Saturday, September 28, 2013

So disappointing - so disappointing.

Every time I am thinking about blogging now, the day is already over and I am dead tired. The other day, I wrote a blog while falling asleep (or vice versa) - and thank goodness, I didn't publish it.
Have you ever fallen asleep while you were typing on your laptop or even (Mama, don't read to the end of this paragraph) while taking notes in school?! To an extend, it is the funniest thing, but I am certain that the 3 readers of this blog would turn their backs on me, if I left them with those sadly scribbled hieroglyphs.

Anyways, I know, I am such a terrible disappointment right now and believe me, I am not proud of myself.

I am still in the U.S., in Baltimore, and I still miss Nick a whole lot. So I am trying to fill my day with a lot of great things (like drinking lots of coffee or going to the gym a lot) to make time fly just a bit faster.

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In addition to this, I am staying with our wonderful friends, who kindly opened their home to me and we spend a lot of time talking or eating - or both. I still can't believe that their little daughter thinks I'm cool and lets me play with her. It's the greatest thing! She calls my name every single morning - at least that is what I hear her say (She might just be hungry or need a diaper change). She also lets me play with her in her incredible play-room, just so that I can keep myself occupied. (There is even a little circus tent in that room, seriously people, we should all have circus tents in our homes.)

The gym was only a good idea until I did something to my shoulder muscle. I was on the shoulder press and noticed on the 7th repetition (of my third set of 15) that something felt weird. Next thing I know is that I pushed those weights up only once more, because it "cracked" or "plopped" right by my shoulder blade and since then, life has been a miserable painful mess.

Have you ever read Kafka's Metamorphosis? (If not, you should. It's one of my favorite texts of his and such a wonderful piece of writing.) I feel like a beetle that is on its back and can't get up. So after a terrible, restless night, I did the most logical thing and went to the gym yesterday. Hear me out! In theory - I thought - that if you loosen your muscles, it will get much better and I will just stretch and life will be beautiful again.
All went well and until I couldn't pull the parking ticket out of the meter, this sounded like a reasonable plan. So instead, I went to the health center.

I want to spare you the details, but nothing is too terrible. It is clearly a spasm and a tear and most importantly: if I had to use my crutches right now, I wouldn't be able to. So I am walking extra careful while looking like Quasi Modo.

So today, I took a gym break and rested my broken body.

Instead, I watched First Position, which instantly made me feel much better and so much less in pain. Those dancers... I don't even have words. Have you watched this documentary? I saw a trailer about a year ago and have looked for it on DVD ever since. Now it is out on Netflix and I just had to watch it. Thankfully, our friends are very patient and watched it with me up until the end.

These kids are truly amazing dancers. You should absolutely watch it. (After you read Kafka, of course.)

Now it's bedtime again, before the crazy scribbling begins.

Have a fantastic evening!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Missing and Jet "leg"

First of all, my talk is done and over with.
I am still alive and all is wonderful.

Except, I miss Nick. It just doesn't feel right without having him by my side and I can't wait to be back in Berlin with him.

I drove through our old neighborhood today and could not pass by our house. It would have given me the rest. Even though it is "only" a 12 hr travel (with bus and flights), he is just so far away.


To keep myself occupied over the next days, I have a lot of appointments scheduled - and I can blog!
I am sure you are all dying to know how my flight was and how things are going.

Well tonight, I will fill you in on all the traveling I did to get here.

I had a one stop flight from Berlin to New York with a 45min. layover in Munich.
There is so much to say about these two flights that I will do the unthinkable and give you bullet points (because I'm really tired right now and lazy in general). In my defense, there will also be a lot of pictures.

First flight:
- it was bumpy
- it rained when we took off
- it rained when we landed

- the plane was empty!

This was after they said "boarding is complete".
Of course, everyone jumped up and grabbed a row of 3 seats for themselves.
Except me, because I'm slow. 
- they gave us the greatest crackers (no picture, unfortunately) and granola bars for a snack! (on a 55 minute flight!)

- landed in Munich on time at gate G4
- had to board plane Nr. 2 at gate H2 and figured, that should be a piece of cake (G4, H2... they are probably right next to each other!)
- I was mistaken
- Note to self: the Munich airport is humungous.
- made it to gate H2 with lots of running (hello stress fracture, almost forgot about you)

Second Flight: 

- if you ever wanted to know what the German word "Arschkarte" means: This is it.

- This was my view (you can see the corner of my seat in the lower left of the picture) - yes, the flight was 8.5hrs long
- The great food distracted me for a while
- Flying Lufthansa is already worth it for the amazing meals they have

Indian Vegetarian Option

Rice in the Middle. Not sure about the rest, but it was delicious! 
So spicy! (too much for me to handle)

The cutest smurf-salad! But very fresh. 

