31 January 2006

glocken und mehr glocken

My entire new wishlist is contained right here, in the campanologist's CD heaven!

And something for my lighting wishlist: A chandelier made of wine glasses at the highly recommended Brussels restaurant L'amour fou.

And a link worthwhile just for its URL: belgiumtheplaceto.be. Took me a minute.

30 January 2006

9 sheep

"Nine sheep die in fall through ice" was worthy of inclusion in Expatica's "Belgian news in brief" today. Doesn't that belong in the "Oddly Enough" section? And what does "put down" mean?

Incidentally, educators need to spend less time worrying about clothes and more about improving learning. With enough effort, they could even make it fun.

28 January 2006


LierAnother landmark! This morning, I played a real carillon for the first time since the accident. The carillon of Sint-Gummaruskerk in Lier was far more beautiful and easy to play than I remembered it, hopefully evidence that I've learned how to appreciate a good European carillon. Geert disclosed the secret of how he extended the bottom register by three low, exorbitantly expensive bells with his name in relief on the bourdon. Exactly what I mean to do as a carillon rockstar.

Landmark moments happen remarkably often after a major accident. Similarly, it was right outside that playing cabin, half an hour after meeting him, that I decided to risk appearing impudent and shouted at him over the wail of bells that I wanted him to be my carillon teacher. I had no idea what playing the carillon meant until I saw him at the bench. "What?! You only teach composition? You'll still teach me to play, right?!" In fact, living in a country through which I've travelled twice, not expecting I'd move there, I've found revisiting anyplace meaningful. Conclusion: Recipe for a meaningful life consists of returning to the destination of your dreams, revisiting places, getting seriously injured, getting better, revisiting places again. Hmmm.

Discovered that Cafe Intermezzo, a mere two blocks from my house, has the most extensive mouthwatering selection of pannekoeken and ice cream in town, as well as an airy garden-like indoor terrace scintillating with the songs of canaries and parakeets and today's winter sunlight.

Was overjoyed watching the Belgian countryside as my train to Oostende parted its way through the dusk towards the coast. I had almost forgotten why I loved riding the train so much. On countless fall days, I watched beautiful foreign landscapes slip by almost in tears of gratitude for and disbelief at the reality of being here, really here, in Belgium, the future that had once been a distant, impossible dream. It's a good feeling to rediscover.

DominicanenkerkSavored a dinner of leek soup and 'Oostende Vispannetje' (not quite what I'd hoped for) after discovering that the Spanish restaurant I'd eyed in September served paella only for two or more. Hurried through blue-lighted shopping boulevards (strangely reminiscent of the Amsterdam street on which Jeremy and I bought dried veggies) to the Dominicanenkerk for Klaas and his brother's concert, with part-time Beiaardschool student Dina as one of the soloists. Small world, this country. And a heartening wonder to see the crowds of people who will turn out for a baroque concert anywhere, anytime. More wondrous still, the people who work so hard to give these concerts. There's a passion for early music here that I've never seen before; it seems to run in people's blood, as does the ability to make it.

From the church, I hurried back onto the train, where some underaged Antwerpenaar boarded at Vilvoorde and sat apart from his brother to pick me up despite my visibly intent state of meditation (mentally playing the van Noordt--humbling, to say the least). I humored him with a brief conversation that was 90% in Dutch and 10% in English, but really could be considered 50% Dutch, 10% English, and 40% ideas I didn't bother / gave up trying to communicate.

The Nederlandse Beiaardschool, with its abrupt 100% faculty turnover, is not looking so bad for a master's degree anymore. Fulbright Commission, come through for me. After all, the one Dutch city I think I'd be happy to live in is just next door: Utrecht.

NAMM Oddities: A 7.1 surround-sound 3.6 GHz organ and other otherwordly, slightly threatening developments.

27 January 2006

Happy 250th birthday, boy wonder!

Just trekked home through the freezing cold from John Eliot Gardiner's dazzling concert of Mozart's last three symphonies on the night of that once-young genius's 250th birthday. Still have to write about last Saturday's Klara in het Paleis [photos], to which I had a crew pass from Geert. 8) The music never stops in Belgium, and it's damn good. Damn good.

26 January 2006

orgel foto

A couple years ago, Ben introduced me to Information Society, the band that sang "Where Would I Be Without IBM?"

Today, it's more a question of where I would be without Altavista's Babe...

