Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Catch Up

Thanksgiving has come and gone and I’ve been very quiet. I did mean to put up a blog wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, but obviously, I never got around to it. So happy belated to all those whole celebrate the day of Thanks.

As is the norm for us each and every year, our house is bursting with quite the international bunch. This year we had 8 Irish, 1 Hungarian and 1 American. Yes, we felt it only right to throw in the token Yank, since it is essentially an American holiday. The lucky Yank this year was of course Husband. For the past 3 years he has been the sole US representative at our Thanksgiving table. The rest of the table is usually made up of some of our European athlete friends who have based themselves state side to do a chunk of their winter training. As a result, the food is more European than it is American. The potato was hugely popular this season, something to do with all the Paddy’s (Irish) I guess. We just can’t help ourselves, we love our spuds. Mashed, roasted and baked, whatever we could do with them we did and served it all up with pride. It was carbohydrate heaven, or hell if you’re from the Atkins School of eating.

Après dinner, the dining room table was cleared and transformed into a poker/blackjack table for an evening of “friendly” gambling. It was hard to tell from all the yelling and abusive language that it was faux casino filled with friends and not a bar filled with warring gangs. That’s what happens when you fill a room with highly intense and competitive individuals.

Some of the lads show their support for Husbands turkey slicing skills.

Let the shoveling begin.

Danny is beside himself with joy over all the food.

Happy to be finally getting fed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Timing is Everything

My new job has me partaking in that clichéd, rat- racers, morning and evening rush hour commute. Yes, I get up even before the sun, to take my place in the lines and lines of slow moving traffic in an effort to get to the office on time.

For the first couple of mornings, I was unsure how long the commute would take, so I left in plenty of time to allow me some wiggle room for anything unexpected that may show up en-route. You know, like the odd 3 car pile up, cough cough. Well, when I was arriving at the office a good 30 minutes before I was due to, I figured I could afford to steal an extra 10 minutes of sleep and still be able to make it to work on time. And even though it may not sound like a big deal, trust me, if you get up at 5am every day, that extra 10 minutes can make a world of difference to your mood, to your energy levels and not to mention the dark circles that start to present themselves under the eyes. But the first morning I experimented with my later departure, I almost didn’t make it on time. It’s hard to believe but those stolen few minutes, translated themselves into a commute of about and hour, as opposed to my standard 35 minutes. So instead of being under any punctuality pressure, I needed to surrender my precious 10 minutes. Not cool.

But on top of all that, each and every morning, I find myself locked in a race and a battle of wills against one of those giant symbols of American culture…………….. the school bus. Let me tell you, it’s driving me crazy. One in particular rolls through our neighborhood at about the same time as I leave the house and if I manage to get stuck behind it? Then whoa, you’d want to hear the ranting and raving and extensive use of colorful language that falls from my mouth.
I just don’t get it. First of all, the thing only moves at like 10 miles an hour. Then it stops every 50- 60m to pick up, sometimes just one child. No joke. It stops at a corner where there's maybe a child or two waiting. Then it drives, every so slowly, roughly another 60m or so where there is another child standing, alone. Once that child is locked and loaded we proceed another few meters and stop. But there is nobody around. So why are we stopping? I wait patiently, ok that’s a lie, I have absolutely no patients for this and I am going nuts in my car trying to figure out why we have stopped. Is the driver just trying to piss me off, cos I don’t see any children? Then the driver toots his horn and a few seconds later a child appears from the door of a house and runs towards the bus. Are you f*#king kidding me? So now the bus is a taxi, with special individualized service. It’s blowing my mind. It makes absolutely zero sense to me. I mean why is it so hard for all the kids from the same neighborhood to congregate at one designated spot and have the bus just make one stop per hood, load them all up and get on its merry way?? Why? No, instead we get this slow moving, unnecessary daily parade, designed specifically to work my nerve first thing every morning. Yes, for me and this particular bus, it’s become personal and I do feel slightly victimized.

Maybe its cos I’m European that I’m unable to tolerate or comprehend such an ordeal in ones daily travels to school. We just don’t operate under the same system. There is no government mass production of buses, in any particular color, designated solely for shuttling kids to and from school. It’s just not done. But don’t get me wrong; I’m not against the school bus concept. What I am against is this unnecessary stop/start charade that’s happening every couple of meters and is costing me a good 15 minutes just to get out of my own neighborhood, as opposed to 5 minutes if they adapted my one stop per hood technique. It makes sense and seriously, it wouldn’t hurt any of those kids to take a walk to a bus stop every morning.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Broken Woman

I’m so glad this week has come to an end. To say the least, it’s been a f*#king nightmare. I could blog forever about some of the other stuff that’s happened over the past few days, but honestly, I’m so down and emotionally drained that I just want to move on and forget the whole thing.

Even yoga couldn’t help me. I went on Saturday to see if I could balance my inner most self and have Wanda, our yoga instructor, use her smelly candles, her plinky plonky music and her magic brass gong to release the negativity that’s been hanging around my karma lately. But alas, not even Wanda could help. Once I left her class, my day did manage to take yet another turn for the worst. But she did give my muscles a serious stretch out.

