Sunday, November 29, 2009


Today is officially the last day of November 2009, which means one thing... Word count verification day.

Will I be verifying my word count, you may be wondering? Will I be getting my congratulations for writing 50K in one month?

Uh. No. I hit 16,000 words and then stopped. Well, not completely true. I didn't just stop. Yesterday I wrote about 6 words... but then I deleted about 3 of those. None of my NaNo buddies hit their words either - I think I may have fallen in with the wrong crowd.

Haha, just kidding. But seriously, last year's NaNoWIN went a little better for me than this year's fail, but if you're wondering if I feel like a failure, the answer is NOPE! I really love my story (pssssst! If you are wondering what I'm writing, its a modern YA urban fantasy retelling of Sleeping Beauty) and can't wait to work on it in the evenings when the girls are in bed. But one thing to note, my book does not want to be rushed. Meaning, sitting down and churning out 50K worth of crap (the point of NaNo) is not my book's idea of a good time.

With that said, I still think NaNoWriMo is an awesome thing to participate in. Believe me, I'll try again next year, because what it does, is gets me sitting in my seat, typing when I would ordinarily be watching a Gossip Girl marathon on TV and binge-eating on pumpkin pie. And not only that, but it keeps me writing, even when I think my writing sucks (like just about most of the time) because hitting the word count is more important during the month of November, than writing quality material.

To all the NaNoWINers out there, a heartfelt congratulations! Hitting that word count is hard, and you deserve a HURRAH! And to all the NaNoFAILures out there... meh, join the club. And hopefully I'll see you again next year!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

With Love, From the Elves

An elf has been running rampant in my shop, dropping $4 prints all over - a savings of between $4 and $17 on assorted prints!

RUN now and grab yourself a holiday gift, to give to someone who loves cheerful, colorful illustrations, or for yourself (hey, at that price, its a-okay to indulge!)

Its first come, first serve, so grab one while you can!

Come on by Elegant Snobbery and I hope this makes your holiday shopping a little more fun this year! Enjoy!


Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Flashback: Baby Holding

I came across this picture and it just completely cracked me up. At the time, I wasn't laughing. I was probably saying something like, "Annelie, leggo my leg. Seriously, stop. Leggo my leg. Stop crying, I'm not picking you up. Go play. I beg you please, baby go play! And Let. Go. Of. My. Leg."

Like pretty much any mom, for the first 2 years after having my baby, I was basically a 2 headed person: 1 large grown head, 1 small baby head, parasitic baby body attached at my hip. See that little whiny face? She was just over a year old and beyond clingy. She's still clingy now (almost 3), but as a baby... wow. If I wasn't holding her, it was as if her entire world would collapse and she didn't know how to handle life.

Did I often dream about leaving her outside for the wolves to claim?

Um, no. I'm not a complete sick-o...

Okay, yes, I did, but give me some credit. I spent 2 years with a baby fused to my skin - and that's after carrying her for nine months - and I was tired and cranky. And its not like I actually left her outside for the wolves... I lived in the city. That would have been a waste of time.

This is what I looked like. See? One big head, one baby head (looking like she's ready to let out a giant wail if I so much as think about setting her down).

Funny thing to flashback about, I think. But now that she is self-sufficient (ie. big enough to raid the box of truffles from the counter when I'm not looking, therefore more than happy to be free of me) and doesn't cling like a second skin quite as much as she used to, I'm happy to look back at the past and say, "Whew, thank goodness I don't have a kid welded to my hip anymore."

Aw, sweet memories. Have a flashback of your own? Head over to Tia's blog at and join in the fun!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Blanket Suckers

Let me just tell ya... I love my kittens. They are the cuddliest, most affectionate little bundles of cat in the whole wide world, and best of all... they suck on blankets. Isn't that the cutest thing EVER?

Okay, maybe not.... maybe it is a little weird, and I'm sure allergic-to-cats folk aren't too happy that our blankets are covered in cat spit, but I love it anyway. Something about the kittens being so darned happy to be living with us that they express themselves by purring, kneading and blanket-sucking warms my heart.