Finally, a photo of the organ I play five times a week in the Dekenale kerk Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-over-de-Dijle, stolen from a set of postcards, since I've never seen the organ in real life: It is entirely covered with tarps for the exterior restoration of the church. Go figure.

Today I nearly froze to death during practice. Even blazing through the Langlais pédale solo for the first time since the accident didn't get my blood flowing again, although it awoke the continued inflexibility of my leg. I gave up early, and so did Monique, who opens the church each day to visitors. Tomorrow, it's Hindemith page two.

The Yale ISM has assigned me an audition date of February 26. I'd feel much better if I could start taking organ lessons again, and if I could actually access any of the money in my American bank account to do little things like buy airplane tickets. Damn Bank of America. Why the hell didn't someone tell me to go with Deutschebank?

So, available for a limited time only (until 3 February), my theme song of the week: Chronisch Pleite by Die Prinzen.

25 January 2006


A survey from the insurance company of the driver who knocked me over asks for "Kledijschade" (damages to clothing). And I don't know why I find it so disturbing that I don't remember which shirt I was wearing.

Photographic, panoramic salve for the homesick soul.

23 January 2006

gimp racing

Tonight I'm speed-limping across the Grote Markt, minding my own beeswax, when some drunkard starts limping in my general direction. I limp faster while keeping a suspicious eye on him. Mechelen never saw two cripples limping more intently in the same direction.

Then he limps straight into the side of a car, which promptly changes his trajectory. It's all I can do not to laugh.

After our expedition to the HyperCarrefour, Elvo asked about my dream vehicles. It was a question I hadn't considered for a while. I did some rethinking and "settled" on the following: A blue Honda Insight as a starter car (to minimize my ecological footprint of 3.9 global hectares, which would still require 2.2 Earths if everyone lived like me), the BMW 650i Convertible in metallic silver for roadtrips and events (obviously not with the intention of minimizing anything), and the Ducati Superbike 999 in black for...the hell of it. Yeeeah. When I become a filthy rich carillon rockstar.

sooo sexy...

22 January 2006

gimp trippin

Guilt-tripping myself for not having practiced on Friday and Saturday, I practiced for three hours tonight to find that the Thornock and van Noordt had magically improved themselves during my absence, the van Noordt after two weeks of neglect. The generosity of the carillon deities is an infuriating gift. I practice myself silly and stay frustrated, and when frustrated with guilt for not practicing, I'm actually improving. We can never be happy, can we?

Tom was two blocks ahead of me when I left the school. Huffing and puffing, I caught up with him and yelled "TOM!!!", shaking him out of iPod bliss. "Had no idea a gimp was limping madly after you for the past two blocks, eh?"

Relearning to walk has been going surprisingly slowly, but tonight I had a revelation. I have to exaggerate swaying my hip to the right so I don't always look like I'm about to tip over to the left. Whether this is an aspect of normal walking remains a mystery; it surely feels unnatural, like trying to do the "woman walk." But even that would be an improvement over the gimp strut.

19 January 2006


Marty McFly: [holding up a plate that says "Frisbee"] Hey, look, Frisbee, far-out.
Seamus McFly: Wonder what he meant by that?
Maggie McFly: It was right in front of him.
Yalies invented the Frisbee!

Happiness is letting time fly at the carillon until quite suddenly you realize that it's time to go home and you're hardly ready to stop. I had almost forgotten how it felt to be mentally prepared to practice several more hours only to realize that physically, I had already practiced too many.

Tonight I surmounted the worst of the learning process for Thornock's "Motorhythmia." I still have a long way to go, but this unexpected victory made my other pieces seem suddenly like child's play.

"One doesn't really need a teacher," Geert told me. "You can do all of the work yourself." I disagreed, but I wonder how far I would be now without him. And without the accident. It's a curious thought, but taking a complete break from the carillon has enabled me to learn faster and more efficiently. I got better without doing a thing! If only life was always this easy.

I had forgotten how passionate I was about playing the organ. For the past two weeks, practicing in OLV-o/d-Dijlekerk has been hell--frozen over. Imagine sitting in 4°C weather for two hours, moving only your arms and fingers. Wouldn't you associate the organ with torture? Today, the rain brought warmth, and I felt as if I could have practiced all day.

Absurd and necessary conclusion: My performance in music is dependent on the weather. Not a reassuring thought in an overcast country.

18 January 2006

het antwoord

Better yet: Discover that your ü83r-1337 h4x0r friend and his motorcycle-repairing uncle are also handy with bicycles. When a new fork arrives, my sleeping beauty may well awake in better condition than I am now. Thank you so much!

