Friday, June 12, 2009
Adventures abroad: Prologue

Before I start talking about my trip to Europe, I should mention that in many ways I am embarrassingly American. I'm monolingual. I'm fat. And in many ways, I'm terribly ignorant of the shape of the world. For example, until a couple years ago, I didn't know where Belgium was. True story.

This means that about 95% of my knowledge about Italy comes from two sources. 1) The movie Hudson Hawk. 2) The episode of Angel where they go to Rome to face down the Immortal.

This is important because Rome was going to be our first stop on our European walkabout.

Sarah was good about preparing herself for the trip. She did research. She got phrase books. She looked at maps. I was too busy getting the first draft of the book ready to do much preparation. I didn't study any languages. I didn't look at any tourist guides. I know that somewhere in Rome there's old stuff and a cool fountain. I know that somewhere in England there's Stonehenge. Somewhere in Amsterdam there are whores. Other than that, I'm flying blind….

And I do mean flying. Our flight goes from Central Wisconsin --> Detroit --> Amsterdam --> Rome. I've done a lot of flying in the last couple years, but this is different by an order of magnitude. Pretty much a whole waking day spent in the air.

Interesting fact: When you get pregnant, your body makes a bunch of extra blood. Pints and pints. Sarah told me this. She's a font of bizarre information about pregnancy. "Today Oot is growing a pancreas," she'll say. "Now he has gills like a fish."

I'm fairly certain that she makes a lot of it up. But still, I look attentive whenever she gives me these facts. Partly because I prefer things that are interesting to things that are true, but also because Sarah will cry at the drop of a hat under normal circumstances. Pregnancy has magnified this amusing quirk in a exponential way.

I actually took a video of her crying on the trip. Yes really. These things need to be recorded for the sake of science. She cries because she's upset, then I cheer her up and she cries because she's happy. Then she cries because she loves me. Then she cries because she's crying.

I probably shouldn't post that video without asking her, but here's a picture, just add a little verisimilitude.

Witness my mad comforting skills. She was weeping just minutes before this picture. After all these years with Sarah, I can stop someone's crying jag with two hugs and less than 50 words. You'll be tear-free in 60 seconds or your money back.

By the way, Oot is the baby's in-utero name. I figured we couldn't just call it "it" until it was born, so I gave him a temporary name. It's pronounced like "boot" without the "b." Just so we're clear.

Anyway, the point is that pregnant women have a lot of extra blood. So Sarah says. I can't remember her saying if it happens to all women, or just her. For all I know it might be something Sarah decided to do on her own.

Either way, apparently all this extra blood makes it a bad idea for her to sit still for long periods of time. There's a risk of blood clots. To prevent this, she has special stockings to wear and instructions to get up and walk around regularly.

Luckily, the guy next to me is willing to switch seats so Sarah can sit next to me. It's easy to forget if you watch too much news, but the vast majority of people in the world are kind and generous.

The down side is that Sarah's fear of blood clots combined with her favorite hobby, peeing, means that she wants to get up every three and a half minutes. This means that I, sitting in the isle seat, have to get up so often you'd think I was doing jumping jacks.

Why didn't I just give her the isle seat, you ask? Well... mostly because I like the isle seat. And jumping jacks, for that matter.

Eventually we made it to Amsterdam. And while Sarah and I were walking to the new gate so we could catch our connecting flight to Rome, I hear two people talking behind us. They're speaking Italian, and I hear one of them exclaim, "Mama Mia!" He says it twice in the time it takes us to get to the gate.

What really throws me off is the fact that he sounds like a bad stereotype. His accent sounds exactly like someone pretending to have an over-the-top Italian accent. If a really bad sitcom was going to have an embarrassingly unoriginal Italian character, that character would say "Mama mia!" in exactly this way.

Since this is, in many some ways, my first European experience, I can't help but wonder: is all Europe going to be like this? Are all the stereotypes true? Will a dark, handsome Italian man try to seduce Sarah? Will English food be horrifyingly bad? Are the French going to wear berets and mime at me?

