Monday, March 23, 2009

Back to School, Take Two


Spring break ended this morning, and with it ended the beautiful springtime weather.

Yes, gone are the days of sun, friends, and leisure, like Saturday's walk on the Vlissingen boardwalk with friends, after a three-course meal, courtesy of Eva. It's back to work at RA, and all of the unpleasantness that is a semester of subjects that are unrelated to your major.

As a nice transition back into the semester, I let myself sleep in this morning, waking up hazily after a funny dream (touring New York with my mother, then stopping at a chocolate place before heading to Paris, despite my worrying about missing yet another literature class). I might want to allow myself such special treatment every Monday morning for the rest of the semester.

The thing I really have to focus on is being done with homework by 8 pm. It is absolutely doable, and if I'm stuck working long after 8 it makes me miserable. I've been pretty good at that this semester, so the task now is to just keep that going.

One year ago today, I was in Dublin, enjoying above-average caffe lattes, savoring the big-city atmosphere, soaking up rich literary history and Irish stew. That was a good trip. I'll be thinking of that for the next few days as I make it through what is essentially a second week of midterms.

Only seven weeks until I'm done with school and nine until graduation.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lente is Leuk

Last week, someone put a sign in a window I pass on my way to school every day:

Yes, spring is nice, and fun, and pretty, and all of those things that the Dutch word "leuk" stands for. And it's coming.

Appropriately, the beginning of this week of spring break began with the first two back-to-back days of spring. The temperature has been a bit warmer, and combined with all of that sun, it feels nearly summery.

Of course, it's still chilly out, and sometimes you need a winter coat - but the sun is always there. I'm looking out for a blossoming tree that I can tie my red and white spring bracelet to, as per the Bulgarian tradition of Martenitza. And if I can find a sunny bench, out of the wind, it's almost like last summer when I sat by the canals and read.

The downside to this jittery springtime bug is that it is impossible to get any work done. Yes, it is vacation, but it feels like summer. Sunday I went for a run with a friend and then we sat in her room and watched really, really bad TV all day, ignoring the looming papers and exams that some teachers had not been nice enough to assign before the break.

But for now it feels like summer, so we are living for the moment. Or procrastinating - whichever way you prefer to see it.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Saturday

video

It's very unoriginal, but I can't help loving Saturdays. It's an escape from the week, and anything else; you have no obligations, and you can kid yourself that it's okay not to do any homework for just one day.

Yesterday was a particularly good one, beginning as it did with a baseball game - my first baseball game of 2009! When I got up, I saw that Korea was playing Japan, so I watched a good 4 innings and rooted for Japan. (Who won, and not in a small way.)

Then I walked to the library with a housemate/friend to pick up books for my French presentation (the library is closed on Sunday and Monday, so you can't completely neglect schoolwork on Saturday.) He went to the grocery store afterward, but I went to the town center to get bread and some vegetables at market for dinner, a green bean and mushroom dish out of Madhur Jaffrey's Quick and Easy Indian Cooking.

Once back home, I asked a friend of mine if she wanted to join me for dinner and the baseball game between the Netherlands and the Dominican Republic. She's traveled in India, is Dutch, and I'm attempting to make a baseball fan out of her, so she was the perfect candidate. (Also simply because she is a nice person who is curious and interested in a lot of things - necessary when looking for someone to watch the game with in a country like the Netherlands!) She accepted, but wanted to be back home by 8.15 to watch speed-skating.

Of course, later I still had to run to the grocery store to pick up rice, but I took my camera and finally got around to filming a bike ride through Middelburg - something I've been meaning to do for a long time now.

At 6.15 I started cooking, at 6.45 the kitchen smelled really nice, and at 6.55 my friend arrived. We dished the vegetables out over rice and went to my room, where we settled in on the couch and I logged on to watch the game.

That's when I realized, with shock, that in my extreme excitement for the matchup, I had miscalculated the time, and we had missed the first two hours of the game.

On the other hand, the Netherlands were winning 3-2 - shocking! - Pedro Martinez, my favorite baseball player of all time, was pitching the middle innings for the DR, and Anne would get to see the final innings instead of only the beginners.

Pedro pitched very well, and the Dutch fielding was impressive. The score remained the same, though not without some drama, and the Dutch catcher finally revealed his secret weapon: an arm like a canon, which he loaded on an unsuspecting Willy Taveras on his way to third base in the bottom of the 9th.

And just like that, the Netherlands upset the Dominican Republic. What can I say, except "unbelievable"?

The food was good, the game was good, life was good. Afterwards, I skyped an old friend in the Dominican who I hadn't talked to in a year or two, and caught up on the people and places I knew. It sounds like when I finally make it back to La Isleta, it may look very different.

Later still, a skype with my brother and sister in Portland, and then I slipped into bed, very late. Yes, the perfect Saturday.

Too bad I had to pay for it today.