People are asking whether the insurance of the (possibly) liable party would cover the repairs. Unfortunately, the answer is maybe. It may be over a month before the full police report can even be released to my attorney. Hooray for red tape.

A couple shots from the travel film Ijsland during a Cultuurcentrum screening, and I had resolved on yet another "lifetime-goal" carillon campaign: To build a carillon in Iceland in the stunning Hallgrímskirkja tower, the tallest building in the country.

There appears to be an automatic chime, but come now, a great nation of 300,000 people (less than half the population of San Francisco) deserves a carillon!

And I thought I was living in an incredibly tiny cool country. Which leads me to random facts gleaned from Wikipedia: The population density of Belgium is eighteen times less that of San Francisco but only seven times less that of New Haven (which incidentally, although he denies it, is the birthplace of our current 'Texan' president). SF has a surprising number of sister cities, ranging from Paris to Ho Chi Minh. And in 2002, SF had as many homeless people as New York even though it had one-tenth the population, and the number of people who died on the streets was twice that of the state of Florida. Do we mistreat them so badly, or do they flock to SF because the city is less hostile to them? Or do we San Franciscans just tend to end up homeless?

16 January 2006


Fix the bike for 193 € even though it's going to veer off in one direction forever (unless I can find someone willing to bend the entire frame back straight) or buy a crap bike that'll go in a straight line and hope that I can sell off the wreckage?

concert spelunking

I just realized that one of my favorite pasttimes could be called "concert spelunking": Attending concerts in order to see the performance spaces (particularly old churches, etc.)

On Saturday night, I attended a strange concert of early and new music during the opening festivities of the Augustinius Muziekcentrum...

But I have to cut myself off until later, as Dutch final exams are calling.

13 January 2006

ante meridiem

I thought it was a little ridiculous that Antwerpen gave its interactive city map its own URL. Fits the self-titled "Metropolis" well, though. But who was crazy enough to make an interactive map of Mechelen, powered by Google and Wiki, on a collective Mechelen blog with free-eats type listings? There's really nothing left for me to do now except feel useless and be reminded that I am no longer the queen of free eats (for the moment).

Drove my bike to the shop Tuesday, was told they'd call with a repair estimate the next morning. No word. I called this evening. "Your name? ... uhh, my boss says you should come in person." Worrisome.

Tom and I attempted to cash in on my parents' free belated birthday dinner offer by trying out to the new Asian-fusion-ish-looking place on the Veemarkt, but first I speed-crutched to the bike shop only to find it had closed early. To our irritation, the 'Asian' joint was fully booked, so we walked to Casa Tano, another item on our hit list. The whole damn establishment was reserved for a party into which we were incomprehensibly not invited. By that time, my arms were ready to give out.

We settled on a Greek restaurant, Zorba, in a charming alley of bars and restaurants in the shadow of Sint-Romboutstoren, and thoroughly reviewed the latest Lego catalog (sorry for drooling on the construction site page, Tom) over escargot, sole, and kebab. But then came dessert. And mine was a generous pyramid of ice cream over which the waiter poured flaming Grand Marnier.

fire[ceci n'est pas un dessert; it's derek's photo of flaming drops of rubbing alcohol that he pushes about the floor with his fingertips. my flambé looked pretty much the same.]

Best birthday candle pyrotechnics ever. And the Grand Marnier kept me practicing with tension-free arms straight into ante meridiem for the first time since the accident.

But now for an even more bizarre shot...

Somehow my profile on YaleScape.com ended up as the examplar on James' site. I was a 1337 YaleScape P0w3rUz0r! (If you don't know 1337sp34k, Microsoft is happy to explain for the benefit and protection of your children.) Better yet, my offhand comment "yippee 4 am procrastination while sick and coughing and with an arm in a splint" was apparently also intelligent enough to be immortalized.

I don't remember squat from school, but I do remember typing that comment.

11 January 2006


Triumph! I finally finalized my five variations on the hymn "Eternal Father Strong To Save."

"Not bad," Geert said, smiling slightly. And when I played the van Noordt for him, "Those hooked [i.e. played with the same hand] thirty-second notes are too fast. Most people can't do that."

It feels good to be back on track. Although I do have an entire composition to write and four pieces to get off the ground. Argh!

Want to know the flag of any location, from country to city, in the world? It's all on this nifty site.

10 January 2006

I CAN WALK AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!

