Monday, November 24, 2008

How the media controls our life or why grown ups still believe in fairy tales

I am a self-proclaimed media junkie.

It all started when I was 3 or 4 years old and very sick. I wasn't allowed to leave the house for about a year. I started watching TV 24/7 (well, from 9am-11pm - back then in Austria there was no TV between 11pm and 9am) which eventually led to my mother selling our TV set. Well that and our financial situation at the time. Being a single mom is not easy. 

After my mother had sold the TV I started listening to the radio day and night and going through my mother's magazines even though I only learned to read a year or two later.

I bought my first magazine at 7 years old - it was Minnie Mouse magazine (which has since sadly been discontinued). By age 10 I was up to reading 8 magazines a month.

I had become addicted. I had become a media junkie. Craving entertainment on a daily basis. 
I can easily go a day or a week without TV or without radio or without magazines or newspapers or internet but all of them at once - that's a problem.

I do however realize that there is a lot of junk in the media. The media is telling us women to have big boobs and small bums and that nobody will ever love us if we don't know how to walk in 5 inch stiletto heels and give BJs to random dudes in dirty club toilets (thank you for that British Cosmo, I am glad I said goodbye to you a long time ago). The media wants men to have a full head of hair and hairless backs, they want men to believe that only the macho, the asshole will get the girl, that it's ok to put women down because deep down - that's what we want, right? (not right, just to clarify that)

But that's stuff we eventually grow out off. At some point (most) boys and girls realize that it's ok to be yourself and that there probably is somebody who will love you just the way you are.

Is that the point were we can start enjoying the media without feeling the need to conform to the image of what the media portrays as perfect?

No because once we are done with having a poor self image we move on to the next stage of our lives - relationships.

I once read a very interesting article about the topic. It was all about how growing up with fairy tales (and romantic movies - which are pretty much also based on fairy tales) influences our relationships. If you look at the basic setup of a fairy tale/romantic movie it's almost always the same: Prince and princess want to fall in love. Something happens that keeps them from falling in love. The two can only happily be together once these issues are solved. 
This leads to people believing that it is impossible to just fall in love and be happy. There must be an obstacle otherwise it cannot be the real deal. If there is no obstacle you either must create one or dump the other person because he or she is not the "one". I have seen this happen with people and I think most people have. That's why some women are drawn to "bad boys" and some men to nutty girls who treat them like crap (because maybe they can change them ...).

So let's assume you managed that part and you actually are in a serious relationship -there is the next obstacle - the portrayal of relationships in todays television:
It all started with "Married with children". A married couple that absolutely loathes each other. That show was on for 11 seasons! Since then we have had countless others - not as extreme as this one but the topic is the same - wife and husband shouldn't like each other too much. 
As much as I disliked "Married with children" at least Peggy and Al were equally unlikable. These days the couples in these shows are made of a funnyish, unattractive, dumb, uneducated, "kind of macho but more on the soft side" slob of a guy and a sweet, pretty, smart, superhousewife with a bit of quirkiness to her (so she doesn't appear too perfect).
Anyway - the content of these shows is always the same, be it "King of Queens" or "Still Standing" or "According to Jim". The husband feels like he can't do as much as he would like to - because he is married. And obviously being in a relationship is like being caged up. So he does something stupid which makes his wife angry and they bitch at each other. The wife will spend every episode looking like a nag and the husband spends every episode looking like a (supposedly lovable) idiot.
And you know what - people start thinking that's the way a relationship is like. They might not do it consciously but they think it's normal - maybe even fun - to bicker all day long. 
The problem with that is that if you do it long enough as a joke it eventually will become reality. And after jokingly bickering about everything for a while - how do you know when you are actually really having a fight? And ... well ... it's just not nice to not be nice to each other if you love each other. Call me a romantic sob but I do believe what I am saying here.

There is an easy thing to do about this - it's not watching these shows. Luckily there are shows who embrace liking each other - my favorite being "How I met your mother". I used to like "Dharma and Greg" for the same reason.

So with all that being said - enjoy the entertainment industry. That's what it's made for but don't let it get to you.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cultural differences

After walking around the neighborhood a lot I noticed one thing - there is a large Hispanic community. All of the supermarkets have an Hispanic section, in stores like Sears you often hear the speaker announcements in Spanish, a lot of signs and most manuals are in English and Spanish, ...