These were my thoughts as our plane touched down in Rome….

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posted by Pat at


Blogger Durham said...

You know...I could have made a similar blog about my feelings before going to the US last year. ;p

June 12, 2009 3:24 AM  
Blogger Malcuy said...

See! That is the secret of foreign languages! When speaking french you actually put on an excessive french accent, because the origin of accents is the different way people enunciate, and so to enunciate correctly, you have to imitate the accent.

Random point of interest, one of the worst accents to have when speaking french I've ever heard is Brummie :

Also, I am glad that you didn't put down "Being Hairy" as one of the typical american traits, otherwise I would have become a typical american *sob* instead of my lovely British self. Or something.

I look forward to reading more of your perceptions and experiences, as and when you have the time. Or don't have the time, but do it anyway.

June 12, 2009 3:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1- You're not fat, you're pleasingly plump. 2- How did you ever convince such a beautiful lady to date you? 3- I'll be heading to Europe this fall and after reading your blog, I'll be sure to prepare myself.

June 12, 2009 3:41 AM  
Blogger marky said...

Do you know, after seeing that picture I want to hug you both, and make it all better.

Oot is a great name. We say oot instead of out in Scotland, so it might have sounded like you were giving the bambino instructions to vacate Sarah's womb!

June 12, 2009 3:45 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Ok. I don't care what you write from now on. Pretty much anyone who has made a Hudson Hawk reference in passing has peaked.

June 12, 2009 4:04 AM  
Anonymous Mark Schroeder said...

Always love to hear the in-utero name parents choose.

My son's in-utero name was Spartacus. He's 4 now. I told him that about a month ago thinking he might like it. He looked at me like I was crazy and said, "But my name is Eli." Maybe I'll try again in a couple of years.

June 12, 2009 4:05 AM  
Blogger Ponme Otra said...

Hey Pat!!

Us, the Europeans, are quite strange.

We won't (mostly) matter if someone is a little bit overweighted - I am and I don´t give a f*ck-, or if he speaks only english.

In southern Europe, us, the so-called PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Spain and Greece), have an special culture, the mediterranean, and we are kind of weird when foreigners come.

Tu sum it all, I would say, we like people to come and respect the lasts of our ancient-ancient culture (specially Italians, I tell you), and not act in an Imperalist Way.

I hope you enjoy Europe. And, by the way, congratulations for the Rothfuss Junior!!

June 12, 2009 4:09 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

She's going to kill you for posting that pic. ^_^

June 12, 2009 4:48 AM  
Blogger Marjorie said...

::snort:: I love the 'research' you did. And hearing about how Europe lived up to your preconceptions (or not)

June 12, 2009 4:54 AM  
Anonymous Marie said...

Love the prologue. When's the next chapter going to be out?

And yes, Dawn is right. Sarah's going to kill you for posting that picture. ;)

June 12, 2009 5:39 AM  
Anonymous marie said...

Forgot to thank you for sharing your adventures in Europe. So, thank you! :D

June 12, 2009 5:44 AM  
Blogger Icarus said...

Great blog!

When I went to Paris last summer, a surprising number of sights I wanted to see were locations from "Day of the Jackal" or "Ronin'.

I'll have to look for the "Hudson Hawk Guide to Italy".

June 12, 2009 6:04 AM  
Blogger Cynthia said...

congrats on oot! (the blood thing is true of all women. and I was one of those women who was always sharing weird baby facts.)

June 12, 2009 6:12 AM  
Blogger Chiara said...

such a cute-cute picture ^_^ you're a pretty nice couple, really!

ahem, as far as the Italians are concerned... do not know about handosme, black-haired guys trying to seduce your Sarah, but the "mamma mia" thing is awfully true, I'm afraid... I've been living in Germany for 3 years now and haven't got rid of it yet!!

June 12, 2009 6:26 AM  
Blogger Lea said...

Mt entire visit to Rome was based on The Gladiator! XD And a friend I was with wanted to see all the Indiana Jones sights!

