Sunday, March 30, 2008

Here We Go Again

This weekend we found an "invitation" in our mailbox. Looks like our presence is requested at our local police station. Maybe the staff had such a good time when we were down there 2 months ago that they just had to invite us back. We're fun that way.

Dan is convinced that they just lost a form or something while processing my residency card renewal and they want a do-over. I, on the other hand, don't share his optimism. Maybe it's because I've been down this road one and half times before. I'll let you know where I end up.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Them's Fighting Words

On my way to the tram this morning (yes, I realize that this is entirely inconsistent with my swearing off of public transportation in yesterday's post, but, the reality is that my pro-bono job does not afford me the luxury of taking a cab to and from the office every day!), this rather large, clean-cut, and relatively nicely-dressed man approached me from the opposite direction and stopped directly in front of me. He then started talking to me in French.

A little irritated that he was blocking my forward progression, but still well within the realms of good global citizen, I threw out my best "Je suis desolee. Je ne parle pas Francais. Sorry." I then tried to sidestep him to the left. He grabbed my right arm and asked, "English?" Since my purse was on the other arm, I didn’t figure him for a robber. Great, that left me with rapist! Of course, internally, I'm freaking out, but, on the outside, I’m the picture of cool, calm and collected. I yanked my arm back and replied, “yes,” while still trying to get around him.

He then asked, in English, if I knew where Place de Kambi (sp?) was. I told him no, I had never heard of it. Again, I tried to skirt past him. Again, he blocked my path. He said that he really needed to find Place Kambi. I told him that if he could give me a restaurant or a hotel near the Place, maybe I could help him, but, otherwise, I really had no idea where Place de Kambi was.

He then asked me if I was from England. “No,” I said. At this point, I had managed to get past him, but, to my chagrin, he started walking backwards next to me. With a death-grip on my purse, I tried to put as much distance – both forwardly and laterally – from the man as possible. Right about then, I started thinking that maybe the guy was never looking for Place de Kambi and that, perhaps, he was just looking for a reason to approach me. I started to get a little weirded out.

Not to be deterred by my curt response and fancy side-stepping, he then asked me if I was an American. “Yes,” I said, “I’m from the States.” This is where what would have otherwise been just another uncomfortable encounter on a Brussels street for Cindy turned into a bloggable event. He started pointing at me and yelling, “You are the daughter of George W. Bush! You are the daughter of George W. Bush!” Needless to say, it caught people's attention.

Now, I’ve purposely tried to keep this blog non-political, as I’m sure that there are plenty who don’t share my views, nor would they care to read my rants (except, for maybe my Daddy and my Aunt Pat who most certainly share my rant-slant), but, c’mon, them’s fighting words! The way I figured it, W's approval rating in the States is hovering around 30%, give or take a few evangelicals. All things being equal, I think it is fair to say that public opinion of him in Europe is much, much, much, much lower. And this lunatic (the guy on the street, in case you are confused as to which one I'm referring) is accusing me of being related to him (the other lunatic, in case you are confused as to which one I'm referring)!

Granted, I was tempted to stop and defend my honor, but, if anything, I'm learning not to engage the crazies. So, I just kept walking. I did, however, do that little waving motion next to my head that the French do that looks like you are screwing in a light bulb (for the longest time I thought it was just nice people waving at me until someone clued me in that it was actually French hand signals for "that beyatch be crazy!") Apparently, this particular hand signal is gender-neutral. Good to know, good to know.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Shit You Not

I. Hate. Public. Transportation. There, I said it. How very politically incorrect of me, especially in the non-green sort of way. This morning, I vowed to never again take the metro in Brussels. Or, at the very least, never sit in one of the seats again.

I would like to take you all back to the blog posting, Mind the Crack, where I posted about the crazy lady that got off the metro in front of me and immediately dropped trou and used the bathroom. Looking back, I guess I should have given her props for at least waiting to until she got off the metro to do her business.

This morning, I picked up the 1B line in the direction of Stockell. Somewhere between Gare Central and Arts-Loi, the guy sitting across from me literally shit his pants. I'm not sure if it was voluntary or otherwise, but, he definitely experienced a bowel movement, whether you attribute it to irritable bowel syndrome, spastic colon, fecal incontinence, anal leakage, or whatever. Trust me, from where I was sitting, I was more concerned with the effect rather than the cause.

Needless to say, those of us in the immediate vicinity of the guy cleared out like cockroaches in a tenement housing when the lights go on. (Okay, so, technically, I've never actually seen cockroaches in tenement housing, or, for that matter, even been inside a tenement house, but, I've got cable and a vivid imagination.) Gagging, I made it to the back of the train, positioning myself as far away from Mr. Crappy Pants as possible. I kept staring at him, trying to find something that would have clued me in that this guy would evacuate his bowels on public transport. But, I had nothing. Not one single thing. From where I was standing, he looked absolutely normal, assuming, of course, you weren't looking at the brown stain on his jeans.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Latest Lessons Learned

Top 10 Things We Learned While Dan Was Hospitalized:

10. Time spent in the hospital is a lot like dog years.

9. The curtain dividing a shared hospital room does nothing to drown out the sounds coming from the patient in the other bed, be it snores or those sounds that naturally follow the administration of an enema. If your roommate does need an enema, chances are it will be given 30 minutes before dinner is served, pretty much ensuring that the guy will go to the toilet (that would be the portable one placed just on the other side of the dividing curtain!) while you are eating dinner.

8. Smells travel through curtains.

7. Whoever put the deposit in for the remote control gets to call the shots as to what will be watched on the only television in the room.

6. The Dutch game show, Blokken, can be quite entertaining, even if you have no idea what is being said.

5. When it comes time to place your order for the next day's dinner, don't opt for the "bologna." It is made from horse meat.

4. Job was a sissy! Apparently, lack of privacy, lack of sleep and lack of food is all that is needed to create the "perfect storm" conditions for Dan to turn into the devil!

3. I have no idea what they make, but nurses are underpaid. Way, way, way underpaid. (Along those same lines, quality health care does not have to cost a fortune! There is something to be said for socialized medicine.)

2. Dan makes a horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible patient.

1. We are so incredibly blessed to have such loving and supportive people in our lives. Thanks so much for all of the calls, the emails, the texts, the cards, the flowers and the prayers over the past couple of weeks. We could have not have gotten through this without you guys!

Weather Wise

Today is March 21st. It is the second day of spring, which I know for a fact to be true because of yesterday's Google doodle. Today, there was sun in Brussels. It was sandwiched between hail and snow. It is days like this that remind me just how far I have come since my rookie days in Brussels when I didn't know that you should never leave the house without a coat, gloves, umbrella and sunglasses.