Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ask and ye shall receive

For those of you who asked, I finally made a nice organized Flickr set of recently completed projects for you. If you see something you like, just let me know. I tend to have lots of free time on my hands lately, but I don't know how long that will last! Especially since I plan on teaching my self how to both knit and crochet once I'm home :) The link is in the pretty flash badge on the left and here. Enjoy!

Monday, December 11, 2006

12 days...

For what is likely to be our last weekend trip, we headed to Nuernberg to visit with Andreas and Doreen and go to Germany's "Biggest" Christkindelmarkt. Like all of our past trips, this one was not without it's weird and fun moments.

- There is not a single hotel or hostel available in the whole city, so we have to settle for a pension. This is where you get to rent out someone's apartment for a night. Sounds ok, especially for only 35 Euros. We arrive at the office to pay and pick up our keys and meet the two weirdest guys in the country, for sure. One holds Eric hostage in the office for 25 minutes with his woeful tale of being deserted by his American son-in-law ten years prior, from which he has clearly never recovered. He looks near tears. The other tries desperately to talk to me, while I try desperately not to look at his crusty, purple sweater and peeling, bloody lips. I pretend I can't understand German, so he starts speaking in damn good English. Blast!

- It rains the whole day while we wander through the market. Luckily I have a giant red umbrella, but rather than keep us dry, I end up maiming people since there is such a huge crowd. It wouldn't be so bad if the all older women here didn't insist on transporting their tiny dogs in baby carriages. Apparently they are afraid a Yorkie on a leash would get trampled. They push these dogs around like they own the place, rolling over your feet with the carriages, while wrapping the dogs in sherpa and feeding them gingerbread.

- Early on we have mugs of Gluehwein and Feuerzagenbowle, both hot and spiced, but the latter also involves soaking sugar cones in rum and lighting them on fire. It's damn tasty, and fully responsible for why I have now run out of stories of that night. I know somewhere in there we ate dinner, tried beer that tastes like ham, had a drink at a Mexican place and something else. I just don't really remember the rest.

- The next day is gorgeous and sunny, so I drag Eric through the market to do some actual shopping. I get excited to find pickle ornaments, having heard of the "German Christmas Pickle"legend before. The story is that you hide a pickle on your Christmas tree and the first person to find it gets a year of good luck and prosperity. Plus, the ornaments ar so cute and shiny! I buy four of them as gifts. Turns out the "tradition" is a load of quatsch (German for bullshit)! We ask Doreen and Andreas later and they have never heard of it. We look it up online and find this article. Another conspiracy, man.

- We have lunch, say goodbye to A and D, and almost miss our train. Another crazy, pricey weekend, but at least my Christmas shopping is almost done! Two weeks to come home, not that I'm counting.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Christmas is in the air!

We took a day trip to Zuerich, Switzerland this Saturday to get a head start on our holiday festivities. It was a beautiful day, but the most expensive daytrip in the history of the world, and we didn't even buy that many presents!

- Train ticket from Friedrichshafen to Zuerich: 2 hours, 100 Euros. And still no passport stamp! I've crossed this border three times and no one wants to stamp me.

- We had to make an emergency McD's stop for fries and another stop for caffiene. You know what happens when Eric gets hungry and I get sleepy, it ain't pretty. Large fries: 6 Francs. 2 Cappucinos: 10 Francs. (p.s. This was during a transfer, so we got to get back on a train and watch a grandmother smack her two obnoxious little grandkids around for an hour. They told her off in French the whole time. Sweet.)

- We arrive in Zuerich and walk around the entire city, which is decorated in hundreds of lights and miles of evergreen. Miraculously, it's not at all tacky. No big fake Santas, no inflateable snowmen, no plastic reindeer! It's so clean and sparkly I want to move in. There are beautiful department stores windows that put Macy's NY to SHAME! However, we can't afford to buy anything in these stores. I'm hunting for birthday boots, but one pair of tall leather boots: 549 Francs! Ouch.

- We find the outdoor Christmas Market and stop for my first Gluehwein. Red wine with sugar and mulling spices, served hot. Hell yes. Two cups gluehwein: 10 Francs.

- You just can't go to Switzerland without buying chocolate, so we stop in a chocolatiers. They have the most beautiful sweets I have ever seen. Little marzipan candies made to look like sushi! We buy five gorgeous wrapped chocolate bars for gifts and struggle all night not to tear them open and devour them! One bar fancy Swiss chocolate: 6.90 Francs.

