Tuesday, October 31, 2006


I survived. Barely. The preparations for my Halloween party this past Saturday. All day Saturday I cooked and cleaned and we just barely had everything ready; our costumes, the decorations, the food put out, the mess picked up by the time the party started. It was a race to the finish but somehow we pulled it off.

on the Halloween menu was rice krispie treats, cupcakes, cake, veggies and dip and chips and dip along with 3 cases of beer, 1 bottle of vodka, 2 bottles of rum and a million bottles of soda. All the food was a huge hit. Everyone loved the rice krispie treats which is a total foreign concept to them. One girl described it as "eating cloud" which I thought was a really neat way of putting it. But the food is where the total success ended.

from the 30 people on our guest list only about 16-20 showed up. Everyone did dress in costume (except for maybe 2 people) but they took em off shortly after arriving. Also, we had two very different "clicks" the west Flanders crowd and the gent ( east Flanders) crowd. Which did not blend at all. The last person was out by 1.30am.

I decided that I'm not going to do a Halloween party in Belgium again. No one really was into it. Too much effort for the outcome I received. Gregory didn't even try to get into it. We were suppose to be beetlejuice and Lydia for Halloween but he backed out of it at the last minute. The depressing thing about that is, I had given a friend in America my whole list of ideas and told her what Gregory and I were going to be, I see today she too was Lydia and her boyfriend beetljuice and their costumes were amazing. We put together a zombie bride and groom but Gregory was barely willing to but makeup on his face.

so I have a few photos of the night but not a lot because I was too busy getting my drink on and trying to ignore the weird dynamics of the people in the room. The only picture of Gregory and I didn't even come out. But here are some photos anyway:

pumpkin Thomas and janne carved Friday night with us. It was their first time carving. Its a stencil carving but still great.

pumpkin I carved. Its an owl, you cant see it too well in the photo. Its also stenciled. I forgot to take a photo of gregorys pumpkin but it weighed like 20 lbs! Its HUGE and he carved a scary traditional face into it. Everyone loved his the best, I think.

scary mantel. Pumpkin lights, ghosts, cobwebs, skull and of course glow sticks.
he crawled all this way and didn't make it to the beer. my front window. I think my neighbors hate me. Crazy American heathen painting blasphemed things on her window. Gregory thinks the ghosts look like sperm. I hate ghosts with arms.
bat cave entrance. Thomas as flash Gordon pieter-jan as ozzy Osborn Vanessa in yellow and janne in red as 2 50's girls. janne never had cranberry juice before, hence her crazy face. Sigh...Europeans.
colin the rat and "pit" tin foil face? heh. yeah last minute, huh. matt and his new girlfriend Tina guns (that's her real name, how cool is that??!) I like her better than all his other girlfriends at first meeting her so she's ok in my book. There's a mummy in the background.
me and matt. I totally had peeling skin for my zombie costume which everyone loved, and thought was gross. ps--I'm wasted here.
me. The day after. hung over. Freshly showered and freshly peeled of the couch to go use gregory's parent's phone to make a free (for me) phone call to my parents.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

why i keep him around

" wow, janne must think i'm some kind of domestic goddess. first i say i'm baking for our party and then i say i'm making our costumes. "


"so, i bet she thinks i'm betty crocker or something. if only she saw my house..."

"yeah, betty CROCK"

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Work for a week

Last week I pounded some pavement and went to a few interim offices, Belgian's version of a temp agency. Monday rolled around and my phone was ringing off the hook from 2 out of the 3 I inscribed with. Through one of the interim offices I got a job for only this week. I'm working at the kortrijk expo-center, which is exactly what it sounds like. A giant building where they hold exhibitions, and sometimes concerts aswell. I'm working in the kitchen, making sandwiches.

this morning was my first day on the job. Had to start at 7am so we got up at 6. I had packed a whole bunch of goodies the night before for me to eat at work. Stuff for the morning, stuff for lunch, even a little after lunch snack. A soda for lunch and a sports bottle of water for me to sip on throughout the day. Little did I realize I wasn't going to need all that today...

