m a giant nerd though I found it fascinating. It helped that our trainer was one of the coolest people I’ve met in a long time. I want to be her. Just a little though.

We have orientation on Monday. The store is set to open mid-late August. I’m excited. But also nervous. Mostly excited though. I have a feeling that I’m really going to love this job.

I also have a feeling that avoiding coffee addiction? Won’t be possible for much longer.

I’m ok with that.

Wordless Wednesdays: Feels like home

English and crocodile tears

I mentioned yesterday that getting from Rotterdam to Amsterdam via the train was a bit of a fiasco. Before reading this there are three things you should know. 1. I used to live over there so I have a fairly good idea of how the train system works. Or at least I think I do. 2. I speak Dutch fairly well. I’m not 100% fluent but I speak it well enough to get around and understand what’s going on around me. 3. Thinking you know things better than you actually do can be worse than not knowing anything at all.

Once I got into Amsterdam I was supposed to meet a former au pair friend of mine but I couldn’t get a hold of her before I left. We had talked the day earlier and she said she’d be into Centraal Station around 6pm. I could have gone earlier and been with my host family’s current au pair but I wanted to spend a few more hours with them. At the time I thought I would leave for home early the next morning and wouldn’t see them for a long while. Ha!

Anyway, of course I hung around until the last possible second and got to the station way later than I should have been. Since I was running late I decided to take the express train since it would get in at 6 instead of the normal getting in at 6:30.

I’d never taken the “super fast” train before so I asked at the desk for that train specifically. I double checked when she handed me the ticket that it was for the fast train. Oh no, I have to pay extra for the fast train. Ok I knew that (and why I asked for the fast train but whatever). I paid the extra, she handed me a different ticket, I took that one and made a run for the train since I had less than five minutes until it was supposed to leave.

I was relieved that I am a fast runner and made the train with a minute or two to spare. I found my seat and glanced down at my ticket. That’s when I realized what I was holding in my hand wasn’t a ticket at all. All I had was a voucher for the extra fee. In a panic (because the fine for not having a ticket can be 50+ euros) I went to the door to ask if what I had was enough. Nope, he said. I stood at the door not knowing what to do. I would like to mention that to the conductor, I spoke English. Sure, I could have easily spoke Dutch but then? How could I feign being an ignorant tourist?

The train was leaving so there was no way I could go all the way back to the ticket counter. If I waited then I spent an extra 8 euros for nothing since the next express train wasn’t for another hour. I’d just have to take a normal train. I told him I paid for a ticket but this voucher was all I had. He was nice and said a ticket was only 10 euro so I should just stay on the train.

That would have been fine but stupid me only brought a few euros more than I would need to get there and back. I opted not to bring my credit card because I didn’t want to lose it. At this point I was at the brink of tears. I was mad that I was going to pay double for a ticket and worried that I wouldn’t have enough money to get home.

As soon as the conductor came by I burst into tears. I’m talking, giant crocodile tears. I started to tell him I wouldn’t have enough to get home and I really did pay for a ticket I swear. He interrupted me mid outburst and asked how much I had paid. I told him how much and he said not to cry, someone found my ticket. He then stamped both tickets and walked away leaving me feeling like an idiot for crying.

I wish I could thank whomever found my ticket. Or maybe the conductor just felt bad for me and pretended someone did and so he could let me on the train. Either way, I had enough money to get me there and home despite my poor planning.

After I got to the station I waited around for several minutes before I heard that my friend was actually sick and not going to make it. I know she couldn’t help it but seriously? I went through all that just to get there 20 minutes sooner… and I wasn’t even meeting anyone. ::sigh::

As you know I ended up having a great time anyway. Why the darn lady at the ticket counter didn’t call after me I’ll never know. I really don’t think I was running that fast that she didn’t notice. I also don’t remember there being anyone behind me, or even in the ticket area at all. Thank goodness for English and my ability to cry crocodile tears on command.

Lost in a sea of orange

I finally have internet here again which means I can finally post about the game. Yes I used finally twice in the same sentence. I’m that excited, ok?

It was quite the experience. I’ve had two weeks now to process everything but it’s still hard for me to put into words exactly how it felt to be there. I went alone which was ok. It was kind of disappointing because I was supposed to meet a friend but she ended up getting sick. Getting there on the train was a bit of a fiasco, involving a ticket mix up but that could be a post all by itself.

Once I arrived in Amsterdam I made my way through the sea of orange to Museumplein.

