Sunday, March 28, 2010

and i had pizza and wine to celebrate

"Do one thing everyday that scares you." Didn't Emerson say something along these lines?

Well good ol' Ralph woulda been mighty proud of me yesterday. I conquered my fears and did something I long swore I hated and was awful at and didn't enjoy even one little bit: I went swimming.

And I loved it.

As I entered the pool, my heart was racing and my chest was tight. "I can't swim! Look at all these people! They're going to laugh because I'm so ridiculously horrible. WHY AM I HERE?!?"

I'd told myself ahead of time that jogging through the pool would also be good exercise. Except the entire shallow section seemed to be reserved for screaming children and their caretakers.

So I went for it. I swam. It was nothing graceful or picturesque, but I got myself from one end to the other and back again. Then I took a break, and I did it again. And again. And again.

After a good 90 minutes, I felt like I could've stayed in that pool for another hour. But my eyes were cloudy with chlorine and it was getting close to dinner time. Through the windows in the ceiling, I could also see big patches of blue sky, where earlier the day had been grey and dull. I wanted to get outside and enjoy the weather before it was too late. But I will be going back. You can bet money on that. In fact, I can hardly wait.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

feed a cold

...with lots of fat, apparently.

On Sunday night, I had bread smeared with the creamiest butter you've ever tasted, which also had toasted nuts mixed in, topped with avocado and camembert. It was so incredibly delicious, every single bite. Seriously, that butter? I could eat with a spoon.

In the photo you can also see my new tray from Ikea. It was a "Sunday shopping day," so I took advantage by buying all the household items I'd basically been living without until now (towels, bedding, decorative trays....). More to come on that, maybe. If I feel like taking pictures. In any case, my apartment feels about a thousand times cozier (I almost wrote "cosier," ugh!).

[30/30 endlich complete! Not in 30 days exactly, but close enough. Cheers!]

Sunday, March 21, 2010


After I got home from work on Friday, I thought my head would explode. I drank lots of water, took a bath full of salt from the Dead Sea (according to the bag), and crossed my fingers that I'd feel good enough to go to the birthday party I'd been invited to (in a really cool alternative housing project with lots of my favorite kind of people - namely those that, in one way or another, tend to live on the fringe).

No such luck.

I crawled into bed around eight and promptly passed out.

Hence the lack of posting. And so close to the end! Like I said last week, though, I'm giving myself a reprieve. Starting a new job, moving, running around taking care of immigration paperwork/insurance/setting up a bank was all I could do to finally buy some groceries this week!

Yesterday I woke up with my head feeling even stuffier, but with a little bit of coffee in my system, I was sorted enough to walk to the pharmacy and get some ASS+C, which is aspirin and vitamins you dissolve in water. (And luckily I knew to ask for Ah-Ess-Ess, not ass.) I also went to the drugstore and fully stocked my cold-fighting arsenal with orange juice, hot lemon brew, nasal spray, and Tempo (the German Kleenex). On my way back to the apartment, I stopped for some Indian takeout - my tried and true way to unblock quickly. (Oh, and yep, pharmacies and drugstores are separate. You have your Walgreen's-style shop minus the meds, then a separate chemist, or Apotheke, that sells the hardcore stuff.)

By evening I felt well enough to go to a different birthday party (we started with dinner here), and I'm so glad I did because I had a great time. Mostly just work people, including a new student teacher from the States I hadn't met before. When I heard her singing "Business Time" at the other end of the table, my heart skipped a beat. Turns out she has both seasons of FOC on DVD with her here in Berlin. So in exchange for me helping her navigate the ins and outs of the Auslaenderpolizei (immigration police...not an official title), she's going to let me borrow the disks. Score!

So anyway, there you have it. Illness and life took over just as I was nearing the finish line of this 30 day challenge. All in all, though, I think I did well. And I learned that blogging more often is possible, and sometimes the very act of sitting down to WRITE is all I need to get going (may seem obvious, but well. Guess I didn't believe it until I tried it). Sometimes I would begrudgingly start a post, only to find the end result freeing and wonderful. Not always, but sometimes. Which is enough to make the whole process very, very worth it.

[29/30 complete]

Thursday, March 18, 2010

bits and pieces

student: "what's wrong with you? why you talk like that?"

me: "what - my accent? you mean why don't i sound like the other teachers?"

yeah, that was it. so i explained how (just like his mom) i'm an american, and we sound different than people from england blah blah blah. it was actually really funny. guess i just don't fit the context of what he's used to at school.

another little boy played the mini cymbals on my bum today. and though i stopped him immediately, it was awkward.

i'm getting used to saying "trousers" instead of "pants," as the latter refers soley to underwear. but i still feel like such an idiot telling children to mind their trousers and jumpers while playing outside! (jumper = sweater)

also, i mentioned something about groceries the other day and got a lot of blank looks from my colleagues. probably because the brits go food shopping. (for broad beans and courgette and mushy peas and similar such nonsense.)

the children so far have been forced to call me by my full last name because "they need to learn it." ugh, i don't care! they can learn it all they want, but as soon as they do, it's back to miss k. because that's what i like. (well, ok, sometimes i go by queen k, of course, but i think that'd prolly be really offensive. the single initial is bad enough to some.)

