Saturday, November 29, 2008

Quiet

Grandmother describes the day when family leaves as unbearably quiet. The joy and relief of having your bed and your usual order back, stays away. Even for someone like me, who more often than not chooses the peace and quiet of my own company, is this involuntary silence unsettling.

Mother advises to fill the void with Christmas decorations.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hit by a bus

I was hit by a bus yesterday.

Today, I've been trying to find out who the driver was. I can't remember exactly but I think the registration number was something like "V0D K4".

If you should spot that bus, tell the driver I'm not impressed!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Beer for breakfast

Explaining the idiom "hair of the dog" to Chinese students is challenging.

Not just older - better too!

I don't worry about getting older, really I don't! I like the wisdom and respect that each year brings.

My subconscious seems to be in a state of alert, however, and keeps popping up to make me aware of the fact that I am about to add another year to my age.

Wherever I look, something or someone is there, suggesting disadvantages to growing old. One of my students asked me not IF I was going to go on botox...but WHEN. One suggested that if I really feel the need to tell everyone how old I am, perhaps I should lie about my age by some 5 years. Outside my front door, the hospital opposite has hung an enormous sign celebrating the plastic surgery department's 10 year anniversary.

I don't care. ID Marie should shut up. Marie Super-Ego is 32 tomorrow and happy about it!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Guru Marie

I had one of those I'm-bored-time-to-leave moments this morning and searched some job sites for teaching jobs in Indonesia (why not?). I found this job advert for a GURU!!

What an amazing conversation starter that would be.
- What do you do?
- I'm a Guru.

I wonder what the going rate for a Guru in Indonesia is? The position is listed as "entry level" so clearly you don't need much experience of guru-ing (?). I'm so applying!

[Upon further research, the word Guru in Indonesia is often used for a teacher. This particular Guru-job is as Maths teacher...so if I should ever want to be a Guru, there are ample opportunities.]

Don't trust sober people

Peter Englund is a brilliant Swedish Author and Historian. In a recent interview he was asked the standard likes/dislikes question. His reply for favourite beverage was:

Tea. If I drink alcohol I do so to get drunk.

It reminded me of an old friend, who would refuse to go to a parties with us if we weren't on for a full night of drinking.

He used to claim that he lived according to a Yoda-esque philosophy on life; you either do or do not, there is no trying.

I used to claim that he was a bloody alcoholic and just wanted to drag the rest of us down with him.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Not impressed

Me: Do you have kids?

Him: No. Well, at least not that I know of, hehehe.

Me: No, me neither - that I know of.

Him: What do you mean?

Me: That you're an idiot and this conversation is over.

Kylie's stealing my friends.

My birthday party is clashing with Kylie, and I don't seem to be winning the battle. I think I'll simply move the venue and treat it like any other Thursday.

Falling over coconuts

There are many advantages of being a head taller than everyone else. You don't, for instance, find yourself breathing into someone's armpit while travelling on the underground.

One problem, though, is the Chinese insistence on stopping in the middle of the road. If you are walking down a crowded street, you have to keep walking. If you really need to stop, you move to the side before doing so. Everyone knows this, surely!

It seems I'm completely out-of-sync with the Chinese walking style. I walk much faster and because I'm tall (and often have my head in the non-literary clouds) I don't notice much what goes on at ant level. When someone stops right in-front of me, I inevitably walk straight into them. This happens every day, sometimes more than once. It's frustrating.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Visitors

I'm quiet because my cousin and her man are here.

My cousin is the youngest female airline pilot in the world.

She claims that's not the case...there's at least one who's younger. I don't care! She's 23, and really hot, and she can fly really big planes...so cool!

I don't even have a driving license.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Finally!

We won the pub quiz tonight, S and I! The only team of two in an ocean of 6, 8,10,12 member teams.

We made sure to be very smug about it!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Duck

If you find that a conversation is moving in a direction you're not entirely happy with, you can keep the advantage by using a technique I call deflection.

This is easier done on men as their response tend to be more predictable (apologies for generalising).

There are 4 deflection techniques that I frequently use:

1. Move the attention away from yourself by providing a worse example.

- So you've spent five years and thousands of pounds on a university degree to end up in a job you can get qualified for through a two-week course in Thailand?

- My barman is a Neuroscientist! (this is true, he is!)

2. Change the topic of conversation to one he could not possibly win.

- Marie, have you SEEN the credit card bill this month?

- Does this dress make me look fat? Be honest!

3. Use sex to make him lose focus.

- Marie, how many pairs of shoes have you bought this month?

- You know how you were saying that you'd like to me to get one of those slutty nurse's uniforms...

4. Run away

- We need to talk

-Wohoooo...there's my bus, gotta run!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Too many facebook friends?

