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Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

My New Year’s resolution was to blog once a week.  The last time I wrote it was January 11th.  I achieved the same result with my resolution to start up my strength-training program, but as of today I am back on track with both.  It only took four months to get started, but let’s focus on the positive.

There have been quite a few changes for us in the first half of 2011.  We moved into a penthouse apartment less than 10 minutes from our old place. What makes it such a great move for us is the new place is completely decorated and feels like a home.  We have a large terrace off of the kitchen where Homie’s Weber grill resides.  We rescued it from Inga’s place as it sat all alone in the back of her garden.  Then we have another very private terrace off of the bedroom and we get a lot of sun and a great view from both of them.  It has literally changed our perspective living on Malta and we are so much happier in the new space.

Another huge change is I’ve switched jobs.  I am now writing web content and managing the social media outlets for an online gaming company.  While the writing content is a bit more exciting and diverse than the technical work I was doing previously, the bad news is that I have to go through the complete process of getting the work permit all over again.  At least this time I had all my paperwork in order and now it is just a waiting game until the new permit for the new company is approved.  I’ve been talking to a few people who are ‘in the know’ about the fact that the DCEA has changed procedures making the process a bit more streamlined, and all I can hope for is that they know what they are talking about and the new permit is approved asap.  It is against all rules and regulations to work while you are waiting for approval, so I am hoping that it goes fast.  In the meantime I picked up some contract work from the States, so we should be okay as once again I wait to become legal to reside and work in Malta.

Homie is currently in Sweden helping out one of our good friends ready their home for selling.  One of the first couples we met when we first arrived on the island, AB is American and BW is Swedish, and they have been living on Malta for the last three years while they’ve rented their home just outside of Stockholm.  Their eldest is currently attending George Washington University (doing fabulously well I might add as she is interning at the White House) and they have decided to move to the States in July to be closer to her and AB’s mom.  You may remember faithful reader, that AB invited me to join her writer’s group when I first came to Malta and because of her and her gracious support, I’ve met so many lovely people from all over the globe.  She will be sorely missed and I hate to see her leave Malta, but life is never static, always changing, always evolving and we will remain friends for life.  She recently picked up a book agent as she has finished her first novel, so she continues to be an inspiration to me.  I just hope she remembers to give me her coffee pot before she leaves…however, I am not one to beat around the bush so I have no problem reminding her.

I miss Homie terribly, I really do and the first couple of nights were horrible, especially when I got home from work and dinner wasn’t started.  But it has given me extra time to get my half-written (who am I kidding? not even half…) manuscript sorted and I have re-kindled my determination to get the first draft written by the end of the year.  The story is coming along quite nicely and I believe that if it makes me laugh it will make a whole lot of others out there in the world laugh as well.  I was just Skyping with my son the other day, complaining about Malta (I have a terrible case of  island fever) and how homesick I’ve been lately.  He says with complete conviction, “Okay ma, just come home now.  You did it, enough is enough.”  He was goofing around with me, but he was serious too.  Most of my family and some of our friends never imagined that Homie and I would have really made a go of it and gone this far, stayed away this long.

The book is turning into a half memoir/half fictional story about how having a personal goal, a dream or vision affects every person in your life, and, how it ‘doesn’t’ affect them.  What we went through as we tried to make the people in our lives understand why we needed to do this became quite humorous.  Some were and still are supportive, some just pretend to be supportive, some just shrug you off or feel it is their sole purpose in life to try and talk some sense into you. There is so much material there to write about, including all the great adventures we experienced along the way, that it will be hard to edit.

I’ve changed so much since leaving Minnesota and it will be interesting when I go home because a lot of the people in my life haven’t changed at all, still working the same jobs, living in the same home, doing the same things. Skype, Facebook and email keep us connected, but at the end of the day, we are still on the other side of the world.  Our  trip home will be documented religiously because this is the part of my story where the circle of this adventure connects.   Coming full circle, going back to Minnesota, as a visitor, having achieved, accomplished and proved, that if you want something bad enough, there’s nothing on the planet that can keep you from having it.

As for the title of this post, well, it’s been so long since I blogged I had to do something radical to get your undivided attention.  If you are reading this sentence, thanks for sticking around and I promise that the next installment will not take four months to produce!

