This is something that the working world wants to know. I will tell you.
I bring about present inflation. You know the way there is always someone who has the perfect present, beautifully wrapped? I have become that person. I spend my days buying tasteful gifts and wrapping them in attractive paper (not very beautifully wrapped I must concede as I am no good at that). I buy presents for godchildren, birth presents, birthday presents, wedding presents, christening presents, you name the occasion, I am out there buying a gift. Scarcely a week goes by when I am not in a shop selecting something light (a lot of our presents need to be posted) but wonderful.
I buy sewing machines. A picture of the machine is below:
It may not be there forever as I think I only have a certain amount of space for pictures on 20six, so feast your eyes on it now, while it’s there. You will be relieved to hear that, in exchange for a well-spent tenner, the nice men who delivered it carted it up the stairs as well. I was round at the Glam Potter’s yesterday and she is very keen to inspect my purchase and will be over next week to admire. The Glam Potter is very arty and has sealed bids in auction houses all over Brussels. Her house is full of interesting things she has picked up in unusual places. I would like to go to an auction with her, but, you will recall, we don’t need any more furniture. I think Mr. Waffle may come over all Victorian and forbid me to fraternise with her futher if I start buying things at auction with her.
I cook, as discussed in an earlier posting. The other night I went into the kitchen saying “I’ll just check on dinner.. oh, doesn’t the sewing machine look nice in the hall?” Mr. Waffle asked “Are these words you ever, in your wildest dreams, thought that you would utter?” I must say, the answer to this is no.
Occasionally, I apply for jobs.
Often, I meet people for lunch. A friend said recently that when he hears the expression “ladies who lunch” he thinks of me. Hmm.
I wash clothes. This is a judgement on me. When I was growing up, my mother used to complain that I would throw things in the wash when I had only worn them for five minutes. I used to think, well what is the problem here, we have a washing machine… Now, everyday, I put on two washes and then bring them down to the basement to the drier and then put the clothes away. Now, ok, now, I’m sorry, that I was a stroppy teenager (I am reminded here of an Ogden Nash poem on adolesence, and if you click on this link, you too can read the poem). We are the grubbiest, or possibly, the cleanest, depending on how you look at it, family in Belgium. Every evening the laundry basket is empty. Every morning it is full to the brim. It is a cornucopia of dirty laundry, it never runs out. I’m thinking of buying a larger laundry basket.
Sometimes, I go to the art gallery.
I blog. I email. My emailing is not great though. My responses are usually deemed inadequate and far too short. I just can’t work up the enthusiasm for long emails. I tend to reply “yes” to two page missives and my correspondents get a little tetchy.
I mind the Princess.
I read, a bit.
I talk on the phone, although this has become more difficult since the Princess has discovered how to hang up the phone.
So now you know.
If you have not yet been the recipient of my largesse, hold your breath because, probably, even now, a tasteful, light gift is winging its way to you.
on 07 February 2004 at 10:47
Speaking of art, don’t forget to visit the “Khnopff” exhibition at the “Mus?e d’ Art Ancien”, rue Royale.
And speaking of art auctions, you can find all the details (dates, address)each week in Thursday’s “Le Soir” (suppl?m?nt “Immo”) (^_^)
on 07 February 2004 at 12:28
Myself and Princess Waffle went to the les petits riens this morning to dispose of some items we are never going to use again (that 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle of Van Gogh’s room at Arles – boy are we never going to do that again; my suede skirt that costs 20 euros to dry clean every time the Princess drools on it..). It’s a kind of junk shop and, since we were there, we had a wander round. The furniture there is very cheap and mostly a little unexciting, though there are sometines some very nice things. Now, the Waffle household does not need new furniture. In fact, we already have more than we need. I cannot therefore explain why I bought an antique sewing machine. I offer that it was very attractive and very cheap. It will look nice in the hall, really. No, of course, it doesn’t work and if it did, I wouldn’t know how to use it. It comes with its own table. When the nice people from the petits riens deliver I will post a photo. Of course, the photo won’t show the thing in our flat because the base is cast iron and it won’t fit in our tasteful, but teenchy, lift and the delivery men only deliver to the ground floor. With the best will in the world, I don’t think that Mr. Waffle and I will be strong enough to carry it up. And in my heart of hearts, I don’t really believe that Mr. Waffle will regard the addition of a sewing machine to our household goods with the best will in the world. Oh dear.
