Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Journalism Activity

In journalism today, Anya Luscombe announced that it was time to (FINALLY) start writing. "So, I want you all to write a journalistic article about - you know the fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood? well, write a journalistic article about that. Your editor wants it in 20 minutes. Go."

Yippee! Jitters and excitement and oh oh oh where to start?
Actually, starting wasn't that hard. Here's what I wrote:

The Woods – Little Red Riding Hood, who has been missing since Sunday evening, was discovered late Tuesday night at her grandmother’s cabin in the woods. The massive search party that was organized to find her discovered her on its second trip to question Hood’s grandmother, after being alerted to the discovery by John Wood.

Mr. Wood, the jack-of-all-trades who often went by Mrs. Hood’s cabin to help out by chopping firewood and doing other odd jobs, had discovered that Mrs. Hood was not Mrs. Hood after all, but a wolf. The wolf had disguised himself as Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother and swallowed first Mrs. Hood, than Little Red, whole. Mr. Wood rescued granddaughter and grandmother by splitting the wolf’s belly open with his axe.

Little Red and Mrs. Hood were taken to the hospital in good condition. Their injuries were minor, mostly cuts and scratches from the wolf’s teeth on the way down.

It remains unclear as to how Little Red and Mrs. Hood got into this situation, as they were not available for questioning. Mr. Wood, who gathered some information from Little Red Riding Hood during the rescue, suggests that the wolf tricked first granddaughter, then grandmother into his mouth.

According to Mr. Wood, Little Red Riding Hood pays a weekly visit to her grandmother on Sundays. While walking to Mrs. Hood’s cabin this week, however, Little Red was stalked by the wolf, who discovered her destination and hurried off ahead of her.

“He must have swallowed Mrs. Hood whole, then prepared to greet Little Red and swallow her for dessert”, Mr. Wood said. So far, this is the only speculation as to what can have truly happened.

Chief of Police Brian Foxwood said that the police department was investigating and would release information as soon as any of the events could be verified.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

School and Life in General

tulips for sale on the market square

Good MORNING, everybody!

Well, it's 11:15 - but technically, that is still morning.

I'm enjoying the weekend. Currently, I'm sitting at the computer at my desk with a cup of tea and some ginger ontbijtkoek (breakfastcake). Since Friday at about 8 I have been very relaxed. Today, the plan is to get a lot of work done, so I don't get extremely stressed during the week - which is what happened last week.

The think is, this semester is going to be extraordinarily tough. I know I'm in my 4th semester now, and I'm taking 300-level courses now, and completing tracks, and the like. But it's still been much tougher than usual.

This is partially due to RA's new policy: continuous assessment. Or is it continuing assessment? Well, along those lines. Apparently, a lot of students complained that their grades depended mostly on assignments that weren't assessed until the last few weeks of the semester, so RA decided to change that and spread the workload out over the entire semester.

What it means is that you are plunged immediately into an insane amount of work. It also means that you will probably be completely immersed in an insane amount of work for the entire 16 weeks of the semester. Before, the first three or four weeks were usually pretty low-key, with maybe an informal presentation and a short paper. Things didn't get very tough until week 5 or so, just a few weeks before mid-terms.

But now we are expected to present on topics that we have been studying for only two weeks. Take, for example, my linguistics class.

The first day of class, we went to A&H 326 Linguisitic theories and Linguistic Practice. Our textbook is 500+ pages, and titled "Cognitive Linguistics." Sure enough, Ernestine (who guided me through Rhetoric & Argumentation last fall and sociolinguistics the semester before that) opened the class with this announcement:

"Linguistic Theories and Linguistic Practice is Professor Janse's title for a course, but he's not here, so I've taken over for him, and at RA, it's really hard to change the title of the course. So the title is still the old course title, but really, we're going to be studying COGNITIVE LINGUISTICS. It's a course to prepare you for a masters in linguistics."

Doom! I don't even want a masters in linguistics! I just want to learn about the languages themselves. I want to learn about historical languages and languages that die.