German bread. Enough said.

- Then my neighbor fell asleep. And snored. Loudly.
- Then the 2 year old in front of me cried, kicked the seats around her, screamed... didn't sleep (and neither did I)
- Then the 1 year old behind me did the same thing. With more crying.

- I watched BigBangTheory

- We landed on time.
- 4 hrs left for the 1 hr train ride to Penn Station
- waited in immigration for 2.5 hrs, plus 20 mins to have my paperwork looked at again, looked for my
  suitcase, ran to the train - with 1 hr left to get to Penn Station
- decided it is all going to fail. Jumped on the street to grab a taxi and cut off about 70 people waiting in  
  line for it. (Sorry, everyone!! I promise, next time I will wait in line, too.)
- flew in said taxi to Penn Station
- was guided across the street to make it into the bus 1 minute before we left
- but the weather was great!

- two days without sleep at this point.
- so grateful for this food in my backpack. I would have starved otherwise.
(note to self: keep carrying random food around with you. It is really worth it!)

This is the last picture of my headphones.
Right before I lost them. 

- I'm so upset that I lost my wonderful headphones. I know exactly where I left them: on the bus. The lack of sleep must have completely messed with my skills to keep everything I own and not lose my favorite things. 
- made it to our car 
- it started right away. So thankful it did!

I got to the hotel safely and can only say that there are moments when a comfortable bed is all you need. Those 6 hrs time difference get me every time. 
My knee didn't like the traveling at all. It's been on and off painful and it seems as if the flight didn't help the healing process. So there is also something that is called a jet leg (which is an annoying stress fracture that took a long trip on a plane). 

This was already a few days ago. I will catch up with you tomorrow on what I've been doing. 
For now, I am going to bed. 

How have you been?

Have you traveled to a place that was in a different time zone? How did it go?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Dropping in.

Hey guys,

I should be working on my paper, but I am exhausted and it's already 1.00am here. So I figured, I will just drop in really quick, write a few lines, and then call it a day.

As you can guess by now, I survived the root canal.
The dentist was actually incredibly nice, careful, and fast! The whole thing was said and done within an hour. This was by far the shortest time I have ever spent getting a root canal done.

Every time me and my dentist-anxiety are sitting in that chair and are about to get work on those teeth done, I am trying to calm myself down by thinking about all those (poor, poor!!) people who had to go to the dentist before the fancy anesthetics and tools were developed.
While I imagine my visit at the dentist look like this:


There are people that might have actually experienced this situation.
While my dentist visit actually turned out looking like this:

I even had a beautiful view from my chair. 

You see that big needle laying there?! It is actually my favorite thing. The dentist had to apply anesthetics 7 times, but it made things go a lot smoother!

Then, I came home and Nick did the most wonderful thing ever. He walked all the way to the store to by me Flutschfinger, wine, and bananas. And if this wasn't already beyond terrific, when he saw that they were out of those popsicle "family-boxes" that have a bunch of them in there, he went ahead and bought 7 at the register where they are sold individually and paid a ridiculous price for them. 

This made the aftermath of the procedure so much easier. Now, I just have to finish this presentation. 

Easy enough, right?!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Back to the Roots

Dear people who kindly read my blog,
I will probably not get to post too regularly these days (as you may have already noticed).

Aside from working hard on that presentation, I got the particularly unpleasant surprise that I will be spending some quality time at the dentist office to receive yet another root canal treatment in just a few hours.
It's not my first one, so I know how much it hurts and it will never get easier for me to deal with. 

 This might actually happen.


So, on Wednesday, I will be flying out to Baltimore for a few days and I am hoping that once I am there and have my talk behind me (one way or the other), I can finally fall back into the daily blogging schedule. 
Until then, please bare with me.

In anticipation of the upcoming and very promising events - is there a better way to spend Friday 13?! Didn't think so.

Are you superstitious? (do black cats freak you out?)

Have you ever had a root canal done? Yes. But only Nick, the dentist, and I know how many. 

Do you have a favorite day/date? Other than our anniversary date, I really like tuesdays (always have) and with 24 being my favorite number (Have I ever told you about my synesthesia?), any tuesday on the 24th is a great day!
(Of course, if it happens to be in December, then it's the greatest day ever - not just because of the day and number, but also due to the numerous ridiculously exquisite gifts I am hoping to receive for Christmas.)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Why y New Desk Reminds me of Laundry

What can I tell you. Moving from one country to another isn't always easy. We came here with 2 suitcases (each) and as you can imagine, we left a whole lot of things in storage.

