shmeezla

So I’m losing my Albanian. I’m a far cry from where I was in April. Unfortunately there is just not a lot of chance to practice it. I am however, gaining some Macedonian.  I’m taking some lessons at the Embassy once a week.  So far I’ve proved a terrible student and I thank my teacher for not hating me for never studying.

I do however know the cyrillic alphabet now..holler!! I also know some basic phrases.  Now though, I decided to focus my learning on fun words I can bust out for conversation pieces, since most people I meet speak fluent English anyway.

The word of the week is shmeezla (rhymes with please-la).  I learned that word this week after a truly bitchy encounter. 

I went out to a bar with some friends. First of all, I had a low opinion of the bar because it was only beautiful 20 year old girls and not beautiful 40+ year old men. I don’t like that dynamic- it seems sleazy to me. Second of all I witnessed crazy rudeness.

So there was this table of girls and one girl must have had her purse on the stool she was on and suddenly she bumped it off without noticing and it fell to the floor, rolling away from her.  I saw the whole thing happen  but I was kind of far away.  I was about to go over and tell her she had dropped her purse when I noticed a girl from her table get up.

The girl got up, looked down, saw the purse, and WALKED RIGHT OVER it WITHOUT telling her friend. I was scandalized!!  How you going to not tell your friend she dropped her purse??

But then, because me and my friend are looking over, this girl at the table notices and in total Mean Girls style stares us down, and tells her friend (purse girl) that we are looking at them.  By the look of their faces, I am sure she said something like “OMG, look at those old bitches looking over at us. Like, what is their problem??”

Despite their rude looks, we take this as our opportunity to HELP the girl and we start pointing to the ground behind her, trying to get her to turn around and see her purse. The girl cannot be bothered to turn her head, her expression clearly saying “OMG, what??? freaks.” 

We keep pointing and finally she turns around and sees her purse. But INSTEAD of a apologizing thank you wave, we get a lingering dirty look and she returns to her table. 

Sorry we tried to HELP. 

Shmeezla, says my friend. 

Apparently a shmeezla is a girl that is obsessed with herself and with her looks and can’t be bothered by any apparent uncoolness around her. 

Word of the week. 

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boxing fun

I really like my boxing class.

I’ve actually never been to a chiller, less judgey exercise class..or even gym experience..in my life. The age ranges from 10 to 40 but averages 20 years old. All guys, minus me and my work buddy. They all have tattoos. They all look like bouncers or future bouncers. (Seriously, what is the age for a tattoo here? I swear there are 13 year olds with hard core chest tattoos). I think that no one speaks English minus the 10 year old.

It could totally be intimidating. Like weird for me and my buddy to bounce in in neon color work out clothes, chatting, and have everyone look at us like we don’t belong. But no.

Seriously, these tattooed guys ooze quiet friendliness. They don’t really talk much. Not even too each other. But if I have to fight them in the ring (Let’s quickly clarify “fight”. I punch them, they block it) at the end they always quietly smile and give me a gloved fist pump.

It’s really very comforting.

I’m even learning some random Macedonian words from it. Mostly “left! right!”, because that gets repeated a lot. But unfortunately, upper and cross are the same, just with a thick Macedonian accent.

My favorite though is “two of you” which sounds like the Albanian word for girls. So whenever the teacher is yelling for two people to get in the ring it sounds like he is calling everyone a bunch of girls and it makes me laugh.

One thing also that amuses me is the wardrobe changes. I see so much changing. They feel no embarrassment dropping trou when they walk into class to slip into their workout gear. They also feel the need to change their shirts during class. Just for no clear reason, one shirt will come off, and maybe a guy will go shirtless for awhile, then put that shirt back on, or a different shirt.

Is this a guy workout thing? Or is this Macedonian? Either the shirt is on or off, right? I normally do aerobic classes that just have girls so I’m not familiar with this constant putting on and taking off of shirts.

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oh yeah..my blog

Heyyy. So I forgot to write for a month! I’d catch people up completely but honestly catching up is boring so I’ll go with the highlights version:

* My Aunt and Uncle came to visit and I finally went to Lake Ohrid. One of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen.

* The government shutdown. That was annoying.

* I was on TV three times- morning show circuit..even got recognized on the street- hey-o!

* I went to Finland to visit a friend from Hermosillo

* I hiked a super tall scary mountain.

* I made myself a fun Halloween costume.

Pictures below.

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TA-DA. Actually. October was pretty fun :)

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Male Style

So far women’s style here seems to varied and there are lots of different ways to wear clothes. Can’t really pin it down.