- Hours of walking and window shopping equals hunger. We read every menu of every restaraunt we pass looking for something reasonable. And by reasonable I mean something that will fill us up without costing over $100. It's not easy. We settle on Bar Cantina, a bit redundant, no? The food is good, the service is fantastic. Finally a waiter with a personality! I was actually starting to miss the annoying friendliness of Friday's girls with all the apathetic German servers I've seen. Anyway, the only downside is that smoking is allowed everywhere, so the woman next to us chain smoked for an hour, pausing only to gum down her meal and stare at Eric. Dinner, no drinks: 60 Francs.

- It's getting late, so we head over to the indoor Christmas Market at the train station. The famous Swarovski tree is up. This is the original, as tall as the tree in Rockefeller center and covered in about 6000 crystal ornaments on long white ribbons. The base is surrounded with a wall of glass, and little scenes of glass and crystal are displayed inside. Crystal penguins and polar bears on smoky crystal iceburgs, jeweled parrots on crystal trees, huge glass cornucopias full of jeweled fruit, it's so gorgeous I could cry. Instead we drink more gluehwein:) 2 cups of gluehwein: 10 Francs.

- The booths at the Christmas market are actually not all that impressive. In addition to the handmade cheeses, sweets, preserves, and sausages, there are lots of booths full of junk. It's the type of thing you might get at Gaspee Days: essential oils and incense, tapestries, sterling silver, kitschy crafts. There are petchouli stankin' hippies in Germany, too! Some of you dolls would fit right in ;) We decide not to buy any gifts, since we can get all of it cheaper in Friedrichshafen, but we do get a block of excellent cheese. That's our treat for the day; we like cheese, so what? One block Emmentaler Schaukaeserei: .33kg, 9.90 Francs.

- On our way to the train we decide to check a newspaper kiosk and are happy to find they have magazines in English. Eric snags a Playboy and I say go for it; they do have excellent writers! At the register we find out it costs 22.50 Francs! All set. The cashier tries to convince Eric to buy it, "It is very good!" Dirty whore. No thanks.

- It's a long train ride home. We get in at midnight, with our block of cheese and a bunch of chocolates. Not much to show for our holiday trip to the "World's Best City to Live In." They should rephrase that to say, "World's Best City to Live In If You Are Filthy Stinking Rich." It's very beautiful, but the next time I visit Zuerich, I will make sure I have won the lottery first.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Holy F@#$%&* Shit!

The new Snoop Dogg single "Vato" is out on video here. And they don't edit anything. I've never heard that kinda dirty talk on TV before! I was a bit shocked; it was awesome. You get to hear Snoop and B-Real say motherfucker at least 20 times and shit, bitch, fuck, and even the n-word are on a constant loop. Go liberal German programming! Oh and yesterday there were bare boobs on TV before prime time. You bitches know you are so jealous!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Munich Reloaded

We finally made it back to our favorite city this weekend! Eric had a trainee session this past week, and a group of his fellow trainees planned a trip together. Of course I had to come along! We had a blast, but here are a few things to note for future trips...

1. Never let a young, cheap German guy choose your hotel. We knew as soon as we drove up we were in trouble, since we were in the only bad part of the whole city. Hotel Daheim had the cheapest rooms in the city... 52 Euros gets you clean sheets, a 12 inch TV, and a view of the street full of cars, motorbikes, and yelling, even at 3 AM. The bathroom in our room smelled like a frat house, and I saw a mouse in the lobby.

2. Always have your camera at the ready. We had to make a stop at the famed, but totally lame Haufbrauhaus, much to our chagrin. There is one other American trainee, Matt, and his girlfriend Lisa had never been to Germany before, so this spot was number one on their list of things to do. The beer is bad and it's full of tourists, but you just have to go once. Lisa sat on the lap of an old angry German dude in lederhosen. He looked pissed. And I have no photo.

3. Learn to bob and weave, or carry a red umbrella. The crowds were big, even for a Saturday, thanks to the 60 degree weather. Eric decided to take the lead, and ran through the swarm like a bloodhound on crack. We had a group of 8, all trying not to lose him. It got messy. Several old women were shoved and two children were injured. But we got where we needed to go.

4. Savor nice surprises. We had dinner at Asago Steak, and were thrilled to discover that it was really nice. We had good service (shocker!), we didn't have to wait long, and the food was fantastic. We had our first steak since leaving the US. It was perfect. Thank God for big cities.