Life with kittens is better than I hoped. As it turns out, Will isn't allergic to cats AT ALL. And he loves them. He's convinced that he just loves them because they are little and cute, but come on... what he loves is their adoring, loving, blanket-sucking selves, and that wont change even when they are 2 lbs heavier.

I've got to admit, Will was a little put out that I'd start a category on my blog dedicated to Sophie and Somer, yet I leave the family dog completely off my blog (not completely true... I did blog about him once - but as it was mostly to express my annoyance at getting a dog, Will didn't think it really counts). But I really can't help it... me and the dog haven't bonded at all - not even a little bit.

I'm sure its sad... but he doesn't care and I'm just really happy to have kittens.

So here you go. The family dog, Willie. He is a dog person's dream dog, seriously. And if you are wondering why our dog is named after my husband, well, he came with the name. I think it is funny to call him Jr. Will doesn't think its as funny as me, though.

Okay, back to the kittens... Awww.... how cute is Somer, seriously?


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanks A Lot!

I'm giving thanks for the ridiculous things in my life, over at The Mama Dramalogues today!

Come on by!


Monday, November 23, 2009


Gracie and Annelie just met their very first Best Friends Forever. And better than that, their new BFFS got to play with them for three days and three nights straight. Can you say heaven on earth for a couple of little girls?

Both of my kids are very outgoing, overly affectionate, high-energy, and have no sense of personal space whatsoever ... traits that can be very off-putting to most kids. They relate best to the 15 and over crowd, and don't really befriend other kids at the park or whatever class Gracie is signed up for. Needless to say, I've spent many days and nights worrying about their ability to make friends. Until this weekend, four and a half year old Gracie had yet to meet a little girl who shared her interests, shared her high-energy level, and wanted to hug, hug, hug to show how happy she was to play.

But my bloggy friend April's two little girls, Madilynn and Autumn were cut from the very same cloth. They played play-doh together, decorated tiaras together, watched Barbie and Tinkerbell movies (Gracie's favorite) together... absolutely everything that Gracie and Annelie loved, so did Madilynn and Autumn. And they were more than happy to hug Gracie back, and root for her as she made her way across the monkey bars by herself for the very first time - a very big deal for a four year old girl!

I was so excited when April and family moved from their home in Florida to Texas last spring, and couldn't wait to meet my blog friend in person, but for some reason, we just hadn't had a chance to get together. Now that we have our house and a place to put guests, the timing was perfect for April and her kids to make the 5 hour trek across the Texas countryside to our home.

The girls had fun, obviously... but better than that, I had a friend with whom I could gush about the awesomeness of Jane Austen, the hotness of James McAvoy, and the deliciousness of cupcakes. YAY!

April & Co. you are welcome anytime!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Flashback: Go! Fight! Win!

(I'm the one on the left... I look like I'm about 12, but I was really 17
And is it just me, or is my head too big for my body? I've never noticed that before)

We're Saratoga High you see
To victory we hold the key
We're gonna fight, Falcons fight
Celebrate victory tonight! (fight, fight!)
We're scarlet, navy blue, and grey
We're the Falcons all the waaaaaaay
So give a cheer for your Falcon team
We're gonna win the Gaaaaaaame!

I think its a little embarrassing that I still know my high school fight song (with arm motions!) ten years later, but I guess when you do it a billion times - every single time the football team/basketball team scored a goal/basket - it sorta becomes part of your DNA. But still... its a little embarrassing.

And the Alma Mater... I remember that too. We had to sing it after every game. If the team won, we'd sing it in our happiest voice and the guys would be all pumped... but if they lost, we'd have to sing in our saddest voice, and they guys would be the biggest (bleeeeeep - sorry, this post has been edited for a G-rating) and would sometimes walk off the field while we were in the middle of singing to them. Hello, we HAD to sing the stupid song - it wasn't like we were out to get you, Falcon football team.

Boy that pissed me off. I remember getting in a little bit of trouble for being mouthy to some of the football players that walked off the field. Haha, something along the lines of me shouting out that if they had tried a little harder and actually won the game, perhaps we'd be singing the cheerful version. I may have thrown in a few nasty words... Well, they were being rude, after all!

