Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Books - January 2007

fussy.org T-shirt
Good Grief by Lolly Winston
I hesitated to pick this up because I thought a book about a young widow couldn't be the light read that matched my mood, but somehow it was a little goofy.

Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper
OK, I'm a fan, though after seeing enough of his press appearances for this book I felt like I didn't get much new from reading it. He's had an interesting career already, though. (No surprise that he doesn't mention his stint hosting reality show The Mole.)

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Wonderful character voices, contemplating love across time and cities. Melancholy but hopeful.

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
I always think Nick Hornby is funny, and here he makes suicidal Brits (plus one American) slightly ridiculous but lovable.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Update

Theo will be two weeks old tomorrow and though he does tend to sleep for several hours in a row each day, you can blame him for my absence here. We've really got to do something about that center-of-the-universe attitude he has developed.

I would like to say we're getting into a routine, and I suppose we are, though the routine has very little to do with the hour of the day or night, and is wholly dependent upon the mood and cravings of an eight-and-a-half-pound being who likes to spend his free time modeling adorable babywear and partying all night. Yes, you read that right, he has gained almost a pound over his birthweight already. He never actually dropped any weight, a trend I fervently hope does not extend to his mother's post-partum condition.

Jeff returned to the office today after two weeks' vacation. Theo and I are doing fine, though I'm sure the shrieking that occurred the moment I attempted to eat my lunch was a signal that the someone was missing the daddy song and dance machine. And Jeff's coworkers might notice him curling up under his desk for a wee nap later in the day.

I know many of you are curious about my German hospital experience, and I promise to write a thorough post about the whole thing soon. Well, soon-ish. Well, fortunately for you, dear reader, kindergarten in Germany begins at age 3.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Man, you're just a sinner now

This is probably all over American TV already, but it absolutely killed me so I felt I must share it in case you haven't seen it yet. Thanks, Sandi, for the tip.

Blades of Glory preview.

Coincidentally, I just downloaded a bunch of Billy Squier music last month. No, seriously, I really did. So I'm either on the bleeding edge of popular culture or I'm 20 years behind. Now go watch.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Schneestorm

Jeff and Theo Snow
We woke up this morning to six inches of snow and it hasn't stopped coming down all day. Theo has been with us for one week today and the three of us are enjoying each other.

I missed the Golden Globes coverage so no fashion roundup this year. Maybe by the time the Oscars roll around I will be more adept at one-handed typing.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The first day of the rest of our lives

Theo
We are a family now. Theodore Joseph joined us on Wednesday, January 17th. We came home today and we're all ready for a nap.

Thank you for your wonderful wishes and happy thoughts. More of our story to come.

Monday, January 15, 2007

British Invasion

It has been suggested that we name our child Beckham, after a certain footballer. After the past three days, with All Becks All The Time on television, I wonder if someone is trying to tell us something. Jeff remains unconvinced that the handsome star will successfully save the MLS. I'm praying that his wife doesn't show up on the US pop music charts, which would make it impossible for me to ever reclaim pride in my country.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Commentary

I started blogging because I like to write, and when we moved to Germany I thought the blog would be a place to share photos and stories about our new life without bombarding my loved ones with email. I kept blogging because it gives me an audience that expects me to write regularly, a practice that felt silly when it was just for me. I still blog for those reasons, and because some days it's the only thing I feel like I've accomplished. Besides hoisting myself out of bed.

Bloggers, like most people, love to hear how great they are, and to see proof that the words they've tossed out into the world are hitting someone. That's part of what De-Lurking Week is about. Thanks for the comments below; they remind me that I should continue using spellcheck since a few people read this thing now and then. I do my best to present a balanced view, to point out what I like about living here, what's admirable about this culture that I see from an outside perspective, and what just makes no sense to me at all. I've stopped trying to hide the difficulties of living outside the familiar, and I don't feel bad about it. I just hope I'm doing it in a way that values what exists here, and makes it clear that the tradeoffs for living far, far away from the nearest Target store can be simultaneously awful and wonderful.