If you make it a point to correct grammar, spelling and punctuation in your friends' status updates the problem will take care of itself!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Everyone knows that shoes grow on trees

Today's teaching material is on workplaces and prepositions. I work in a hospital, on a farm etc. In addition to a long and useful list of examples, the authors have added in a mine. This is good-to-know stuff but I promise that not ONE of my students will know what a mine is. This is Hong Kong...if you ask someone where gold comes from they'll say "the shop".

I'm simply going to claim that a mine is where Prada handbags come from.

Sudo make me a sandwich

I'm trying to get someone to respond to an email by sending out telepathic brainwaves.

It's not working.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blogging

I've just surpassed 300 blog entries. Before starting this madness I had never read more than two or three blog entries in total. Now I read two or three blog entries per day. It's like staying in touch with people without having to talk to anyone. xkcd is spot on:

Stalked

The irony is that only a week ago I commented on the fact that HK men are so used to women taking the initiative, you'd even be grateful for the attention of a stalker!

Well, be careful what you wish for, I say! As of Friday evening I have one. In my defence I want to point out that I did nothing to encourage it. It was a brief bar conversation that unfortunately had me reveal where I live in enough detail to work out the exact address. My stalker was also cunning enough to get my phone number of someone in that bar. It's not a well-guarded secret so there are plenty of suspects!

Some 15 text messages, 5 phone calls and one early Sunday morning knock on my door, have left me feeling a little bit uneasy about the whole situation. Especially as my Sunday morning "No, you can't come in. I don't drink coffee and I don't like people just showing up at my doorstep" did nothing to discourage him.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Just call me Maria

Yesterday, a student told me that I look like Sjarapova. It was such an unlikely compliment that I got completely stuck in a goldfish stare, only to be broken by my colleagues' cries of laughter (at the lack of resemblance and at the look upon my face). I thanked her but added that it's a bit like comparing a can of beans to lobster thermidor.


The ironic thing is that P always used to say "you're not exactly Sjarapova". Well, it seems some people think I am! An ugly version perhaps, but still!

Bowling

1993 was the last time I went bowling. I was 16 years old and my friend L and I were in a "let's try new stuff" phase. For most kids this translates into sex, drugs and rock n'roll - for us it was bowling.
I had a great time that day and I've been meaning to do it again ever since. Well, it's happening tonight! Thanks to my job, it only took some 15 years to organise the return to the bowling alley.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Superheroine

Today I am Action Woman!! I'm getting stuff done. I'm stirring things up. I'm making plans and telling people what I think of them!

That's the beauty of procrastination. Once you've actually dealt with something, it makes you feel like a bloody superstar!

Porn (again)

The picture round in tonight's pub quiz was....well, different. Usually S and I do rather well identifying famous faces.

Tonight, however, this round featured faces of 6 females and 3 males, engaging in sexual activities.

The question was: Of the 6 females, which ones are getting it anally vs vaginally? Of the males, which ones are giving it to a man vs a woman?

Apart from laughing my head off, I did get four correct answers.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The world according to wikipedia

...and here are the teams playing in group A of the Ice Hockey World Championship 2009.


Canada, Slovakia, Belarus, Hungary and Philippines


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_Hockey_World_Championships

Life is about making tough decisions

After a long, warm shower you slide into clean, crisp bedlinen under a duvet just warm enough to keep you perfectly comfortable. Every tired part of your body relaxes; from your heavy eyelids to your silly-shoes-maltreated feet. Sleep is only seconds away.

This is when you notice that despite having already flossed, a tiny bit of a strawberry is still stuck between your teeth. Do you get up?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Don't even get me started on sashimi!

- Tonight I'm having shushi!
-Sushi
-Shushi
- No, sssssushi
- Shshshshushi
- Ssssss
- Ssssss
-Sssssalt
-Sssssalt
-Sushi
-Shushi
-Sunday
-Sunday
-Sue
-Sue
-ssssushi
-ssssushi
-Good, sushi!
- Shushi!

What am I doing wrong?

Westboro Baptist Church

If you look at the flier below, at the very bottom, you'll notice that the protest was scheduled to take place for 30 min only!
So why travel all the way from Topeka, Kansas to spend only 30 min at the picket line?

I have some theories:
a) Sweden is just one of a long list of countries that God hates.
b) They have tickets to go see Mamma Mia.
c) They need to get their drink on.
d) It's too cold to be outside (yah big girls!)
e) They are secretly scared of the girly-man King, who after all kills wolves with his bare hands.

I have intentionally put their name in the blog heading, hoping that they might find my blog (while searching for Firewomen pictures) and either damn me to hell (again) or perhaps explain why they think 30 min is enough to do the trick.