Had a somewhat trying time last night. We were out in the pub to celebrate the birth of a baby girl. The event was organised by the proud papa (Mr. Affable). Both parents are good friends of ours. When we arrived at the pub, it was to discover that, inter alia, Mr. Affable’s parents were both there, over from Cork for the week to meet the new grandchild. Now, his parents are very nice and everything but his father happens to be my first boss ever. I never really thought I would be good friends with one of Mr. Affable snr’s children but there you go. Life is weird. I suppose, we don’t have a lot in common, myself and Mr. A snr so he started asking me all about my career and how I had been getting on since I left his office 10 years ago. I feel he regards my current unemployment with mild disapproval. Perhaps that’s paranoia, maybe he was really thinking, why isn’t this woman talking about my grandchild, why is she bilging on about job hunting?
on 01 February 2004 at 01:38
on 05 February 2004 at 20:42
Over Christmas when I decided to drum up readership for my blog at home (and at this juncture, I would like to thank both of my loyal readers), my friend C… um, let’s call her Cara asked why on earth I would wish to broadcast my thoughts to the world in this way. I was a bit stumped and one of the answers I came up with (laugh if you will) was that I was attempting to address the gender imbalance on the internet. In fact, rampaging megolamania was the real reason but I thought that my sociological reason sounded better. She laughed uproariously. She was not convinced. And now that I’ve been blogging for a bit, neither am I.
I note that all of my favourite blogs fall into one or more of the following categories:
Female/Pregnant/Looking for work/Freelancing/Mothers
There are three exceptions: Pepys (but he’s dead), Locotes (he’s from Cork) and the Iranian guy (sort of fascinating in a look into another culture kind of way). And I suppose the Belgian interest category I’ve just started, but that’s a bit different because it’s my way of trying to find out about the country I live in.
Anyway, I’m getting to the point, do bear with me, is it that I am naturally drawn to weblogs which fall into these categories or is it that most of the blogs out there are written by people who are Female/Pregnant/Looking for work/Freelancing/Mothers? Does anybody know what the ratio of male to female blogs is? Does anyone except me care?
And in related gender stereotyping stuff; as you know, I am looking for a job, in what can only be called a desultory fashion. To be fair to me, and I am more than willing to do that, it is a bit hard because I’m overqualified for the entry level jobs that are advertised and I’m having difficulty trying to speak to the people who need to be convinced of my genius. The other day, instead of sending out CVs I read an article about how women are bad at networking to get jobs. Useful stuff, clearly. Wait, wait, I’m about to reach a conclusion, as you know my friend D..(shall we say Danuta?) was here the other day. Now, she was over to attend a meeting in her company’s Bxls’s office. Did it cross my mind to ask her whether there were vacancies in company X which has a significant presence in Belgium (as they would say themselves, I’m sure). No it did not. It did occur to her, sort of as an afterthought really, and she said, “you know, I know the personnel officer and I’m sure there are vacancies, would you be interested?” Well, yes, I suppose, I would. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself. Is this mindset or stupidity? Answers on a postcard please… In the interim, think positive thoughts about Danuta to whom I am very grateful.
Finally, in matters unrelated to gender stereotyping, it snowed here last night and all around my part of Brussels looks absolutely beautiful. Took a number of pictures but they all turned out dreadfully so you will have to imagine how it looks. Princess is perplexed by snow. She put out her little hand to feel it and there was serious royal displeasure when it turned out to be both cold and wet.
on 29 January 2004 at 23:25
Thanks for placing my blog about Brussels in your favorites!
I hope you enjoy living here and I wish you good luck with the job research!
(and the gender imbalance is worth the fight.) (-_?)
on 30 January 2004 at 07:44
Today saw the arrival of my first rejection letter.? Gosh, job hunting is depressing. I fear there will be more to come. I also rang a headhunter person today. She told me to send her my CV, so I dutifully composed an email and sent it without attaching my CV. I wonder does this convey quite the impression I was hoping for.
Last night Mr. Waffle and I had the following conversation:
Mr. W: University Challenge is on in 5 minutes.
Me: I know, but we’ll be finished dinner by then.
Mr. W: Have you got your glasses for the picture round?
Me: I can’t remember where I left them…
Mr. W: Are we 70?
Indeed. Anyway, watching University Challenge with Mr. Waffle is truly depressing because he squirrels away useless information so that he can answer all the questions. As half the fun is shouting out the right answer when you know it and he knows all the answers my enjoyment is curtailed. A compromise has emerged. When I know the answer, I shout “don’t answer it” and zoom in with the answer. Mr. Waffle then says right or wrong, before Jeremy Paxman does. Hey, don’t knock it, it works for us.
In an effort to add lustre to our social life we are actually going to leave the house this weekend to go to a party. Our regular babysitter is busy so I spent the evening trying to find a substitute. You will be relieved to hear that success attended my efforts. Details of the glittering social function will doubtless be posted in due course.
on 21 January 2004 at 17:21
I sent out some CVs. Yes, really, I’m as surprised as you are. I will be even more surprised if they yield results as, to be honest, the jobs are not really in my area of expertise, but it’s a start.