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When Homie and I left the States a little over eight months ago, we dreamed of traveling all over Europe and knew that we would eventually make it to Tunisia, Africa as it is less than an hour’s plane ride away from Malta.  Since we needed to re-new our travel visas and were required to travel outside of the Schengen zone, Tunisia was our destination.  We just returned from an 5-day, all-inclusive vacation that served two purposes, we have a freshly stamped passport and we added another continent to our list of travels.

We were excited and just a little bit nervous because we had no idea what to expect.  When we told our friends in America that we were traveling to Africa, most immediately assumed that we were going on Safari!  This girl does not do Safari, she does all-inclusive hotels with a pool, a spa and room service.  Well, we never used room service, but we did see a live camel and he was only there to provide entertainment for the children lucky enough to get a ride.  We found out that we could book a two-day trip for a camel ride in the Sahara desert, stay at an African version of a bed and breakfast for less than €100 each.  Homie was very excited at this prospect, but luckily for me we didn’t have enough time and the camel ride would have to wait for another trip.  A camel ride in the Sahara?  Ummm, no thanks.  With my luck it would be like the time I went horse back riding and the saddle fell off the horse with me in it.  I don’t like riding live animals, they are so unpredictable and they have no brakes.

We arrived to the hotel late and just made the buffet before it closed down for the evening.  I don’t mean to be a complainer, but I really am not in to buffets, especially ones that don’t have the germ/sneeze/cough glass covering all the selections.  I was starving though, after traveling all day and my empty belly won out.  We walked in and the first thing I see is a cute little five-year old reaching into the olive tray with her hands and another woman picking apart a baklava desert with her fork.  Yum.  So I grabbed some roasted chicken (very hot so I knew that no child could have touched it with their dirty little fingers) and a jacket potato wrapped in foil and reminded myself to let it go, we were on vacation!

When the desk clerk told us that a bell hop would watch our luggage as we ate, we didn’t think she meant literally.  We wander back after Homie filled his plate three times (did I mention my husband loves all-you-can-eat buffets?) and the bell hop is still standing next to our luggage smiling as if he just won the lottery.  He took us up to our room and patiently explained all of the amenities and waited for a tip.  I had to nudge my darling husband who reached into his pocket to oblige and handed over three or four dinar coins, and as the bell hop was leaving I inquired about the air conditioning.  He stomped over to show me, then stomped out.  It wasn’t until the following day, when we exchanged more euro for dinar that we realized we gave him about .30!  We felt horrible!  We were able to make it up to him on the day we left.  He happened to be the one who put our luggage in the storage room because we had a seven hour wait for our shuttle to the airport. 

The hotel had two large swimming pools, a salt water pool and a pool just for the kids.  We quickly learned that in order to get a lounge chair with cushions you had to get out to the pool by 7 a.m. to claim your spot, leave your towel on your chair and then go to breakfast.  We just happened upon this information our first full day there because we were up really early wanting to explore the hotel grounds.  We got a lovely spot, under an umbrella and spent the whole day at the pool, and it was a good thing because it was nearly 100° and humid.  I knew we were in a Muslim country but I was not prepared for the traditional Muslim women’s bathing suit.  While I was in my bikini and still feeling the heat,  these Muslim women were covered from head to toe, (only showing face, hands and feet) in their bathing garb while their fat and hairy husbands were in a regular bathing suits and I couldn’t help but think how unfair it seemed.  Now, I know it is their belief and their religion, but it bothered me.  In all other respects, each Muslim family I observed acted just like any other family on vacation and I never saw any man treat any woman badly, subservient or rudely, so I just had another cocktail and let it go.