Ps. I like gay people!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Reminiscing

Kalmar FF winning the Gold meant the team anthem "FF till Tusen" played on Swedish radio. This certainly brought back memories. "FF till Tusen" is a song by the dance band (Swedish/German music genre - like American country but worse) TONIX.



The singer in Tonix is the father of the girl I was best friends with in school. This is how I ended up on the door VIP list during numerous Tonix gigs at the mere age of 14.


I don’t remember it being much fun hanging around a bunch of drunken adulterous grown-ups. It was more the case of popping in to get a hot dog, then going back out again where cool teenage boys on mopeds fed us beer, often followed by some snogging-behind-a-tree.

Those were the days!

Better late than never

We've been waiting for 98 years, but 2 min ago KALMAR FF finally became Swedish Football Champions!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

So how did you guys meet? part 3

Ash, who sometimes comments on this blog, claims that he became a coconut reader after googling for some Firewomen pictures and the results brought him my blog.

This is so incredibly funny that I almost think he's someone I know, taking the piss!

Then cook for how many minutes?

The key to surviving in a foreign country is to never expect things to be easy.


Note how these particular dumplings seem to be able to speak. I can't help but think that they are saying something like:

"Ouch, ouch! Get me out of here, man. I'm frying!"...but in Chinese, of course!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

You know you need a life when...

It has been pointed out to me that:

"Mark Six has 49 numbers (1 - 49), not 50.
The statistical probability of picking 6 randomly drawn numbers from 49 are 1 in 13,983,816 against 15,890,700 for 50 numbers.
Your readers deserve quality fact checked journalism!!!!!!!!!!"

I apologise! The "word of the week" in my training centre will next week be "pedantry". You inspire me in so many ways ;)

You're in my way

After work last night, I popped into my local for a glass of wine.
To get a seat by the bar, I asked an English guy if he could possibly move down one step. He informed me that this was the second time he had seen me in that bar, and both times I had asked him to move.

As far as conversation starters goes, he thought it was an unusual choice but much more original than "do you come here often".

The village people

That the Hong Kong Chinese are racists is never more evident than whilst travelling on public transport. The seat next to me is always the last to be filled, with some even opting to stand rather than to sit down next to an evil white person.

I'm used to this by now and don't think much of it. This morning, however, as I looked up from my book, I was surprised to see about 120 people standing, but the seat next to me was still empty. I looked down on the seat to see if there was actually something wrong with it. There wasn't. I then glanced up at the person sitting on the left of the empty seat. My eyes fell upon the smiling face of an Indian man.

- Do you think it's you or me? he asked.

It's a shame that there wasn't a black guy around as well so we could have had the whole train to ourselves!

Friday, November 7, 2008

So how did you guys meet? part 2

S emailed me re So how did you guys meet? with his own suggestions for far worse ways to meet than online:
- She was my arresting officer.
- I picked her from the catalogue of "Beautiful Tajikistan Brides-4-You (2008)".
- I woke up and she was just...like......there.
- In rehab.
- At a Ferret Fetishists Meeting.

I'd like to add:

- We met at a nudist summer camp. It was love at first sight!

ROFLMAOWPE

As I arrived at work this morning I found the topic of today's workshop to be "Text Messaging". Dreading the answer, I asked myself if it could really be the case that I am to be teaching the language bastardisation that SMS English is. It was "yes", naturally.

When it comes to this linguistic abomination, I'm a dinosaur. I write my text messages in complete and correctly punctuated sentences. I find it off-putting to read messages with 4, U, C and whatever else lazy people write. Nor do I understand the abbreviations. I have to Google most of them. It's only a few weeks ago that I found out what "lol" means. Twice I have asked my brother "what do you mean, brb?", only to get annoyed that he has left the chat without telling me.

However, as I am now to be teaching this, I decided to dive into the world of one-letter words and searched out a list of those commonly used. I have to admit that some are rather clever. I am also amused at the originality of rude comments. The list is, in fact, so full of rudeness that I felt compelled to check with my manager that it wasn't too much even for one of my classes (I never shy away from teaching "conversational" English ). He was kind enough to point out that I might want to remove the ones that I don't want to have to explain in class. Hence btycl (booty call) quickly disappeared!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Eli attack

Immediately upon entering my flat, I can tell whether or not Juliet, the cleaner, has been there. Not because of the lack of cat hair and general tidiness, but because my eli-on-strings' right leg is bent.
At first I thought that she bumped into it whilst cleaning, but I am slowly starting to suspect that she does it on purpose. When the right leg is bent, it's whole height is carried by the left leg and the strings.
As eli-on-strings is an antique, and really very heavy, I worry that the strings will break one day and send him into a floor-bound free fall. Perhaps this is Juliet's cunning plan to get rid of the evil-looking puppet.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Seven useless facts

Snaskefar has requested that I follow in the game "reveal 7 facts about yourself". Since the request did not include "then send it to ten friends or you will have bad luck forever", I am happy to oblige.

