Friday, December 31, 2010

I don't need no stinking resolutions

So let's see, this is the end of the year post where everyone lists what they've done and what they plan on doing for the upcoming year, right?

What I've done:

Stuff.

Some of it was fun, some of it paid, some of it was a waste of time and energy.

Seriously, people with the lists of accomplishments?  Knock it off already, you're giving me a complex.  I don't tally my accomplishments, I like to just go with the assumption that I'm awesome and leave it at that.  So when I read that some people have learned other languages or published a novel, I'm sitting here thinking "crap, I didn't do that... but I got out of bed this morning AND brushed my hair, DOUBLE WIN FOR ME!"

'Cause it is waaaaay too easy to list the things you didn't do this year.  The things that left you disappointed.  Isn't it?

I wanted to be graduated by the end of the year.  Not that I made a resolution about it, because graduating resolutions are made at the beginning of every semester and I was becoming regularly accustomed to emailing the graduate school and saying "kidding, ya'll, I'm not graduated yet.  LOL!"  So when I told my department WAY BACK in April that Enough Was Enough and they were all Tru 'Dat I thought for sure I'd be stroking my degree by now.

But apparently it's harder to get off the chain-gang than it looks.  I mean, the Warden is all "paroled!" and the Parole Board is all "Time Served!" but the idiot with the key is all "yeah, but see we only do scheduled releases during certain times of the year and the rest of the year we don't actually keep the paperwork around because that would give people the impression that there was a system and it's not a system, it's more of an organic process, so the paperwork will be available on-line in December, wait, did we say December, we meant January, and did we say on-line because I'm not sure if that's really possible, have you checked our web-site?"

Seriously Graduate School - don't you want students to, I dunno, GRADUATE?

I.  Guess.  Not.

So the one thing I wanted to get done this year: FAIL.

Whatever, at least the organic process, or whatever the hell it is, means I don't have to keep writing the bloody thing and I still qualify for "student membership" for the organizations I belong to.  That's my silver-lined Purgatory!  Whoot-whoot.

My resolutions for this year are:

Continue to not make resolutions!

I've been wicked good at keeping this resolution.

You could argue the logical fallacy of this argument, but do I look like the kind of girl who bows to logic?  Logic??  I laugh in the face of logic!  I put underpants on my head and dance around slapping my butt in the face of logic!

Instead of sitting down and making a list of things to do and making promises I'm only going to break spectacularly, I'm going to keep my cat inside tonight, watch the fireworks from my deck, and spend the next two weeks writing the wrong year on everything because I'm a little bit special like that.  And I'm not going to dwell on my failure to end the year as Master of Archaeology, Art, and Other Stuff because it'll get done at some point not dependent on a calendrical division imposed by Julian or Gregory or whoever we have to blame for this particular temporal junction.  And I'm going to keep on celebrating the little accomplishments of the day right along side the major ones - I started a fire in the fireplace, it took me two hours to get it going, but finally I made wood and paper BURN - I WIN!!

To you all, readers and friends, known and unknown:
I wish you the best of luck with your resolutions and may the new year bring you greater peace and prosperity, may we have all learned from the lessons of this year and may we not repeat the mistakes of the past, may there be more cookies and less boiled cabbage, may we all forgive and be forgiven, and may we all find our inner grace and beauty and find a way to share it with the world.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Blizzard of 2010

Okay, maybe it wasn't technically a blizzard on the 23rd of December, but we'd had a heap of snow and then a Very Strong Wind which took said snow and made landscapes of it.

Drifts were indeed drifting.

Drifting across roads.

To take up residence at bus stops and other sundry places where drifts hang out.

It was a white-out kinda day.  A day where I was profoundly thankful that:
A) I had a Volvo
B) it was stick shift
C) it was black

Ever try to find a silver car in a white out?  I'm sure I'll be kicking myself when I have to find my black car in the dark, but for now I am very grateful that I can find it in the snow, because I got a lot of snow.  I have a lot of dark too, but rarely do I need to drive somewhere after dark these days.  "These days" being here in DK where I am not really supposed to be driving but sometimes you have to bend the law in order to obtain a Christmas Duck.

