Tuesday, September 30, 2008

i told my computer to go to rehab, but it says no, no, no

so zeah. mz computer is in rehab and that is whz i am tzping like this. i came back from mz overlz long, and overlz expensive trip to london on mondaz morning. i was stranded, of course, thanks to rzanair, which i will explain later. got to mz apartment, popped the batterz back into the computer, plugged it in, turned it on, and was so excited to see it working! and then i tried IMing some people and realiyed that the p and 'enter' didn't work. i looked up some remedies online and mostlz people saz if it doesnt work right awaz, zou're screwed.

so then i call apple support and thez give me an authoriyed apple store. so i go with mz friends, annz and jim, to the store and ask them to fix it. he explains to me that it will take 2-3 dazs to come up with an estimate. then, if i dont want them to fix it, thez will charge me 79 euros for the estimate - gebaw! [thats not a german word, something i am trzing out] so, since i am prettz sure i am going to have them fix it no matter what, i left it with them. after thez give me the estimate (which thez have not zet done) it will take 4-5 dazs to fix. gebaw! that means that i won't have mz computer for the weekend and all the dazs before that. its so sad to realiye how much zou depend upon something. mz email, itunes, blog, german tv, INFORMATION, etc was all on there! i dont just read emails, i look important things up. for example, i realiyed that i onlz have two more blank squares on mz passport (zaz!) but that is not good if i want to travel (apparentlz countries can denz zou entrz if zou dont have enough squares to stamp) and mz friends told me that i could go to the american embassz in germanz and have them sew in the alphabet pages into mz passport. woo hoo!!! BUT i couldnät look up the embassz location or times until i came to school, which is where i am now, using the funnz german kezboard where the question mark is a shift kez on the number row and the z and y are backward.

i am also here so that i can charge mz ipod so that i can have a tinz bit of normalcz. i have an hour left before the computer lab closes and i just keep thinking, "come on, babz, come on. charge, charge!" to mz ipod. mazbe it will super-charge just for me.

days off poll archive

what should i do on my days off?

download weeds season 3 and watch it all

4 (44%)

write a book

1 (11%)

try sauerkraut juice

1 (11%)

visit some fancy museums

3 (33%)

other (comment in blog)

0 (0%)

Sunday, September 28, 2008


all i can say is that i knew it! i knew there would be a problem with ryanair. i am at a hotel in london at the airport because i "missed" my flight. i'm so emotionally exhausted right now that i am going to go back to my twin sized bed and sleep for a few hours before i have to get up for my 6am flight back to berlin.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

once upon a time

i just got a flashback to a memory i have from elementary school:

i was in 1st grade at St. Leo's elementary school in Minot, ND and my friend, Mary Dunkle, and i were with our class in the music room. we were paired with the 2nd grade class to watch a video and i remember this cute 2nd grader telling me that he thought i was pretty. he sat behind me and Mary and we thought we were really cool. I remember he was wearing a yellow shirt, but this doesn't make sense because this was a catholic school and so we had uniforms. maybe it was a friday or something. anyway, the video that we watched was one that i have not seen in 15-20 years. it was about a woman trapped in a dungeon who had a machine to make books. and alas! i have found it! apparently it was called once upon a time with marian the librarian and the witch. it was produced by nebraska public TV, so i wouldn't be surprised if those outside of the midwest have never seen it. this makes sense because i remember my freshman year of college in Boston asking people if they had seen this show and everyone thought i was crazy. but i am not! i have proof!

it was much cooler back when i was 6.

why i'm afraid of ryanair

if you are able to read this, then all has gone as scheduled... so far...

friday evening i am meant to take ryanair from berlin to london for my dear friend, elaine's, golden birthday party. i am slightly nervous because ryanair and myself have had a rocky relationship. apologies in advance for the length of this...

back when i lived in france, my friend trish and i were traveling over christmas (rather than going back to the US). this was my first and last "backpacking" experience, but that is a story for another time. we planned to leave paris on a friday evening and fly to dublin to spend the weekend with our irish friends from school. on monday morning, we were going to fly to brussels and start our train "backpacking" journey.

in paris, ryanair flies out of an airport called beauvais which is pretty much in the middle of nowhwere. it is not accessible by public transportation and, appropriately enough, you have to go to an irish pub on the outskirts of paris to catch the bus (which you have to pay for, of course) to take you to the airport. only ryanair (and MAYBE one other small airline) flies out of beauvais. the bus has to take about 100 roundabouts and you can have fun practicing your french numbers by counting the cows. that's how far away the airport is.

anyway, trish and i get to the airport with everyone else at the same time (they were all on the bus, its' the only way to get to the airport unless you rent a car). we check in, wait for the plane (which is delayed) and then go through customs and wait in the very small waiting area with no chairs for the plane to arrive. the plane does not arrive. as soon as they announce that the flight is cancelled, trish and i are in action mode. being seasoned travelers, we split up - she collects our bags from the luggage rack and i go stand in line to talk to the agents about the next flight. i am second in line. she then joins me and the rest of the passengers line up behind us.

being 5 or 6 days before christmas, the flight was full and the line was long. for some, stupid, illogical, unprofessional, annoying, stupid reason, before helping anyone, the agents go through the line and pull all of the families out and move them to be in front of us in line. i have major issues with nepostism and don't love kids. doing this did not make me happy. we wait in line for over an hour to finally get to teh front when we were told that we were now on the flight to dublin for monday afternoon. we pointed out that we had a flight on the SAME AIRLINE from dublin to brussels monday MORNING. the agents didn't care.

