Monday, 24 September 2012
I have joined Postcrossing. For those of you who don't know, it's this nifty thing where you send a postcard to some random person in the world, and then you get a postcard from some random person in the world. Thus far, I have received postcards from Russia, the Netherlands, Finland, Romania, Thailand, Singapore, Japan and the U.S, and have sent postcards likewise. Being me, I try to write poems on the postcards I send. One of my recent postcards flew to a young woman in Russia who said in her profile that she was pretty sure she was Sherlocked. For those of you haven't seen BBC's latest stroke of brilliance, this is a reference to the excellent adaptation of C. A. Doyle's original stories (which I just finished reading this August--three books for three summers). It's created by Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss and stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as a modern day Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. I've heard some complaints about the idea of modernizing Sherlock Holmes, but in my opinion, it works. And it works because the people who created it are true Holmes fanboys who trust the audience to be likewise. Though their versions of the stories include some serious rewriting, they stay true to the characters. Sherlock is as much an egotistical smartass as ever and John is the ever reliable sensible best friend who keeps him from tipping over the edge. And the series is peppered with references, some rather obscure (like the unsolved case about the boy who went back for his umbrella, which is also, apparently, a real case) and others not so much (such as Lestrade invading Sherlock and John's flat on a "drugs bust." I could go on and on. But I'll stop. Because as much as people on this side of the internet know not to get me talking about this, you probably don't yet (not that you have a choice.) Anyway, I thought I would share what I wrote on the postcard I sent her. From one Sherlock fan to another:
I was excited as Watson on first meeting Holmes
He's a whiz with a microscope, and he cracks codes!
When he faced Moriarty, I was scared as could be
And I waited a year to hear the Bee-Gees?
That's okay Moffat, you brought us Adler and the Hounds.
It makes perfect sense Sherlock fever's goin' round.
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
Today's WOW (Word of the Week) is International Language. Okay, it probably sounds (a) like nothing or (b) obvious. The truth is that there is a lot of debate among linguists as to what exactly an international language is, as well as which are plausible candidates. But for the subject I am about to discuss, the best definition is probably something along the lines of "a language used in many different countries for cross-cultural communication."
I already said there's some debate on just which languages may classify now or in the future as international languages. Aside from English, my classmates and I considered (for future international languages) Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and Hindi. As far I know, however, there's not much debate on the fact that English is currently the best contender.
According to Sandra Lee McKay's Teaching English as a Second Language, over 500,000,000 people around the world speak English as a first or second language.* This is why I have two friends who regularly visit family in India, though neither claim fluency in the respective native Indian languages of their families. It is why Postcrossing (www.postcrossing.com) has its website in English and asks all members to have some minimal English competency (to read and write addresses and profiles in English.) It is the reason that the author of Scandinavia and the World (www.satwcomic.com) writes her comic strip in English. Interestingly enough, she says she gets asked a lot why the strip isn't in Danish (the author is), to which she responds "because then you couldn't read it, of course." I find it funny that she says the people who ask are often American and Canadian because so many Americans (including myself) are monolingual English speakers. This is also because English is becoming a more and more widespread language.
So what does this have to do with Rome? There are people who say that the United States is headed the same direction as Rome, and in line with that, there are people who say that English is headed the same direction as Latin. Once upon a time, Latin became an international language as it spread due to the conquering of nations by Rome. English has spread around the world in a similar linguistic dominion--England and the United States have been the dominating world powers for the last two centuries, and both of countries speak English. Therefore, English is worthy investment for other countries because it lets them communicate better with the world powers (and the question of another language taking on international status is, in part, a question of power.) As a result, people all over the world speak at least a little English, and in many languages (such as India) children grow up bilingual (or trilingual, etc.) with English as one of their languages. I've heard people talk about the use of everyone speaking one language. Sounds great, right? Everyone can communicate.
But wait, remember what happened to Latin? Aside from scientific terminology, television exorcisms (thank you Supernatural), and the occasional mass, it died. A long dang time ago. Well, it didn't exactly die, it just... changed, kind of the way an amoeba does. It gave way to new languages: Spanish, French, and Italian to name a few. So the idea is this: that given enough time, what are currently different varieties will become so different that they will become no longer mutually intelligible. Therefore, English will become the dead language which gave way to so many others.
