Week Ten

Week ten. It’s finally here, the last week. I say “finally,” but I’m really quite sad to leave. And I’m also writing this stateside, so really it should be called:

Week Ten: A Retrospective

There we go, that’s better. Or more accurate at least. And I’m actually glad I waited for a while after returning from my trip to write my final blog post, because I’ve talked about it at length since I’ve been home, talked about my favorite weekends and favorite side trips and attractions, and all about my internship and what it entailed. The phrase “digital communications” earned the most blank stares, with “the Gebelein Man” in a close second. But speaking of firsts and seconds, it’s time for me to do my favorite thing (see my old MOVE columns for evidence) and RANK THINGS.


Favorite Weekend Trip: Ghent

Ghent was just beautiful. It combined my love of castles with my love of canals (from a distance, they’re smelly up close) and also catered to my newfound appreciation for art, in a big way. The colors were bright, the food was great (Turkish pizza, who knew?) and the history of the city, as vague as that is, made everything else about it that much richer.

Runner Up: Favorite Weekend Trip: London

Really, there was no way London wasn’t going to end up at the top of the list. I got to meet up with some much-missed friends, drink more than I could last time I was there (when I was 9), and take in the bustle of the city in a leisurely sort of way. Plus, my trip to a proper English tea shop was delicious, and the museum I visited was impressive. Not even the 8 hour bus rides ruined the weekend.

Least Favorite Weekend Trip: Ostend

This one is a no-brainer, unfortunately. More like…no-grainer. Get it? Because of the migraine I got? Eh, not my best.

Favorite Attraction: Ghent Altarpiece

I only had to pay like 3 euro to feast my eyes upon the most stolen piece of artwork in history. And it may have been behind a big glass wall, but the colors were still vibrantly beautiful. And the small room may have been filled with tourists, but we were all strangely silent in the presence of such a marvel. Quite a moment, and one I’ll remember for a long, long time.

Runner Up: Favorite Attraction: Madonna of Bruges

Yet another awe-inspiring masterpiece. Plus I was allowed to take pictures of this one.

Favorite Thing in Brussels: The Magritte Museum

I don’t think I can say too much more about Magritte that I didn’t already say in my Week Five blog post. I love surrealism, and I love Magritte. Favorite piece: “The Empire of Lights.” Google it.


So I think it’s fairly telling that I had a “Least Favorite” subheading for each section and had to delete most of them because I couldn’t think of anything to pad them out. How lucky am I, to have had a study abroad experience so stellar that it only spawns one particularly unpleasant memory? So lucky, especially since, as common as the phrase is, this was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And what an experience it was. I owe so much to my parents, my teachers, my friends and my boss. Belgium, it was a pleasure. You were kind to me, even though my French was abysmal and my Dutch non-existent. I’m glad I got to know you so well, Belgium, and I’m excited to maybe meet some other countries as I grow. Maybe some of your cooler European cousins.

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Week Nine

In which I experience perfect weather, wind down a little and become my own boss, kind of.

I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but I am, without a doubt, a cold-and-rainy kind of person. And I’ve tried to do a little soul-searching. Why am I a cold-and-rainy kind of person? Is it a personality thing? Do I like dreary weather because I’m dreary? Did living in Texas for the duration of my formative years deprive me of the amount of cold-and-rain necessary to turn a person against it?  Is it because I’m so good at getting sunburnt, I’ve developed a Pavlovianally joyful response to the absence of the sun? I rather like that reasoning. It means I’m evolving. So even though my time in Brussels is winding down, and this week was by no means exciting, it was still a great week. Because I finally got to experience that chilly, rain-soaked Brussels weather. And it was pretty much as amazing as I thought it would be, even though it spoiled our weekend trip plans. Perfect weather – mid 60s, drizzly, a little gust of wind here and there. Eighteen years of burning and suffocation in the deep south was more than enough for me.

