Sunday, October 25, 2009

Resume your curriculum vitae...

I don't really have anything pithy to say today.

I keep applying for jobs, and WTF? I am starting to think everyone else knows something I don't know, like, my resume has a booger hanging out of its nose. I don't think it does, though. Maybe it's because I call it a "resume" when everyone here calls it a "cv." But I don't like to think that my job experience IS my curriculum vitae. I prefer it as a "resume," which I think means "summary" in the Frog.

My curriculum vitae - well, that's actually kind of a complicated question, isn't it? I mean, the "path of my life" (yes, I used to teach Latin. Wait, does that have to go on there then?) is something different.

Defining moments in my life? Nothing to do with work. My son puking on me this morning had more of an effect on me than learning HTML. You really DON'T mind when the puke belongs to your kid. No, really. This is a life lesson.< /duh>

The footnotes on my resume are actually what I'd consider the most important part of my "life path." Speaking Dutch, Spanish, Italian. That shit took a long time to learn. Graduating with a bachelor's degree after having to drop out of school during a major depression? That was hard. Re-enrolling in college and finishing - that was hard. Impressive sounding action verbs and being a "valuable team player" and all that happy horseshit is easy. That's all just crap people make up to sound important.

Another footnote: I have a residency permit and BSN. Does anyone realize what a huge fucking accomplishment that is? While TNT was busy losing my original birth certificate in the mail (can't have a permit without it!), I was uninsured and paying cash to squeeze out my first kid in a foreign country. That's some heavy shit. Oh yeah, and I like, can use Microsoft Office.

Who am I? Multi-tasker? Yeah, not because of work. Hard worker? Yeah, not because of work. Good leader? Yeah, but not because of work. Because life has made me a seriously tough mother who has overcome a lot to be able to take care of my kids. Oh, and able to prioritize and coordinate multiple tasks to complete projects to customer satisfaction. Shut the fuck up and die in a fire.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I ate a whole box of cookies. All 9 of them...

Someone asked me awhile back to list some typical supermarket prices to get an idea about how expensive it is to live here in Yerp.

Bear two things in mind - we're talking about euros, not American pesos; and that packaging is MUCH smaller here, so you get a lot less. Oh, and get this - we pay a "packaging tax" so the stupid fuckers wrap cookies individually within the boxes they sell them in. Prices sound low - 1.54 for a box of cookies - but there are only 9 or 10 in a box.

1.5 liters milk: 1.14
1 liter choc. milk (generic): 0.76
4 rolls of toilet paper: 2.49
1 liter spaghetti sauce; 1.98
60-pack baby wipes (generic): 1.55
Cheese: 6-8 euros/kilo
Chicken breast (on sale!): 3.99/kilo
10 free-range chicken eggs: 1.46.
Loaf whole wheat bread: 1.42

Don't forget the 6% sales tax on food.

Also, you have to run all over creation to get everything you want. I go to Lidl for juice and chicken; C1000 for milk and name brand stuff; and a slew of others to take a look at all the DIFFERENT products they have. One store may have brands you've never even heard of.

I checked every grocery store in my neighborhood (3) to find popcorn kernels. Nowhere to be found. No one carries them. Popcorn.

The next week, I find a whole stack of bags of popping corn nonchalantly hanging out at Vomar. And no one knows ANYTHING.

"Where can I find popcorn?"
"No, idea."
"Where can I find popcorn?"
"Someplace else."

I have to continue this later, because I feel my blood pressure rising in consumer frenzy, and my little son wants me to color with him. Tot zo.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Starting to ignore...

I'm starting to ignore people. Not on purpose, it's just happening because I live here. People avoid eye-contact with strangers, fearing they may have to be polite. I don't get it.

I always tell people who ask that what I miss most about America is the chit-chatting. Anyone in America is potentially a chat buddy.

Here's what I mean. You can talk like this in America to anyone without catching them at all off-guard...

"Wow, what a long line. Is it at least moving?"
"Can you believe the rain today? I just love your umbrella, by the way."
"Nice car. I saw the same one at the dealership. How do you like it?"

If the person in question were to look at you funny or not answer. THEY would be the weird, anti-social person. In which case, you'd invariably say "Okaaaay. Guess not," and give other people in earshot the hairy eyeball, like "can you believe this guy?"

Here, people don't really do that. I get away with it a little more because I am American, but NO ONE will initiate small talk. They just don't do it. And they avoid "embarrassing" situations by not making eye-contact with passersby.

I had something so normal happen that fucked with me in a major way because I realized how much the Dutch is rubbing off on me.

There is a narrow bridge between here and the supermarket. I take my bakfiets over it, but it's a tight squeeze if someone is coming the other direction on foot or on a bike.

On the day in question, an older couple was crossing the bridge slowly. The wife crossed first, and stood admiring the swans on the canal while waiting for her husband (who had a cane) to catch up.

I was barrel-assing home on the bike when I saw them. I stopped the bike and re-adjusted the groceries on my bike rack to make them more stable and to give the man the chance to cross. Here's the scary thing: I didn't NEED to adjust the groceries. They would have been fine. I was AVOIDING having to interact with a stranger without even realizing it! In the US, I would have stopped, smiled and said "Take your time. I have to fix my groceries anyways," to keep him from rushing.

What was amazing (probably because the guy was Surinami and not DUTCH Dutch) is that the man said "Did you stop just for me? You didn't have to," and smiled. Get this. I said "no, I had to adjust my groceries"!!!!!!!! So that he wouldn't feel put out that I changed my plan for him. Because that is what Dutch people do. It may sound subtle - and it is - but anyone who lives here will know what I am talking about.

It's like how when you are on a tram and you accidentally step on someone's foot. They won't even look at you; they'll just take half a step away. Not rude, just not talking. In the US, you'd share embarrassed looks and a "sorry," followed by "no, that's ok."

Really. Go on the tram and try it. I'll wait right here.