There are a couple factors in this. The most obvious being of course, mutual intelligibility. As much as Henry Higgins might complain about people not speaking English correctly, different dialects are, for the most part, mutually intelligible. And here I'm not just talking American English vs. British English vs. Australian English. I mean that my American English makes sense to someone who speaks Japanese English and that person's English makes sense to me. Yes, there are grammatical differences (namely, lack of articles), but communication is not hindered. Of course, given enough distance, the differences can spread in opposite directions can bam! Dialects become languages, which brings me to technology.
As Ethan puts it, "Rome did not have the internet." Rome did not have Postcrossing and Scandinavia and the World to keep an international language salient. An international language is a boon for these projects because it allows them to reach as many people on the planet as possible. But these are communications which happen through writing alone, and as we've learned from the English spelling system, writing lasts longer than spoken words. (This is why English has a terrible orthographic to phonetic correspondence.) So is it possible that the spoken dialects might dissipate into new languages while the written form stays the same, or very nearly the same? Being not enough of a scholar, I couldn't say.
What do you think? Could English die out as Latin did?
*McKay cites David Crystal's English as a Global Language. I cite McKay because as an appropriately bad academic, I have not read Crystal.
Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Perhpas this title should be changed to "graduate cooking disaster," but to quote Avenue Q, "I wish I could go back to college." Yes I want to live in a residence hall again, so I can have (drum roll please) privacy. At least there, I only have to live with one other person. Wait, you ask, hoe many people are you sharing a room with? Well, no one. Only, the annoying part of my resident advisor position is back--I can be awakened at any hour of the night, for an undeclared amount of time--and I don't even get the game night's that went along with that. We do play games, but we play the same game every night and my dad doesn't like strategy games, so I am Pandemic starved. The conversations that occur over pinochle in this family could be scripted. It's the same thing every night.
So, people can come into my room whenever they please, and there is no part of the house which I can go to without bothering anyone else or risking serious dehydration or other heat-related problems. (This is not an exaggeration. It has been 90-100 degrees F here since I got back from Lithuania.) My computer is in the hottest part of the property.
I also miss the mobility, which I apparently got WAY too used to in Albuquerque and Klaipeda, where I could walk everywhere. Now I'm suddenly eight or so miles from the nearest grocery store with no car. I MUST depend on someone else to get anywhere. And I am not inclined to cook unless I can buy the ingredients myself for the reason of today.
My dad asked me to find Spinach Artichoke dip and in his infinite wisdom (don't get me started on his cooking wisdom--he doesn't know brown sugar from turbinado sugar) bought powdered cheese, which no one in this family has eaten pretty much since I left for college. So why powdered cheese all of a sudden? Well, it's cheap. It's easy. IT'S FRUSTRATING AS HELL! Quite simply, powdered cheese does not melt. Nor does pre-grated cheese. Yes, it will melt if you cook it long enough, but if you grate the cheese yourself (I don't care if it takes longer) it melts much faster and steadier, so your other ingredients don't overcook. Also, powdered cheese usually messes with the texture of a dish. Yes, there are sime dishes it works fine for, but most of the time, you want to stick with the real stuff, you know the kind that isn't coated with some kind of preservativegour body doesn't need anyway.
And I said I wasn't going to complain anymore. But there you have it. I'm just sick of my lack of independence. I need my own place. With a job. In a city. Or at least a car. I guess mom and dad won't have a squatter very long.
Saturday, 16 June 2012
Well folks, I've made it to possessives, and for those of you who were wondering, "Krysta is Emily's sister" would be something along the lines of "Krysta yra Emilės sesuo." In other news, I've got Annie listening to Lithuanian Out Loud too, but we're still operating on a system that I do most of the Lithuanian talking. Except apparently when Wren is with us because she is more assertive than either of us, in any language.
So first: my least and most favorite parts of learning the Lithuanian language so far (I'll give you a hint, both are trivial):
My least favorite thing is the word "namas," which means "house." It sounds a lot like "name," but the word for "name" is "vardas." Oh well, I'll keep them straight eventually!