The Christmas Duck is very important to Danish Christmas, unless you are eating pork for Christmas, in which case you don't need a Christmas Duck and driving out into a snow storm to get one is Incredibly Stupid.

I had just returned from the land where pork is Not Allowed and really would probably have been very happy to have a Christmas Pig, but I do like duck and I can do things with duck that you can't do with a side of pork - like stuff it, and make gravy from the giblets and drippings.  And I'm really rather opposed to pork crackling.

Pork crackling is skin and fat that has gone crispy in the oven and it just stares up at me and says "Cardiac Infarction" and I don't like it when my food talks to me.

So anyway, The Duck.  The Danish Boy had ordered a fancy-pants duck, I think it was free-range and organic, but at the very least it was Never Frozen, from the butcher's in the neighboring village (we don't have a butcher here, although according to the sign in one of our bars he does visit on Wednesdays, but whether that's to sell his wares or to get drunk we've never quite established, I mean, a sign saying "Butcher is here Wednesday 12-4" is rather vague, don't you agree?) to be picked up on the 23rd.

When we had a white out.

I'm fairly sure that the Danish Boy had not anticipated this turn of events and even if he had, I'm sure that he fully intended on being done with work in time to go get The Duck himself, but with the white out there was a surprising little amount of news for the newspaper because everyone stayed home and you can't really write a full news spread about how no one did anything because it was bloody awful out.  So while my husband waited for someone's kitchen to catch fire (never did happen), I was left to sort out The Duck.

(At this point I should state that my MIL was completely panicking about the prospect of me out on the road and insisted that the DB would surely not wish me to do such a thing.  I mollified her by calling the DB and telling him my plans and the DB, knowing his wife is freaking AMAZING was all "right, call me if there's a problem with the butcher.")

I loaded my BIL, his girlfriend, and my SIL into the car with two shovels and we drove off.  Hey, I'm not stupid, if I got stuck in a drift I knew I couldn't dig myself out or push my car out of the snow - I'm freaking 6 months pregnant!  I drove the entire way in 2nd gear, dropping into 1st to bring the car to a controlled stop.  I did manage to get the car into 3rd when we were on our way to the supermarket in the other town on the island (hey, after a successful duck acquisition, it seemed prudent to go ahead and get the rest of the shopping done in case the snow got WORSE). I navigated by sign posts and trees, which generally mark the edges of the road, but I also had to try to remember where the road might be because in some cases the snow drifts gave the impression of bends where there were none.  This would have been easier if I drove the roads regularly or hadn't been out of the country for the last 7 weeks, but I'd ridden shot-gun enough times to remember the way.

Apparently everyone else in the car was slightly terrified and very relieved when we made it home, but Spawn and I had a blast.  We'd totally do it again!  I'm thinking that I should be one of those rescue vehicle drivers because I think the "where is the road again" game is ACE!

We (and I use that term loosely, I kept the car going and the heat on for the others, I'm all heart like that) dug a Mercedes station wagon taxi out of the snow on our way to the butchers.  We never got stuck.  We never slid.  We came home with a Christmas Duck and loads of other food, including more citrus fruit than I've ever had in my house at one time.  If anyone manages to come down with scurvy in this house, it can only be through willful negligence.  Or a surfeit of gingersnaps.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

How to Become an Intolerant, Racist Asshole in One Easy Step

Step One: Work in Qatar.


I would make a joke about how tired my arms were after flying in from Doha, but I wouldn't be joking.  It took almost three days after I landed in Denmark to stop feeling like I had just spent 48 hours on spin cycle.


I was due to fly out in the wee hours of the 20th, and the 19th was one of those days that will go down in infamy as "If It Can Go Horribly Wrong, It Will and the Timing Will Be Impeccable."

First, the internet went on holiday, which is why the resulting events of the day took 3 times as long.

