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Things I plan to do in the next 5 years.

1. Visit Japan, Holland, India, and some icy-cold place (Alaska or Iceland).

2. See all oceans.

3. Smoke a Peace Pipe with a real Native American.

4. Have a baby

5. Figure out all those stocks, shares, bonds, dividends and investment portfolio things.

5A. Get rich.

6. Become successful (still very vague on which field though! Need to work it out).

7. Read all books from my Reading Log.

8. Get confident enough for the black ski slopes. Learn how to ski backwards.

9. Visit Canadian ski slopes in 2010 (By then a friend of mine will hopefully actually move there, so I could visit and ski!).

10. Get a tattoo.

10A. Talk myself out of getting a tattoo: I am a lady, damn it.

11. Learn how to edit digital photographs.

12. Be able to do handstands again (and splits, too).

13. Take some time off, move to a farm and live there, riding horses and looking after other farm animals.

14. Drive a 4WD with a plastic roof over some swampy road.

15. Get rid of pimples and learn how to live with wrinkles.

16. Stop being afraid of planes and flying. Fly to London from NY on one of those hypersonic planes.

17. Get a large, black, fluffy, clever dog.

18. Stop being afraid of ageing. Learn how to turn the time towards myself, not squeezing into it.

19. Get good at baking perfect eclairs, tap dancing, dealing with small kids, simple maths and physics, Spanish, singing, playing piano and learn how to ride a bicycle.

20. To see Mona Lisa, Sunflowers, David, the Thinker, the Black Square.

21. To do 31 days bikram yoga challenge.

22. Keep running this list.

How I Almost Bought a Horse

Once upon a time, in a far away land, there lived a girl who thought she loved horses.

She read somewhere that horses were kind and intelligent and she had been horse riding a few times, so she thought she knew enough to call herself a horse lover.

Until she met another girl, who actually lived on a farm and looked after the real horses for a living. That other girl had four horses of her own, and she took care of other people’s horses as well. She had to get up early, and clean the stables, and teach her horses different tricks, and then bathe them and feed them and show them she loved them.

So, our girl was very much envious of that other girl, so she asked her what it takes to be able to live with horses. All you need is a horse, - that other girl said. You cannot train unless you have one. If you had one, I could teach you how to ride and how to look after it.

And that got our girl thinking about the actual, real, alive horse she could call her own. She recalculated the budget for the next month  to realise she could squeeze some little horsie in. She knew she could afford the horse’s rent and food and maintenance (the quote was around $50 per week). She started picking the names and looking at knee-high boots. It all was going very well, until she realised that living in a central city apartment, not owning a car, not being able to drive and not having the actual time to spend with the horse it would have been a total disaster buying it. So she did not.

(That girl was me, four years ago). I like to think about it as not of a crushed dream, but a postponed dream. A horse - any horse, not necessarily pedigree - is still in the top 5 on my wish list. I still intend to take some time off in this life and live on a farm, looking after animals. I intend to learn how to ride and how to trot and how to jump. One day, one day..

Why am I talking about it here? Because a “Horse and Pony” magazine was delivered to my mailbox the other day, and I am thinking, God, is this a sign it is time to buy a horse?

For some reason, the little mechanism that delivers my posts from eugenia.co.nz  to Livejournal is out of order, but not to worry, I will do it manually for the time being. 

Mamma Mia the Movie

The first musical I ever saw was Chicago, and it wasn’t even a live show, it was the movie. I loved it so much, I had it on DVD and listened to it like 800 times. (Yes, I treated it like a background compilation CD). When 5 years later I saw the “real” Chicago on Broadway, New York, I was shocked to see how the movie makers misinterpreted the story and how my love of Catherine Zeta Jones made me buy it. The most unusual thing about it was the orchestra taking the whole stage and then the dancers performing literally around it - how fascinating!  I am glad I saw it there, in one of those tiny, ancient, original theatres on Broadway, with the flat seating stalls and very post-war amenities, with the smelly halls and queues at the exit. All of this will go, maybe even sooner than we think, and those bunkers will be replaced with the modern “glass and brass”, exceptionally convenient theatres.