So pretty much every job I’ve had during my (relatively brief) time as a member of the workforce has been:

  1. at times demoralizing
  2. self-paced task fulfillment-based

Safe to say my first internship, my first desk job, was a break from tradition in these areas. Sure, the role I played at FH involved a certain amount of freedom, of completing assignments on my own time, but it wasn’t on my own time, you know? Most everything I did had a deadline, or would take me all day, from the time I got in and booted up my laptop to the time I shut it down and left (often before anybody else did). So that’s why this week, this boss-less week, was a return to form for me. I had vaguely defined tasks that could be completed, but didn’t need to be. I had almost no supervision throughout the day, and I missed it. People trusted that I would keep busy, and I did, to the best of my ability, but week 9 marks the end of my actual internship, in a way. Nothing I was doing would be produced, or even shown to clients before they got back from their August holidays. Week 9 marks the beginning of the wind down time. And that’s okay.

I’m really quite happy with the amount of time I’ve had in Brussels. Ten weeks is a long time for a vacation. It’s not quite as long for work, but the ephemeral nature of my internship gave me a little more freedom. I wasn’t as occupied with spreading out work over extended periods of time, or finding ways to advance my career. I had a start date and an end date, and I just worked. Although I’m sure I’ll lament the fact that I didn’t have more time at FH when that time actually comes to an end, 10 weeks was a good starter for me. Hopefully all of my future jobs will have me for longer.

At the end of my wind down week, I did do something quite interesting though. Our class, all 21 of us, went back to the Parlamentarium, that mildly boring EU museum, and participated in an MEP role play game. It was weirdly fun, and actually quite enlightening. We were split up into political parties, given phones that told us where to go and made the rounds as if we were real members of Parliament. We did everything in a simulation, from answering phones at the party office and fielding questions in a fake press room to striking deals with other party members and voting on amendments. And man, if 21 college students can barely come to an agreement about how to amend a fake law, it’s a wonder anything in Parliament gets done. Bureaucracy, am I right?

Things I saw:

European Parliament Building

Parlamentarium (again)

Commune d’Ixelles

Things I tried:

Hoegaarden Citron | ★★★★★

Popcorn chocolate – so weird | ★★★

Week Eight

In which I put my skills to practical use, get a visitor and eat meringue.

My desire to work in advertising is sort of…and I’m not a huge fan of this word, but it’s sort of random. It’s at odds with what younger Hannah wanted to do with her life, from “policeman” (thank God I outgrew that one) to veterinarian to nurse. Eventually, I landed on “writing” as the most important career requirement, and I went to Mizzou fully intending to become a journalist, an arts & culture reporter, a movie reviewer like my boy Roger Ebert. Strategic communications and advertising didn’t really even register as options for me, not for those first few semesters of college at least. Now I can’t really even picture how my life would be if I had stuck with news writing – it just doesn’t fit me, and I don’t know how I didn’t see it before. And sure my number 1 passion is still storytelling, but there’s just something so satisfying about finding those few words, that one sentence, that one phrase, that just works. You know it when you see it, and you know it when you think of it. The words swirling around in your head bump together just right, align in a way that is so obviously good, so deliberate, you just can’t believe there was a time when you hadn’t thought of it yet. People like to trash talk strategic communications, but the first time you come up with a perfect tagline, it feels like a real accomplishment. It’s like you could change someone’s life, even for just a minute, with the words you’ve tied together, the combination of text and visual you’ve created out of nothing. And that, chasing that feeling, would probably be my number 2 passion at this point in my life. So I’m now someone who could describe themselves as “passionate” about advertising, and though I did not see that coming at all, I really am okay with it.

This week, in working on a class project, the directions for which started as “unclear” and morphed into “puzzling” as the weeks went by, I got to play at making advertisements, and for a cause. The project was about raising awareness of the state of the Brussels sidewalks, which really are atrocious in places, hard to access and navigate. So I created some Twitter advertisements, and once they were produced by one of our talented designers, they looked damn good. It wasn’t a big deal, but it was still encouraging, and I still get excited whenever anything goes even remotely well for me in this field.