The second day we decided to check out the hotel’s beachfront offering and it was a completely different experience.  A beautiful sandy beach was just what we needed after weeks of laying on the rocks near the sea in Malta.  There were many vendors walking up and down the beach selling their wares and they never tell you how much anything costs.  You have to offer a price, then haggle as though your life depends on it.  They get insulted if you don’t haggle, as if what they have to offer you isn’t worth haggling over.  I thought I was good at it, but in reality I’m a wimp.  I know this because I bought a lovely ankle bracelet for six dinar and the lady next to me got it for four.  So on our last day we had time to souvenir shop and went to a little bazaar area to look around.  I found a beautiful Chanel knock-off bag that was only 24 dinar and I haggled for 20 dinar.  The shopkeeper went down to 22 and I demanded 20.  He wouldn’t go for it, so I started to walk away, assuming he would chase after me and give in, which happened when I bought a little harem outfit for our friend’s daughter.  He didn’t chase after me and all I have been thinking about since we returned is that damn Channel bag that I really wanted and was too cheap to pay 2 extra dinar for.  We’re talking the equivalent of 1 euro.  I’m just heartsick over it, and I console myself with the thought that he is probably just as mad that he didn’t sell the bag for 20 dinar.

After a little over two hours in the shuttle bus, we finally get to the airport in Tunis and we check in.  We are immediately told to follow a customs official into a room with our luggage.  He didn’t speak English and we don’t speak French or Arabic.  He shouted at me to open the suitcase and he went through everything, simply tore it apart.  When he was done he said, “Put it back!”, which I did.  Then he went through our backpacks.  All I could think about was this stupid show Homie and I always watch called ‘Banged Up Abroad’.  We weren’t the only ones, nearly every one on the shuttle had their bags searched as well.  Our backpacks were searched three more times and twice the customs officers asked me for my passport and ticket as we waited to board our flight that was delayed for over two hours.  Most of the passengers around us came to the conclusion that they were looking for someone, they were everywhere.  It was really kind of scary and I couldn’t wait to get on the plane!  We finally made it back to Malta at about 2:30 a.m. and it felt so good to feel like Malta is finally ‘home’.

~Peace~

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Baseball
When we decided to move to Malta one of the drawbacks was the fact that we were going to miss out on seeing the Minnesota Twins play this season in the brand new outdoor stadium.  It wasn’t a deal breaker, but none-the-less, it was a bummer.  So when we were able to get the game in tonight, we were both happy to be there, if only by way of our computer screen and a shaky connection to Sopcast.  With a little bit of patience and some real determination, we finally connected in the bottom of the fourth inning.  What a beautiful diamond in the city, looking all green and new!  The Twins won, Kubel hit the first homerun in the new digs and we found ourselves craving a good old-fashioned American hotdog.  The only thing that may have made the experience a bit more realistic would be hearing the wail of Wally the Beerman!  It was a great game and the stadium looks amazing.  Outdoor baseball is back in Minnesota, and it is about time! 

Prostitutes 
When we first moved into the flat, our landlord kindly took Homie down and around the block to show him where the grocer, DVD store and Step-In (a little store kind of like Tom Thumb…) were located.  Then he pointed way down the block, near the bus stop and looked at Homie and seriously stated, “Be careful down there.  That’s where all the hookers are.”  We of course immediately started to wonder what kind of neighborhood we got ourselves caught up in.  Here we are five months later and we actually do live in a nice little neighborhood (if not for the continuous traffic…) complete with a kick-ass DVD store and a reasonable grocer right around the corner.  It takes five minutes to walk down to our little bus stop that takes us to Rasta Bar, and on the way,  nearly right across the street, sit the ladies of the night.

When we first moved in we were anxious to walk around and check out our surroundings.  As we first encountered the ladies, either sitting by the open window or standing in the doorway, our nostrils were assaulted with the fumes of heavy perfume and Aqua Net.  It doesn’t matter what time it is, whenever we have ventured past, they are all done up and open for business.    When I was able to catch their eye, I’d make sure to smile and say hello.  By the surprised look on their faces I realized that they were not expecting any Minnesota nice, but hey, that’s just me.   They don’t really bother anyone, except maybe someone’s wife, and it seems as though they are not hassled by the Puliza, as we have never seen or heard any trouble, even when we are dropped home by the Wembley cab service after hanging at the Rasta bar til 4 a.m.    Last night Homie walks in at 1 a.m. after a night in the kitchen chopping garlic and declares, “Well, I’ve done something tonight that I’ve never done before in my life.”  I said, “What could that possibly be?”  And he informed me with a huge smile on his face, “I directed some Russian guy to where the hookers are.”  I laughed and said, “Maybe you should consider pimping, there’s some money in that.”  And then we watched South Park.