I don't generally share the information that I was a high school cheerleader. While it was fine back when I was actually in high school, now whenever people come across a picture of me in my little outfit, I get raised eyebrows and an "aaaahhh, so that's why you're so perky!" response.

But truthfully, I loved being a cheerleader. Most of my favorite people from my high school days were on my squad, and we had a lot of fun together.

Gracie loves looking at my cheerleading pictures... she wants to be a cheerleader too, when she is bigger, she says. There is a lot of pom-pom shaking and Barbie cheerleader costume wearing on a daily basis (by her, not me). And yesterday, while picking out a birthday present for a friend, she wouldn't leave the store without a set of shiny red pom-poms as her gift-of-choice (April, if you're reading this, I certainly hope Autumn likes cheerleading too, cuz she's getting pom-poms!)

So before I go, let me leave you with another little Saratoga High ditty to perk up your day:

We got P-R-I-D-E
We got red pride
Who rules? Falcons rule!
Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh!

(That one was especially fun to sing when we were playing a team in East San Jose... how we didn't get shot for gang-related activity, I have no idea!)

Have a Friday Flashback of your own? Hop on by Tia's blog at

Happy Friday!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Illustration Friday: Unbalanced

Why yes, I have got my priorities straight, thankyouverymuch!


Just a quick little watercolor and ink illo for Illustration Friday (which I mean to do every week but only end up doing every other month). This one is a self portrait... with cupcakes. Seriously, who needs an apple when you have a stack of cupcakes?



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Raking Leaves

As far as I'm concerned, the best thing about being a kid in the fall, is great big piles of crispy brown leaves, just begging to be jumped in.

Our pecan tree is officially leafless, and our front lawn is officially covered in piles and piles of leaves just waiting to be shoved in our compost bin. But in the meantime, welcome to the funnest place to play in all the land (or so my kids believe)

(don't mind my voice. Yes, I'm shrill, yes, I cackle like the Wicked Witch of the West, and yes, I'm overenthusiastic and have way too much fun watching my kids play in leaves... but that's just me)

What's your favorite part of the season?


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Giving Thanks to my Customers!

As I get closer and closer to hitting my 400th sale (only 11 sales away! Woot!) I can't help but come up with an awesome thank you for my supporters and fans!

So, from now until Thanksgiving (Nov. 26th, this year, folks!) I'll be giving a generous handful of my new Mad for Plaid cards and tags with each order.

Canadian, European and Australian fans, don't be alarmed. Though you wont be eating turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie on the 26th, you will still be able to enjoy my thank you gifts with your order!

Come on by Elegant Snobbery and get your holiday shopping done before its too late!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Flashback: A Personal Tour Through Wales

Me and Will - Feb 2004
Our first date!
For last week's Friday Flashback post, I shared a memoir-style short story I wrote while I was studying abroad in England back in college. This week, I'm going to share another piece from my England writing collection, a travel writing piece about my first trip to Wales... which was my very first date with my husband.

So, here it is - I got an A on my first date.

A Personal Tour Through Wales
By Marisa Myers

"So, where in England do Welsh people come from?" Ha. That question kills me, but it has definitely been asked before. It has even been followed up with the answer, "Some town just outside of London, I think." Now that really kills me. Wales is a country, everybody. A real one. With its own flag, its own national anthem, and its own language (although hardly anyone speaks Welsh as a first language anymore).

Until recently, I had never been to Wales. However, I had heard of it, had known it was a country, and wanted to see it for myself. When given an invitation for a weekend in the said country by a friend named Will Hopkins (that is a very Welsh surname), I immediately said: "Yes, of course! I would love to see Wales!" Will picked me up promptly at 9:30 am a few days later and we drove from my temporary home in Bath, through Bristol, and across the river Severn.

As we crossed the Severn Bridge, from England into South Wales, I expected there to be some sort of change in the landscape. I did not really get it. Granted, Wales is attached to England and the climate and land should naturally be similar, but I was expecting more. Something along the lines of a woman in a traditional Welsh costume waving at the cars driving by with a welcoming smile on her face, or a field of daffodils and leeks shaped into the word Cymru. Maybe even a fire-works display, in glittering green and white with a red dragon breathing fire.