You might have noticed some comments on older posts, all from my old friend Anonymous, that take me firmly to task for my American-ness and my negative thoughts about living in Germany. It's nice that there are readers who love Germany so much that they feel compelled to defend her, but she's no more perfect than the great and terrible USA, or any other country you see as you spin the globe. And, yes, I know I am a culturally insensitive oaf who should learn German because then life would be a hundred times easier. I'll take responsibility for that, though I am tempted to pass the buck to my country's education system and its lack of language training. I really do hope to raise a bilingual child, if that makes you any happier. I delete the trolls (the one that threatened to stage some kind of protest at Jeff's workplace, for example) but it's hard to ignore even those; and it's especially tough to take the ones that say I'm lazy and self-centered and ask why I moved here in the first place. I'm lucky that I don't receive too many of these (a benefit of toiling in obscurity), but the ones that show up still sting. Because on my worst days, I make those accusations of myself.

I'm not going to start hiding out on the rough days, pretending that I understand the burgundy hair dye trend here that persists from the 1980's. When you read those posts, I hope you keep in mind that I also write about beauty and interesting lessons I've learned while living here. Thanks for reading. And keep those comments coming.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Yes, this means you.


It's official De-Lurking Week in Blogland, which means you should really leave me a comment. Even if you've never done it before. Yes, even if you're just a family member, in fact especially if you are a family member. Even if you aren't an "internet person" and just read this blog in hopes that you will see a photo of me pregnant (you know who you are, and I know too), or if you found it because you are actually looking for information about Noel Coward. Just click below on "Comments." Even if you leave a fake name. I suppose even if you want to tell me what a huge loser American I am and I would love Germany if I just tried harder. (Or maybe that reader has moved on?) But, really, leave me a comment. And if you happen to be an unborn child that hasn't yet learned to type, you can assume that De-Lurking Week means that you should arrive somewhere near your due date, please.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Good Day

It doesn't take much to make me happy. Today, it was:
a) An appointment with the doctor where she seemed to have a vague idea who I was (not always the case, sadly), and took the time to answer some questions instead of rushing out the door before I could open my mouth. All is well with Baby.
b) A helpful clerk at the post office who didn't frown at my German, and who gave me a whole roll of Luftpost stickers when I asked for some extras.
c) Smooth interaction through the intercom at McDonald's, with no shouting or scowling on either side. And the expected food appeared at the end of the transaction.
d) Oprah is back on television, after disappearing for several months.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Feathering

Everything I read and hear equates nesting with the desire to clean and organize one's home. If that's a hard and fast rule, then this baby is never going to arrive, because I still have virtually no reaction when I notice the dried up toothpaste on my bathroom sink. I briefly considered reorganizing the pantry, but I was distracted at the first shelf which was full of the Hershey bars and 100 Grand bars and Twizzlers that appeared there over the holidays.

There is some hope for me, however. I recently succumbed to the urge to sew and to bake. I've always enjoyed creating things - I drove my elementary school friends' parents crazy because I always suggested baking cookies as a weekend activity, and with it came floury kitchen and dirty dishes - and now that the holidays are over and I am not required to leave the building for any reason, I have plenty of time for projects.

I started by hemming the nursery curtain and moved on to a homemade crib ruffle. The curtain turned out fine, and the ruffle, like most of my sewing projects, looks all right as long as you don't examine it closely. Such ruffles don't seem to exist here in Germany so I just took a guess at how to attach it to the crib, I'm sure it will begin to sag soon enough. I then tried my hand at making some little bags from an actual pattern. They're not perfect either, but proved that I have a vague recollection of Home Ec teacher Miss Robbins's instructions for handling seam allowances, pinning, and interfacing. By the way, try describing interfacing to the elderly woman at the German fabric store. There is apparently no direct translation, but between the two of us we got the job done.

Jeff did his best to look impressed when I showed off the finished products, but I could tell he was holding out for the Betty Crocker phase to arrive, and indeed it did. I baked and iced sugar cookies (like last year) and cranberry bars, then moved on to his favorite chocolate cookies (two batches) and even a pie with homemade crust. I capped these efforts with a try at homemade bagels, which turned out better than I expected. We haven't found good, chewy bagels here so we polished off the entire batch within a couple of days and as I write this I am waiting for batch #2 to rise. This time, I added a couple of overripe bananas, we'll see how the yeast reacts to that little twist.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ready

Ready
or not.