Dingli Cliffs
Last weekend we were day trippin’ at the Dingli Cliffs.  I had been wanting to go for some time and we ended up having perfect weather as we headed out, on Homie’s only day off for the week.  We took the bus to Valletta and after consulting the trusty 2009 bus schedule we saw that Bus #81 would take us straight to one of the biggest tourist destinations on the island, the Dingli (din-glee) Cliffs.  The bus ride was the longest so far, about 30 minutes, and as we wound our way through the tiny villages and towns,  our new countryside started to get a bit greener.  Homie and I looked at each other like we were ten again and on the way to Disneyland, and I think it was completely due to the fact that we were now seeing grass, trees and colorful wild flowers.  Not a lot of color where we have been spending the majority of our time…

Just when we started to wonder how much further, the bus stopped with a screech and the driver shouts, “Dingli Cliffs!”  Everyone shuffles up and out of the bus and we find ourselves in the tiny little town of Dingli.  I do not see anything except a round-about and more cement.  Suddenly Homie exclaims, “Look at that sign!”  I look to where he is pointing (there is a picture of this in the photos…) and on the building in front of us is a little sign with an arrow that says, “Dingli Cliff”.  So we start to hoof it down the road, following our fellow passengers, wondering where the heck we are going.  We walk for about a half mile, with buildings on either side of us and all of a sudden we the buildings are behind us and we are confronted with the most beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea yet.  The road that skirts the cliffs is over a thousand feet above the sea, and is easily the most panoramic view we have witnessed so far on this tiny little island.  At the end of the road sits Bobbyland, the only restaurant in sight, so we stroll in for a few Cisks and split a dinner of Steak Diane (still can’t do the rabitt which Bobbyland is famous for…) which was delicious. 

Afterwards, we thought we’d have a bit of a hike, but the terrain was so rocky, with no defined paths, complete with rusty gates in the middle of nowhere to prevent you from any further descent.  We meander back down the winding road to the bus stop, noticing a decorative cemetary on the way.  I snap a few pictures just as we saw the bus turning in the roundabout.  A great day exploring another part of the island and as the older bus jostled its way toward Valletta,  I am once again amazed that this Minnesota girl is living and loving life in Malta.

~Peace~

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I haven’t been cooking any traditional Maltese food and one thing that I know I probably won’t do is Rabbit Stew.  I feel a little bad about it, because part of this whole adventure is learning and living the culture and that includes experiencing the Maltese cuisine.   Rabbit is a main staple here for the Maltese, and I just don’t know what my problem is, but I can’t seem to bring myself to order it when we are out, even though it smells quite delicious, almost like a spicy beef stew, but yet, not beefy. 

We had a pet rabbit growing up, and still to this day I can’t believe my mother let it roam about the house freely, but its name was Cinnamon and we loved her. (Or was it a “him”?)  I can’t remember how it even came to be that Cinnamon became our family pet, but she was so sweet and loved to sit on your lap and be petted.  So as I fondly remember Cinnamon, it becomes even more difficult to consider eating rabbit stew or anything made with rabbit as one of the ingredients.  When we go to the grocer, I quickly scan the meat counter to see if there is anything we want fresh (this is a splurge as fresh meat is so much more expensive than frozen, for obvious reasons…) because I do not even want to see fresh rabbit behind our grocer’s meat counter.  For our Easter dinner we plan to purchase a beef roast (wanted the ham, but oh-so-salty here) which Homie can then season and pat and nibble from while its cooking in its own juices and he is so looking forward to it!

It’s been a rather weepy couple of days for me, I’ve come to discover that I am over-emotional when a holiday rolls around.  Easter was always a favorite.  Years ago in my previous life, I would go to church with Grandma, then she would come to my house and help me cook dinner.  We’d play Yahtzee and drink coffee and I would get to listen to her stories of life on the farm growing up. Further down the path on Memory Lane I’d make an Easter basket for my grandson,  and have so much fun watching him trying to locate all the plastic eggs we’d hide all over the house that were full of chocolate and other things that he wasn’t supposed to have, that only a Grandma can get away with.  God I loved to torment my son whilst spoiling my grandson!  (It’s in my top-ten list of favorite things to do.)

