Friday, December 29, 2006

An Appeal to the Universe

Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, do not introduce me to another TV show. Not to Firefly, or Prison Break, or The Apprentice, or The Amazing Race, or Queer as Folk, or Studio 60, or to Full House, or The West Wing, or to Quintuplets. I just finished watching the 1st season of Desperate Housewives, and while the season finale sucked enough to not make me want to watch the 2nd season, I'm beginning to review how many hours I spent lovingly gazing at the TV screen as this near-soap opera warmly lit up my beaming face, and I don't find the review to be an entirely comfortable one.

I remember well my first experience of getting attached to a TV series. During, I think, winter quarter of 2005, Julie Yerganian stuck the first disk of Roswell into our DVD player attached to our 3" in diamater TV pillbox and proceeded to let the magic of alien teenager trouble envelop Mary Kate and me. It was fascinating! There was that angsty dude, and the ditzy girl, and although I couldn't for the life of me remember the names of the characters while I was watching the show, that did not stop me from standing on my feet and hollering at the TV screen when necessary.


and so on and so forth.

Every weekend the supernatural glow of the television screen would fill our room as Mary Kate, Julie, and I devotedly hung on to every word the angsty alien teenagers had to say. Sure, in the back of my mind, there was a nagging thought telling me that I WAS watching a TV show where one of the guys couldn't act any emotion, another girl always had a pained look on her face, one of the aliens ALWAYS was a bitch, and another tortured alien on the show couldn't be anything but...tortured. Nevertheless, I put these reasonable complaints aside as I watched all 3 seasons of the show. My devotion was otherworldly and all-consuming, to the point that when no one was in the room I'd read the summary of all the episodes on the back of the DVD box so I could know what would happen before I watched it.

After that, I had to take a year hiatus from TV shows in order to process all the TV goodness I had been exposed to. However, in June 2006 I was introduced to LOST. More like, Mary Kate was watching one episode, I was finished with finals, I didn't want to start packing, so I stole all the DVDs one day from her and watched the entire season in 2 days. 2 days. I had no life. Whoever bought the season and let room 633 borrow it committed a serious error, since I became a ravenous, TV series watching machine. The other serious error they committed was leaving before I could borrow the 2nd season from her.

You know who you are. Watch your back. I don't let go of grudges easily.

LOST, for me, had the perfect combination of supernatural + danger + bad dialogue + mystery to keep me watching. Another added plus was that I recognized the pregnant girl who was also on Roswell. Consequently, I kept on referring to her by her Roswell name instead of her LOST name, thereby cementing my suspicion that daughters really do grow up to be like their mothers, since my mom persists in calling our local Macy's "May Company," the store it used to be 10 years ago.

And now Stacy started me on Desperate Housewives. The past week or so, I've walked around inserting Desperate Housewives speeches and voices into every day activities. Which is perfect, since I've hardly left the house, but making the mystery enter my mundane life proves to be more of a challege, but still surmountable. Like

(in spoiled housewife's voice) I really think someone stole the napkin holder
(in screwed up but outwardly perfect housewife's voice) Don't be ridiculous
(in awkward yet adorable housewife's voice) No, let's listen to spoiled housewife. It's not on the table, so it's got to be SOMEWHERE.
(in the used to be business woman housewife) You're right, akward yet adorable housewife. Let's try to figure this out.

I don't think I'm going to continue watching this show, but I'm worried. What if there's a TV show out there that can just as swiftly and lethally deliver the excitement and brain degeneration I crave? What if I find it? What if I unwittingly become the pawn of major TV channel corporations? What if I give up school to watch TV? What if all I'm going to do in life is watch TV?

I'm leaving CA on December 31st. In Chicago, I plan on making a drastic lifestyle change, which involves no TV shows. Except on weekends. And maybe The Office. And ones I can watch for free on the internet.

That's all!