5. Don't go to strip clubs in the dirtiest part of the city. Eric and I opted out of this plan, because even with a few drinks, we are still logical. Everyone else ran in. Twenty minutes later they were back. It was "Black Sunday" at the club even though it was only Saturday. That meant no entry fee, but no one dances, unless you pay for a private room. The Eastern European girls just lounge at the bar, looking for a stupid American to marry for a Green Card. And the drinks cost more. What a bargain!

6. Take advantage of good weather. We spent Sunday afternoon in the Englisher Garten with Eric's friends Doreen, Andreas, and HP, who rock, as you may remember from the earlier Oktoberfest post. A few of the trainees tagged along before we all had to catch a train back to Friedrichshafen. The day was beautiful and still warm enough to sit outside at the bier garten, so why not drink a liter at noon? Everyone else is doing it. I was so tired from the sleepless night in the Turkish rat hotel that I got buzzed off one beer and later fell asleep on the train.

Overall, this was an excellent trip, our first without injury or accident. It's possible we have turned over a new leaf!

p.s. you can click on the above photo to get a better look at Assamkirche, by far the gaudiest, coolest church in Germany!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Spreadin' the turkey love

Happy Thanksgiving!

Until this week, I'd been feeling a bit down about Thanksgiving this year. It would be the first holiday spent without my family, I might have to work all day, and Eric would be away at training all week. I was afraid I would spend Thanksgiving in Germany alone! But, luckily, I had an epiphany. I know people! I can cook! Why shouldn't I have my own Thanksgiving?

So, having recently quit the lovely Thursday job, I didn't have to work at all. I invited the two girls from my German class for dinner. The most international Thanksgiving I can imagine hosting. Cibele is Brazilian and Alia is Canadian. She brought her boyfriend, a German with a sweet farmer connection, so she actually got her hands on a butternut squash. That sounds weird, I know, until you go shopping here and can't find anything for a traditional American turkey dinner. No whole turkeys, no cranberry sauce, no pie crusts, no pumpkins, no squash...

I improvised. I made two huge turkey things. I say things, because I have no idea what part of the turkey it actually was. I made my aunt's famous party potatoes, stuffing from a foodtv recipe, and pear tarts from frozen pastry in a box. I guessed when I bought it since I couldn't read the label! I even made cranberry sauce from scratch. That was a feat in and of itself since you can never get cranberries here. I did a litle dance when I saw a one lone bag in the produce section. I know, I'm a loser.

Dinner was lots of fun and it was nice to be able to have a real conversation! Sarcasm! Jokes! Cultural references! Cibele's English is great, and Ralph lived in the US for a long time, so we could actually talk. Eric even got to sneak away from training for a few hours at the end of the night, which was a big surprise. He got to meet the girls I talk about constantly, and it made me feel good to be able to host a party. I love entertaining, and haven't done it once here! It also felt nice to be able to have an evening with my own friends and not Eric's friends. Don't get me wrong, I love the guys Eric knows here, but it's cool to have made my own friends. Sometimes a girl just needs girls around...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I'm not really that bitter!

Wow. Reading those last two posts made me realize that I need to post more often. Taking a month off gave me enough time to let my thoughts bubble over into a bitchy, critical stew, which is exactly what this blog was meant to avoid in the first place. To make up for it here is today's good thought...
Today as I walked to my German class I had to wait at a crossing. Across the road was a guy about my age, carrying a backpack and a staff as tall as he was. He was also dressed in black Lederhosen, complete with tassled stockings and a big hat. I had to bite my lip to avoid laughing out loud. As we passed each other a moment later, he tipped his hat to me and I smiled all the way to class. Now where else would that happen?

Monday, November 13, 2006

It's all a front

One of the biggest stereotypes I heard before moving to Germany was that people here are very efficient, orderly, and in control. This idea leads Americans to believe that things are wonderfully in order in Germany, as long as you follow the rules and fill out the paperwork correctly. Not true. They want you to believe that this place runs smoothly like the well-oiled machines for which they are famous, but it's all bullshit. A few examples:

- You can't get anyone on the phone. Try to call an office of any type. The Post, a bank, even the U.S. Consulate. You will get a machine. If you are blessed enough to get a human being, he/she will transfer you to a machine. When you call again and get that same person on the phone, they will not remember having spoken to you moments earlier. And then they will tranfer you to a machine.
- Having no luck with the telephone, you try to visit said office in person. It is closed. It opens at 9, closes from 12 until 2 for lunch and then closes for the day at 5. This requires that you take time out of work to make it during those short hours of operation. But surprise! There are also various reasons why the office could be closed for the entire day, such as a state holiday you have never heard of or seen noted anywhere, a spontaneous outing made by the office manager, or a flash flood. If you do happen to find the office open, the person with whom you need to speak will be out on holiday until January.
- Everything is closed on Sunday. Clothing stores, grocery stores, drugstores! You'd better not get sick on a Sunday. And you had better plan ahead. Don't want to have friends come to visit with no food or drinks to serve. Otherwise you'll have to go out to an overpriced cafe for lunch... hmm, I sense a plot.
- If you do take these friends to a cafe, be careful what you say. If the waiter hears your foreigner's accent, he may pretend that he can not understand you, preferring to say, "Wie bitte?" in the snottiest tone imaginable while making you repeat yourself three times. Even if all you are trying to say is "Cappucino, bitte." Even if he figures out you are American and he speaks fluent English. He wants you to speak fluent German, and until you do, you won't get a coffee from him. All of this makes for a very long and tiring cafe experience, which leads me to my next point.
- Food and beverage service. Now I know that as an experienced server, I have many biases, but give me a break. You will wait 20 minutes at a table to be acknowledged. Your food will take 45 minutes. No one will ever return to the table, so pray that you get what you ordered, and if not, eat it anyway. Prepare to be at the restaurant for 4 hours. Bars are no better. One little Mexican place in our neighborhood has a happy hour for one hour every single night. It is always packed. They only have two bartenders and two cocktail waitresses working. And if you sit at the bar you get to watch them prepare a drink: crush ice, pour alcohol, slice lime to garnish drink, smoke a cigarette, add soda, argue for ten minutes with cocktail waitress while smoking another cigarette, place straw in drink, notice ice has melted and toss drink down drain, begin again. Better not complain though, they will know you are an American! The Germans accept and love this, because waiting gives them the excuse to talk more shit about you while you look uncomfortable and thirsty at the bar.

The point is that Germany is just like any other place with annoying bureaucracy and red tape, with human beings who are flawed and have prejudices, with a system that doesn't always work the way it could or should. All of that would be fine if not for the attack of (dare I say it?) propaganda to make us think this is not the case. Everyone I know here talks about how organized and efficient they are! Efficient my ass. Hey, America is full of bullshit, but at least we can admit it.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

"We like American Music best, baby"

I first noticed this issue back in RI, when watching films for my German summer course. Every one of the twelve or so films screened for us was written and produced in Germany, with German actors, directors, etc. However, we all noticed immediately that at least 85% of the songs in these films were performed in English. Not always American (although Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" was in two films, and the original version by Leonard Cohen was in another), but English language. We thought it was strange, and none of the Germans in the program had any explanation. That in itself was unsettling, because they always had an answer for everything.

Now it is several months later and the same phenomenon is popping up everywhere. Every day when I watch TV, most of the commercials and programs feature music with lyrics sung in English. And I'm not talking CNN Asia here, I mean German programming. I find this weird. There are many talented German musicians, and I would think the media here would want to support them by using their songs. Guess not.

Translation on TV is odd, too. I can't for the life of me figure it out. American films are ALWAYS dubbed, but some TV shows are not. "The Simpsons" (called "Die Simpsons") is dubbed. A huge mistake, because most of the humor is lost and it makes a classic show into a boring waste of time. MTV shows usually have subtitles, like "Date My Mom" and "Pimp My Ride International." Yet, other shows like "Made" are dubbed. I don't know which is more ridiculous: the fact that someone takes the time to dub such shit programming, or the fact that German kids are reading furiously to see which Mom says the worst things about her daughter.

They change titles indescriminately also. "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" becomes "Harry Potter und die Kammer des Schreckens," a literal translation. However, "You, Me, and Dupree" becomes "Ich, Du, und der Andere" or "I, You, and the Other." Some titles are left in English, and others renamed entirely. I don't really care, but the inconsistancy is confusing because, hey, this is Germany. For a country so bogged down with nit picky laws, officials, and stacks of paperwork, I thought for sure there would be regulations for this kind of thing. I can't even pick up my mail without opening it in front of customs officials now. So nobondy send me anything that could be percieved as a threat, or I'll be arrested.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Working girl!