It has been a very busy week here on what I fondly now refer to as the little rock in the sea.  Normally our one night out each week is Friday and last Friday Homie had to work.  So I went with my friend AB to the expat gathering at a little jazz club in Paceville.  The band was a young ‘Captain & Tenille’, but singing jazz , well I guess I wouldn’t even call it jazz, but to be fair they sounded okay (but not really).   After the first set I got restless and could practically hear the reggae calling my name from the Rasta Bar which was only a five-minute walk away.  Finally my companions were ready to head out and we went to another cool place I haven’t been to yet called Tiffany’s.  Situated right in the middle of a small man-made bay, it was a dark little cigar bar with oversized easy chairs and a great atmosphere.  It offered a huge balcony/deck where you could also dine and had a great view of the sea and million dollar condos. 

We left Tiff’s and finally headed to Rasta.  My new expat friends had not been and ended up loving it as much as Homie and I do.  LB was his regular charming self and I felt right at home as some of the regulars cheeky-kissed me when they saw me and LB got me a beer right away.  It wasn’t the same without my husband, but I was entertained talking to my Maltese friends and watching LB work the ladies.  We ended up staying out until nearly 4 a.m. and one of the expats, who has moved here from Germany gave us all a lift home, and I was so glad I didn’t have to deal with the Wembley cab all on my own.

Couple of updates.  Still haven’t found employment, but not worried at all, I know the Universe will provide. The expats are so cool, the ones that have been here the longest know so many people, and it won’t be long until I finally get my foot in the door. The freelance writing is still going great and the more I do it, the more I love it, and the more I learn.  Started the cigs, but monitoring my intake and will always and inevitably quit again.  Homie and I had our first bout of sickness, a stomach bug that came and went in 72 hours.  It really made us think about how damn lucky we are that we are so healthy and we were so grateful we didn’t have to go to hospital.  (That’s how they say it in Europe…you go to hospital.  You don’t go to ‘the’ hospital!)  While meeting all the new cool expat people I met a woman and her husband who is a marine and is working at the US Embassy (where I just recently submitted my latest application).  They were headed to Sicily the next morning for American supplies and she asked if there was anything I wanted from the PX.  Well I made my way around the jazz club until I found a pen and a napkin and she delivered it to me last Monday because we were still not feeling well enough to meet in St. Julian’s. What a sweetheart!!  Among other goodies, she delivered Lays potato chips, Mountain Dew and Advil! I truly believe it helped to speed up the recovery and 48 hours later we felt fine. 

Fine enough for Rasta Bar this Friday….

~Peace~

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The weather in Malta during January and February is very unpredictable.  This morning we woke to beautiful blue skies, nary a cloud in sight and light winds.  It is now about 9 p.m., the wind is blowing, it is raining and there is a bit of thunder and lightning.  The local forecast called for rain most of the day, but it didn’t start raining until about 7:30 p.m.  It is quite chilly in the flat and we have just given up on ever trying to get the wall unit to blow warm air.  We try to comfort ourselves in the fact that we are keeping our energy bill down and I type this with my hoodie zipped all the way up and the hood up and on my head.  Because the weather is so unpredictable, doing laundry is a challenge and now, I’m glad I waited.  I still miss my dryer. 

Today is Monday and last Saturday we went to the Rasta Bar and had such a good time.  I ended up buying a pack of smokes and I smoked three of them, that is I suppose, the bad news.  The good news is that the bickering between Homie and I has come to a halt and I am emotionally stable.  I have had one cigarette since Saturday, and I smoked that while talking on the phone to my mother yesterday.  There is something about knowing that they are the top of the refrigerator, and knowing that I can choose to smoke or I can choose to not smoke.  If I really want one, I will have one, but I do not ever plan to go back to the amount that I smoked two weeks ago.  I have taken complete ownership of the decision and I feel fine about it.  Goodbye guilt, you are no longer welcome in my head.  My day will come when I will no longer need or want a cigarette, and that is that.

