Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Lufthansa, here I come

I'm headed out tomorrow at a ridiculous hour of the morning. This may be my last post until the new year; I'm not sure what kind of internet access I'll have over the holidays.

My plans for the first few days back in the old stomping grounds:
-Eat some Mexican food. Possibly the kind with fake cheese.
-See ten movies. Walk the Line, Match Point, Brokeback Mountain are at the top of my list.
-Shop at Nordstrom, where the salespeople are soothing and helpful.
-Spend an hour or two at a bookstore, with the knowledge that I can read ANYTHING in there if I so desire. I reached the peak of my frustration one day in a four-story German bookstore when I realized I couldn't read any of the surrounding books.
-Relax and listen to people talk.
-Enjoy spending time with friends and family who know me well.

Thanks for reading. I'll keep writing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Icing on the Cookie


I baked cookies today. Thick sugar cookies with real butter and sugary icing. I cut them star-shaped and frosted them after they cooled.

My mom never enjoyed baking. She likes to cook, and cleaning makes her so happy that she practically belts out show tunes as she defrosts the refrigerator and scrubs those little cruddy places between the baseboards and the floors. But baking was never her cup of sugar. I have a couple of aunts and a cousin, however, who love to bake. They won 4-H rosettes and two of them actually MAJORED in Home Economics in college. I usually spent a week or so of my childhood summers with each of their families, and bathed myself in Betty Crocker cookbooks and toffee bar recipes and flour measuring techniques (sift? dip/level/pour?). They taught me that all I must do to create something lovely and tasty was follow directions. And I've always been a champion at that. Mom, incidentally, was always supportive of my creative endeavors and cheerfully ate even the most dubious concoctions (a green-and-brown birthday cake?).

When my friends came to my house on the weekends, baking cookies was the fallback entertainment, when we were tired of Strawberry Shortcake or (later) Friday Night Videos. In high school, my friend and I tried decorating cakes and opened a (mostly theoretical) birthday cake delivery business. When I moved into my first apartment in college, I immediately baked my boyfriend a scratch-recipe, 6-layer birthday cake.

When we moved into our new place last month, I heaved a great sigh of relief when I saw that the oven worked fine. I set about finding celsius-to-fahrenheit temperature conversion charts and locating a cookie sheet that fit inside the smaller-than-American baking space, and purchasing a hand mixer (Kitchen Aid, how I long for thee, stay true to me in the storage unit until I return). I hunted down vanilla flavoring and stocked up on powdered sugar. Then I dug out my cookie cutters, shipped thousands of miles on a truck and a boat and a train, and went to work.

I've christened my kitchen now. It's starting to fee a little like home.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

It's the holiday season

There's nothing like kids sitting on Santa's lap and screaming to get you in the mood for some eggnog. Check out the Scared of Santa Gallery. Heh.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Sequel

Yesterday, I learned about the Konjunktiv II tense in my German class. I don’t remember much of what was introduced, because learning a language is all about repetition. And since yesterday was my last day in the class, I guess I’ll have to live without knowing about it. For a while longer, at least.

Five days per week, four hours per day, is a half-time job. Fortunately, the only job I ever had where I had to sit in one room for four hours at a time lasted for just one summer, and the best part about it was that it was at a suction cup factory, because now I can tell people that my summer job in college was at a suction cup factory. The worst part about it was that my boss, the owner’s wife, went around diagnosing people with various disorders whenever she got bored. But that’s a story for another blog.

I attended my German class for nine weeks. That’s over 150 hours of instruction, if you take out the coffee breaks and the couple of days I skipped school for good reasons like moving into our apartment and visiting the Alps. I can now understand about one-fifth of what goes on around me, versus 1/25th when I got here. I still can’t decode the newspaper, but I am able to decipher posters and understand the gyst of the announcements that come over the loudspeakers in the train station.

My teacher was a calm sea of patience, she smiled and laughed at me even yesterday when I displayed my perpetual inability to correctly use an umlaut. (I blame this on Motley Crue’s early influence.) My classmates included a young woman from Colombia, who is living away from home for the first time and who helped improve my Spanish; an 18-year-old Palestinian from Israel who asked me if I could find him a wife and who shared his cough drops with me, and a crazy Scot who had just moved to Germany from Spain, and who taught the class a whole different English vocabulary than they’d learned from me. I made a good friend who makes Turkey an even more interesting vacation destination for me than it was before. And I learned some adjectives and articles and verb conjugations as well.

When I return to Germany in January, I hope to sign up for a less-intensive set of language lessons. Maybe I’ll eventually learn about Konjunktiv II. (but apparently Konjunktiv I is not as useful; a little like those Transporter films that I never noticed until the sequel appeared in theatres?)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Winter



Christmastime in Nurnberg = the famous Weinachtsmarkt. We stopped there the weekend it opened, and were greeted with warm Gluhwein (hot wine with spices and something else, all served in a little green Santa boot) and waffles hot out of the iron. We are officially In The Spirit now.

For a reminder of what winter is REALLY like, read this article about the blizzard that hit my hometown last weekend. (Apologies if you're reading this after they took the story down, they don't keep a news archive out thar in the sticks.) Note that the superintendent of schools' name is Charlie Brown.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

You should read this and listen to that.

On Beauty by Zadie Smith
but first read Howards End by EM Forster
On Writing by Stephen King
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Charming Billy by Alice McDermott
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
And in case that's not enough for you, here's a very nice list from a little website called the New York Times, maybe you've heard of it? And you don't even need to sign in to read it.

Hung Up by Madonna
La Tortura by Shakira
Nature Boy by Harry Connick Jr
Gold Digger by Kanye West

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Paris when it sizzles



Did I mention that I spent a week in Paris?

I don't think I mentioned it. I think I'll mention it again.

I spent a week in Paris. It was lovely, chilly, and I got an infusion of all kinds of yummy things while I was there. Family (my cosmopolitan sister-in-law Kendra lives there), friend (my jet-setting buddy Anna hopped down from Holland following a business trip), new faces (Kendra's helpful and handsome boyfriend Florent, who I had never before met though he has been around for 2 years), nuns and stained glass windows (see photos), hot chocolate (mmm....), fondue (cheese must be the perfect food), and English language books (I am going to stalk George Whitman until he allows me to open a Shakespeare & Co outpost in Nurnberg).

And the flight was just over an hour. How about that?

Monday, December 05, 2005

DSL Flashback

I can't tell you how much I've missed having my own little peephole into the internet.

Our DSL was hooked up on Friday, and two things happened in our household. First, I thanked the computer guy in every language that I could muster (German, English, Spanish, French, if only I knew how to say Thank You in Esperanto, should've looked it up before he got here). Second, I glued my wrists to the keyboard and have removed them only to allow Jeff some time at the wheel. We have stopped speaking to one another, except to say, "You done yet?" and "Your sister is IMing us."

Our satellite TV will be connected on Wednesday. If I don't ever post again, it's because I am mesmerized, running back and forth between computer and television, able only to emit partial words like ChaKa in Land of the Lost.