Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day

Time off from work is a whole different concept here in the US. Back in Belgium I had about 5 weeks of time off. Over here I have 5 days! Next year that get's upgraded to 10 days or 2 weeks. On top of holiday time there is 1 personal day every 3 months. Staying home from work because you are sick goes out of your personal days and the official holidays are limited to about 6.
This being said, you understand that whenever there is a national holiday, it's important to make the most of it. Last Monday was Memorial Day. Since that meant we had a long weekend, it was our call to jump into the car and drive up to Vermont.
Of course, living in Manhattan, jumping in the car is easier said than done. Since it's expensive to park and since we hardly use the car, we keep it at Laura's parents place in Mount Kisco. That's an hour long train ride away. To hop on the train after work and then get into the car on Friday night is not the best idea. Americans are notorious for 'long weekend' traveling which results in traffic jams and delays all over the place. Luckily the house in Kisco is a great place to make a first stop. Saturday morning we left early to be ahead of traffic and to have somewhat of a day left after the 3.5 hour drive to Vermont. It's funny, each time you drive it seems to be shorter. By now, I feel like the drive is no big deal at all... And it really isn't, only a year ago I drove home from Italy in one long haul and that was 15 hours. Now, that counts as a long drive!
We got to Vermont just in time for an early lunch and to hear Carmen's plans for the day. He feels bad for putting me to work when I am in Vermont. I on the other hand am more than happy to help him a little in return for his (and Susan's) hospitality. Since we are throwing a huge party this summer, there's some yard work to be done. The project of the day was clearing the area where the tent will go from rocks and brances, followed by lining the path with some boulders that had been delivered. The great thing about yard work is that it's outside and it provides a free work out. And boy did those boulders give us a workout! Stones (especially big ones) can be very heavy! Surprisingly enough we weren't too sore the next day. Check the picture below to see me as a real American yard worker.
Sunday was an exceptionally beautiful day, everybody was out. In May that includes the little black flies that have a nasty bite. Today, these itchy bites are a not-so-welcome reminder of the nice weekend. Kayaking on the lake is a good way to get away from the bugs. Apparently they don't like to fly over the water. Of course we weren't the only ones who thought of this, so the usual feeling of being all alone on the lake required a little more imagination. It was still really nice though, and each time I get annoyed with the sight of another boat in the distance, I think of "De Halve Maan" or a Belgian beach on a summer day and I feel a lot better about it. Living in the states sure has it's ups (nature and space) and downs (bugs and lack of time).
So far there's no clear answer to the question of which place is better to live in. After all, I've only been here a year now. That first year was so packed with new experiences and changes that it both feels like it flew by and it has been the longest year ever. Einstein made it clear that space and time are relative, and while I have a hard time understanding the scientific theory behind that, I have definitely experienced something similar over the past 12 months.


Anonymous said...

5 days!?
You gotta organise a strike.
Show 'em how Belgians do it!

Anonymous said...

anonymous = wuss


fred at thedrawingfarm said...

there's no IT-workers union... maybe i should consider joining the writers union or even better I'll start my own!