Then, in week 3 - which was last week - we had to do group presentations. My topic? "Discuss the evidence for cross-linguistic variation in semantic systems. Is this evidence convincing?"

I don't even know what that MEANS yet.

Well, now I do - kind of - since I had to do a presentation on it.

In stylistics (for which I also have Ernestine), we also had to do group presentations, but those were must more straightforward and doable. My group analyzed the Seamus Heaney poem 'Digging'. And it didn't even go very terribly. So far, stylistics is definitely my favorite. I tend not to give myself enough credit, and sometimes the analyses seem to be much harder when I have to do them at home on my own than when we do them in class. But I'm getting the hang of it, and enjoying it, and even looking forward to writing the term paper.

I'm also taking Film in Context and Journalism. Film is taught by Chad Weidner, from Nebraska. The class, so far, is very light and I'm just fine with that. My only complaint is the insane amount of group projects and things that require meetings. This week, for example, we are meeting on Wednesday night from 630 - 8 to watch "Modern Times". I'm all for it, but couldn't we have met from, say, 730 - 9? Because I'm getting sick of missing dinner all the time!

Journalism is also nice, but strange because it is an "All-day Wednesday" class. Most courses are broken up into two two-hour sessions in the week, but a few courses are offered for four hours just on Wednesday - usually when the teachers are visiting instructors who teach at other places, or similar. In this case, Anya Luscombe is also the press manager for RA, so I guess that she's just a bit busy to be working on all that. It's a good class so far, but I've only been to two - originally, I was enrolled in "Introduction to American Studies", but found that, since it is taught by an American woman, it really did not seem that I would be getting a different perspective on American history than what I got in IB History of the Americas in 11th grade. So I switched into Journalism (which I had originally not been able to take because I had to take film. Even though I didn't really want to, my tutor thought it important that I take it).

It's interesting to note that this semester, all three of my teachers are native English speakers - but all speak a different variety of English. Anya Luscombe is (half Dutch, half) English, and Ernestine is Canadian (from Nova Scotia, I think), and then of course there is Chad Weidner from Nebraska. Even more interesting is that before I switched to journalism, I had American Studies with a teacher from New York. (She and Chad were very contrasting, I thought. Chad is basically on a first-name basis with his students and she preferred to be called Dr.)

On top of these courses, I am swamped with meetings, meetings, meetings. Last week, I believe I had a total of 9 or 10. This is due to Tabula Rasa, Contra, and group projects. I can't wait till the instructors get over their affiliation for group projects. It's really much nicer to do work on your own time and not have to rush back and forth between home and school 7 times in one day.

But I finally made it to the weekend. Yesterday, I went to Vlissingen to visit my friend Eva, who just moved there two weeks ago. She has received special permission from RA to move in with her boyfriend. Although she had first been adamant that none of us should see her new house before it was entirely ready, she broke down and invited some of us over for the day.

I got there at 1 (it's a 20-minute bus ride) and we went first to a little bagel cafe for lunch. I think I haven't had a bagel since 2005. Can that actually be possible? I had cinnamon raisin with walnut-honey cream cheese. Fatty. Tasty. Nice.

Then we went "shopping", in the student sense of the word. I bought chocolate Easter eggs at HEMA and a miniature, half-off agenda, in which I will keep track of meetings and meetings alone. We tried on clothes here and there, sighed over nice shoes and those great sweatshirts with the fun designs on them (like safety pins and birds and such), and finished around 4 with a cup of tea and coffee in a cafe. I actually went to that cafe once before, with Anand, Dilyana, and Katharine last September/October. I brought my knitting, so I worked on my scarf while we talked about school and life and such. This is one of the reasons I like Eva - besides the fact that she is nice, sweet, thoughtful, funny, and all of those good things, she also has a life outside RA - more so now that she does not even live in Middelburg - and it is always nice to talk to her about "real" life.

After coffee, we walked to her house - it is very nice, though not yet complete. Funnily enough, the layout is almost identical to the layout of the place where she and Mishi (her boyfriend) lived in Middelburg.