After seven endless weeks immobile, on a walker, on crutches, hopping, taxi-taking, ride-hitching, and finally on one crutch, the doctor says

Out the door I go! See y'all in a couple weeks when I bother to come home.

P.S. Ingrid (who had received her own great news yesterday) summarized the past couple days most excellently: WAHOOOO!!! this has been a very happy chapter of 2-headed monster history. go take a fucking hike right now biatch!!!!!!

P.P.S. In the meantime, Snuggles will man (bear?) my computer and answer all incoming email.

09 January 2006

bills, bills, bills

Two medical bills arrived today:

1) Some lab tests for "NGUYEN, TIFFANY." Don't ask me how they pulled four extra letters out of the blue for my last name.
2) The hospital bill for 3,498.64 EUR. Please tell me my insurance will pay this bill directly. *faints*

08 January 2006

unidentified flying bells (UFBs)

Campanological discovery of the year: In Belgium, France, and Italy, children are told that when church bells fall silent from Good Friday until Easter, the bells have flown off to Rome. As these itinerant bells fly back, they drop colored eggs and candy into gardens for kids to find! Oh wonder of wondrousness, I've never heard a more absurd or delightful bell story in my life. When Easter comes around, you know the one thing on my shopping list will be... chocolate bells. Lots of chocolate bells. So much to be thankful for in that hallowed season!

clavecin: (noun) harpsichord; carillon keyboard.
from the tiscali.reference dictionary of difficult words.

07 January 2006

H20 in three phases

Never consult weather.com in Belgium. Not once in the past four months has it been correct or in line with local forecasts. For the past week, it was forecasting snow on Saturday... but nobody else expected snow, and the sky never fell.

Fortunately, we got our share of ice and nearly froze in the artifically arctic Ijssculptuur exhibition in Brugge. Jostled past wonder after wonder by throngs of last-minute sightseers, we studied castle walls, chained moats, children putting their faces and hands into ice stocks, an opulent sword and treasure chest encrusted in ice, an ice bar and ice shot glasses, and finally a room of drunken ice servants drinking frozen beer. So when are they going to hire me to play an ice carillon?

Best steaming hot Indian meal so far in Belgium: Bhavani on the Simon Stevinplein in Brugge. They'll assume super-duper-extra mild unless you ask. On the way back, the Bruggemuseum - Archeologie and an observation: Mothers yank their children out of the way the moment they see me approaching. If I saw a three-legged foreign freak clattering my way, I'd chuck my young'uns into the gutter too.

Guided somewhat randomly to Knokke (site of an infamous drive-by shouting) by the decidedly un-sexy computerized voice of Mevrouw GPS, we followed streets bursting with glowing shops, their warm yellow lights piercing the cool blue winter light, to the sea. My crutch left deep prints in the wet sand as we walked towards the sun, which burned coldly orange in the west, leaving the endless line of highrise apartments in shadow. When the sun had buried itself in the sand, we too disappeared westward through surreal gateways of yellow sodium lights to the intersection where I had been run over.

Just as for het weerbericht, never believe your memory of an accident. It was the first time I'd returned, but I recognized the corner from which I started pedaling right away. I did not, however, recognize the road itself. It was a feeble, poorly maintained two-lane road, not the six-lane monstrous thoroughfare I somehow remembered. And it was eerily silent and empty that night, not roaring with traffic. The accident must have blocked the entire southbound route, and my bike... it must have been lying just three meters away from me.

Strange, the fantasies your memory fabricates to both horrify and protect you from the truth.

Destination: Zeebrugge. Not only home of the Zandsculptuur festival and the Old Fish Market (home to a fish auction and plethora of seafood restaurants), but also of a large industrial port and abandoned factories such as the Carcoke. Folks who've never met me but are about to: Urban Xplorer and StahlArt.

What crazy Dutchman came up with the word appelblauwzeegroen to describe cyan? And since when were apples blue and seas characteristically green?

06 January 2006

while you were away

When the driver who hit me, Emilia, visited me in the hospital, she said she would come by my house later with a necklace she'd made. That was the last I heard of her in 2005, although I received plenty of hostile letters from her insurance company. "I guess those were the gift," my physical therapist observed dryly. "You probably didn't miss her visit... You're not going a lot of places, are you?"