BRILLIANT! WELL DONE! TIDY UP TIME! BOYS AND GIWRS! never used to say these things, and now they're out my mouth multiple times a day. (and, yes, i do mean "out my mouth" because i've also picked up on dropping "of" on a regular basis.)

i'm going to come home with a strange layered accent using countless britishisms without realizing it. (although, i have also noticed myself saying "owa!" and "shvoops!" instead of "ow" and "oops," so it'll be british- AND german-isms.)

one thing i do like, though - and this is kind of silly - is that you're still expected to hug and hold the smallest children. it's really relaxing, calming a child. it's honestly one of my favorites parts of the job.

[28/30 complete - two tomorrow and i'm DONE DONE DONE!]

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

that kind of day

This book = my life. OK, not really. But sort of. A little.

Totally exhausted. My forearms ache like none other from carrying everything yesterday - it even hurts to lift my fork to my mouth! Not that that stopped me from shoveling down an extremely generous helping of mac-n-cheese for dinner. It was definitely a comfort food kind of day. Plus I've lost my wallet, so I couldn't buy anything else even if I wanted to, and the only other thing I have on hand at the moment is uncooked aduki beans. (It was NOT an aduki bean kind of day by any stretch.) In addition, I downloaded a bunch of shows off iTunes and painted my nails while I watched them. (Thanks for the gift card, Andy. You know me well.) So much comfort, on so many levels.

Tomorrow I plan to wear my giant flower ring and a bright pink shirt. Because I need a dose of spring and a little cheering up. It's supposed to be in the 50's (14 degrees Celsius, definitely had to use an online converter), so maybe I'll even be able to don my trench (complete with cover buttons I made using vintage fabric) instead of my tired wool coat. Fingers crossed that a) the sun comes out, and b) I find my wallet in the staff room tomorrow.

[27/30 complete]

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

make my bed and light the light


Well, of sorts :) It's not perfect, but it's mine. And it only took four trips down four flights of stairs, a taxi ride, then four more trips up another four flights of stairs. Who needs the gym, right?

[26/30 complete]

Monday, March 15, 2010

total begeistert

Do they have "internet sticks" in the States? Because I'd never heard of such a thing before, but now I have this fabulous USB drive that allows me to access the internet wherever I am, like a cell phone. And it costs the same as wireless. I'm seriously in love. Why don't we have these?

FINALLY got all my paperwork sorted this morning. It was fairly miserable. Lots of closed doors and hallways that don't seem to lead anywhere, in the middle of industrial nowheresville (aka, remote Westhafen). You had to wait in line to get a number in order to (what else?) wait in another line. Picture a dying jade plant atop rows and rows of tattered orange file folders, and you'll get a sense of the place's cheer.

When I went to pay for my visa (after they found it, that is - only took three tries and a couple phone calls), there was a man in front of me who didn't know where to go. He asked the girl behind the counter if she could help him. She said no, of course, so he asked if she knew who could help him, or at least who he could ask. Again, no. That was it. Welcome to Germany, where if you can figure out how to hoop-jump on your own, you may be worth keeping. Oy.

Moved a few things over to my apartment this evening but am going to spend one more night in my current accomodations before making the big switch. After a day of running around I just couldn't get my brain around hauling two suitcases up to the fourth floor. My shoulders protested, too.

Pictures of the place to come. (Took one I was planning on posting here tonight, but stupidly left my camera behind). It's my first proper day of work tomorrow so wish me luck! Can't wait to be with the little ones again.

[25/30 complete]

Sunday, March 14, 2010

it's happened again

a) I missed a post and will have to "double up" in the near future.

This one (the sequel to the Hunger Games) isn't moving quite as quickly, but it's an excellent way to pass jet-lagged hours (meaning when I'm wide awake at five in the morning or too tired to do anything else later in the day).

Getting the keys to my new apartment later today and will move in tomorrow. That means wireless internet very soon, which hopefully also means pictures. (Though I made hold out for blue skies before photographing my place and the neighborhood. To that end, things don't look too promising.) Bis morgen!

[24/30 complete]

Friday, March 12, 2010

slow, grey friday All Things Considered online (I heart NPR).

feeling....a chill from this windy, rainy day. There's a dull ache in my stomach, too.

tasting....toothpaste at the moment - but eagerly anticipating that first sip of coffee!

seeing....visions of springtime dancing through my head. Can't wait for the buds on the trees outside to burst.

smelling....Berrrrrlin - baking bread, cigarettes, moist air, and industry. It's really a distinct (and somehow very German) smell.

[23/30 complete]

Thursday, March 11, 2010

i never thought i'd say this, but...

...I'm updating my blog from a Starbucks via my iPod. Crazy, I know. But there's free wireless and I needed one BIG cup of coffee to help me recover from both jet lag and a heaping portion of bureaucracy. It's been a long day so I won't go crazy with the details. It's kinda weird to be the unwanted foreigner no one could care less about, ha. At least I have a little German at my disposal; otherwise I'm sure the surly people I interacted with today would be positively wretched. 