trish had to call her father in the US who called the irish ryanair office and bitched to them for over a half hour before they finally gave us our money back for both flights. great! we had our money back. not great! we were stuck at beauvais. since we had been so far back in line, and needed to wait for trish's dad to deal with the higher-ups, we missed the bus back to paris. we luckily got another ride and ended up at charles de gaulle etoile on a friday evening less than a week before christmas. we go to the SNCF office (french train system) and due to our planned hostel stays for the / next 2 weeks, were limited in where we could go. we decided to go to brussels early and stay in a hotel until we could check into our hostel on monday. we got to brussels around midnight and our hotel was right across the street from the train station. it was not until the next morning when we looked outside that we realized we were in the ghetto. brussels is now my least favorite city i have ever been to and i partly blame it on ryanair.

so... the point of all this? i'm afraid of and afriad for my flight for this weekend. if fri night's is cancelled, then i might not get to london in time for elaine's party on sat or - gasp! - i might not make it alll. if this posts, it means that i made it. if there is no post after this, it means that i made it there, but not back...

Friday, September 26, 2008

financial world

many people lately have asked me what germans / europeans think about the financial crisis in the US. honestly, i have no idea. i can't understand the german news, and quite frankly, i'm not really seeking to read their opinions in english. any conversations about the US have centered around the election rather than the $700 billion bail-out. or is it up to a trillion yet? it's so freeing not to worry about it. i imagine a lot of my former contacts are pretty stressed out these days. not here. most of the people i come in contact with each day don't have any idea about what i used to do or that i was involved in finance. most probably don't even care.

one thing is ironic, however: in my last german class, the closest thing we learned for professions to what i did was "bankauffrau" which basically means female banker. when i said that in class one day, frau hadidi said "ohhh, she is very important and makes a lot of money" but in german. i didn't correct her, so my old classmates still think i'm some important financial person. it's kind of funny because i clearly do not look like a high-profile person. i imagine that they imagine i am an undercover financial spy who traded billions of dollars in bad debts and now has to hide and has chose to do so in berlin. or something like that.

so, i guess the moral of this story is that i know nothing. i have no opinion on the financial crisis and am not really in touch with anyone to tell me. don't get me wrong, i understand what's going on and am vaguely curious, but it's not consumming my life like it would have in the past. once i am getting ready to go back to work, i'm sure i'll follow more closely.


in the grocerz stores next to the orange juice and my favorite pineapple juice sits the bottles of sauerkraut juice. i dont get it. who would drink sauerkraut juice???? i dont even know many who will eat sauerkraut let alone drink its nectar.

so sauerkraut made another appearance in my life yesterday. i was talking to my friend, bobby, laughing about the funny things one sees in the grocery store here in berlin. at one place, and i should go back and take a photo, there is a carrot, a celery stick and some sort of beet root or something (and keep in mind - these arent pretty veggies like in the US - no pesticides here, all natural - they arent even cleaned so they're full of dirt and whatnot) tied together with a string. ???? who would buy these things together?? apparently these are the ingredients in sauerkraut. i had no idea. so not only are people in germany eating sauerkraut, drinking sauerkraut juice, they're making their own at home! i feel like i should be eating more german cuisine, but i just dont think i can go there...

my laptop is hungover

so yzeah... i am at the goethe institut using their computers because my laptop is hung over from all the champagne i spilt on it last night. spilt or spilled? man mz english sucks. and so does mz tzping on these german kezboards. i bought the champagne to go with my first yoga class. to me, yoga and champagne logically go together. apparently others dont agree?? i dont understand why not. so, thanks to bobby, i have unplugged my computer, taken the battery out, and turned it upside down so it can air out. its very sad not to have a computer. my whole life revolved around that thing. i am just now realizing how sad that is.

well, it should get a good airing out because i am going to london tonight - woo hoo!! - for my friend elaine's golden birthday (you know, when you turn the age of your birthdate - so 27 on sept 27th. mine was when i was 19 - may 19th, etc). she sent me a very detailed email on how to get from the airport to her place. hopefully it will work. i get back sundaz night and then more fun! anny and jim are in town from california!!! wooo hooo!! i don#t know where they are stayzing zet - hopefullz in mitte, near where i live. and since i dont have class on monday, i will be able to hang out with them all day!! cant wait!

maybe after thez leave, we'll look into AA meetings for my laptop...

Thursday, September 25, 2008


so granola girl just left. i think i mentioned her a while ago, she was in my class at the goethe institut - she is from toronto and recently returned from studying yoga in india. we got to talking the night our class went out and she was saying that she wants to start teaching yoga and i told her i wanted a yoga teacher - so bravo! then i told her that my brother could help her put together a website for her to get some clients here in berlin (she is studying for her masters in... something). so tonight was the first time she could come over and we could do yoga. i should qualify this by saying that i have done yoga once before - but some fancy kind that not a lot of people do. i can never remember the name, it's not even in wikipedia. i did it through the adult education organization in sacramento 2 summers ago. it was good, but not something i felt like i would do a lot.

