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Alive and Kicking

Dear everyone,

I'm still alive! I don't know why I suddenly stopped posting, but for a while, I've been feeling the Writing Itch and the want to come back here to post. Please comment if you're still around & I'll go and catch up with you all... I'm so sorry for going off the radar like that, but I Shall Explain.

x Me

Big Announcement, Very Important!

Well, now that I've got your attention... ;-)

There's a big announcement indeed, even though it's not news as such: you all know it's been coming for a long time. But, this time, it's for real, it's really, really, real.

On Thursday 11 March 2010, I will be receiving my BA degree in English Language and Culture!!

Whoop! 5 years of studying and hard work have paid off! (Well, I didn't study much in the year my mother got ill and died, but I'm counting it as technically I was studying then.) 

I can hardly believe it's finally done - excitement, astonishment, and plain disbelief are currently vying for attention in my brain (excitement is winning, mostly.) I wasn't going to post until after I'd received my diploma, because to be honest, I still think that at some point, someone is going to jump at me from behind a desk or tree or door and say there's something not quite right (like I'll have to sit all of my exams again because they don't believe I passed them), and no way is the venerable and ancient institution that is the University of Leiden going to smudge its reputation by giving ME a diploma. But it seems my plain unworthiness has slipped under the radar...

I am now working on my MA, but I'm taking that a little slower (one course per semester). So now you know what I've been so busy with lately, and I hope to be around a bit more from now on.

I am SO happy, I think a Big Squee is allowed....



Happy Birthday Fenjer!

(I'm sorry - being absorbed with one friend is no reason to forget another. Hope this'll make up for it a tiny bit...)

Woe and Wonder

The Saga of the Broken Boiler continues.  I have now had 3 different repairmen on 4 different occasions staring at my boiler. They know what the problem is, they just don't know how to get to it. They've fixed me up "temporarily" so at least I'm not cold, and neither will I die of carbon monoxide poisoning (considering the temperatures outside, I must admit to giving priority to the former, had I been forced to choose...) However, the trouble is not yet over. There Will Be More Repairmen.


On a cheerier note: I spent my entire weekend in bed. (By myself!! Get your minds out of the gutter.) Because on Friday I received word from uni that now indeed all my BA stuff is done, so I can go and request the official procedure to receive my diploma. Apparently, this lifted all the stress and strain of 5 years off my shoulders and I Decided (with a capital D) to take the weekend off. I was in bed pretty much all day on Saturday, and till 2 pm on Sunday, sleeping, reading, not answering the phone and generally just getting some SERIOUS rest. It sounds boring, and so it was. It was also glorious, wonderful, and completely relaxing. I'm considering spending every weekend this way.

And, on an even cheerier note: went to see Florence + the Machine last night with friend K. The last two concerts we saw together (Adele and PJ Harvey) were absolutely amazing, so we were hoping this Cool Concert Streak would continue. And continue it did. Florence is amazing and has a voice that's clear as a bell and strong like Big Ben. She also likes a little bit of on-stage drama which made for a VERY good show.  She's only got one CD out, but believe me: she is going to be BIG. If you haven't heard the album Lungs, go get it. Now.

To convince  you:
Unfortunataly, I cannot embed this clip, but I assure you it's worth it to click the link. Go clicky!


Magical Golden Power

I stayed up until 2.30 am to see Ireen Wüst win the gold medal in the women's 1500 meter speed skating. Now, this is the third time these Olympics I've stayed up late and the third time I was rewarded for it by a gold medal from a Dutch athlete. Now, this can mean one of two things:

1. I know a little bit about ice skating and hence have picked the races with the most potential for a Dutch winner to stay up for.


2. I have magical powers, which I can transmit to Vancouver through the tv set, enabling the Dutch skaters to win.

I suppose it must be 1. But just on the off chance that it's 2: I'm taking payment from fans to transmit my magical powers to their favourite skater. Please contact me to dicuss my rates.


Cold Neighbours and Lots of Lager

As it turns out, the central heating repairman who was here last Wednesday didn't fix my boiler as well as he - and I - thought he did. Quite the contrary, in fact.

In the process of rewiring the boiler, he came across an apparently pointless bit of electric wire disappearing into the wall. He cut it off, some time later my boiler worked, I got warm, all appeared to be well with the world.

Then today, I found a different repair man at my door telling me that since last Wednesday, 5 of my neighbours (those living in a straight line either over or below me) had been freezing their butts off. The little bit of pointless wire was some sort of safety line, connecting all six boilers in a row to a fan on the roof which blows fresh air into the boiler duct. Without fresh air, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is quite high. An unconnected boiler will not work, because it will "think" there's no fresh air, hence, a risk of sudden and sneaky Death.

So. Not really a pointless bit of wire, then.

It's all a bit of a long, technical story, but the upshot is:

a. I could have DIED of carbon monoxide poisoning!!!  *insert girly scream here*
b. But I didn't, so that's ok.
c. Five of my neighbours are now Very Cold Indeed.
d. They're coming to fix it for real tomorrow, so I have to be up and ready to receive yet another repairman at 9.00 am on a Saturday morning when I was planning to sleep in.
e. I have to unplug the boiler tonight, just to be safe.