UPDATE: Stacy just went and got me the second season of Desperate Housewives for my birthday because she is the best friend a girl could have. That up there about not watching the second season was a total front. Stop being so nice to me people!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Mistletoe and Holly

The couple of days before Christmas in the Gyorfi household hit hard and ruthlessly every year. They make finals week in college seem like a walk in the park, and organizing the Inauguration party like a ride on a merry-go-round. The extreme amounts of pressure usually come from everything having to be done just the way envisioned by someone in the household (my mom or my sister), but neither one of them being home long enough or in reasonable hours to explain it to someone (my mom, sister, or me). I've got no grand visions for Christmas, generally. As long as there's an ornament hanging on some sort of vegetation, with bundles of light around in various places, I'm quite content, but not everyone has adopted my forward way of thinking.

So you might be asking why on earth am I sitting down, taking time to write an entry. The answer is that by this point, I don't value my life too highly, since I still have to make it through the day, and blog entry or no, that is not going to happen.

The first threats on my life came yesterday when I developed 200 pictures at Walmart in a little instant kiosk. You saw that correctly. 200. The only reason I didn't do the projected 230 all at once was because the program wouldn't let me.

Walmart, as anyone who lives in a suburb could say, is both a curse and a blessing. Good, because there aren't many places on earth where all in one go you can develop pictures, buy dog food, get socks, and then pick up some cereal on the way out, bad, because well, that's not necessarily the lifestyle I would like to adopt. I would not like to turn into one of those moms pushing a cart full of kids around and randomly grabbing DVDs from the $5.50 bin before going to by fake flowers to make that one lovely arrangement in the living room, and then going to buy a bike for Tommy. Noo, Walmart is, for the time being, a godsend when I need to get pictures and buy cottonballs, but I hope this convenience will only be temporary.

On a usual day, Walmart is quite busy. On December 23rd, it was pretty much a madhouse. Grown med sobbing in the toy department and old women wailing among the dry foods. It was only the kids who were treating the entire store like a state fair, and hence the adults' utter breakdown into a heaving mess. I waited in line for the kiosk for about half an hour before it was my turn. By that time, a sizable line had formed behind the customers, and I could already sense dark clouds gathering on the horizons.

I selected the 200 pictures I needed to print, and waited. The mom behind me asked if I needed to enlarge my order, since she saw that 30 of my pictures remained unprinted, and I told her no, I think I had enough to last for a while.

And then we waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

I didn't know where in the order my printing was, since even though I put my pictures in sequential order onto the memory card in the computer, they were opened up out of order in the Kodak kiosk. I sort of shifted around awkwardly on my two feet for the first 20 minutes, hoping I was invisible enough to convince the most discerning of soccer moms, while I frantically played some BubbleSmile on my phone. After that I sort of stopped shifting and then tried to look like the pictures didn't belong to me, as if I were doing a favor for some family member. Like, "I don't know WHO those people are on this picture!" And then after that, I figured I couldn't get away with that for long, and my sentiments morphed into those of abject terror as I saw the growing line of angry, irritated, Christmas-full faces beaten down into a spiritless pulp with Christmas carols and Santaland lines. These women were not joking, didn't find the situation funny, and all I could do was giggle helplessly and pray "I hope they're sending their kids to get those knives for the Christmas ham."

So after a very long, torturous 45 minutes, I was finally finished. That's when the kiosk stopped working. I decided to cut my losses, print the last 30 pictures at a different time, and high-tail it out of there.

Then my sister and I had to go buy a Christmas tree.

Christmas tree shopping is, obviously, not done in a traditional manner in my house. First of all, it's because nowadays, my mom is rarely home and doesn't have time for things like trees, or Christmas, for that matter. She is the type of woman who will stand in front of Santa Clause and say "Sorry, buddy, Christmas is coming on the 28th this year," and Santa would listen to a woman like my mother, but it's the Christmas tree sellers who screw up the grand plan. They open their Christmas tree lots the day after Thanksgiving, and nothing can make them keep the lots open after the 24th of December.

My mom is really particular about her trees. It can't be the really spiky kinds, because that's just annoying to decorate, and while it has to be dense, it also has to have appropriate amounts of spaces to hang long ornaments. It can't be too short because everyone knows you measure Christmas spirit by the height of the tree, and it can't bee too tall, because then it looks like you're trying to hard. Each branch has to leave the trunk at a 90 degree angle, with every branch having a minimum of 4 little branchings, this between a 45-30 degree angle from the main branch. The tree color has to match approximately the #006400 color swatch, and be about 63% water. All in all, it has to be the perfect tree, which is hard to find December 23rd.

