Category Archives: USA

Revelations (Brooklyn, USA)

I get carsick from air freshener and the ongoing phone conversations of the driver and I get seasick from people who pace in small circles in front of me during their Bluetooth conversations.

 

Fat, trashy white kids should not be named Usher.

 

And George Clooney contracted malaria in the Sudan.

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Day 0 (Brooklyn, USA)

What’s amazing is that no matter how much time you think you have when you get ready it’s never much more than you needed. I had 3 tasks at home and the last one was to pack my radio away after the Howard Stern show was over and cancel my subscription. I was planning for noon. I was ready to pull the plug when my subtenant suddenly appeared and loaded my living room with huge boxes. So I never got to do it. Not a problem since he’s not actually moving in until Sunday and I missed a good 30 minutes of my favorite show which I can now listen to later when I’m back from lunch and killing time before the flight.

So the morning flew by with only 2 small errands and as a bonus I got to see the amount of stuff Chris brought to this place. Admittedly the largest boxes are only holding suits and his computer takes a lot of space as well but the rest should be stowable once he goes to town with it.

My apartment is probably cleaner than it’s ever been. I took the good old oven cleaner for anything grimy and wow, I’ve never seen the kitchen so shiny. God knows what this stuff is made of. It’s a shame I clean only for others but my guess is that I will have to do it again when I’m back.

I still have my cold and the sore throat came back but I’m determined to ignore it, that has always worked well in the past. Right now I’m sitting at Coco Roco, a Peruvian joint on 5th Avenue in Park Slope, and I’m so happy that I can smell the chicken they’re roasting. I haven’t smelled or tasted anything in days. I desperately wanted a beer last night but I skipped it since there’s no joy in a buzz without the taste. This should be good!

It’s no longer a countdown (Brooklyn, USA)

It’s the infamous last day for me. I am packed, my valuables have left the building, the apartment is clean and I am finally sitting down to relax.
Only the computer and the bike are visibly missing and if you know my place a bit you may notice a better order or some other electronics to be hidden but other than that you really can’t tell. Which is a shame because it took me almost 3 days to get it to this state.

I am slowly entering this transition (or is it transit?) phase. The time you kill before the flight, at home, elsewhere, back at home again until the cab arrives, finally at the airport. It’s a weird countdown that is not enjoyable no matter how early or late you fly during the day. My flight is tomorrow evening which means I am doing well with time but I don’t feel like using it better. I will have what will probably feel like the most drawn out lunch ever tomorrrow just to kill some time. And when I get back from it I will walk into a a stranger in my apartment and I will feel weird for using my own toilet for the last time…and then I will have to close the door behind him on my way out. As much as I don’t care about my stuff it’s still a weird feeling.

Sick of the cold – the cold made me sick (Brooklyn, USA)

What would a countdown be with a last minute cold that makes you sneeze and sniff nonstop, not to mention feeling achy? My head feels like a brick and my nose is beyond red. Joy.  But I ignore these things in general and only tend to them when I’m finally winding down for the night.

Today I called my bank to inform them about my upcoming trip. I have a great credit card that charges me an arm and a leg for a foreign transaction fee but they could charge me even more if they actually let me use it abroad. Everytime I try it my transactions are denied. So in order to prevent potential money emergencies I let the bank know where and when I’ll be going. 

The call was painful. The guy on the phone, not Indian for once but unfortunately not much better at mastering the art of enunciating comprehensive English, had clearly never seen a globe before. I have to remind myself that this is in no way unusual in this country, however taking “Malawi” down as “Maui” and then “Maryland” is a bit questionable when I had just explained that I’ll be traveling around another continent and outside of the U.S.  To save some time and probably the embarrassment of having to write down complete gibberish on his sheet when it came to the country names he then suggested we simply call it a trip to South Africa, although it’s actually even more likely that he didn’t know that South Africa is a country much like the others, it just happens to be in the south of…well, Africa.  After a painful 35 minutes on the phone I asked him to read the list back to me, mostly for entertainment reasons, but he declined and gave me a confirmation number instead. Oh boy.   This actually reminds me of an  earlier incident in which I had to do some password recovery work with someone over the phone. The actual details escape me now but basically the whole problem was that I often use location or city names as passwords or their reminders and the customer service rep couldn’t spell the simplest of them because she had never heard of these places. I’m talking major cities here. It was humiliating for both of us… and I learned my lesson. Since then I have been using words that definitely need to be spelled out as it’s basically impossible for an English speaker with no other language skills to pronounce them. So, there!