We discovered late late late on the 18th/in the wee hours of the morning of the 19th that people needing to leave Qatar needed an exit visa.  This can only be gotten via the Qatar Moron Authority's man-who-deals-with-visas-but-apparently-has-never-seen-one-before-in-his-life-which-is-why-we'd-all-been-issued-the-wrong-freaking-visas-even-though-he-was-in-charge-of-getting-us-visas-LAST-YEAR-so-how-could-it-be-a-completely-foreign-concept-to-him who ended up being on vacation IN SUDAN.  Since it was a holiday in Qatar, just trying to figure out WHO needs to get us exit-visas, WHAT do we need to get an exit-visa, WHERE is the man who will get us exit-visas, and WHEN IS HE GETTING BACK took ALL DAY.  Remember, myself and two others were getting on a plane at 2:55 AM, aka less than 24 hours from when all this was happening, so we were justifiably apprehensive.  The poor guy who was supposed to be on a flight on the morning of the 19th who was not allowed to leave Qatar (and thus the reason we discovered about this exit visa thing) was LIVID.  He's trying to get back to the UK for Christmas and as the airports were shutting one by one he was sitting in a hotel waiting to get his exit visa watching his chances of getting home vanish before his eyes.

We drove to Doha at 6 PM with the idea that maybe we might be able at some point to leave the country.  We were then in a car accident, because what is better than having to deal with one bureaucratic nightmare than TWO!  The Nissan Exterra was undamaged (well, we did get hit by a Ford Escort, which I know from experience are horrible little cars), we were only bumped, but we had to go to the police station and stand around for a while, during which the Qatari tried to blame us for being in the way when he crossed 3 lanes of traffic to exit the round about.  Yes, you horrible fat man, so sorry for being in your way, I am SO AWARE my position in the pecking order is below you and that it is my job to improve your country without disturbing you in any way, especially by getting in your way when you drive your little crap car like it's the freaking Indy 500!  My job was to look pregnant and American (HA HA! You need us to buy your gas and protect you from Iran, you fool, so don't piss off the hormonal chick in the maternity gear), which must have worked because we were let go without incident.  We all wished we could go and get rip-roaring drunk at that point, but we couldn't.  I was ready to get a pet pig, name it Mohammed, dress it in a burka and parade it through Doha before ritually sacrificing it to the God of Abraham, bathing in it's blood and having me a bacon sandwich.  Hormones, remember?

So we went to the souk to eat Indian food.  Just as our food came (at 10 PM because of the accident palaver), we got the call to go to the Qatar Moron Authority main building (newly finished, which means 50% of the building is non-functional, including some of the ladies' loos) because the vacationing visa man had come back to Qatar and was going to go into the office and get us exit visas.  I have never eaten Indian so fast in my life.  I had the worst acid reflux for hours afterwards.  Pregnancy, Indian, and speed eating do not mix (you can have two of the three, but not all three).  Eventually we made it to the airport in time with exit visas in hand.  Because Al (the poor Brit) had to reschedule his flight, he still had several hours to wait while we got through with no problems.  (He did make it back to England and had a lovely Christmas with family and friends.)

By the time the Danish Boy picked me up in the rental car, I'd been awake for 38 hours (I'd even worked a full day that day, moving finds crates and objects around the compound and had gotten no afternoon nap).  I'd gotten some cat naps in on the flights, but I also needed to keep getting up to pee, keep the circulation in my legs going, eat, drink water, stretch, get off my bum so that I don't get hemorrhoids again (too much information? sorry), etc.

The DB took me back to his brother's Copenhagen apartment to sleep while he ran around delivering Christmas presents.  I slept 8 hours, was woken for dinner, slept another 8 hours, was awoken to run out and buy a new old Volvo (more on that in a second).  I then drove the new old Volvo in the snowy and icy conditions back to Ærø where I pretty much collapsed and slept another 8 hours, according to the DB I didn't move once I laid down.  He even managed to vacuum and I didn't so much as budge.  I remember none of this, being asleep at the time.

I got up on the 22nd and began to run around like a loon - I bought the DB's Christmas present, food (seriously, the man had eaten us out of everything in the house - but then again, he had been busy WREAKING THE CAR - see below), and made it to a midwife appointment before everyone (BIL and GF, SIL, MIL and MIL's dog) arrived for Christmas.