There was no trip this weekend. Instead I stayed in Brussels and received a visitor from the Mizzou program in London, the friend we went to visit at the beginning of our trip. It was so, so good to see her, and we took her around to see all the Brussels sights, of which we realized there were surprisingly few. The charm of Brussels isn’t quite like that of London. London is bursting with historical landmarks and destinations and every corner has some rich history behind it. Brussels is more fun to walk around and look at, not because something important happened in such-and-such building, but because it’s beautiful. I’m glad I got to experience both kinds of sightseeing while I was abroad, especially with such good friends in tow. We made our way down to Grand Place again, saw Manneken Pis and the town hall and rubbed the Everard t’Serclaes monument, which was oh so smooth. You know, from all the rubbing. We also found a chocolatier and, as soon as I laid eyes upon the giant meringues, I knew I had to launch a game of odds. For the uninitiated, odds is a game of dares and statistics, sort of. That makes it sound somewhat intellectual, but so far we’ve only used it to get people to eat soggy vegetables and buy shrimp-flavored Pringles. Here’s how it works: Have something sort of unsavory you want your friend to do? No problem. Odds them. They pick a range, and on the count of 3, you both say a number within the range. If you say the same number, they have to do it. Like so:


INT. CHOCOLATIER – NOON.

CAROLINE, smart and smiling, mills around the floor-to-ceiling shelves stocked with packaged meringues, each the size of a small boulder. HANNAH, perennially sullen, takes Caroline’s lingering as a sign of her latent desire to obtain a delicious boulder-sized meringue and decides to act. For Caroline’s sake, of course, and not at all for her own amusement. BRENDAN, squeaky and exasperated, eats chocolate-covered marshmallows out of a crinkled plastic bag, looking on in mild interest.

HANNAH

Caroline, odds you buy a giant meringue.

CAROLINE

Out of 20.

HANNAH

Done.

After a beat spent staring each other down and thinking about numbers, Hannah starts the countdown.

HANNAH

One…two…three–

HANNAH AND CAROLINE (in unison)

Fourteen.


And that, friends, is how odds works. Shout out to Katie for teaching us about that. And the meringue was, indeed, delicious.

Week Seven

In which I somehow still have a boss, marvel at some art  and get a new desk.

A cliché is only a cliché because it was once meaningful. And honestly, the entire concept doesn’t particularly make sense to me. So if something wise or weighty catches the attention of the public, that automatically makes it lose its meaning? I get why clichés may be annoying, but I don’t love the line of thinking that something popular is automatically less meaningful than something that isn’t. It’s baseless and pretentious. Taylor Swift can still be deep, even though she’s one of the most popular artists of today (hey mom, remember that time you made us all watch the “Bad Blood” music video like 7 times in a row? Good times).

Anyway, you get it, and I’m getting off track. The point is that the cliché “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone,” rang very true for me this week, as I’m sure it will again next week when my boss’ baby finally makes her debut. Hopefully. For now, I’m talking about my desk. My wonderful, spacious desk with its working monitor and internet connection and its premium location, right between the kitchen and the hallway with the bathrooms, and its nice, tree-filled view. It was a great desk, the kind of desk a higher-up should have been sitting in, but I ended up with because it was empty at the time of my arrival. But FH has a policy where every 6 months, the seating plan changes and people are assigned to (somewhat) random desks. I can only assume the reason is “synergy” or some similar corporate buzzword, but the bottom line is that I only had 4 weeks left at the time of the switch and, with only 6 weeks under my belt, I had only recently figured out where everyone important was sitting. Now I have no clue. Plus I’ve been banished to the back corner of the office, to a desk that was previously used by the whole office as a dump of sorts. There is a stapler sitting in the corner of my desk that looks like it was there when Steve Jobs founded Apple. Even my name on the seating chart was written in a different colored ink than everyone else’s, on a desk tacked onto a cubicle, and, come on guys, I know I have less than a month left but could you have more obviously forgot I worked here? I know I may sound peeved, but I actually think it’s pretty funny. Even the fact that none of my monitor’s USB ports work (no mouse, no keyboard) so I work exclusively on a laptop doesn’t bother me too much. At least this way I can wear headphones and listen to Spotify while I work. High highs and low lows.

So other than that…whole thing, work was good this week. My boss’ baby was due on the 5th I think, but he was still there at the end of this week, phone all but glued to his hand. I won’t complain, it’s nice to have a bit more time with my mentor-of-sorts, that way we can keep working on current projects, so I can save the long-term, brainstorming stuff for when I’m on my own. If he makes it through next week too, I’ll only have two weeks of unsupervised work time, which would be much better than the month I thought I’d have.