We had a blast Saturday.  The Rasta Bar is so much fun and we are starting to see familiar faces.  People are happy to see us and we are meeting more Maltese people who I think will become good friends.  We keep hearing all the time that the island takes on a whole new personality in the summer months.  The Rasta Bar is a little gem situated in between two larger nightclubs.  To get to it, and all the other bars on Bay Street you walk down what is called ” “St. Rita Steps” .  In the summer LB says that you can’t even move when walking down the steps and you have to really watch your step as the kids are always loosing their groceries as they go from bar to bar.  The tots only have to be 17 to drink legally in Malta and I am sure that there are many who are even younger than that.  Homie has compared this description to Bourbon Street in New Orleans during Mardi Gras and I agree.  By the summer months I am sure that we will find an alternative way to spend the evenings such as finding a great beach or somewhere by the sea to hang out.  I’m sure we will have to experience it once or twice, but the massive crowds in such a limited amount of space is really not our scene. 

I am so ready to find a job to keep me busy and miss Homie when he is gone.  I write and I clean, but the flat is so much smaller than our home was in Minnesota, it takes me an hour or two and then I’m again looking for something to do.  I thank my lucky stars for the DVD store down on the corner.  Being able to watch movies that are current and in English is something we do not take for granted.  I’ve seen so many good movies lately and feel very fortunate for the opportunity.

Our cable package includes the E! channel and I was excited to see that I was going to be able to watch “Live on the Red Carpet” at the Grammy’s.  A guilty little pleasure that I totally took for granted in the states.  The coverage starts at about 5 pm in the US, but here, because of the time difference, things don’t get started until about midnight.  I’m happily watching the stars parade in and take turns talking to Ryan Seacrest,  waiting to see what kind of monstrosity Lady Gaga is going to show up wearing when Homie walks in.  I had resigned myself to the fact that I was only getting the Red Carpet show because the Grammy’s will be broadcast on the CBS network.  My darling husband, king of the remote, checks around and finds that the Grammy’s will be broadcast here on Ital-1, which is an Italian station.  I couldn’t believe it!  This calls for microwave popcorn and the last lone bottle of  Heineken!  

I’m happy as a clam as I settle in for the start of the show, and Homie is happy as he settles in for the Pro Bowl game which he was able to get online with no “streaming” problem. (Why isn’t it this easy when the Vikings were scheduled to play??)  The Grammy’s start and Steven Cobert is on and I can’t hear a word he is saying because it is dubbed over in Italian.  Since I know very little Italian, this is overly annoying.   I do get to see all the musical acts and just make the Michael Jackson tribute before I can no longer keep my eyes open.   On the commercial breaks, the Italian channel breaks to a group of  Italians that I am presuming are in the music or entertainment industry and they are discussing the show, but who knows what they are saying.  They look happy, so I can only speculate that they are enjoying the show.  All in all, it was fun to watch.  Pink’s act was my favorite and I am oh-so-done with the Black Eyed Peas song, “I Gotta Feeling”, and I guess I have to agree with most of the blog reports of Taylor Swift’s “surprised” reactions when her name was called as annoying.  It was, to say the least, irritating.

Homie finally has the entire day off tomorrow.  I’m hoping the weather is good, I am successful at scheduling a job interview or two, and we can think of something to make for dinner other than pasta or chicken.  Chili dogs sound good!

~Peace~

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The  Minnesota Vikings lost.  We stayed up until about 3:30 a.m. and finally logged off (we watch the games online) when there was about 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter and the score was tied. We missed the interception and the Saint’s field goal that won it for them.  I’m glad I missed it as I tend to get overly emotional.  I’m sure all the die-hard fans and the Minnesota radio personalities will have lots to talk about in the coming weeks. There has been some controversy about this team and who the coach actually is,  Farve or Childress.  It’s been a great season, but I’m just glad it has come to a close for this Vikings fan.  Side note:  Homie is a die-hard Bears fan.  He tries to hide his happiness at the Vikings loosing, but fails miserably and once again I am reminded that I may be the only Vikings fan on the island of Malta.  When we were living in Minnesota, one of our favorite places to watch sports, especially football, was Lyle’s.  Homie always remarked that some day he would love to be in a bar where he is surrounded by Bears fans.  I don’t think that will be happening for awhile, unless we stumble upon a Chicago style sports bar on Gozo or something. 