But my mom remembers the one glorious year when we found THE tree, the tree that will stand about all the rest, because it embodied all these qualifications, and more! (the Nativitiy scene was basically nestled in its branches and came built-in with presents), and it was a mere $13, because they were trying desperately to get rid of their trees. They basically threw the tree at us upon entering the lot. My mom forgets that we had to drive to Van Nuys to get this tree, basically bribe the manager, and there were hardly any lots still open, but she still holds this Christmas up as THE Chrsitmas we have to aspire to again.

Since then, we decided to buy Christmas trees late. You get a bargain, and of course you can find a good-looking tree, right?


The Christmas trees in this lot looked like a hurricanhad gently uprooted them from their Northern California native forests and had just as gently slammed them down into the lot. The selection was sparse.

We were about to get the, literally, one sided Christmas tree, a hybrid between a slide and a douglas fir tree, when there we saw it, a shining cripple among other miserable trees. The tree that could, with a little bit of tender love and care, look like it had once been a conifer instead of a scarecrow. It also happened to have a "Sold, hold until 6" sign on it.

Since it was 5:45 PM, my sister and I decided to wait until 6 PM. At 6:03 PM, we took the tree and with a "Merry Christmas," sailed out of the lot. I felt guilty for about 5 seconds, because that one young girl with the starry eyes will now never know the joy of procrastinating Christmas tree shopping, but Christmas would be a bad season if everyone started to adopt our tradition.

So the message of this post is: Santa is not real.

And Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Blood Brothers

I didn't advertise this time around that I was going to give blood today. I guess it's because I've grown so unbearably mature and discreet that I don't have to go around caroling for three days in advance making sure that everyone knows that I am willingly! obligingly! graciously! giving of myself to save someone's life, and most likely going to lose mine in the process. Because if I do anything well, it's exaggerating the mundane. An ordinary cold turns into a full-scale case of pneumonia, and a small scratch becomes a gangrenous, gaping gash threatening the loss of a limb and a deadly infection. I give myself permission to exaggerate because it's so rare that I have anything wrong with me, I have to make up for lost complaining time. Those people who are always sick are always complaining, and well, I'm never sick, so I have a lot of ground to cover in order to be equal.

Nevertheless, who is now typing to you is a mere ghost of her former self, for I have donated blood today, and in my weakened condition, all I can do is tell you about how I nearly lost my life trying to save another.

I was called by the Red Cross last week to see if I could donate blood. After hemming and hawing for about 10 seconds, I realized I didn't really have a legitimate reason not to give blood, and so I found myself being signed up for the 5:15 PM slot on Wednesday the 20th.

In high school, I donated blood a couple of times. The week before donating, I had to mentally prepare myself for being pricked with two needles because my fear of shots is something deeply unreasonable and ingrained. I am ok with cutting or bruising myself, but being pricked by a needle makes a 3rd degree burn pale in comparison. One of my earliest memories is going to the doctor and having to have 4 technicians hold me down for one measly shot, and after that I vowed to never let myself be mutilated like that again. I deigned to let myself be violated a few more times before reaching 7th grade, and then I boycotted doctors until college. Which means the first week of college I was forced to go into the health center where the nurse loaded a machine gun with injections and wildly shot them at me, hoping some of them would stick as I ran shrieking around the room.

So I arrived to my appointment 15 minutes early, all jittery about my impending doom. I walked into the room where Miss Congeniality was playing on TV and a few senior citizens were slowly lowering themselves onto the operating tables, ready to give the last pint of blood in their withered bodies while wheezing out their final will and testament to a waiting lawyer, adding "If I can't help myself, at least I can help someone else!"

All those embarassing questions, ones mortifying enough to make a good Catholic girl blush to the bottom of her shoes, in the vein of "Have you been having a ton of sex with all those people who have signs reading 'I am HIV positive!' hung around their necks?" are now in a computer that one can answer in the privacy of her own cubicle. Which means that I was more tempted than ever to answer no to all of the questions, and the later ask "So what IS anal sex?"

