Monday, December 27, 2010


I've been working from my kitchen table lately. Mostly because I have an amazing view. There aren't very many tall buildings in Zagreb and I live on the 8th floor so when you gaze westward you can see for miles, well except for the fog, which there is quite a lot of these days. Peering out the window or standing on the balcony you can see the disjointedness of the grid below. The red roofs slope in different directions. Now with the dusting of snow the red just barely peeps through. Smoke billows out of chimneys creating a picturesque scene, something I'd imagine from a Dickenson novel, or find on a post-card of some small European city. A few skyscrapers give texture to the skyline, and beyond that one can see the mountains almost always appearing as if cut out of construction paper. Something about the fog and the distance and the foreground having so many layers and textures transforms the mountains into a flat shape, a border to the city, a border to my view.

When the sun sets the skyline blushes and sometimes burns bright fluorescent hot pink, the neon pink that reminds me of late 90s TV shows. I didn't know it could be found in nature. The colors stretch out horizontally reminding me always that the sun isn't setting back in Kansas city and that it's rays are reaching around the globe in a peculiar scientific way I don't really understand, but only think about in the terms my friend ted once explained to me. According to ted, sunsets are actually more spectacular than sunrises because of the distance the rays of the sun are traveling and the manner in which they are directed or reflected or shattered through the density that is air. It's nice he told me this vague thing that I remember even more vaguely because now I think of him everyday when the sun sets. It's strange how we make these small but semi-permanent associations, the way we trap people to ideas and the triggers to those ideas.

In general, I am opposed to new years resolutions. I have never known anyone who has really stuck to them and therefore I choose not to kid myself into making them with any hopes I might follow through. I do however, believe in thinking critically about the things that have transgressed, the places we find ourselves faulting repeatedly, and the lessons that are hard to learn and even harder to integrate into our everyday lives.

For example, this year I learned a lot about what I am not so good at, which is a valuable thing to learn. I am not good at saying no. I often over-book myself because I like people and I like thinking I can do things for people because it makes me feel valuable. (And because I always think, "never turn down an opportunity!) Whether this is problematic is irrelevant to the problem I discovered I have: Saying I will do something or committing to a task when I don't, in reality, have the time or skills to complete such a task. I'm working on this. Moderation, as always, is key.

Second. I am bad at responding to emails in a timely manner. I get on my computer. Read the email. Think I should spend less time on the computer. Leave the computer. Come back an hour later. Think about how I didn't accomplish anything in the last hour. Check my email. Think about responding. Get anxious. Think I should think harder about a nice response. Go do something. Return the next day. More emails. Think about how I didn't formulate a decent response yet...oh no. It’s all of a sudden two weeks later and I think back, did I ever respond to that email!?

In 2011 I hope to:

Wake up a little earlier on average. Or come to terms with being someone who sleeps in late.

Continue to learn Croatian.

Gain some insight into larger life goals: PhD? Law School? Job? Professional offshore fisherwomen? The last one is a joke.

Take better care of my body.

Refuse to be paralyzed by the unknown.

be bold.

Keep track of money like a real adult should.


Sretan Božič! Merry Christmas!

I'm in my empty apartment, monday morning, with the sunshine pouring in and the sound of left over fireworks occasionally being shot off outside. Christmas has come and gone, and I must say, as much as I missed my family and my friends I'm quite proud of the croatian christmas we managed to pull off far from home, christmas stockings, or...well not much else. To be honest, Croatian christmas isn't all that different from my own christmas. A few traditions stand out:

1. Decorating the christmas tree. Croatians buy their christmas trees a few days before christmas. On christmas eve they decorate their trees. I suppose this eliminates the weeks of nervously watching the tree for accidental fires or yelling at the cat for knocking ornaments off the bottom branches.

2. Wheat grass. Maybe a week, maybe two, before christmas Croatians plant wheat grass in a small pot. The goal is a cute little pot of baby fresh grass to put under the tree. If you aren't so on top of things you can purchase these pots of baby wheat grass at any Croatian markets right before christmas... At our christmas we had an american AND croatian tradition: Wheat Grass and Mistletoe thanks to Bella and Sandra :)

You can see the christmas grass below, on the left side of the counter next to the candles, which are on a bed mistletoe...

Our christmas tree, thanks mom! And presents for white elephant gift exchange...

Caitlin wrapping Sarma the day before Christmas Eve under the guidence of Sandra...

My finished Apple Pie... Aunt Sandra's Pie Crust reciepe and Mimi's Apple Crumb Pie recipe.

The Sarma Mix: Ground beef, fresh parsley, onion, garlic, rice, and one egg. Mix with hands, roll into pickled cabbage sleeping bags (like egg rolls) and cook like a stew in a big pot with a bed of sour kraut in the bottom. after cooking for two hours, add paprika and tomatoes...

Sretan Božič sign! Playing Banana Grams after food, presents, and a few rounds of other party games...

The christmas trees for sale near my apartment...

making snowflake decorations...

I wish I was there with family and friends, but making a home away from home isn't an act of replacing, it is simply an attempt to, as katie would say, make the unknown familiar.

Love and Merry Christmas