On the bright side, there isn't much thinking to do when it comes to "what should I wear today". Especially during the past three very warm months with temperatures roughly 30 degrees warmer than what we were prepared for (what ever happened to the "cold Germany"?!), there wasn't really much of a choice after bringing only one skirt. Yea.
I am hoping that this piece of clothing will make it through the last warm days here, while I pray for cool weather ( - but not too cool, because I don't own a winter jacket at this point).

At least, I am happy to announce that the big jar of pb that Nick generously brought in his suitcase, is just about empty and my flight to restock on this delicacy is already scheduled for next week.

What I am missing the most these days is my office. My "reading couch", the pretty coral curtains that Mama made and shipped over, the peace and quiet when my door was closed, and - of course - my wonderful desk. You need to know that I had never owned a desk before that was big enough for all the things I needed it to hold. This one, however, is perfect. It is the absolute best piece of furniture ever! I will never ever want or need a different one ever again, because the desk and I are just a match made it heaven. This desk is so fantastic that I could go on about it, but I'm sure you got the point by now. I miss my desk. Dearly.

I have tried working on the couch or on the bed, but I just fall asleep and wake up 5hrs later with nothing accomplished and ready to call it a day and go to bed. 

Today, I was at the gym and (again) thought about other ways to study in our apartment. The dog crate doesn't work, because it is a big box and I would have no place to put my legs. Plus it's too low, and putting a suitcase on top would make the surface too soft and wobbly to work on it. 

After 90mins of biking and doing weights, I finally had the most genius idea. I might have to secure the rights for this one... 

Isn't it the most genius thin ever?! 
Unfortunately, I still have to find out where to put my legs when I sit, and I can't lean on it (because it would collapse under my strong arms) - but other than that, it works.

The best part about it: I can't even iron now, even in the unlikely event that wanted to! Because the board is in constant use for the important  project I am working on now... Which I am giving a talk on in exactly one week from now at this very hour - and I haven't written it yet. 

So back to work I go. 

Do you have an ironing board? yes. 
Do you use it for ironing clothes? no. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Eating Scrap Metal, the Greatest Six Pack, and Minor Victory Monday

Happy Monday, you guys!

Wasn't it the best weekend ever?! Here in Berlin, it sure was. It was so warm and gorgeous that Nick, Lucy, and I spent a lot of time outside and at the dog park.

On Saturday, Lucy got into another fight with a dog, but everyone is okay, there was no blood, nobody got hurt - except for our furry family member's feelings.
You see, she loves playing with the other dogs there, but she loooooooves getting pet by so many different people - who, of course, are not just people but also owners who belong to the other dogs. Some of those owners are only "allowed" to give attention to their dog and other owners "need to be protected". So in both of those cases, Lucy is not appreciated to walk storm up to the person to get cuddles... and this is just what happened on Saturday. Our pup wanted to say hello and get attention, and a Newfoundland-Labrador mix protected his owner from Lucy. She screamed, and cried, and barked hysterically, but nothing bad happened. I think it was more of a shock to me than anyone else.

I am a big fan of fall, so I have been waiting for rain and cool air and this morning, it finally happened. It was windy, wet, and there were leaves flying all over the place. Time to think about hot chocolate, cookies, and beef stew. I am thrilled!

Speaking of cookies, do you want to see my favorite picture of a six pack?

Isn't this genius!?
Six of the most delicious kinds of cookies combined in one pack! Oooh yes! 

On Saturday night, Nick and I went to a bar to play darts. As you know, it is one of our favorite things to do. We can spend hours talking and throwing darts at a board and won't even notice how much time flies. With my stupid knee, we haven't been able to go for a while, but we just had to give it a try this past weekend and it worked okay. 

Nick throws his darts so much faster than me.
Maybe that's why mine not always make it
all the way to the board. 

We made the best use of the walk to the bar, by picking up lamachun and döner on the way (still my favorite dinner). They are always wrapped in aluminum foil and if you are a normal person, you will have no issues eating your lamachun or döner while walking. Of course, I had to bite a piece of foil and chew on it. With an amalgam filling. That was far from awesome. Holy cow that hurts! I was so shocked about what happened that I just swallowed the foil. 
This whole thing would be forgivable if it had only happened once... and I wish I could tell you it did and that I leaned from it. But by the time we arrived at the bar, I am almost certain, I had eaten not only my whole lamachun, but also half of the foil they used to wrap it. 
No, I can neither tell you which food group aluminum is nor what's wrong with me. 