My favorite part is the word "Saulė", which means "sun," but I capitalize it because Saulė was also the goddess of the sun in Lithuania, and I'm pretty sure it's a name still used. I just think it's beautiful. So if you're reading a book by me in the future, and you find a Saulė, you know where it comes from.
Onward: I learned today that despite the Lithuanian I am learning, when I am under pressure it all flies out of my brain. In Iki today, someone was handing out free samples, and I couldn't remember how to say "no, thank you." The answer, by the way, is "ne, ačiu," and is made up of two of the first words I learned. Again, such is life.
Now for the fun stuff. I went to Palanga with Annie and Wren today (Wren did the talking.) Last night, Annie Nd I found out about an Exile and Resistance Museum, which we thought would be interesting, but it's only open on Wed, Sat, and Sun from 4-6pm. Anyway, we happened to catch the window, and stepped inside. It is run by an older Lithuanian woman who knows basically no English. She gestured and did what she could to find things written in English for us, as well as to explain the museum to what extent she could. I explained in surely ungrammatical Lithuanian that we were learning Lithuanian, but as yet, none of us knew much. She said it was the same for her and English. We told her we were from America and I don't think she gets a lot of American visitors. The museum isn't off the beaten track exactly, it's on the main road, but it's easy to miss if you aren't looking for it (although we weren't exactly looking for it when we found it) and it's the not the reason most people go to Palanga. That's is not mention, it's only three rooms of rooms of pictures and items from the Soviet era. I'm sure there is a lot of information, but more of it is in Lithuaninan than English.
Anyway, she had a comment/guest book, and she brought me a pen, and I wanted to tell her that I was pretty sure I could speak for all three of us when I said that we were greatful for her kindness and were so happy to have been able to come to the museum and that the whole experience had been the best part of the day. But I didn't know how to translate that. The best I could do was "iš trys moteris iš amerikos: ačiu," which means, " from the three woman from America: thank you." Note that I have not made a mistake on "woman." The word "moteris" is singular, and I did not know how to pluralize it. Anyway, she read it and said something which I interpreted as, "oh! You do know some Lithuanian!" and she seemed very happy, like we had made her day. And this is my favorite thing that has happened to me in Lithuania so far. Because these are the little things we do for people, the things we never forget, and the things that make ripples through lives. Today, each of us affected the lives of the other, and we didn't even speak the same language. These are the things that make us human. Aziraphale would be proud.
Wednesday, 13 June 2012
Before we begin this little tour, I want to explain a couple of similarities between Albuquerque and Klaipeda. Geographically, they are designed differently, but they both have multiple universities, a short bus ride from a large mall, multiple monuments and scultptures dotting the city, and a river which slices it in half. They also both have a sort of main street down which lies shopping, groceries, food, entertainment, and, if you go far enough, an "old town" area. It is down this street (Manto Gatvė--street in Lithuanian) we will begin.
As we walk, I don't want you to look at the student center, the bridge over the road as we enter the main part of the city, or even the concrete bricks the sidewalk is made of. Instead, watch the people. Look how normal they are. See there? That could be me, the carless college student who busses everywhere. Julie, Flit, and Emily are on their way to the bookstore. Courtney and Quinn usually go with them, but today they went shopping instead. Maybe that's them behind the manequin. That's certainly Lily and Susan in the window of the coffee shop across the street. Rose and Violet are racing each other home on their bikes. Simon is jogging somewhere in the woods, passing Jody on the way. Jody is walking her dog. Piper has found a quiet place in the sculpture park to work on her novel, and Zoey walks hand in hand with her sweetheart along the beach. Krysta and Cassandra are filming in Theatre Square. Krysta is director. Cassandra is head make-up artist. Somewhere, in one of these houses, is Bailey--the real Bailey--but the rest of them are only figments seen in passersby. The people are so normal you could imagine you are still in Albuquerque. I saw my sister today, in a green dress and sunglasses which hid most of her face. If you look carefully, you might even find yourself.