I had my first Malta interview yesterday.  Because of the game, I got into bed about 3:30 a.m. and got up at 7:30 a.m.  So I put on extra undereye coverup, brushed my teeth twice and ran to catch the bus.  Homie didn’t have to go in until 8:00 p.m. so he insisted on coming with.  Last week we walked to where the interview was to take place and it took about 35-40 minutes.  We took the bus and it took about the same amount of time.  We walked to the bus stop and paid .47 each to the Viletta terminal.  This is the bus terminal which is right in front of Valetta proper, and Valetta is the capital city of the island.  Once we arrived at the terminal, we each paid .47 again to catch the 157 or 159 to get to within 2 blocks of where the company is located.  I kept telling Homie that I could handle going by myself, I know he must have been exhausted, but he insisted on coming with.  He knows I have a twisted sense of direction…  So we get to the terminal with about 3 minutes to spare because the next bus we have to catch only comes at 10 minutes past the hour.  If we missed it, I would be late.  When you are at the bus terminal, there are signs with bus numbers on them so you know where to go to catch them.  We looked and couldn’t find the 157 or 159.  So I just started asking bus drivers.  That’s the difference here, I have no problem stopping and asking anyone anything.  If someone doesn’t give me the answer I’m looking for, like the first two bus drivers, I will ask another.  This sometimes annoys my husband and arguments have ensued in the past, but I always say, when in doubt, ask. 

So we finally get a bus driver that understood my english and my question and no sooner did we walk to the designated area, the bus pulled right up.  It was 10:09.  We sat on the bus for about six minutes and departed at 10:15.  We arrived at our destination at 10:25.  I was thirty-five minutes early and it was windy and it looked like it was going to rain any minute.  We walked around and there really wasn’t a coffee shop or anywhere we could sit for a few minutes, so finally at 10:40 I decided to just go in and wait in the waiting room until my appointment time.  I walked upstairs and it was like an open office environment and I stood there for about 20 seconds and no one looked at me or inquired anything about my standing there, so I spotted a couch down the hallway and sat there for a few minutes, wondering what to do next.  People walked by, no asked who I was, or what I was doing there.  Finally at about 10:50 a young woman walked past me to the rest room and on her return I asked, “Are you Helga?”  She said no.  Then as an afterthought, she turned and said, “I’ll let her know you are here.”  I was going to tell her my name, but I wasn’t quick enough. 

Two minutes later Helga came to my rescue and took me to a conference room where she asked me to fill out a questionnaire.  Ten minutes later we started the interview.  She had some questions, I had the answers.  She was genuinely interested in my story and made me feel confident that she would be able to help me pursue a position within the online gaming companies.  I felt really positive leaving and then I as I was leaving, after thanking her, I somehow called her “sweetie”.  Sweetie?  What is wrong with me?  She looked at me as if she didn’t hear correctly, then realized she did, then said, “Okay.”  Damn it!  Why do I do that? 

 Once my mom and I drove down to the south part of the United States to visit my brother and his family while they were stationed at Fort Bragg.  At every restaurant we visited the waitress would call you either “honey” or “sweetie” and I hated it!  I started this annoying habit when I was providing computer consulting at a small non-profit I once worked at.  Homie hated it when I did this, because he said it “dated me”.   Thinking back on it, I know what I was thinking.  We had talked and she was really nice and seemed interested in my “story” and I’m always trying to make people feel warm and cozy.  Yuk.  I hope she doesn’t think all Americans act this way!  Only southern waitresses!

So I am consciously watching my indubitable dialect and here’s to hoping I am working in the iGaming industry by February 1st!

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I’m going crazy, and as my husband might say, “It’s a short drive.”  He loves me, that’s the only reason he gets away with it.  I’m just going to type and not make a huge effort in writing correctly, or re-writing or whatever.  I’ve been on my blogging site for the last couple of hours trying to figure out how to create and re-name widgets, how to link to other blogging sites, checking out how my site works, and now the “Comments” link by the RSS link on my page doesn’t work.  It did, now it doesn’t.  The more I read the more frustrated I get at not being able to just make it look like the way I want it to look.  Tags, pages, links, categories.  I’m figuring out tags, but not sure how links work or where they go or if they are on my page or what.