Aside from the call I also had a great lunch in the city today, steak salad that looked appetizing but I couldn’t taste as my taste buds have been defeated by the cold. I then tried to find a replacement bulb for my huge lava lamp because obviously that is a priority when I’m not even going to be here to look at it. It was a failed mission as the bulbs for these lamps no longer come in the required wattage.

I then rode my bike over to my friend’s house as the weather for the next 3 days is supposed to be bad and I just needed to do one more useful thing today. My list of to do’s or to “look up”s has shrunk considerably as I’m just too lazy for these items now. They can wait. I did however sync my ipod a million times to load the newly purchased audiobooks onto it. Somehow that was a disaster, the audiobooks do appear but not where they should and although I know exactly what settings they should have they are all over the place and nobody on the mighty internet knew why either. I’ll manage (if I even get to them on the trip).

 

And now a word about world politics. Tunisia, yay! Well done, with the getting rid of the president and all that. But quite selfishly it does worry me a bit that the other countries up there (Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan) are thinking of being copycats. I mean…I’m all for freedom all around, but whatever happens, can it please be over with by the time I’m up there? Around May/June would be fantastic. Thank you!

The art of doing nothing (Brooklyn, USA)

Doing nothing is an art form for me. I booked the upcoming trip at the end of September to give myself a purpose for the upcoming months. Finally I had dates. And errands. And stuff to look into on the internet. And stuff I could buy without feeling guilty for spending money.

I really wanted to do it all at once. Book the details. Read all about the countries I would be going to. Pack. And wrap up everything that had to be done in my apartment. That was before I even knew that I could sublet, let alone found someone I would give the place to.

I’m a fortunate person. I’ve always been lucky. I’ve never suffered from anything, had any big problems to tackle or experienced bad times. I’ve always had the money to support my various ideas, I never had difficulties finding a job or settling in to a new place. I’ve never worked too hard and I never jumped through hoops to get what I want. Everything always fell into place with me. Why would it be different this time?

It wasn’t. My landlord accepted the proposal of me subleasing (even if this took a while and due to my impatient nature made me temporarily nuts as friends can attest), I found a person without any effort on my part, and now after 3 months and a bit I’m finally at the point where I can say the countdown has started.

So here it is, 3 more full days until I take off for London and Frankfurt and the art of doing nothing has finally kicked in. In the past weeks I was itching to get things done. I had to stop myself from cleaning out my closets or redecorate entire shelves. I didn’t want to clean the toaster oven, microwave or fridge because I still use it. I didn’t want to do laundry as there’s not enough piled up yet even though I won’t need 90% of it for my trip anyway. I didn’t want to create ipod playlists and buy audiobooks because I thought I may need the ipod for data transfer beforehand.  But now that the time has finally approached I am no longer interested in any of that. I have found a way to be relaxed, not doing anything other than watching a DVD or taking a walk, and generally not even caring that in 3 weeks from now I’m going to be on the other end of the world at a staggering 90 degress Fahrenheit. Certainly right now when I’m wrapped in a blanket going through entire packets of Kleenex due to a nasty cold I can’t picture being in shorts and long sleeved shirts to protect myself from the sun and the mosquitos. Damn mosquitos, I will have to start taking my first Malaria pill next Monday and then for 31 consecutive weeks…

I will “lose tonight” as I’m going to my friends’ house (Mike and Lisa) to watch their friend on a bad Disney soap. I will “lose tomorrow” as I’m meeting Christine for a drunk brunch which basically means that the rest of the day I will slack off as well. I will have to get some basic cleaning or packing in on Tuesday to prevent last minute disasters that I need to take care off on Wednesday. But really, what is there to pack/clean? In the evening my friends willl see me off at my local pub. Which probably means “Wednesday morning is lost” as well…  Finally on Wednesday evening I will take my computer and a box and my bike to Allison’s house – perfect excuse to eat out then as it’s so dramatic not to have a computer at hand anymore. Finally on Thursday I will get up, shower…and wait. Wait for my tenant to show up? Wait for …what exactly? I don’t know but I need to kill time until my cab arrives and in the meantime I need to get used to the idea that my apartment is not going to be my apartment for the next 7 1/2 months.

But none of this worries me anymore, and I no longer feel guilty for not doing anything productive this week. Even with these deadlines I manage to sit on my couch playing with my ipad which will be of questionable use in Africa (I could google exactly how useful it is to me there, but no, that would make me productive) or ordering specific light bulbs for my lava lamp on the internet which will arrive after I’m gone. In my mind I have mastered the art of doing nothing.