Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 39 - How to get girly entertainment

A while ago I mentioned that Trevor and I have different tastes when it comes to entertainment. Even so, I manage to convince him force him to live through movies, stories and books that I like. I do so altruistically, of course, because he's always expressed an interest in the way women think and react to certain situations.

A while ago, I had trouble falling asleep. It just so happened that I had to finish Austen's Persuasion that night because I had to return it to the library. So I asked Trevor to read to me the last chapter until I fell asleep. I often ask him to read me things or to talk to me before bed and he dutifully obliges as he knows it takes me less than a paragraph to pass out. My personal record was an O. Henry story, when the road to snoozing was half a sentence away.

True to form, I fell asleep mid-first paragraph of the last chapter of the book. I finished it the following day, only to find out that Trevor had read the entire chapter because he was fascinated by the language.

Mickey: So what did you think of it? Surely you couldn't have understood the book just based on the last chapter.

Trevor: All I could tell was that one woman was a b**** and the realization of the whole meaning of the book was in this one loooooooong long sentence. It blew my mind. Seriously, read this sentence. Is it not the whole essence of the book? (Yes, he actually said that.)

On the contrary, when he [Sir Walter] saw more of Captain Wentworth, saw him repeatedly by daylight, and eyed him well, he was very much struck by his personal claims, and felt that his superiority of appearance might be not unfairly balanced against her superiority of rank; and all this, assisted by his well-sounding name, enabled Sir Walter at last to prepare his pen, with a very good grace, for the insertion of the marriage in the volume of honour.

Mickey: Yup, that's pretty much it.

Another time, he sat through the final 2/3 of Bridget Jones's Diary 2 all by himself after I had fallen asleep, which he motivated by: "I knew they'd end up together, but I had to know how it ended". I suspect he just enjoyed watching Bridget skiing straight into a drug store in the Swiss Alps and trying to buy a pregnancy test without speaking any German.

I'm just happy I'm marrying a man equipped with a lot of perseverance.

how to understand girls entertainment

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 40 - How to trick or treat

In honor of Halloween I am writing a confection based blog post. Living in the Northeast US, I grew up being familiar with a particular confection known as "Peeps" which are produced near my hometown. I decided it would be polite to share the joy of this particular candy with Mickey and her family, and naturally it went over well. Especially the Peep jousting. If you are not familiar with this concept, please google it immediately.

Peeps can not be purchased year round, but show up seasonally in appropriate varieties. Mickey has now been delivered original Easter Peeps, and their Halloween, Christmas and Valentines varieties (I am patting myself on the back for my planning).

What I did not plan for was how much Mickey would actually enjoy eating them. She especially enjoys them after they are stale...which is good because after a flight across the Atlantic, they generally are. (As a side note, a few seconds in the microwave for the vanilla hearts makes them gooey and amazing!)

Here's a before and after shot of the Christmas variety. Happy Trick or Peep!

Nuked Peep

Peep jousting

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 41 - How to keep warm in November

FACT 1: the city I live in is experiencing a cold wave. The temperature dropped from 20C to 6C overnight*. Oh, Celsius, how I shall miss thee! How scared I shall be when I see the high numbers! Is there anyway I can convince Americans to switch to the metric system and Celsius?

FACT 2: shipping a significant part of your earthly possessions across the Atlantic takes a lot of planning and preparation. Shipping and extra luggage can get quite pricey. Also, I am not at all keen on shopping, so I don't want to add "renew wardrobe" to the list of chores I have to do when I get there. From the moment we started the K1 visa process, Trevor has been taking back to the U.S. some of my things, mostly clothes and tchotchkes (for their sentimental value). At the end of summer, he took back some of my summer clothes and when we left in March he got most of my sweaters. As you can see, we've been preparing this move for a long time.

FACT 3: We are still in the long waiting void phase with the USCIS.

Conclusion: it's really cold here, Trevor has most of my sweaters and he won't be here until December (and even so, bringing stuff back would defeat the purpose of our whole plan), I dislike shopping.

Possible solution and outcome:

how to keep warm in the winter stick figures

* As I'm writing this, most of the East Coast, including Trevor's home state, is bracing for hurricane Sandy, so I should really not be complaining about the weather.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Day 43 - How to do a happy dance

UPDATE: Due to an opening in my schedule I have changed my arrival date to visit Mickey for Christmas. So after 38 minutes on the phone, a $250 change fee, and a $283.71 cheaper fare (sent to me as a voucher for a future flight), the Countdown is now down to 43 days.

