so ive had a few days, well almost weeks now, to get my stuff together and settle into swedish living. school is a little different. its mostly just one class at a time and they're never in the same room two meetings in a row, not the same days every week and the whole time thing, you guessed it, nowhere near the same each day.
my first class is pretty perfect for me, its comparative media systems. just like it sounds, we are looking at the media in different countries, really continents, and comparing it. the teacher seemed really wacko (thats the best word for it) the first day, but shes calmed down, a little.
today, i had a new experience all together. i went to the ski slope last week and saw quite a bit of snow, it wasnt freshly fallen, but still untouched. there was a lot. then last night, i went to the basketball game (which the home team won!) and on the walk back, i noticed the sidewalks had been cleared while we were inside. this morning, i found out why.
from 730 this morning, it had been snowing... a lot. by 1, when i went to class, there was already 6 inches of fresh white powder on the ground, and not the kind they make in colombia. and it didnt stop. i had class for about three hours, and it just kept falling. inch after inch after inch after inch. by the time class was over, i wanted to go home so bad. not that i wanted to walk in the snow, i didnt want to walk in it later after the workshop i had to go to after class when i knew it would be even worse.
while we were there, it snowed some more. and more. and more. and more. by the time we got out, there was at least a foot. and not like a size 6, like the ruler: 12 inches. i needed boots for this shit, and my uggs werent going to cut it.
so, i went with a friend on a trek to the mall to find some solid boots to keep my feet warm, dry and supported... all for around 400SEK or less. (you can find that in dollars here...) no luck. it seems like this town of about 90,000 thinks they are small-town-usa and everything closes by 7. seriously? i didnt have time to find boots in 45 min. they are all either too expensive (thank you bjorn borg and timberland for having the best, and most expensive, boots) or they have no traction on the bottom. i want the cute ones that i can wear with jeans and not look like im wearing mens dress shoes, and they are still good enough to wear when i get home... i dont really want to drop a bill on some shoes that i cant take home.
so tomorrow, when there is three feet of flakes on the ground, i will make the journey, again, to find some freaking snow boots that are hot enough that i can wear to the bar in timra to pick up hot swedish hockey players...
when i got off the plane, there were a lot of ba agents with signs for other cities' flights, but not stockholm. i was a little worried, but i figured the further i walked out, i might find one. no luck.
so i follow the signs described in the video on the plane, (apparently its a pretty confusing process...) and i felt so lost. for most of you, you know how often i fly, and how much of an "expert" a lot of people think i am. i have never felt like such a rookie, so i asked the agent for the munich flight if i was going the right way. she was certain there was an agent for my flight, but eventually she changed her mind -- because there wasnt... -- and agreed to escort me to the gate.
we got on a train, like the ones they have in the atlanta airport, to the other terminal. we get off, and she takes us to the express customs for connecting flights and the agent asks the other woman at the counter if i even have time to get to the gate, doesnt even look at my passport or anything, and says that its not gonna happen. i have to rebook... again.
i waited in the line for a few minutes before i made it to the desk, and i did not want to wait another day to be in sweden. of course, the next flight was the next day. at 10:45 a.m. great. lucky me, i wasnt just staying in the uk for a few minutes, i was staying for hours. almost 17.
they set me up with a hotel and the shuttle pass for there and back.
i went through border patrol, customs and had to ask someone at a travel desk which post to stand to catch my shuttle.
since the weather was nice in la, and i knew i would get uncomfortable with the uggs on the plane, i wore flip flops. i packed the uggs in my vera duffle and planned to don them once i got to the airport in stockholm.
i was so warm from being on the plane for so long, i was out in 40 degree weather -- or colder -- in sandals. i didnt care. i was just ready to get somewhere, even if it was the ibis heathrow in london.
a bunch of little girls were on the shuttle, and of course, they freaked out when the bus started moving and they werent holding the rail.
once we made it the hotel, the lobby was crowded like half of the world traveling through lhr had flights canceled and were staying there. all they wanted at check in was my name and passport number, i guess to cross reference with the airline.
i got dinner from the buffet of english food, which isnt the best in my opinion, and tried to watch a little tv -- perhaps the office? -- but i couldnt get the tv to turn on. so i went down to the front desk to exchange some currency to get a beer. after that, i laid down to read and fell asleep not long after.
i thought i might sleep through the night since i was so exhausted from traveling, but i was up around 6 the next morning. the breakfast buffed opened at 6:30, so i piddled around for a while then got ready and finally went down to get some grub.