I certainly did not expect to see what I really saw, which was just a motorway, fields of sheep, and some kind of industrial smoke stack billowing black smoke into the fresh Welsh air. I was crossing the border into a different country. A different country. One which should have looked more different than it did. But I wasn't too alarmed. I was in Wales for the first time with my friend Will acting tour guide and, as Will delivers the goods always, I knew that my weekend in Wales would be an awesome one.

Having a personal tour guide as dedicated as Will was, I definitely had a thorough experience. Will had recently lived in South Wales for three years and had grown up visiting the area and seeing the sights, so he knew just where to take me in order to show me a good time. As we drove along the motorway, he even read all of the Welsh words off the road signs for me, in order to familiarize me to the sound of the Welsh language.

Our first stop was the Rhondda coal mine where we went on the "Shift in Time: Underground Tour" and enjoyed our journey through time as we travelled back into the 1950's and experienced what it was like in the Lewis Merthyr Colliery, digging up Black Gold. Once upon a time, the coal industry dominated everything in South Wales. Until the 1980’s, when Margaret Thatcher’s government took their toll on the coal industry, a quarter of a million men worked in the mines. The tour was quite interesting. We were led through different buildings, each with a film show and period dressed manikins set up to look like they were talking to each other. The tour guide was a voice recording of a man named Bryn Rees, who told about his life working in the Colliery in the 1950’s and his grandfather’s life, working in the Colliery in the 1850’s. As I am an American who had never heard a Welshman speak before, half of the tour was lost on me. I had a great time anyway; especially when a live tour guide came out and took us on a tour of what we thought was the actual mine. Decked out in hard hats, we went on a simulated ride, which made us believe we were going into the earth and walking through the mine passageways. The tour ended with another simulation and with this, the guide winked at me and said, "You'll like this one, California Girl. It's like a ride at Disneyland." It wasn’t, really.

Taff Merthyr Colliery
Treharris, Taff Bargoed Valley, S. Wales

Our next stop was the ruins of Ogmore Castle. William de Londres built the castle on this site in 1116, as a Norman fortress. While the ruin does not look at all now, as it did over 800 years ago, it is still impressive. Only one wall stands to its original three stories tall, although it has crumbled in many places. The staircase leading from the great hall to the lord and lady’s apartment is still intact as well; however, there is no way to reach the staircase, since the floor below it is completely gone.

Ogmore Castle, Brigend, Wales

There are sandstone cliffs in Bridgend, off the coast of Dunraven Bay, which are the most spectacular cliffs in all of Wales. Will and I made our way over there, trekking through the ruins and the overgrown gardens of Dunraven castle which were destroyed when “some Yankee Doodle Dandy bought all of the land so that he could take the stones and build himself a castle in America” (according to Will). The cliffs and the beach were very impressive. Will said that the beach had once stretched out for about a half a mile, but the sand had been removed over the years, in order to fill little children’s sand boxes. Now the beach is only a few hundred yards long. A shame really, how people can destroy such beautiful pieces of nature.

The Cliffs of Dunraven Bay, Brigend, S. Wales

Our next stop was Porthcawl, where Will and I would be staying the night. We drove into Porthcawl and found a house, which had a sign outside claiming that it was indeed a B & B. When we knocked on the door, a man answered and Will asked if there were two rooms available. I assumed that the man said yes (although I did not really understand a word he said), because Will seemed satisfied and went inside to make the booking official. They talked for a while and when I was introduced as an American from California, the man smiled and said to me, "Da da dada yada, I reckon. Yada dada da, like. Da yada da daya, is it?"


The next morning, Will and I packed up and hopped back in his car, to visit the town of St. Fagans, and the Museum of Welsh Life. As it was St. David’s Day, the day to celebrate the patron saint of Wales, it was perfect timing for us to go to a museum such as that.

The Museum of Welsh Life is an open-air museum, with grounds featuring reconstructed buildings that were found all over and are traditional to Wales. We walked among school children on their field trips (the girls wearing the traditional costume of Wales, as is the custom on St. David’s Day) and people wearing daffodils pinned to their shirts, as we learned about how the people of Wales lived and farmed for hundreds of years.

