Archive for December, 2008

That Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Once again feeling like my arm muscles are itching. It might be from carrying groceries plus a box of cat litter halfway across downtown.

It’s the day before Christmas Eve. I don’t think I’ve ever had to do anything constructive the day before Christmas Eve — this year is different, having a job and being at the office instead of messing around the kitchen in my pyjamas baking Christmas cookies with/for my mother. We have a small tree at the apartment and it’s decorated, I’ve bought some standard Christmas snacks and have done zero cleaning like I wanted to. So really, it’s nothing new from usual Christmas goings-on, except for having to be at the job.

I haven’t been really sleeping the past four days or so — basically since past Friday. Not entirely sure why, but it just hasn’t been happening. Probably work. Probably temperature changes. Probably nothing.

I did end up making it to Berlin two weekends ago and had a fantastic time seeing how far and how long I could make myself walk so it would hurt for days afterward (three, to be exact). A good friend of mine from college is working in Hanover teaching English and it was very ooh-la-la European adultish of us to meet up in Berlin over the weekend, do some shopping, traipse through every Christmas market we could find and eat delicious German junk foods: bratwurst, fries, chocolate-covered fruit, roasted nuts, mulled wine. Also got to talk to Andi a bit more about her wedding next year, which I hope to be able to attend. Our main motto of the weekend was “We’re living in Europe — and doing cool stuff!” So true.

And the past week… has just been one big lead-up to the on-off holiday breaks. The weather has been predominantly boo-hiss, with a culmination of interesting today. Before 2 P.M. we had seen rain, sleet, hail and finally some snow, which will once more turn to boo-hiss before it gets dark at 4 P.M.

My dad flies in Sunday, which will be exciting because I’ll be able to play “tour-guide”, in a sense. Not that my dad needs help getting around the city, but a lot of things have changed in a short time, and the tour-guiding will be more of a “this store left because of this” and “you can’t get coffee here anymore because of that”.

One thing I have wanted to write about but haven’t remembered to in the past is how to walk on sidewalks in Riga when snow or stuff, if you will, starts to melt. You can’t walk under awnings and right next to buildings to avoid street puddles because there are often cones or saw-horses set up to keep you from getting slammed with huge chunks of snow or ice sliding off of roofs. And you can’t walk close to the street to avoid building sludge because of the street puddles, the wonderful aspects of which I have already touched on. So your options are to a) become a part of the agonizingly slow pedestrian traffic concentrated directly in the middle of the side-walk, sporting a general umbrella-bumping rule of “no blood no foul”, or pull a Pelé and dodge everyone and everything like it’s 1:1 with 40 seconds left and you’ve got the ball and are going to make it to the goal, so help you God.

Or shout “Sewer rats!” and hope mob panic ensues.

Merry Christmas to everyone — eat, drink, and handle gift-wrap responsibly!

Already this Week

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

We haven’t even reached Wednesday and there have already been events.

Events during which some things have happened.

First, our landlady finally came and took the large creepy bed out of the apartment. Since I didn’t get any follow-up calls from her saying “Sorry but we broke ——- and ——- and ——— and ———” or “You better pray to God that masking tape on the wall doesn’t strip the paint”, I assume everything went well. With the big bed there’s enough room to put together the individual beds – I took care of mine first thing after work. In the process, I was reintroduced to the joys of “building” IKEA-like furniture and was reminded (more so the day after) that my hands are not, in fact, hammers.

Today, Tuesday, was normal enough except that I was 10 minutes late in meeting up with friends because I was busy leaning into the apartment dumpster trying to punch the cardboard box of said bed into submission. A big thanks to the guys carrying chairs out of the furniture store for not stopping to stare.

I was going to continue by explain how I experienced some kind of weird coca-cola poisoning at the restaurant, wherein I got waves of dizziness and nausea, but then I remembered just now that I ate a yogurt and fruit thing, which completely explains everything. It wouldn’t be the first time yogurt made me feel like I had been hyperventilating in a room pumped full of helium.

Berlin is in four days – tomorrow I go to buy plastic boxes for transporting of German goodies.

I’ll Show YOU Puddle!!!

Friday, December 5th, 2008

While on the way to pick up three pairs of my long-ill shoes from the…cobbler? That’s pretty archaic. Anyway, on my way to the cobbler through Friday afternoon weather that just couldn’t be bothered to be a little bit colder so the rain would turn into snow. At the door of the cobbler’s I remember they want cash and I have none, so I about-face and head back in the direction of the nearest ATM. As I’m walking I reach an area where there are several shallower puddles at the same time as a car. This car driver is obviously a jerk, as I have no steps to jump up on or any doorways to duck into as he or she drives by, right through the puddle. Luckily I had my purse and computer on the left side of my body, because right side was tidal-waved (in a big city sense).

WHY do people do that? I understand driving through puddles on empty streets, I used to do it all the time. But here… luckily most people don’t act this way. There’s a puddle the size of four Mastiffs lying back to back at the corner of our street, and no one drives through that. Because they’re most likely not jerks like today’s person.  Today’s person probably has a thought process along the following lines:

“I am approaching a group of shallow puddles on the passenger side of my vehicle. These puddles have been put there by rain. Rain that wants to spite me and make my driving experience that much more of a hassle. Rain puddles that need to be retaliated against. Ergo that pedestrian there, who looks like she probably forgot to get cash on the way to the cobbler’s, deserves to be punished as an extra.”

At least I live around the corner so I didn’t have to experience sitting or standing on the train home with people secretly eyeing me with pitying stares.

All I have to say to that driver is this: be happy I forgot to buy  marinated gherkins at the store because if I had done so, I would have retaliated and had a fun time seeing how quickly you could U-turn on a one-way street in Friday early evening rush hour traffic. And you would have had a fun time explaining “pickle damage” to your car insurance company.

On (e-)Spam

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

I’m tired of filtering through spam comments regarding free porn, gold jewelry and pizza bagels. CUT IT OUT.