I like cultural diversity, so as long as they still explain stuff in English (so I understand it too) I don't mind this at all. I actually find it quite interesting.

I knew that the South of the US had a large hispanic community. My friend lives in Florida and was afraid she wouldn't be able to find a new job because she doesn't speak Spanish. When I helped her look for a job I saw that indeed - most places in Florida want you to speak Spanish as well as English. 

The media has long recognized the market - from what I saw we have at least 10 Hispanic channels and the main magazines like People magazine have Spanish versions. But I saw one thing that I did not expect: Christmas movies.

Every year there is a major romantic Christmas movie coming out. You have seen the "Whitie" versions - The Family Stone, The Holiday, Love Actually ...

This year the major Whitie Christmas movie is "Four Christmases" with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn and it is heavily advertised everywhere. Those romantic Christmas movies usually have one or more of the following components: one of the partners is not accepted into the family of the other, one of the family members is very sick and will either miraculously recover or die, there is some other major family tragedy, in the end everybody is happy because the Christmas spirit - even though it makes everybody fight in the beginning - will eventually make everybody love each other.

Well, right now they are heavily advertising three different christmas movies:
Four Christmases for the Caucasian/white community
This Christmas for the African American community (with Chris Brown! It's actually last year's Christmas movie but I guess now it's out on DVD)
Nothing like the Holidays for the Hispanic community

"Nothing like the Holidays" actually plays in Chicago and has Planet Terror's and Ugly Betty's Freddy Rodriguez (who grew up in the Lincoln Park area in Chicago - not far from where we are living now!) in it. 
From these movies "Nothing like the Holidays" sounds most interesting, so maybe I can convince E to watch it with me or if not, maybe his mom will go see it with me. (One advice - if you intend to watch the movie - don't watch the trailer. It's seems to be pretty much the whole movie in two minutes ...)

Change of subject - so I took a sewing class on Monday. It was fantastic. We were a small group of four girls and one teacher. I brought my own sewing machine and bought the fabric and materials in their shop. The other people were pretty interesting - there was a stylist for some minor Miami detective show who I would like to call "the name dropper" because she kept on making comments like "You know the show Shear Genius? The girl who won the last one is my hair dresser!", the "Military wife/mom" who just moved here from Hawaii and the "Interior Designer who had just changed her career from being a software sales lady to being an Interior designer. Those people were just normal people like me but had followed their dreams and became who they wanted to be. That gave me a big confidence boost.

Sewing wise I was by far the least experienced. I was surprised because the class was called 
"Sewing 101" and was supposed to be for beginners. I hadn't used a sewing machine for about 15 years. I had only just unpacked my sewing machine 10 minutes  before I left for the class to see if it works (by doing that I accidently dropped it on my foot - three days later I still have a blue toe that hurts if I wear tight shoes).

Anyway - the teacher spent the first 2 hours explaining the sewing machine to us and then we spent the next two hours making a pillow with a zipper! Since my previous job was to assess whether something was good workmanship or not I do know that what I did was definitely not great workmanship. The seams of my zipper were very wavy but hey - it's my first pillow case! I am pretty happy with it and will attempt to make another one these days.

That class only lasted this one evening but they have quite a few other classes. So I am sure I will be back there. I am interested in the "Make your own tote bag" class and the "Easy upholstery" class.

Last night I re-discovered one of the silliest, most useless, stupid but also funny videos and I just have to share it with you:
(I don't know how to embed this video so you will just have to go on the link)

(I'll post a picture of my pillow case once I make the second one)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday monday

Today it has been exactly a week that E started his new job. 
When he first started I thought it would be good for the two of us. After having spent the last 6 weeks almost constantly together - you know what they say - absence makes the heart grow stronger (even though I have to say we are actually very good together - it takes a lot to make us annoyed at each other).
Well, it wasn't quite like I imagined. I had some real problems getting myself organized and getting anything done. One reason could be that I have just been incredibly tired. I feel like I could sleep all day and have no motivation to do anything. And then of course - I still miss my friends very much. I often find myself in a funky shop or a nice cafe wishing I could have one of my people here to explore together or at least talk about it on the phone or at work afterwards.
I think it isn't a secret that I wasn't very fond of my job but I find myself missing it. Not the tasks so much but the order of things, the accomplishment, getting stuff done. 