If I ever end up looking like this woman, please, I beg of you... KILL ME!

The big news is, I started my new job(s) this past week. After that whole B.P. debacle left me out of work from April until June, then summer break, and then my move, it's been a loong time out of the classroom! I was getting a little crazy from boredom. Now I have two jobs teaching English at two locatons. One is for inlingua, an international language group that has locations everywhere, and the other is a technical school (hochschule) in a neighboring town. Total hours a week? 14. That's right, an overwhelming 14 hours. Better than nothing, I guess!

The thing is, it's hardly like working at all, it's so easy. Basically I teach kindergarten English to adults at inlingua. Pretty uneventful, although my students are very cool and have great personalities. The wierdest thing is that after every class, they invite me out for drinks. I always politely decline, something about having cocktails with students wierds me out. Could be all those American law suits and teachers in jail :)

At the Hochschule I teach "Business English" to groups of 20 kids in their early twenties. They all speak pretty good English already, and peppered me with questions the first day: "Do you know Eminem?," "Do you like 'The Terminator?'," "Are you married?" Wait, am I in high school again? It was just like the first day of school in SHS. Then they tried to prove to me how in tune they are to American culture with such notable quotes as: "Tell it to the hand," and "Yeeeaah! Oh-kay!"

The strangest moment of the first day was when class ended, and the room was suddenly filled with banging noises. I looked up and saw that all of the kids were knocking on their tables. I must have looked like a freak, because I was thinking, "What the FUCK?" I was so confused I looked at some kids and asked, "Somebody wanna tell me what's up with the knocking?" They said it's what they do instead of clapping. All I could imagine was a bunch of Germans in a theater, knocking on arm rests after the ballet or something. Weird. Of course I asked Eric about it later and he looked at me like I was nuts.

Eric: "How did you not know that?"
Me: "You never told me."
Eric: "I thought everyone knew that. Duh. At the end of a really good presentation or lecture they knock. Not at a show, dumbass."
Me: "So they liked my class?"
Eric: "Well, now it's just a habit, so they do it all the time. Not a big deal."
Me: "Oh."

So maybe the class sucked, and ok, that's my paraphrasing of the conversation of course. You all know he's really not a mean smart-ass...

Friday, September 29, 2006

Better than heroin

Popstar is Reality TV at its best!

Admit it. Like me, you love to watch people fighting it out for 15 minutes of fame. It's great when they also have looks, talent, personality, humor, wit, or brains. Most American reality TV offers up at least a sampling of those qualities, it's what makes us watch before the drama hooks us in.

is nothing like this. It's better. In a German Making the Band 3, 20 girls are thrown together in an abandoned ski loft accessible only by gondola, given vocal and dance training, and forced to perform routines while singing impossible songs, like "Don't Cry For Me Argentina." Problem? Only two of them can sing. And none of them can dance. It's like watching Spotlight on Talent on public access Channel 13, but with more makeup and higher heels. Oh, and these girls cry. All the time. I'm serious. Even during performances.

They even have a panel made up of washed-up stars and execs, featuring the hugely famous Nina Hagen. This woman is fabulous! She's like a talented Janice Dickinson, if Janice Dickinson was a man in drag who chased Ecstasy with bourbon and thought he was a spiritual healer. She also does a mean Freddie Mercury impression.

Luckily, the Popstar website is generous enough to give us bios and photos of the lovely ladies; even better, you get to watch clips from previous episodes. My absolute favorite is Die Maedels vor der Show where the girls, dressed for performance, complain that they don't look enough like trashy Burlesque street walkers to win it. We then get to see my favorite cryer Kristina wonder aloud if her jacket makes her tits look flat, while Leo thanks her mama for giving her the inspiration to achieve her dream of sucking horribly in front of a television audience. Or at least that's my loose translation.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Taking Oktoberfest by storm...

Or maybe it was the other way around. Eric and I made our way up to Munich this weekend for Oktoberfest - my first time and his 15th. Not sure how good his memories are of the last trips, however. Here are some highlights:

- Luckily, our travel time was uneventful this trip. We throw our bags into a locker at the train station and walk off to meet Hans-Peter, our host for the weekend. Unfotunately, he's at Oktoberfest (the Wiesen) and we aren't prepared. We're both in sandals, but we go anyway.

- Five minutes after stepping on the grounds, I kick a huge broken glass and slice open my big toe, cracking the nail in half. Blood everywhere. Sandals get ruined. Eric gets queasy. I end up in the first aid tent before I've even had a beer. All the doctors laugh at me.

