Archive for August, 2009

My Day

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Dear God,
I’m sorry for flipping out yesterday in a heated moment of ueber-stress. It was mostly uncalled for and everything worked out in the end. But I guess thanks for helping me find the strength to calm the hell down within a reasonable period of time.

Tra la la.

In other news, today is in fact my birthday, and I am a cupcake master. Or semi-master. They still didn’t raise up like cupcakes should, but it could be because Latvian flour is different — the butter sure is, when it’s at room temperature it smells WEIRD — but the texture for the final batch was right, the cream cheese frosting turned out, and the raspberries on tip looked adorable.

Yes, I just openly used the word “adorable”.

Co-workers seem to like them, or at least no one has rushed to the bathroom soon after eating a cupcake to relieve themselves of my potentially American-style Satan spawn in tiny cake form. That being said, they really did turn out well, and I’m glad cupcakes were welcomed with open arms and empty stomachs this morning.

Tonight I’m going to try my hand at making chapche, a Korean dish equivalent to beef lo-mein. I’ve invited plenty of people over under the pretence of a birthday celebration, but really I just want to guinea pig some new recipes. I also somehow doubt they’ll mind too much.

This past weekend we had our first couch surfer stay with us. If you don’t know about couch surfing, you can read about it here, as though it is a fairly simple concept, it could take some time explaining. Our guest was from the States and has been travelling Europe after finishing his Master’s in ecology. It was an interesting experience and having him as our first couch surfer was also a good introduction to the system, as he’s been couch surfing for years and could give us some pointers and ideas for future guests. Also, since he was deaf, we got to learn some ASL, as well as a few European sign language signs. Somewhere at some point I learned and have remembered the entire sign language alphabet, so communication with our couch surfer in the event a certain word was harder to discern or lip-read, I could spell it out. I also learned from him how to sign “story of my life” and plan to use this extensively.

I was planning on asking for Tuesday off (we are given one “free” vacation day as a birthday gift) to go to another high ropes course, but the weather forecast is less than favourable for outdoor activity, so if I end up asking for the day off, it might just be spent catching up on several movies I have been wanting to watch, as well as FINALLY (gaaaaaaaaah!) finishing the sixth Harry Potter book.

Until then, I remain,

The Birthday Girl

Time Works in Odd Ways

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

To put my two weeks of time spent back in the United States in a nutshell:

The time away from Latvia/Europe seemed to be FOREVER, while the time spent in the US seemed to go too quickly.

Several times at the end of the first week I felt like kicking myself for not making the stay 3-weeks long. On the other hand, while thinking about extending my stay for seven more days of my own bedroom, dishwashers, machine-dried laundry and hugs from the parentals was tempting (like it was back in college, when many times I actually toyed with the idea of not going back, just staying in Minnesota with family) and a comforting thought, the idea of spending any more time away from life in Latvia was not comfortable. Although I still can’t say if I would be ready to sign my entire being over to living in this country, The Fatherland (capitals on nouns for you, dad), I know that Europe is where I want to be. At times it is hard, but the feeling I get when I finally touch back down on European soil is pure relief.

Minnesota was a great time, that’s that. I got to spend time with family, visited my grandparents several times (by visit I mean subject myself to some manual labour), saw some friends from high school, a few from college, saw a musical, the Harry Potter film, got my fair share of cat and kitty lovin’, threw myriad rocks into the lake up at Duluth, shopped like a maniac, etc., etc. and all while fielding projects from the office in Riga.

I also found myself being borderline sassy with people in stores. Minnesota nice brought out a little sass in me, it’s true. But even though it started out like this, toward the end of the two weeks I found myself actually entering into willing conversation with the people preparing my coffee, with random people in line at the post office and even one of my mother’s neighbours. It was frightening how quickly it all came back.

I experience a little jet-laggedness, much to my surprise, both when flying into the States and when coming back here. I have no explanation for this, except that maybe because it wasn’t a vacation trip and because I did have so much to take care of in such a short period of time that the amount of stress kept my body from listening to my brain, which has been trained to acclimate to the time changes after the first evening of arriving somewhere. Today is Monday and I’ve been at work since 8:30 and am still feeling great.

Some people at work have asked me how America is, and my response has been “It is.” Some of them still can’t believe why I’m not head over heels for the States and prefer Europe instead. Yesterday, while walking home from a farewell gathering in Old Town, my flatmate and I were passed first by a black and white SmartCar decked with a decal-tuxedo, a giant 3-D top hat and a cravat, then by a white SmartCar adorned with a white tiara, veil, and huge red lips painted on the front.

Do I need a better reason?