This is our happy dance!
Happy Dance

Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 58 - How to add to your "To Do" list

Ever wonder how to compile a never-ending list of tasks begging for completion? Do you enjoy being overwhelmed with unlimited menial tasks demanding your attention? Do you already have a list of things you'd like to do but need that burdened feeling of things you don't want to do?

Look no further than DAILY LIFE!

End sarcasm-ercial. As we've already mentioned, Mickey and I have some projects we are looking forward to doing, like refinishing a French Provincial dresser. But as you can imagine, life tends to throw a few extra tasks our way. Yesterday, while washing some dishes after dinner, I noticed that the dishes in the drying rack (from the day before) had some drops of water. Then I noticed the dishes were actively being sprayed by my faucet, or rather, the hole in the side of my faucet.

I guess the dresser will have to wait until after the plumbing.

leaking faucet

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day 59 - How to type with fat fingers

We have already shown that being in a long-distance relationship requires a lot of creativity in order to communicate regularly.

Sometimes while Trevor is traveling for work he uses the text service on his phone to use Yahoo Messenger (YM) to talk with me. This has been a great way to keep chatting even while Trevor is stuck on a bus (or train, or in an airport with expensive wi-fi), but sometimes I end up receiving words like "nasemwnt".

In case you are wondering what that means, it is the word for "basement" that Trevor typed with his "wurstingers".

In case you are wondering what that means, it is a term we coined after our first trip to Germany to best describe the combination of Trevor's thumbs and a cell-phone keyboard.

Whether or not a typo is sent or corrected by Trevor is determined by the following "correction factor" equation (for all you Big Band Theory fans):

Fc = (u*s)/(h*(b+t)+1)

u = On a scale of 1-10 can the word still be understood? (0 being no mistakes)
s = How many hands is he holding the phone with?
h = On a scale of 1-5 how much of a hurry is he in? (5 being extreme hurry)
b = How many beers has he consumed in the last few hours?
t = How many hours past his bedtime?

A high score (20) means the word is immediately corrected. The lower the score, the more likely we will have something to laugh about for the rest of the day.

how to text with fat fingers

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 60 - How to get rich

I am going to break the golden rule of blogging and tell you our plan to get rich from blogging.

Last night I was watching the final Presidential debate. And by watching, I mean it was on in the background while I watched cat videos on facebook. Yes, you read correctly, I watched cat videos.

For those of you who don't know me, I am not a cat person. I'm more of a dog person, but alas, Mickey has convinced me that we will have a cat... or two. Part of the way she convinced me to live with a cat is to suggest that we can make videos of it and put them on our blog to increase traffic. When you're done laughing, you may realize that you probably watched more cat videos in the last year than you want to admit. I know I did.

So now I will propose my new marketing plan: the iCat.  Here's how it works. Imagine an iPod or iPad or iPhone that requires no syncing, wi-fi, or charging.  It will be marketed to cat lovers, so they can just rub it against their cats and the static electricity will charge it. And with that endless charge, you can watch cat videos for days, yes, DAYS. There is probably more cat footage now on the internet than Presidential commercials. Just imagine all the money I could make (after Apple is done suing me)!


Day 61 - How to handle rush hour

I live in a relatively big city with a lot of traffic and a really packed transportation system during rush hour. If you want to keep your sanity you'd better stay away from the subway between 5 pm and 7 pm. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting really familiar really fast with a host of grumpy zombies strangers.

One day, after an afternoon walk around town together with Trevor, I had to go to class. We agreed that it made sense for Trevor to go home all by himself (someone needed to start dinner).

I always worry a bit when I leave him roaming the town all by himself, mostly because I'm a bit paranoid to begin with and he doesn't speak nor understand the language. When I got home in the evening and asked how he managed the public transit all by himself, I was entertained with the story of Trevor the Sardine Machine.

Mickey: So how was your ride home?

Trevor: Good, I sardined people on the subway.

Although he was in no hurry to get anywhere, Trevor decided that he'd get on the already packed subway train just as the doors were closing, thus causing googly eyes, sucked-in bellies and a last breath of fresh air to other travelers. This is nothing unusual, of course, but the reenactment made me convulse in giggles. 