Weekend #7 was spent in Bruges, which I really did enjoy. But the funny thing about Bruges is that its entire appeal is based on this romanticized image of Bruges that came from a short novel, Bruges-la-Mort, which painted Bruges as the “city of the dead,” a dreary, damp, grey sort of place where people go to grieve because the city’s in an interminable state of mourning, where they go to decay because the city will decay with them. The novel is unbelievably morose, and so it effectively turned Bruges into a haven for sadness, gave the city a reputation, and that reputation was “cold, quiet, depressing, lonely.” I was sort of expecting to get a taste of that, but Bruges was anything but cold, quiet, and lonely. All day the sun was shining bright and the temperature hovered just under 80 degrees, so it wasn’t cold. There was a music festival going on while we there, so it wasn’t quiet. There were tons, tons, of people there, tourists mostly, so it wasn’t lonely. In fact, I would have preferred it a bit lonelier. It was crowded. So the funny thing – I’ve finally gotten to the funny part – is that this isolated, depressing  image of Bruges attracted tourists and – poof – there went Bruges’ cred. My teacher called it the Disneyland of Belgium. And it sort of was, in a low-rent sort of way. I still enjoyed Bruges, though it did not at all live up to its reputation. I saw some quality art – what’s up, Michelangelo – and rested on a bench next to the canal, with sunlight glinting off the water and dogs and kids bouncing around the park. Maybe it’s different in the winter.

Things I saw:

Belfry of Bruges and Town Hall

The Groeningemuseum – Flemish art work from the 15th century until now

The Canals

Church of Our Lady, Bruges

Michelangelo’s Madonna of Bruges

Things I tried:

Samurai sauce – sriracha and mayo (I think) | ★★★★★

Pasta in a Box – pretty much what it sounds like | ★★★★

Week Six

In which I write a paper, find a spider in my bed and attempt to flee from the heat.

Summer weather in Belgium is, overall, pretty nice. I am not a fan of hot weather or the sun, most likely as a result of growing up in oppressive Texas heat with lily white skin that burns like tinder. To be quite honest, one of the big draws of the Brussels program was the promise of a cool, rainy summer, or at the very least, temperatures that would max out in the low 80s. And for the most part, Brussels has kept that promise, minus the rain (which I am mad about). But what no one told me about Belgian summers was that for one week out of the year, just one, temperatures spike and the sun breaks through the clouds and brings with it some bona fide Texas heat. Now no one has air conditioning, of course, because for the other 51 weeks of the year they don’t need it. There are no industrial cooling fans, or public swimming pools or heavy duty air conditioners to crank up to full-blast on the train. For one week, all of Brussels is in hell. And Hannah with it.

Okay, that was a little dramatic. But remember what I said about being dramatic? So I’m going to say that this week was just shy of miserable. Not because of work, work was good, as per usual. Not because of school, even though I had to write a 2000 word essay about Belgian identity, which barely exists, let alone has a concrete definition. No, I was miserable because I was hot. And the heat and I, we do not get along. In fact, it was kind of out to get me this week (I’m allowed to be dramatic).

First, in an effort to combat the stagnant heat of our apartment, Mary and I had been leaving our window open at all hours. Now, for background, in addition to lacking A/C, Belgian apartments also lack window screens. So picture this: it’s about midnight on a Monday, and I’m setting my alarm on my phone when I see a dark shape out of the corner of my eye, right at the edge of the glow from my phone’s screen. At first, I think little of it. Dark shapes are everywhere, especially in the darkness. But then the dark shape moves. Dark shapes aren’t supposed to move, right? No, no they are not. My brain screams at me, GET UP, SCREAM, FLAIL YOUR ARMS WILDLY, FRIGHTEN THE DARK SHAPE INTO SUBMISSION, but my level headed side kicks in, stops me from making a noisy spectacle of myself, especially at an hour when most of my housemates are trying to get to sleep. Instead I turn on my phone’s flashlight and discover a spider, a big one, dark brown and bigger than probably most of the spiders I’ve ever seen, camping out on my pillow. Seriously, make a fist and look at it from the side. That’s how big it was, legs and all. Sensing it’s been had, the spider tries to escape, darting across the mattress, hopping onto the wall, scurrying down to the floor. Mary, stirred by the flashlight, makes a clutch assist with a sandal and bam, the spider is dispatched just as quickly as it had appeared. Though the threat has been neutralized, Mary and I agree that the window should never be opened again for as long as the building’s walls are still standing probably, just to be safe. I will break this rule not 5 days later, desperate for a breeze, before I figure out that propped in the corner of the room on the radiator is not the most effective spot for the fan. Mary and I both awake drenched in sweat until then. The heat is a son of a bitch.