Our weekend in Wales ended with a drive to Cardiff, where we drove past the Millennium Stadium and over to the pier for lunch. There we found an American diner complete with 50’s music and pictures of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. I had been given a taste of Welsh culture, food and drink, but decided I wanted something American, as I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich and some chili-cheese fries. It was wonderful to eat what is familiar to me, while in such an unfamiliar country.

My journey into the country of Wales was definitely an experience worth remembering. While I had known that Wales was a country, I had never known what made Wales different from other countries. Learning about the coal industry, seeing how proud the people were to support their patron saint, walking through the traditional white and black houses and mock villages of the open-air museum, and seeing the spectacular cliffs, ones which are not found anywhere else in the world, gave me a new appreciation for a country that I had only heard about. I only hope that other people get a chance to see Wales like I did; especially, the people who still think Wales is just “some town outside of London.”


So there it is. Our first date. What I didn't include, is that Will and I went out on the town and got completely sloshed, and I was ridiculously hung-over for the Museum of Welsh Life part of our trip and couldn't even eat my chili-cheese fries because the idea of food made me want to die. Hey, when in Wales, do as the Welsh do, right?

If you have a flashback of your own, that you want to share with the world, head on over to Tia's blog at Enjoy!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sophie and Somersault

Let me tell you a little something about me: Crazy Cat Lady was supposed to be my destiny. Even my friends in high school believed that I would be a lonely librarian surrounded by a house full of cats. I didn't mind that at all.

BUT the gods had a different plan for me, and I got married and had kids, instead. And my husband... allergic to cats. Can I tell you just how much my heart has been aching for a kitten these last five years?

Luckily, I happen to be married to the most wonderful allergic-to-cats guy in all the world. Knowing how much he loves and adores his dog (who I never really latched onto - I'm a crazy cat lady, after all) he turned to me today and said, "Lets go and look at kittens, and then maybe, just maybe we can get one." So we packed up the girls and off we went to buy ONE kitten from the animal shelter.

Was it easy picking a little tiny kitten? Nope. Especially not when a lady from PetSmart came in, only seconds after us, and started packing all the kittens in her carrier to take to the pet store. We saw two fluffy little babies that she was about to load up and take away, and Will - without even taking a moment to think - called out, "Wait! Don't take those ones!"

The lady looked at him and asked, "Does that mean you are buying them both?"

And he said, "Yes!"

So, without further ado, may I present:

Sophie and Somersault! (haha, I can't help talking in baby kitty voice)

(Gracie named them. We call Somersault 'Somer' for short)

They are the fluffiest, most affectionate powerhouses of purr in the entire world. Only about eight weeks old and these two little girls already think they rule the roost. They don't even meow... they squeak.

The little old lady with twenty-four cats that lives deep inside of my soul, is completely thrilled with our new family members. If you think I blog about my kids a lot... just you wait. I hope you love kittens.

We never in a million years expected for quiet and timid Sophie to latch on the Annelie... but she did. Of all of us in the house, Annelie is who Sophie wants to sit with and follow around!

But what of my allergic-to-cats husband, you may be asking yourselves...

I think he'll live.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Babies Aren't Babies Anymore

After looking through some photos that I hadn't seen in at least two years, I made an unexpected discovery... my babies aren't babies anymore!

I posted today over at The Mama Dramalogues.

Come on by!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Leaving Proof of My Love

I have a very hard time just grabbing my kids and snapping a photo with them. I spend about 95% of my SAHM life lounging in pajamas, with my unwashed hair in a gnarly rats nest on top of my head, and my face completely make-up free. And don't even get me started on my eyebrows... what the heck?

Do I want that recorded in a photo for all time, so people can see just how awful I look? No.

BUT, I was just reading my lovely friend Amanda's blog and she posted this BEAUTIFUL tribute (go read it! Go!) to a fellow artist, blogger, and most important of all, mother Aleida Franklin, who tragically passed away in 2008, leaving behind her two small children.