Oh well, Mamma Mia is my second favourite. I have seen it live twice, once when it came to New Zealand in 2005 and then in Las Vegas in 2008, and I must say, I will go again, given the chance. These two performances were exactly identical, and even the actor types were very similar. I only like ABBA for the musical’s sake, and in all honesty cannot stand the lyrics without the context  - how cheesy! how naive and commercial! Yet I do own a CD, and I like it.

Nevertheless,  I had no idea what to expect from a movie, although I had been looking forward to it for a good while. I imagined it should have the best of both genres - the camera would make the stage limitations disappear and the famous cast would ooze that charisma into the cheesy songs. I imagined fantastic views and airbrushed actresses and even greatest tunes.

Of course, none of it happened. Meryl Streep (I know, I know she is big in the States!) could sing, but it seemed like she had lost her ability to act altogether - what was that rolling on the floor along “Money Money Money”? Pierce Brosnan was great at dazzling his famous smile around, but he couldn’t sing at all. At all! He struggled throughout the movie with single lines, but was still given the entire song at the end. I almost cried, this is how pathetic he was. The girl (Sophie) looked like a bleached transvestite. Donna’s friends looked like they had known better times. Colin was all right though. The only thing I really liked was the chorus (even the views of the Greek Isles could have been more picturesque!)

The bottomline is that if something costs around $80 to see, there is probably a reason to it. You can pay $15 and get a substitute, but the best deal is $2 for a dvd hire. Can use that coupon, too.

Russian Hamsters Love Fudge

I was buying a drink from a small cafe today. One takeaway earl gray please, - I said to the cafe girl. Then I noticed a large jar of fudge on the counter. And two fudge, as well, I added. Russian? - she asked me. I am, - I answered. Fudge - you prefer Russian or chocolate? she repeated.

:))) I am still laughing when I think about it.

Please leave any comments here.
Originally published at eugenia.co.nz.


The Worst City in the World

OK, well, the worst city I have been to is Bangkok. When I found myself there, on a four day stopover between England and New Zealand, I was both disgusted and horrified. First it was the heat, second it was the smell. The smell of the sweat and the sewage was thick and overpowering from the moment I stepped my foot to the ground.

The very first Thai experience, right after getting an oversized ink stamp into my passport, was being ripped off by a taxi company. Having read all those horror stories about single female travellers getting kidnapped and sold into go-go slavery, I allowed some uniformed woman to arrange a cab for me. I paid about 900 bhat for the transfer to the hotel. Four days later, hailing a cab from the hotel lobby cost me only about 150Bh.

So I check into what was supposed to be a solid four star hotel, and go for a walk in the neighbourhood. I like the fruit vendor - a tiny stall  where a smiley man sells various fruits none of which I recognise (oh, those mangosteens, dorians and star fruit!). I buy a pre-cut  “assortment”, just to get a taste of everything and trying not to think of the food handling hygiene (Oh my good, is there an A grade on display?!). I instantly dislike a rather large food stall - not so smiley vendor selling some noodles in a take away plastic bag, out of which you are supposed to eat just walking down the road.  Err.

I walk down the road, trying to find a decent place to get something to eat. I am in the mood for some authentic tom yum soup. I see a sign Body Massage in English and a Thai woman outside handling out the fliers. I inquire about the price, which seems unbelievably low, and tell her that I get something to eat and come back. Then a typical Thai thing happens - she grabs my arm and tells me she knows a great place for lunch, kindly suggesting to walk me there. I agree, thinking to myself that I am such a cool tourist,  doing Thailand and befriending locals. We walk down the road in a frisky pace and end up in a small cafe with plastic chairs and laminated menus. It looks plausible, so I order and wait. The massage woman, though, is sitting on a tiny chair by the door, watching me eat! I tell her that she does not have to, I will be able to find my way around - but she just nods and smiles. I eat, she watches. I feel awful, I shovel my soup down and obediently follow her back to the massage place. I get a decent massage, which kind of brings the score to the draw of 2 positive experiences (fruit+massage) to 2 negative (food vendor + persistent woman), and I decide to return to the hotel.

Other than that, it is a great slum, overpopulated, dirty, noisy and ready to take advantage of you. You have to walk two blocks to cross the six lane road by the overhead bridge, and it is so narrow you basically force your way through the beggars. It is hot and humid and sticky and shops don’t have large-ish European sizes (44 is a problem), and you feel the power of dollars and it makes you sick, knowing that they’d do anything for it. I was glad to be flying out, and I hope I won’t have to have another out-of-airport stopover.