- The next morning we are in line for 8 AM to get into a tent at the Wiesen. By tent I mean ginormous hall that can fit 8000 people. The crowd is already big when we arrive, mostly teenagers in lederhosen and dirndls. The girls all look adorable, but the boys just look, well, gay. When the doors open, they try to crush and trample us to get in, then they run screaming for a table, which we do, too. You have to guard these tables with your life, cause you can't order a beer without a seat. It's chaos, and it's only 10 AM.

- Everyone orders a mass (you know, those beers bigger than your head?) and the fun begins. It's the best people watching on earth. Although most people are between 16 and 30, there are lots of old people, too. And the vast majority of them are all dressed up in their German specials. It's awesome.

- The band begins and the place goes nuts. Mostly its oompa oompa stuff, but they toss in some random surprises. "Heeey Baby! I wanna know-oh-oh, if you'll be my girl! Ooh Aah!" What? Somehow this American classic has become a German drinking chant. It's cool; it's the only time during the day when I can actually sing along. And when I am not stuffing my face with a giant pretzel.

-Eric and I head out around 4 for an afternoon nap. No one else does this. As we step outside, the first evidence of the rumored "Italian Weekend" craziness is everywhere. The crowd is full of drunk Italians. People are passed out all over the grass. Most people in the crowd are singing or screaming, and there are already a few fights. Even on the 20 minute walk back to the apartment, almost everyone we see is wasted.

- We sleep til 7:30, miss all the possible shopping, and head back to the Wiesen to meet friends Andreas and Doreen. We meet some very drunk Americans who claim they are Swiss, and one of them tries to sit on Eric's head. Doreen's friend Stefan babbles at me in such drunken German I can barely follow him, but he is trying to call me a cow and something about Bin Laden. How those two things relate I will never know. We wander the grounds for a while, people watching. It's a massive carnival outside the tents: rides, games, food, and trash. More beers, more freaks, more fights. Many of these people have been drinking since 10 AM. I don't know how there aren't more casualties.

-We cap the night off with doenner, the best drunk food ever. Definitely my favorite thing to eat here, even if it is Turkish. Make our way back home to find Hans-Peter, whom we have not seen all day, lounging in his lederhosen, drunk as a skunk. He's so excited about his day and can't wait to tell us the "funniest, best story ever! I met two Austrians!" And? That's it. Great story. After a glass of wine and a discussion about music send him to bed with a new love for Corinne Bailey Rae, I fall asleep and have nightmares about blood, beer, lederhosen, and a ferris wheel.

-Sunday morning is beautiful, and thanks to our nap, painless. We walk the city, and relax. Unfortunately, shops are closed on Sundays, so no shopping. The Italian tourists are out in force; I hear as much Italian spoken on the streets as German. Half of them are hung over and angry. Every fourth person on the streets is wearing an "I Survived Oktoberfest 2006" tee shirt. We have killer sushi for lunch, and head to the train station feeling kind of bummed. This is Eric's favorite city; he lived here for a year. Our little home in Friedrichshafen is pretty, but it just doesn't compare!

-Another long train ride gets us home tired and hungry. My bandaged feet are throbbing, but it's worth it. And this time I did remember to buy a tee shirt.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

For my Swap Stalkers

More Information than a Swap Partner/Detective Could Want or Need:

Birthday: 12/24/79

Location: Germany, but I was born and raised in Rhode Island, USA

Ethnicity: French, Italian, Irish

Occupation: I was a high school English teacher for four years, but am on hiatus. Once I settle I will start my Masters in Library/Media Science.

Dream Occupation: I've always wanted to be a rock star, astronaut, and stay at home mom. All at once :)

Sizes: Shoes: U.S. size 9 or 9 ½

Pants: U.S. size 4 or 6

Tops: U.S. size small for most things. Definitely small for tees unless they will shrink or run very tiny. I like things fitted, but not street walker tight. Hoodies I like a bit bigger, so probably a medium.

Colors I like: All shades of blue and purple, jade, mint and olive greens, aqua and turquoise, any pink that isn’t too obnoxious, yellow, jewel tones, earth tones, and all neutrals.

Colors I dislike: I won’t wear orange clothing, but I don’t dislike the color. It justs makes me look dead. I don’t like neons and I hate mauve, mostly because I dislike the word mauve.