I'm not sure whether this is amusing, or just very annoying, but at least it's never a dull moment around here.

Also, in Entirely Unrelated:  I was just at the supermarket where I witnessed a guy buying 34 half liter cans of lager, a pound of processed cheese and nothing else. He is going to have some VERY weird dreams tonight.


All Better (and warm!) Now.

I called the repairman for my broken heater, and he could come nearly right away.  Normally, I have my day off on Thursday, so I called work and said I'd swap - stay home today, come in tomorrow. Boss D tried to object, but I just cut in saying "look, it's not going to matter whether I stay home today or tomorrow, it's 14 degrees Celcius in my living room (that's 57 Fahrenheit!), I cannot take a shower, there's a repairman willing to come today, and so there's just no way I'm going to voluntarily postpone that till tomorrow." And she gave in.

*yay for winning out in a battle with the boss*

So, the repairman came, (I almost kissed him when he arrived) and as it turned out, my 8 year old central heating boiler has been wired up incorrectly ever since it was installed. Apparently, it's a miracle it has been working all this time, and when the pressure dropped below a certain critical point yesterday, it just couldn't get itself started again even after I'd restored water pressure. (I can proudly mention that I did not, in fact, as I did last time, flood my bathroom in the process. Well, not much, anyway.)
I was rather surprised at the findings - and so was Mr. LifeSavingRepairMan - but he did know how to fix it, which was really all that mattered as far as I was concerned.

He fixed it. I showered. I got warm. All was well with the world again.

After that, I felt SO much better. I went out to get some groceries and some fresh air, got myself a face mask and some new (cheapy) earrings, ate a nice dinner, and felt better than I have in a month after all that. So, another yay:

*yay for Mr. LifeSavingRepairMan who fixed my central heating and my winter depression all in one go*

I can't put into words the renewed appreciation I have of living in a modern age with central heating and warm water.

Misery loves company

This just hasn't been my week. Month. Season. Whatever.

I'm plagued by winter depression even more than usual this year, which isn't so odd, because there's just more winter than usual this year. But to add insult to injury, yesterday my central heating died on me. I've added water to the system to up the pressure, but it won't come back on again... so my house is freezing and I have to call a mechanic. This is going to cost me....


This sort of thing is problematic when you live alone and work a long way away. I never know how to arrange this sort of thing, but we'll see once I talk to them (it's too early to call yet).

And to make things even worse, I woke up feeling physically ill. I've been sweating all night, I feel sickish and about to faint. And I can't even take a nice warm shower to make it a bit better. No way I'm going to work all frumpy like this - I'm back to bed to wait for a decent time to call the mechanic and then I'll decide what to do...


Olympic Gold!

Sven Kramer did it - he just won his first Olympic Gold Medal in the men's 5,000 meters speed skating. First I nearly died (the tension!) and then I cried.  Whoo! Now onto the 10,000 meters and the team pursuit.

Go Sven!

Now it's not there, now it is.

Came home from work on Friday to find my bike gone. Even though I live a stone's throw away from the station, sometimes - when I'm particularly late - I do grab my bike to get to the station in the mornings. But not always - so when I didn't see it on Friday, I started to seriously doubt myself. I stood there like an idiot trying to retrace my steps of that morning, but yes, I had taken my bike. And it wasn't where I left it.


Now, the area around the station is being "redeveloped" - that is to say, the square's being repaved, only someone is getting paid for making it sound more expensive. And well, due to this repaving, excuse me, redeveloping, they occassionally have to move some bikes that are in the way. And indeed, there was a sign up saying  "bikes have been moved to the bicycle park across the street".  So, even though I could see no reason why my bike would've been in the way, I went across the street, hoping very hard I'd find it there. But you know what? On a rainy evening in the dark it's very nearly impossible to distinguish one bicycle from another, and after searching (and getting wetter and colder) for 15 minutes, I gave up.

On Saturday morning, I went back to search by daylight. But the bike wasn't there.

* more censored, censored, censored*

So, hoping against hope, I decided to not only look in the area where removed bikes were supposedly repositioned, but I searched the entire bike park. (For those readers living in non-bikey countries: bicycle parks near Dutch railway stations look like this:)

I found it. Somewhere in between 10,000 other bikes, I found my trusted and reliable means of transportation. Someone had moved it to a different position altogether!!! Grr, grr, grrr. But, at least it wasn't stolen. So, all in all, this was a non-event, but it turns out you can fill an entire LJ-post with saying "my bike was not stolen on Friday."  This amuses me.

Something else that amuses me is the Jane Austen-course I'm taking this semester. We'll be discussing nothing but Jane, Jane, Jane for 13 glorious weeks.  I've been wanting to take this course since I first started my studies at Leiden. Whoo! Join in the fun:

Prof T (teaching Jane Austen course): The last time I taught an evening course was around the time that Jane Austen was still alive.

Prof T: My voice is gone, and so will I be, soon. (He's not that old, so it was funny, not morbid.)

And, in fashion shopping:
Me: *tries on red coat with black buttons*
Friend I: *frowning* Do you really like that?
Me: It reminds me of a ladybug!
Friend I: Yes, well. A very large ladybug...

I didn't buy the coat... 'Nuff said.