Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dextromethorphan dreams....

Jeebus! expateek had a harrowing experience early the other morning.

She was traveling again. Or she was still traveling, perhaps. Just one of those things for expateek, doncha know. The travel simply never stops.

Anyway, she was transferring from the station to the shuttle bus, laden with all her usual travel bags. She'd managed to get an extra thing (an original painting!) through security at Heathrow, so even though that was a sweet victory, having to tote an extra thing around was proving to be something of a mixed blessing. Still, as is her habit, she counted her bags and items at every change-over (2 duffles? check! one cabin-sized roll-on? check! one overstuffed Longchamps tote with laptop and documents? check! purse? check! one original painting? check!) and it all seemed to be going quite smoothly.

The shuttle stopped and everyone disembarked to wait for the small-gauge railwaycar to arrive. As expateek boarded, and counted her bags yet again, she realised, DAMN, she'd left her laptop behind on the shuttle bus! And the roll-on suitcase, filled with all her family's important documents (birth certificates, on-line banking passwords, foreign currency, etc, etc.)

Panicked, she begged the conductor to stop, but naturally, you can't back up a train, so the staff helpfully suggested she return on the next trip to retrieve her stuff.

expateek was sweating blood. She'd carried this stuff everywhere, all the way from Poland! Through England, Scotland, and on to the USA. How the heck could she have left behind two different bags (1/3 of the total!) in the flippin' shuttle bus?

It was awful.

She realised that her coat was no help. She struggled to take it off, but couldn't peel the sleeves off her arms, because she was so sweaty and upset. She twisted around in her seat in the railway car, but no dice, she couldn't get free.

The refreshments cart was going by, and she smelled coffee. Perhaps a jolt of caffeine would sort her out. She twisted in her seat again, more and more tangled up in her coat and scarf, and she thought...

"This just isn't right. Something is seriously out-of-whack here! Have I lost my mind?"

And expateek realised at that moment that her eyes were closed. Of course! Easy to leave bags behind when your eyes are closed! She opened one eye.

And there was a steaming cup of coffee on her beside table, provided by the ever-thoughtful Mr D. And the sheets were wrapped around her neck, and her feet were tangled in the nether covers, and it was all due to the evil effects of Tylenol Cold, and its dreaded active ingredient, Dextromethorphan.

IMG_6724, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Also known as a dissociative hallucinogenic drug if taken to excess. Which expateek didn't by the way, but there you are. expateek is a rather sensitive soul.

Dextromethorphan. Guaranteed to provide horror-filled, panicky dreams for the likes of a seriously jet-lagged expateek.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

So sorry, sari

Years ago, expateek was driving along past the back of a block of flats, and as she watched, a woman in a sari emerged from a fire exit door with her male partner. The woman carried a laundry basket with both hands, and her man held the door open as she came through. As the woman turned toward the walkway, the wind suddenly blew the door shut and the long end of her sari was caught in the door. Suddenly, both were gesticulating and shouting at each other, and then the man shot off to go round and open the door from the inside. The woman stood there, alone in the windy afternoon, holding her basket, waiting to be freed.

Since then, expateek's always wanted to own a sari, so that she too could get tangled in revolving doors, or unwind her clothing in the wind by accident, revealing her lithe and youthful figure unsightly bits. Hmmm. Perhaps not a good idea after all.

Saris, originally uploaded by iwishmynamewasmarsha.

Still, a shopping opportunity awaits, as expateek learned yesterday of the amazing Belgrave Road in Leicester. Sari shop after sari shop, with silks of every colour and design, line both sides of the road in this profoundly Indian part of Leicester. She's desperate to go back to indulge her desire for exotic costume. But she will probably resist, as kilts await in Edinburgh...

And yes, expateek met the lovely katyboo for an Indian dinner last night, and what a dinner it was! At the end of the evening, expateek hopped out of the taxi breathing curry and spice and everything nice, and had to lie down nearly immediately as she was absolutely stuffed to the gills.

Katy went home with probably another night's worth of take-away,

IMG_6666 bobby's, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

because it just isn't an Indian dinner if one doesn't order entirely too much.

The wonderful thing about this curry night was that both expateek and katyboo lived to tell the tale, and no cutlery was drawn, and no women were thrown violently into a car boot. So civilised, it was, and lovely company.

Look how much Katy trusts expateek!

IMG_6665 katy, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

She's even closing her eyes as she calls for the taxi!

It could only happen in the blogosphere...


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bubble Wrap POP Quiz ANSWERS!

Well, expateek's kept you on tenterhooks for long enough.

side of beef, originally uploaded by k. brugman.

Actually, not on tenterhooks, exactly, because her tenterhooks are surely packed in that container that's on the ship that's sailing, sailing, over the Bounding Main.