But before we left Holland I set myself a few tasks. One is to finish my Photography studies, two is to figure out what I actually want to do job wise and three to do everything I can to pursue it. 
And to do that I need to focus, I need to take the time that it needs but I also need to force myself to get stuff done. I think taking any old office job that comes my way would be a step in the wrong direction because I know I will be stuck there. A lot has to happen for me to leave an employer.

Steps that I have taken to get myself focused:
*I bought some Iron pills - as I think my tiredness might be the result of a lack of iron in my blood
*I am going for long walks exploring the neighborhood - strangely this really uplifts my mood even when the weather is not nice
*Really follow my to do-list
*Apply at the social security office for a social security card

Alright, now I have to get going. And tonight I have my sewing class!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Super-late halloween post

So, before I start my "twelve day late" Halloween post, I'll tell you about my day today.

My day today was pretty frustrating. Well, actually, the day wasn't as much frustrating as I was just plain frustrated. I woke up frustrated. 

This was because of several reasons:

1) I miss our stuff. We shipped a lot of things we got for our wedding. That stuff is pretty essential, like our nice china, our good tea-pot, my favorite table lamp, ... anyway - we won't just go and buy stuff that we know we have because then we'll have it double. And if there is one thing I learned from cleaning up my life when we left Holland it's to not accumulate clutter. 

We still haven't received our 50 boxes of stuff because it got stuck in customs. They x-rayed it and it turned out they found something "suspicious". Luckily it's through customs now (we just heard yesterday) and we got away with 140 Euros for their "work". I've heard it can cost up to 2000 Euros so I am totally fine with 140 Euros. Now I hope they didn't break too much because we are not insured for damaged caused by customs. Our stuff is supposed to arrive next week.

2) My social security number. The American consulate was supposed to request a social security number for me. I was supposed to receive it within three weeks upon my arrival in the United States. Well, it's been three weeks today and I do not have a social security number which makes my life quite a bit harder. Not only am I not allowed to work (which is luckily not such  a problem since E started a fantastic new job on Monday - awesome husband!) but I also can't have health insurance (I would be insured along with E with his new job) and I have very limited access to open an account (I do have an account but it's all running via E.). And I am sure there are lot's of other "perks" to my not having a social security number. Anyway, I called the social security administration office today and after about 45 minutes of which I spent 40 minutes speaking to an automated voice (try telling an automated voice who asks you for your social security number that you DON'T HAVE ONE YET. After she asked about 10 times I yelled "I ain't got one b*tch! That's why I'm calling!" to which the robot voice answered "Ok, let's leave this step for now") it turns out that they can't find me in the system. Which means, I have to go to my nearest social security office and fill in forms and wait for another few weeks. I tried to go there today but that's another frustrating story which I don't want to talk about anymore.

3) I have been having a lot of nightmares which I think are due to an unsettled stomach. I have been eating more processed food here than I have in Holland. 
Anyway, I have about 4 different nightmares a night and then I also have about one babydream a night. Yes, I dream I am having a baby. And no, we are not planning to have a baby for a while, nor do we think it could have accidently happened. It's just that we are living in pram central. There are babies EVERYWHERE. The people who don't have a baby are pregnant. I can't go to the grocery store without hearing at least two crying babies. And on top of that - I am going to be an aunt soon which brings me to frustration point number 

4) my sister in law is highly pregnant but the baby is not coming out! So almost two weeks ago we went to visit my in-laws in Ohio and my sister-in-law is 8 1/2 month pregnant and she actually had some contractions just when we were leaving. A week BEFORE THAT the baby (in the belly) already weighed  8 pounds so imagine how much bigger, now, almost three weeks later, it must be. She isn't happy and we are just waiting for the good news that we will be aunt and uncle. I am really looking forward to having a little nephew who I can spoil. I wanna become his favorite aunt. Or maybe the cool, European aunt. Or maybe the second mom-aunt. I guess it will all come naturally. As long as he likes me.
So that might be contributing to my baby dreams too ...

And my last frustration point:
5) I get lost ALL the time. I always first go the wrong direction before I go the right direction. I can NEVER trust my instincts. But I bought a map today so hopefully that will solve the issue.

Alright - HALLOWEEN.

Quick recap:
We had tons of kids coming to our front door asking for candy. Our lovely neighbors took it upon them to hand out the candy. There was lot's of decoration on all the houses. It was pretty. I carved a pumpkin.