Aleida wasn't afraid to take pictures with her kids. She knew that she didn't need to have her hair styled and her make up done, in order to be beautiful in her kid's eyes. All she had to be was their mom, and she wanted to photograph that, so her kids would remember how much she loved being with them always.
So here I am: Wonky eyebrows, a rats nest instead of hair, and absolutely no make up whatsoever.

I look at this picture and think "Aw... Annelie is so adorable," followed quickly by, "Ack, I look like crap! Delete, delete, delete!"

But one day, Annelie will look at this photo and smile. She wont think my eyebrows look awful. She wont think, "Blech, Mom. Go put some make up on." She'll think I'm beautiful. And she'll treasure the photo of the two of us together.

Or else she'll be like, "Mom, you're so lame. Leave me alone. Me and my boyfriend Killer are leaving on a motorcycle and never coming back."

But whatever. At least there will be photographic proof that I love her.


Monday, November 9, 2009

The Most Delicious Tree

I'd like to introduce you to a little somethin' special: My pecan tree. That's right - I have a pecan tree! Mine, all mine!

I've never had a tree before and I'm pretty excited about it, if you can't tell. Unfortunately, I didn't know I had a nut tree until after buckets full of pecan pods were tossed in the trash - didn't want to break the lawn mower on those darned alien pods littering the lawn.

Luckily my new neighbor across the street saw everything and came over to chat. Our conversation went something like this:

My new neighbor: So have you eaten any pa-cawns yet?

Me: Uh... what?

My new neighbor: Pa-cawns. From your tree. Right there. See? There's tons of pa-cawns all over your lawn.

Me: Pecans? I have a pecan tree?

My new neighbor: A what?

Me: A pecan tree. You just said I had one.

My new neighbor: A what? A Peeee-can?

Me: Yeah. A pecan.

My new neighbor: You mean a pa-cawn.

. Right. A pa-cawn. Silly me. When in Texas, right? So we all stood out there on my front path, stamping the pecan shells and eating while we talked. They are goooood!

And after that, I grabbed my little helper monkeys and we started scooping and saving our pecans in a bucket in the kitchen, like little squirrels (who, by the way, are pissed that we've moved in and invaded their winter nut stash).

Next on my list of things to do: Learn how to make a pecan pie!


Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Flashback: Touch Wood

Yesterday, I found a collection of travel stories and poetry that my college study abroad group put together nearly six years ago. I had so much fun reading through everyone's work, and reading my own, that I thought for my Flashback Friday post today, I'd share one of my pieces with you all.

This is a story about an event that happened two weeks into my study abroad semester in England. It's all true. A week after it happened, I was in the Dublin airport, talking with friends about the differences between American vs. British life, and this incident came up. And the silent (and handsome!) Brit sitting in the seat next to me, actually had the audacity to snicker. That's right, he laughed at me.

Turns out, that snickering Brit would end up my husband, and if it wasn't for this embarrassing story breaking the ice between two strangers sitting next to each other in the airport, Will and I might not have spoken to each other at all.

So enjoy.

Touch Wood
By Marisa Myers

“Tell us about your worst bad-luck experience,” the man with the microphone said, his smile large and professional, perfect for his job as a TV presenter. I glanced at the cameraman, hoping he had not yet started the tape rolling, not wanting to be filmed unprepared.

My mind had drawn a blank. Worst bad-luck experience? I knew I had one somewhere, but it was only moments ago that I had said to Crystal, as we walked past the Bath Abbey doors after an afternoon of shopping and travel planning, “I want to be on TV.”

And there I was, standing in front of a camera. I was being interviewed for a Friday the 13th special that would be on TV the next day, just in time for the superstitiously cursed day and, as luck would have it, my birthday. This was a wish come true; quite the opposite of a bad-luck curse. I was in England, thousands of miles away from home, and loving my study abroad adventure -- A bad-luck experience just would not come to mind.

Crystal knew just what to say, having had a run-in with some dog poop only a few days before, and in her socks no less. But I just shook my head, my mind still blank. I knew I could say that I would be sick on my birthday. I'd had a cold for the last few days. But the Lemsip in my bag would take care of that, so I said nothing of bad incidents and bad-luck jinxes. Instead, I smiled into the camera and declared proudly that it was my birthday and, as I was born on Friday the 13th, bad luck never strikes me down.

