Let me eat toast!

 

weeks in Belgium and I’m already riding on the back of scooters with oversized baguettes. I feel like I just got my first badge as a Girl Scout, but whatever the French version of that is. Although I’m not really able or confident enough to speak French to pretty much anyone, at least I have the learned skill of scooter riding while holding giant bread under my belt. I feel like at some point that’s all I needed to do to be ‘in’.

And that very large baguette was amazingly delicious. As of right now I basically also have a strictly pâté, cheese, and bread diet. I honestly don’t know how the French are so skinny. And the croissants! Oh the croissants! It doesn’t matter if they were made in the bakery or at the gas station they’re all so delectable, with soft butter soaked insides and a light honey drizzle on the outsides. I can’t get enough! I’m pretty much drooling just writing this.

Other than constantly stuffing my face I’ve also been wandering to other cities, including Brussels, which I visited for the first time. Just after the first day walking through the European capital, it was love. It is wonderful and remarkable. Wonderful and remarkable, and I can easily find an English speaker unlike in the city where I am currently living in Liege.

It’s not really good for my French to have a crutch so easily accessible, but it’s nice not having the constant anxiety that a stranger will try talking to me and I will panic, not knowing what to do other than to play possum. And I think I’m a little too old for that. Although Brussels is a nice relief, it’s more like my side piece. I get to spend the days there, where I get to have all kinds of escapades, but in Liege I have my little tiny apartment that I adore. It sits on top of a mountain and is just minutes away from stunning views of the entire city. That is what I want to wake up to in the morning.

I love the little thing, but it’s taking some work to get rid of the old and bring in the new. The previous tenant left a couple of golden nuggets behind, especially one shocking landscape screwed into the bedroom wall. Maybe he thought he was leaving a gift, but I took it and a burning bag of poop… one I can’t get rid of. Below is a link to the ad I created for it. I’m trying to sell it on a second-hand site, but oddly enough I haven’t gotten any interest.

http://www.2ememain.be/antiquités-art/art/peintures/peinture-à-recherche-d-une-nouvelle-301849809.html

But hopefully by the next time I post someone will have taken the horror off my hands.

The Joy of Packing

So it begins, I am packing for a semester studying abroad in Europe and I am a wreck. It’s terrible, I’m like a human natural disaster destroying everything I touch. Call me Hurricane Amy, the Great Tornado of ‘AC, or Cyclone Downing (also applicable to any of my three brothers). How is it possible that I have so many things to bring? Of course that is what everyone says, and now I know why.

I didn’t face such an issue when I was packing for a several month trip to India, but I guess I didn’t really care about rotating three outfits for a semester when constantly carrying all my belongings on my back. Seeing as I don’t have to do that in Europe, I’m going to have to up my game… up my game and pay out the ass in baggage fees. I’ve been to Europe a couple of times before, but never for so long. This changes things a little bit, because suddenly there are so many possessions I can’t bear to part from. I know I should bite the bullet and leave some less-than-necessary things behind, but knowing me I’ll probably regret not having:

  • Just add water pancake mix
  • Peanut butter
  • Cleats
  • That dress I haven’t ever worn but probably should bring anyway
  • The shoes that match that dress that I also have never worn but can’t not take if I’m taking the dress

Wow, I’m looking at this list and realizing how odd my priorities are. Anyway, packing sucks and none of the online “How to Pack for Studying Abroad” blogs really help that much. In reality everyone is different and are going to take what is important to them, even if it is pancake mix. Although I would say that pancake mix is a packing essential when going to live in Europe. Here are several reasons why:

  • There are no “American pancakes” in Europe, so you have to BYOP
  • It will be so nice to have a food that reminds you of home
  • There is no better cure for hangovers than pancakes
  • Just add water, JUST ADD WATER, it’s a domestic miracle
  • You can make pancakes for all your new European friends and they’ll think you’re so exotic and cool
  • Everyone who isn’t partaking in the pancakes will be jealous and they should be, because it’s their own damn fault for not bringing pancake mix

Okay, okay I recognize that this is ridiculous, but I still stand by all of my points. On a more serious note, when traveling it is so easy to pop into a grocery store and get simple things like toothpaste, shampoo, or deodorant. All of the blogs told me not to bring superfluous quantities of these items, which I agree with, unless you’re picky about your beauty products. You can’t go to Europe expecting their toothpaste is going to bleach your teeth to an absurd white, or that their hair products will make you look like Farrah Fawcett. If these things are important to you, then you must bring or own.

But as I’m packing I am reminding myself that it doesn’t really matter thaaat much. At the end of the day I’ll always pay a mint for my bags and end up buying totally new stuff anyway. These socks are better because I’m getting them in Europe! – Me about everything I buy in Europe, because really they have the exact same stuff as we do in the states. Except pancake mix. I rest my case.

There Are No Cool Kids On Mars

You found yourself a life on Mars.

 

But remember the feeling of concrete

freshly drenched in the summer’s heat.

Face to ground, it cooked you medium well —

sunbaked to perfection.

 

Think about when we were cool kids

hanging on the block,

cones oozing sugar down our arms

and we would lick up every last drop.

 

We slept on park benches —

under trees and

between the cracks in the leaves

came sunbeams

 

slithering and biting.

We were scorched.

It was sizzle to touch.

It was burnt to breathe.

 

We didn’t mind because

we were poker faced twerps,

even when our shirts were salt stained

and our skin, too.

 

We blamed it on the Saltines

They were our breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Praise the soup kitchen.

We would fill our pockets full.

 

Sometimes even in summer’s greatest blaze

we’d tried to taste the taste

of the chili that we ate at the foster.

Spiced just so that it made us sweat through our eyes.

 

Sweat would lead to tears.

I would force myself to choke them down.

and you’d always know because

my cheeks would catch fire.

 

You found yourself a life on mars,

where it’s negative sixty-four degrees.

You should remember as well as I — only cool is hot.

And you’re 34 million miles away from our cool kid days.

 

Come back down to earth.