Anne joined us around 5, and for dinner we made mashed potatoes and kebabs with sausages and mushrooms, and Eva threw together a nice sauce. For dessert, she whipped up a chocolate chiffon cake with bananas and whipped cream. We ate while watching "The Girl in the Cafe", starring Bill Nighy. Not quite as happy as I had remembered it being, but still very nice. And I got a lot more work done on my scarf.

At 1030, Anne and I caught the bus back to Middelburg. Being one of the largest cities in Zeeland, you'd think that the buses would run later than 10:45, but they don't. It's a bummer because it would be nice to go to Vlissingen on a Friday night from time to time, but that would only work if the buses went until 12 or 1 am.

When I got home, though, I made a cup of green tea and did some preliminary research in my Let's Go Europe and (outdated) Lonely Planet: Dublin guide book. I'm considering Dublin as my spring break destination - since I could leave Middelburg the Wednesday before break begins, come back on Tuesday or Wednesday, and still have half a week to study! I'm not certain it will work well, though, since that weekend is Easter weekend, and I'm afraid that everything will be closed from Friday to Monday. It would also be a little bit ironic to arrive in Dublin only 2 or 3 days after St. Patrick's Day! But I am really liking the idea of Irish stew with a glass of Guinness and a good book by an Irish author...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Photos from Liege

Hey everyone - my parents were kind enough to mail me the camera cable I left in Portland, so I can now upload the pictures from my trip to Liege. Curiously, I posted captions above the pictures, not below, but I think you will figure it out! Here they are...

Here we have some freaky dolls in the window of a dreadlock store, and below, the huge amount of stairs.

Which lead to a beautiful view of Liege.

Then the trip back down, for more exploring.

The view from the pedestrian bridge

The yarn store/cafe I didn't manage to visit on Saturday

La Cathedrale

The following pictures are from my Sunday morning walk along les quais.

This picture (above) especially reminds me of Portland's esplanade, for some reason.

After the art museum (that white building in the left side of the picture), I walked some more.

And came across this fun statue!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sunday, 3 February 2008 – Trip to Liège

(My apologies for the lenth; cropping is definitely a weak point of mine! Or maybe detail is my strength?)

ooooh, j’suis fatigué, moi. It’s all that French I’ve been speaking, and attempting to understand, and all that walking I’ve been doing—7183 steps Saturday and 13256 Sunday. Liège was chouette! If they really say that word in French. It strikes me as the textbook variety.

Bon. Alors, I arrived at the train station in Liège, feeling a little nervous about seeing Maël, who I really never knew that well, after so long. I remembered what he looked like, but… is that really what he looked like? I rounded a corner and there he was! I thought. Was that Maël? Then he looked up and I knew, ah, yes, that’s Maël – and he looks just the same! Even if it had been a year and a half since we had last seen each other.

After a hello, and a bit of confusion about the kissing – they kiss each other on the cheek only once there, which seems strange to me – he said, in French, “So, you want to practice French, huh?” He was referring to our facebook messaging, done entirely in French, because I had wanted to practice my French. I had not necessarily intended to carry that over to my actual visit in Liège but I certainly didn’t mind to, either. So, we ended up speaking French THE WHOLE TIME. Which is surely the reason for my fatigue.

We caught the bus #4 in a Northernly direction and looked out the window at statues and things, talking casually. “Are you hungry?” “Sure.” “I’m starving. You want to get lunch? There’s a great sandwich place, you know ciabatta?” “Yes.” “You take a ciabbatta and put what you want on it and they grill it...” “Sounds great.”

We walked through a shopping street and came across the Cathèdrale, so we stopped there on our way.
“Do you know much about architecture?” he asked me as we circled the building, and I had to say no.
“Neither do I,” he said, “but I think this must be Gothic. It looks gothic, don’t you think?” he laughed at his cluelessness.
“Yeah, it looks like the buildings in Middelburg, and those are gothic, I guess.”

I hadn’t been in a big Cathedral in a long time, and it made me think of the contrast between this church and the Corazón de Jesus in Moca (DR); the old-worldliness (gothicness?) of this one and la Corazón’s funny grandeur paired with tacky pastel coloring.