While I would not necessarily file eating scrap metal under a "minor victory", I still have to share one with you. 
As of today, Nick doesn't have to give me anymore shots!! 


We made it through all 40 of them and I am so happy for both of us that this is over. 

Now I can focus on getting off of my crutches and working out a marathon training plan. 
Just kidding. 
Sort of. 

What are your plans for the week?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Gentlemens' Jam and Mirabelle Plums

Guten Morgen! How is everyone doing on this gorgeous Saturday?

I spent my morning doing laundry, taking the dog out, and writing a grocery list for later.

This made me think of a type of jam, which I bought the last time I was at the store. See, in Germany, you can find certain products that are specifically geared towards men. Not only shampoo or shower gel, but also food, like chocolates and cakes. When I went to get croissants I had the idea to grab "Gentlemen's Jam" (Herrenkonfitüre) for Nick, too.

It is a jam that is less sweet, with ingredients that remind of an "Old Fashioned": oranges, red berries, whiskey, and a little bit of peach. It has somewhat of a "bitter" or tart taste.

Of course, it comes in a black tin. So manly. 

This is one of the things that I had completely forgotten about. Now, I remember that my dad would always be really fond of this jam and Nick seems to like it, too. 
I still prefer Mama's homemade jam - the sweeter the better. But then again, the "Man Jam" is not made for me anyways. 

Another thing I forgot about are "Mirabellen". They are a type of plum - yellow, tiny, and incredibly sweet. 

Oh you guys! If you have never had them, drop everything you are doing right this second and go and get some! If you can't find them at your store, book a flight and come here. 

This is what they look like on the inside.

You could make incredible jam out of these, but I will probably never make it that far, because I just have to eat them right away. (No, I have no self control. Never had.)

Since we don't have our own mirabelle-plum tree, I am more than thankful to have been given about 6lbs of this terrific fruit when I was visiting my parents. 

This sweet lady you see in the picture (the one on the right), is one of the nicest ladies you could ever meet. My mom and her used to be colleagues at the Kindergarden and they have since then been close friends. The entire town where I grew up knows her and calls her "Aunt Hannelore". She is just everybody's aunt. 

She is the greatest and I am not even joking when I tell you that it is her who keeps up the yard you see behind us in the picture - and she picks all the fruit off the trees. She is unstoppable. 

Now, I will see what Nick is up to. All this talk about food got me really hungry. 

Happy Saturday!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Paradise, Miniature Porcelain, and Nothing Compares to This.

As you all have read, I used my mom's birthday as an excuse to spend a few days stuffing my face with food. I even exchanged sleep with more hours of eating, which, I have to say, I am rarely willing to do. Normally, sleep wins over everything.

Coming from their place, being on the bus was somewhat of a culture shock.
At their house, I am surrounded by the most gorgeous flora you can imagine. I snapped a few more pictures right before I left, so that I can share them with you.

You see the little fish in the pond?

Don't ask me how long I waited for this guy to look out of the water.

This picture doesn't even do justice to the many many colors
that you can see around the pond. 

Mama's green house. 

She has at least 4 different kinds of tomatoes in there and cucumbers

These are my favorite!

The second terrace with toys for my brother's kids.

Black berries growing all over the fence. 

Apple trees.

More flowers.

The main terrace.

Flowers all around the yard.

Last, but not least, the gorgeous bouquet that
 my dad gave my mom for her big day. 

In case you wanted to know what we got Mama, Nick and I went and bought a miniature tea set of "Reuter" porcelain.

So tiny! 
The banana was not part of the gift. The banana was the food I took with me for the road. I wish I had known before, how the bus ride was going to go, then I would have taken more. Maybe even wine.

On the bus, of the 54 available seats, 54 were taken. Luckily, the girl who sat down next to me seemed very nice. She didn't speak one word with me, though. In my head it wasn't because she thought I was weird, but because she was a foreign exchange student who didn't know the language.

The two girls behind me, however, were obnoxious and loud. Let me rephrase that: The two girls behind me had me fantasizing about jumping out of the bus. Then, we got stuck in traffic for 2 hours, which left me stuck on my seat for 6.5 hours, with those two behind me. My favorite part was that the bathroom on the bus was broken.

Needless to say, I am more than happy to be home now. Nick welcomed me with coffee and a cleaned apartment (because he knows that his OCD wife doesn't like coming home to a dirty place). So sweet and thoughtful - especially, since he has been working very long hours.

Even if it is only 1 day that I don't get to see him, I feel completely lost without Nick. So being back with him is the best part.

Nothing compares to coming home.

Where is your favorite place?

Do you pack snacks for the road when you go on a trip? What is your "go to" road-trip snack?

