Monday, June 30, 2008

Books - June 2008

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Inspiration to think carefully about what I eat. I'll never be a hard-core gardener, but I will shop and cook more thoughtfully after reading this book.

What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman
There's nothing more frustrating that getting to the end of a whodunit and realizing the whole thing has collapsed and you've just wasted a whole book's worth of wondering.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Danke Schön

I made the first stop on my farewell tour last night, and it was only appropriate that it was spent with a few of my favorite expat bloggers. B., Katie,Christina (along with her two sidekicks, Rainer and Oliver)and I talked politics and blogs and future plans until almost midnight. We ate Indian food and introduced Oliver to mango-yogurt shakes (a big hit) and inadvertently yet cheerfully explored a bit of Nuernberg I'd never seen before.

I started this blog imagining that a few friends and family members would tune in to see whether we'd survived the first week. I'm still sort of thrilled and freaked out that anyone else ever reads and comments here, and that I've actually met some of you in person. Honestly, when the first comments from strangers appeared, I got a little nervous. Aren't those people on the internet a bunch of weirdos, building their own mainframes in their parents' basements? And just before B and I met for the first time, I looked at Jeff and said, well, I guess if you don't hear from me you can assume she turned out to be a serial killer.

But despite my slightly suspicious nature, I make an effort to assume the best about people, and I haven't been disappointed by you, readers. I've found friends in a place and at a time that I felt friendless. I've received care packages and shopped for baby clothes and solved blog design crises with people I've met here. That must mean that I've officially become one of those internet weirdos I was worried about.

Blogging, and knowing my blog isn't just for me any more, has been a big part of my Deutsch adventure, and I wouldn't have kept it up if it weren't for you, dear readers. Thanks for being here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Here you go.

Am very busy attempting to divest my family of our worldly possessions. So far, have sold an electric screwdriver and a rice cooker. I'm sure someone will turn up who needs an entire kitchen including appliances. Also, to rent our apartment.

This is a good distraction from the apparent danger of rioting, according to a warning posted by the US Embassy here. Apparently, football fans can be angry and passionate! Newsflash!

In case I am crushed by a mob of Turkish and/or German revelers/rioters, know that on my last day on earth, this video got me all choked up. I'm not sure why. You might have seen this guy's earlier efforts, but this is the best one yet.

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Getting the Hang of It

This is a video clip from Ira Glass's storytelling series. You should watch it.

Did you watch? Most of you probably did not. That's OK, but really, you should go back and watch it because he tells his story much better than I do.

If you still haven't watched it, the gist is that it's OK to keep doing something (specifically television but let's just stretch Ira's description a bit and extend it to, you know, whatever you want to do) you're not sure you are good at, and you shouldn't give up hope that you'll get better. Sometimes it just takes a really long time.

Three years ago, I quit my job and we sold our house in a lovely neighborhood in the Pacific Northwest. We had a huge garage sale and lived in a hotel for a couple of days while we watched New Orleans drown on CNN. Our families wished us well and we flew to Germany. I cried in the middle of the night because I was jetlagged and bored and Jeff started a new job. We finally found an apartment after searching for far too long, and then I baked cookies.

Even years later, after hours of German lessons and the World Cup and trying to make my own Mexican food and surviving childbirth and making some friends, I had resigned myself to feeling like a fish trying to ride a bicycle most of the time, just waiting until I had the opportunity to jump back into a familiar pond.

Now, it's time to jump. We're headed back to America later this summer. Jeff has a new job, our residency permits are expiring, and we're shopping for houses and cars and dreaming of cheeseburgers. The decision to move wasn't terribly difficult, but our reactions once we'd made it surprised both of us. While we are glad to be headed back to the familiar and especially back to our families and friends, we're still working on getting excited. It's going to be exactly the same as we remember and completely different too.

I'm sure it's no accident that I've suddenly looked around and realized that although I never thought it would happen, I've finally gotten the hang of living here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Beautiful Game

In case you haven't been paying attention to the most popular sport in the world, I feel it is my duty to inform you that I'm living at Ground Zero for the coming apocalypse. Germany plays Turkey in the semifinal of the European Cup soccer tournament on Wednesday night, and I live in a predominantly Turkish neighborhood in the middle of the most German part of Germany (Bavaria). A giant TV screen has been erected a half-block from my front door, and the beer tents are lying in wait. Probably the only more exciting place to be during the two hours of the match will be some expat-owned beer hall in the middle of Istanbul, but only because they're probably a little less strict with their anti-riot tactics than we are around here. (Last time I tried to wheel Theo in his stroller through our town square during a Germany match, I was frisked and they almost took his sippy cup away due to the gametime bottle ban.)