Offering to relieve my culinary woes on Thursday, Elvo whisked me off to Delhaize (where I immediately fell prey to my addiction to novelty and bought a filet of zeewolf [wolf fish], having no idea what it was). During that hiatus, Emilia came by. With my mouth full of kaneel-speculoos ice cream, I found a cream-colored envelope resting on the radiator. It contained a curious holiday card depicting a bunny wearing a sleigh bell in a basket with...a large earthenware pot of snow in the background? It also contained a necklace with a giant pendant. Being none too large, I never wear prominent necklaces, so first I attempted to drape it over my forehead like an exotic tiara, giggling. But the necklace slipped down... and somehow fit me well. I just don't know how or when I will wear it. I don't know what it means to me.

After a 2.5-hour wait in wachtkamer 6 in the hospital this afternoon, I was seen by a new doctor. My calf wound freaked her out... which is saying a lot, considering the giant volume of Surgery of the Anus, Rectum, and Colon sitting on her shelf. She fetched Dr. Vandenberk, who didn't see a present need for an operation. But he took a culture, suspicious of the look of the gauze.

Keep your fingers crossed for me...

04 January 2006

mental reboot

Trying to invent a more appropriate title for this post, I could think only of the kill % command, which didn't convey the proper amount of optimism. No new year has felt so dramatically new before.

I concluded my reflections on the accident and its aftermath with the hope that I would find my way out of that dark labyrinth reborn. Although revisiting Vrijbroek park on bicycle is still out of the question, light floods the void. On January 1, I went through a mental and spiritual renewal. Perhaps bidding goodbye to a terrible mistake and celebrating a new start in Brussels on the 31st freed me to venture back into my life. With absolute confidence that the moment was right, I returned to my love, the carillon, and found that it had not deserted me. I attended my first concert since the accident. I FedExed my last music school application. I visited someone who wasn't my landlord (and petted a cat for the first time since graduation). On January 2, I tossed aside one crutch and felt freer than I had in many weeks. I returned to playing the organ, finally tackling the last movement of Mendelssohn's Sonata II. I have weekend plans to see the ocean again.

Like any reasonable person, I expected the process to be gradual, but life has returned to me all at once, generously, and I barely know how to greet it. I have trouble sleeping at night because my heart races at the thought of what small miracles the next day might bring.

Yesterday the world was aglow with soft winter light, and happy crowds of shoppers had flooded the cobblestone streets (by law, after-Christmas shopping cannot start until January 3!). I played the organ in OLV-o/d-Dijle until the "big boss" himself (as Monique described Wannes) showed up to practice, offering me a Sunday recital in late spring as I packed up my things. Strolling through golden-hued streets admiring windows and cornices and doorsteps, I came to the natural foods store and finally restocked my kitchen. That night at the carillon, I played through Sybrandus van Noordt's monumental "Sonata a cimbalo solo" from memory for the first time... and played it better than ever before. Even the killer Thornock "Motorhythmia" that I thought I would need to relearn from the beginning felt as if I had just left off practicing it last week. I don't understand how a six-week break has barely left me out of practice, and wonder if perhaps my standards for myself subconsciously dropped while I was away. (Or could playing before midnight actually have its merits?) Afterwards my leg hurt slightly. It was the best feeling in the world.

Out of cash, I began to crutch home when a car pulled over and the driver leaned towards me, calling out something. Being an ever-suspicious American city girl, I crutched faster, irritated that some scrub would have the nerve to try to pick up a gimp. But what scrubs have nice cars? I looked again, and it was Sergej calling my name. "Have a seat!" I hopped in (literally). "It must be difficult to get your carillon skills back so slowly," he sympathized on the way to my house. I tried to explain that my learning skills were somehow better than before the accident, but he couldn't understand, and neither did I. So I gave up, content in the thought that it was a reality.

culinary woes

My meals have been mediocre at best this year. I have drawn several helpful conclusions from each debacle:
  1. Overpriced Asian foods labeled with Dutch or French instructions, or worse yet, made in Belgium, are to be distrusted. I have never forced down more tasteless tofu or egg noodles in my life. (This is not to say that Belgian food isn't spectacular.)

  2. Being cut off from Sun Wah and Het Natuurhuis in Antwerpen may be logically equated with death for an Asian seafaring vegetarian.

  3. Your homemade dashi broth may smell exactly like the heavenly soup at Mifune in J-town SF, but the wakame udon dish itself will be utterly disappointing.

  4. Either Match Supermarkt does not carry sherry (as if not carrying Eiswein wasn't bad enough), or I don't know how to recognize sherry. Please, somebody tell me where I can buy some goddamn sherry!

