The Ridiculous American leaves Italy…
I love Europe. Really, I do. Plus, everyone seems so classy here. I totally fit in.
OK. So I may seem very poised, proper and the picture of class (oh yes quite) to you, dear reader, but I have a confession to make. In real life… that may not be as accurate as I’ve let you believe.
In real life and not on the interwebs? I’m actually kind of a clutz. I also know that I have common sense (I swear) and the knowledge of how one conducts themselves in public (mmm-hmmm), I just… don’t always access that information.
In the interest of full disclosure to you, I give you a brief window into… well, me in real life as I leave Italy and descend (yes descend) on northern Europe…
Date: Monday, Oct 25, 2010 at 12:54 PM
To: Amy F.
Did you make it? I haven’t heard about any planes going down so… although now I have to go get on one in a couple hours, so suppose it’s my turn..
I made it to Switzerland – saw the Alps on the train, dear god they were beautiful. Pretty uneventful to get here, aside from an interesting exchange with the train ticket agent in Milan. He didn’t speak that much English and that seemed fine… but then, as he was handing me my ticket… he said something about “being hot” and I didn’t really understand him. I thought he meant the temperature in the ticket office. I think I said something like “oh yeah” and waved my hand around (was it really hot in there? No idea) but he ignored me and kept talking…
I think he might have told me I was hot. Too hot for one person.
Not really sure, and it took me by complete surprise (he seemed like a nice older man) so I just giggled nervously as I walked away… Um. I think I am wrong. He must have said something else. Either that or some one told him it was a nice thing to say to American women.
Oh, I also almost walked in on the train driver while we were barreling through a tunnel on the train here. I went looking for the food car (I didn’t get anything, it was too expensive – when I did find it) but I went the wrong direction (dude. trains are confusing – they change direction all the time). At the end of one of the cars, there were some doors. I wondered briefly why there were real doors and not the glass automatic ones, but of course I just bumbled right through them – and then well hello there was the driver. Whoops. He was driving a train through a tunnel in Switzerland at high speeds, so he didn’t notice me. I bumbled right back out – where everyone was looking at me funny.
Yep. I am that awesome.
Off to Holland…
Date: Wednesday, Oct 27, 2010 at 10:09 AM
SO first morning of bike commuting today. Didn’t realize the bike was almost too tall for me until I got to the sidewalk, tried to get on it, and promptly pretty much fell over. Such a spectacle would have been fine at that time of the morning in the States, where everyone would be commuting in their cars and wouldn’t see me. Unfortunately, this is Holland and people don’t really commute in their cars.
Date: Thursday, Oct 28, 2010 at 3:23 PM
Subject: Re: Dinner Party
I am still getting used to a bike that’s a little tall, riding with other people, and the fact that cars stop and actually wait for me, because I am actually a vehicle here and they actually know how to treat me. Amazing. I do tend to ride to work with the wicked witch theme song from Wizard of Oz playing in my head – between the bike being so upright, the blustery early morning hour, and the fact that I could crash and burn at any moment, taking out fellow bike commuters left and right (da-dun-di-da-da-dun-dun…da-dun-di-da-da-dun-dun…). I almost want to throw my head back and cackle.
But that would be weird.
Today I knocked over all the other bikes in the bike shed while trying to get the key out of my bike (yes it has a key – and it locks when I am not riding it, very effective). Luckily for me , it was early and there was only one other bike in there. Well. By noon it’s full.
I also went down to my meeting that I thought was at 9am. It’s a 3pm. My outlook account is still on EST. On my way back to my office, I almost walked into someone else’s office. Why? Because the light was on? Not really sure. At least it was awkward.
I did that again this afternoon, coming back from getting coffee. Different office. The light was on.
Date: Saturday, Oct 30, 2010 at 11:15 AM
I don’t speak Dutch. I really really wish that I did. For one, it wouldn’t force everyone in my general area to have to speak in English just because I am there. Or translate for me if they don’t. It also would mean I wouldn’t try to walk out emergency doors.
But mainly, it would mean that I could respond to people. Like saying “good morning” when we make eye contact. Or “excuse me” when I run them over. Or at the very least, not sit there staring at them with this stupid look on my face, frozen in the headlights of another language, unable to say anything at all. I try, really hard, to make my face be as open and friendly as possible, while also full of apology. I try, really hard, to make my smile say something like “I’m an American! I don’t speak Dutch, I AM SO SORRY MY COUNTRY THINKS ENGLISH IS THE ONLY LANGUAGE THAT SHOULD EXIST AND YES I KNOW I COULD HAVE LEARNED IF I WANTED TO BUT I DIDN’T SO I AM PART OF THE PROBLEM I AM SO SORRY GAHHHHHH!”
I think I can convey this with my smile, don’t you? Either that or I just look special (wonder which it is…)
And my hand itches where the cat attacked it this morning. WTF cat.
Oh PS and also? The sun finally came out so I scooted my chair over to look… and promptly banged my head on the window. Those are some thick panes.