Men however..well. That’s easier to master.

Key components.

1. Sleeveless shirt (in the summer),

2. Capri pants,

3. Purse.

When trying to google this to describe it to you, using words like europe, men, capris, purses, I came up with these:

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I want you to know, these are NOT what I am talking about. NOT. So, don’t go googling. It won’t help you.

What it actually is, is more like this (sorry for the grainy photo, but I was snapping on the sly):

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Trying to get some of the guys in the Embassy to embrace the styles, but I’ve got no takers so far.

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A week of surprising conversations

When you travel alone sometimes it opens you up to random conversations.

First of all, I love when you are having a conversation with someone and they ask a total non-sequitur question.  See my blog from Cabo about that. Last week I was having dinner with a classmate from Africa and in the middle of the conversation he says, Kaitlin, how good are you at fashion?

Um, what? Umm, I mean, I read magazines and I can tell you what’s fashionable or not, I’m just not always employing it myself…..I mean..is that what you are asking?

He was like, well what I want to know about is lingerie. How do you tell a woman’s cup size?

Record screech. Say what? …Awkward.

I mean, I’m kind of considering buying a lingerie shop. I think there might be a good business opportunity for me coming up, but I don’t really know much about it.

Once I realized he was trying to bounce ideas off a liberal American who might not mind chatting openly about the topic of boobs and bras, I got over my surprise and I had a really entertaining brainstorm session with him going through everything from bra sizes to how he should brand his business.

**

Another evening, I was walking the streets of Vienna seeing the sights and stopping at every wurst stand I saw to ask about kasekrainer, a cheesy sausage. That was the topic I was given for my video project and I had no idea what angle I was going to take on this rather boring topic.

After 3.5 hours of walking, it had gotten dark and had already been raining for 1 hour. I saw one more stand and figured I would stop by as well. As I walked up to the vendor, he was talking to a customer who happened to be showing him a book. What book was it??? A book of classic Albanian literature. RANDOM.

In Albanian, I said to them, are you guys Albanian?? They replied that they were.

It’s always funny when I catch someone speaking Albanian because it’s almost like spotting a movie star and telling them you played the same role as they did but in your high school play. I’m always like, ohh!!!! wow!! I speak Albanian!! (as if that will automatically make them think I am cool)

They were friendly but unfazed that I could speak Albanian. In fact, I ended up having a 30 minute conversation with them, mostly just being corrected by the customer with the book, who turns out, seemed to have a screw loose. The vendor kept giving me apologetic smiles and rolling his eyes at the other guy who professed to being a teacher of many languages.  The guy kept telling me that I was saying the wrong words and that I had learned a communist style Albanian, whatever that meant. I was like, well, I don’t know what to tell you, buddy. I had 8 months of language class in DC. I’m sorry it’s not perfect enough for you.

I ended up going back to that vendor though when it came time to film. Turns out Albanians work there every day so I think I got the original guy’s cousin in my short video.

There were many more crazy conversations during the week, one started with a weird guy on the street telling me the yellow glow of the streetlight on my face was beautiful (except the streetlight was white..I think he was confused by the yellow glow of the McDonald’s sign a few feet away)

Too bad I don’t keep a diary. There were indeed some funny things.

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The land of comfort

Look at this. LOOK AT THIS.

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Also. Look at this!

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Schnitzel and Goulash soup. That’s like my childhood right there. I lived nine years in Germany as a youth and schnitzel is one of my favorite foods. I find that hard to describe that to people who never had it because they ask me, what is schnitzel, and I say, breaded veal. And they say, but then what? And I say, that’s it. Breaded veal. Sounds very unexciting, only its DELICIOUS. I actually wrote a college entrance essay about schnitzel. True story. University of Virginia. And I got in! heyo!

Anywayy, this week I ate only delicious food. Gorged myself is a better description. Started the morning with this delight everyday. Awesome breakfast culture. I filled up every morning on rolls, cold cuts, an egg, jam, butter, pate, tea, and orange juice. A delight.

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I do have to admit, the city of Vienna is not my style city. Too clean and quiet. Everything closes at 5pm and streets are dead at 7pm? Where’s the fun in that??

But, bidding gods, don’t misinterpret me. I’d still live there. And happily eat my fill of schnitzel every day for years!

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20 year old Kaitlin sucked

I studied abroad in Spain for a year during college. Twas awesome. When I was there I discovered this AMAZING beer called Desperados. It’s from the Netherlands and it’s beer with a hint of tequila. So flavorful.

When I got home, I realized that all my friends who had studied abroad had also discovered this wonder. Friends in England, in Czech Republic.