Now, if you listen to a passing conversation or glance up at a sign, you will remember you are not in Albuquerque. But let us not shatter the dream we have so cleverly built around us. Let us ease out of it more slowly. You might glance at your watch and find that, at five o'clock, the sun is still not sleepy. Better yet, notice the foliage across the highway, the bike lanes, bricked in a different color, the locks on the bridge crossing the river. Slowly, the petals of familiarity fall away as a new sensation blossoms. You are so lucky to be here. How did it happen? And why? These unanswered question marks are what makes life worth living, and in the moment you realize the ensuing silence is unimportant, you find yourself in perfect contentment, both at home and in awe of everything around you. This is the traveler's mindset.
Tuesday, 12 June 2012
I've heard Americans in other countries talk about the "Monopoly money" they have to use abroad, but I rather disagree with this sentiment. I find foriegn money beautiful--all different colors and sizes--which usually makes it easier to manage. Did you know Australian money is washable?
The first thing you should know about money in Lithuania is that their currency is litas and centas. Their coins start with 1 centa and increase to 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 centas, followed by 1, 2 and 5 litas. The 1 and 2 centa coins and the 1 lita coin are silver in color. The 10, 20, and 50 centa coins are gold in color. The 2 and 5 lita coins are two-toned. I might stand corrected, but until then, with increasing value, the coins also weigh more. Nifty way of finding coins easy. Now on to bills.
The 10 lita bill has Steponas Darius and Stasys Girenas. It's easy to tell by looking at the bill that they were pilots (the other side has an airplane.) Anyway, they flew an air mail plane across the Atlantic back in 1933, but crash landed in Germany. A lot of people think they were shot down. But from what I can tell by reading about Lithuania, they're national heroes (well, why else would they be on the money).
The 20 lita bill depicts Jonas Mačilius, a Lithuanian romantic poet.
The 50 lita bill depicts Jonas Basanavičius, who published a Lithuanian language newspaper. This may not sound like much, but at the time, Lithuania was under tsarist rule, and had put a press ban on printing anything in Lithuanian using the Latin alphabet. This is generally agreed upon as one of the tsarist regimes biggest fails. The idea was that people would have to print in cyrillic, and eventually cross over to Russian. Instead, it launched the time-honored tradition of book smuggling in the country. Anyway, this is the time period that Basanavičius put out the newspaper, so it kind of is a big dal after all.
The 100 lita bill bears Simonas Daukantas, who also has a lot of streets named after him. He published the first Lithuanian language history book. Again, it may not sound like a lot, but it was a big stride forward for the Lithuanian language, which had multiple attacks on it in the past.
I also recently found myself in possession of a 200 lita bill, which I didn't know existed until that time. It had a picture of Vydūnas, who was also a poet. In short, Lithuanian money is overwhelmingly covered with the faces of writers and poets. As a writer myself, I think this is pretty darn cool. I'm pretty sure it's because language is a connection to culture and the Lithuanian culture was under attack for centuries. It so happened that some of the people who really drove the rebellion against this were writers, and I suspect it is a writer's connection to language which helped keep the language alive.
Anyway, Annie made dinner, and it smeels delicious, so I'm going to go eat.
Monday, 11 June 2012
Last time I was here, I tol my mom that I was dissapointed in the dorm. As Peter Pan might say, "I thought my roommates and I would join together like drops pf water." Turned out that most of the kids were from Virginia, and had been in Klaipeda for a couple of weeks already. They were already cliquing. The non-Americans in the hall mostly kept to themselves. Mom told me I had a special dorm, made of people who liked to sit around and talk about pi. Most dorms aren't like that. But I've noticed a few structural differences.
First, an examination of the UNM residence halls: I told Chloe a few months back that the apartment style aren't good for what RAs call "community building." This is because each aparentment has five people sharing a full kitchen, living room, and bathroom. And each of these five people has their own bedroom within the apartment. The suit style isn't much better--five people share a bathroom. The kitchen is public and only one of the five has his or her own room, but the real problem is that each set of five is its own little corner, away from the others. Inly the traditional halls which have (1) public restrooms, (2) public kitchens, (3) double rooms, (4) public study areas, and (5--most important) a shared hallway which means a resident passes many another room on his or her way to any of these places or outside, are well built for the natural formation of a community.
