Relaxing in Venice

Time flies when you’re having fun. The second day of a new week has already almost come to an end and I haven’t even written a blogpost on what I’ve been up to this weekend. Friday evening was pretty quiet. After work I first went to Santa Monica to get a new battery for my MacBook, only to find the Apple Store closed for normal business, but with a huge queue in front of it, and the full staff applauding and yelling whenever a new customer was let in to buy the new release of Mac OS X and to receive a T-shirt…Madness I tell you, and unfortunately one of the few times I went out without a camera here..

On the way home yet another freak approached me in the street, this time trying to get me to go out and have tea with him, he even said “Don’t worry, I’m not hitting on your, I’m gay”.  The good thing this time that he wasn’t twice my age, but I’m still not comfortable with the fact that men just come up to you in the street and start talking to you no matter how good their intentions are. So now I’m wearing a ring to hopefully scare them off and a colleague is making me practice saying “I’m not interested” during a coffee break ;).

Back in Venice, without a MacBook battery (I would get that on Saturday though) but with a new wetsuit and some booties, I walked to the Waterfront café where the cool people from ISI usually gather for food and bad German beer (I go for the lemonade). This time I only found David there (the next day we found out the others had relocated, but as usual I didn’t pick up my phone and they didn’t have David’s phone number. But we had fun anyway. The best part (food-wise anyway) was dessert at the Novel Café where I indulged again in raspberry rhubarb pie, accompanied by hot chocolate. The bookshelves at the Novel Café also provided much entertainment so we had a jolly good time browsing through computer manuals that were probably left there by costumers 🙂

On Saturday and Sunday I slept in a bit, and didn’t do much, not even surfing because the waves weren’t worth going out for (they were small as well this morning, but I was suffering from withdrawal symptoms after a week not in the water, although I did like staying in bed an hour longer ;)). Instead I walked on the beach for a bit, on Sunday even lied on the beach with a book after I had done all my grocery shopping. Which consisted of a trip to the farmer’s market in Santa Monica for vegetables. This Sunday’s band was very good too, one song they played was just one of those songs that gives you a weird (but good!) feeling in your stomach 🙂 Between my visit to the farmer’s market and the supermarket I went online to find the exact recipe for some stuff I’m going to cook later this week (moussaka!) and I found Mr. P. online who was on his way out to watch Benfica at a friend’s house. There was still enough time for a fun little conversation and I’m happy to say I’m really getting to understand written Portuguese now. There’s still a long way to go, I’m only writing small sentences myself (although I do know how to rent cars in Portuguese, both continental and Brazilian, this just doesn’t help you with general conversations on how the surf was this weekend etc..). It’s fun, I had almost forgotten how much fun getting into a language was. If only I could get my hands on Portuguese books here..LA isn’t big on books in general, and the only foreign books you’ll find are Spanish. Actually, Spanish is quite omnipresent here, at most shops you’ll find signs in both Spanish and English and a lot of staff will also speak Spanish.

Monday was work again, and I just made it to the beach in time to see the sun set. Next week we’ll go to wintertime here so it will probably be dark by 5, so I’m taking advantage of these “later” sunsets this week…the rest of the evening was spent shopping again for a Halloween outfit. Today I finally got something working at work that’s been pissing me off for a couple of weeks now, so I was quite happy about that. My day got even better when I received a postcard from mum and dad and a new memory card (that is to go with the camera, which is still in transit). Again, I made it to the beach in time to see the sun set again (after surfing yet another addiction) and the rest of the evening was spent cleaning and re-waxing my board, listening to music and writing emails and this blogpost 🙂

Ciao for now!

Early birthday present

770swice.jpg

It hasn’t arrived yet, so this is just a picture I found somewhere on the net, but it’s the Olympus µ770 SW shockproof, waterproof, freezeproof and crushproof camera that I’ve been ogling for about half a year now.