He was so good, that he had to put on another performance during lunch with my parents. He had everyone laughing, including my mom, who doesn't really understand English. It cracked me up again, so much so that my dad asked me if that was the first time I was hearing the story. It wasn't, he just puts a lot of soul into storytelling.

rush hour stick figures

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day 63 - How to carve a pumpkin

You know it's true love when the first picture that your boyfriend tags you in on Facebook is that of a carved pumpkin. And you're nowhere in the picture.

Last year for Halloween, Trevor wanted to carve a pumpkin. I was in charge of finding a stencil and, of course, I chose a cat. It came out cuter than I expected and we named it Catkin.


This year Trevor wants to carve another pumpkin and he asked for my supervision. Yes, he asked.

So our conversation went like this:

Trevor: I want to buy a pumpkin to carve.

Mickey: Can you carve a CASTLE?

Trevor: Umm, find me a stencil. (see? he asked)

Mickey: I already have one pinned, so I'm way ahead of you.

Trevor: Woah, now you can see the future and read minds. (long story, I had already done it 10 minutes before)

Mickey: I study male primates and anticipate patterns of behavior.

Mickey: Or maybe I watch too much Big Bang Theory.

So this year Trevor is carving a castle pumpkin.

The cutest pumpkin on the block

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Day 64 - How to make pizza

In my opinion, Mickey is the cutest girl in the universe. I'm pretty sure it's her opinion too. And she likes cute things almost as much as she likes it when I cook. So when we made pizza, I took it to a new level and made a heart shaped pizza.

heart-shaped pizza

The cheese wasn't the only thing that melted.

melted girlfriend

Friday, October 19, 2012

Day 65 - How to supervise a project

Mickey and I have big plans to tackle numerous projects around the home. I love to build and work on things, like furniture and gardens and picture frames. Mickey likes to supervise.

The newest project that I will be tackling is to prepare for her arrival here in the United States. Mickey will be bringing as many of her belongings as we can manage, but will be leaving behind electronics (due to the plugs being different) and furniture (due to size). So we have been scouring craigslist in order to find suitable items to fill her new home.

We are both enjoying this, because we get to bargain hunt, Mickey gets to tell me what she wants, and I get to build and refinish and paint stuff.

This is the dresser we found. About 5 feet wide, 9 drawers, solid wood "French Provincial" and came with a full size mirror (not pictured) all for $125. Not bad.

French Provincial dresser
Mickey's "new" dresser

The plan is to strip it and paint it white, do a little detailing with chocolate brown, and perhaps paint the hardware too. I will post a thorough blog on how to do this (and how not to do it). Mickey will have to "skypervise" since I will be doing it before she gets here. I coined this term when she had to supervise me cooking one of her mother's recipes via Skype. Let's hope the dresser turns out better than my cooking.

how to supervise

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 66 - How to speak in alliterations

Do you remember when we talked about how to speak in movie references? Well, we have another linguistic quirk. It's not as frequent but it does happen regularly around here.

Trevor grows peppers in his garden, so he proudly announced that he's a proud pepper papa. When he cooks them he turns into a pepper prepper.

This way talented Trevor merrily makes Mickey laugh out loud with plenty of puns. Ok, maybe he doesn't just make me laugh, he tries to transform some silly sentences into alluring alliteration. You get the gist.

stick figures speak in funny alliterations

We have a long way to go until we reach the perfection of Pinky and the Brain's tongue twisters ... slowly but surely.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 68 - How to apply for a fiancee visa (part 4)

Here's what happens once our application for a fiancee visa leaves the United States and crosses the Atlantic to get to old Lady Europe.

European Hoop 1 - Mickey does the jumping

NVC (National Visa Center) sends our application to the local embassy. This usually takes anywhere from 1 week to 1 month, at which point people start pestering NVC with phone calls and the level of praying goes up again.

The embassy sends a package to the European beneficiary (moi!) with another set of paperwork. On top of these forms I also have to provide proof of a bona fide relationship (again). So I will have to put together an updated set of pictures, letters, postcards, emails, plane ticket stubs and chat logs. Since this whole process is taking so long and we're amassing evidence every single day, I'll probably have to rent a minivan to haul my application to the embassy. You know, just to make sure I've got everything.

After I send back the forms, I am faced with the most loathed part of the process, for me:

European Hoop 2 - Mickey does the fainting 

The Medical Interview

Whenever I count my blessing, being healthy always makes it to one of the top spots on the list. So far Mickey and doctors haven't really crossed paths, thank God.

