The Scamp in Belgium Day 2

I’m not going to lie….I decided on day 2 that the conference was a waste of my time. I’m officially too old for an early researcher designation, and I struggled to find presentations that I wanted to listen to. I met a fantastic woman from Melbourne who actually grew up in California. She had developed an Aussie accent to help her students! It gives me hope for developing an accent living here (I mean, that probably won’t happen, but a girl can dream). She is similar to me in snark and research beliefs, so it was nice to have a friend among the aliens.

I ditched the conference at lunch though to enjoy the sunshine and get a little culture. My first stop was the main square to see the Brabo fountain. Unfortunately, most of the buildings are under construction so I could not see much.

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The statue gets its name from the legend of the city. According to Wikipedia:

The reason is the legend of the name of the city, in which it is said that the giant Druon Antigoon cut off a hand to all the ship captains who moored in the area and refused to pay toll, then throwing it to the Scheldt. The captain of the Roman army Brabo cut off the giant’s hand imitating what he had done. The fountain reflects the moment when the Brabo throws the giant’s hand into the river. According to this legend, the etymology of the name of the city Antwerp is a composition of the Dutch words “(h)ant” (hand) and “werpen” (launch).

However, John Lothrop Motley argues, and so do a lot of Dutch etymologists and historians, that Antwerp’s name derives from “anda” (at) and “werpum”(wharf)to give an ‘t werf (on the wharf, in the same meaning as the current English wharf). Aan ‘t werp (at the warp) is also possible. This “warp” (thrown ground) is a man-made hill or a river deposit, high enough to remain dry at high tide, whereupon a construction could be built that would remain dry. Another word for werp is pol (dyke) hence polders (the dry land behind a dyke, that was no longer flooded by the tide).

Brabo’s hand will become important for me later in the day.

I decided to keep walking to the MAS. It is on the port and used to be a storage depot in the 16th century.

Each floor of the building held a different exhibit. My favourite was the one dedicated to celebrations. It was bright, it was weird, it was cheerful. The last room had an amazing electric band. It was colourful, the music was a cheery circus/jazz music. There weren’t a lot of people in the museum, so I had the chance to wander at my leisure, which I love.

I’d walked myself to blisters along the harbour, and on the way back to the hotel, I decided to stop by Brabo’s Hand Tattoo (https://www.facebook.com/braboshandtattooshop/) to see if they could help me out with a souvenir to mark my time in Belguim. When I first walked into the shop, I was less than impressed. No one acknowledged me and give that it was 30 degrees outside, and about 40 degrees in the shop, I did not see myself lasting long. When the shop assistant finally did acknowledge me and I asked about walk-ins, he mentioned that he had an artist with an opening. The guy was fantastic. I told him I wanted a brightly coloured cactus and within 15 min he had something simple drawn up for me. He also worked really quickly, which I appreciate.

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The cactus sums up my personality. Prickly, but still pretty, and if you can get past the needles, there is a soft nice heart….not to mention I thrive in warm weather and I’m fairly low maintenance.

The music in the studio was amazing, but there was one song that my artist played a few times while I was there that really got stuck in my head. It is hauntingly beautiful, and unfortunately shortly after the video was made the rapper was shot and killed.

I walked home humming this song and thinking about travelling, my struggle with mental health and my horrible sense of direction. I got myself turned around on the walk back and Google maps failed me to the point where I was texting the wombmate practically in tears about being lost. I was so happy to find the hotel by accident.

The work and the motivation to work was still almost nonexistent. Every time I sit down with my laptop and the chapter, I hear my supervisor in my head telling me I am doing it wrong and that I am just going to have to redo what I am writing. It is hard.

I quickly made up my mind that I was going to ditch the third day of the conference to try and get some writing done because none of the papers seemed interesting or worthwhile. There was only one thing that was going to save day three: WAFFLES.

 

The Scamp and a Visit from Estonia

I have been really lazy the last few weeks. I survived summer school and the qualifying exam, and settled in for a couple weeks of doing nothing that related to education.

To start my celebrations, one of my best friends from Scotland came to visit me. She is currently living and working in Estonia, but was in the US visiting her mom, and I was able to get a few days with her. I hadn’t physically seen her in over a year, but picking her up at the airport was like no time had passed at all. It was a good chance to catch up, plan my trip to visit her in November, and be around someone who reminds me of Scotland.

I asked her what she wanted to do before she got here, but she just kept telling me it was up to me. I got to be a tourist for a few days, which worked out well for me because it reminded me that being here is not so bad.

We started the visit with a trip to LA to see some van Gogh and Kandinsky. I love art, and she wanted to be in LA, so it worked out well. After we hung out with some art, we went to the Union Square Market to try the best iced lattte in the world. It was good, but the authentic Mexican food was better.

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van Gogh at his finist

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I love PopArt

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I got up close and personal with a Warhol. I can die happy.

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This Kandinsky would look amazing on my wall

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Vegan strawberry muffin of awesomeness and a fizzy ginger hopps tea.

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The next day we hit the Huntington Beach to soak up some sun and eat some more tasty Mexican food. We met a nice group of baseball players from Oklahoma, and had avoided sunburns.

 

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I got Sus to kiss Duke. He seemed to enjoy it.

The last day of our visit was spent at Disneyland. She hadn’t been since she was 8, and it was a nice chance for her to get to meet my sister. While we were waiting for the tram, we met a nice father/son combo from Glasgow, and I got 15 minutes of wonderful accents.

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The visit was way too quick, but it will hold me over until I get to Europe in November. I had so much fun with her, and was so glad that my first bit of time off in two years was spent being a tourist with her.