I was ushered out onto the floor to start giving blood. My nurse drew a huge black box on the inside of my elbow, as if to say "This is the general aread of your vein. I will now close my eyes and blindly poke in that black box, hoping I will hit something eventually." Luckily, she knew what she was doing, but my nervous giggling and cracking jokes about how the iodine rub was tickling me did not have the desired effect of administering the needle to herself and letting me watch the movie in peace. I was jabbed with a needle and left to bleed for the next half hour. It turns out I have the slowest moving blood on the face of the earth, despite drinking enormous amounts of water. Two senior citizens were in and out of their chairs by the time I had finished giving my one measly, ahem, gargantuan pint of blood. Those elderly people might be old, but their blood runs fast.

I took so long in giving the blood that I evidently aroused the concern of a couple of people around me. When done, I was made to lie on the bed for 15 minutes before getting up to sit at the table for another 15 minutes. I have no idea what I looked like, but I guess I looked pitiful enough for everyone to call me "honey," and for one of the nurses to run and grab about 15 water bottles when I asked for one. I felt fine, but I guess since losing my tan from the summer, it's pretty easy for me to look white.

That's that. My blood is on its way to save some convict or drunk driver or serial killer who got in a car accident.

I'm exhausted from this physical exertion. It's time to go to sleep.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I've done a TON since I've come back to the States.

Let's see.

Yesterday, I officially finished unpacking. This means that I dumped everything from my suitcases onto the ground and stood the suitcases up vertically next to the piles, giving the suitcases an encouraging pat on their flat sides and telling them to keep up the good work of keeping me theoretically homeless for a while. A large portion of my day is also filled with me rediscovering the kitchen. My hiatus from the heart and hearth of a home as left a negative impression, as I am now reduced to whispering sweet nothings into the handles of pots and gently caressing silverware before I commence making the worst foods ever. I just get so worked up over having more than the 2 ingredients I had in Rome (salt and basil) that I jump the horse and end up making multiple personality disordered foods. Like the tomato basil pasta with olive sauce and mango chicken. Or the zucchini I made upon which I dumped 3/4 the contents a jar of spices accidentally, because I evidently lost the delicate touch needed to shake dry ingredients onto foods.

So somehow in my busy day, I've managed to squeeze in the scheduled outing here and there into the real world, where it fast becomes apparent that I've got a ways to go if I want to integrate myself into any sort of society once again without being a tourist.

Things Adrianne finds weird being back:
1. Everyone is so damn friendly! I was walking around the potatoes in the produce department when all the way from the apples I heard a bellowed "HELLO! HOW ARE YOU DOING TODAY?" I looked around super confused. Do onions talk in the States, or is it really that smiling man all the way across the produce section talking to me? Why is he talking to me? Why is he smiling? What is his problem? Is he ill? Does he mean to ask ME how I am doing, or did he mean the tomatoes? What am I supposed to say in return? Oh GOD, should I say something? He must want money. That's it, he wants money. They're all after your money, they're all the same. I bet he works for commission. He probably wants to sell me the Fuji apples and not the Golden Delight apples. DAMN, I made eye contact, LOOK AWAY, Adrianne, pretend you don't speak the language.

2. The selection in stores is immense. I went into the grocery store where the aisles were as wide as the streets in Rome and as long as a small city, and I felt immediately lost. What cereal was I supposed to select? Did I always need all these cereals to be happy? I'm guessing it's an odd phenomenon for Europeans coming over here, and Americans returning. Europeans might think "How could I have been happy with only 4 different types of cereals?" and returning citizens might wonder "Why did I need 45 different cereals to be happy before?" The supermarket stretches on for as far as the eye can see, as does the mall.

3. This has nothing to do with adjustment, but for some reason Christmas seems...worn out...tired, this year. It's like Santa was getting ready for Valentine's day this time, and was all "OOPS, I think I forgot about some holiday between Thanskgiving and Valentine's Day!" and then quickly threw something together. This might be because Christmas appeared in Walmart before the 50% off labels on Halloween candies had the chance to materialize before the fake Christmas trees were being dragged out onto the store floor, but it could just be that Christmas is getting old over here.

I was lazing about in the magazine section of Barnes and Noble, reading about how Lindsay Lohan doesn't actually do drugs and about Brittany Spears' recent partying binge. Entirely absorbed in news of international importance, I didn't notice a lady approach me from the side.