Personally I think its a hilarious and uniquely American quirk that we reference places to the movies we've seen!

As for British food.. don't believe the rumors, its fantastic! Pot pies on crack I tell you!! They just name them funny and it freaks people out... like "babies head pudding" (a steamed beef pie), and "spotted dick" (actually an AWESOME raisiny cake thing).

Thanks for sharing your adventures! Oot is such an awesome name!

June 12, 2009 6:48 AM  
Blogger James said...

Long time reader, first time poster.

"Fat" isn't a politically correct term. I tell my father that he's short for his weight. Instead of being 6'4" he should be roughly 10'9". Amazingly enough, he doesn't see as much humor in that as the rest of us do.....


June 12, 2009 7:04 AM  
Blogger beckiwithani said...

My peanut was Pat before we found out her sex. When we discovered she had no penis, we couldn't break the habit and we called her MollyPat. Fortunately for her future middle school social life, we'd managed to drop the "Pat" part by the time she came out.

And get ready for even more peeing. She's peeing more often now than before because of the increased blood volume. Just wait till that thing is pushing on her bladder.... You will choose tables at restaurants for their proximity to the bathroom.

I like your blog.

June 12, 2009 7:12 AM  
Blogger Wysen said...

I love that your only two references for Rome are Hudson Hawk and Season 5 of Angel. That is just too freaking awesome!

June 12, 2009 7:34 AM  
Blogger Kari said...

Oot is an awesome "womb name". Ours was pod person (and we have photographic evidence of our baby really looking like an alien in the womb. I'll have to show it to you some time. I have a friend who went with Schrodinger because they're not finding out the sex until it's born, so it's both a boy and a girl right now. :) And it's true, all pregnant women make lots of extra blood. It's weird how much that little parasite takes over your body processes. And how much you love it anyway. :) Enjoy Rome!

June 12, 2009 7:36 AM  
Blogger Elicius said...

I agree with everyone before me, and am a little disappointed that now I have very little to say, heh.

Us Brits don't all cook poorly, I swears! I make awesome deserts! [On your next tour, be sure to try some Welshcakes! I'd make you some, but they'd die the death in the post =(].

Until recently I hated anything even approaching an idea about travelling, but since reading one my new finds - The Ninth Circle; Alex Bell - I have an overwhelming urge to visit Budapest [specifically the Millennium Monument and Margitsziget] and your blog only adds fuel to my travel-bug-based-fire.

In closing; Wow, that is the cutest post-comfort photograph ever, you two are so cute that you literally define the word 'cwtch' right there.

For the Welsh!
[Read: Eli Loves Pat]

June 12, 2009 7:37 AM  
Blogger beckiwithani said...

Ha! I only just made this connection, but wanted to make clear that (Molly)Pat was named after the SNL character (and after the New England Patriots, but that's a long story). Not after you. That would just be weird.

June 12, 2009 8:24 AM  
Blogger Ethan said...

Aisle. Unless your seat was entirely surrounded by a body of water? ; )

June 12, 2009 8:28 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Glad to see you both are having fun on the pregnancy adventure. Oot is a great fetus name. My husband and I refer to our baby to be as Parasite. We don't want to find out the sex of the baby ahead of time, which is driving everyone I know crazy. We thought Parasite was funny and technically correct. We're at about 31 weeks now and I can promise you the peeing gets worse. I got myself a half gallon sized water bottle because I've been having hydration issues and drink that all day. It also means that I spend a lot of time in the potty. It's great at work. I always have an excuse for slacking off now. :) Yes, we're having fun with the baby stuff around here, too. I just wish that Parasite didn't decide that the weekend of GenCon was going to be a good time to be born. Who wants to bet since we already sold our tickets that he's going to be early or really really late?

June 12, 2009 8:34 AM  
Blogger Teri said...

Hi Pat!

Our in-utero name was boot, because I was so small and he was so big, it looked like I was carry around cargo space.