I buy a fan the next day, unwilling to live in my apartment for another minute without some sort of breeze going through the place and since windows and more specifically open windows are dead to me, a fan is the only other option. I don’t think twice before spending 30 euro on a tiny little blue fan that I’ll have to throw in the garbage before I fly back to the US. What have you done to me, Brussels. Tiny Fan works hard, but I still spend the week fanning myself with literally anything I can get my hands on, including client brochures. Yeah, my office isn’t air conditioned either.

The weekend temperatures are the hottest of the forecast, so a few of us plan a trip to the coast on July 4th, Ostend, where the temperature will be just under 80 as opposed to just under 100. We will, clearly, take what we can get at this point. Not once did it occur to us that practically everyone else in the city of Brussels will have the same plan and will want to take the same train. Later, I learn that it’s a national tradition of sorts, this mass exodus to the sea during Hell Week. Where was that when I needed it for my Belgian identity paper. So the train to Ostend is crowded beyond all imagination, and since the feeble air conditioning only works in the main cabin, and I have been squished – literally squished, I am shoulder-to-shoulder, chest-to-back with strangers at this point – into the connecting carriage, I am back in the stagnant heat, only now with the added bonus of having every breath I take be about 50% body odor and 10% cigarette smoke. A bit of background information: when I get migraines, they’re always triggered by sitting in a hot car. Some brand new information: this apparently extends to hot trains. So I get a migraine standing in the stuffy train carriage for an hour and a half and my two friends, bless them, sit with me at the Ostend station while I wait for the nausea to pass. We eventually make it out of the station and to a square by the coast. We find a nice Cathedral and a nice outdoor cafe where I promptly fall asleep with my head in my hands before eating anything. And after probably 3 hours in Ostend, I throw in the towel. I am so tired I think I will fall asleep on the walk back to the station. The train back to Brussels is disgustingly crowded too, but we do get to talk to a nice American couple with a sleeping baby in the connecting carriage. Shoutout to my friends here – sorry I ruined your day trip guys. Thanks for letting me sleep while you ate lunch.

So yes, the hottest week of the summer got the best of me, but joke’s on it, because now I sleep with a fan in my face, which is my favorite way to sleep. Mom knows, she’s always turning my ceiling fan off to save electricity (sorry Mom, you’re the best). Seriously though, I think Hell Week made me more patriotic, and just in time for Independence Day. Land of the free and home of the air conditioned, God bless America. And if this week is by far the worst week of my whole trip, that could be considered a rousing success.

Things I saw:

Inside Out (with Dutch & French subtitles) – a beautiful movie, inside and out (HA) | ★★★★★

Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul

The Belgian shoreline through half-closed eyes

Things I tried:

Dr. Pepper Zero – sweeter than Diet Dr. Pepper | ★★★

Living without AC | ★

Sleeping with a fan literally inches from my face | ★★★★★

Week Five

In which I puzzle over surrealism, go to a castle and teach everyone how to play hearts.

I wouldn’t really call myself an art lover. I can appreciate art, I can enjoy a few hours spent in an art museum, but I don’t love art, not the way I love movies or music or literature. Art fits right in there with the rest of the “fine arts,” but it’s never held my attention quite like the rest. It’s kind of bummed me out from time to time, actually. Am I not sensitive enough to love art? Not patient enough? Am I not actually as smart as I think I am? What a nightmare that would be. I might be touching a nerve. Let’s reel it back in.