Disclaimer: This is a topic post about the city which I consider the worst. There were many things I liked (the shrines and temples, the cultural show, the transvestite show, the floating markets, the Thai elephants, the river Kwai bridge, the kickboxing and the counterfeit gucci watch I bought for my brother), yet I have to struggle to recall them. All I remember is that woman taking me down the dirty street along the people eating something with their chopsticks out of plastic bags as they keep walking.

Please leave any comments here.
Originally published at eugenia.co.nz.

Have You Thought About Death Today?

When I think about death, I think more of technicalities rather than of the actual fact of departing this world. I have never understood why would people choose cremation over funerals, although there is some logic to it: mess-free, hassle-free, tears-free; burned and scattered and done with.

I, on the other hand, want to be buried. I want to have a neat allotment on a green lawn somewhere under a weepy tree, with a nice marble gravestone and some touching epitaph. I want my children and grandchildren to come there as rostered a few times a year; I want fresh flowers every now and then, nicely mowed grass and some tears shed over my lovely soul. I want fancy funerals with white lilies and white orchids, with organ music playing and beautiful ladies in dark hats crying. I imagine it will be no less fun than my wedding!

However, there is one condition under which I could consider cremation. I saw it in one book and I shamelessly steal it for my wish list. So if I happen to be a mean old lady with no children and no late spouses, I will not be buried. I will get cremated. However, I will see how many close friends I have - say, six. Then I will get six very pretty little containers, like ivory and rare wood; antique, gold encrusted and  valuable. I will get my ashes divided into exactly six portions, each packed into one of those containers and handed over to my friends. I would think of six places which would mean something for me and each of them, and in my will I’ll require them to scatter my ashes in those places. For all the trouble they will get to keep a lovely container, which will go up in value overtime, and I will be spiritually present in some of my favourite places forever. Of course, it won’t beat some good old-fashioned funeral and a serenity of a green graveyard, yet I am prepared to die lonesome now.

Please leave any comments here.
Originally published at eugenia.co.nz.

Two quick things.

Number one. Overused words. All those words that annoy the hell out of us. Webinar. Wordsmith! And organic, everything is bloody organic these days - well, literally, everything is organic. Random, sweet, awesome, POP.

My list of words that make me shiver:YUM/YUMMY from anybody over the age of 6. FASHIONISTA - only dorks say that! Also, A WHITE LIE  - a lie is a lie, so you accept the fact of lying and just do it. HUBBY. VINTAGE - not all junk is vintage, I am sorry. To DIE FOR - nothing is worth dying for, especially in the retail sense. How are WE today, from waitresses and staff.

Number Two. Top Ten Rudest Questions. Heh, this is what I hate being asked.

1. Where is your accent from? Especially if it is the first question they ask. From the moon, of course.

2. So, tell me about Russia. Russia is so vast, if you really want to know something, just ask a specific question. How’s Russia these days also won’t do it.

3. So you do _this_for a living. Are you any good? Whatever I have done in this life, people always ask that. What am I supposed to answer here? I am hopeless, but persistent, that’s what.

4. So, what are you, from Romania? I can tell it’s Eastern Europe. No comments here.

5. So, how’s married life? It sucks! We totally don’t like each other anymore now that we have a piece of paper that says we’re stuck together forever. What did you think was going to happen? And also, now that we’re married, it’s totally weird that we live together, even though we have for over a year. EVERYTHING IS SO DIFFERENT NOW. I mean, the toilet water even swirls in a different direction!

Please leave any comments here.
Originally published at eugenia.co.nz.

June 17th

I think you get old when you stop taking your birthdays seriously. The moment you stop caring about gifts, clowns and face painting is when you might as well prepare your will and your cremation arrangements. I think the transition period is tough, but the moment when you stop caring whether you are 26 or 86 is crucial. Nothing can save you after that, and this is when the miracles stop happening.

I am 26 today, and I have had a fairly slow day. One of those when you get to spend it at the chocolate factory without actually tasting the chocolate. I know I mustn’t grumble, as there were still flowers, a cake and miscellaneous gifts; yet it is still sad to get old and farewell the usual carefree-ness.