We're planning a trip to Ireland next year. I'm already working on my brogue.

Love your blog!

June 12, 2009 9:05 AM  
Blogger Robert Crandall said...

Are you finding out the sex of the baby? If you haven't decided yet, don't find out ahead of time.

Think of the conversations taking place on Oot's birth day:

Without knowing, you'll call everyone excitedly, proudly pronouncing you've had a son!! He already has your beard! Or that you have a daughter, and she came out looking as pink and splotchy as any fairy tell princess! An amazing day, the best memory of your life.

With knowing, you'll name Oot ahead of time. When he finally comes out, it will be factual. "Yes, John was born. I really hope the Packers will today."

My wife and I are on our first child now - 30 weeks along. We've named the uterus Bok Choy Loincloth. Needless to say, we're being surprised when little Bok Choy comes out.

June 12, 2009 9:32 AM  
Blogger Doug Brown said...

I had a similar stereotype-reinforcing experience trying to buy a bottle of water from a French waiter at a restaurant on the Champs Elysees.

Sometimes things are too true to be believed.

June 12, 2009 9:37 AM  
Anonymous dameruth said...

Heh. Your Italian accent story reminds me of something that happened to a friend. She was in the SCA/RenFaire circuit down south and at a big event, this new guy showed up in costume, using what everyone thought was the world's cheesiest French accent (Pepe Le Pew time). My friend and her pals thought it was cool he was making the effort to be in-character, so nobody said anything negative, they just went with it.

Come teardown time, when everyone starts to lose the costumes, personas, etc. in favor of t-shirt and jeans and just getting packed up, this guy *still* had the French accent.

Turns out he really *was* French, and that was his real accent.

Everyone was stunned.

I guess the stereotypes have to come from somewhere . . .

Anyway, boring tl;dr, I'll go back to lurking. Really looking forward to the rest of your adventures abroad, though! :D

June 12, 2009 9:43 AM  
Blogger Joel said...

Nice post. All authors should keep travel logs.

I think all people are a mix of stereotypes of their homelands. After spending three weeks in the wilderness of South Africa and Lesotho, it was remarkably easy to spot fellow Americans (and Canadians, for that matter) by thier rather loud and somewhat possessive nature.

My first son's name in utero was "Rafiki." The second was... shot down immediately by my wife. Apparently I over did Rafiki. :-)

June 12, 2009 11:02 AM  
Blogger Martin Seeger said...

Hi Pat,

steroetypes work both ways. You won't believe, what we consider as established facts about the US.

CU, Martin

June 12, 2009 12:48 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I find the name for your fetus incredibly adorable. The boyfriend heard my squeak from the next room and made sure to stay in bed another hour this morning.
I'm eagerly anticipating the rest of this thrilling tale :)

June 12, 2009 12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

aisle I think - isle = island

June 12, 2009 1:48 PM  
Anonymous Kayleigh said...


I'm leaving for France on Monday. If anyone tries to mime at me I'll take a picture and let you know. =]

Also, Oot is a pretty awesome in-womb baby name. You should keep that name when the baby is actually born. =P

And on a final note, Sarah is a very pretty lady.

June 12, 2009 2:20 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

I still don't know where Belgium is. .so don't worry.

June 12, 2009 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Tori said...

Cute picture!

June 12, 2009 2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

English food is great.
I don't know which fool first decided it was bad...

June 12, 2009 3:09 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

This is the funniest thing I've read on this blog in a while. Peter may be correct. Sooo nice, thanks, can't wait for the rest of the travelogue.

And Pat, it's not just Sarah, all pregnant women have a lot of extra blood. Which means they are really tired from working extra hard all of the time.

June 12, 2009 3:33 PM  
Anonymous Isaac said...

don't feel bad about using the wrong "isle" (versus "aisle"). My girlfriend has this issue as makes for good jokes when she gives me aisle-specific shopping lists... i.e.: "Honey, I don't know if I'll have time to go all the way to the 'Aisle of Bread.'