We arrived at the ciabatta place and I looked at the menu board. The sandwich combos looked all right, and I seriously considered L’italien, but I could see the sopressa in the glass case, calling me… “You can make your own, too, you don’t have to order the ones from the menu,” Maël said, as if on cue. Okay, bon, I would get sopressa and provolone with roquette. But I told Maël to go first so I could see how it was done, and would you believe it! He ordered the exact same thing as me, except with a bit of… tapenade of some sort. So I just said, “la même pour moi, s’il vous plaît”, and then we paid the bill and waited for our identical panini to grill.

We took our trays and bottles of water and mounted the stairs (Frenchism!), then sat in the window so I could enjoy “the view” – yes, the view of the shopping street, and, from my side of the table, the Eurotel store. We tried to talk but it was slightly awkward to talk while eating. I occasionally started a conversation but then I couldn’t eat while I spoke, and since it was French, I couldn’t even cut corners and speak just as I was finishing a mouthful – I had to make sure I had completely swallowed before I tried to shape my mouth in those funny ways. But as we finished eating the conversation flowed more naturally.

We had a funny conversation about food and the vegetables we liked. It became even more funny because neither of us could quite remember the names of the foods in question in a language we understood. I wanted to ask if he liked brussels sprouts, but I could only remember how to say it in English and Dutch, and he didn’t know the Dutch word. I couldn’t even remember the French for cabbage (chou! Of course!), but he understood in the end. (Nope. Il déteste brussels sprouts.) The same thing happened with chestnuts; he pointed to the chestnut vendor outside and asked if I liked them; I thought they were chestnuts but didn’t know the word he was using, but he thought “chestnut” was the wrong word in English, so I asked if it was the same as that cream that they put on crêpes in France, and he didn’t know. But we assumed we understood each other, and, once we had finished eating and cleared our places and headed back out to the freezing cold, we double-checked – and sure enough! Chestnuts! (Which he also doesn’t like. So I of course told him about our Thanksgiving dish of brussels sprouts and chestnuts together, and he shuddered.) There was another green vegetable that came up (that he, again, doesn’t like), but I never quite understood which one that was.

We walked on for a while, coming to the Royal Thater. IT had a pyramid-shaped top with and big columns.
“See that pyramid?” Maël asked.
“Yes,” I said, expecting some funny story about the history of the building.
“That means it’s in the Classical architectural style,” he smirked.

Soon we found ourselves at the Palais de la Justice. Maël directed my attention to the construction work. “There are too many crimes in Liège for le Palais to hold!” he joked. He suggested we stop on the large square in front of the Palais to watch skateboarders and stunt bikers. I said sure, it’d be fun – I’m always up for that kind of thing.

But then I realized he actually knew all these skaters. I remembered that time, back in the Dominican Republic, when the four of us AFSers sat on the porch of our cabin until 2 in the morning talking about the things we had done, and I remembered Maël’s surprising background. It made a bit more sense here.

And so there we were, at a square in Liège, where some friends of Maël’s were practicing their jumps and spins and such, and one by one, a few of them came over to greet us. We all kissed cheeks, said salut, parlered a bit of French. Maël pointed out the best skater of the group, and I asked Maël, “Do you do this?”

Did it,” he said, emphasizing the past tense, “for four years. But I don’t anymore”. We sat on the concrete wall for a while and got freezing cold, watching them skate, talking about how the in-line skaters and the unicyclers did not really belong with the bikers and boarders but waited their turn on the sidelines.

We were waiting for a friend of his, “une copine”, he had said. She arrived, a cute black girl, wearing a yellow sweater under a dark green jacket, a tight, stretch-fabric mini-skirt in that same dark green, thick black leggings, and that style of slouchy brown boot that every girl in Belgium and the Netherlands seems to own. I didn’t catch her name at first, but after a while I realized it was Grâce.

Her coming of course made it harder for me to communicate and understand, but it was so good for my French. By the end of the day, I rather liked Grâce. She’s going to Australia soon to learn English. Maël suggested she practice with me, but she didn’t seem to want to, or maybe I just didn’t offer enthusiastically enough.