And by the way, the hooks in the photo above are not actually tenterhooks, but expateek thought the guy in the blue gloves looked kinda cute, so she put the photo in anyway.

If you're interested, these are tenterhooks.

on tenterhooks, originally uploaded by johnwoodmanuk.

Or they're more tenterhookish than those meathooks were. Tenterhooks are hooks for stretching tents. expateek thinks she's going to need to learn about tenterhooks, because at the rate she's been moving around, she'll surely end up in a tent or a yurt or something by year's end.

But back to expateek's worldly goods, which are traveling to America. She hopes that the Main is not too Bounding, because that might break some of expateek's tea cups and tenterhooks. Anyway, best not to think about the Bounding Main without some Dramamine in one's system. Or some 15 year old Scotch. And it's far too early in the morning for that, really!

So expateek's going to go through the answers for last week's Bubble Wrap Pop Quiz, highlighting some of the more imaginative reader proposals.

Thanks to Scatts, Christine, polandian , Iota, and Pochyemu for such creative guesses!

Photo Number 1:

IMG_6626, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Is it:
  • A rattan chair with detachable snow shoes?
  • A replica Egyptian throne?
  • A Juice-a-matix 5,000, which can double as a wood chipper?
  • A small rocking chair?

First photo, outed:

IMG_6546 chair with arms, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

It's a chair. A chair that expateek picked out of the trash when she lived in Chicago 7 years ago, to the eternal mortification of her teenage son. No! Mom! No! No, no! Mommmm! Get back here! Get in the car! MOM! I have to get to soccer practice! Mom, it's ugly, and it's not gonna fit in the back of the car. Mom! Aw, sh**, Ma! This is so embarrassing.

And then expateek took it (the chair, that is) to a reupholsterer, and Bob's yer uncle! Almost like new.

Notice the juggling clubs in the background. They're part of expateek's new act, using the pole, tenterhooks, and ping pong balls. Wait for the YouTube video, coming soon!

Photo Number 2:

IMG_6624, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Is it:
  • A Thunderbird 4?
  • Full-size statue of JPII, since nobody will notice if one goes missing?
  • The pope himself?
  • Some kind of exercise machine?
  • A contemporary sculpture of buttocks named Full Moon Over Vienna?

Two, unveiled:

Sporting models, originally uploaded by World of Oddy.

It's a tartan shopping trolley, so expateek can fit in with all the other little old babcia's at the Mini Europa minimart. And it's better than an exercise machine, people! Because to use it, expateek has to lift weights (groceries), do resistance work (pull the heavy trolley), and in fact, go walking for four blocks. Each way. Ugh, double ugh, and triple ugh.

Photo Number 3:

IMG_6623, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Is it:
  • a piano?
  • expateek's children?
  • A giant door stopper wedge thing? For a giant door, obviously...
  • an adult sized spring horse? So good for the abs! No wonder expateek stays in such great shape.

Three, revealed:

IMG_6567 ping pong table, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

It's the ping pong table, folded up and slightly dismantled. Because you just can't play enough ping pong over the Christmas holidays. And did expateek ever tell you what she learned about ping pong balls whilst in Thailand? No?

Oh, never mind.

Photo Number 4:

IMG_6620, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Is it:
  • A Pole? Ahaha haha haha haha… ehem
  • A pole for erotic naked dancing?
  • A lamppost?
  • A telepost? (To be used for kinky purposes).
Goodness, expateek's readers have vivid imaginations! Actually, the next photo does show complete nudity (or nakedness, if you will). So if there are small children hanging about or if there are any slavering perverts in the vicinity, do please shield their eyes!

Four, naked:

IMG_6490 thin man, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

The photo says it all, don't you think?

Photo Number 5:

IMG_6619, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Is it:
  • Six-pack of Polish moving guys preserved in vinegar (mmmm, yummy!)
  • Assortment of wigs and cod-pieces (mmm, more fun and games for Mr D!)
  • A collection of octagonal stop signs (hmmm, better stop this, expateek's kids read her blog sometimes....)
  • A big round thing (a good, safe guess!)
  • Bottom box: socks Top box: more socks (expateek likes them, in a box! she would like them, those black socks...)

Five, sans vêtements:

Ooops, it's Miss Fringe's head in that box!!

Photo Number 6:

IMG_6615, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Is it:
  • Part of expateek's vodka distillery?
  • A wizard's cap?
  • A lampshade?
  • A diving buoy? (And why expateek needs one of these, Christine says she can not fathom!)

Six, stripped bare:

IMG_6534 patio set, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

The base for the garden umbrella. Although made into a hat, this would look fabulous, dahling, at the next Royal Ascot Ladies Day. A bit on the heavy side, perhaps, but a lovely shade of green.