"traditional english breakfast" does not include english muffins... and definitely does not include the sausage egg and cheese mcmuffin! it was ok, but i really didnt care for it much. plus, i was going to get fed on the plane, again, right?
figuring it might take a few minutes longer to get to the airport from the hotel than it did to get to the hotel from the airport, i decided to go ahead and get ready to leave on the next bus. lucky i did that, because i swear it took 30 minutes to get there.
since i already had my boarding pass, i didnt have to check in, but i wanted to double check so i talked to an agent once i got there. no worries, i could head to security. but hold the phone! you cant have two carry ons in london? what? i had to check vera!!! i was a little upset, but i let her go and wished her the best.
with just my backpack, and raffe, i headed in to the security line. no full-body scanners here. but it wasnt as strict as in the states. at home, you have to put your laptop in a separate bin, by itself. no, there, it goes in with your coat... interesting. they must know something we dont.
but it gets better. when i talked to the agent earlier, she told me something about a gallery where i could wait. i thought this was just the fancy british word for waiting area at the gate, but no. i got there, and it was just like what i figure the admirals club would be like, but better.
theres food everywhere. free wine. free internet. a bar. a huge window overlooking the runway. it was so much better than i anticipated. i definitely took advantage of the internet as it had been nearly 24 hours since i last checked facebook.
after a solid 45 min of charging my battery in the international outlets in the gallery from heaven, i packed up my macbook and headed to my gate. i didnt know where it was, so i asked the woman at the entrance.
i took the escalator downstairs, and i feel like im on rodeo drive. theres a gucci store, prada, all that crap, and im in the airport... i stop at a newsstand to get some water, and my free paper, and head through the "mall" to my gate.
this airport is way to glamorous. it just seemed like they want to put the luxury back in flying, but who can afford to shop prada in the airport? that seems a little excessive.
i make it to my gate, and check with the agent there about my miles. my american advantage number is no where to be found on my ticket, so i am a little worried i havent gotten my miles. again, if you know me, you know my miles are a big deal to me. surprise! they arent there, but this flight will be. ugh. so its another thing i have to do when i get to sundsvall; get my miles.
i sat down at the gate, and i just felt like the people were eyeing my adpi sandals and thinking, "this chick is crazy. doesnt she know its f**king freezing in stockholm?" but nevertheless, i went on with the flip flops, and it was just fine.
not long after, we started boarding. we took an escalator down one more floor and walked (what seemed like) a mile to the plane. i got to sit in club europe, which is like a first-and-a-half class. still leather seats, but theyre not as big as standard first. better food, and champagne with breakfast!
the flight wasnt bad, except for when i went to get something out of my bag, someone had spilled coffee on the floor under the seat in front of me, so it was all over the back of my backpack. this was going to be fun to smell for the next four hours. dont forget, i despise the smell of black coffee... well most all coffee.
i read my free newspaper for most of the way, then we landed in stockholm. i was almost there!
hej! greeting from the frozen land of Sundsvall, Sweden.
it took quite a bit of time and far more energy that i had to get here, but i made it monday, jan. 11, though i was supposed to make it to sweden the night before.
it all started when the weather started getting shitty in london. i booked with british airways to get the miles, so obviously, i was connecting in london.
we got to the airport, and i figured i would be waiting at my gate for two hours since they tell you to get there so early for international flights. once we found the check in for my flight, we saw the nightmare of airtravel. the flight had been delayed from 8:35 until 10. there were about 300 people in line, it seemed, and we weren't moving at all. plus, a few minutes in, i got an e-mail that my connection at heathrow had been canceled... bullshit.
since the flight was at 8:35, we got there around 5:30, which was when check-in started. we waited in line until almost 8:30. then once i finally got to the counter to check in, i had to pay for the extra bag, and thank god i didnt have to pay for overweight, too. as it is, the small duffle i packed full with all my liquids, shoes and nice, wool coat cost $60 because i didnt pay for it online the night before when i checked in online and got my seat. if i paid for it then, it would have only cost me $46... ugh. either way, too much.
the agent re-booked my connection for only an hour later than the original flight. keep in mind, i only had an 1:30 layover, and this new flight was scheduled for an hour later than the original.