Unsurprisingly looking at the grown-up costumes - all the girls were slutty versions of whatever you can be and some of the guys actually had some funky costumes.
We went to a party in a bar where dress up was requested. There were lot's of slutty cops, slutty ... actually I don't remember. Just a lot of girls wearing not much and not being very memorable. Oh, I do remember that there were about 5 million girls dressed as "kitties".
The idea of girls going all out and dressing as slutty as they possibly can is not new to me. In Austria it's all the same. Only that with us it's not Halloween (even though Halloween is getting more and more popular as well) but Fasching - more commonly known as Carnival in February. Fasching is BIG in Austria. When I was still studying my whole class went to a "Gschnas" which is a carnival party/ball room dance thingy. All the girls in my class were dressed as prostitutes. It was not an arranged group thing. They just couldn't come up with anything else. I was the only non-prostitute from my class that night. I was a 70s discoqueen with shiny Farah Fawcett hair, sparkly makeup and clothes. I don't think I was any less attractive than the hookers.
See, I don't mind girls wanting to let it all hang out and be totally slutty and having no self-respect for one night. I just expect them to be a bit more creative than that. The guys came up with some really awesome costumes. Our friends were Hall & Oates, that was awesome. Some guy came dressed as Legoman. Guys don't care if they look ugly or ridiculous because it's about fun. It's about showing that you are interesting and creative and "kitty" doesn't shout that to me. I mean - for god's sake - there was a guy dressed up as a turd - yes - literally a piece of shit - and he pulled that night! I saw him go home with a slutty fairy.
Ok, I have to say two things in defense of the American culture - we did spend Halloween at somewhat of a pick-up bar so that might have influenced the choice of clothing for some of 
those girls and I did actually see a few cute outfits that night. My favorite outfits:
*40s soldier with two beautiful 40s style women
*Sexy banana girl (who was dressed in a giant banana)
*Sexy Palin (there were a lot of them out that night, I guess it's
 enough to copy her)
*Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah in Kill Bill)

All in all my Halloween party experience was not much different from my old Fasching experiences in Austria. And I expected way more bloody costumes, like instead of Sexy Bee - Sexy Dead Bee or Zombie Fairy. 
Alright - next year I'll be sexy, zombie toaster.

Photo: E as Captain Hammer, I was Mia Wallace from Pulp Fiction.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

How's life?

It's cooled down quite a bit here in Chicago. We have about 5 C and it's grey out. I even saw a few snowflakes. We actually had snowstorms not far from Chicago. 

Last week I got the first letter from my mom. My mother loves to write letters and I receive up to 3 letters a week sometimes but usually about one every two weeks.
In her letter she asked me lot's of questions about how it is to live in America. My mother has never been to the US before and I think she is having a difficult time imagining it.
One question she asked was: "Are people in shops and restaurants bitchy and do you have to be dressed up when you run errands?"
Obviously she has never been to the US.
People who know me better have heard me talk about people going to restaurants in their pajamas in America. I have to say it's much better in Chicago, especially since we live in a nicer neighborhood. I have actually seen people wear high heels to breakfast places (which is something I would never do). However - if you do run your errands dressed in sweat pants people will not be rude to you. 

I am not a very "chatty" person, so I definitely had to get used to the fact that everybody wants to talk to you. I now know half of the staff at Trader Joes (my local grocery store) better than I have ever known any of the sales assistants at my local C1000 in Delft - which I frequented for 3 1/2 years. I am slowly getting used to it and in a way I find it nice because I don't know many people here and it gives the neighborhood a villagy feel which you wouldn't expect from such a big city. We have gotten to know the girl from our local hardware store a bit since we have been buying our paint for the five rooms we already painted there. We now know that she is married, has a son, just moved into her new apartment and that she wants to paint her living room but that she is going to get her husband to do it. We also found out that she has an identical twin when we visited the hardware stores "sister" store and her twin was working there.

I especially like the gay couple running an antiques store just around the corner from us. We bought 6 pieces of furniture from them in one go. They are the kind of guys who are really just doing it because they like doing it and who feel kind of embarrassed to take your money even though you are already paying less than you'd be paying in other stores. The store is called Praha if you ever find yourself in the neighborhood (and for some reason you are not with me because I would probably take you there anyway) - I can strongly recommend it.