"Excuse me," she said "are you from around here?"

I was flattered. I was about to tell her "Oh GOD, am I not UNBEARABLY European? Please, no photos. I am just like you, but with different shoes and a way cooler attitude."

Instead, I said "Yes."

She was looking for some part-time employees for a company she has here in the area. So instead of wanting my money, I guess Americans want my time.

I have a feeling that in no time at all, I'll be back in the same rut, smiling broadly at every stranger who crosses my path, then putting my feet up on a table and loudly enquiring "WHERE'S MY BEER?"

Friday, December 15, 2006

A regurgitation

In the end, Diana and I decided we’d visit Athens, Istanbul, and Amsterdam.

I’ll make it easy and divide everything into the correct sequence, instead of carrying on the usual conversations I make soaring around like a Mexican jumping bean.

Adrianne’s Big, Fat Greek Adventure

We arrived in Athens the afternoon of December 2nd, ecstatic with the change of air, scenery, and olives. On the way over to the city, we ran into a young gentleman. Walking around that evening around the acropolis, we ran into the same young gentleman. Strolling around the area under the acropolis, we ran into the same young gentleman, and since three’s a charm, we got a dinner and Amsterdam information out of him, since Martin was from Amsterdam.

Basically, Athens went by in a whirl of Acropolis, island, and ruins.

What was really interesting was the train ride over to

Adrianne’s Turkish Delight

leaving at 11 PM on the 4th, and arriving at 9:40 PM in Istanbul on the 5th. 22 hours of train riding. Since we all know how fond I am of riding trains for a long period of time, you can only imagine the internal conversations I was having with myself.

After switching train at 7:15 AM on the 5th at Thessaloniki, Diana and I were expecting smooth training until we’d arrive in Pythion, where bright-eyed, starry tourists are usually transferred into Turkey smuggling whatever goods the conductor happens to ask them to take.

However, at some point after Alexandropoulos everyone was asked to leave the train to board a bus. An hour later, Diana and I were left standing in the middle of a dirt road of, ostensibly, a town where the was barn of a building functioning as the train station, watching the bus driving off in a dust cloud into the distance. We sat in a large room with chairs for two hours with a mangy, adorable dog full of fleas for company before we boarded a one car train headed, we were assured by an intimidating man with a large semi gun, for Istanbul. And when someone is holding a huge gun, you don’t really ask for details, such as “Will they be serving a warm quiche to us?” or “Does the toilet flush automatically?” so I just left it at that.

(It turns out the toilet was the most smelliest place conceivably to man or a large manure incubus)

Not many people were on the train. A couple of cabins over was an Australian couple who is traveling for a year around the world, basically.

And then there was the crazy conductor, Haydar.

A couple of hours into our trip, probably when the conductor saw me tearing out the seat cushions, my hair, and gnawing on Diana’s appendages because the cursed train was stopping every 5 minutes for half an hour, Haydar came in to talk to us. Where are we from, how are we doing, where are we traveling, etc. By the second time he evidently decided he knew us well enough to pull me onto his knee, pass around cigarettes, and very vigorously declare his deep, exclusive, undying love for me. I could hardly blame his attraction, since I did have bags under my eyes that put black garbage bags to shame and I stunk to high-heaven.

Before we left the train, Haydar paid us a few more visits, giving us a map of Istanbul, his phone number, and several kisses on whatever exposed inch of skin he could find. We had a tearful, rather vocal farewell, and with that went into the big unknown of Istanbul.

The first full day there, we were lucky, since another Australian at our hostel accompanied us around the various mosques and palaces we visited. The next day, however, Diana and I had the pleasure of discovering just how challenging it is to be two girls in Istanbul.

Living in Rome, part of the bargain was that you would be getting some attention from unexpected people, mostly unexpected gentlemen. Or not so gentle. In Istanbul, these gentlemen were different because most of them were selling things. When a traditional approach didn’t work, they’d have to resort to comedy. Or clever sayings. So, all those cheesy hooks that were popular jokes in ummmm, 8th grade or so, were actually being used as business propositions, or just to get attention. These are a few of the things Diana and I heard when we were busy ignoring these people:

Lady, you broke something back here. My heart.
Let me help you waste your money!
Let my help you buy things you don’t need!
(After Diana refused a rug) I will buy you 2 kg. of earrings!
(Next time we walked past him) I will buy you 5 kg of earrings!
Let me see your eyes! I am looking for a good wife!