Try to mention the word "needle" to me and I'll tell you to stop. Do it again and you become persona non grata.; "vein" is another word that sends chills up and down my spine. Oddly enough, "spine" I can handle

The medical interview will require me to have blood tests, x-rays and a few shots done in one day. So if anyone knows any good methods of calming down a shaking woman gone into full anxiety-mode, I am open to suggestions. I would gladly use a couple of glasses of red wine but I'm thinking that the lab doing the blood tests won't be too happy about my choice of inhibitors. Oh, and nothing that leaves me a veggie either, I've a feeling that might be frowned upon too.

European Hoop 3 - Mickey does the trembling

The Visa Interview

Right now I'm not too concerned about this part of the process, although it might be the most important one. Ask me about it when I know date of the interview appointment and my look will spit flames. So make sure you wear a welding helmet if you decide to ask (ya know, 'cause they're such a cool accessory to have). This stage varies greatly from embassy to embassy, so I'll come back with my experience after I'm done with it.

You can read more about the K1 visa process here:

Part 1 - The decision

Part 2 - The application 

Part 3 - The waiting

how to get your blood tests

Monday, October 15, 2012

Day 69 - How to get what you want

Today's post is inspired by two wonderful things that we have in this modern age that both assist us and also frustrate us: wi-fi and customer service.

My current job requires me to travel quite frequently, and so I rely on hotel provided internet in order to communicate with Mickey much of the time. Even when I am at home, my internet provider can be sometimes unreliable; this is much more frustrating on the road. Tonight was no exception. I arrived at my hotel and logged into Skype and the connection was intermittent. After 45 minutes on the phone with the internet provider I ended up calling the front desk, and after a little complaining, I was moved to new room.

I have learned, that the best way to get what you want is to complain to customer service. Still be polite, but articulate that you were promised "hi-speed internet" and not "barely works internet".

This approach has gotten me credits on my phone bill, cable bill, an overnight FedEx label from a mortgage company, and a reduced maintenance fee for some sound equipment (tell them their product is inferior). This approach, however, does not work on girlfriends or government agencies. But in a few circumstances, it works like a charm, and for just a fleeting moment, I feel like royalty.

If this post gets enough interest, I can post a step-by-step approach to getting what you want from customer service. Please hold while I connect you to the next available representati-

How to get what you want

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 70 - How to apply for a fiancee visa (part 3)

... or hoops that will be jumped through.

After we sent in our application, all we can really do is wait. At this point there are 2 things that could happen:

a) we get an RFE (request for evidence). This means that something is missing from our application and the U.S. government is giving us a chance to remedy this by sending us a letter in which they explain what they want from us. This can happen for a million reasons, from something as silly as forgetting to sign a form or fill in the date, to something more serious, like needing to provide more evidence of a bona fide relationship.

Getting an RFE can slow down the process even more so we're really hoping to skip this part. But when you're waiting for as long as half a year without any sign from the officials (not even a carrier pigeon mistakenly sent your way), an RFE can seem like a sign from the Almighty Overworked Public Servants that they have descended into the dungeon and finally reached the moldy box that contains your application, pulled out the dusty yellow file and poked their nose through your personal information. They then laughed and laughed at the photos of the two of you sticking your blue tongues out, raised an eyebrow at the nicknames used in private emails and rolled their eyes at the mushy parts, because, let's face it, they probably read about 500 love stories every month.

In other words, an RFE can mean that something is moving.


b) we get an NOA (notification of action). This means that the government approved our petition on Trevor's side of the ocean and our application is transferred to NVC (National Visa Center).

At this point we do an HCD (Happy Celebration Dance) and engage in some MPF (Making Plans for Future).

From NVC (National Visa Center), our petition is sent to the embassy of the non-US citizen (called beneficiary). Once the petition crosses the Atlantic, Trevor's part is over (for this part of the process) and I get to enjoy all the fun of dealing with red tape.

speaking in acronyms

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 71 - How to grow a beard

This will be a short post today. We need a short break from the visa stuff, but we will get back to it. Don't worry, there's time.

My friends who know me well know that I have little to no fashion sense. Ok, I have NO fashion sense. So when it comes to matters of appearance I allow Mickey to decide for me (at least that's how I tell myself it works).