The tournament is being held in Austria and Switzerland, so just a few hours from here. Although it's thrilling to cheer from the stands during these international matches, it will be just as exciting to see my Turkish neighbors and my German neighbors shouting and toasting and groaning and celebrating side by side. Somebody is going to be happy, and somebody isn't, and a whole lot of those somebodies will be down the street from us. I'm not worried about violence (see: careful police presence described above) but if I seem haggard on Thursday morning, it's because there's a 100% chance that the horn-honking and fireworks outside my window will keep me up until the wee hours. I'm thinking about staying away from the TV, ignoring the results pages online, and just imagining that everyone is a winner.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Telling you where to go

-The Big Picture, photo site that focuses on a single news story per day, is fantastic. I started to link to specific pictures, but realized I get chills almost every day from at least one of their images. See for yourself.

-Only on the internet: Black Hockey Jesus, whose avatar is a Diff'rent Strokes-era photo of Gary Coleman, writes a daddyblog called The Wind In Your Vagina. He calls his wife by a different name in each of his posts. Read the post I've just linked to for more reasons to love him.

-Have you signed up for a Twitter yet? It's like blogging, but easier. And shorter. And you can do it on your cell phone.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Current Soundtrack

(I chose these videos for their audio quality, not their visual fidelity to the songs. Some of them are truly bizarre, particularly the homemade Lost/Napoleon Dynamite tribute using Cake's version of Mahna Mahna as its soundtrack. No, really, it's right there.)

Fidelity by Regina Spektor
World Spins Madly On by The Weepies
Merry Happy by Kate Nash
Sea of Love by Cat Power
Sea of Love by The Honeydrippers
Killing Me Softly by Roberta Flack
How Deep Is Your Love by The Bird and the Bee
Brandi (You're A Fine Girl) by Looking Glass
Mahna Mahna by Cake
Cobrastyle by Robyn
American Boy by Estelle featuring Kanye West
My Maria by Brooks & Dunn

Thursday, June 12, 2008

More More

Mosaic Mosaic
That's Theo's favorite phrase now. "Mo mo mo mo." Usually he's talking about strawberries. But right now, he could be talking about anything, because there's a lot going on around here. We have visitors from the USA, a family wedding in just a few weeks, European Cup football, and glorious weather. And even more stuff than that. Mo mo mo mo.

So here's a mosaic of my friends' mosaics, just for fun. (I couldn't include anyone who doesn't use Flickr, sorry about that.)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Why I Am Uninformed About Current Events

Naptime begins.

Sit down to acquaint myself with world news. Open CNN website.

Obama, FLDS, hockey, space station toilet, Hulk Hogan's son, hmmm...what's this?

Read that Tatum O'Neal has been arrested for purchasing cocaine. She claims she lapsed due to her grief over the death of her dog, and that she spent the night in jail "on a mattress with two ladies." Also, that she is "still sober!"

Initial reaction: Smirking, snorting laugh. This woman is a trainwreck and a terrible liar. Didn't she win an Oscar? Shouldn't she be better at this?

Next thought: Should be sad for her. Yes, she is a tragic figure. Little girl lost. Weird yet handsome father. Bizarre mother figure who was once Charlie's Angel. Yes, should be sad. She needs help. She is like Drew Barrymore. There is hope.

Next thought: Am not sad. Saw her appearance on Oprah where she was as believable as - well, as someone who has just purchased drugs on the street and shouts to a reporter, "I'm still sober!" Not like Drew Barrymore.

Next thought: John McEnroe was married to her for a long time. Is he bizarre too? He is obnoxious but does not seem bizarre. He is married again, I think.

Next thought: They have kids. Those poor kids. I think they live with their father.

Next thought: Yes! Married to Patti Smythe! "I a-am the Warrior."

Next thought: I can't believe she has an Oscar. And then she was in a movie with Kristy McNichol. Jeff loves Kristy McNichol. She was too much of a tomboy for me. What ever happened to her?

Wander off to IMDB. (Bipolar disorder, Jimmy McNichol. Nancy McKeon, Philip McKeon?) Resurface only because naptime is long over.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I am tired.

I want to sit down and write a coherent post. But Theo is trying to figure out when the hell he is going to nap (is it once a day? twice? none?), Jeff has been out of town for a few days, and it was 86 degrees in my bedroom at 11:30pm last night.

I want to write about seeing "Sex and the City: The Movie," and why all of the reviews I've read seem to be written by people who never liked the TV show in the first place. I want to tell you (again) about my love/hate relationship with summertime in Germany and how something as simple as the absence of window screens (and, therefore, the presence of a million flying varmints in my kitchen) makes me want to run screaming from the building. I'd like to point out that Montana voters had better enjoy the spotlight because this is IT, this is the one and only time anyone is going to pay attention, so behave yourselves and please don't say anything horrifying to the AP reporters in your midst.

But I don't have the time or the energy.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

I haven't done one of these things in a while.

Here's a meme I stole from The Badger. Click on the mosaic to see a larger version.

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd's mosaic maker.

The Questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?*
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.**
12. Your flickr name

*I'm not sure why my high school name resulted in a pyramid of nearly-naked people, but I kind of love it.
**I chose "learning" and this is what I got.