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Bee Keeper

As many of you know, I am terrified of bees.

Not just any bees really. Those cute fuzzy, round things that fly around pollinating fragrant blooms and making honey and wax for my cosmetic enjoyment are not what I mean when I say that I hate bees. A hatred bred from fear.

No, indeed. I am referring to the more aggressive pest. The one that ruins your wonderful late summer picnic by buzzing around your food,  impossible to shoo away and defying you to swat at them, stingers poised, ready.

This lot includes wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets to name a few. Honestly, I’m not sure what the differences are between the species, but I do know that they are NOT adorable and soft looking, but hard, mean, sharp, and threatening. Though small, they are anything but defenseless. A honeybee might honorably sacrifice its life for the greater good of the population if threatened. But I challenge you to come up with an instance where you intentionally bothered a wasp knowing that they possess multiple stinging capabilities and will not die in the act of defending itself.

In short: wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, etc are assholes. Bullies.

As with any irrational fear, the reaction to the feared stimulus is usually quite dramatic and volatile. In the case of myself and bees of the above description, this includes, but is not limited to: screaming, whimpering, running away, and begging someone else stronger and more courageous than myself to off this tiny bugger.

You may now be curious to know why I’d bother to write a post on bees in the first place.

Well, spring has sprung in Leuven! Flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and people are taking advantage of this beautiful town in all its glory. However, spring comes with a few downsides…

Our apartment, though tiny, is fitted with two very nifty windows. However, given the slope of the ceiling and general configuration of these windows, it’s impossible to fit a screen on them. This is annoying. In the fall, we battled with a bug bite or two and fought off the pesky moths that drifted in attracted by the light bulbs. However, the spring comes with another challenge…bees.

Since I arrived in Belgium last Friday night, we’ve had at least (AT LEAST!) 4 wasps fly into our tiny abode, each swiftly and efficiently killed by Trevor while I hide in the hallway. I don’t like those odds. Something fishy is obviously going on as there aren’t any flowers or really anything resembling one in the vicinity, so they could not be attracted by the sweet smells. Methinks a nest is probably to blame. But where?

As we’ve already had two of these unfriendly visitors today, I think an urgent message to the landlords will have to be dispatched. I’m sure they will see to it that it is dealt with with the same level of inefficiency and laziness that every other complaint has hitherto been dealt. Here’s hoping.

Oh crap.  It’s been nearly three weeks since either of us last posted on the blog.  Have you ever gotten really behind on something and then realized that it’s really tough to catch up?

The mountain of my laziness seems near insurmountable.  Sorta like this.

Worry not, dear readers.  Linds is back.  Things will get back to normal soon enough.

I choose you!

Since the Platygator’s appearance last Friday, I’ve gotten a lot of requests for more.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a tablet to draw on or even a scanner to … scan with … so this is what you get: two notebooks photographed with a blurry camera in a poorly lit apartment.

I decided to give the little guy an opponent for this post–one who’s newly released video game makes him an ideal target.

The lightning rat is going down.

Aaaaaaaaaaaargh!

Today I stumbled across an article and video from one of my very favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, at ComicsAlliance.com.  I’ve seen Gaiman speak in person, heard him read his poetry, purchased it in hardcover, bought entire runs of the comic books he’s written or influenced, and basically attempted to gobble up anything I can which bears his mark.  Whether you’re into Science Fiction, Fantasy, or superheroes is sort of irrelevant when it comes to Gaiman.  He’s a phenomenal writer, and the worlds he weaves are so deep and engrossing, so lush with character, characters, and insight, that there is no one to whom I would not recommend at least one of his works.

Odds are, you’ve seen or read something by him, even if you weren’t aware of it.  The movie Coraline, for instance, is an adaptation of a book he wrote as a fairytale for his young daughter.  I could go on listing his literary accomplishments, but I’ll leave it to you to look them up.  But be warned: it might take a while—they’re many.

The Comics Alliance article basically just reposts and explains a comment which Gaiman recently uploaded to YouTube about the nature of piracy and sharing.  You might have caught my brief, noncommittal jab against censorship and in favor of piracy in an earlier post, and it was making that comment that led me to link the video and the Comics Alliance article here.  It’s worth a look.

Continue Reading »

I’m now back in classes, and with two weeks of the current semester under my belt, I’ve become convinced that Belgium is, and has always been, out to trick me.

If you got a chance to read any of my posts concerning last semester’s courses, you’re probably aware that my favorite thing about KU Leuven has been the lack of busy work.  With minor assignments and the dread machinations known as “reflection papers” expunged from the curriculum, classes here seemed to be both stripped to the bare muscle of their being and simultaneously robed in abundance with layers of meaning.  It actually took some getting used to.

Oh, but now it’s back to ways which are far less foreign to my American sensibilities.  I even got three syllabuses (Syllabi? I like syllabi better.)!  Syllabi—in Belgium.  I barely know what to do with myself.  While I ponder it, I’ll probably write up a few reaction papers, mindless though they may be.

The shock my system is experiencing with this change of pace isn’t negative, though.  Quite the opposite.  While I don’t have as much time as I’d like to explore in-depth the subject matter we’re going over in each and every class, the classes themselves are pretty satisfying.  Last semester I only took four classes (while sitting in on another), and this semester I’ve got seven, so there was bound to be more stretching anyway.  I’m just glad that even the classes which aren’t in what I’d call my “wheelhouse” just happen to be focused on issues I’ve touched on before but never had the time to probe more deeply.