We all sat around telling tales about how wonderful this beer was, and bemoaning the fact that it didn’t exist in the US. And we looked. We searched the internet, tried to see if we could order it. No dice.

Recently I went to London and it didn’t even cross my mind to look. It wasn’t until I was leaving the country did I realize that I had been in Desperados territory for 6 days and hadn’t been enjoying it every day! What a waste!

When I went to Vienna this week, I was ready. Tuesday at lunchtime I walked over to the SPAR market to have a delicious German cold cut sandwich and while I was in the store, there I saw it. Desperados! Sitting on the shelf, waiting to be bought. I picked it up and purchased it along with my sandwich. Putting it in the hotel fridge to be enjoyed after class.

When I got back to my hotel, I took it out of the fridge. This was the moment I had been waiting for 7.5 years. Desperados!!!

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I popped it open. The aroma of it hits me. Smells like…the floor of a frat house party.

Wait. What?

This smells nasty and alcoholic as shit. Did it always smell that way???

I tried to ignore the smell, still sure wonderment awaited me.

I took the first sip.

Absolutely…disgusting.

Noooooo. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? oh whyyyyyyy???

I couldn’t do more than 4 sips.

I had to analyze this. How could this be so crappy? Everyone I know loved this! But then I thought, we were all 20 and poor. Our experience with alcohol up to this point was natty lite in the US, along with bathtub mixed frat house drinks, then in Europe we were so poor we stuck to the 1 Euro beers and shots. I guess, among that selection, a light beer with a somewhat limey taste might be considered a hit.

We were so young. So stupid.

Now I am just ridiculously embarrassed that I was seen buy a bottle midday in a supermarket. Must have seemed rather alcoholic and pathetic. Sigh.

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Budding Filmmaker

I really wanted to do more videos at the Embassy to highlight the cool events we are doing, onlyyyy I had absolutely no skills. I watch a lot of movies so in my head I would know how I wanted things to look but no skill to execute it.

So! I went for video training. It was pretty rough. A week in Vienna. Lots of schnitzel and goulasch. Casual clothes all week. Running around town to photograph and make videos. The things I do for the job.

I went in with an example of the craptastic quality of video I was capable of making and one week later I mastered iMovie and now I can make professional-looking videos.

Hey. BTW. Mac users: do you use iMovie??? I’ve had my Mac for 4.5 years and never took the time to click around. It’s sooooo easy. Here I present to you one of my projects from the week.

The assignment. Make a 1 minute movie about the kasekrainer (a cheesy sausage). 3 hours to edit your footage and make the video.

Supplies: Point and shoot camera, a Canon PowerShot and a Mac computer.

So excited to do some fun videos for post now!!!

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obesity through cheese

Tonight my friend invited me to dinner with some of her Bulgarian friends. We met at a lovely place in the mountains at sunset. Her friends got there a few minutes ahead so ordered enough food for us all. These were the dishes

1. Grilled chunk of cheese

2. Chunk of goat cheese

3. Huge pieces of fried/buttery bread

4. Tomatos with cheese

5. Fries covered in Cheese

6. Two bowls of yogurt and cheese

Then of course there was wine and beer to drink. This is why I am getting fat.

The other day for lunch I had a cheese pizza. The appetizer my friend ordered for me was a hot pot of cheese mixed with tomato and ham, with a side of baked bread.

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Bread and cheese! That’s what Macedonia does!

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Alexander+statues

I don’t believe I’ve touched yet on the importance of Alexander the Great.

Screen shot 2013-08-26 at 10.14.42 PMjk, jk. here we go:

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Alexander the Great is a favorite hero of the region. But also a modern day debate piece. (He lived in the 300s BC). Sureeee his name says Alexander of Macedon, but what is Macedon? Thus the modern question. Who gets to claim him as theirs? Macedonia or Macedonia?..that is the country or the Greek state? In the meantime, people have agreed on few things. His mom,

Screen shot 2013-08-26 at 10.20.12 PM..was Albanian.

Mother Teresa was Macedonian.

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Ok, ok. Not relevant. But interesting, no? Did you know that??

Anyway, Skopje has declared pride in this historical figure by putting up a statue downtown. A BIG statue. With a light show and a soundtrack. I want to be clear, this picture here: not a perspective piece. That statue/water fountain does tower over the surrounding buildings. It’s HUGE. The statue to the left seems big because it is close the the camera.

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Another shot:

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That is all. Your welcome for this totally informative piece. Mostly I just wanted to show a picture of the big statue. Maybe more info to come. Maybe not.

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