Another question I am being asked a lot is "So are you having a hard time adjusting? Do you miss Europe a lot?". Ok, actually that's two questions. 
I am really trying to not think too much about it. I never understood my expat friends who are constantly talking about how nice it is where they are from and how horrible it is where they are now. Unless you are a political refugee I see no reason why you wouldn't just move back to were you are from if you like it so much better there. I did not like living in Holland anymore so we moved. Ok, we moved about two years after I had enough of Holland but matter of fact is that we moved. I knew one girl who started every - and I am not exaggerating here - EVERY sentence with "In Italy ....", everybody just started calling her "In ITALY".
I am not going to lie - of course I have bouts of homesickness. I am not really missing Holland or Austria (yet). I like Chicago, I like where I live, I love the neighborhood and the people but I do miss my friends. Most of the time I am doing fine and I often feel really good but then the feeling creeps up, a little bit of sadness, mixed with emptiness inside. I miss sitting next to a really good friend and the friend just spontaneously gives me a hug or puts their hand on my back. I miss knowing that somebody is waiting all week to see me and I miss looking forward all week to seeing one of my people , looking forward so much that I don't even mind going to work even though I hate it but I know at the end of the day I will get too see my friend (or not minding to go to work because there is somebody there I really like - as a friend of course). I miss the content and satisfied feeling I have after spending an evening with Mi, chatting about world politics or religion or TV shows or whatever really or Mo making me feel like I am back at home at my moms place by giving me Almdudler and making me Schnitzl and just totally getting my viennese humor or the long car rides with LA to our badminton club ... 

I am sure I am going to make good friends here but you know, it takes a while. Making a good friend is like building your own home. You have to invest a lot of work in it, it will take a while but when you are at the point were the foundation is built it's the most rewarding feeling ever.

But to sum it up - I AM having a good time, I am enjoying myself. But I still hope all you guys from Holland and Austria (and where ever you are right now Charly) will come to visit me soon, so you can see our colorful apartment!

Talking about meeting people - I signed up for a 101 sewing class. Since I got a sewing machine as a present for our wedding I want to learn how to use it. It's just one evening but it will be good to learn something new. I am on my way to become the perfect 50s housewife. I still have to work on the whole tidiness freak part though. Give me time!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes we can!

Today is a beautiful day in Chicago. Not just because  the weather has been sunny and about 22 C for the past week but also because history was made right here last night. 

I was lucky enough to be right there yesterday in Grant Park (thank you J. and M. who got us in as their dates on their tickets!) when the first African-American president was elected. I was right there when he gave his speech - with about 250 000 other people who all wanted Barack Obama to be the 44th president of the United States of America. To change America. To change the world.

Today is a new day. A new beginning. Today Americans can take off the Canadian flags from their backpacks and announce to the world "Yes, I am American and I am proud!".

Only a few people who know me today know this but I was once a big fan of America. As a kid and as a teenager my dream was to move to New York, maybe study Journalism or History or both. I had an American flag up in my room. My best friend was Muslim (still is) and my enthusiasm for America even converted parts of her even if Arabs do have a strong dislike of America (not without reason I have to say) and her family was not different.

I followed the American elections closely from the first time Clinton was elected, closer than I followed Austrian politics.
However in my late teens I became interested in British music, British culture and back then I really wanted to move to London. Bush was elected just before I graduated and it sealed the deal for me - I was not going to move to the US, this was not a culture I could identify with. I was going to stay in Europe. My mom was happy with my decision, especially when 9/11 happened exactly one week after I had left Austria to pursue my dreams elsewhere.
You know the story from then on - I met E., I fell in love with him, with his family, with his friends, with his country. And yesterday for the first time, I proudly wore a pin of the American Flag on my jacket, along with an Obama pin. 
My American friends who have never lived in Europe - you can only imagine how much this will change things - the view that the world has of America. I am looking forward to a world where E. and I can meet new people in Europe without being questioned about Bush and why Americans think they are better than rest of the world. I believe Obama will be able to change this misperception that the world has, thinking that all Americans are uneducated hillbillies. 
I know he will. 

The event itself was very moving. Obamas speech was wonderful. Watch it here:
See if you can find me in the masses.
Find the transcript here:

I have to say that I also really liked the first half of McCains speech. I don't know if you followed the event but it is a tradition for the one who lost the election to first call the one who won and then hold a speech congratulating the new elected president. McCains speech was very well written and reasonable. The first half was excellent. The second half was pretty boring for Obama voters but I guess had to be done for the disappointed crowd standing before him in Phoenix, Arizona.

