Friday, August 29, 2008

Shuffling Off

This is the Captain and I seven years ago in NYC, where it all started.

It's only right that we return together (only for a holiday, mind you) to see what else the city has in store for us.

There will also be jaunts in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

I'll take as many pictures as possible and I'll post when I can. ;)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Support Your Local Scene

One evening while hanging at my favorite bar in the old town, I managed to stumble a few doors down to Šivčeva Hiša where our neighbor Petra Bole was having an exhibition of her handcrafted jewelry. I didn't have my camera that night but told her I'd come back and snap some images to post here.

Yesterday evening while at the pastry shop across from the gallery, I realized I had my camera so I popped over. It turned out Petra was there finishing up a children's workshop so I got to chat with her a bit, snap her great pieces, and see if there was anything still for sale.

Petra and some future crafty Radovljičanke

Here is an article from the local paper (in Slovenian) about her. I'll let you know when her website is back up.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Your friendly black by the Balkans is in pain today. As soon as the rain finally stopped and the sun pushed forward from the clouds, The Captain yanked me up and told me we were going to Pokljuka. Uf! I mean, he was right, it was a beautiful day, but while I appreciate fitness and the outdoors, I usually don't like to combine them the way The Cap does. Nonetheless, he insisted and so we went.

I was OK yesterday -- despite the fact that my hand-me-down hiking boots (which The Cap had "repaired") completely came apart (see pic below) -- but today, I am hobbling around like an orthopedics patient. Ouch!

Here are some pics I took and some taken by The Captain after my shoes reached such a state that I felt it unsafe to go up any longer.

Friday, August 22, 2008


I stumbled across what may be my new favorite candy.

Slowly but surely Slovenia is coming up aces with good quality and kitschy gifts to take with me on holiday.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Study: Black children 3 times more likely to drown (click to read the article)

I just came across this interesting article on this sad but true fact alongside the exciting news about black swimmer and new Olympic medal winner Cullen Jones. I am so proud that I finally bit the bullet and learn how to swim. I will have to donate money to Cullen's new initiatives to get the rest of our kids to hop in the pool. It's important and moreover swimming is fun!


This also reminds me to mention that in addition to swimming class and driving lessons*, I took a language class this summer. Yes, I did the Center for Slovene as A Second Language's One Week Intensive Language Course and I actually learned a lot of stuff and got to ask all my burning questions. I am still struggling with grammar but it is MUCH improved and now I have a one page xerox to look at and immediately identify my mistakes. I have structure. I also have the memories of my great little class. Aww, aren't we cute little students?

Thanks to tecaj friend Tatjana for the photos!

*I've pretty much stopped the driving lessons now and have instead became a forced chauffeur to The Captain and some of our friends. I've even driven alone a few times. Immersion is the key!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sweating bullets

Can some one tell me who circulated the idea that black people have some internal cooling system? At least ten people this summer have asked me whether I truly felt hot on hot days, and some people have come straight out and told me I have "no right" to feel hot because I am black. I never heard of this before now. What gives?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Welcome to The Most Boring Place On Earth

As some of you already know, I Feel Slovenia is the Slovenian government's marketing slogan (and yes that is the shamefully pathetic logo, above). I've not met a single person here who likes this slogan and in fact I've seen people (like the great Pengovsky) actually poke some good fun at it.

Today I had the bad fortune to read the document explaining the reasoning behind this piss-poor slogan and campaign (via Piran Cafe), and now I am more than annoyed, I am actually angry. Frankly, I am amazed at the amount of clearly creative work that is handed down to pencil-pushing non-creative boot-licking bureaucrats in this country -- awful cubicle-sitting sort of people who have nothing original to say and are always looking for the easiest way to fill a page without actually managing to make any actual points.

Here are some sample statements from that load of crock-ola:

  • The brand summarises the key elements of the country's present identity, expresses a vision of the country, and conveys a symbolic promise.

  • The brand tells a story of Slovenes who work passionately for what they care about.

  • One of distinct features of the Slovenian national character is their decided individualism; however, at the same time Slovenes have a deep sense of belonging to their society, country and, naturally, the family; this also extends to feelings attached to the local environment. At the same time, they are open to good things from elsewhere, good ideas, good people and, consequently, diversity, which is one of conditions for a secure future.

WHO writes this junk? Does any of it mean anything at all? I feel like the stooge who wrote this just went and ticked down a checklist of EU buzz words and pressed "SEND". Shameful!

Luckily, we still get a fair amount of foreign tourists here, despite the government's best efforts to confuse them and keep them away, but we'll see how long that can last. Dear Slovenia, please start hiring people who are QUALIFIED for the job at hand. If you can't find them here, other countries do exist. Just be prepared to pay a decent wage.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Things are OK here. Alas, I am too busy to go to Serbia this time, I've got projects to finish before The Cap and I shove off to the states for our holiday. :(

I just read this great post on Miss Expatria's fabulous blog and am reposting it here, not only because it pretty much hits the nail on the head, but also in light of all the people who've told me they would be moving out of America if McCain wins the election.