In other news, I move into my apartment on Monday. Huzzah! Well, hopefully I'll have time to move somewhere in between revisiting all the offices and agencies I had the pleasure of spending time at today. Because those folks know how to have a good time! And they all just loved me so much, they want me to come back. Huzz...uh-uh.

Tomorrow shall be glorious, however, as I'm free to sleep as long as I please, then plan to eventually make my way back to the free wi-fi. Hopefully I'll finally have a more solid (less boring) post then, too.

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SOME GERMAN WORDS WE ALSO USE IN ENGLISH (because the Germans are always throwing around "coole Englische Woerter"):


[22/30 complete]

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I'm in Berlin safe and sound, but with limited internet access, so this'll be another quick one! My head is spinning, I'm so dang tired. Lots to do tomorrow, too (apartment viewing, registering as a resident, finalizing my insurance....) so I will indeed be getting to bed momentarily. If I miss a few posts over the next few days, please forgive me. I, for one, will definitely be giving myself a reprieve!

[21/30 complete]

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

this is just to say...

...I am leaving for the airport in less than an hour.

The next time I post, it'll be from Berlin.

[20/30 complete]

Monday, March 8, 2010


Spent all day packing - doing laundry, folding, sorting, etc. Still not finished, and so will probably spend tomorrow morning finishing up (actually, will definitely spend tomorrow morning doing that, as otherwise I won't have any suitcases to take on the plane!).

At the moment, though, it's time for bed. Big ol' day coming up in just a few short hours. G'night.

[19/20 complete]

Sunday, March 7, 2010

a night with oscar

I've had one every year since I was a little girl, and it still feels so magical. I really liked the style of this year's show - Old Hollywood with a modern edge.

Here, my two favorites from the red carpet (the dresses, I mean, not necessarily the people in them):

I really love the Oscars. It's like the little girl inside me is activated, the one who, wide-eyed and spitty-thumbed, would stare at the screen thinking, That could be me. For a few hours, the dream just feels so possible again.

While it's doubtful I'll ever be in a movie, let alone win an Oscar, I certainly don't want to let that little girl down. (And so we're back to the somewhat existential questions from yesterday.) Maybe it's OK to let go of the Oscar dream without losing the sense of possibility. I'd say the latter is the important part anyway.

(Somewhat off-topic sidenote for all who watched: Was it just me, or did Meryl Streep seem a little loopy? Drunk or drugged or...SOMETHING. Weird.)

[18/30 complete]

Saturday, March 6, 2010

take two

"Times of prayer are times of growth. Cut those times short and many well-filled hours of work may be profitless. Heaven's values are so different from the values of earth...[O]ne poor tool, working all the time, but doing bad work, is of small value compared with the sharp, keen, perfect instrument, used only for a short time but which turns out perfect work." February 28: Perfect Work, in God Calling

"When I wake up in the morning, I can't decide whether to enjoy the world or improve the world; that makes it difficult to plan the day." EB White (Although, sidenote: I sorta think we improve the world by enjoying it in an authentic way. By finding that place Buechner speaks of, "where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." You know?)

[17/30 complete]

seven generations from now

Handprints on a clothesline, Stuttgart, May 2005

Been thinking lately about what kind of mark I'd like to leave on the world and the people I meet. I rarely live up to my own expectations. So, do I alter the way I live, or do I change my expectations?

Oooh, life -- what a hard question you are.

[16/30 complete]

Friday, March 5, 2010


In a 30-day Bikram Challenge, you are sometimes allowed "double-up" days, where you do two classes in one day in order to make up for a missed session. Sadly, it looks like I will need to implement that here! I was planning on blogging late last night, but first Project Runway sucked me in, and then drinks with a friend ended up lasting way past midnight. Can you blame me? In just four short days I will be without T.V. and leaving lots of friends behind. Sometimes, the blog just can't come first. But tomorrow - tomorrow is packing/sorting day, so I'm sure I'll feel the need to procrastinate. Thus, two blog posts it shall be!

[15/30 complete]

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

dear sewing box

I can't wait to see your minty green, button-and-zipper-filled gloriousness up close once again, my lovely little treasure trove. You were worth all eight euros. And the arm strain that came from lugging you around Koepenick all day.

I love you. See you in a week, when I shall fold and unfold you to my heart's content.

[13/30 complete]

Monday, March 1, 2010


It's getting late and I'm running on just a few hours of sleep, as the "few days" I thought I'd be lost in a good book turned into a single night. Can't wait for the next one to come in at the library. (No really, I'm not sure I can wait. I'll probably have to go to the bookstore tomorrow and read what I can there. Of course, then I'll more than likely be hooked all over again and have to cough up what little money and dignity I have left to buy a copy.) Anyway, with my eyes threatening to clamp shut at any moment and German tax laws circling my brain (I may have stayed up all night reading a fantastic book, but I spent the day wading my way through the muck that is expatriation) I think it's best I rest up and pray for some blue skies tomorrow. Streaming sunlight may be just the thing to get me feeling artsy and inspired. Until then, then :)

  Some pictures that came up when I Googled "German tax law."

[12/30 complete]