My style: This is so hard! I guess I'd call my style classic eclectic. I love to wear classic pieces (jeans, tees, white button downs, dresses with classic lines) and add loud, fun pieces. Comfort is key. I love tee shirts and hoodies for hanging around. I'm a bit preppy and a bit bohemian.The bigger the jewelry the better. I used to only wear silver and stones, but I have found a few gold pieces I like. It’s tough though, so I’d say stick to silver! I love necklaces most, but earrings are in second place. I like to wear bracelets, but don’t have many. I love fun shoes and bags- I can never have enough! And any style is great, because I love to mix!

My non-crafting hobbies: Pilates, reading, writing (fiction), the Red Sox, teaching, the beach!, eating (I'm a total foodie! I love to cook, try new recipes, and go to new restaurants), watching crappy reality TV, live music, pretending I am a real chef, hanging out with my nephews Nic and Charlie, learning German, traveling.

Crafts I love: Paper! Anything paper: scrapbooking, ATCs, card making, paper making…
I love to recon and embellish clothing since I am currently without a sewing machine and can’t make anything from scratch: Beading, embroidery, stencil, appliqué, hand painting, bleaching, etc. I’m sort of a jack of all trades, though. I like to try new things and can make pretty much anything that isn’t knit or crochet.

Craft I’d like to try: I'd love a crochet, needle felting, PMC, yarn dying or stamp carving kit! My granny just taught me to knit so I need to learn to read a pattern.

I collect: Necklaces and earrings, bags and shoes, vintage scarves, beads, t-shirts ( I love hand painted, screen printed, and stenciled shirts), fabric, books, recipes, quotes, rubber stamps, postcards, stencils, and paper/ephemera. I always need beads and paper for scrapbooking! I'm working on a vintagy book for my mom now, so even lace and fabric scraps would be lovely!

Books: Again, this is so hard to do! I have so many favorites. I loved The Hitchhiker's Guides, A Prayer for Owen Meany, White Teeth, Push, Kite Runner, Extremely Loud and Incredible Close, To Kill a Mockingbird, Parfum, Life of Pi, Paper Fan.

Authors is probably a better way to go: Chuck Palahniuk, Jonathan Safron Foer, Zadie Smith, Tom Robbins, Carl Hiassen, Isabel Allende, Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, Vonnegut, Balzac, Dickens, and don’t get me started on poets! I also love children's literature and young adult literature. Judy Blume, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Julie Edwards, Roald Dahl, etc.

Movies: Fight Club, Breakfast at Tiffanys, The Wizard of Oz, Thin Red Line, Waiting, Full Metal Jacket, Old School, Amelie, real movie classics, anything with Johnny Depp, Audrey Hepburn, Mel Brooks, or Grace Kelly, anything Stanley Kubrik, Sofia Coppola, Tim Burton, or Terrence Malick.

TV: I love nip/tuck and contest based reality TV (Top Chef, Project Runway). I am also recently hooked on Lost, having downloaded and watched the first two seasons in two weeks. The third one is a bit disappointing however.

Random things/themes I like: Like many crafty ladies, I too love the cute food, robots, and skully revolution. I like argyle and stripes as long as they are horizontal on clothing, tiny prints, nature (especially ocean) inspired themes, Victorian themes, literature/reading themes, toilet humor, grammar jokes/puns/funny typos, Classic Hollywood themes, travel (esp. European) themes, old B horror movie themes and vintage vintage vintage. I LOVE thrifting for vintage books, clothing, and accessories.

I would love you if you sent me: Right now I really want a pair of black sequined shorts. Call me crazy. An ATC book, your favorite recipes, a postcard, your stash busting yarn/paper/bead/fabric/embroidery supplies, or anything at all from my wists.

Please don’t send me: Hats, I don't wear 'em. Also anything overly religious or pro-Bush unless it’s ironic.

Thank you thank you thank you!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The eagle has landed

After over 12 hours of traveling and over 24 hours without sleep, I have finally arrived in Friedrichshafen. My new "home sweet home." If I don't keep track of all of the experiences I have here, I know it will be like some things never happened. My memory's not what it used to be! Oh, and I'll go crazy. I've kept tons of journals over the years, since age 10, and they have always helped keep me sane. Crossing my fingers that this new version off my old taped together composition books works the same wonders...

