I have spent a lot of time over the past few days travelling. First I went from grey and dreary (with a few snowflakes that quickly melted into slush) Tallinn, Estonia to Brussels. In Brussels I stayed the night. In the morning, I awoke at 5 am and hopped on the hotel bus to the airport where I headed off to London. After a few hours at London Heathrow, I was once again boarding a plane on my way to LAX. Ten and a half hours later I arrived in th City of Angels. Stayed in LA for the night with the Justesens before jumping onto a bus at Los Angeles Union Station that went over the grapevine to Bakersfield where I moved to a train heading northbound to my final destination of Fresno.

Total travelling time: 2 days

During this trip I obviously spent a lot of time sitting. And thinking. And listening to my iPod. And reminiscing. Reminiscing because music does that to you. It can take you back to another time and another space – memories unleashed from the depths of your mind. Listening to music differs from looking at a photograph because it forces you to sit back, close your eyes and re-experience the sensations of a prior event. It tugs at your heartstrings. You can almost feel teenage summer nights, boyfriends, heartbreak, watching the sun come up in Ibiza, your family, your friends… And music allows you to remember the good, as well as, the bad and that is something that is missing from photographs. Because seriously, when do you have a photograph from a bad event?

On my two days of travelling alone with my thoughts and iPod I got to go on a different kind of journey. A journey through my past. It was all mashed up into this non-ordered sequence of catalogued memories. And it got me thinking of the movie / book High Fidelity. When the main character is reorganising his albums…not in a chronological or alphabetical order — but in autobiographical order.

I really like that idea. To have a soundtrack to your life. Like a photo album that you flip from page to page – memory to memory – track to track – and it covers all those important events. A capturing of time and space that allows you to reencounter things past that is stored rather efficiently in a filing system that only you fully understand.

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A long december and there’s reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can’t remember the last thing that you said as you were leaven’
Now the days go by so fast
And it’s one more day up in the canyons
And it’s one more night in hollywood
If you think that I could be forgiven…i wish you would
The smell of hospitals in winter
And the feeling that it’s all a lot of oysters, but no pearls
All at once you look across a crowded room
To see the way that light attaches to a girl
And it’s one more day up in the canyons
And it’s one more night in hollywood
If you think you might come to california…i think you should
Drove up to hillside manor sometime after two a.m.
And talked a little while about the year
I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower,
Makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her
And it’s been a long december and there’s reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass
And it’s one more day up in the canyon
And it’s one more night in hollywood
It’s been so long since I’ve seen the ocean…i guess I should

a long december lyrics by counting crows

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Is it just me of does anyone else think that Madonna should just retire and stop traumatising me with her shite music?

I have to admit that when I was in the third-grade at Manchester Elementary school in Fresno and my mom had just allowed me to get a perm (yes, an Asian with a perm – what she was thinking I have no idea) and Madonnas first album came out I was excited. I bought it – on vinyl – and listened to it all the time. Thinking back, I also had the Ghostbusters soundtrack and thought that was pretty dope too so maybe I have absolutely no taste at all. I digress.

I loved True Blue. I had a huge crush on that boy with the blue eyes in the video. I love Desperately Seeking Susan. I dug it when Madonna got all lezboish. It was hot when she was dating Warren Beaty and fucking half of her bodyguards and dance instructors. And who didn’t love it when she put out the sex book and talked vaginas?

Like a Prayer was the best: Life is a mystery. Everyone must stand alone. I hear you call my name and it feels like home. — in a Pepsi commercial with flaming crosses and hot, muscley black men.

So where did my love of Madge go sour?

Is it the kabbalah? Is it that shite movie Swept Away? Is it her annoying British accent? Is it her overly buffed upper arms? Is it her falling off the horse bullshit stunt? Is it her English manor home? Is her extremely hairy daughter Lordes? Is it her really stupid children’s books? Is it her floral print crap Prada dresses? Is it her super overlit Versace ads?

No. It is the fact that she puts out these crap albums over and over again. And I am sick of it.

And I must admit that I do hate the British accent.

I am now sitting in a hotel and this video Hung Up just came on. And that really seals the fact that I wish this bitch would retire. She is dancing on a freakin’ Dance Dance Revolution. How lame?!? Please retire. Please please please. Stop torturing me.

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love molecule Yes. I am a failure at relationships whenever they hit the 11 month mark. And up until now it had been written off to the fact that I am – selfish, self-centered, too career focused, you get the picture.

But now I just want all of my ex’s (some of whom are in Texas – actually I think 2 are) to know that it really isn’t my fault. It is just the way that I am wired.

Now, the question in my mind is, when the hell am I going to start receiving spam about NGF spray that makes me fall in love forever? If it hasn’t been invented maybe I should get cracking on my chemistry set. I’ll be the saver of marriages everywhere. Then again – maybe nature doesn’t intend you to be miserable and stuck with someone forever and this is their way of telling you that… Think about it.

Molecule gives passionate lovers just one year

ROME (Reuters) – Your heartbeat accelerates, you have butterflies in the stomach, you feel euphoric and a bit silly. It’s all part of falling passionately in love — and scientists now tell us the feeling won’t last more than a year.

The powerful emotions that bowl over new lovers are triggered by a molecule known as nerve growth factor (NGF), according to Pavia University researchers.

The Italian scientists found far higher levels of NGF in the blood of 58 people who had recently fallen madly in love than in that of a group of singles and people in long-term relationships.

But after a year with the same lover, the quantity of the ‘love molecule’ in their blood had fallen to the same level as that of the other groups.

The Italian researchers, publishing their study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, said it was not clear how falling in love triggers higher levels of NGF, but the molecule clearly has an important role in the “social chemistry” between people at the start of a relationship.