I had a map of the place given to me by the interim office pointing to where I needed to go. I was instructed to go through the "meeting center" door, go up the elevator and go directly to fabiene (which is a girl by the way) so at 6.45am I'm at the door where I was instructed to go and I cant get in!!! Its security locked 24/7! There's a door bell there and it reads: ring here. Ok, so I ring. Twice. And no one comes. I've walked around the building one way but all signs are pointing to the 24/7 locked door I just came from for the "meeting center". At this point I call Gregory in a panic saying I cant get in, what am I suppose to do, and all that other eeeeeeek! Type stuff. Then a car pulls up and luckily the woman inside is going exactly where I need to be so she shows me the way, which, by the way, the "door" I was suppose to enter through was actually a loading dock. And this fabiene chick I was suppose to go see directly, didn't get in till 8.30.

but anyway, despite the early morning drama, I made it in and was sent directly to work making sandwiches. We worked in teams of 2 and knocked out a bazillion sandwiches all morning long. The ones I mostly worked on were the 4.00 euro, high priced sandwiches of 1. Brown bread, lettuce, mozzarella cheese, sun dried tomato and herbs; 2. Brown bread, lettuce, salmon, cucumber and tomato; 3. Brown bread, lettuce, cream cheese, radishes and herbs; 4. Brown bread, lettuce, bacon, mozzarella cheese and sun dried tomato and 4. Mini sandwiches with a variety of spreads and lettuce.
towards the end of the day I worked on other types of sandwiches but those are the ones I did until about 1pm.

by mid morning break time started. A standard 15 minute break which is the same in Massachusetts. But that's as far as that goes! 15 minute break at 11.30 for me. I figured this was just a sit down break, or have breakfast if you wish. No. This was it. I didn't eat at 11.30 because I thought my lunch was coming up soon. But it wasn't. If you want to eat, you better damn be sure its done on your 15 minute break because that's all your eating. I mean, you're allowed to pick at the sandwich fillings. As one woman said "you don't have to just look at the food, you can have some too" but you cant make yourself a whole sandwich! And I didn't really want to pick at the food I was handling to shove into sandwiches because I felt funny. I did have a piece of apple tart though. So from 6-3pm all I had to eat was a fun sized box of honey pop cereal, a slice of apple tart, a couple of slices of egg and a piece of cheese. Hello!! I was dead by 3!How was I to know that they were going to slave drive me and not let me have a lunch break while I break my back making sandwich after sandwich after sandwich that never ended.
I'll be better prepared tomorrow.
I just want to sleep now, though.

oh and ps--the "chefs" in that kitchen are all French and they're all assholes too!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Because Julia RULES

Julia childs is AWESOME. I used to watch her cooking show when I was younger. She was crazy. And when she got old she became even crazier. She used to put a lot of alcohol in her recipe's.

nevertheless, I couldn't help marvel at the great lengths this man went to to give her a grand dedication. I mean seriously, you know you've made it when someone makes corn field-art of you, huh.

someday I'm going to have a corn field and I'm going to hire mike to make me a dedication to Richard Simmons, my other hero.

julia lies in good ole Massachusetts. so all my little people over there, go check her out for me, will ya?!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

how to kill yourself slowly by wednesday in 10 easy steps

1. wake up everyday early

2. power walk for at least 1 hour everyday

3. tuesday, go spinning later in the evening, because walking an hour is never enough

4. from spinning go directly to swimming

5. swim 20 laps in 40 minutes

6. wednesday, hoof it all over town to intrim offices to get a job.

7. eat mcdonalds for lunch (clogged arteries always aides in the killing of oneself)

8. paint a murral on your window for halloween

9. do laundry

10. iron clothes

Friday, October 06, 2006

How my ex-pat experiences are different than most other woman's in Belgium:

I run across a lot of Belgian ex-pat blogs, primarily from women living in Belgium. Everyone that I read they all share similarities with each other, but not with my own life. Here are some differences:

* I don't live in Brussels. I don't even live in the outskirts of Brussels. I don't live anywhere near the Brussels region of the country.

* I live in west Flanders.

* I learn Dutch, not French.

* I am not a trailing spouse.

* I have worked here. I am now an unemployed foreigner. I'm looking for work.

* looking for work is harder than just not being able to work from being a trailing spouse because I NEED to work. And Belgians don't have equal opportunity laws like in America. I don't get money from the government so the government doesn't want to help me find a job and the normal employers don't want to hire a foreigner.

* that's real life. That's not vacationing.

* I don't have a husband that gets paid by an American company. I don't have a husband.

* my life does not revolve around jaunts to Spain, Italy, Ireland, Poland because my husband has work to do there.

*my life revolves around trying to make ends meet with one income and my insanely high American school bills that Belgian pay checks don't figure into their pay allowance.