Now a bit about the halls at LCC, or Nuemann at least: the rooms house four people. They share a bathroom. Within are two two-person bedrooms, which do not have doors on them. This and the public kitchen area makes for a pretty good community set-up, but five ofthese rooms form a "pod," which is sectioned off from the other pods in the hall. Therefore, meeting anyone but the other nineteen (or fewer) in our corner requires going out of your way. Cultural and language barriers may also cause some differences, but I feel that different arcitechture could make a world of difference.
Anyway, the masters students seem to share a pod. When I got in, I accidently went to the other 3rd floor pod first, which was decorated with floor decs and door decs. The pod has a sports theme, and the lounge has a cleaning schedule. Then I made it to the right place--no door decs, no floor theme, no lounge cleaning schedule, no RA. I guess it's because we're masters students, so they trust us to be more mature. Still, the bleak look of the hallways made me want to go to Iki and buy some markers to mKe door decs. But after a day or two, I changed my mind. Of course, had I made door decs, they probably would have been the IPA ones I made for my residents, which would have been fitting, since our first class is an introduction to linguistics.
Yes, classes have started, which excited me because I LOVE linguistics! I seem to have more backgroundthan the other students, so thus far, the material is mostly review. I hope three things with this: (1) that I don't get cocky about it, like I did at UNM, (2) that I don't make the other students feel rushed. There is no reason they should feel like they have to progress faster just because I have a minor in linguistics. That would be like me thinking I'm behind in learning to make lesson plans because some of them are teachers, and that's just silly. And (3) I hope that if I understand it better than they do I can help them. This is a teaching program, after all, maybe this will help me get expereience. Just like reading a book again, even review has something new.
I also got a roommate last night. She and Annie and I had lunch together, and she talked to me about my religious background. You might not know much about it because short of an extended dicussion about Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy about five years ago, I haven't talked much about religion on Xanga. But I'm liberal, politically and religiously, and I think Wren might be conservative, based on her comments (and lack thereof.) So I wonder what she's thinking...
Anyway, back to residence halls: Despite being a masters student, and not needing an RA, there's still a point of contension upon my level of adulthood. We were provided no baking pans in our kitchen, nor a skillet, nor a cheese grater. The skillet and the grater I can mostly get around, but you can't make brownies without baking dish. So Annie and I ventured up to the sixth floor, where the staff and faculty are located. I asked if I cold borrow some cookware--I would use there kitchen, instead of taking it back down, and wash it afterward (the washing was implied, but I figured it went without saying, just like me having my own ingredients.) Anyway, I gave the person I talked to permission to say no, and she didn't she seemed quite nice, until she came in later and tried to tell me that the stuff up there was for staff and faculty only. First of all, she had the chance to tell me in the first place. Second of all, I don't think it fair that only staff and faculty should be allowed touse the ovens in their lounge. It really limits what we can cook. (No pizza, fritata, lasanga, spinach cheese dip, etc.) and we're limited enough by what we can and cannot find (or translate!) in the store. Look at me, here I am being a negative complainer. I told myself I was going to stop doing this.
So yes, in otherness, I have read 1 and been transformed. I have a goal to make the world a better place, and I am going to start by overhauling my attitude. I like to complain. So I'm determined to stop. Okay, I can't stop having negative or judgmental thoughts. But I can start emphasizing the positive. This is my goal. So if you catch me doing otherwise, you should chastise me. Anyway, I found a pan, I wasn't sure if the resident of the pod I talked to was comfortable with my using it, so I will try to ask another resident of another pod if they have such a pan in the future. Or buy one. It's only money, after all, and if I can fly all the way here, it's likely I've got the funds for a baking pan.
Goals for the trip: (1) befriend non-American classmates, (2) write poems for all classmates emphasizing their strengths and what I like about having them as classmates (distribute) (3) try to make a general difference by maintaining a positive attitude and friendly demeanor.
Sunday, 10 June 2012
Annie says she's trying not to use the word "hot" anymore when describing attractive men, and opts instead for "super cute" because she wants to use words which are more descriptive and don't have multiple meanings (and therefore more clear?) I haven't been able to get this out of my head since she said it. Because if she's trying to use descriptive words, I think she's going about it all wrong.