tonight was different. we did ashtanga yoga and it was really great - you don't hold the poses for that long. i was expecting to be sitting indian style with my fingers circled for an hour, but it wasn't like that. we did a lot of different poses and at most held them for 5 breaths. the goal is to get your body warm and purifying itself and i couldnt believe after a few times i was sweating! i had no idea that it was going to be like that. it was great! so now i think my new plan is to go to india and study yoga. maybe find myself. what do you think??


yesterday was the last day of class. i think i've mentioned before how people in this class really want to learn. tues, before we left, frau hadidi asked if we wanted homework and everyone said yes. i was surprised, even though i also wanted homework.

anyway, during the last class, frau hadidi had the gaul to broach the subject of the dreaded dative tense. basically, we have been learning masculine, feminine and neuter subjects for EVERY noun. now, with the dative tense, they all change. feminine becomes masculine and masculine becomes something else. it's very annoying. when she wrote on the board that the bar (pub) "die bar" (die = feminine) now became "in der bar" (der = masculine) there was OUTRAGE in the classroom. literally - people CRIED OUT in pain. the 60-year old grandmother put her head in her hands and said, "why? why?" and sexy smoker just kept saying "no! no!" others were grumbling, as well, and i just sat there writing down everyone's reactions, pleasantly amused.

later, after sexy smoker asked a question, frau hadidi wrote the answer on the board and sexy smoker shouts out "ohhh! shiiit!" as if he just backed his dad's jag into a garbage truck or something.

so we go around the room doing an exercise where you have to say where you do things. for example, i eat ______ (choices: in the kitchen, at a restaurant, in bed, etc). i don't think nigeria knew what was going on so he said that he "goes for walks ... in the bar." so we all kind of laugh and i'm pretty sure he didn't get it because he didn't know what he was saying for "goes for walks." so he then changes it to say "i go for walks in my dreams." and everyone chuckles again. still, no idea whats going on. frau hadidi tells him that his first sentence was ok and she repeats "i go for walks in the bar." so, for the rest of the day, whenever frau hadidi would ask him something, he'd answer "in der bar." (in the bar) so she'd ask, "nigeria, where do you meet friends?" "in der bar." or "nigeria, where do you learn german?" "in der bar." "where do you go swimming?" "in der bar." he had no idea what was going on, but i think he was proud of himself for always saying "in der bar" which is grammatically correct german.

it was a good day - we had some discussion about birth order and communism, both of which i will blog about later (in a small attempt to keep this shorter for rich). and, at the end of the day, i got a fancy certificate "Frau Danielle Erdmann hat den Kurs mit sehr gutem Erfolg besucht." "mrs. dle finished a course with very good attendance." ha. it's very formal - it has my birth date and birth city on it along with a sampt and signature. the english equivalent on the back explains what level i just finished: "A1 - can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where she lives, people she knows and things she has. can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help." i was very happy with it until the last sentence. that's just demeaning.

in any case: i've passed! and now i don't have class until next tues...

dream dictionary

i just woke up from a weird dream.

i dreamt that i was trying to help one of my younger brothers, homie, study for a test so he could graduate college (which, btw - he has!!). i had to walk down this sort of boardwalk to a table with a guido-lebanese guy holding some papers. i gave him my brother's name and looked at his chart and it said "82" and i said - "oh, so he has to take test 82?" and then the guido-lebanese guy with the gold necklace said, "no, he has to take test 75." i pointed to the 82 and he flipped the chart over and showed me my brother's name and then some 0s and 1s that you had to add up until you got to a common number and it was 75. i was walking away thinking that was really confusing and something only college students would understand when britney spears stopped me and told me that it was ok, "it's pretty tough, but you'll get through it. if i don't pass this test, i'll have to go back to 3rd grade math and re-learn equations." then a voice came over, as if on tv, and said, "britney spears has recently cleaned up her life. last week, she was awarded the biggest gym comeback for reinventing the ab crunch." and then i could see britney doing crunches.

yeah. i have no idea.

absatively, posolutely!

actually, i just found my favorite episode (aside from the easter episode) about cleaning your room.

i think these inspired me to be a professional organizer. i think that might be my next career: professional organizer. what do you think???

you may think that this starts our show - well, it does!

i didn't grow up reading dr. seuss books. i think the first time i read one was when i was in 7th grade in the doctor's office. in my family, we read the much more sophisticated berenstain bears. so today, after reading moue magazine, i got an idea to search for some old berenstain bears episodes. watch this for shits and giggles and i bet both my brothers can sing along to the opening song:

it's funny how papa bear explains 'introvert.' quality stuff!

for those of you with young children, i suggest investing in some berenstain bear books.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

just one of those days...

today has been... special.

after class i decided to go to the citibank ATM way on the other side of town so that i don't have to pay any finance charges. 1) it's a really really cool atm where you can do all sorts of cool things like transfer balances and 2) it makes me feel like i am seeing more of berlin. so i take the S-bahn (El-train) with two of my classmates. after one of them informed me that even if my return trip on the S-bahn is within 2 hours, i cannot use the same ticket (contrary to what i had thought). also, apparently another girl in our class tried to use the "i'm a foreigner" routine and got a 20 euro ticket when she had the wrong ticket EVEN THOUGH the ticket she had was the same price as the one she should have had. my classmate then asked me how much the ATM fee was, and since i would have felt really really stupid if it were less than my S-bahn ticket, i told her 5 euro, even though i don't know what it is. (a one-way ticket costs 2.10 euro) she agreed that since it would cost me 4.20 to go to the ATM, it would be cheaper than a 5 euro fee. neither of us pointed out it was only 80 cents cheaper. i then decided to walk home from the ATM. i left the ATM at 6:35 and figured i'd use the biggest streets per my map. at one point, i look up and there is barbed wire on top of a very tall gate. i think i found the berlin prison. kind of ominus. anyway, i stopped on my way home to get luisa some postcards she wanted from this one store, but it was a very quick stop.