This conversation actually happened today (or something like it). I try to keep my facial hair in check, but unfortunately my beard trimmer no longer charges, so I have been using scissors to trim.
 Much to her dismay, scissors don't exactly have a length setting. She likes my beard, so if it is too short I am immediately ordered to grow it back. Immediately. Try as I might... I can't seem to grow facial hair any faster.

So while we wait for our visa, we can always watch my facial hair grow to pass the time (sigh).

How to grow a beard

Friday, October 12, 2012

Day 72 - How to apply for a fiancee visa (part 2)

The visa post saga continues: and just like the waiting... it never seems to end.

For those of you just tuning in, Mickey and I filed for a fiance visa to get married in the US, because we thought it would be the simplest way to start out life together. For those of you with lives (all of you), you know that life is never simple, and things never quite go the way you hope.

Here is what we did so far:

Step 1 - Compile documents

About 4 months ago, we filed our petition for a fiance visa with USCIS (formerly the INS).  Compiling all the information for this petition was tricky enough. In addition to the wonderfully detailed government forms we also had to compile documents to prove we have met in person in the last two years, and to show an ongoing relationship. While paperwork is rarely fun, it was fun to look through all our hundreds of pictures to find ones that a visa officer would enjoy (you're welcome, random government employee). We also sent copies of YM and Skype logs, postcards, boarding passes, emails, and two of the most adorable passport photos you will ever see (no sarcasm here whatsoever)! No, I will not post them on this blog.

Dealing with paperwork is never fun, but dealing with paperwork in order to prove to a complete stranger your bona fide relationship is beyond exhausting. Printing out emails that were never intended to be read by anyone else, attaching photos that you took at your goofiest times, willingly sharing personal and emotional information can prove to be quite unnerving. If you're too reserved, and care about your intimacy, you run the risk of being considered a fraud. There is no point in front loading the application either. So how do you find the balance that validates your love and commitment in the eyes of the government?

Step 2 - Send packet to a lock box

Then I sent the 97 kilogram packet to a lock box in Texas. This is where all of the applications go, and from there they can be forwarded to two processing centers that deal with our type of visa. The timelines of the centers vary. At the time we were applying, one of them was processing in 2-3 months, while the other was so backlogged that it needed 6 months to get to your application. Can you guess which one we were assigned to (based on my location)? Yup, we got the snail. Then I received an email with no useful information to tell us when our application will be processed. And now we wait.

Our application is probably sitting untouched in a basement somewhere while we're patiently (haha!) waiting for a few minutes of a government official's time. We have been waiting for months and we probably still have months of waiting ahead of us.

Below is a graph from my personal research showing the difference between the USCIS website's "average" processing times, the estimated processing time of the other processing center, and the processing center our application is at.

I love you, Mickey. Always and forever.

USCIS processing times

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 73 - How to apply for a fiancee visa (part 1)

... or more appropriately named "how to make time stop."

A lot of people have been asking us about the visa process for the United States. It is quite difficult to explain it in a nutshell and it was difficult even for us to research it in depth (and we're compulsive researchers). Whenever we're asked, we try to simplify the explanation as much as possible and basically just drop it when our interlocutor gives us the "puppy tilted look". "It's a long and complicated process" has become my default answer.

We're going to try to break it down here, because head scratching becomes really old, really fast.

When we decided to get married we had 2 options to choose from, as a transatlantic couple:

a) get married in Europe and apply for a spouse visa;
b) apply for a fiancee visa and get married in the United States.

We chose to go with the fiancee visa option for several reasons:

1) We wanted both of us to be able to fully participate in the ceremony. Both civil and religious ceremonies here are done in the official language (so not in English). As funny as it would have been to watch Trevor being chased around the church by a priest while reenacting the wedding of Cana Galilee, I'm sure it would have made for a stressful experience at that moment. On top of that, I am not very keen on local wedding traditions and I was more than happy to dodge that madness. (Imagine something like a non-Greek version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

2). The religious ceremony means a lot to us, so we wanted to have it in the church which we would end up attending as a married couple. I am not attached to the dogma of my denomination, so this is not a problem for us.

3) At the time we were researching our options, the processing time of the fiancee visa was shorter than that of the spouse visa. We knew the timeline would be fluctuating, but we were still counting on waiting less for the fiancee visa (ha! little did we know...).

4) We didn't want to go through the hassle of translation, authentication and other types of -ation that might have occurred after a marriage abroad.