  5. Never, ever substitute rice vinegar for rice wine.
I shall now cite the even more shrewd advice of Die Prinzen:

Ja, es empfiehlt dir die Gesundheitspolizei:
Vergammelte Speisen zu überhöhten Preisen
Sind zurückzuweisen!

02 January 2006

"every new beginning...

...comes from some other beginning's end." [semisonic]

On New Year's Day, I took a taxi to the Beiaardschool and practiced the carillon for the first time since the accident. At the risk of being theatrical: It was triumphant, it was humiliating, it was glorious, it was pain. But even through my unexpected fluency and ineptitude, I heard music, music spoke to me. That was all I wanted, to discover that the music had stayed in me all along. Now I must relearn to actualize it.

After crutching home and submitting myself to a failed cooking experiment and more ickly bandaging, I somehow cornered myself into portraying American college life as a nonstop party over dessert with Elvo. Of course we spoke of much else as the hours slipped unnoticed into night. An unfamiliarly pensive end to the first day of 2006.

Since Zoe carried my incredibly heavy box of books from Brussels to Mechelen, I've been reabsorbed by my American poetry addiction, which to my surprise, has become the perfect homesickness fix (not that I needed it).

Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;
Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.
The City's fiery parcels all undone,
Already snow submerges an iron year . . .

[Hart Crane, "Proem: To Brooklyn Bridge"]

I never realized how American American poetry was until now.

[image: Joseph Stella, "Voice of the City of New York Interpreted, 1920-22"]

Desination: The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Viola every weekend? Parsifal Act II in February? I've hardly seen a stranger, busier calendar. But going there will at last mean confronting the city in which I've already lived two nightmares. Would it become another?

01 January 2006


Misreading the clock, Elvo arrived an hour early, and I managed to incorporate the inability of Americans to navigate non-gridded one-way Belgian streets into our chat. Why I then insisted on directing him from my map when GPS went kaputt remains a cringeworthy question. Any sane Belgian follows the ring instead of doing a kamikaze straight through town, but I guided us past le Parc de Bruxelles and through the Jardin Botanique tunnel thrice. (My underhanded way of accomplishing some sightseeing.) I then proceeded to mistake lifeless l'Avenue du Boulevard for insane Anspach. Good grief! I would have been at my wit's end driving, but he kept his cool, pulling Belgian driving manuevers out of wrong way streets like a pro. Those R/C racing skills must have kicked in.

Finding my poor buddies warming their freezing selves at the Irish pub, we hiked to our intended middle eastern restaurant to be confronted by a sixty-euro set menu (belly dancer included). Same story everywhere (sans bellydancer), but an adorable waitress at a Thai place bent the rules for us. Soups, crabs, extra spicy sauces, rice, and a couple mouthfuls of exotic flowers later, we were on the hunt for a bar free of sky-high cover charges and awkward dancing or old-folks'-home vibes. No luck. Squeezing through pointless crowd control (through which Jeff managed to slip me and my crutches) into le Grand Place, we instead camped out on benches drinking canned beer that he seemed to pull miraculously out of the air. A fully-dressed girl attempted to rouse the crowd with a Belgian "girls gone wild" act, but the kiddie fireworks really got them going.

One small problem: the firework show exploded over la Bibliothèque Royale, not le Grand Place. So... we retreated early into a cafe for banter with Zoe and her friend for a couple hours past my cripple bedtime. Having forgotten to make new year resolutions, I resolved ambitiously to remember to do so next year.

The way back was straightforward, but we pulled the tunnel trick again... and dropped Jeff off literally in the middle of the small ring. He dashed across five lanes or so, and although the passing cop car gave us a funny look, they let us all take off without hassle.

I'd been stuck in my room so long that I'd practically forgotten what the company of a group of friends is like: freakin' awesome. I could even listen to a couple more hours of chatter about phony saints... occasionally. Funny how easy it is to forget your previous/future life in the present.

One great thing about the Low Countries' indifference to hazardous areas: CLUI-like tours such as those led during the Rotterdams Bouwputten Festival and the upcoming Ruienwandeling through Antwerpen's abandoned underground canal network (used as sewers for a time). I am dying to go. But would my leg kill me?

Other destinations I have "resolved" to visit: The monastic ruins of l'Abbaye de Villers and Claes Oldenburg's Dropped Cone (2001) in Köln--by the same fellow who brought us the infamous Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks in Morse College.

On a side note, I love how the Wikipedia entry for my college contains one of our "unofficial cheers."