Anyway, I’m happy to report that, after 21 long years of painful separation, art and I have finally found each other. We found each other in the cold, dark rooms of the Magritte Museum as a very tall French woman explained that nothing is real except for everything, and art is all around us and you don’t need to understand metaphors to figure it out. Surrealism, man. Magritte is at once lowbrow and highbrow. His works are sometimes devastatingly hard to figure out, but only because the explanations are simple that we don’t even consider them. All of his pieces require third, fourth, fifth viewings to fully understand, and exactly one of the titles is helpful in figuring out the message of the painting. But “message” implies some abstract interpretation. It’s more of a definition I guess, a literal interpretation and a removal of context. And even then, you’re probably overthinking it. I’m generally a fan of symbolism, of assigning meaning to every little thing, every phrase and every prop. So parting with that was dizzying for me, and it changed me a bit I think. Thanks, René. I do truly love “art,” whatever that means, in all its brilliant and awful forms, from the mess that is surrealism to the trashiest of movie trash. I love it all. Okay, I’m gonna talk about The Boy Next Door real quick: my parents (and grandparents) should absolutely NEVER watch The Boy Next Door, it was rather scandalizing, but let me just tell you, it was a master class in garbage. I’ve never seen such gleefully meaningless trash, so separated from our reality yet so unflinching in its own. Truly beautiful. And JLo is still hot.

So the rest of the week, though not as enlightening, was still good. I’ve reached the halfway point and my internship is still enjoyable, but I’m actually just getting more and more excited to go back to school and finish up so I can officially join the workforce and fully realize whatever potential I might be exploring right now. Maybe on some level this internship helped quell my underlying fears about growing up, because I am definitely the youngest person at the office. My excitement about returning to school coincided neatly with my first and last ULB class assignment – a 2000 word essay on the existence of Belgian identity, which is essentially an angry mixture of two other identities. It was sort of hard to get going, but once I got over that hurdle the rest of the paper just sort of spilled out. Because we successfully wrote and turned in 4 page single-spaced papers, we naturally decided to treat ourselves, and on Friday afternoon we ventured to the mall to see Spy. Besides, after Jurassic World I was I need of a more feminist Hollywood victory. Plus movie theaters are air conditioned. Our apartments are not.

The trip of the week was to Ghent, which was wonderful and weird. It was Antwerp minus all of its many strip malls plus some extra castles and canals. I’m pretty sure the last castle I visited was Edinburgh Castle, or maybe, if such a thing exists, York Castle. Or maybe just the museum. Or maybe neither. Shoutout to mom for making me keep a journal because I seriously would have forgotten a solid half of that trip if I hadn’t written it down. Thanks mom, you know me better than I know myself. Cliché but true. But Edinburgh Castle I remember very well. And now I have Gravensteen Castle, which was sort of sparse but still very cool, complete with a wall you could easily trip off of, that wall was seriously a hazard, and a torture room which was just gross. I also got to see a beautiful cathedral, St. Bavo’s, and a free classical music concert that achieved the impossible – it made me sort of miss JURB. The Ghent Altarpiece was on display at St. Bavo’s and, even though I had to pay 4 euro to see it, it was totally worth the trip to Ghent alone. It’s unlike anything else, being in the presence of something that’s existed for hundreds of years, been stolen and re-stolen and admired for so long. So yeah, Van Eyck’s Altarpiece was an experience.  I also rediscovered that I really love classical music, which I tend to forget. I should listen to more classical music. We ended the night in Ghent drinking beer with our legs dangling over the canal, which was precious. I’ve enjoyed the hell out of the time I’ve gotten with my friends here, the ones I started the trip with and the, like, 3 I’ve gained since. My feelings of fondness for my friends faded once we got home though, and they all showed me how much they appreciated the 15 minutes I spent explaining how to play Hearts by kicking my ass at Hearts. I’ll have my revenge.