so i get checked in, i get my boarding pass, and the guy tells us we have to take my luggage to the x-ray ourselves... another nightmare. it took about 15 min, but still, i thought i was going to have to leave moose there to fend for himself with my giant bags.
we somehow managed to make it through ok, but i still had to go through security. here's the best part... with all the threats and air terror these days, they are going on and on about heightened security at airports. i get up to where i can actually see the check point, and they have a full-body scanner! yeah! sign me up for this new technology so i can get through this line a little faster so i dont miss my already-delayed flight. but wait, theyre not even using it! ugh.
what is the point to spend all of this money on something that doesnt even get turned on at one of the busiest airports in the country, (and probably up there on the list of busy in the world)? oh well. whatever.
so i get through the scanner, and i totally forget about the swiss army card in my bag. its in a tiny pocket in the back part of my purse and i always forget its there because i never use it. and of course, theres a 2 in. blade in it... and thats too much. the metal utensils and glass glasses in first class arent just as dangerous i suppose. so the tsa agent takes my bag to the screening area and gets it out. he motions to his supervisor to ask if its ok for me to take it on the flight with me, but i tell him i dont care, and he just takes it anyway.
i finally get to my gate around 9:30, four hours after parking the car in the structure. there is nothing. its like being back in newark airport. there is practically a shopping mall out with the gates and all, but once your in, nothing. not even a vending machine where i can get a bottle of aquafina for $5. its a good thing we stopped at el pollo loco on the way, because i probably would have gone ape shit crazy if i hadnt eaten anything by that point.
but it gets better. we have to take a shuttle out to the plane. this flight is on a 747, which is one of those giant planes with two levels. apparently its too big for the gates at LAX, so you have to get bussed out. like kids from a bad neighborhood going to the better schools.
my boarding group finally gets called to get on the bus, and i end up standing next to this super valley girl, euro-traveler, LA hipster chick who will not get off the phone. "like, hey? when i was in paris?, they were so nice to me?" bla blah bla blah bla blah bla blah... after almost five hours, anything gets annoying to me, and what would annoy me in a regular situation is only amplified.
we get to our gate... which is actually an independent structure five minutes (by bus...) away from the international terminal. you can take the elevator (if youre handicapped) or you walk up a 300 ft. ramp to the jet bridge. then you take the jet bridge for another 150 ft. or so before you have to walk through the plane, to the back of the plane... and pass all of the wonderful business class bed-like seats. if nothing is more depressing than a 10 hour flight, its sitting back in a regular row in coach, with no leg room, and knowing that someone just a few feet away is in a bed. i wish i had a million dollars, because i so would have upgraded.
i get to my seat, and its on the window. at least ill have something to rest my head against for this longer-than-a-work-day flight.
eventually, a little after 10:15, we leave the "gate" and taxi down the runway for takeoff. in la, when planes take off, they go out over the pacific ocean then turn back to go over land to their destination, unless, of course, your destination is to the west... then if you turned back, youd be going the wrong way...
i checked out the in-flight movies before i left, so i was very much looking forward to watching "the time traveler's wife" on the plane. luckily, after about 15 minutes in the air, i could finally get to it.
one of the only good things remaining in air travel, on really long flights, they still serve food... for free. but not only was i going to be in the air for 10 hours and get two meals, they also have complimentary alcohol on british airways flights. oh how non-american airlines still take care of their customers...
i, of course, didnt realize this until the chick sitting next to me gets her red wine, but its ok. i am so exhausted by this point that i dont really care anymore.
"pasta or turkey?" said the flight attendant. and i dont really want a thanksgiving meal on the plane, so i go for the lasagna. it was decent, especially for plane food, and it hit the spot.
i finished my movie, found rascal flatts on the music on demand station, and looked for an outlet for my computer. apparently the plane was too old to have a plug, so i just checked out the map.
it was somewhere near the hudson bay where i last had my eyes open, and other than a few restless moments when i would wake up to hear "love who you love," i was pretty much out until the northern pat of the uk.
i woke up to a pretty sunny sight out the window, and our continental breakfast was served not long after.
yogurt, some oj, and thats about all i ate of it.
as we made our way down to london, the sun faded behind us, and i officially lost a full day to travel.
we were approaching our destination, and as we descended on the city, i looked out the window to see the cars driving on the "wrong" side of the road. when i was turning my head to look out, i said to myself, they drive on the other side, its ok. but when i actually saw it, i swear to you, i thought, theyre driving on the wrong side of the road!