The first place we went was up a long, long staircase/street to get a view of Liège. I had read about this in my guidebook before coming – Le Montagne de Bueren. I never counted the steps, but it was a serious workout. The steps were followed by an uphill road, which lead to another flight of some 40 stairs to a lookout point.

The view was great, though, and the street of steps itself was worth seeing. The houses were built right out of the stairs, and a black cat came to keep us company as we sat on one of the benches to catch our breath (although I seemed to be the only one to appreciate its presence).

We walked some more, wondering what to do. We passed more pretty houses and squares and little quiet alleys, more small sidewalks… and then, suddenly, a museum. The works of a man named Jean Del Cour. Did I want to go in? Well, sure. The student price was only 3.50. But it was mostly statues, of the church variety, and to me, classic marble statues are one of the least interesting types of art. The wooden statues did catch my attention, however, and I was surprised to see that some of the marble ones actually had pupils in their eyes. I always hated these statues that are so lifelike except for the blank stares. The manuscripts were interesting, too; all sorts of old books written in old French. I wondered why “Liège” was written “Liége”, with an accent aigu instead of an accent grave.

I was rather surprised at how often Grâce and Maël ran into people they knew. This was supposed to be a pretty large city – 200,000, if I remembered correctly. So why did they run into friends and acquaintances right and left? But I was meeting lots of people, and enjoying it. This is why I like to travel so much. I was starting to feel like I really am one of those European-traveling, youth-hostelling, friend-in-every-port people.

We stopped for warm drink in a café that Grâce knew. I had a hot chocolate, Maël had raspberry tea, and Grâce had some kind of infused milk. We sat in the back of the cafe by a steep narrow staircase that one of the waiters kept flurrying down and whipping around at the bottom. He seemed to really enjoy himself that way.

It was a nice place for talking. Maël and Grâce recommended books to each other, and they both produced these books out of their bags and backpacks. I thought about French textbooks and whether I would ever have imagined such a textbook-like conversation occurring in real life. (I can see it now: Chapitre 8: Ordering food, giving opinions.) Maël pulled a couple things out of his backpack. It turns out that he carries a computer speaker around with him, of all things. We looked at old I.D. cards. Maël searched for “fire” for his cigarette and Grâce and I talked a bit about Australia, my family. When Maël returned, he told Grâce to tell me her “histoire”.

Well, she said, I’m adopted. There are ten of us. TEN?!? Yes, ten; my parents had four, and adopted six. Then my real mom found me again… it was too complicated for me to keep track. I ate my little slice of cake and my dark chocolate (BOTH of which accompanied my drink) and pondered her story, or what I had understood of it. It was like the family in “Yours, Mine & Ours”, only I had never really believed that happened, not in a real family situation. How different that would be. I would probably take off for Australia too, if I were her.

Outside, we found a portable house, made of rocks kept in place by metal grilles. The man inside was very hospitable, a bit too much so, perhaps, talking about the concept. Well, excited about his work, anyway. Sign the guestbook, sign the guestbook! So we did; Grâce wrote “Grâce”, Maël did some elaborate thing with messages, flowers, and his name, and I wrote “Grace”. When the man finished his spiel, Maël directed his attention to the two-Grace thing. “But she’s Grâce” – he pronounced it like “grahs” – and she’s Grace – he sounded like he was swallowing something unpleasant – so really they’re different. Why’s that? asked the man. Well, because I’m American, I said, so the name is – OH! You’re AMERICAN! The overexcited gentleman switched to poor English.

I love traveling. Yes, I know, I’m American. But I still speak French better than you speak English, sir. Okay, Grace, let the man have his fun.

“We have twooo patents al-rhedi, you know? Take zees, take zees, and we can maybee be partnaires. You can start in ahmerica, okay?” I think he was only half kidding.

But I gotta admit, the house was pretty cool, and the rock zoo in the pamphlet looked awesome – life-size statues of animals made completely of stone and steel. Now that’s the kind of statue I can enjoy.