Update on Expat Life

“What’s it like?” is a question I often get from people about being an expat freelance writer living in the South of France. “Wanna trade lives?” is another one. I’m living many people’s dream; hell, I’m living my own (albeit one country west of where my dream waits patiently for my return). I wish everyone who truly longs for expat life could experience it; but, to be honest, it’s not for everyone.

Although I’ve lived an expat life for years, this is the first time I’ve been involved in any kind of expat community - not only here in Montpellier among the usual suspects, but in the greater online expat community as well. In learning about everyone’s reasons for following a path similar to mine, and in watching the comings and goings of their daily lives, I’ve often wondered what it is that we have in common.

I have yet to come up with an answer, but I do think there are some realities all expats face that put one’s dream into stark perspective - and that send some of us packing. I’d like to talk about some of them, and I’d like to hear from my expat peeps in the comments about some of theirs.

1. You have to earn a living. Whether it’s an American corporate environment overseas, working virtually from your home in a variety of professions or bartending at a beachside watering hole, a portion of your daily life will involve some kind of work. Every single job on the planet has its drawbacks, its bad days and its ability to make you dread getting out of bed in the morning, no matter where you live.

2. You have to run errands. Sure, your errands may include a trip to a stunningly beautiful farmer’s market where luscious produce is sold for a song. You might adore lengthy consultations with your local butcher about tonight’s dinner choices. But for the most part, errands are errands. All over the world dry cleaners lose clothes, people in front of you pay for a week’s groceries with spare change, other drivers suck, public transportation attracts screaming babies and store employees would rather talk on the phone than help you.

3. You’re a long way from home, part one.
While this may be a win/win for some, most people have decent relationships with family and friends they would take a bullet for. Sometimes, it can be hard to reconcile this closeness with whatever it is that makes an expat head off to unknown lands. It can be a rude awakening when, even in this connected world, you find yourself longing for a little quality face time with those you love.

4. You’re a long way from home, part two. Going back for a visit can be another rude awakening. Many people say they’re heading “home,” when home is where you live now. The people you love, and who love you, have no frame of reference for the new life you live; what you thought was going to be a heartfelt reunion of kindred souls can become a polite chat with strangers who don’t understand your new fascination with ice cubes, car sizes and noise levels. It’s called reverse culture shock, and it’s a very real part of expat life.

5. You’re living in a different culture. Honestly, I don’t think there are words to describe how fundamentally this affects the expat experience, but I’ll try.

I’ve never felt more like myself - like the person I was meant to be - than when I lived in Rome. Everything made sense to me, even the stupid, bad stuff, even on my worst days. I might have had the least amount of culture shock in the history of expatriation.

But there is always a point at which I hit a wall that divides me from the Italian culture I want with every fiber of my being to understand. My best friends - my Gay Mafia, whom I am convinced were sent to me directly from God - and I don’t share the same childhood memories, the same pop culture icons and references, the same moments in a nation’s history that define a generation.

Music is a good example. For Americans my age, John Cusack blasting In Your Eyes from a boom box into Ione Skye’s window made us all believe in true love. For Italians, Peter Gabriel is famous for Shock the Monkey.

I mean, really. What are you supposed to do with that kind of cultural divide?

We had Watergate; they had the Red Brigades. We have the Superbowl (even though Italians are better at Roman numerals!); they have San Remo (even though I have come to hate Pippo Baudo with the fury of a thousand suns). It’s being the only one in a Paris movie theater laughing at Fargo; it’s my Italian friends taking note of Marcello Mastroianni’s accent in a scene featuring other distractions.

In trying to explain the cultural divide, I am reminded of something Marco said to me once during a misunderstanding long since forgotten: “Christine, we lost the war.”

While the cultural divide surely attracts expats to foreign shores, it can wear a person down to have to explain themselves constantly; or, worse, to adjust one’s framework of references to such an extent that an undeniable part of who they are becomes secreted away.

Friday, August 8, 2008

More Maša

Don't mind me, I am just posting more Maša Kagao Knez, because this girl is THE BUSINESS.

She is doing free dance classes this weekend as part of Trnfest, so I think I am gonna go over there and get all fan girl on her. Join me if you're in town!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


We were recently graced with an all-to-brief visit by my new friend Priscilla who lives in Zurich and who I recently met in the Black Women in Europe community. On Friday, I trekked her around my version of Ljubljana and on Sunday, The Captain and I gave her a crash course in basic Gorenjska (this is the Alpine region, where I live). Here are some pics from Sunday.

Sunday Lunch at Wheelville Manor

Images from the Radovljica medieval fair

from a strange art exhibit here in Radovljica. animals made out of tree trunks

Around Gorenjska

some curious goats

this tree is over 600 years old

a young pup under the tree

A little Blejska grmada for the road

Come back soon! :)