It’s like having an extra pile of files thrown on your desk at work when you’re already overburdened, but then finding that those files are filled with tasks you already do, or would like to, on your breaks.

But then there are those blasted reflection papers again.

I don’t know what it is about reaction papers that irks me so.  Maybe it’s that I’m not entirely sure what I’m supposed to be reacting to.  The text?  The lecture?  Discussion?  My feelings?  The meanderings and eddies within my stream of consciousness, where the four  (or more) might meet?  If it’s the last, there will probably be drawings—usually involving a Platygator or a cowboy monkey riding a crotchety ostrich.


(Platygators are friendly but excitable creatures which can be found
primarily in notebooks and moderate climates. Their whimsically
mismatched nature makes them less than ideal study partners.
)

Maybe what makes me hate reaction papers so much is the way they make me feel.  At this level, they seem like some sort of academic Xanga blog.  It’s as though the professor is some out-of-reach girl that I’ve got a hopeless crush on—someone I hope will find and read (by chance) my deeply insightful and poetic thoughts, causing her to fall desperately in love with me.  Except in this scenario, my deeply insightful blog posts are about the process of theological development in the high middle ages.  Ugh.

Regulars

(Behind me, you can see the Town Hall–the big Gothic building with statues all over.  Just one building toward me, with the white awnings staked out front, is one of our favorite night-time destinations, Brasserie Quasi Modo/Notre Dame.)

Just down the street from our apartment, there’s a bar/restaurant we frequent, called Brasserie Quasi Modo Notre Dame.  Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.  But it was one of the first restaurants we ever ate at here in Leuven (at the recommendation of an extremely kindly and helpful hotel clerk), and it’s become one of our most reliable destinations in the cities.  The food isn’t amazing, but it’s good, and it’s very affordable; the beer prices are the lowest we’ve found yet, even for fancier brews; and best of all, they take American debit cards, where many restaurants will only take Belgian cards or cash.

We’ve also continued going because it’s one of the few such establishments with a full bar area—it has two actually, one of which often sits empty because so few know about it—and is still considered a restaurant.  The distinction is key.  You can’t smoke in restaurants.

So on more than a few Friday or Saturday nights, we’ve found ourselves either starting or finishing at Notre Dame.  Sometimes it would just be Linds and I, but usually it’s with friends like Justin, Chris, and Abby.  Our visits have become so frequent, in fact, that we almost always sit at the same table (in the bar in the back), and we almost always have the same waiter—a man we named “Happy-face Sad-eyes,” for very obvious and very literal reasons.  Though I can’t explain how, his eyes always seem to be drooped in sadness, while the rest of his face attempts to compensate with a smile; the fight between the two is never-ending.  (I’d heard an old friend describe the same phenomenon once before.)

The events of each of our nights at the bar there were pretty unexceptional in most ways.  We’d come in, wait for too long to be seen by a server, order, get served, then finish our beers over conversation, wait on Happy-Face Sad-Eyes to stop ignoring us so that we could get another round, and repeat.

But last week, while at Notre Dame, we came to a strange and altogether unexpected realization—we realized that without trying, we’d become regulars. Continue Reading »

So, where have you been?

I know that some, if not all, of you read this blog solely because I contribute to it ;)… and therefore, you have been disappointed by my lack of contribution for the past few weeks. Let me now take this opportunity to update you all on what’s been going on.

First off, Happy President’s Day. I hope you celebrate by buying discounted cars and furniture. I would appreciate this ridiculous holiday if I were still at school and had the day off. However, I am stuck at home, not working, and bored. Most people don’t have the day off (which makes it not a real holiday in my book) except the US Postal Service. So now, I’m trapped in my house — yes trapped, for it is blizzarding 12 + inches outside — with no Netflix DVD to keep me company. I should have received it today, but since it’s a “holiday” it won’t arrive until tomorrow. Pity party for one.

Other than sitting alone in my house on this fake holiday/snow day, I’ve done a whole lot of nothing for the past few weeks. You may wonder why I wasn’t recording my adventures in snowy MN lately, but I thought that my close friends and relatives would not be terribly interested to know the mundane details that make up my life for the past month and a half.

But if you are dying to know what I’ve been up to, I’ll tell you…

I was only filling in as a receptionist in downtown Mpls until the company hired a permanent replacement for the last girl. That gig is now up, however, my relationship with that company is not. I got an in there in the first place because my mom’s friend works there (I mean, isn’t that how it works everywhere?) and she luckily needs lots of help with her job lately. As this help is temporary and I have nothing else to do, I obviously accepted. However, I’m at the mercy of the regional VP as to which days I can come in and work, etc. So basically, I’m working part-time for a woman in said office as her assistant. It’s decent money, and, like I said, I have nothing else to do, so I’m not complaining.

I told you you wouldn’t be interested…

But anyhoo, if you’ve made it this far in the post, I congratulate you! For now the more exciting news is presented. I have booked a return ticket to Belgium for March 17th!! Yes, by then I’ll have been in the good ol’ US of A long enough to return to Europe, and I cannot wait. I know this last month will probably be excruciatingly long as I count down the days till I get to see my fiance again, but I’m pumped!

So there you have it. Not much going on here besides the occasional blizzard/money-making. Speaking of which, if you have extra cash to spare for the “Lindsey-and-Trevor-Pre-Wedding-Adventure” Fund, donations are now being accepted. For as you may easily imagine, living abroad is expensive, especially when there’s very little income coming in.  Maybe I’ll set up a paypal account on the website 😉

Ok, that was a joke…unless you really want to donate, then I’m serious.