MEANWHILE IN DENMARK
Before I left Qatar, I got a call from the DB that began with "I'm fine.  I'm not at all hurt.  And I'm really sorry."  He was driving back from an interview on Thursday, the 16th, when he lost control of the Volvo in the slush and ice and spun into a clump of trees.  The Volvo did exactly what it was supposed to do and which is why we will never buy anything but Volvos ever again and he walked away without scratches or even bruises.  Even the trees were fine.  But the car was a total loss.  It could have been fixed, but it would have cost far more than it was worth and almost as much as the cost of a newer Volvo station wagon in better condition.  We know because we just bought one.  The DB also pointed out that our old Volvo was due for a major re-haul this spring, which also would have cost more than the car (we were really not looking forward to that bill), so in the end the accident may have saved us some money.  I don't particularly care - I'm just so thankful that the Volvo did what it was supposed to do and saved the father of my unborn child from harm.  That's why we bough a Volvo (although HE insists it is the for the huge powerful engine), it's impeccable safety record.  I would have been heartbroken to have to sell it for scrap just because we couldn't afford to overhaul the engine or something, but to have it go out in a blaze of glory and validate it's very purpose of being was a death anyone would be proud of.

So we drove out from Copenhagen yesterday to a farm where a mechanic who's got a degenerative bone disease was selling his Volvo (he couldn't get in or out of the car comfortably any more, but had kept his Volvo in pretty good condition for a 15 year old car).  It's back to stick-shift, I'm afraid, but it's nice to know that we have a newer Volvo to protect us as we drive around Denmark.

It was very useful, for example, when I braved the Blizzard on the 23rd to pick up our free-range duck from the butchers.  But that's a Christmas story for another post...

Friday, December 10, 2010

And all that was heard was the whine of the mosquitos

So you are possibly wondering what happened to me.  No posts, no comments on your blog posts, heck, I'm not even showing up on your stats, obviously I've decided you are all horrible people and I'm never speaking to you again.

Kidding!

I have the world's most terrible internet connection.  It's rarely strong enough to check email and when it is, all eight people living in my house jump onto the shared network to try to Skype home.

As you can imagine, it slows the connection down considerably.

[Insert pity-fiddle here]

Today most of them ran off to the big city and I stayed here because I'm a fat pregnant lady who can't bear to be parted from the refrigerator and it's goodies for longer than 1/2 hour.  And look at this - INTERNET!!

I've got 10 more days in the land of camels and sand before returning to Planet Iceball, at which point I'll have internet on demand.  I'm afraid this trip hasn't resulted in oodles of pictures.  I haven't gone anywhere, so it's pretty much the house I'm staying in, which is a cement box with holes for mosquitos and cats to enter at will.  Not photogenic.  My work has mostly been the rebagging and retagging of numerous finds objects and cataloguing the odd find that makes it's way to my desk.  I have filled my bedroom with boxes of finds, so at least I feel like I'm on an excavation.  Otherwise it feels like I'm working in some sweatshop stuffing cards into dime bags along with little treats for rich spoiled men and women to gloat over in the comfort of their air conditioned offices.  Oh, wait, that *is* what I'm doing.... drat.

I'm spending a lot more of this trip with my feet up - those swollen ankles finally arrived and I'm doing my best to keep them in line.  This involves lying on the bed with my legs elevated, eating tubs of ice cream and watching Battlestar Galactica.  (Don't tell me how it ends - I've never seen it before!!)  When I get back home I'm going to have to organize some way of getting a sofa into the dining room so that I can keep an eye on the fire and keep my feet up at the same time.  I'll then switch to copious amounts of hot chocolate.  But I don't think the rocking chair is going to cut it any more.

So ladies and gentlemen, if you have a blog that I normally read, I haven't cut you out of my life - I just haven't had the bandwidth.  And readers, I'll try to return you to your regularly scheduled program as soon as possible.

Hugs and kisses to you all!