June 12, 2009 5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

aisle sir, aisle

June 12, 2009 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As usual, excellent blog.

The best advice I received before my first European trip was "Keep an open mind." That gem saved my stress level and sense of humor countless times when my un-worldly Midwestern Americanness threatened to damper the wonder of being somewhere new and different.

Regarding accents, in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, I thought I was in the middle of a Doug & Bob Mackenzie sketch. Through four provinces, this was the only location where the stereotype held true.

June 12, 2009 9:29 PM  
Anonymous Gryffin said...

Pat, you two sound completely adorable. And yes, Sarah is completely right and luminously lovely, to boot. I'm sure that my habit of also spewing random facts people don't want to know would be more bearable if I were easier on the eyes.

Glad to hear that the trip was a smashing success and that you're both so good for each other. I read this blog to my wife and you had her laughing, too. Best wishes!

June 12, 2009 11:15 PM  
Anonymous Jessie said...

Hahaha! I just got back from the Amazon (in Brazil), and my tour guide there was constantly saying "Ay Caramba!".

June 13, 2009 2:56 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

all excellent, and understandable thoughts/questions. i cant wait to hear more. PS: all the stuff about sarah was both funny and cute. in the best ways. sounds like quite the woman. :)

June 13, 2009 3:24 AM  
Anonymous Julia said...

haha, you should come to Austria!
the stereotypes for Austrians are that they wear short green leather pants and chase sheep across meadows most of the time. they also yodle a lot and are lazy and always complain about stuff.
it's mostly true, except maybe the stuff about the sheep and leather pants (which is only true for part of the population). ;)

June 13, 2009 4:30 AM  
Blogger Alicia said...

Such a cute picture. Sarah's so lucky that she just looks a bit wuffly after she's been crying. Me, I'm red, blotchy, puffy and dreadfully runny.


June 13, 2009 4:56 AM  
Blogger peetie said...

Great name, but is it "boot" like people up North pronounce it, or "boot" like the rest of the country says it? Large, large difference.

And as someone 3/4 of the way through medical school, I'll double stamp the increase in blood. Except it's not effective blood - they do increase the total number of red blood cells that carry oxygen, but the pregnant also increase the amount of water those cells are swimming in. This leads to an actual setting of anemia - diluted blood. The liver cranks out crazy amounts of clotting factors, though. So even though they've got relatively anemic blood, it can clot like nobody's business.

And as a boy, I am still giggling that the "word verification" that I had to enter to post here was "glans."

June 13, 2009 8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The airplane aisle is spelled "aisle" not "isle". "isle" is a small island. I'm just a spelling fanatic. And don't get mad. Just thought I should let you know.

PS. The world verification for this comment is very close to spelling "goose (s word for crap)"

June 13, 2009 12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My advice: Be careful with English food. You might get sick of their meat pies. They're really as bad as averyone says. (Sorry to all English, that isn't meant to be insulting, it's simply true.)Try to find a French restaurant.... But hey, not all Austrians wear leather trousers, that's a cliché. It's a pity that you don't come to Austria. In some years maybe?
So, how come you call the baby Oot?

June 13, 2009 2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No offense to any Brits out there, but yes, the English food really will be that bad. The only good food I had there was at a Chinese restaurant and on the plane ride back. I can't say I saw any mimes in France, though there were a couple of those guys who spraypaint themselves gold/silver and sit there like statues and freak you out when they suddenly move. The Nutella crepes were amazing, though.

June 13, 2009 3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best embryonic name ever (given from a four year old to his unborn brother): Negdefied Wookie.

Also, after being through Asia, I was surprised, too, about how correct the stereotypes were. All Chinese people sounded insane, at least half of the women I saw in Japan were wearing costumes, and a good amount of the men looked like they belonged in a Final Fantasy game.

Great post by the way. Loved it.


June 13, 2009 4:06 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Mr Rothfuss, i hope nothing but the best for you and Sarah. the emotion in that picture and your words are incredible.

one day i hope to convince a woman that quirky, that wonderful, to care for me.

heres for hope eh?