And that's all for now! Ta ta! expateek has to go practice her pole dancing Polish now.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Blog meet gone horribly wrong

Well, expateek was thrilled last night to meet up with the beautiful Pochyemu.

IMG_6644 p at table, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

We met at Piccolino's in Virginia Water for a quick bite. We talked about life, and blogging, and Poland, and Estonia, and studying, and of course procrastination. It appears we both have advanced degrees in putting things off.

It all got funnier and funnier, especially when we both shared that we'd each had a moment of Oh my God, I could be meeting up with a serial killer at Piccolino's! as we approached the restaurant. But no! Heavens! We each were who we'd purported to be, we thought...

IMG_6646 e and p smiling, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

We laughed more and more, and then Pochyemu said that Rob wanted her to text at 7:30, just to make sure she was safe. How sweet! Obviously, a caring and concerned partner. And of course, she was safe at 7:30 pm. We were just finishing up dessert.

We started talking about various bloggers we like or don't like, and I must admit I got off on a rant about Dooce, who I confess I find hostile, unpleasant, and self-absorbed. Of course, Dooce herself says she's all those things, so maybe I should just take her off my reading list.

Anyway, I thought everything was okay, but then Pochyemu excused herself to go to the loo, and when she came back...

IMG_6648 p attacks, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Sheesh, maybe I really made her mad about my Dooce bashing. Or something!

I decided to fight fire with fire, and grabbed some cutlery, and we started slashing at each other right in the restaurant!

IMG_6649 e attacks, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

But then the cute waiter came over and intervened and said, Why don't I take another photo of you two girls? And everything kind of calmed down, but as you can probably see from the picture, maybe we were both still a little crazy, or upset, or something.

IMG_6647 e and p with fingers, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Well, I thought it was all okay, and we paid the bill and hugged and promised to meet again, and then walked out into the snowy car park. As I opened the boot to put my things in, she gave me a sudden shove, and damn if I wasn't pushed right into my own car boot!

IMG_6650 e in boot, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

I was so frightened! It all became clear. Pochyemu was out to get me! Terrifying!

I leapt out of the car boot, and as they say, a struggle ensued, and I then pushed her right back into the boot myself.

IMG_6651 p in boot w shoes, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

I tried to get her all the way in, especially because I didn't want to hurt her feet when I slammed down the hatch. Because she had really cute shoes on, which could be my size.

IMG_6652 p in boot, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

At this point, I think I pretty much had the upper hand, and I swear on my stack of stolen Bibles, I let her out almost right away. Because I knew she'd just signed up for Twitter, and I didn't want her Twittering from the back of my car, Help! It's really dark in here! Rob! Check out expateek's blog for clues! expateek's turning left now, toward the Great Park. Please! Rob! Come find me! Help!

Cuz that would so blow my story, and I'm meeting up with Katyboo in Leicester on Tuesday.

Ta ta for now!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Frass at the Ashmolean

So. expateek's trying to get something productive done whilst in London,
which means she is writing her dissertation proposal
for her Leicester Museum Studies M.A.

Naturally, she needs to get in the mood,
so she's looking at old photos of various museum visits from the last few years.

Obviously, this leads directly to
inspiration and a quick write-up of the proposal


Still, let's go exploring with expateek,
at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, during a visit circa 2006.
was on a day trip with her Museum Studies mates.
She was a bit disappointed to find this sign, shortly after entering the museum.

But she was truly shocked and appalled
to find this when she drew back the protective fabric
covering a tapestry exhibition cabinet.

Look! Carpet beetles!
At one of the oldest and most venerated museums in England!

For Pete's sake,
Get those tapestries over to Belgium immediately!

And then this! Frass! (insect droppings)! In a metals cabinet.

expateek knows it's hard to see,
but trust her, the case was encrusted with the stuff.

And then this! Buzzing about in the galleries.

And then these!

Oh, wait, those were a fellow student's shoes. Scratch that.

And then this, in the main sculpture gallery,
which pretty much reveals the explanation for all of the above.

Maybe the curators at the Ashmolean have too much of a tippling problem
to pay attention to pest management?

You know those Oxford types....


Monday, February 9, 2009

Expat? Nopat. Whatpat?

expateek's feeling like a woman without a country. She's left Poland behind now, sadly. This week, she's visiting in England, her home from 2002-2005, and again 2006-2007, but she feels like she doesn't belong there anymore either. And she's not yet back to the Old Country, or the New Country, or whatever the heck you'd call the ol' US of A. So she feels pretty much displaced. She doesn't really belong anywhere.

She's a bit gloomy.

She envies those who've lived in the same house for 30 years, and know exactly which drawer the scissors are in, and where the car registration is kept, and who is the best butcher in town.