then, i was thinking that i would walk quickly and make it to the store that is right behind my house. i didn't know what time it closed, but i was hoping 8. well, around 7:45, i realize that i am maybe not going to make it to the store since i have no idea how far along this street i am. i see a small corner store across the street that is still open. so, i cross and am about to go inside when a woman, seeing me holding a map, stops me and asks me for directions to hackeshar mkt, which i actually know where it is. however, i don't know if i told her the right way since we were on a street i wasn't familiar with. i'll feel bad if i told her the wrong way. if i happened to tell her the right way - good deed for me! after she left, this cute little asian boy comes out of the store and shines a light in my face. i didn't even get upset! i smiled - i think he thought he was giving me a light to read my map.

anyway, i go inside. it is just before 8 and they are obviously closing. it was a little shop owned by an asian family so half of the store was filled with things you'd find in the chinese grocery store in chinatown - that strawberry "pudding" and sesame toffee. no matter which way i went, i was in someone's way. they were bringing in all the fruit from outside and just putting it in the middle of the isle. then the woman was sitting on the floor putting prices on things and i almost stepped on her. well, i find what i am looking for (chicken and PRETZEL sticks) and go up to pay. the woman gives me my change and since i am trying to keep track of how much money i spend, i look how much change i get to see how much i spent (since i had my ipod on i didn't hear her and just handed her a 10 euro piece). anyway, i put the change away and turn around and say "tschus!" (goodbye) to the little kid. he smiles. as i'm walking by the men outside, now moved on to the veggies, i say "tschus!" and walk on. about 3 blocks away, i realize i don't have my food. what. an. idiot.

so i RUN back to the store, and once everyone sees me, the whole store, full of asian people, starts chuckling. the woman is saying something in german and all i can say is "danke schon. danke schon." (thank you very much, thank you very much) i leave happy that i have food to eat tonight. then, after i get 4 blocks from the store, i come to the store that is right behind my house. i probably would have, after all, made it to the bigger store by 8.

the way my mind works...

i do this all the time: i think things that are absolutely, illogical and stupid. for example, last week when caro was here, she told me about a cheap grocery store that is very near to here. yesterday morning i went out to find it. i went one way, which (after i thought about it) was a stupid way to go since she told me it was right behind my building. after i turned away from the original direction i was heading, i did truly find the grocery store. it is, indeed, across the street from the building behind me. i have to illegally cross some train tracks, and if i don't get hit by an S-Bahn train, it's really close.

anyway, yesterday, at the grocery store, i was shopping and looking for my pretzel sticks that i have grown so fond of eating in europe. i see a bag that says "sesame sticks." I thought, "that's weird. why don't they just call them pretzel sticks? maybe "sesame" is "pretzel" in a different language." this, of course, is totally and undeniably stupid. when i got home, i discovered that they are, really, sesame sticks. they look just like pretzels but instead of little things of salt on the outside, they have big sesame seeds on them. they're kind of good and kind of weird at the same time. i can't believe i thought they were pretzels. i'm kind of annoyed the bag doesn't say "sesame sticks - similar to pretzel sticks, but different" or something like that to draw your attention to the fact that they aren't pretzel sticks. who would buy sesame sticks??

last weekend i did pretty much the same thing. i was waiting for imke at the train station - i should first explain that imke is over 6 feet tall - and every time i would see someone with hair similar to hers, but clearly shorter, i would think, "well, maybe she had some disease that made her shrink or maybe her feet got cut off." which, of course, would never happen. and imke is still 6 feet tall.

the thing is, i think these things all the time! most of the time, i don't tell people about it, because they are clearly illogical and DUMB. i need to stop doing this. i think my mind is playing tricks on me because i don't think i'm a really stupid person. just sometimes...

Monday, September 22, 2008

how efficient the germans are!

last weekend, i took a very pleasant trip to western germany to meet my friend, imke, and to view the castles of the rhine valley.

i missed class on friday because i took the 12 noon train to bonn. i traveled first class and think that i am now officially in love with train travel.
this is a picture of the chart that shows where first class is on each train. it looks less impressive in this picture, but it was very cool. so efficient of the germans to show where the car will show up in the station!

i was slightly disappointed with the trip to bonn because my first class seat was in a cabin. i don't really see what the difference between the first class cabin seats and the second class cabin seats. maybe first class is bigger? how can it be, though, if the trains are the same size? i don't know. there were plug-ins so i could charge my laptop, so i guess that is good. a man came around to each cabin and started asking me questions. i looked at him blankly and finally said "ich spreche kein deutsche." then he said, "oh. tickets?" so i give him my ticket and rather than validating it, he copies down all the information on a piece of paper on his clipboard. then he KEPT asking me questions. my blank stare must not have been empty enough. finally i heard the word "arbeiten" which means "to work." so i said "nein, ich habe eine freunde" (no, i have a friend), hoping that he would get that i am meeting a friend. i guess he did and apparently it was very important he find out exactly why i was on the train.