After a quick visit at the apartment of a friend of Grâce’s, we went to the hostel – L’auberge de jeunesse – so I could check in and drop my backpack somewhere. I ran up to my room to dump my bag, but then, seeing the sheets folded on the bed, I remembered what my Hostel book said: make your bed when you arrive to claim it! I felt a little less clueless when I remembered that, and made my bed opposite the other one that my hostelmate was sharing. I wondered where she was from, what was her name, would I even meet her? Wasn’t that kind of the point – or at least the plus – of staying in hostels? Meeting other cool people who do cool stuff?

I ran back down to meet Maël and Grâce and we took off again. It was decided that we would have dinner at the apartment we had visited earlier – that way, we could save money, etc. First, however, we went to a café for drinks. “C’est trop kitsch”, Maël said, referring to the somewhat outrageous decorations. “Do you want to try the peach beer?” Sure, I’m up for anything. Peach, huh? Maël went for drinks and I talked to Grâce some more. I’ve had raspberry beer and I’ve had the cherry one – kriek? – yes, that, but I didn’t really like the raspberry, too sweet, and the kriek was okay… but peach? That sounds… interesting.

But it wasn’t just interesting, it was goooooood. Not sweet like the other two, just, beery, and, at the same time, peachy. Nice! Peach and beer really went together.

After our beers, we stopped by the grocery store. What were we going to make? “Ooh,” said Maël, looking at the meats, “cow’s head.” He looked at me. “I’m just kidding, don’t worry.” We ended up making that staple meal of pasta with tomato sauce. This particular sauce had half an onion, two peppers (one green, one orange), and beef. I was starving and it was delicious.

We hung out at the apartment for several hours. People flowed in and out; the people who actually lived there left after an hour or so. Mostly, we sat in the kitchen, the three of us, plus Grâce’s younger sister, two of her girlfriends, and a boy. I don’t remember any of their names, of course. Grâce’s best friend was there for a while, too, but she spoke so fast I could rarely understand more than two words out of ten. I left with Maël around 11; we walked me to the hostel super fast, partially because of the freezing cold, partially because Maël still had to get home – and he doesn’t live in Liège, but in a neighboring town, about an hour away.

I got to my room and my room/bunk/hostel mate was already sleeping, so I had to change and brush teeth and all of that very quietly, and in the dark. I was really, really glad that I had thought to put on the sheets and blanket before, instead of leaving it till later.

That other girl snored – and loudly. And it was freezing. I wished I had brought warmer pajamas. After an hour of semi-sleep, I got up and groped around for my socks and the shirt I had worn that day, then slept, layered, a bit warmer than before.

I woke while the other girl was getting up and getting her things together. I heard her in the shower and saw her pack up through squinty eyes. It was pretty dark, still, except for all of those sneaky, convenient lights she kept using that allowed her to see but didn’t bother me. The church chimed 7. Wow. I wondered where she was off to so early on a Sunday in Europe.

I lay in bed, but I was still cold so I figured I might as well get up. What I was going to do on a Sunday, I didn’t know. Find a café, wait until ten when some shops just might open, then walk down towards the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, and then on to the train station? Sure.

I pulled the curtain back to let in some light and realized why I had nearly froze to death. The window was open! How had that happened?! I shut the window and got ready, then killed time with a few chapters of Julia Alvarez’s Something to Declare. Then I went downstairs, checked out, and took off.

It was still freezing cold. I managed to find the café I had noticed the day before and ordered a cécénel, which is a brand of chocolate – although I didn’t know, and felt dumb for asking when the waitress looked at me like I was an idiot – and a chocolate croissant, which was not bad, but very cold. I did get to read the paper while I ate, though, which I always miss in Middelburg.

I walked on, over the Meuse River on the pedestrian bridge, to the two yarn shops I had found on They were closed. To be expected, I suppose. It wasn’t that huge a bummer because they didn’t look like the most fascinating stores, but one was a knit-café, and that would have been neat. I peeked in the windows, then wandered back across the bridge and south along the quais.