eventually we landed, and i was in the uk again, even if it as for just a few minutes.
i promise that i havent forgotten to blog. i have just been a little distracted with life in general. i have, however, begun to write a weekly satirical column for the school newspaper. i call it "this week in ridiculous" and it is typically full of crazy shit that people have actually done, but not many have heard about.
i mean, its at chuck e. cheese, but its a paycheck. im excited because its like ill be able to pick up where i left off 3 years ago. its funny that im back where i started when i was 16, i guess that just shows how good (or desperate) i am... the manager has already told me he plans to promote me pretty quickly, so thats really the exciting part. i mean, i would be doing something that i have already done, just never had the title. so... yeah for me!
and... i found a dress for my formal. its in a little over 2 weeks, and it is going to be so much fun. i just cant wait. im working at the gym to help with the homecoming concert and step show, so i will have a few extra bucks in my pocket to throw down when i get there. dont worry, i wont fall too hard on my face, i have to babysit for 24 straight hours the next day...
on another note... i still hate school. and i still havent heard back from the internship i applied for (they said i would hear back in 2 weeks... its been 3)...
i did fill my gas tank for $2.75 this weekend. when i was on fall break, i was really excited that it had dropped from $4.19 to $3.39, but when i hit kentucky... i was depressed when it was $2.97... i could have definitely made it to that gas station... now i know for next time. so, when i was in missouri, i saw it for like $2.50 and swore that i wouldnt pay more than $2.75 the next time i had to fill up. so when i got to the top of the hill and saw the price per gallon, i was very excited. it just annoys me. why was gas $4 all summer, but now its half that? i get the hurricanes messing up shit in the gulf so prices went up here, but its almost $1.50 less today than it was 3 weeks ago... i remember when gas was $1.50. it wasnt that long ago.
so, when i got my obamabiden car magnet the other day, i put it on my gas tank. hoping to see $1.50 gas again in the next 4 years
no work... its about time. ive gotten to see some friends, and have yet to catch up with a few more, but oh, its so sweet to be back.
school starts in like 3 weeks, and i do not want to go. not knowing when graduation will get here is such a non-motivator...
my moose and i got to sneak in a little vacation last week. we flew (direct) to newark, nj ("nastiest city on the face of the planet," --stepher) and took a little shuttle into the city.
now, ive never been to NYC, and the only time i ever see "real city" is when im downtown at home, like to catch a game at the local pro sports arena, or like that time we went to st louis for the first "family vacation" and got that promise to one day see real skyscrapers in NYC... needless to say, that was 10 years ago, and this is the first time ive been.
we walked through central park, saw some real shopping on 5th ave., climbed (from floor 80- floor 86) to the top of the empire state building. saw time square ("you should see it at night," --everyone), rockefeller center, NBC studios (brian williams= LOML). you know, the typical tourist day in manhattan. and took in a little baseball at ye ol' yankee stadium.
the trip back (also from newark) was by far one of the worst days of my life. 7 hours in the grossest airport in the world, and ive been to eastern europe... who ever thought that putting all the food and shops outside security does not like his job, or other people for that matter. there were these two nasty looking (and tasting) "restaurants" and one souvenir/book "shop".
if i had $300 more, we could have been waiting in JFK with computer-related luggage-checking issues for our carry on size vacation... i guess the trade off isnt really noticeable until you are right up on it.
so, after a chipotle chicken sandwich (haha) we waited like 4 more hours before we were actually in the air. that includes the additional hour on the tarmac. american airlines did not give me a free voucher, or meal ticket, or even a complimentary cocktail on this flight. ooh, they owe me... they just dont know it yet. (the letter is still in the pre-drafting stages...)
on the other hand...
so, my sister is a fan of a local university sports program, and there is a mall store that has started carrying merchandise for this, and other, major universities with powerhouse sports. i go to the local store (and this team is only in stores, otherwise she would be ordering it online) and i dig through their entire stock only to find they have every size but the on i need. in both colors... annoying. i gave her the number and told her to call herself and put them on hold, but ill still pick them up... will she call? who knows... all i know is i got mine in a different team, and thats all i care about.
like i said before, school starts in a few weeks. i swear, the fall semester is ridiculous. it should only count for half of what it does, that way its easier to make up the terrible 3.5 months of hell.