Homie started his new job tonight.  He got the job at the small restraurant he applied at.  It’s located on the Strand, just a short 10-minute walk from our flat.  He likes blending into the background, so I bet he will like it.  He was getting stir crazy and needed to do something to meet more people and try to learn the impossible Maltese language.  Why do I call him Homie?  When we first started dating we had so much fun together, and this has never happened to me before.  Well, its always fun in the beginning, but this was even funner.  (See, I didn’t erase that…and it is wrong!  Funner?)  Anyway, it was easy, we laughed so much and it was the first time in my life that I could be me, really me and not have to watch what I said or what I did.  He instantly became my best friend, my home -boy, my Homie from the hood…just kidding, we didn’t have a hood.  So I started calling him Homie, (besides his real name is Roger and my ex-husband’s name started with an “R” and I didn’t want to have any embarrassing accidents happening) and I really didn’t think our relationship was going to last.  I was just having fun and he was eight years younger than me!  Well here we are 12 years later, married for almost five and still happy and living our dreams out together.  I wrote before about not always having shared his dream of living abroad.  It took a long time and getting laid off from three jobs in a row before I finally said we should give it a go.  It truly is turning out to be a good thing.  We only have each other to depend on right now, and I won’t lie, the bickering has been at an all time high lately, but we always come around and we always end up loving each other more and this is starting to sound kind of made up, but there you have it. Now you know why I call him that.  My family calls him Homie, even my retired-biker father.  I will never find another man who loves me more and I thank my lucky stars that he wore his green chuck taylors every week to volleyball (we both played co-ed volleyball at a bar on Rice Street in St. Paul, MN where we met) because that is what caught my eye and I just knew I had to know this guy.  So he is working and I am writing and blogging.  I am writing a book about this whole adventure and it is my intention to be a published author which by the way, has always been my dream.  That’s why writing, just writing without fixing anything is really hard, but I’m doing it anyway.  So, I need to find a part-time job as well, we have been living off our savings and it’s quite traumatizing to see it go down, down, down without any income coming in.  I want to be out there too, meeting more people, and getting more material for the part of the book where I talk about living in Malta, and if I spoke Norwegian or was an expert in Flash (I’m only a beginner, at best) I would be employed right now.  Part-time office gigs are hard to come by, practically non-existent, so I suppose waiting tables will be in my future, but I don’t care, as long as I’m doing something.  I dream about selling my book idea on “spec” and envision my life as that having happened, but then I see the TCF bank acct tab while I’m on the internet and those visions evaporate quickly.  I have to continue to have faith in myself and believe that I can do it, I KNOW I can do it, and sometimes its hard.  The mind is a powerful thing and I do have faith, I am an Abraham follower and I get a daily update every day.  I found this in my inbox today: 

Your joy factor will remain constant as you are continually refining your ideas of what you want, and that’s why it is so important for you to get everybody else out of the equation. They’ve got their own game going on; they don’t understand your game. Give them a break; stop asking them what they think. Start paying attention to how you feel. Joy will be yours immediately, and everything else that you have ever thought would make you happy, will start flowing, seemingly effortlessly, into your experience.

Is that great or what?  I do that all the time, worry about whether my book is good, worry about how my blogging page looks, worry about whether or not we made the right decision to move here.  I worry that my grandson will forget me, (BTW I’m a young grandmother, just so you know I’m not old and gray, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but, well, I’m still cool and fun) because we were so close and I worry that he’ll be mad at me eventually for leaving.  I worry that something will happen to my parents or Homie’s parents because their health isn’t that great right now.  How much worry can one person take?  Everyday I try to stop worrying and just live joyously by taking stock of all that I feel grateful for and its so damn hard to let myself just be freaking happy!  Truly, that is 90% of why we decided to move so far away.  To give ourselves the chance to live happily and joyously without all the drama going on around us, whether it was our jobs, or our families or our money situation.  So that’s why I’m writing this, because it is therapeutic!  It totally helps me to put things back into perspective and realize why we did this and what we are trying to accomplish and it is working because I now feel instantly better!  I’m so glad that I have this stupid blog, even though it looks like shit, because I can write all this stuff and no one is reading it anyway, and if someone does and what I write makes sense to them, then I will feel less crazy, because they’ll be the crazy ones for reading it and relating to it.  I’m not going to delete that, I’m not going to delete that….I’m not going to delete that because I said I wouldn’t.   But you know what?  I feel so much better. 

~Peace~

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