Things I saw:

The Magritte Museum

Spy (with Dutch & French subtitles) – profane and refreshingly respectful of its female lead | ★★★★★

Gravensteen Castle

St. Bavo’s Cathedral

The Ghent Altarpiece – “the most stolen artwork of all time”

Ghent Town Hall

Belfry and Cloth Hall

Things I tried:

Croque Monsieur – so un-exotic, but it still counts | ★★★★

Turkish pizza | ★★★★★

Week Four

In which I try to break a yawning habit, almost manage a company Twitter and ride the subway for 20 minutes straight.

I used to be a nail biter. I don’t mind telling people about this, because I’m actually quite proud that I was able to break the habit. It’s an unsanitary, sometimes painful, one, and I’m glad to be rid of it. But now I have a new problem. I’m cool as a cucumber, and I pride myself on being so. But in order to maintain my chill persona, my nerves must manifest someway, somehow, or I will, presumably, shut down completely. So this week I was informed by my boss that I have two potentially career-damaging nervous tics: yawning and checking my watch. Both of those things are generally harmless on their own, but if you’re, say, face to face with a client and you keep yawning and checking your watch – well, you get the picture. The yawning had to go. And it’s not like I yawn because I’m tired – I have yet to get less than 7 hours of sleep in a night – I just get nervous or anxious and my brain goes “you should yawn so it looks like you’re doing something,” and though it’s illogical, I think “nice one, brain, you’re on fire today” and so I do. Not good. How long have I been doing this? Is it really noticeable? Have people been seeing it but not telling me out of fear that they’ll be rubbing salt in my sleep-deprived wound? Makes you wonder what else people are afraid to tell you. On a less existential note, it makes me wonder what form my nervous tic will take next. Hopefully it’s not pen chewing, because that is just gross.

Apart from the yawning problem – which will hopefully be helped by the “STOP YAWNING” sign I’ve hung in my cubicle – work this week went very well. My Twitter ad-making duties leveled off, but my Twitter monitoring duties are picking up, as are my internal duties. Much of this week was spent working on the social media rollout of a company report – the FH Digital Trends Analysis, if you want to look it up – picking out key takeaways from the results and making visuals to illustrate the points. I was originally going to man the company Twitter for the day but my boss, bless him, was having so much fun doing it that I just concentrated on creating the content and let him send it out. My internship continues to be a moderately fulfilling, all things considered, and definitely useful experience.

Now this weekend, I had every intention of going to Waterloo. The reenactment for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo was going on and I had ABBA on the mind and I was ready to go. Luckily Mary and I thought to do some Googling about the reenactment before Saturday rolled around and, upon Googling, discovered that the reenactment was completely sold out and if we had taken a train up to Waterloo we would have had to take a train right back. So, instead of riding the train all day, we stayed in Brussels and rode the subway to the Atomium. A little background for you: the Atomium was built for the 1958 Brussels World Fair and it’s supposed to be a model of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times and it is very, very shiny. Now that you’re all caught up, I can tell you that the Atomium is fun for about 6 minutes and then you grow tired of looking at it. So after those novel 6 minutes, which were a blast, we ventured off into Osseghem Park and stumbled across a South American cultural festival, which was musical and bright and smelled delicious. In a way, it made me sort of homesick for the Americas, not home specifically, but just the western hemisphere. There was a good turnout, a great view of the park from the festival grounds, some traditional dancing from some kids, half of whom looked like they were really into it and half who wore the grudging expressions of someone who was doing this for mom (speaking of moms, moms are super important and it’s time for my weekly Mom Shoutout™: hi momma! You’re one of my favorite people in the world 🙂 Dad you are too, I’ll let you in on this Mom Shoutout™). Anyway, the festival was a lot of fun to come across and I think it was held in honor of the Peruvian delegation so Mary and I continued the tradition of accidentally matching up our sightseeing with special events. Let’s see if we can keep that going.

Things I saw:

Jurassic World (with Dutch & French subtitles) – fun in the moment but you leave feeling empty | ★★★

The Atomium

Osseghem Park

The Kinepolis Brussels, considered the first megaplex cinema in the world (not where I saw Jurassic World)

The Peruvian delegation’s South American cultural festival

Things I tried:

Crac-a-nuts – if peanuts and corn nuts had a delicious baby | ★★★★★

Saucisse – sort of like bratwurst | ★★★