oh, and one of my friends is making the newsletter for a bunch of us who used to work together, but have mostly all parted ways for whatever reason. so last month was the first issue, and it went pretty well, with a few stragglers. but this month, its like everyone who was on board before suddenly jumped ship on the idea and totally blew her off. bitches, i told her, theyre all bitches.
im still working a crap job. ugh. minimum wage is about to go up, so that means a "raise", but im about to go home (finally) and wont really be working at all under the new pay rate... what a bummer.
but, i get to go home finally! im so excited. my moose and i are getting to go see a game in yankee stadium the first weekend of august, it will be like a mini vacation for both of us. i wont really be working while im there, so plenty of free time, which im not sure i know what to do with anymore since i work all day and read at night... i've read 7 books this summer so far... i strongly recommend the glass castle by jeannette walls
im sure ill find something on the movie channels or the tivo.
though its been a while, theres not much to report... but, im trying to get a job at my apartment, and if i get it, i hope to start a recycling program there.
just trying to make it one day at a time, and survive...
this just goes to show how careless and rushed people are. i know ive left stuff at security at LAX, but i remember to go back for it. over christmas break, i forgot my vest and scarf. 2 of my favorite things.
meanwhile, im waiting impatiently for my friends' baby to be born!
it has been three weeks since i have posted anything. i have been so busy with my new ventures that i havent even had the time to check my email regularly. they just stack up in my inbox waiting to be deleted. i have even neglected facebook, something i never saw coming.
just a few things:
i took a big step toward the future today. positive or negative result, it was an amazing opportunity to get at my stage in life, and school.
i have been stressed about finances, like most college kids in the summer, but i have a very special person in my life to make things go a little smoother. (ka-stamp)
the summer job is probably what is driving me the most bonkers. i just cant handle it right now. i really dont like it. at all. but if all goes well, i will, hopefully, not be required (by the bank) to sit behind that desk much longer.
i have accomplished a few things in my absence:
i finished 100 ways, i highly recommend it, i love that book!
i read the ap stylebook cover to cover, one of my friends told me to day that im a total dork for doing it.
i have made a significant dent -- like its hard -- in strunk and white's elements of style fourth edition. (get a new one moose... i will still love you if you keep your third edition though...)
i have put augusten burroughs' dry on hold for now as i am filling my brain with tips to be a better editor. but, as soon as i finish the elements, its back to the crazy life of the author of running with scissors! (i recommend the book and the movie.)
i have the first disk of sex and the city in my entertainment center as i write this, but in my book obsession, if thats what you would call it, i have watched little to no TV. except for brian williams, mmm. haha.
i hope all is well with everyone.
and if there is one thing i can say of my time away, its this:
no matter how bad it is, something will come along and brighten your day.
im watching the evening news (the 10:00 broadcast) and i remember why i stopped watching local news... the border patrol is in nashville recruiting... and this girl said she didnt realize there was a 55 day training period. she said she didnt want to be away from her family for that long... that begs the question, what will she do when she hits the border? i dont think she can commute from nashville to the mexico/U.S. border...
the mariners are the worst team in baseball right now. and if not, they are the worst in the american league... ugh, its so frustrating. it was just 7 years ago they won 116 games. they have barely won 16 this season. the rangers and royals are doing better right now, imagine that!
gas is $3.77 here. two weeks ago, i filled up for $3.57, and just over two weeks before that, $3.19... i just cant wait until it hits $5 later this summer. it was just 10 years ago when a gallon was under $1, remember? in saudi arabia, it is $.45... but in the netherlands, its $10+. its disgusting. im glad i have a honda, but i wish it were a hybrid or i had a bike i could ride to work. i just cant stand it.
im so excited for minimum wage to go up $.70 this summer, oh, it will make my life so much easier. ha, not. i can barely even afford beer, what am i supposed to do this summer when i cant afford to go out anymore because i cant afford the gas, much less the food.
have i mentioned the pool at the apartment? and that it should be done by the end of june? and that they havent been out there in 3 weeks? im so excited to be paying to have a huge hole in the ground with nothing in it, much less the water to swim in.
i was hoping to visit my sister and her family this weekend, but again, wages and gas, well, need i say more?
some good news, maybe not for you: american is charging for checked bags. starting next month, $15 for the first bag (one way) and $25 for the second (again one way). but, its still free for me, and anyone traveling on my itinerary.
im in my final semester of college. i am studying in sweden to finish my coursework. grad school might be in my future, but not if i have to pay a million dollars for it.
you can read about my adventures right here.