Expat Life: Black Hole Soup

Having a bad expat day in Moldova

by Miss Footloose

Have you ever had a black hole soup day? You know, one of these days when nothing useful happens, nothing works, someone tries to kill you, and you can’t think of anything to write about on your blog, etc., etc. Some years ago, I lived the expat life in Moldova, and I made a record of one of these days (I’ve had plenty others since). I’m sure you can’t wait to read about it, so here goes:

Blank screen of death

I’m staring at my computer screen. Nothing happens. I need a story. Preferably one about my exciting expat life here in Moldova, this mysterious country almost nobody has heard of or has any idea where it is. Right now this is what I see outside my window and it is not inspiring.

Winter in Moldova


The sidewalks are frozen and slippery, sort of like my mind feels today. Okay, this is not a story, but writing teachers will tell you to just start writing. Anything. Anything at all. Just let the words come out. So that’s what I’m doing. Let’s see what happens.

This is not a fantasy

I had a Romanian lesson earlier this morning and my brain was a black hole (frozen and slippery) and I couldn’t come up with the simplest words. (Romanian is the official language of Moldova; Russian is also spoken.) I was trying to tell my teacher I was thinking of writing a story about the time I broke my leg in the jungles of darkest Africa, and let me tell you, trying to drag out the Romanian words was more painful than breaking my leg. However, she did get the gist of it and looked at me wide-eyed and asked, “Is this a fantasy story?” Apparently it was that bad.

Nu, nu,” I assured her, “Este adevarat! It’s true!”

Visions passing through my mind

After my miserable language lesson, I took a taxi home and the driver had a death wish going by the way he was careening through the traffic. I sat in the back, terror-stricken.


Frozen in terror

Visions of my life passed through the frozen and slippery black hole of my mind, cheerily accompanied by Russian hoompa hoompa music blasting forth from the taxi’s radio.

Fortunately I arrived alive and well at the right address, so at least the driver had understood my Romanian. I take my blessings where I find them.

Just pour rum over it

Entering the house (my heart still thumping), I was greeted by this cake corpse sitting on the kitchen counter, reminding me of yesterday’s catastrophy:

Cake disaster

The Zen of baking: This is not it.

It took me almost two hours yesterday to assemble this lovely raspberry-coconut-walnut-meringue confection, and then, as I took it out of the oven, it slipped out of my grip and crashed to its death. Cleaning the oven of the fallen-out goop was a joy. Then I took a picture to document my crise de pâtisserie, and that’s why you see it here now.

I know what you are saying: Pour some rum over it, get out a soup spoon and start eating. Tempting as this is, I’ll just have a cup of coffee and eat just a little piece. Who needs a sugar coma? Well, maybe me, after what I just went through in the taxi.

Please, don’t tell the police

Incidentally, this once-yummy creation was meant for my husband’s after-work office party to celebrate his birthday last night. So I made brownies instead. (There was, of course, a birthday cake, and other goodies as well.) His colleagues gave him a fabulous present, which as you can see on the photo, instantly morphed him into a Moldovan villager.

Moldovan Sheep's Skin Vest

Moldovan Sheep’s Skin Vest

He also received a very impressive certificate declaring him now a citizen of the Republic of Moldova, with a notation at the bottom to please not show it to the Moldovan police.

Okay, I still don’t have a good story here, do I? You know, one with a Beginning, a Middle, and an End? It’s just bits and pieces, flotsam and jetsam, odds and ends. It’s just black hole soup. I do apologize.

And as I’m writing this, my phone rings. It’s my English friend with the lovely British accent.

“Are you still on for the wine bar this evening?” she sings.

Am I??

The End

Update: Time has passed, and here is the story of my broken leg:

What Not to Do in the Jungle

* * *

Tell me about your Black Hole Day. I can’t wait.

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A sense of humor is of the essence!

Suzanne Grey

Hi Missfootloose

I just wanted to ask if how can I subscribe to your newsletter? By the way I love your nickname.lol


Oh I have been in a black hole myself lately! And I didn’t post for nearly a month as a result, although I did write a lot of book reviews at my other site. And I can’t believe I’m over a week behind on my blogs. Sigh. Regardless, I enjoyed reading about your “boring” day and I love that vest! 🙂 And weren’t you adorable? And I actually enjoy the view from your window…looks exotic.

Loved reading about your day! That raspberry concoction still looks delicious, even if it did crash and fall!

You could have described so many of my long boring days in China when I first arrived as a volunteer English teacher back in the 1980s.

I loved your honesty and taking me through one day of your life in Moldova.
It’s wonderful to read about the sh***y things in daily life. Now I feel better. BTW, did you eat half the cake? You said it dropped, but half is missing. Be honest. Where did it go? 🙂


Black Hole Days are all a matter of perspective. I was fortunate enough to spend several years in Chisinau and left in 2006. My “Black Hole” Day also occurred in Winter, with about 30 cm of snow on the ground, on a weekend. Driving was out of the question and not much public transport was running. So I was at home. The kitchen was my favorite room. I had wanted to make corn tortillas for a while but was having trouble finding the ingredients. A Moldovan friend with a small house in the country had given me some dried corn… Read more »


Well I certainly did! 🙂
Thanks for sharing.

Janet | expatsisterhood.com

I’m not sure I’m having a “black hole” day. I sometimes have a hard time writing about life overseas because, after awhile, “life overseas” simply becomes “life.”

I guess that’s a good thing. :).
Janet | expatsisterhood.com

Congratulations with your hubbies Bday! Interesting vest 😉 I am sure he will be wearing that a lot!
I am glad I am in the southern hemisphere right now, it looks so cold and grey!! brrr…

I hardly knew anything about Moldova before discovering this site and funnily enough it’s in the news now, thanks to Domnica Cemortan and the Costa Concordia.

Is that getting much media coverage there Karen?

“Still don’t have a good story?”, “Bits and pieces?” I think you have a fabulous story! Sometime I enjoy these the most, plain and simple stories where people just share their thoughts or bits and pieces of their life. And as Michael said, to us that picture is really interesting. It’s such a contrast to what I see outside my window, but provides an interesting look into the lives of others on the other side of the world. You can write these “bits and pieces” stories any day! 🙂

I think I would have eaten that delicious cake off the floor! Sorry to hear you had one of those days.
That Moldovan jerkin is fabulous. Have you got one too?

What you see outside your window may not be exciting to you, but I find it interesting.

It’s hard getting motivated to write sometimes. Enthusiasm comes in waves, but I don’t know what the catalyst is. Holidays seems to help though.

Oh it looks very cold overthere. nice to stay by the fire with a book or go to the wine bar of course I think cold winter days are alike everywhere. As I work most of the time you often don’t notice the weather but we have been so fortunate that we could even go for walks in the warm evening what is unusual. Your hubby looks smart as a Moldavian

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