so imke and i meet at the train station in bonn. we rented a car so we could go out of town and drive down the rhine valley. fri night, after we met, we picked up the car and got a bit lost trying to find our hotel. eventually we found it. we ate at the hotel that night - we were one of the last people to be seated. they let us order, but when we went to order dessert (i am on a search for the perfect strudel), they told us the kitchen was closed. i was kind of annoyed they didn't ask if we wanted anything else before closing. it just might have been perfect, but now i'll never know.

saturday morning we started out and took our time driving down the valley, stopping in small towns here and there. this is a picture of a typical german house:
in this town, we stopped to have some tea on the river. they served us tea on these cute little trays. rooibush tea is very popular here - i had it 3 times last weekend. the clear little bowl in the picture is for your tea bag. how efficient!
we then followed my eyewitness Germany book and it took us to this town called Boppard. Do not go to Boppard. Sure, it's cute and German, and all that, but it's a tourist trap. it was horrible. there were sooo many people and all these chincy souvenir shops. the first town where we had tea was better (but i can't remember what that was).

however, in boppard, we did see this statue for hansel and gretle with englebert humperdink, who, in my opinion has one of the coolest names ever. apparently, englebert bought a place in boppard after making beaucoup de niro composing the play hansel and gretle (based off of the brothers grimm story). here is an interesting story on it to go along with the photo below.
we decided not to eat in Boppard and continued on our trek toward mainz. we stayed in a hyatt, not as impressive as the one in warsaw, and went out to eat after we checked in. we ended up eating at this german/spanish/mexican fake-fusion type place. we had fajitas and some other things and it was quite good, although the fajitas were not at all spicy. the coat rack in the restaurant was another example of german efficiency - the top row of hooks was on a piece of wood further out than the bottom row. how smart!

sunday we got up went to use the gym which was a HUGE disappointment. i'm going to write a letter to the hyatt and complain. it was really annoying. finally, we got back on the road to bonn to return the car and catch our trains. we went like 140 on the autobahn. i think thats fast. it seemed fast. oh! and i think some people might be impressed by this, but the fact was lost on me, we had a pretty nice mercedes as a rental car.

oh, the final example of german efficiency is below. in front of the hotel in bonn (we had to go back because i forgot my ipod), there is an area where you can turn your car around. in this area (below) is a green sign that looks like this:

up close this is what the sign looks like:apparently, if you would like to spy on people, you can go in the bushes here to do so. how efficient!

Friday, September 19, 2008

the little thai man got lucky last night

so last night, i was sitting around when the phone rang. i instantly froze. i was worried that it was the restaurant i had ordered food from calling to say there was some problem and ask me a question. but, of course, i don't speak german so i wouldn't be able to help them, then i wouldn't get any food! i overcame my fear and answered. it was my dad. yay! we chatted for a bit and i made sure to throw in a lot of "president," "bomb," and "muslim" words into the conversation. jk! [i wonder what would have happened if i had - would the SS show up at my door??]

anyway, the phone rang like 30 seconds after we got off the phone and i immidiately picked it up "hellloooo" (assuming, of course, it was my dad calling back to tell me something he forgot). it was not.

some asian guy speaking heavily-accented german. he says what i hear is "thai cuisine" and i say "oh, ja" because i'm expecting food from then. then i hear some other words and then "linienstrasse 21" and his voice went up so i could tell he was asking a question. "ja, linienstrasse einundzwanzig." "bis gedubadank und vor mortenhasse?" hmmm.... finally, i say "ich spreche kein deutsche." "spitzelerwarmkalt judabobalyboop biskarte?" so i repeat my address "linienstrasse einundzwanzig." this goes on for about 3 minutes, us trying to, but clearly not being able to, communicate with each other. finally, i hear him say "bibbyidop texatwistein hinten?" and i know hinten! i know the word hinten! it either means "upstairs" or "downstairs" - i learned it in class today. "ja! hinten" i say. as i'm opening the door to my apartment, i hear him responding from both my ears - he was in the stairwell above my apartment. success! we found each other.

so we both laugh - clearly we have no idea what the other is saying. he comes forward and there is this awkward dance because i don't know if he wants me to hold the bag or the thing in his hand. then the light in the stairwell goes off and he's looking for it, and i can't tell him where it is, and we're each both half holding on to the food. so, i have to push it back on him, move him to the side, go out into the stairwell and push the button for the light. whew. AWK-WARD.

so i get the money and he gives me the food again. i put the food down and then he starts counting my change but he's forgotten how much it was, so i have to go get the receipt to give back to him... it was a mess. oh, also, i should say that i ordered a lot of food thinking a few things: 1) i only have a 50 euro bill. i wasn't sure how much they would carry on them for change, so i figured they would be annoyed to give me more than 20 euro change 2) i can just put the extra food in the fridge and eat it over the next few days 3) i had NO IDEA what i was ordering, since the menu was in german and using these half-german, half-thai words so that altavista babelfish (now technically yahoo babelfish) couldn't recognize them. so getting more food would be good so i could try a few different things in case i didn't like anything.

at one point, he pointed to the receipt and said, "erdmann, ist das ihre name? ist das richtig?" which i understand as saying, "erdmann, is that your last name? is that correct?" and i assume he's asking because i clearly have a german last night and don't speak german. so i say, "ja, ich bin amerikanerin" and smile. he looks confused and then gives a faint smile. later, i realize he wasn't asking because of that, he was asking because he couldn't find "erdmann" on the buzzers for any of the apartments. i'm an idiot.