* I don't attend clubs or meetings

* all my friends are Belgians which makes meeting and keeping friends hard. I don't surround myself with only Americans

*in fact the only Americans I DID know lived in gent and I hardly saw them anyway

personally, I feel if you only surround yourself with people like you and don't get down to the knitty gritty of real, everyday life, then you're only pretending. There's nothing amazing about an American who went to Brussels to be with other Americans in Brussels and go around having vacations 100 times a year.

or maybe I'm just jealous I don't get to go to all those places.

but really, that's not life abroad, that's partying abroad.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

My butt will thank me..

...If only I could lay off the junk food.
today was the first day I had to take the bus back from my class. Monday I didn't go to class and Tuesday dimitri drove me home. Wednesday there is no class and today I was determined to find a bus that will take me home before 1pm. Well I did find one. It dropped me off in the next village over, which isn't so bad because the villages are really small and we live close to the neighboring one.
let me give you a rundown of my day..

wake: 7.10am
leave house: 7.30am
arrive in kortrijk: 7.50am
board train:8.00am
arrive in roeselare: 8.24am
walk to class: 15-20 minutes
class duration: 2 hours
class ends: 11.00am
walk to train station: 15-20 min
wait at train station: about 20 minutes
board train: 11.42am
arrive in kortrijk 12.pm

now here's the tricky part. I can take a train to rollegem, my town that leaves at 12.56pm or i can find one that leave s a little earlier but to a neighboring town. i choose the latter as i really want to get home and if I don't get home before 1 then I wont get to eat lunch with Gregory and I like eating lunch with Gregory.

wait at train station for next bus to aalbeeke: 20 minutes
bus ride to aalbeeke center: 10 minutes
walk home from bus stop: 30 minutes!

wheeeeeeew and its up hill most the way too! All this walking I'm doing will surely shrink my butt. But the thing with that is we need a new shopping strategy. We haven't been shopping all this week so its either spaghetti, go hungry or buy something. I didn't have time to get any pastries at the train station so I thought I'd wait till roeselare this morning. No, nothing en route except for a sandwich shop, which I didn't want a sandwich for breakfast. There's a cafeteria in the VDAB so I thought I'd have breakfast there, as I get there a 20 minute-half hour early anyway. Weeeeell the cafeteria wasn't open so early so I thought I'd wait till break. I don't know if it was still too early for food but all that was out was candy!!!!! I could have bought candy from a machine a 100 times over by then! But by 10am I was nearly gnawing my arm off so ibought 2 candy bars. Ate 1 right then and there by shoving the entire ting in my mouth, and the other while waiting at the train station to return home. I was disappointed I had to eat crappy candy for breakfast but I didn't have much choice.
then for lunch I admit I suggested French fries. My bus stops right in front of the best frie stand around, and it was open and it looked gooooooood. Gregory thought it sounded good as well so then it was fries for lunch after my well balanced breakfast!! Luckily I walked so much today and there's spinning tonight so maybe I can reverse some of the damage I did!

if I can actually go grocery shopping on time and buy healthy stuff I should have an amazing butt by the time the class is finished!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Changing of the seasons

Every year its the same thing. The weather turns colder and I get a cold.
my "changing of the seasons cold" started 2 days ago when I woke up with an incredibly scratchy throat. The same kind of scratch that feels like a pool of snot had been resting in the back of your head all night long and now that's its morning, and it shifted, it burnt a hole in your esophogeal lining. I knew right then and there it would only get worse. The next day presented itself with a bit of a stuffy nose. Today I have a full blown head cold with sneezing, a stuffy yet drippy nose, my throat feels like its closing off as my brain swells larger than life, trying to push its way out of my skull. I'm tired. I'm cold. And I'm moany. The perfect, text-book example of a head cold. And its all thanks to the weather getting colder.
I'm sure it didn't help walking down the windy streets at 8.30 in the morning yesterday with wet hair. No, in fact, I considered that the seal on my death wish. And here I am today barely willing or able to lift my head up for the shear weight is just unmanageable.
I had such great aspirations today too. I had planned to lock myself in the shed and make myself a paper mache skeleton hand for my mailbox and if time permitted maybe even a couple of skulls, or perhaps some cardboard gravestones, as I would love to have a mock grave yard scene in my front window.
but alas. Only the dishes and a couple loads of laundry got done. But I did catch up on my E! True Hollywood stories, some music videos and an episode of "just shoot me" not quite the production I had in mind, but meh. Whatever.