What I've been thinking of since I arrived:

Things to love here:

-The view. Look straight across the lake and there are the Alps. Gorgeous. And the sunsets are like nothing I've ever seen.
-Cobblestones. I love cobblestone streets. Even if they do make my feet hurt once I've been wandering around for three hours.
-Ice cream. You can get ice cream at any shop along the water. The coffee flavor actually tastes like espresso in a creamy frozen form.Yum.
-German children. The cutest little kids are everywhere! And the accents! But sometimes their parents let them play naked in fountains. Hmm.
-Bikes. Everyone rides a bike. Even the elderly. That means almost everyone is in good shape. Meanwhile I am huffing and puffing after bringing my laundry up three flights.
-Smart cars. I know anyone with any clue about cars hates these things. But they are just so f'in cute!
-Beer. I don't need to say more.
-CNN Asia. No more hunting the internet for actual unbiased news stories. No more screaming at the TV while watching FOX news. Real information! About the actual world! And not just the USA. Hooray!
-Fullets. That's our temporary name for the very popular hair style - the faux hawk mullet. I'll come up with something better. These are everywhere, but are favored mostly by younger men. Most of the ones I have seen are on Turkish boys, but the German boys like it, too. Commonly a fullet is paired with a tight T-shirt, preferably pink, some Playboy bunny symbols in belt or flashy earring form, and baggy jeans tucked into high top sneakers. Better yet, some of them tug their jeans into their socks. It's awe inspiring. I'll post a photo as soon as I can bribe one to let me take his picture.

Things I miss (aside from the obvious family and friends):
-Peanut butter. Hands down the number one thing I crave.
UPDATE: A huge jar of Skippy arrived in the post today. Thanks, Mom!
-Flat sheets and pillow cases. You can't get them. I don't know why.
-Low sodium chicken stock. I can't cook half of my favorites without it!
-Mac and cheese. Odd, I don't eat it often at home, but now I want it because I can't have it.
-Closet space. Even at 1/8th it's usual size, my wardrobe could overtake this apartment.
-My car. I will admit I like walking around, and the trains and buses will grow on me. But I miss my car! I practically lived in that baby!
-nip/tuck. I can't find a download anywhere! itunes doesn't have it, the fx site doesn't have it, what's a girl to do! I can not accept the fact that I am going to miss this entire season.
UPDATE: And now I don't have to. Thank you honey for finding it!
-Phone calls. I'm six hours ahead of most of you, so it's impossible to call at a good time. I hate not talking to my friends on a regular basis!
- Joanna the Party Girl. When you can't speak the language, it's tough to be your typical outgoing, sarcastic, entertainin' self. You get stuck talking to anyone who speaks even the most rudimentary English. Even if they are rude or annoying. They like to practice. They don't always get your jokes, but they'll smie like they do. It's a bit like being a senile old woman. People just humor you.

I went all the way to Berlin, all I got was dirty feet.

Oh, I also got lots of awesome photos and learned some pretty interesting things.
Here's the very abbreviated version:

- Drove 8 hours on the Autobahn with much success despite the traffic, the reek of manure, and insane drivers. Had a fender bender five minutes from our destination. Sweet.

- Met up with Eric's Brazilian friend Bernardo and learned we would be staying in the room of a German surfer who is currently traveling in Spain. His room tells us he is an amazing photographer, surfer, and botanist, but also a dirty, dirty boy. Porn and grime inhabit his room along with us.

- Woke up and did a free Berlin walking tour. For three hours. Saw amazing historical buildings and monuments and learned many amazing facts from our very cool, but strangely British tour guide. Points worth noting: The Berlin Wall may never have come down if not for a hangover. And David Hasselhoff was the number 1 selling artist in Germany in 1989.

- Finished the evening off with a pub crawl. Somehow I volunteered for a contest at the start of the night. It involved our guide holding 2 bottles of vodka orange, an Australian named Astrid, and a confused me. Ended with my shameful loss, a sticky neck, and the desire to never drink OJ again.

- Later that same night I learned that there is a German subculture even weirder than the Dominatrix Industrial Underground. We know it as the "Dirty Dirty." Yes, the club featured a group of young men in huge white tees and big sneakers. They got their lean on while spinning their shirts over their heads "like a helicopter." Apparently the younger generation has shunned their parents love for the Hoff in order to obsess over his replacement: Lil John and anyone from ATL.

- A very long train ride got us home at 11:30 on Sunday night. I slept til 11 AM today and my feet are still dirty. Maybe I should have bought a t shirt.

You can see the entire album with comments here