The most obvious reason for this is that the use of "hot" does not need the qualifier "super," making it more efficient and descriptive than "cute" to begin with.
Next, the meaning of hot (vs. cold) and hot (attractive) blend into each other well. Think "he's hot," "he's sizzlin,'" "he makes me hot." there is an extended metaphor in this language which makes it more descriptive because it calls up more images and makes more connections in your brain. "Attractive" is kind of abstract, but "hot" is something everyone feels at one point or another, therefore the use of the extended metaphor makes it more concrete. True, there is also an extended metaphor in "he's hot" or "he's on fire" to mean he's doing really well, but the language is slightly different, and I feel that by itself, this argument for using other terminology does not stand against the evidence for using "hot."
After all, I had two residents who could be described as "super cute," neither in the way which Annie means, nor in the same way as each other. I will talk first about Robert, because this use of "cute" is actually unlikely to be used with the qualifier "super," probably due to "super" having a positve connotation and "cute" having a negative one. Robert is about nineteen, one of those immature boys who I mentioned in the previous post. Here is a typical encounter with him: I come around a corner to find Robert on a scooter. I tell him he cannot be on a scooter in the hallway. He gets off. I go one way around the corner and he goes the other. Then I turn back around the corner and find him on the scooter again. In other words, Robert is the kind of person to whom you would say "don't get cute with me." (Another word for this is "cheeky." I'm not sure about the extended metaphor there.) Then there's Jakob, who acts like a child in the complete opposite way that Robert does. He is mature, but he views things the way an eight year old might--he has a traveler's mindset--he allows himself to get excited by even the smallest things. This, with the fact that he is short (enough to wear children's clothes sometimes) and freckle-faced makes him "super cute," the way a child would be super cute. Therefore, using this language, Annie is still using a word with multiple meanings.
The only way she can avoid this really, is to use the word "attractive," but that is not descriptive at all. Imagine reading a book and seeing a character described as "attractive," versus "cute" versus "hot." As a writer, I would lean away from using "attractive" because of the already stated abstractness, and learn toward using "hot" because of the extended metaphor (though this also depends on whose mouth the word is coming from.) What Annie doesn't realize is that it is the multiple meanings of words which make them descriptive.
Saturday, 09 June 2012
I took a class last year called "Travel and Contact" about the process of traveling and what makes traveling different from tourism. So, I hope I'm a traveler, not a tourist. But I certainly didn't feel that way walking around Nida with Annie the other day. First of all, Nida is a touristy town, second there was a lot of running around asking people to speak English, and most of all was the constant use of Annie's phrasebook (which is better than mine.) On the other hand, there are elements of my story here that are far from tourism: regular shopping at the local Iki being the most apparent. (For those of you who don't know, Iki is a supermarket like Smiths or Albertsons.)
Living on camous isn't much different from living on campus in Albuquerque. Annie describes some of the residents as immature, but I mostly think they are like my residents back home. This is not to say they are not immature (residents back home, I can still see you on that scooter!) only that this is not surprising. We all view other countries as different, but short of locks turning the opposite direction, I'm more inclined to see the similarities, at least between students. Watching the Eurocup in the lounge downstairs is exactly what would happen in Hokona if it happened in a month other than June. And the boys constantly playing video games? Just like passing the folks in the Entropy Lounge. The RAs still put up door decs (more on that later) and the desk attendents still get bored at their jobs. Residence Life is the same in every language.
I don't know exactly what this says about travel and contact, but it does make me feel less like I'm in another country and more like I'm... Well... Home. So does living in the same building I was in two years ago. I was trying to decide when it would kick in that I'm back in Lithuania, but I wonder if it will at all. It might just seem like business as usual.
Of course, that's not the way to travel either. It's about being open to new experiences and rissing yourself of self-concsiousness, which I also did in Nida, marvelling at the incredibly colorful houses and not worrying about just when we will get home. I alos did that today as we walked along the Baltic, taking in the sea air, watching the boats, getting covered in sand (and getting violently sunburned--another thing which is not new) and trying not to get hit by bicycles (Klaipeda is a very bicycle friendly city. This makes me happy.) my calves are a little tired, but they can rest on Monday, when classes start and my brain takes over.