June 14, 2009 12:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Pat, i just wanted to drop my sincere thanks for the great book, i really enjoyed it, can't wait til the next.
Madison, Wi

June 14, 2009 12:35 PM  
Anonymous MAS said...

Is that Oot pronounced *like* boot without the "b," or is it pronounced "nearly the same as" boot without the "b?"

Apparently these minor differences in language matter. :)

June 14, 2009 6:23 PM  
Blogger potter_s_l said...

Hi Pat,
The in in-utero name for our (as it turns out) daughter was "buster guppy." Oot is'nt so strange.

June 14, 2009 8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its nice to hear whats been happening! You must be terribly busy/tired.

I always find myself happier after visiting your blog. I can only imagine what it would be like to be comforted first hand!

June 15, 2009 12:54 AM  
Blogger Asinyne said...

Soooo, now that you're done traveling all over Europe, what say you jump across the border and come to Hermantown/Duluth. I will drive the 3 hours at the drop of a hat, just say the word.

June 15, 2009 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nowt wrong with English food! Anyone who says otherwise probably has questionable taste in eating establishments, and has obviously never had the pleasure of a full English breakfast, toad in the hole, shepherd's pie, or a Sunday roast with lashings of gravy and Yorkshire pudding. Fish and chips isn't half bad either, though you should ask around the locals for the best chippie...

June 15, 2009 11:15 AM  
Blogger Thomas said...

Is the baby named after Ocarina of Time? Are you going to name it Link when it comes? Or how about Biggoron?

June 15, 2009 8:16 PM  
Blogger Jerm said...

Since you now know where Belgium is, please visit us :-)
If you come I'll buy you lot's of good beer :-)

June 16, 2009 1:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stereotypes about accents and idiomatics are often true. French keep saying "put..." or "mer..." as often as US citizens use "f..." or "sh...".

All stereotypes about clothing, rudeness/politeness, cars, architecture, food etc... end up deadly wrong most of the time (except english food)...

June 17, 2009 10:50 AM  
Anonymous weasel said...

love your blog. especially the entry about your trip to europe. i think it's only fair if you'll see some remarkable stereotypes instead of being stereotyped yourself by europeans ;). after all, we're not that bad... *g*

as for british food... as far as i remember, yes, it was that bad. except for the scones, marmelade, sandwiches...all kinds of sweets, trifle... well, maybe it wasn't too bad. ^^ but if you're looking for great european food you should try france (oh noes, some british people will now want to hit me hard for this remark), greece, spain or italy.

have fun on your trip!

btw - you should definitely visit that "cool fountain". it's great! just like all the old stuff. ^^

June 17, 2009 3:05 PM  
Blogger ceri said...

You three are adorable! (And I just wanted to add that I enjoy reading your blogs as much as I enjoyed Name of the Wind

June 17, 2009 8:55 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

You legend. I thought that just needed to be made clear. Reading your blog makes me happy. Your beard is pretty awesome too, although I'm not sure why it's mildly ginger, happens to my friend as well regardless of his brown hair... My stubble is usually mildly ginger too. One of the mysteries of life I assume.

June 25, 2009 7:44 AM  
Anonymous xavier said...

Mmhey. Love your Book. When's the next one coming out? Mind replying me at [email protected]? Thanks =]

July 6, 2009 1:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife was less about pregnancy facts and more about threats; "Oh, you're going to be that way? Well, then the baby just lost a finger! That's right, I refuse to grow the baby's finger." Joking of course. My son was born with all ten fingers and toes. Ah, pregnancy. Good times.

July 9, 2009 3:27 PM  
Blogger Priit said...

Did you know that the name you gave to baby means "wait" in estonian language..?
Well it's "oota" but we often say just "Oot" or it sounds without the "a".
So I think that you're waiting the baby to be born sub-counsiously, but we also think we descend from sumers haha :D

Best wishes

September 17, 2009 4:57 PM  

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