Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Screaming and rending of clothing

expateek is pretty sure you could hear her screaming and shrieking from wherever in the world you happen to be right now.

Because when she picked up Mr D from work yesterday, he hopped in the car, and said, "Turn the car off for a sec. I have something to tell you."

Oh oh. expateek turned off the car. This conversational opening is never good, not when it comes from Mr D.

Mr D continued, "I met with Chris today, and he told me that it looks like The Company wants to move us to Riga. For the Baltic states pilot programme. It's probably just for the year." Tentatively, Mr D turned toward expateek.

"Whaddya think?"

Mr D looked both excited and afraid. Excited about the opportunity. Afraid of expateek.

expateek sat there. Speechless. The silence grew longer and longer, and Mr D began looking less and less excited and more and more afraid.

Suddenly, expateek exploded.

What? What? WHAT? Are you bloody kidding? We just bought a car 3 weeks ago! We just gave notice to the tenants in our old house! We just heard that our container's arrived and our stuff's been put in storage here in Chicago. Are you insane? Are you bloody flippin' NUTS?

Mr D cringed.

You ARE nuts! You ARE! You are CRAZY! Get out of the car! GET OUT! Get out get out get out get out get out! Get out NOW!

expateek started pummeling the sleeve of Mr D's jacket.

Mr D scrambled to open the door, clawing with panicked fingers for the handle. He jumped out of the car, trying to avoid more slaps and nearly tripping over the curb as he stumbled with his briefcase and laptop bag to an upright position on the pavement. Another employee leaving work glanced toward Mr D and expateek, and then quickly averted his eyes and adjusted his path, giving them a wide berth.

You are absolutely unbelievable! screamed expateek. Simply and totally unbelievable! I suggest you take your stupid Blackberry and call a taxi, because I've bloody had enough. Latvia!? Why not Siberia, fer chrissake?

And expateek turned on the car and yanked the door shut, threw the car into reverse, and gunned it out of the carpark, leaving Mr D standing there on the side of the road with his mouth hanging open and his briefcase spilling open onto the sidewalk. She knew she'd just drive around the block and have to come back to pick him up, but whatever. She was furious.

If you want to see on a map where expateek's probably maybe supposedly going to be living a few months from now, click here. Can you believe it?


Monday, March 30, 2009


Well, Mr D and expateek spent Sunday afternoon in their own little self-induced comas. Mr D's coma was the direct result of 17 hours straight of The Golf Channel, interspersed with small snippets of college basketball. Though expateek occasionally perked up when hot college b-ballers flexed their toned deltoids and biceps during frequent close-ups of free-throw shots, she was mostly uninterested in the TV. Mr D gets kind of irked when expateek looks up from what she's doing and says, "Lordy, he's smokin'!" because Mr D knows that expateek couldn't tell man-to-man defense from zone defense from a hole in the ground.

But who cares about what expateek does or doesn't know about sports, anyway?

Because it's all about productivity, folks. And she, unlike some people in the room, was working. Working on the 2008 taxes... and my God, what can it mean if expateek is almost current with taxes? Expect The Rapture to occur at any moment, folks. The world as we know it is nearing its glorious end.

So it was with great excitement that expateek clicked on the button that said Submit Tax Organiser.

She looked over at the somnolent Mr D, and said...

Come on, Hep Cat, let's jive!

And she and Mr D cut the rug* and danced til the cows came home. Though the cows actually were home already, cuz it was way past dark.

* Actual footage of Mr D and expateek dancing in Schaumburg, Illinois.


Art 101

Two things make expateek nearly delirious with joy.

The first is blagging her way onto an international flight with an extra item of carry-on, and the second is having an original work of art in her hot little hands.

And when the moon is in the 7th house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars, that is, when both of those things happen together, well!! expateek's practically out of her mind, most definitely drifting giddily in some 5th Dimension.

Here's the original painting that expateek managed to stow in the overhead bin on her latest flight out of Heathrow.

IMG_6836 langford ptg 1, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Painted by Donnell Langford, a young artist with Scandinavian and American roots, this painting reminds expateek of works by Gene Davis, Ellsworth Kelly and Brice Marden. If only the Philadelphia Museum of Art had learned of this work before organising their new exhibition, Cezanne and beyond!

When expateek once again lives in a home she can call her own (one where she's allowed to hammer 85,000 picture hooks into the walls), this will be one of the first things she hangs up.

You know you're sick with envy.... and expateek's sorry she made you sad.

But not that sorry.

Ta ta for now. expateek is off to contemplate her navel painting now.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Confessional

Well, expateek's been in a blue funk lately.

Repatriation can do that to a person. Chicago's fine. It's not all that bad. She'll adjust to being in America after seven years away. How hard can that be, really? Life could be a lot worse.

But the truth of it is, she's got a terrible, terrible confession to make.

She left her Polish boyfriend behind in Warsaw.

Oh yes. Yes she did.

You didn't expect that of expateek, now, did you?

And don't worry, Mr D knows all about it. He never accepted it all anyway, but he's tried to adjust. To understand. Even though having something on the side is not something he'd ever, ever do. In a lot of ways, he figures the suffering that expateek's going through now just serves her right for getting involved with him.