anyway, we sort everything out; he's leaving and i call him back to give him a tip. why do i do this??!! if someone is leaving without expecting a tip - don't force one on them!! save your money! i hate it when i do things like this. anyway, he seems very excited - i gave him 3 euro (about 10% of the bill). so as i'm shutting the door, i realize there is no beer. i had ordered the kirin beer (japanese beer) because 1) i kind of wanted a beer but mostly 2) you can get alcohol delivered! so i call down the stairs "entschuldigung!" (which means, "excuse me!") and he says "ja" from down below. "das bier??" "oh" he comes back upstairs and looks at the receipt. he looks at the bag he has given me, which clearly does not have any beer in it and says something. i figure out he wants to know if i want the beer, meaning he'll have to come back, or if i'll just accept my money back. at this point, je m'en fou. i don't care. so i wave my hands and say "it's up to you." he half turns to leave, and then changes his mind and starts giving me back the money for the beer. which is fine, whatever, BUT he doesn't give back part of the tip! of course, why would he? and it was clear to both of us that i couldn't ask for it back (literally, did not know how) so the little thai man got a big tip last night.

after he leaves, i look at the address of the place from which i ordered (found online at some place that puts together a lot of restaurants for delivery) and discover it's about 5 blocks down the street. i could've just walked there.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


ummm.... ok. sure.



so yeah. caro just left - she is stefan's friend who, i guess, did truly come to look for a dvd. and she was very nice to show me about the oven. which, did indeed, mean the big ceramic block in the living room. apparently, to keep myself from freezing, i will now be mining for coals in the cellar, hunting for wood in the park, creating a fire in the bigger black... area on the oven, then waiting until the coals are "burning, but with no flame." At this point, I will then close some other door and let it burn to heat the room. right.

the only other time i have "made" a fire was when i was about 11 and my brother and i were home alone during summer break. there was one of those little tins with a candle less than an inch thick (like the size of your hand or something) sitting on the end table in the living room. being kids, we thought it would be fun to add paper to the candle to see how high we could get it to burn. or maybe that wasn't our intention, but that's what happened. the flame got so high, we had to move the lamp. we couldn't touch the tin to move it. we tried putting water on it, but it just made sparks fly and a crackling noise. so, i ran to the kitchen to get a towel and then i swiftly carried the candle to the kitchen sink and kind of threw it in. the wax went EVERYWHERE and the sink exploded in a quick, but impressive flame. the flame did not go out, though. it continued to burn on the little wick that was left, stuck to the side of the sink. we turned the water on and it eventually went out. i don't think either of us has played with fire since.

until now.

apparently, if i don't do this right, i can either 1) cause the flame to go out and have to start again (this happens by shutting the door open too soon) or 2) if i leave the door open too long, it will not burn correctly and i may harm myself physically with the "bad burning" of the wood. i'm only here 5 more weeks, so it's unlikely that it will kill me. if i do it wrong, of course. this whole process may take 2-3 hours before heat comes out... and i will have to start the fire in the morning and relight it when i get back at night. fun.

caro told me she never turns the oven on before mid-october, which is crazytalk to me because i almost FROZE last night. tonight is ok because of the many sweatshirts and the scalding hot water in the sink (which, btw, does not last very long - it truly is heating the water on the spot - how novel!).

well, no fire for me this weekend. it's first class to bonn tomorrow and then castles on saturday and first class on my way back (with hotels in between).

and for now: bett.


do you ever do things and then later realize, "oh RIGHT. THAT's how it's supposed to be done."

two things:
1) when i arrived, i asked stefan how to use his washing machine (no dryer in germany) and so he explains that i need to put the detergent on the left side and the fabric softener in the middle. so i pull out a bottle of detergent i bought and put that on the left and then a bottle of his stuff and put it in the right. i washed 2 loads like this. well, then yesterday, i searched through more of his bottles and find one that looks curiously like laundry detergent. i then look at the two bottles i used and realize i had used fabric softener for both the wash and the soften cycle - i did not notice that they have the exact same words AND both are creamy as opposed to gely. niiice. no wonder things didn't seem clean. they weren't!

2) i've been "washing" my dishes one at a time because the water in the kitchen is so cold. so today i figured out why. when i went to use the washing machine almost 2 weeks ago, i took something out of the socket and plugged in the washing machine. apparently, i was unplugging some sort of water heater. i just today discovered how to get hot water again.

tonight, stefan's friend has to come over to "get a dvd" (secretly i think she's checking up on me). she also told me she'll show me how to "use the oven" which i am hoping means this big ceramic thing in the living room and the other one in the bedroom. apparently there is no heat in this apartment (i told you i'm in east berlin, right?) and you have to use coal or start some fire or something....? i am wearing two sweatshirts, socks and slippers because its so cold. this is like when i moved into my last apt in boston and had no furniture and no heat. i slept on an air mattress in a HUGE empty room with about two blankets and five towels on me until i finally realized that the reason i didnt have heat was because my landlord had to light something in the basement and yes, the thermostat was working... i think i slept like that for almost 2 weeks.

i should not be left alone.