It was funny because as I was walking down this main street I realized that I didn’t actually know exactly how to get to Museumplein. I mean, I’ve been there dozens of times but it’d been years. I had a general idea so I decided to just follow the masses of people. They all seemed to be walking in the same general direction. It worked out but I did end up taking a rather round about way. Turns out, not everyone in Amsterdam was going to Museumplein to watch the game. Psh.

One of the things I love most about the Dutch is their enthusiasm for all things Nederland. The orange outfits ranged from impressive to just hilarious.

This? Was probably not even the weirdest outfit there. Just the weirdest I got a picture of.

The area was set up to hold 100,000 people. They estimated there were 180,000 people there. When I say we were like sardines I’m not exaggerating even a little. There were times I was moving through the crowd and my feet weren’t even touching the ground. I’ve been to many rock concerts and outdoor festivals but I have never been in a crowd that was this jam packed. Generally in big crowds there are breathing areas where people are spaced out a bit more. Not here. We were shoved, shoulder to shoulder as far as you could see. If you could see the screen, you were smooshed up against people on all sides.

Oh right, have I mentioned that Dutch people are statistically the tallest people in the world? Yup. Have I also mentioned that I’m 5’4″? So when I mentioned seeing the screen I really meant the people who were 6′ and above.

This picture (and all crowd shots) I took on my very tippy toes with my hand stretched as high above my head as I possibly could.

Not even joking, this…

was my view for about half the game. Not actually bad to look at per se, but also not exactly what I came to see. My head was barely at their armpit height. Halfway through I decided to move around. I never actually found a good spot to watch from so I basically took my cues from the crowd as to what was going on in the game.

This is my very favorite picture from the trip. It was clearly a very intense moment in the game.

Being in the big crowd alone was overwhelming to say the least. Not that I was nervous or felt unsafe but it’s amazing how alone you can feel when everyone around you has a group. There were friendly people but mostly guys and I’m pretty sure it was mainly for ulterior motives. Actually, their motives were fairly clear in certain cases. One group of four guys was so excited that they put me in the middle and humped me from all sides. Fun. Another guy asked me (for his ::cough:: friend) if I “wanted to have sex because he’s very horny”. Charming. It didn’t bother me necessarily but it would have been nice to have my own group of people.

By the way, it was hot. The Netherlands is supposed to be all mild with the weather. You know, mid 70’s in the summer. Beautiful. Not this summer though. At one point it was 93 degrees. Ninety-freakin-three degrees. That, combined with the fact that there was copious amounts of alcohol being consumed and we were crammed together like cattle, made for a seriously smelly experience.

At one point a helicopter flew over and dropped orange gerber daisies on the crowd. It was very pretty but also perhaps to help with the smell? Please ignore my incredibly sweaty bangs. Gross. Also notice the guy next to me is several inches shorter than I am. Poor dude couldn’t see anything either. We would have commiserated about it together but he only spoke French and Spanish. Ah well.

The noise level was unbelievable. Not only was there cheering and yelling and singing but the vuvuzelas. Oh the vuvuzelas. Also, air horns. I’m not sure what’s worse. Honestly? I’m leaning towards the air horns. At least they have to stop when the user needs a breath. It was noisiest before the game started. While they were playing there were moments where the quiet was almost eerie considering how many people were there. It was quickly followed by shouts of excitement or disappointment but some moments the tension was something you could actually feel. That was the best part of being in that insane crowd, feeling every emotion of the game times 180,000.

Yes, there were moments when I was beyond disgusted. First off the smell, which I have already mentioned. Then there was the time I watched a guy just pee, right in front of me, in the middle of the crowd. He didn’t want to lose his spot. At that moment I was never so happy to be wearing tennis shoes instead of sandals. I may have looked like a dumb tourist but at least my toes weren’t anywhere near touching that filthy ground. There was also the beer flying through the air (why do people waste perfectly good beer? I don’t get it.) Then the vomit. And God only know what other liquids.

Amsterdam is generally a very clean city. Not so much when there’s a game apparently.

I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t stay for the entire game. About three quarters of the way through I went to the edge of the crowd. I just couldn’t handle being smashed against so many strangers anymore. It wasn’t like I could actually see anyway. I did stay until Spain scored their goal. There were only a few minutes left so I knew it was over. Plus? I. was. dead.

See? Dead.

I wanted to catch a train as fast as humanly possible. I knew that I would only be ahead of most of the crowd by a bit but I hoped that it was enough of a head start that I could maybe get a seat. It worked. I had to stand until the first stop and after that I was able to sit down. I really needed to sit down, see above picture as evidence.

What an incredible experience it was. I really am glad I went. There were moments where I doubted my sanity in going. The train trouble getting there, the intensity of braving the enormous crowd alone and the stress of getting a flight home all made me wonder if it had been worth it. In the end I really think it was. It’s a story I’ll always have. That’s really why I did it, for the adventure.