Oh well happy birthday Eugenia regardless! Apparently the birthdays are good for you - the more you have, the longer you live for; so all I can do is to have a  bloody loud celebration; so cheers then.

Please leave any comments here.
Originally published at eugenia.co.nz.

Best Restaurant in the World

As previously stated, technological progress scares me a little. Yet the spam filter on my letter box is doing a good job, shielding the unwanted information and burying it forever in the trash tin. Still every now and then I would receive a letter offering some lasting longer enlargement replicas, or - the best restaurant in the world.

Of course with spam you cannot trust a thing they promise, only an indication of direction for those vaguely interested. Still it grabbed my attention - the best restaurant in the world - does it exist?

So apparently it does. It is called El Bulli, all three Michelin stars, two hours north of Barcelona. A truly unbelievable story! They are open April to September only, and to get a reservation for April, you have to email them in October. It accommodates only 8,000 diners a season, with 800,000 people calling to try and book places - around 400 requests for every table. So you get the reservation first, and then you book your airfare! The kitchen team consists of 42 chefs. All of their crockery and cutlery is specially designed for their courses - which change daily. The menu is designed at the lab during the months when they are closed, behind the closed doors, incredibly confidential.

The restaurant has no menu - you eat what you are given. There are 35 courses, divided into the following categories: cocktails, snacks, dry snacks, fresh snacks, tapas, dishes, predesserts, desserts, petit fours, and morths. It takes 6 hours to dine and you are allowed intermissions between the courses - to breathe and to digest. The meal costs about 150 Euros, and those who hope to get in would pay much more, as it is not a mere meal out - it is a culinary revolution. Although the rumour has it they operate at a significant loss, and they keep going only for the love of food.

I imagine this is an absolutely different level of a culinary operation, and any dining experience. I am not too sure if I even want to go there, and whether I am capable of eating for six hours straight. However, it would be a different story - and a different wish-list, should I live in Europe at some stage.

I am more interested to know whether they do a wine pairing, and how one does after 30 glasses of various wine, downed in 6 hours.

Please leave any comments here.
Originally published at eugenia.co.nz.

Una Dolce Vita (shamelessly copied)

Hey, I deserve it! Some me time. Bit of a treat. Luxury. Spoiling myself. Pampering. I mean, I work hard. Really hard. Not paid work, necessarily. But I’ve got a lot on. Especially at this time of the year. People rely on me. If I say I’m going to be there, I’m there. You could call some of it social, I suppose, but it’s all about meeting commitments, isn’t it? Zipping across town. Coffee meeting here, lunch there. Drinks date somewhere else. And trying to keep on top of the family stuff. Drop-offs. Pick-ups. So when it is all too much, I’m just like “Maria, book me in!” She knows what I’m talking about. Half a day. That’s all. Into the big fluffy robe. The slippers. The paper g-string. Herbal tea and the bit of the odd whale music to wind down. Wind chimes. Bit of the old aroma therapy. Mmm. Soothing. Hot stone massage. Lovely. Vichy shower. Reaches everywhere! Brilliant. Massage, of course. Staff are nice. Filipinas, mostly. Russians. Something like that. Strong hands, too! Bit of a skin peel. Takes years off. Hair removal. Ouch. Everywhere. Doubly ouch! Vital with summer coming on, though! Bit more herbal tea. More whale music. Wee bit of lunch. Gluten-free. Dairy-free. Macrobiotic. Vegan. Juices. Not very filling. Never mind (meeting up for tapas later). Then the pedicure. Manicure. Picking the colour. Fuchsia? Not too, sort of, Russian? Full facial. Oxygen facial. So hydrating. Smoothes the wrinkles. Madonna swears by it (must get around to reading that Kabbala book!). All the latest techniques. Latest products. Scalp massage. Pressure points. Spoilt rotten! Fully pampered. Come out of it feeling like a million dollars. Two million. A bit lightheaded, sure, but what’s new!

Sometimes even all that doesn’t feel like it’s going to be enough. That’s when a girlfriend and I take an overnighter. At a lodge. Somewhere nice. Chocolate on the pillow. Fruit basket. Herbal tea. Fluffy robe. Filipinas. Russians. Luxury. But we deserve it! We’ve got a lot on..!

Please leave any comments here.
Originally published at eugenia.co.nz.