tomorrow, hopefully I'll feel a little better. I do have to get up early to go to my new verbal Dutch class that takes place quite a few towns away. A 20 minute train ride and then a 15 minute walk to get there. On the way home I have to take the train AND the bus. What a public transportation production! 4 days a week that's going to be my schedule. I don't mind it so much, as it does get me up and out of the house early and I have a place to be and something to do. The only real good thing about all the public transport, besides keeping my carbon footprint on the world to a minimum, is that the vdab(unemployment type government facility that's running the class) will repay me for my transportation. Not only that but the class is free! So it stinks that I have to fork over the €6.50($8.33) for my round trip train ticket 4 days a week, not to mention the €1.20 ($1.54) for the bus trip home, at least we'll get it back at the end, so its not all lost.

but when you're not feeling well and you have to get up early it really stinks.Fall rocks but I wish I could have an easier transition without so much turbulence!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Weekend recap

This weekend was not calm by any means. I feel like I've been on the go the entire time.
Friday night:

pasta night at pieter-jan and vanessa's house. They had hor derves of mozzarella cheese blocks with a sun dried tomato on top held together with a toothpick and something I cant remember the name of but it was melba toast crackers with minced olive "spread" on top. Both were amazing. the women prepared a whole meal of home made red sauce with lots of veggies in it and a home made cheese sauce. Both spaghetti and macaroni were served along with slices of French bread. We were all stuffed by the end.
the men then cleaned up while the women took a walk outside heeee-hee! Afterwards we played a game and didn't get home till 1.30am!


awoke at 8.30 a half hour before my alarm and was surprisingly very awake. Got ready for spinning only to hear from gregory's sis-in-law she cant make it (again) Gregory got up not long after (surprisingly) we went to the bakers for pastries and then around 2pm left for gent with pieter)jan, Vanessa, janne, Thomas, christoph, and sylvia.we walked around for ages. I bought a book and a cd.
later, after returning home we went to christoph's house for pizza and a couple rounds of a video game called BUZZ! Its a multi-player music quiz game. I'm shit at it.
went home at 12am.


awoke at 7.45 very annoyed that I got up early again forced myself back to sleep till 10.30. got up, ate breakfast, took a shower and was out the door by noon. Went to buy a present for gregory's nephew's as it was their birthday party today. Got them a marble erect-a-set type thing. Where you construct a tower of "over 120 pieces" and throw your marbles down and watch lights light up, twirligigs twirl flip flap and the other. Their highly into marbles we heard. Then at 2pm we went to their party. They loved our gift but reading "over 120 pieces" on a box sounds waaay cooler than actually constructing "over 120 pieces" that wasn't waaay cool. Had 2 pieces of cake, 2cups of coffee, a "Christmas cookie" which let me tell you, is really only a normal bread roll shaped, what I thought was a mitten. What's so special about it that it gets the name "Christmas cookie" one can only guess. So yeah, one of those and a cp of hot chocolate. Needless to say I was full and feeling a bit sick. gregory's already hungry but I think I'm set for the night.

after the party we drove to a town named roeselare because that's where my new class is being held. I have to take the train tomorrow and never having been in the town I wouldn't know which direction to walk, once there, in order to actually get to my class. We spent a lot of time there because Gregory couldn't find the vdab (the building I needed to be at tomorrow) . Once found we proceeded to make our way back. instead of taking the road back to the train station, where was our first reference point, and where there happened to be any easily readable sign that pointed straight to the highway, Gregory decided to go down unknown roads and lead us into nowhere land. Thanks to my awesome navigation (guessing) skills, we made it to the highway eventually. Making home I had to do homework, since for my new class I need to present a "topic" tomorrow. I finished my topic, on a new chocolate bar that opened in new York and now I'm here. Its 9pm and I'm ready for bed!! It feels so much later.

this coming week I think will be full of activities too. My class is 4 days a week so it'll be new and strange getting up for t hat in the mornings. Also tomorrow night I'm attending a lingerie party with janne. Apparently this lingerie is stuff that gets sold in stores but its last seasons collections. So bras that normally go for 30 and up are sold for 15 a pop! I just recently bought new bras but I might have to take 15 or 30 euros along with me because, lets be serious. You can never have too many bras!
Tuesday and Thursday evenings I should be going to spinning but we'll see about that and maybe Friday night swimming with Gregory, janne and Thomas. That's if I have a bathing suit by then.