With Paweł. Let's give him a name, shall we?

Yes, expateek met Paweł a year and a half ago, and she was instantly hooked. They'd see each other every so often, and each time Paweł would gently run his fingers through expateek's hair and say in his lovely accented English, "expateek, why have you been away so long?"

And expateek would smile, and feel so flattered, even though she knew he probably saw other women too. She'd figured that much out.

And why wouldn't he? Because look. Here's a photo of Paweł.

Handsome, non? And funny and charming and clever and well-traveled and energetic and skilled, oh-so-skilled, with his hands. All the things expateek loves in a guy.

And no matter how expateek felt when she got to Paweł's, whether she was sad, angry, tired, or feeling unattractive, by the time she'd left his place, she felt like the most beautiful and treasured woman in the world. Paweł would say, "What do you want, expateek? What shall I do to you?" And expateek would say, "Do whatever, Paweł. I love everything you do. It's all good."

Those weekday afternoon trysts refreshed her, revitalised her. It was nothing short of a miracle, really. Even if Mr D didn't really get it. Why would he, really?

It was one of the saddest days ever, when expateek told Paweł that she couldn't see him anymore. That she was moving to Chicago. She made him promise that he'd ring her if he came to the States, and she knew if and when she got back to Warsaw, he'd be the first person she'd see.


expateek's so sad.

She misses her Polish boyfriend in so many ways....

Especially because now she has to deal with this woman.

IMG_6789 nice n easy, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

It's not so nice. Not so easy.

Believe expateek when she tells you, she'd rather be here, at Paweł's.

IMG_6800 studio fryzur card, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Ah well. Life goes on.

If she messes things up too badly for herself, expateek can always shave her head in sorrow and shame,

and then go here....

IMG_6786 human hair, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

N.B. expateek's profile picture? Hair by Paweł of Warszawa, naturally!


Saturday, March 28, 2009


Oh my gosh! It's unbelievable!

You've probably heard about the recent spate of "boss-nappings" in France, where disgruntled workers take their company's CEO hostage to protest against poor working conditions, lay-offs, and the like.

And now... you guessed it! The French boss of the bad news has been nabbed.

He was surrounded by an unruly mob while leaving after work on Friday. Workers demanding better severance packages after The Company's recent job cuts took him by surprise and hauled him off.

Allowed not even a phone call to his loved ones (deemed unnecessary because in fact he is entirely unloved the world over), he was locked up in a small room at the HQ at Rueil Malmaison, near Paris.

He's been allowed only a baguette and some sardines so far. He asked for sparkling water too, but The Company's cutting costs all over, so for now he's just getting tap water. He was quoted as saying "This feels to me, just like Alcatraz. Eet ees unbearable!"

Meanwhile, the executive board of The Company is meeting in closed session to decide how to proceed with mediations.

Their first action has been to call in an expert hostage negotiator, Dr. Owl.

Dr. Owl has excellent credentials, having received his Certificate of Arbitration and Negotiation from a 12-week online program via the University of Bracknell, United Kingdom. We are sure that the negotiations will go smoothly, and have every expectation that le French boss of the bad news shall be released shortly.

And if not, well, tant pis.*

Stay tuned for updates.

*That's French for tough luck, pal.


Monday, March 16, 2009

A stranger in a strange land

Well, the last time expateek checked in, she'd just completed her big trip across the pond, from Warsaw to London to Edinburgh to Chicago.

IMG_6688 chicago flight plan, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

She landed at O'Hare in Chicago, she was driven "home", and then she closed the door of her American flat, and pulled the covers over her head for about a month a couple of days.

Really, no. expateek's fine. Really. She's also already kicked that nasty Dextromethorphan habit, and she's ready to rock and roll. Which means mostly rolling her eyes at this moment, but never mind. It'll all be fine. Really.

Truthfully, she's been busy getting her hands on a car, and a mobile phone, and learning where the grocery stores are, and driving Mr D to work and back every day. She's doing the school run for Mr D, which is totally okay, as Mr D is all about saving money and being green (unless being green is more expensive than being cheap, in which case he opts for the cheap option). And not that there's anything wrong with that.

Because reality is setting in, and expateek's returned to a United States that she doesn't recognise. She knew the global financial crisis was dire, but the shuttered storefronts and the empty highways are unnerving. She was appalled by this advertisement on the side of the road near Oakbrook Mall.

IMG_6734 foreclosures edit, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

How Americans are spending their free Saturday afternoons: "C'mon, Honey, let's get on the bus and tour all the foreclosed homes, just for kicks, shall we?" Schadenfreude, anyone?

Shiverrrrrr. That is chilling.

But enough about all of that. expateek is trying to look on the bright side, and not complain too much, because after all, things could be worse. She's putting on her eyeliner every day, and she hasn't cried yet, so that's pretty encouraging, all things considered.

IMG_6754 rearview mirror, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

And thanks to Lady Fi, over at the Strange Shores blog carnival, for highlighting my blog in her latest post and in fact forcing me out of my self-indulgent sulk. Nothing like publicity to pull one out from under the duvet! If you'd like to read some other fascinating expat stories, pop over to hers for a visit.