I should have touched wood.

In the kitchen preparing coldwater crackers with delicious, smelly cheeses, I spoil myself before taking my medicine and going to bed early. I'm filled with the hope of making myself better before my birthday. As I stand there, with the kettle on and my Lemsip, in its powdered form, sitting in a mug on top of the counter, I realize for the first time that I am truly happy in my foreign home.

Living with a host family is difficult at times, especially since I do not understand the appliances and electrical equipment. As I was just able to figure out how to work the stove top, I am now feeling comfortable and calm. So comfortable, in fact, that I am completely unaware of the billowing, black clouds of smoke coming from the stove top and filling the air behind me. That is, until I turn around, in the hope that the kettle is boiling, only to discover that the kettle is not only boiling, but... burning.

In a panic, I reach for the handle to lift the kettle up and move it in order to see what is causing the smoke. Unfortunately, the handle seems to be the only thing that can be lifted. The entire kettle has melted into the stove and the plastic bottom is stretching in long, gooey globs.

I turn the stove off and look around, hoping that the blackness of the air is only a mirage and the hideous stench of burnt plastic is just a side effect of being sick.

Because that is exactly what the smelly mess is: burnt, melted plastic.

And it has to be a joke, right? A bad dream even, because who would make a kettle out of plastic? Unfortunately the reality sets in, but being a professional at stupid kitchen mishaps (although I had never had difficulty boiling water before), I know just what to do. I immediately get to work, determined to open every window and door in the house in order to clear the smoke.

I reach for the kitchen window, pulling the handle and pushing the handle, even twisting the handle and yelling in frustration because nothing is happening, only to give up and move onto the kitchen door. This time, I am triumphant, although my triumph is short lived. The door leads to a small sun room, which has its own door leading outside. And that door, as my luck would have it, is locked.

I run from the kitchen, through the living room, and up the stairs to
my rented bedroom. I know how to open my own window and figure that it will be my best bet. And, after the air begins to clear, I can finally work on finding keys to open the windows and sun room door. It takes a few minutes to open the doors and windows, but once the black air dissipates to a soft grey, I decide to check out the stove top and kettle.

I want to pass out when I see what I've just done. The kettle is a melted glob on the stove top, the oozy plastic hardening as it cools. I grab the kettle handle and another puff of smoke comes out from inside of it, but I ignore it and focus my attention on getting the kettle out of the house and into the front garden. Only then can I assess the damage to the actual stove.

Perhaps “hysterical” is too strong a word to use when describing myself at this point, but hysteria sure is what I feel as I begin picking the pieces of melted plastic off the stove top. I hope with all my heart that the incident has not actually destroyed the stove top, the expense of which is not within my budget. The sick feeling in my stomach prepares me for the worst. The kettle will definitely have to be replaced, the stove top just might have to be replaced, and I realize that I will probably be evicted. After all, what host family would want to keep a guest who has done something like this?

I know now what I have to do. My unsettled spirits can only be cured by a call home to mom (who feels more like “Mommy” as I become more and more desperate). I dial the number, my fingers crossed that she will answer. When she does, I break down.

“It will be all right,” she says when I have finished sobbing the story out to her. “The kettle and the stove can be replaced. I will help you take care of everything. Just give me a call when the damage has been assessed to let me know how much it will be.”

Despite the panic in the pit of my stomach when thinking of telling my host family about the incident, I'm feeling better. And when my host mother comes home from work she just laughs.

“The kettle is electric. All you have to do is push the button to turn it on,” she says, disbelief that I would be such a moron, plain in her eyes.


“And the hob will be all right. It was old anyway. Nothing to worry about.”

Well, that’s a relief.

“So, I am going to be on TV tomorrow,” I say, rolling my eyes. “I am going to be on camera, smiling like an idiot and announcing that nothing bad ever happens to me.”

We laugh at the irony of the entire situation, and she says to me, “Touch wood.”

I really should have.


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