1. First time I heard of the concept “mock Tudor” I thought it meant "bagpipe player".

2. In Russia I had a pet cockroach called Igor.

3. It takes me 22 min to get ready in the morning. If I’m in a hurry I can cut the time down to 10 min – this still includes a shower.

4. I have 84 pairs of shoes…not including boots or trainers.

5. I take the radio quiz Melodikrysset almost every week.

6. I was once invited to join my friend the Prince of Congo to a bbq at Gordon Brown’s house, but I didn’t go because I had a really wicked hangover!

7. I’ve never attempted a handstand, not even against a wall.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Swedish bureaucracy

I’m going for another battle with the Swedish Consulate this week. I’m not sure if I ever shared our first encounter with you.

I lost my passport in April or something, and since I can be a bit procrastination-prone I had not bothered getting a new one.

Come July, an unexpected trip came up, so I finally made an appointment with the Consulate.
I arrived and started talking to what actual turned out to be the Consul General herself.

Me: Hi, I need an emergency passport.
Stupid Diplomat Woman (SDW): Did your passport expire?
Me: No, I lost it.
SDW: Have you reported the loss to the police?
Me: No. Eh, not yet!
SDW: When did you lose it?
Me: Some time ago.
SDW: Was it stolen?
Me: No, it went missing when I moved.
SDW: It went missing?
Me: Yes
SDW: Have you looked for it?
Me: Yes
SDW: But you can’t find it?
Me: No
SDW: You really should make sure you know where you have your passport.
Me: Yes (love being lectured). But now I need an emergency passport.
SDW: You need a police report first.
Me: There’s no time. My flight leaves tomorrow.
SDW: You’ll have to change your flight.
Me: I can’t
SDW: Why not?
Me: It’s an emergency, hence the need for an emergency passport.
SDW: Well, I can’t issue an emergency passport if you have lost yours.
Me: Of course you can!
SDW: No, we need a police report.
Me: I got an emergency passport in March while applying for a Russian visa. I didn’t need a police report then.
SDW: That’s different.
Me: Why?
SDW: You hadn’t lost your real one then.
Me: If I was at Arlanda airport, about to go on holiday but I had left my passport at home, I could get an emergency passport!
SDW: Yes, but you would know where you had your passport.
Me: Ok, so let’s say I know where it is but my flight is leaving in two hours and I haven’t got time to go home to get it.
SDW: But that’s not the case.
Me: Let’s pretend it is.
SDW: No, you’ve already told me that you’ve lost your passport.
Me: Ok, can I leave and come back in five minutes to give someone else here a different version of events?
SDW: No
Me: So what are my options? I have to be on that flight.
SDW: Well, I suppose we can’t deny you a passport. Here, fill out this form.
Me: ???????

I still haven’t got a real passport. This is why I need to revisit the mad-house. I do however have a police report now.

Major Major Major Major

S asked if I'm taking Nilsson back or if I'm going to be to be a bit more last name-creative. He suggested a double-barrel name as in Marie Double-Barrel.
The Chinese find it difficult to cope with "Marie". Imagine the confusion that would follow if I were to adopt S's suggestion.

I wasn't planning on changing my name again, but perhaps I ought to. One could have all sorts of fun with it.
Donalds (my initials are MC)
Urderer (my students are easily frightened)
Swede (as if it wasn't obvious enough)

The right line of work?

My cousin writes on her blog today that she and her boyfriend almost missed their domestic Thai flight because they had confused the arrival and departure times. There's nothing particularly funny about this. It is, however, rather ironic considering they both work as airline pilots!

Monday, November 3, 2008

So how did you guys meet?

I've just had a brief chat about whether or not people should have cover stories for how they met, if it happened to be online.

I think that online dating is probably the most honest way to meet someone. You exchange a few emails, meet up, hopefully have a nice evening and become at least friends.

Owning up to the fact that you met online can in no way be more embarrassing than hooking up with someone in a bar, get drunk and end up in bed with a guy you don't know the first thing about.

Or even worse, meet someone at say, a Tory Party event, get drunk and exchange phone numbers...who would ever want to own up to meeting like that?

No wait, that's how I met my ex!

En casa solo

I've had my family over for a week. It's been really nice to have them here, although a bit of a challenge speaking Swedish every day (I'm crap!).

My auntie is a frequent reader of this blog. This means that whenever I start telling a wee story about something that's happened to me recently...she already knows! It's nice but rather strange. I have decided to hold back on some stories for next time so I can have some original material for her.