In other news. Poor Princess is ill again. She seems to have picked up a stomach bug at the creche. Alas. However, at the moment she is bashing things in the play pen and seems none the worse for wear. I fear that things may deteriorate as the day goes on. I’ll keep you posted. I’m sure that those of you related to her are interested in my daughter’s stomach bug, the rest of you can skip future bulletins…
Had a very quiet weekend. Saturday night we stayed in. My sister gave us two DVDs for Christmas, assuming that our social life has hit rock bottom and that we need all the indoor entertainment we can get. In this assumption, she is entirely correct. We watched “28 Days Later”.? I’m not sure that I would recommend this to the discerning viewer. Firstly, it’s kind of hard to follow (and, I’m sure, not just for the sleep deprived like myself). Secondly, I couldn’t see it properly cos I left my glasses down in the car and I was too lazy to go and get them (I appreciate that this might not be a negative point for the film especially, but I thought that I’d mention it anyway). Thirdly it’s a bit scary. Not very scary, but a bit. Mr. Waffle and I are easily scared so we watched a lot of the film with our heads stuffed down the back of the sofa and cushions over ears. This was kind of embarassing, because it’s not very scary really. It also made it difficult for us to follow. So even if the lead character went to Pres?(alma mater of the men in my family, not Mr. Waffle obviously as he’s from Dublin, do try to keep up), I am not convinced. Sorry sis.
We went to a party on Sunday afternoon. For some time now, I’ve noticed that I’m becoming my mother. This party made me realise that we are becoming our parents. The place was full of thirty and forty somethings with their offspring ranging in age from 10 years old to 6 weeks old. The adults stood around chatting while the children hared up and down the stairs. This is just the kind of thing my parents used to drag me to. Of course, I intend to stop taking the Princess before she turns 14 and tells me that she hates me and doesn’t ever want to come to a party with me again. Good intentions, hmm, but really, I know I’ll be saying “Come on now, you might enjoy it, there’ll be lots of nice boys there who you’ll enjoy meeting”. Worse, I’ll believe it.
on 14 January 2004 at 13:00
Would like to work part-time so that I could bond with the Princess a bit but am applying for full-time jobs on the basis that I can persuade them to let me go part-time once I start. Optimistic, I know, but let me hold on to my illusions.
on 15 January 2004 at 02:15
True with the application form – took me an age to fill out as well. Erm….about 6 months actually. No wonder I didn’t finish that CV….
Good luck with it anyway.
on 19 January 2004 at 14:19
on 20 January 2004 at 02:39
Optimism – a crazy idea…but it just might work! 😉
on 21 January 2004 at 00:08
on 21 January 2004 at 15:34
Last night we let our baby cry. Twice. It was tragic. We rescued her from her cot the other three times, so doubtless, we are giving mixed messages and she will never learn. I am steeling myself for more of this tonight otherwise we’ll still be getting up 6 times a night and patting her on the back when she turns 18. Or so says Gina. Gina is bitter about her own mother who never ensured that she got to bed on time. Gina has been a poor sleeper all her adult life as a result. So she says. Mr. Waffle points out that her choice of nursing as a profession may not have helped much either.
In other news. My displacement activity level has reached herculean proportions. Our Princess is going to the creche a couple of hours a day so that I can concentrate on looking for a job. We have been back in Belgium three days and not one CV has winged its way to a prospective employer. On Tuesday, I had no car and it was pouring rain. Our creche is spectacularly inconveniently located and is really too far to walk. Particularly in a downpour, so the Princess stayed home and no CVs were sent. On Wednesday, I decided to find milk for Mr. Waffle. He likes fresh, pasturised milk and it is hard to find in Belgium. I went to our regular supermarket first. Mr. Waffle had checked it out the previous day and said there was none. I was convinced he had looked in the wrong place and went back to check. I am becoming my mother. I know this. Mr. Waffle was correct. There was no milk. I went to another two supermarkets still looking for milk. I bought a small number of purchases in each (thus ensuring that I stood in three seperate queues) and, you will be delighted to hear, in the third supermarket I visited one of these purchases included milk. This took two and a half hours and what with the creche being so spectacularly inconveniently located, it was time to collect Princess Waffle and no CVs were sent. Today, was the second last day of an exhibition for which I bought tickets before Christmas. If I don’t go today, I will never go, I said to myself. I went today. It has been extended until the end of January. Were any CVs sent out today? Go on, have a guess.
So for tomorrow’s displacement activity, I have lined up a series of tasks. Most of them involve skiing preparation. When this skiing trip was mooted, I thought “fantastic, I will be so cool and trendy bringing my baby skiing, it’s going to be marvellous”. Now, I think, “are you mad woman?? Eight hours in a train with a ten month old?” And back. And furthermore, my friend (hmm what name will I give her? she has Welsh connections, perhaps Blodwyn but then on the other hand, I am anxious that she speak to me again, we will settle on Rosie, as she is English) Rosie whom I visited today expressed the view that it is probably too late to book creche places at the resort now. This is very alarming. Rosie is, perhaps, a smidgeon more organised than I am. Her son has just started school and she tells me he is to finish at 3.30 every day next week. Although there is no documentation to that effect. She worries her legal training has made her over meticulous, her first thought was “How can I believe it if it’s not on paper?”. Anyway, she has scared the bejaysus out of me and I am going to ring the resort tomorrow. That could take a couple of hours. If there is no creche place, there will be much unhappiness chez Waffle.
Am off to bed to stare at the ceiling and listen to piteous cries from my baby daughter.