I've posted a couple of photos of the nursery, to give you the impression that we are ready for our newest family member. Yes, there was sewing involved, and also painting.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Let's Get It Started

Happy 2007! Here's a meme from All & Sundry to get the year started out right. I've resolved not to answer all of these questions with some version of "We're having a baby!," even though that's the obvious answer to most of them. So just insert that answer yourself, where appropriate.

1. What did you do in 2006 that you’d never done before?
I'd never before gone for an entire year in my adult life without a job.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any formal ones, but I really wanted to travel - mission accomplished - and improve my German. I must have learned a few new words, though I'm far from being as fluent as I'd hoped to be by now.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! Half my former book group (Kassie, Ahnawake, Kristen, Kristin), other friends (Chris, Jennifer) and my sister-in-law Kristin. I'm sure I must be missing someone. I am officially At That Age.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Jeff's Uncle Dave passed away recently. We think of him often, especially when we're in need of a smile, because he was very funny and irreverent and a big part of Jeff's childhood memories.

5. What countries did you visit?
USA, Switzerland, France, Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, England
(I'll never be able to give such a satisfying answer again, I'm sure.)

6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006?
A purposeful use of my time, a comfortable pair of black boots, friends who I see more often

7. What dates from 2006 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I won't forget the atmosphere surrounding the World Cup, especially the semifinal and consolation matches where Germany played with heart and the country responded with such enthusiasm.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Making peace with living in a place that will probably never feel like home to me

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not having a consistently improved attitude about certain German cultural quirks

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Not really, unless you count the early pregnancy blahs that hit at exactly the same moment the bulk of our family visitors arrived. I'll have to prove myself as super-hostess in the future to make up for it.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I love the black purse I bought at Marks & Spencer in London. Also, all the food I ate there.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
German football players and fans

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Oh, Britney, I had such high hopes when I heard you were leaving KFed.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Travel, baby gear, and shipping costs for English language books

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The grilled tuna sandwiches at Grand central Baking in Portland

16. What song will always remind you of 2006?
Anything from Robbie Williams's Intensive Care album

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:?a) happier or sadder? ?b) thinner or fatter? ?c) richer or poorer?
a) Happier, since last year I had just returned from a fab trip to visit friends and family, and was plunged into the realization that I had to return to Germany and actually live here
b) Fatter, indeed
c) Richer, probably, since I didn't just spend a month shopping every day at Powells and every Target establishment in the greater Portland area

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Exercise

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Sit on the couch and sulk

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent it quietly, at home, with Jeff. I was worried that it would feel simply like another day at home, but I found that relaxing together and getting ready for the huge change ahead of us was festive enough.

21. Did you fall in love in 2006?
Yes, with Brazilian football cutie Kaka.

22. How many one-night stands?
None

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I'm so embarrassed to admit this but I have developed an addiction to Dr. Phil.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I had come around to being amused and actually somewhat impressed by Donald Trump after watching the first couple of seasons of The Apprentice. He seemed smart in the boardroom. But after this Rosie O'Donnell thing (and I'm not a Rosie fan either) he has fallen back into the category of ridiculous, inarticulate blowhard.

25. What was the best book you read?
Saturday, by Ian McEwan

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I Hear the Bells by Mike Doughty

27. What did you want and get?
Comfortable maternity pants

28. What did you want and not get?
A 7-11 franchise across the street from my apartment

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
My movie-watching was severely limited this year and I haven't seen any of the year-end flicks yet. But I was pleasantly surprised by The Departed.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 35 in Barcelona, enjoying the sunshine with my sweetie.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Discovery of good Mexican food within an hour's drive of my home

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?
Velour Sweatsuit Chic

33. What kept you sane?
Jeff

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Jon Stewart

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
I don't usually get publicly riled up about politics, but I did get annoyed by the jerks in Philly who wouldn't allow their patrons to speak a language other than English.

36. Who did you miss?
Friends and family who live on another continent.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
I've met so many this year, but the kind strangers who tolerated my stilted Deutsch and helped me when I needed it top the list.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006.
Sometimes unhappiness and discomfort are necessary for growth. I knew it intellectually before, but it had been a long time since I experienced it.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
So, let go,let go
Jump in
Oh well, what you waiting for?
It's all right
'Cause there's beauty in the breakdown
(Frou Frou, Let Go)