la raison

i forget where or with whom i was, but sometime last summer, i was sitting with two people. one asked me why i was going to germany and i said "because i've always wanted to" or something like that and the other said, "if i were going to study another language, i would study one that is spoken by lots of people - more than just people in one country." i had no argument and i don't know if the second person realized what a gauche thing he said. but i didn't really care (i was incredibly passive last summer). today someone gave me my argument. german is one of the most specific languages and is studied by people who want to better understand philosophy and law. so there second person whoever you are! SMART people study german. and maybe my intention wasn't consciously to learn more about philosophy and law, you can bet that now, if i want to, i will be able to. so ha!

and here is what wiki has to say about it. as my professor said today "english is very easy - that is why the whole world speaks it. german is very specific for specific reasons." and i am content.

the little pleasures

there are two words that the french language has that english does not: 'si' and 'on.' and today i discovered that german has them, too - yay!

si (or 'doch' in german) is a positive response to a negative question. for example, "you don't like apples, do you?" in english, if you answered, "yes" no one would know if you liked apples or didn't. same with no. you have to say "yes, i don't like apples" or "yes, in fact, i do like apples." in french and german, you just say "si" or "doch" and they instantly know that you do, in fact, like apples. love it.

the other is 'on' ('man' in german). this does not mean man, in fact. they both mean "one" as in "one should not do that." which is stuffy so people usually say "you" not meaning 'you specifically.'

ok, i am going to end this because it's bothering me - i clearly can't decide between " and '.

input - please...

so i have been thinking about all this time i 'should' have while i am here... and while i love the goethe institut, it is moving fairly slowly for me. so, i was thinking - what if i took another class at the same time? i can take one that is considerably cheaper in the mornings from this place
for practically nothing compared to what i am paying at goethe.

1) it will help advance my skills
2) i will meet more people since everyone in my class is leaving after next wed, anyway
3) the busier i am, the more i get done. and i'm not getting much done these days
4) it's really cheap!

1) do i really want to give up the morning free time?
2) sure, it's cheap, but do i want to spend the money on something else or save it?

what should i do??

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

to the 25 of you i killed today...

dear mr. dandelions,

i understand that you are actually daddy longlegged spiders, but in my head i call you dandelions and so that you shall be. i am sorry i had to kill so many of you today, you see, you just don't belong. cleaning out the pantry in this apartment i am renting seemed to be like a nice thing to do for the homeowner - it was a complete mess - and also i didn't want to touch another plate with cobwebs on it. unfortunately, it wasn't just cobwebs i found. each time i moved a box of rice or a saucer, one of your kind would go scurrying away. except, of course, the six of you that were about the size of a silver dollar - found in the shelf corners, clearly behind items that have not been moved or touched in a long while. i can see why you were so big - you clearly had survived the pantry the longest, had the biggest, most intricate web to catch all those stupid flies that fly around this place because of all these stupid plants. you probably ate your some of your babies so you could get bigger or maybe you ate your workers that didn't bring you enough food. or is that the ant? you're all the same. either way, i felt it necessary to double up a papertowel each time i found a new, silver dollar dandelion. the last one scared me quite a bit and made me realize that perhaps i should not try cleaning out the bottom two shelves. and now they will remain dirty because of you, you stupid arachnid. i will not touch a single pot or cookbook (yes, fine, i wouldn't pick up the cookbook anyway) because i know there are more of you down there.

i'm sorry i had to clean off all the jars of pickled lemons, bags of sauerkraut and cans of sardines - i really don't think bug carcasses are necessary for a pantry. the bugs were all dead, so i dont think you could get much more out of them. but it doesn't matter anyway - because now you are gone. and, sorry, i have no input into the bizarre food placed in this pantry. i keep my food far far away from dark corners. and yes, i'm sure he is quite regular - i, too, have never seen anyone eat so much fiber.

i'm also sorry that i will now be forced to keep the pantry door open so as to prohibit the creation of 'dark' corners, your favorite place to live. for your kind in the bottom recesses of the pantry, i shall let you live on, but please do not move up onto any of the 4 shelves i cleaned. if you choose to disobey these orders, i will be forced to remove you from the premises.

in addition, please do not get revenge upon me by crawling on me in my sleep. i would not appreciate this and vengence can be a bitch.


(i don't want you to know my name)


who says epiphamy? someone i know does... and i'm pretty sure it's not a five year old...

anyway, i had an epiphany today:

there is not enough time to do everything you want to do when you have nothing to do.

this is how i feel these days. i have absolutely no obligations, and yet a kazillion things i want to do, and at the same time, no time to do any of it. but i dont know why - i dont have anything i must do.

this morning, i spent over an hour cleaning the pantry - it had to be done. then i went to class, had to rush through my homework beforehand (which day will i actually spend the 3 hours studying like i want??), was busy even during the break, then i went to a yoga studio with granola girl to get a yoga mat (only 20 euro - why did granola girl pay 130 for hers in canada?? she's REALLY in to yoga). ran back upstairs to listen to a lecture about museumsinsel. a lecture of which i only understood... 15-20%. that might even be pushing it. then i met luisa, my italian friend, for dinner. i told her i would take her out since she was just awarded some award like "best librarian in europe" or something like that. we had asian noodles. then we went across the street to starbucks with big, comfy chairs, and hung out for an hour. she offered to let me stay at her place in roma - maybe i'll take her up on the offer! came home, did laundry, and have been busy answering emails, writing, while listening to deutsch on my fancy eyetv, etc since. i have not had a chance to take care of many things i need to do, yet now it is 12:45am and i need to go to bed so i can get up and do it all again. and for what?? riddle me this.