Thanks mum and dad, you’re the best 🙂

Food and Fun

These two things are probably the most important in my life, and luckily I got a lot of those :). My knee is still not fully functional yet, although it’s a lot better already (thanks to my new best friend: the ice-pack) so I expect to be able to cycle into work again tomorrow, it’s mainly annoying, but these things happen. Yesterday I took a bus into work, but I don’t want to use public transport too much here, it’s fine as soon as the bus shows up, but it can just take a while for it to show up :). At work I found two parcels (books for mum), a card from my grandparents (thanks!) and finally my Bank of America debit card. At the end of the day I changed into ‘casual dress’ (= my little black dress with flip flops because I didn’t bring any fancy shoes to the US :)) for a birthday party which involved dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant in West Hollywood. There was wine, good company, mozzarella, basil & tomato salad, fabulous ossobucco and panna cotta. When I got home I found my housemate slightly worried about me where I had been because I’m usually home when she gets home from work, it’s good to know that people look out for me here :).

Today I decided to work from home again. It wasn’t as quiet here as on Monday. So the landlady runs a casting agency from our living room, and because I’m usually not here during office hours I don’t even notice it. Well, today they had some new actors coming in, which involved a little interview and also a little audition in which they had to show that they could do accents and just act, which I could hear from my bedroom. Needless to say it was quite entertaining 🙂

Just before dinner I went to the beach for a little stroll and to watch the sunset.  img_9436.JPG

A weekend on the beach (and some more stories)

It’s Sunday evening here now and I realised I haven’t been keeping you up to date very well on what’s been going on here. To make up for it I uploaded some pictures to flickr and I’m also converting the video I posted a while ago to a format that should be easier to handle for most computers (mum told me some people had trouble viewing it). Most weekdays are pretty straigtforward: I roll out of bed (06:45), have breakfast, go surfing, take a shower, go to work, work, go home, eat, read a bit or watch a film and go to bed (22:00), not much interesting to report there apart from the fact that I love every bit of my day. Work here is not very much different from what I’ve been doing so far in Naturalis and Tilburg, apart from being surrounded by people my age here and by lots of big names in the field, who are all very approachable and most willing to give you advice. There is also a lot happening at ISI, every week there is a seminar, in which a researcher will present his or her work, so far I’ve seen talks by people who worked at the University of Edinburgh and Google, some university in Sydney (I think it was Sydney, Australia anyway) and Berkeley…

This weekend started with the Grad Bar, this is a monthly event organised by the University of Southern California to get graduate students out of their offices and into a club. Now, clubbing here is quite different from going out in Europe. Of course you can’t get there by bike because the city is much too stretched out, fortunately I could ride along with a colleague. Parking is quite unusual as well, I’d only seen valet parking in films, but here it actually happens. The next thing was that one of my colleagues had reserved a table (yes, a table in a club, this was a weekend full of new experiences ;)). The only thing you need to do for that is buy a whole bottle of booze, then you’ll get someone who pours the drinks and if you go dancing this person would keep an eye on our stuff (this thing is called table service). The drinks (we had ordered champagne) were poured, but because there were only five of us and two huge sofas lots of people tried to sit on our sofas as well…It was a good night, we laughed, danced, drank…until about 01:15. As bars need to close by 02:00 they will start to tidy up around 01:15, in order to be able to actually close the door at 02:00, which I found most unusual, but I was getting a bit tired so it wasn’t too bad.

On Saturday I slept in late, simply because I could (and the surf forecast wasn’t too promising for the morning anyway). In the afternoon I took a stroll along the beach to Santa Monica to check out the pier and to see if I could find a nice wetsuit (mine is actually too warm for sunny Southern California). I fell in love with a 3/2 (thickness in millimetres of the chest-bits/arms & legs) which would give me a lot more freedom to move than my comfy 5/3 and it would be warm enough. I didn’t buy it yet because I’m waiting for my salary to come in so I won’t have to pay by credit card. So that’s only a few night still 😀

When I got home I went for a little late afternoon surf session, but there were lot of guys in who knew very well what they were doing and I didn’t really want to get in their way and the other spots weren’t breaking very well so I didn’t get many waves. The sunset was great though. When I got home and checked the address of my office mate, Zornitsa, and another colleague, Oana, on the invitation for their housewarming party I also found that the party started at 18:00 instead of 20:00 (what I thought). It was about 20:15 at that point, so I jumped onto my bike to get to their gorgeous apartment in Marina Del Rey. It was a great party, they had great food (lots of fresh fruit, fab chocolate cake and ice cream, although I was too stuffed for that) and the company was good too, someone even demonstrated his ability to put both his legs behind his head as well as some other seemingly impossible things…when I cycled back home (around 01:00) it was still warm enough to not wear my jumper (sorry I just had to rub it in). Because it was very windy last night I could also hear my upstairs neighbours’ wind chime, which has an absolutely gorgeous sound, especially mixed with the sound of the waves, which I can hear only at night when there aren’t that many cars. Yes I am a very, very lucky girl 🙂