So we started to prepare the filing of an application for a fiancee visa ...

men and weddings stick figure

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 74 - How to get lost in translation

I've been learning English since I was 7 years old, yet I still have a long way to go in using colloquialisms. Also, schools in Europe teach British English exclusively so most of the times my initial choice of words is British. For instance, I would still use "Autumn" instead of "Fall".

Trevor speaks pretty standard 'merican English, with very few regionalisms so we rarely have any communication problems pertaining to language barriers, although he still laughs at the way I pronounce pomegranate and wreath and I laugh at the way he says fuchsia.

One day, Trevor was tending to the oven in the kitchen while I was doing something else around the house:

Trevor: Do you have a hot pad?

Mickey: No, I don't. (thinking this is what he means by it).

Trevor: Ouch! I burnt myself.

Mickey: Why didn't you use the oven mitts?

Trevor: You just said you didn't have any. (this is what he actually meant)

Mickey: Sorry, lost in translation.

[While we're at it, he spells it ouch! and I spell it auch! so now we actually say ouch with an A, so obviously we're not really in too much pain].

lost in translation stick figure

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day 75 - How to make bubbles

I'm going for extreme bonus points on this post. Readers, fasten your seat belts for a trip down Overly-Cute lane. And no, I didn't lose a bet.

Mickey loves bubbles. Our first trip to the beach together, she purchased some bubbles and it was only moments after pulling them out that a little girl was immediately dancing and giggling with her as she blew the most magical bubbles I have ever seen (cue dramatic slow-motion music).

Then I tried to blow some bubbles. They attacked me to Mickey's complete enjoyment.

It's almost as if her organization skills extend to the magical world of bubbles. They align themselves to the pied-piper like tune of her cuteness.  Alright, I might be exaggerating, but it's far more entertaining than just saying "Mickey loves bubbles."

How to blow bubbles

Monday, October 8, 2012

Day 76 - How to have a lovers' tiff

We've already mentioned that Trevor and I have somewhat different tastes in movies. As every self-respectable couple, of course we have to turn to movie references to better drive our point home. I admit I am at a disadvantage here because Trevor is a walking encyclopedia, bursting at the seams with quotes (no honey, I'm not calling you fat, just knowledgeable).

A disadvantage for Trevor is that 50% of my references come from Friends, and he hasn't really watched that sitcom. And by that I mean he hasn't watched every episode at least 30 times and doesn't know them all by heart. I've heard that's possible.

So we might have conversations that sound like this:

Mickey: Rules are good. Rules help control the fun. 

Trevor: Says who?

Mickey: Monica Geller, duh!

Trevor: You're crazy.

Mickey: Hey, my mother had me tested.

Trevor: Great Scott! You can't handle the truth!

Mickey: You talkin' to me?! <points menacing finger>

how to have an argument with your girlfriend stick figures

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Day 77 - How to profess true love: part 2

Since Mickey and I got engaged, we have been deciding how to transport all of her things from Europe to America. So, each trip I make, I bring back a suitcase full of things she won't be needing in the immediate future.

At the end of the summer, I filled my suitcase with some of her summer clothes and dresses.

Now in reality, airport security doesn't look that closely at what's in your suitcase, but I imagine it would be about this awkward if I were to be questioned on the contents of my suitcase. I'm not sure if this is stranger than buying nail polish or not. At least it will all fit in the suitcase. It'd be even weirder to have to wear one of her dresses.

Awkward airport security

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Day 78 - How to fix your printer

Mickey has an HP-C3180 printer which frustrates her every time she uses it. This is almost as hilarious to me as when she watches me fight with technology.

This printer is actually a replacement for the printer that frustrated her prior. Under normal circumstances, she would have already replaced this one as well. But since she will not be bringing it with her to America, it would be a waste to get a brand new printer only to have it for a few months.

So how do you fix an HP-C3180 printer? Move to America and use your husband's HP-C4780 printer. It works fine.

How to fix a printer

Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 79 - How to maximize quality time with your partner

Trevor and I have very different sleeping patterns. It takes him some time to fall asleep after we go to bed. I, on the other hand, fall asleep in 2.5 seconds after my head hits the pillow. As you can see, 2.5 seconds is a solid unit of measurement around here.