Because right at the moment, she knows absolutely nothing about anything, and she feels pretty strange.

Being a no-pat is damned disorienting.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Do Widzenia….

Well, yesterday was expateek’s last day in Warszawa, and it was quite sad. So many things left undone. Places not seen, Polish words not learned, friendships that must now survive long-distance… expateek can’t think about it all too much.

One of the lessons to be learned is that one must enjoy each day as it comes, and one should truly seize the day, always. One of expateek’s regrets is that she didn’t get to know the lovely little lady across the street sooner.

Last summer, expateek heard a little voice calling, “Pani, pani!” The woman across the street was trying to get expateek’s attention, because expateek and Mr D somehow managed almost every week to forget to put out the trash. Pani Alicja wanted to tell us the days that the rubbish men came, and that we were to remember to put the bin out!

As first, Pani Alicja spoke Polish and expateek spoke English, and it seemed as if communication would be impossible. But then Pani Alicja and expateek figured out that they both spoke French, and a friendship was born.

The other day, expateek took her orchids and African violets over to Pani Alicja, as expateek emptied out her house. Pani Alicja made tea and the two had a lovely chat over tea and biscuits. expateek learned that Pani Alicja was active in the Warsaw Uprising, that she had been imprisoned in Germany during the war for an entire year, and that Pani Alicja’s husband lived in hiding in the deep forests of Poland for six years (1939-1945) during the war. Six years! When Poles say “We have suffered”, they’re not joking.

Poland is a place of secrets and mysteries, and deep, deep history. To meet the lady across the street, and hear her amazing stories, just knocked expateek out. She wishes she’d gone visiting sooner, like all of the last year, so she could have gotten to know this lovely little babcia better.

Other tidbits imparted to expateek in her visits this week included the information that the babcia next door is one hundred years old, and wears shoes that have 6 inch tall heels (because she’s so tiny). That the priests at one end of the street have lunch every day with the sisters at the other end of the street. That expateek’s landlord is a very difficult man (she actually knew that already) and it took him 10 years to get the city’s approval to build the house expateek’s been living in. That various palms were crossed with silver in the process, as the landlord has friends in high places.

And expateek met Pani Alicja’s bird and little furry mice in their cage, and they laughed and talked about life and children and the war and the Communist regime and languages and all sorts of other things. It was wonderful.

expateek’s really going to miss Warsaw, and the people here. Especially the people.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bubble Wrap POP Quiz

Okay. Clear your desk and put away all your books. Get out a clean sheet of paper and a number 2 pencil.

If you have any chewing gum in your mouth, please spit it out in a tissue and bring it up here to the front of the class to toss it in the bin. Might I remind you, Christine, that there's no gum allowed in class, now or ever!

All right. expateek will be showing you six photographs. You are to determine, solely from the size and shape of the packed carton, what household item is actually inside the shipping materials.

Please write your answers neatly. Extra credit for creatively wrong answers will be given at expateek's sole discretion.

Good luck, and no talking please. This is not a collaborative exercise. Cheating will not be tolerated, and anyone caught comparing answers will be asked to leave the classroom.

Let's begin.

Photo Number 1:

IMG_6626, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Photo Number 2:

IMG_6624, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Photo Number 3:

IMG_6623, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Photo Number 4:

IMG_6620, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Photo Number 5:

IMG_6619, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Photo Number 6:

IMG_6615, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Excellent. Please turn in your papers to me. Comments are welcome in the comment box below this post. expateek will mark your efforts by the end of the week and exam results will be posted online.

Good luck.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Polish Olympic Origami Team

IMG_6598 packing boxes, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Well, expateek has had the honour of keeping company with the most amazing and talented household moving team ever.

These guys have packed up almost everything in the house,

IMG_6599 origami master 2, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

inventoried it,

IMG_6604 tagging, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

and actually built cartons for every weird-shaped thing expateek owns.

IMG_6603 table wrap, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

They are geniuses with cardboard, bubble wrap, and tape.

IMG_6601 table box, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

When the Olympics initiates the International Origami competitions, these guys will be contenders!

IMG_6600 origami master, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Polish Packers

Well, everyone's been asking expateek about those hot Polish moving men.

Are they all strong and tall and square-jawed?

IMG_6595 dining room packer, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Do they have 8-packs instead of 6-packs for abdominals? *

IMG_6591 polish packer, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Are they available for export to other needy countries?

IMG_6594 hall packer, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

The answers are yes, yes, and possibly so.

The moving men were completely the bright spot for today. Pleasant, impossibly hard-working, and several of them pretty easy on the eyes.

IMG_6597 polish packing team, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

expateek is turning the boiler up tonight, because tomorrow she's hoping to trick the guy in the black jacket into taking off his shirt.