What are your plans for the weekend? To enjoy the sun!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A surprise (edited)

EDIT: Due to my terrific skills to post from my phone, the pictures in this post were very weirdly formatted. My apologies for this. I fixed it now (I hope).

Today marks a very special day. It's Mama's birthday. For her last 5 birthdays, I wasn't able to be there to celebrate it with her. This year, however, my dad and I worked out a super secret surprise plan and yesterday, I took the bus to be here and celebrate with her.

Let me just say this before I mention anything else: for the very first time in 5 weeks, I thought my crutches were a beautiful thing. They were the reason, I was asked to get on the bus first! And I was allowed to pick a seat! And I said in the front! And I even had a "desk"! And I had both seats for myself! Oh, the happiness!

This was the view from the bus. Everyone, except me,
was still waiting outside. This is what Princess Kate must feel all the time... so VIP!

I was able to read quite a bit on the way here and I am hoping to do the same on my return trip. 

This is a road.

(Maybe, I should just take the bus all day, every day, until I have to give my talk. Apparently, I am so much more productive on big, long distance vehicles.)

Today, I was reminded of how much Mama is loved by many, many people. Trust me, she has always had more friends than me and that will probably never change. 

The number of cakes, salads, or d'oeuvres, snacks, muffins... that she had already prepared by the time I arrived yesterday, were more food than Nick and I have eaten here in the past three months. I am not even kidding. When I walked in, the long table in the dining room was already set for the first dozen visitors, as well. 

This is just one of two fridges...

... and yes, there are more cakes underneath all of those towels.

Every year, my parents' birthdays are busy, busy days. Every time, their house turned into a beehive for at least one day. For us, it has always been normal, but I am starting to realize that it might not be... at least on my birthday, I don't even remotely get the attention that Mama or Papa get.

It's probably, because they are way cooler than me.

Mama and Papa on the night before the party-storm.
Totally cool. And relaxed...

Papa always has a good bottle of wine. 

Usually, birthdays here begin early with the first congratulatory phone calls in the middle of the night around 8am. By that time, Mama is already working in the kitchen (maybe she has already done laundry, picked apples and berries, made jam, weeded out the vegetable garden, front yard, and side walk, and made a new wreath for the front door... I would not even be surprised).
Cream has to be whipped, the or d'oeuvres need to be finished, coffee needs to be made, cakes have to be decorated and cut... It is one busy place.

I am being super helpful, taking pictures of food.

You see my coffee sitting there? It was the third of about 10 or 47 cups today. Getting up early is not my thing... It truly isn't. Don't wake me before I had 12 hrs of sleep. Just don't. I am serious. 

Salmon baguette, plum cake with streusel, chocolate cherry cake... 
Everything you see, my mom made. She even grew the tomato plants from seeds that she dried last year (from tomatoes, which she grew the same way). 

Papa made this apple cake!

Again, I was a little late with my pictures... People had already eaten some of the things. Oh well.

So the routine is: people come, eat, stay for a couple of hours, and leave. Then their table setting gets replaced with a clean one - repeat. 

Basically, the entire day is a food-filled-event. It's what I picture heaven to be like. Great food around the clock.

Throughout the first half of the day, neighbors, friends, coworkers ... they all came and went. At some point, we cleaned the table and sat down for 30 mins. of down time, before we prepared everything for the people who were invited to come for coffee and cake at 3.30pm.  

Then, my oldest brother with wife, kids, his father in law, my youngest brother, and all of us had cake again. After that, people sat on the terrace and enjoyed this gorgeous day and my parents' beautiful flower-filled backyard. For dinner, there were 4 different salads, bread, and "hot dogs" (actually, here, we just eat really long hot dogs, without the bun, and they are not as soft as US hot dogs, but "crack" when you bite into them).

And you eat them with mustard (Senf).

At that time, my "middle" brother with his sweet girlfriend came. You will remember her, because she brought the wonderful gummy candy for me (and Nick) in June, when Nick and I drove to see my parents for the first time after we moved to Berlin.
Today, she brought me a DVD to watch after the birthday is accomplished. She is so incredibly thoughtful!! 

With me being so tired all day, I spend a lot of time talking. When I am tired, I talk way too much. And too loud. I think otherwise, I would just fall asleep. So I just keep going and talking until someone tells me to shut up, or everyone leaves the room. 
Well, probably only if I get told to shut up.  Maybe. Hopefully. Unlikely.

Now, I am leaving you with a picture of the incredibly awesome birthday Mama.
So happy I could be here for this special day! 

Herzlichen Glückwunsch, Muddi! You rock!