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Maybe you are wondering. Geez, where has Stephanie gone.

Did she:

a) get eaten by a bear at Olde Hansa?
b) freeze to death in a blizzard?
c) eat too many pickles with sour cream and honey and choke?

The answer is NO to all of the above.

I am still alive and well. Living out of my second home here in the Merchant’s House Hotel in Tallinn. Getting to know my fellow Skype peeps. Getting to wander around and acclimate to the cold weather. Learning the ins and outs of cold weather tires. It is all a fascinating new experience for me, to be perfectly honest.

This last weekend I had the pleasure of being invited along on an Estonian birthday extravaganza on a train that consisted of drinking lots of vodka, eating pickles with sour cream and honey and also shot of vodka with onion (I didn’t try this due to my ultra-sensitive tummy). Don’t get me wrong, this was a Soviet style trip – but with a bunch of Estonians. Just to confuse you. But if you know my fondness of vodka then you can imagine that I was thrilled to find a trainload of really cool people that aren’t afraid to slam some shots (in fact they totally outdid little wimpy me).

Other things that I have become fond of in my time here:

  • Heated bathroom floors (awesome feature!)
  • Wifi access points everywhere – seriously it is such a wired place. You walk into any cafe or pub and there are a bunch of geeks on their laptops
  • American style shopping centers – ok, this isn’t something that I should be fond of, but I can’t help but being amazed by the fact that they have these huge grocery stores that totally outdo anything that I have seen in Europe in years
  • Good food and bars – this place abounds with really good (and terrifyingly hip) bars and restaurants that serve up great (and cheap) cocktails
  • Cheap taxis – well, I guess cheap because I am in the old town so the only real need for a taxi is to get to work and back – the rest of the time I can walk to wherever I want to go pretty quickly and easily
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    Had a flight booked yesterday from Tallinn, Estonia to Barcelona, Spain. KLM to Amsterdam and then changeover to Barcelona.

    Arrived at the airport 2 hours in advance. Went to check-in. Amazingly, no queue. Granted this is Tallinn airport, not exactly Heathrow. The woman at the check-in desk started to do her magic. Then looked up slightly confused and started speaking Estonian to her fellow deskclerk. Uh-oh, I think. My bags are definitely going to end up in Thailand or something. But after a few minutes of consultation things started to go fairly smoothly. I was given my boarding pass and sent on my merry little way.

    Went up to the restaurant upstairs and plugged myself into a wall socket while munching down on a surprisingly good blintz with red caviar, onion and sour creme. Sent a text message to the wifi provider and received my 24 hour pass for only 50EEK (roughly $4.00 – BARGAIN). Things were looking really good as the rest of my waiting time passed.

    Finally the flight was due to board so shuffled my butt through the security and passport control. Again, no problems.

    Arrived at the gate. No one was boarding. Flight was delayed for about 20 minutes, but that was OK because my wireless still worked at the gate.

    Flight starts to board. I get into the queue. I manage my way to the front shoving off over ambitious first time Russian travellers. I hand over my boarding pass.

    The agent looks at my boarding pass and asks where my ticket is.

    I have no ticket. My travel agency booked ticketless travel.

    I am asked to wait while the rest of the plane boards. I’m still OK at this point assuming that the newbie ticketing agent just pushed some wrong button hence all the confusion at the frontdesk. I sit down and continue enjoying my wireless connection.

    The agent calls to the ticketing desk. Then informs me that I haven’t actually paid for my ticket. Which prompts me to ask – why the hell did yo give me a boarding pass then???

    Turns out that P & O travel somehow ignored my request to issue my ticket yet still sent me a confirmation of my flight and reservation number. When I phone them, they admit their mistake but somehow try to pass the blame back to the airline by asking the same question that I had. Why the hell did they give me a boarding pass?

    In the midst of all this confusion and telephone calling, the agent REFUSES to speak to the travel agency by stating “I don’t talk to travel agents”. Then proceeds to call someone and tell them to offload my bags. At the same time, the travel agent is saying “I can issue your ticket right now, it will only take me 1 second, please tell them to hold on”.

    I look out the window. I see a little yellow luggage cart drive up the aircraft. I see them open the cargo hold and disappear inside.

    My suitcase magically appears and all of a sudden the entire plane is gone.

    And I am still sitting at the gate with nothing but my wireless connection and my hopes of arriving in Barcelona squashed.

    So whose fault was it? Amazingly, both parties managed to blame each other thereby deflecting any actually responsibility. Gotta love a scapegoat…

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    After spending this week getting caught up on the show Lost, I have been compiling a list of things that would have been helpful for the people on the island to have had with them.

    1. Hypodermic needles
    2. A Korean to English dictionary
    3. Extra large T-shirts
    4. Loads of extra batteries
    5. A soldering iron
    6. A gun and ammo
    7. Vodka
    8. Antibiotics
    9. Scissors or knives
    10. Sunblock
    11. Razor blades
    12. A lighter
    13. Heroin
    14. Diapers

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    After yesterday’s debacle, I received an email back in regards to my complaint.

    This was a portion of it:

    Dear Stephanie

    Thank you for your email.

    We are unable to make amendments to bookings at this address it will be
    necessary for you to call the Contact Centre and a travel advisor will
    be able to assist you. Your tickets may be upgraded to a higher fare
    for a fee only if there is availability.

    Basically, I had to phone their call center to figure out a way to buy my way out of this stupid error. And I did. For an additional

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    This is just a post to let everyone out there know that Virgin Atlantic airways is about to lose a valuable and loyal customer. They have just ripped me off for

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