Goal fro traveling: eat new food. Start with desert.
Thursday, 07 June 2012
First of all, let me apologize for any formatting issues in advance. I am now typing on an ipad, and know the formatting is less on a mobile device. But since my laptop explosion, I've become a desktop girl. The problem with desktops is they aren't exactly portable.
Checking in for my flight to Lithuania was just a little bit scary because the woman at the check-in counter asked about my visa. As I'm not going to be in Lithuania more than ninety days, I was under the impression I didn't need one (this is, in fact the case, a fact which I triple-checked on multiple websites as I made my plans.) but I geared up to have them look up my return ticket to prove it. It got squared away before it reached that point. I then received a ticket for which no gate had been assigned. At first, I figured someone would tell me in a minute, but after many minutes, and only fifteen left until my flight boarded, I changed my mind. I asked the women at the gates and she directed me toward the B gates, which are just sort of assigned at boarding time I guess because everyone walks down the same long hall to get to whatever gate their plane leaves from. Boarding did feel a bit like a safari or something because I didn't take the usual tunnel to get there--just a ramp with cloth sides and top stirring in the breeze. I have decided, however, that XNA should at least list "B" gates on such tickets. Am I being a Sherlockian jerk to say that I can't figure out why they didn't in the first place?
This is not the only means by which I intend to improve airports. The second step in my journey took place at Newark. Deboarding there, it occurred to me that for the next month, I brought one pen. My bag is filled with ink cartidges, but if I lose the shell of this pen, that's it--nothing to write with! So I determined to find a spare in the Newark airport. No such luck. It is easy to find "Welcome to New York" pens (yes, you read that right--New York in Newark, like someone's forgotten New York and New Jersey are separate states. The two cities must be close) but I didn't want some overpriced suvenier. I wanted a Pilot G2, which happen to be pretty popular soutside of airports. You'd think one of these bookshops would have them stocked next to the blank books, but no. In fact, the book shops had no pens at all. The NYC pens were at a separate stand with other NYC gifts. Ah, such is life. I will either have to be very careful about this pen (which I try to be anyway because orange pens are not easy to find) or hope that Pilot G2 has some sort of popularity in Lithuania.
Arriving in Brussels, I knew the two hour layover had been a good idea. At first, the screen listed my flight as leaving from gate A. For a minute, I thought this would be a hidden gate that even airport staff couldn't direct me to, similar to my experience in Stockholm two years ago, but with considerably less company. Apparently the secret is stepping into the bathroom because when I came out, A had changed to A37, which I could work with. At the same time, I was presented with a new problem--time. Back in January, my watch decided to stop keeping it. Traveling without a watch is no new experience for me as this happens every couple of years (I can't remember if I had one last time I was in Lithuania or not) I just use my phone to tell time, but my phone thought it was one in the morning, six or seven hours before the actual time, and I didn't know which.
By the time I got to Vilnius, my phone had figured out it wasn't in Ar-Kansas anymore. I got picked up by a minibus service and taken Klaipeda (Lithuania has minibuses that will take you across the country. Isn't that cool? Then again, I guess That's the Greyhound in the US.) I fell in and out of a semi-delirious sleep state. I kept waking up not exactly sure where I was. But as we came into Klaipeda, I felt like things were getting familiar. I'm probably making this up in order to reimagine my own awareness of another country, but something about the brick everywhere made me think "I think I remember this." I'm not so sure anymore.
Then we hit LCC, which I definitely remembered. I felt like I was home again. I even remembered where the Iki was, and that is no exagerration. Anyway, I've already made a friend, who is from Missouri, and she's been here before too. So now that I'm no longer by myself, I might lose some of that deer-in-the-headlights look whenever people speak to me in Lithuanian, even though I know how to say atsiprašau, bet aš labai mazai suprantu lietuviškai. (At least it's a little nicer way of letting people know I'm a foriegner. And it's not like the US has many Lithuanian language classes.) Well, I guess that's the end of this chapter in my foriegn adventures. I've survived jet lag and I am ready for a new day. More updates when I have done something in this country.
Little white intellectual girl slamming her way to the top.