This morning I didn’t sleep in that late because I caught up with mum via skype for about 1.5 hours, after which I hit the boardwalk to get a bike basket and some incense. As it was a beautiful day today it was quite busy, also with lots of great performers, such as the group of guys who were doing all kinds of acrobatic things on the concrete.

boardwalk.JPG

After I did my boardwalk shopping I did my grocery shopping and my afternoon ended with another late surf session, which utterly exhausted me. Like yesterday, I didn’t catch many waves, but it was more paddling for dear life in order to not get washed away by sets that were perhaps a bit too big for me. Now, waves always look bigger when you’re lying flat on your board, but seriously, these waves were big and steep. But I had fun, chatted a bit in the water with some other surfers who were also a bit intimidated by the waves (but charging for them all the same), saw some dolphins again and witnessed the most beautifully coloured sunset ever (although the reason for these gorgeous colours is less pleasant as they’re because of some serious wildfires in Malibu).

Now the crickets tell me it’s time for bed…

Maybe I should go around with a paper bag over my head

I stopped by Radio Shack on my way home from work to get a battery charger so I can also keep you up to date in pictures. On my way out a guy that bought something there as well said “hey, you’ re gorgeous, wanna have lunch with me? No? Do you have a friend who looks like you? Well, if you change your mind you can find me at LA Fitness”. So he wasn’t twice my age (that’s an improvement over yesterday), but just definitely not my type. Ah well, my take is “just smile and move on”, but it is a bit of a culture clash.

Stupid? Perhaps. Fun? Hell yeah!

water

Hey, I’ d been looking forward to going out this weekend for the whole week. The swell forecast was very promising, and the fact that I wouldn’t have a time constraint was pretty good too. Unfortunately it started to rain on Friday night (while I was having a pot of proper tea and some damn good raspberry-rhubarb pie at my favourite cafe), which means no going into the sea for three days or you might get ill because of all the bacteria swimming around. Yesterday I didn’t go out, but today I just couldn’t resist. The best way to learn things is experience, so if I get ill, so be it, then I won’t go out next time, and at least I will have had some nice rides today. I also decided, that if you go out and do something stupid, you’ve got to go all the way, so instead of putting on my comfy wetsuit I went in with shorts and a rashy 😀

img_9383_2.JPG

The American way..

Soo, I probably posted before that I had to get used to the ways in which people interact here. It’s just different, and today I found out about a new phenomenon. I’m going to call it a phenomenon, there’s no other way. I was coming back from Santa Monica where I enjoyed a nice cup of hot chocolate on the promenade whilst reading Wired magazine in the sun (a perfect way to spend your Sunday afternoon I would say). Because I was strictly speaking on a pedestrian path (it’s just the shortest way) I was cycling pretty slowly, as one does, when a guy just asked me whether there had been clouds this morning. Since he was sort of in my way, I stopped, took out my earphones, because I was listening to my iPod, and answered him. Nothing weird here. He said my accent wasn’t local, so asked me where I was from, so I said well from the Netherlands etc..next thing he asks me out for a drink, but I said: “no, I’m on my way home”. So he asks for my telephone number. Now this usually doesn’t happen to me on the street in the Netherlands, especially not if the guy in question is at least twice my age (!) I said I didn’t have a phone (always the easiest way out)

When I got home I told my neighbour about this, I just wanted to know if this is unusual and what the guy’s intentions could have been (mind you, this actually isn’t the first time here a person of the male persuasion and quite not my age asked for my phone number, but never as direct as this). The simple answer he gave me is that certain single American men of a certain age range see young women my age, especially when they’re not from here, as naive, easy targets to charm…at least for one night…Now of course this is no different in Europe, what is different is that they just go about it rather directly (well, not as in your face to make me realise straight away, but I’m just not that familiar with the customs of this place yet). My neighbour also told me by the way that more and more American women of let’s say 50 or 65 (successfully) go for young guys (20-25). By no means do I want to be ageist here and insinuate that people in this age range shouldn’t be dating anymore, but I just can’t imagine myself dating someone twice my age…

And we were all thinking that Americans were prude, eh?