And boy, from start to finish, what an adventure it was.

I was sad again

Then I had a bottle of wine.

Life is good.

Ok maybe I should figure out what the underlying issue is here. I think wine is not a (good) long term solution. It certainly did the trick this time though.

I want to be happy. My life really is great.

I don’t know what my problem is. ::sigh::

Mail garbage

As you can see, I’m STILL blogging from my iPhone. I know, lame right? You all are going to forget I ever went to The Netherlands, much less took pictures.

What’s holding things up is the mail. See, AT&T would only mail the router to the new address. That’s fine except we couldn’t get our mail keys until we turned in our inspection sheet. Why we put that off I’m not really sure but we finally got it done today. My thoughts were “yay, Internet!” Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPhone but he and I need a little time apart. I need to miss him, you know?*

Joel emptied our mailbox and brought the contents upstairs. Not only was it full to the point of bursting, there were letters literally wadded up into balls and shoved in the cracks. Isn’t there some kind if law against that? Seriously, who does that? Perhaps we were lucky that none of it was actually our mail yet.

Our mail should have started forwarding several days ago. So, while I’m happy that it wasn’t our mail that was treated like garbage, I have no idea where it actually is. Of course it’s the weekend so we have no way of calling anyone to find out either.

I’m really hoping everything gets sorted out Monday. I’m sick of functioning at dial up speeds on this tiny little screen. I’m also a little worried about where all our mail has been going for half a week. Obviously I’ll keep you updated. Cross your fingers for us.

*Yes, I’m talking about my iPhone like it’s a person. Also yes, my iPhone is a boy.

Moods

The past several days I’ve been in what is best described as a funk. Moody, irritable, snapping at Joel or Phoebe over the littlest thing, bawling my eyes out for no reason whatsoever… Very unlike me. My life? Is really good. I have no reason to be feeling so down.

Tonight Joel, knowing how sad I’ve been all day, did his best to cheer me up. He brought home stuff for taco salad, watermellon and surprised me with one of my favorite movies, The Great Mouse Detective. After I ate dinner and 3/4ths of the the watermellon (not kidding) we snuggled and he teased me and tickled me until I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breath.

I don’t know that it fixed everything. I do know I’m fighting to be in a better mood though. I have so much to be grateful for. I’m trying to focus on all the amazing blessings I have in my life. It may not always be 100% effective at pulling me out of this funk but I’m not just going to lie back and let these feelings drown me.

However, when I can’t quite do it on my own, I’m so lucky to have an amazing husband who knows how to make me smile. And sometimes even laugh until my stomach hurts.

Dreams in a box

In the bottom of this box are dreams disguised as dance shoes and clothes. The shoes are loving worn out. Not quite with holes, just worn spots and discoloration where my toes used to rub the floor the most. They’re still good, I could still wear them. But I don’t. I don’t dance anymore.

There’s nothing in the world that makes me feel more alive than dancing. It’s the way my soul speaks. When I hear a song it’s rare that I’m not dancing to it. Only now I usually only dance in my head.

When I was younger I was a dancer. I danced all styles of dance but I wanted nothing more than to dance on pointe shoes. I took classes several days a week. When I wasn’t in class I was practicing for class. As a little girl my favorite places were the aisles of the grocery store. They were the best for practing spotting as I twirled. My mom didn’t seem to mind. At least she never stopped me. My mom was wonderful like that.

My dance teachers were some of my favorite people in the world. They were beautiful and when they danced it was like magic. They didn’t just perform steps, they sparkled. Dances weren’t just a series of steps put together, they were their feelings set to music.

One day the head of the studio called me into her office. I don’t remember why. I do remember her asking me what my goals were. Among other things I mentioned how much I wanted to dance en pointe. I don’t remember anything else she said in that meeting except for one thing. “You don’t have the feet for it.” Everything else is a blur. I don’t remember if I cried then. I don’t think I did. I don’t think I said much else at all. All I remember are those words and feeling like I’d been punched in the stomach. I don’t have the feet for it. Just like that.

I didn’t stop dancing then. It was several years before I stopped altogether. But a little part of me died that day. That dream was snatched right from under my nose by cruel genetics. To this day I cry if I see ballerinas dancing en pointe. Why did that have to be my dream when I wasn’t made able to do it? Cruel.

There are so many reasons that my dance dreams lie in the bottom of a box. Money, time and age are all factors. But packing up things to be put into storage I’m reminded of that moment. The moment one of my dreams died. I’m also reminded that I don’t dance anymore.

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