So I’m ready for a new week. Or is it that I’m just ready for last week to be over?? Probably the latter. I'm a broken woman. And in the absence of any great will and fight left of my own, I will pull on the words of the great Tim Gunn (of Project Runway fame) to help me through this testing time, “designers, carry on”. And that's just what I’ll do. I will “carry on”. Damn it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Face Lift

Yes, I'm afraid there is more playing around with the blog layout. I'm desperate to give my blog a bit of a makeover. To add more of a personal touch. But what the people at blogger offer is kinda limited, so I'll just have to spend some time doing a bit of reseach and educating myself with some HTML, (lord help us, I don't even know what it stands for), in a effort to customize my little corner of cyber world.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Its a Crisis"

This week has been rough going. Monday I started a new job, more about that later, and as is the norm with all new jobs, you want to get off on the right foot and make the best impression straight out of the blocks (a bit of track lingo there). Little things like being on time, dressing professional, being on time and being on time are tres, tres important. So me showing up 40 minutes late, on my first day, well, that would be frowned upon now wouldn’t it? But there I was, 40 minutes late. Honestly, if your going to be late go all out, that’s what I say. None of this 5 or 10 minutes crap, that’s only for amateurs, 40 is good, but a full hour, now that’s a set of balls, but also in the high risk of being fired before you start category.

Anyway, my reason for being late? A 3-car pile up, which I was involved in. It was pretty bad. So bad that my car, we all remember little Fenway, well he didn’t survive. He is dead, totaled, written off or whatever the right terminology is. He was badly injured and once the standard procedures of pulling off the highway, calling the Husband and then the cops, giving the statement and filling out the reports was all complete, Fenway was rushed to the emergency mechanic. He fought hard for a few days, but at approximately 5pm today, the insurance company declared him, DEAD. Pause for a second in remembrance…………..Myself and the 2 other drivers all managed to escape without injury. Which right now, I am very grateful for, however at the time of the accident, all I was worried about was being late for my first day. It was much later when the whole thing clicked and I realized how lucky all 3 of us had been, delayed reaction I believe its called, things could have been much worse.

On a totally different topic, but very much a theme in my life right now….. babies. Babies are everywhere. Obviously I shared Silja’s news over the weekend, but it doesn’t stop there. My brother, Edward, the older one and his wife, Sarah are also expecting their first child this February. Very exciting. Then yesterday, another friend of mine, Caitriona, came clean, via e-mail, that she too is with child. As Helena, friend from Belgium ("Hey Girl"), was saying a few weeks ago while we were discussing this very topic of too many people we know having babies, “It’s a crisis”. Yes, according to Helena, having all these babies, much like the present economy, is a crisis. And she may have a point, pretty soon, most of my spare time may in fact be taken up with babysitting duties and that my friends, may very well be a crisis.

But I have a feeling I'll be playing favourites, just a bit. Below is my little niece or nephew in the making. You can see its still very much a work in progress, but no denying, its definintely a baby and I think it has my ribs. We do know the sex of the baby, but I'm not allowed to say cos my parents want it to be a surprise and I certainly do not want to be the one to ruin it for them.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Chunky Monkey

For anyone out there who has ever wondered what happens to the rock hard, toned and muscular bodies of professional athletes once they retire, then I am about to share.

Some of us manage to stay active and maintain a basic level of fitness and while the ripped and shredded factor may be reduced, we still retain that toned appearance.

Then there are those who feel they have physically worked hard enough during their professional careers to warrant never ever stepping inside a weight room or onto a track again. They have paid their dues, so now its sofa and pizza time.

Now we all remember my dear friend Silja, who decided to retire from the world of track and field back in July. Well, in the few short months since her retirement, I’m sorry to say that Silja has managed to let things slip, just a little. I recently, as in early this week, received an e-mail from Silja and with it was a photo of her and another friend. I’m not sure if it was the angle of the picture or the type of clothes she was wearing, but girl looked FAT. I couldn’t believe it. She was so big that it looked like she'd swallowed a small person. Which is actually not too far off the mark.
Cos SILJA IS PREGNANT. Yes you read it correctly. Silja and Vignir are having a baby. And even though the news was a bit of a blow to both of us (myself and Silja) at the start, we are now completely on board and cannot wait for the little Ice-Berg to get here.

So CONGRATUALTIONS SILJA AND VIGNIR, I know I am not directly related to either of you, but that has not stopped me claming the title of Auntie Shinks. Weather you like it or not, its gonna happen, so get use to it. And P.S Silja, those clothes you’re wearing look waaay too tight, I’m going to finally send you that MuMu we’ve been talking about. It’s not the most flattering, but its best for the baby. Ha!

Silja is the chunky momma on the right.

And here is baby Ice-Berg. Not sure if it's a boy or girl yet, but as you can see from the scan, baby has no problem finding it's nose. Silja insists it's scratching it's forehead. Whatever girl, your baby is already a nose picker, get use to it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Disappearing Act

I know I have pulled a big fat Houdini the past week or so, and really, how could I? Especially with the huge and historical event that was Barack Obama's election as the 44th President of the United States. Obviously, I had no part to play in the outcome of this election, I had no vote. But that does not mean I wasn't glued to the process over the past year and especially in the weeks of early voting and election day itself. It has been quite surreal to bare witness to such a defining moment in US history. And weather you were a Barack supporter or not, there is no denying the powerful emotions and sense of hope and unity that was pouring out of our tv screens once it became clear who the next president was going to be. And even as a European, we do have a in-depth education on US history, the War of independence, the American Civil War, Martin Luther King and the Civil Right Movement; I can't for one second sit here and pretend to fully understand what this victory means to so many people, especially black people. All I know is what the history books tell me about their struggle and how they have continued to struggle and so for them, I am happy.

On a personal note, some big things have been happening in the world of Shinks. Some I can't blog about until a later date, and the other's I'm just too tired to blog about right now. But I did feel it necessary to finally put a new post up, just to let the world know I still exist.