Suddenly I felt like I was back in Portland. It was so strange, and surprising. The quai reminded me of the esplanade – there were so many people jogging and riding bikes that I felt totally at home again, and the buildings, which really looked nothing like Portland’s, looked so much more American than, I think, any I’ve recently seen in Europe. I sat on a bench and watched people go by for a while. If it didn’t remind me of Portland, it reminded me of Boston, maybe. But it wasn’t like the old buildings of other places, nor did it have the typical European street layouts. It was modern and the streets were straight and I liked it.

But the people I encountered Sunday were not as nice as they were on Saturday, and overall, I felt that the people who had served Eva, Dilyana and me in Brussels last fall were much friendlier than the people who served me in Liège this weekend.

When I arrived at the Museum, the woman came up to the counter and waited for me to state my purpose.
“Uhm… I want to see the museum…” I said.
“It’s free today.” She practically snapped.
“Oh,” I said, startled. “bon…” I remembered my backpack, and asked where I could put it.
“There,” she said, and pointed to the floor next to the computer she had been using, outside of the counter area.
“Okay… merci,” I said, a little shaken.

It was, overall, a nice museum. Smaller than I had expected, but there were some interesting things. Two rooms for contemporary art, and a bit more open space for the Monet, the Chagall, and the more numerous works by people like Raoul Dufy, who I know I’ve heard of/seen somewhere.

I wondered why it is that I can stare at a canvas painted white with two round, navy circles for so long. How did I get to be like this? I love it! I love looking at paintings like that and I love that I love looking at paintings like that. I know too many people who say, “You like modern art? Like, the colored circles? Anyone can do that!” But looking at that painting, I knew that I sure couldn’t do that. I mean, I could draw two rings, but I couldn’t make them look like the rings in this painting looked. After a while I looked at the title, something along the lines of, “playing with a ball”. Oh! There it was! It’s a head and a ball! And it looked just like a head and a ball.

I hate when people say “I don’t like modern art”. It’s like saying “I don’t like soup”, or “I don’t like cake” – two more of my pet peeves. I want to say, “Which kind of modern art/soup/cake? It’s all so different!” Compare a dry, store-bought chocolate cake with the delicious Lady Baltimore my dad made for Mom’s birthday in January. Compare split pea soup with borscht. They’re totally different! And it’s the same with modern art.

Silly dismissive people grumble grumble.

I bought some postcards, then wandered around Liége some more in search of a hearty Belgian beef stew. I found a restaurant that offered “une potée”, and thought to go there, but as I checked a few other menus and decided that yes, I did want to go there, I also thought that it was maybe a bit too formal. Not that they would turn me away for wearing jeans and clogs, but that it wasn’t the type of place I would want to eat alone – the type of place where you eat a long, lingering meal.

I found a glacerie instead, and noticed a display of bread for sale. Delicious-looking bread. Crusty bread. Airy bread. Hard on the outside, fluffy on the in, with big bubbles of nothing. I was definitely going to have to buy some bread, especially since I had finished my loaf of Grand Central Campagnolo on Thursday. For lunch, I decided, after much hesitation, to order a croque monsieur.

And when my slightly crabby older waitress brought it to my table, I realized that the croque was the perfect choice because it came on the artisan-y bread. And it was so good! Okay, not the best croque monsieur ever, but pretty tasty. And I knew now that I was buying some of that bread for sure..

First, though, I needed dessert… glace pralinée avec chocolat? Sounds good. Send me that praline-chocolate concoction, please. And finally, I’d like to buy a loaf of bread. Which was used for the croque monsieur? Yes, I’ll take that one. The younger, friendlier woman put it in a bag for me, and I could smell it as I carried it outside.

I made my way back towards the train station. It was 2:15 on a Sunday; not much left for me to do in Liège. I stopped in a little market to buy a bottle of water and left the store with a three-euro chocolate bar as well. Since I hadn’t gotten the chance to select a 350-ounce box of Belgian chocolates on this trip, I figured that was a decent alternative. Then I caught the train home, dozed a little on the first leg of the trip, and read the rest of the (crowded) way.