We were both waiting at the bus stop. A car slowed down, and two guys were calling out the window to her. They were speaking Bulgarian, and I didn’t think they looked very nice, but she jumped up and ran over. After they drove off, I asked her, “Do you know them?”

“No, not really.”
“Well, I hope you didn’t give them your phone number.”
“Oh no! They gave me theirs, but I’m already deleting it.”
“Smart girl!”
“Yes, I’m studying criminology.”
“Do you like it?”
“Yes, it’s SO interesting! But so many people are also studying it, so I don’t know where I’ll be able to find a job.
At least I hope I can find an apartment by myself so I don’t have to keep living with my mother!

I saw Miryanna again yesterday. She has changed her major, and is feeling a little down about it. I know the feeling. Life changes are always a challenge. One thing to remember: The people you know are more important than your skills. Good luck, Miryanna!

UNFOLD YOUR RIDE~ the Folding Bikes of Liege


NOT a folding bike :)

NOT a folding bike 🙂

My husband’s had a folding bike for years now. He bought one when we were in Seoul, and when we got here he bought himself another one. He likes the convenience of being able to fold it up to fit in our small Asian vehicles. 

For me, I was never impressed, and have actually never even gotten on the thing, either of them. Call me old school. I just like the size factor of a 26″ rim. 

But when my New York friends visited us in Liege recently, they commented on all the folding bikes everywhere.
“You mean, they don’t use them in the US?” I’ve been gone for 20 years, so I really wouldn’t know. “We’ve never seen ’em,” they assured me.

OK. That was it. I decided I have to expand my focus~ I’m now officially upgrading from SCARVES to Folding Bikes of Liege. Here is my first subject, fresh off the train from Brussels, to hit the road to work. I loved everything about her get-up, and she was wearing a little itty bitty scarf, too.


STREET MEETS (or going up to perfect strangers and asking them something meaningful)

It was almost the end of the day. I was worried about what I would post here. I knew it had to be inspiring, or at least very nice as I had promised.

I had my camera in hand (standard practice), and was waiting at the bus stop on my way home for dinner. Even though she wasn’t wearing a scarf (my new photographic focus) I decided to try out my new STREET MEET script:

“Hi. Do you speak English?”
“Yes. You’re lucky. I do!”

Half-done is well begun 🙂

“I’m doing a blog about people in Liege. Can I ask you a question, and take your picture?”

I had to think fast at that point, because I hadn’t actually prepared a question.

“Uhhh…. What’s the most inspiring thing going on in your life right now?’

“Well, I’ve been traveling by myself for 3 months, and I’ve been to 15 countries. I’m on my way to the U.K. and stopping by Liege to visit a friend I met in France.”
“Wow! Do you like traveling alone? I mean, I’d feel nervous to go without my daughter or husband.”

“Oh! Traveling alone is so empowering. You feel like, I can do anything after this! Even when bad things happen, you figure out how to deal with them.”
“What was the worst thing that happened to you?”
“I got my stuff stolen in Milan. That was bad. But I met so many kind people who helped me, and I learned a lot. I’m so glad I’ve had this experience before settling down. I would recommend it to anyone. Don’t hesitate. Just go!”

A Postscript:

I was re-reading this story tonight and did a double-take when I read, “I got my stuff stolen in Milan.” Wait! Was that me speaking??

I had my stuff stolen in Milan also, years ago when I was backpacking around Europe with a friend. So strange that this random traveler tells me the same thing. Milan must have a lot of problems….Or?

LESSONS I’M LEARNING #5~ Paying back a debt feels good


Last week I ran into the Media City to use the toilet. I was desperate. Here in Belgium, you usually have to pay to go. 
When I searched my wallet, I didn’t have enough change. The man at the counter looked at me without sympathy and repeated, “40 cents” while pointing to the sign.

I looked him in the eye, took my change back and said, “OK. But I’m still going!” and ran past him into the stalls. I knew he wasn’t happy, but I HAD to go 

Today, I was in the same situation once again, and remembered what Jean had said before. “That’s how they make their living. Of course he was mad.” So I counted out my change, and made sure I had enough to pay twice, once for today and once for last time. 

The man wasn’t there this time, but his wife was. I think she might even have remembered me. “Bon jour, madame! Ici pout l’autre temps, ca va?” “Oui. Ca va,” she smiled. 

I felt good. We Americans aren’t cheapskates. At least everybody in the toilet room today realized that clearly ~
I could tell by how all of them were smiling. 


ImageAnother day, another dollar? No. Another day, another human of Liege 

Today I was on my way home and there at the rainy bus stop was a young man who assured me that the bus, though late, was coming. 
“That’s a relief. Are you a student?”
“No, I live here in Liege.”
“What do you do?”
“I’m a writer.”
“Really? What do you write?”

I was of course very inspired. Just yesterday I joined the NaNoWriMo challenge for November: Write a Novel in 30 Days. I told him about it, and I hope he checks it out. I wouldn’t mind having an extra writing buddy 🙂

“Can you make a living writing?”
“Well, it’s OK. I have 6 novels published already.”
“Well, I’d like to be a supporter in any way I can~ other than financial, that is.” I had to add that part, just to be clear. “I like to encourage creative young people. Can I take your picture?”


STREET MEETS~ Love in Liege

Nadia’s Story:

She served me my usual Cafe Russe and threw in some extra cookies  Then she told me how she had been to Miami in July to get married. “Wow!” I said. 

“We’ve been together for 30 years, and married for 2 months. And he organized the whole thing without telling me anything. I didn’t even know until we got there that we were going to get married. He told me we were celebrating my birthday.”

“He’s a keeper,” I said, while she showed me the wedding pictures on my computer.




nadia 2