There were many, many, many more. While not threatening, I got irritated enough. Especially in the Grand Bazaar, where not only did you get this, but also several cups of tea into the bargain, so you were not only being bombarded with seemingly lamer and lamer advertisements, but you’re bladder was also ready to explode.

We were set to leave Istanbul on Friday, December 8th at 8 PM for Amsterdam. We spent the day walking around leisurely, taking our time, because the airport was pretty close by. At around 6 PM, when getting ready to leave, Diana and I decided to check if there was only one airport in Istanbul. As luck would have it, there are two, and the other one is considerably further away, on the Asia side, and of course we were flying out of there. However, with a taxi, we still had a chance to catch our flight.
There is one bridge linking the European Istanbul to the Asian Istanbul. Why only ONE bridge links these two mighty continents together in such a big city boggles my mind, but I’m guessing such trivial things as finances gets in the way of development. It’s like the Golden Gate Bridge, but white, and there is a constant stream of people on it at all times. And on either side of Istanbul, it seems as if every single car is always driving in its direction. It is like an intercontinental whore everyone wants to get on top of. Terrible simile.

That night it wasn’t much different. After we crossed, though, I thought we could make up time by taking advantage of the 3 lane freeway empty as far as the eye could see, except for the one semi truck in the middle lane. Our old taxi driver was kind enough to get in the lane behind this semi and stubbornly refuse to budge from behind it. I realized after he started braking at every sign on the bridges over us that he hadn’t the foggiest idea where the airport was. While I sat in the back of the car muttering, my forehead slammed against the passenger window because it was obviously all over, Diana was frantically urging him on. At one point he even reversed on the freeway to ask for directions from two men who happened to be sitting there. One might ask why there were two men sitting on the side of the freeway, but Diana and I were more concerned about why this driver was reversing when it was really damn obvious we needed to go forwards.

After missing our flight and spending on miserable night at the airport, we left in the morning for

Adrianne’s Amsterdanian Adventure (without L. Juan)

Amsterdam was lovely. It was also very, very full, and we had a hard time finding a place to stay. It’s basically a city of museums, canals, and the best pastries that were probably sent from heaven that God made when he was very, very pleased with his choir of angles. While absolutely charming, Amsterdam is also a city you want to go with when with a large group of people in order to have fun as possible. I had a great time with Diana, though, and on December 11th, we said goodbye as she headed over to Paris, and I went to spend the night in Brussels. But you already know that leg of the journey.

So that’s what I was up to. I reiterate: even though I only traveled for 10 days or so, it felt a LOT longer. We met a Swiss couple who traveled for 17 months. That would seem like a lifetime to me. And knowing me, if I’d ever embark on a journey like that, I would have had to have some sort of a body part amputated before the end of the third month.

Frank Sinatra said it best. It’s very nice to go travelin’ but it’s oh so nice to come home.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I am still in one piece

So I'm leaving Amsterdam in a couple of hours to spend the night at the Brussels airport (oh GOD), then from there to fly to Rome, spend another night there, and finally head back to California.

The past week...and a half? has seemed like 8 years long. There are stories to tell. OHHHHH are there stories to tell. But those shall have to wait until I have diligently composed them on word while sitting bored out of my mind at the airport or on the airplane, for I have finished most all my reading material.

So as a parting note, there are indeed no less thean 2 airports in Istanbul, and I'll see you soon!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Where in the world is Adrianna Gyorfi?

Diana and I have a one way ticket to Athens, where we plan on staying for a few days. After that, you're guess is as good as mine where I will end up. Maybe South America, maybe Antarctica, maybe Africa.

In any case, sleep with one eye open and have a bottle of wine to break open because, who knows, I might just end up on your doorstep.

I go back to the States on the 13th. Starting the 14th, I will be at your disposal, and hopefully your car will be at mine.

Happy December!