Occasionally, it is Trevor who falls asleep first while I stay awake staring at the wall. So when I'm in serious need of entertainment all I have to do is wait until he doses off and then start talking to him. Hilarious conversations ensue, thus adding trailing off to the list of quality time we spend together.

how to talk in your sleep

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 80 - How to impress your girlfriend

One thing Mickey and I love to do in the summer (other than swim at the beach) is to go rollerblading at the park.  It's a bit more energetic than a walk, which somehow makes it more fun.  We both enjoy it very much, but in our own personalities.

Mickey is more conservative in her skating than I am.  She avoids hills, even if they are 0.0001% downgrades.  She doesn't go very fast, avoids fancy tricks and never skates backwards.  I, on the other hand, am a bit of a show-off/daredevil.  Now, it's been a while since I've skated regularly so I haven't tried anything completely crazy yet, but I like skating backwards so I can look directly at Mickey.  She usually tells me when there's something coming up behind me.

One of the first times we were skating around at sunset, I decided to try an old trick I had learned in ice-skating lessons when I was a kid.  It was a long time ago.  I didn't fall completely over, but my less than graceful recovery was enough to leave Mickey in hysterics.  She still loves me.

graceful rollerblading, how to impress your girlfriend rollerblading

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 81 - How to build a bathing machine

Part of the plot of Jane Austen's Persuasion takes place in Lyme, a seaside resort "animated with bathing machines and company".

I was reading that part on the bus and the notion of bathing machines made me chuckle. I remembered I had read about these contraptions a few years ago, but couldn't really remember what they looked like so I imagined them as huge machines that brush people into the sea and then fish them out and hang them somewhere to dry. That made me chuckle again and it made the person next to me give me the stink eye.

Naturally, I came home and googled it and according to The Jane Austen Society of Australia (yes, you read that right) a bathing machine was some sort of van/cart that ladies used at the beach in order to hide their "nudity".  Flashing an ankle was totally faux pas because if Sir Big Estate saw you, you might have run the risk of not being married by the age of 22. Gasp!

So women would enter the cart on the beach while wearing their street clothes and emerge on the other side of the cart in their swimsuits (which basically had as much fabric as we use for a wedding dress today). This allowed them to avoid being seen and if the cart blocking the view wasn't enough, they would roll down a tent to the surface of the water, thus forming a bubble of ladyness and propriety. 

bathing machine in great britain, 19 century
Mermaids at Brighton, engraving by William Heath (1829) via Wikipedia
Of course only the rich could afford a bathing machine so I imagine the teenage girls with bonnets and corsets crying on their sweet sixteen: "But Papa, I shall never speak to you again unless you provide me with a two-door bathing machine. I shall faint if you don't hire the services of the most qualified dipper."  Dippers were attendants that helped the (often reluctant) ladies get into the water, dipped them into the waves or pushed their heads under water. And the more royalty and nobility heads you pushed under water, the higher your ranking as a master dipper. Imagine the headhunting process for that job.

Our version of a bathing machine is a little bit different. It's me as flat as a pancake on the inflatable raft while Trevor is pushing it around and talking about the difference between European beaches and American beaches, so basically about being able to drink beer on the beach all day long or not.

Mickey: Trevor, how can I draw a picture of us and the raft?

Trevor: Do a bird's eye view.

Mickey: How do I do that?

Trevor: Just draw a circle and a few squiggly lines for my hair.

Clearly that did not work so this is what I've got.

how to eat at the beach stick figures

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 82 - How to meet the parents

As promised, here is the short story of my first time meeting Mickey's parents.

I'm a pretty normal American, and we don't do the kissing the cheeks thing as many Europeans do.  I was warned about this when meeting Mickey's mother and grandmother.  I was not however, told which side to kiss first...

It's kind of like when you run into an acquaintance and they go for the hug and you go for the handshake...then you both switch...then one of you just goes in for it and the other is still confused so you end up doing both very awkwardly.

For the record, I figured it out before moving in, so I didn't end up kissing  anyone.  But, now I know that you go right first.

Fortunately after that, Mickey's dad was ready to offer me a shot of home-made brandy.  One was enough, I stuck with beer.  But I did bring a whole bottle home.

Meet the Parents

Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 83 - How to get your Shakespeare right

To say that Trevor likes beer is an understatement. He goes out of his way to try out the beer everywhere we go so he was particularly excited about this before our first trip to Germany last year. True, part of the excitement was also because he had found another subject to geek out about and the Hofbrauhaus in Munich was the perfect location to do so.

How to lecture about beer, Shakespeare and beer

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