The only thing I did not like about the event was the fact that they had a bishop hold a prayer for Obama before he came on. I guess America is very religious and people expect that but then there are many different religions and many people who do not believe in god so I think making a religious statement was unnecessary. 

Here is my favorite part of Obama's speech which was also the beginning of the speech:

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

Thank you America for going out there and standing in line for hours and hours. Thank you for making a difference and for giving our kids a future!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

My first road trip

Today I am posting live from Akron/Ohio where E went to vote today (people were allowed to cast an early vote). As I mentioned before Illinois is already a done deal for Obama so E luckily got to vote in Ohio where he is originally from. As you probably know Ohio is a swing state and a vote can make a difference here. My mother in law had prepared and handed out a list to all the family members on which it stated who to vote for where (you don't just vote for the president, also for district attorney and all kinds of other stuff). For your info - the whole family voted for Obama (at least that's what they told each other but I have no reason to believe otherwise).

But voting was not the only reason we came down to Ohio. We actually drove here in a cargo van as we are here to pick up all the wedding presents which had been sent to E's parents as we didn't have an address back then. E also has some old furniture which we will bring back. It's not much but the more money we can save, the better. We even convinced E's mom to give us one of her old bookshelves.
To get here we went on a 6,5 hour roadtrip through Indiana and Ohio. Indiana is as flat as Holland and the parts I saw were not very exciting but then after 7 years in pancake country I don't get very excited over flat land. I had never seen Ohio in the fall and must admit I am amazed at how pretty Akron looks right now. One could almost think she was in Maine with those vivid shades of the changing leaves.

It took E and his family two hours to vote. The lines were really long. Apparently two hours is not even that long, in some places it can take even longer. Since I don't have the right to vote, I spent these two hours at the mall, looking for cheap furniture.

One thing I noticed in the US is the desperation with which sales people try and sell you stuff. I guess they work on provision much more than people in Europe do. I found some furniture at JC Penney's that I liked but when asking the sales guy if they had the goods on stock (since we are going back to Chicago tomorrow, we can't wait for two weeks in Ohio for something to be delivered), he said no. I asked him if he thought that they had the same goods on their website he said probably not and anyway - it would cost way more to have it delivered from their website and it won't even be assembled (I actually like to assemble furniture)! He then gave us his card (which I have noticed every furniture sales man/woman does). After I got back from the mall I checked the prices on the internet and the special offer today is actually free delivery for orders over 69 $ and of course they had the furniture we were looking for.

But even worse than furniture sales people are those little sales stands in the middle of the mall. They are not even shops, they are more like little tents and they sell stuff like little, ugly figurines or make up brands no one has ever heard of. They used to sell Proactive solution (anti-pimple stuff) on those stands but the stuff has gotten so popular that they now sell it in vending machines. They don't need sales people. P Diddy and Jennifer Lopez endorsing it made sales people unnecessary. That's what I call good marketing.

Anyway - getting back to the pushy sales people in the malls. I found out that the only way to not get sucked into their spiel is being plain rude. I first got approached by a tall, smily blonde "Hello! ..." she said, blocking my way to Macy's. I returned her hello with a sharp "I am not interested". I felt both bold and guilty for being so rude at the same time. The second one approached me right when I came out of Old Navy: "Hi! May I just aks you one question?" my answer to that was a short "No.". Now - I know these ladies are just doing their job, that's why I don't like to be rude to them but I have been a victim before. I was talked into buying a 30 $ no-name hand creme set which I was not interested in at all. She just wouldn't let me go. It was almost traumatic. And it started like this
Sales girl: "Hi, can I ask you for one minute of your time?"
A : "I am sorry but I really don't have time right now ..."
and the rest is a blur. I don't know how I ended up buying something I really didn't want. The only thing I do remember is the fact that she originally wanted to sell it to me for 50 $ and that she tried to make me feel like I talked her down 20 bucks which I know I didn't. I might be weak but I am not stupid.

So the one thing I did learn from living in Holland for 7 years is how to be rude enough so people will definitely not want to approach you anymore. However it did not teach me how to not feel bad about being rude to people. But I guess that just comes with practice.

By the way - a Halloween post is coming up once I am back in Chicago. I want to download some pictures from my camera but don't have my card reader here.