the consonant pop quiz

so in fun german class today we were busy conjugating verbs when someone asks why one word is pronounced with a long 'i' (which is actually 'e' in german) and one is short. she writes the word on the wall and says "because there are 3 consonants in a row" and then someone asks about a different verb, which is pronounced a different way but with 4 consonants in a row and she says "that is exception." and someone pointed out that everything in german is an exception.
some of the the words we were going over were treffen (to meet) and nehmen (to take). when conjugated they are
du triffst
du nimmst.

and it got me thinking - holy crap. four is a lot of consonants in a row. and yet, i'm sure there are other words in german where there are more consonants in a row. so, my question to you, what word has the most consonants in a row in your language?

i'm thinking of candy for english - except in that case, is the 'y' a vowel or a consonant (a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y)...?

Monday, September 15, 2008

warsaw - trying too hard

on the train again, back to berlin. we just stopped at some station for over an hour because a train in front of us was on fire. now we're very behind and since berlin is a main connecting place, everyone will miss their connections. not a problem for me because ich wohne in berlin (i live in berlin).

[side note: i'm watching the last dragon - who was it that told me to watch this?? it's horrible!!! bruce leeroy? sur'nuff??]

anyway, poland was interesting. i stayed at a hyatt and when i checked in, he told me, "i am happy to say we have bigger room for you." i was like, "oh wow, great." and he clarifies (unnecessarily), "you will not pay for that." right because i didn't reserve the bigger room. so, the room was very nice. they had fruit and wine for me and a spa tub. i was almost as excited with the german tv stations i could watch as i was to be in poland.

warsaw was voted the 2nd worst city in europe (behind brussels, my least favorite city in the world) and i can see why. half of the houses are missing shingles. the city is half old, half being rebuilt with no rhyme or reason. and the people are ... well, i guess what you'd expect iron curtain people to be like (see posting on cabbie). some people and houses are very nice, and here are some typical polish buildings (in my mind):

the 'old' town was completely rebuilt after WWII to match original building designs. they are starting to build up the 'downtown' area, but everything has the feeling of trying too hard. here is a picture of the downtown from my hotel room.
it looks fancy, but there are no lights at night and the streets aren't organized (which doesn't really mean anything compared to boston). my hotel was in the 'nice' part of town right next to a bunch of embassys and consulates. i took a walk and walked past the russian consulate. as i turned a corner, i was greeted with a semi-automaic gun, held by a straight-faced russian soldier, pointed right at me. it was startling. i smiled to be nice, and then i thought, 'crap! what if they think the smile is mischievous and coniving??' so instant blank face and that's how i walked the rest of my walk (which, coincidentally, made me fit right in). on a side note: i can't even imagine - well, i guess i can; i dont WANT to imagine - where all the money for the russian consulate is coming from. it was one of the grandest, most opulant buildings i have seen in europe. i didn't dare take a picture of it for fear of getting shot. interestingly enough, i couldn't find a picture of it on google (didn't look SUPER hard, but other russian embassies were avail - just not in warsaw).

since i was alone, and my hotel was far from citycenter, i didn't go out. i enjoyed some delicious room service and a perfect bubble bath. this morning, i got up early to check out the gym and spa, and then i had to head back to the train station. quick trip, but definitely worth it.

[omg! william h macy is in the last dragon. lol. i'm sure this is what spawned his illustrious career.]

no passport stamp going to poland - grrr

to me, poland is a land of sadness. i have never met anyone from poland who is a genuinely happy. i imagined poland to be the sort of place where men wearing suspenders walk in the ditch next to the train tracks, people's clothes look like they're secondhand or from the 80s and cars are abandoned by the side of the road. so far, all of my preconceived notions seem to be true.

as i write this, i am on a train from berlin to warsaw for the weekend. i pulled out my laptop when everyone in my cabin was awake - it seemed more polite than typing while people were asleep. [these trains are not like the trains from Boston to NY that are set up like a plane - 2 seats, an aisle and then 2 seats. these have little cabins full of 6 seats - 3 on each side, so you're pretty much staring at everyone in your cabin. it's great when you're traveling with friends, but when you're alone, it can be awkward.] as soon as i pulled out my computer, two guys across from me got up and went to use their cells in the hallway. i hope this is not because i took out my computer and rather a mere coincidence. to me, laptop work is a natural companion to train travel. am i alone with this thought??

i think i have seen a few polish movies and the one that is most memorable to me is actually quite horrible. it's about a boy who kills. and it's not murder - it's less passionate. he starts off by finding people's cats, killing them and then hanging them in front of the owner's house. his joy escalates until he takes a cab from the city center to the middle of nowhere, all the while sitting in the back laughing to himself because he knows whats going to happen and the cabbie doesn't. when the cab driver asks for the money, he kills him (i can't remember how), takes his body, wraps it in a blanket and pushes it down a ravine. or maybe the cabbie wasn't fully dead. it was horrible and i have seen a lot of horrible movies and read about horrible people. just found it in my netflix rental activity: a short film about killing (1988). maybe i'll review it on my soon-to-be movie review blog [mental note: start movie review blog i keep talking about].

in any case, i'm looking forward to seeing what poland has to offer...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

fri night lights. or dinner

my first friday night out in berlin! and it was fun!

my classmates decided to go out to dinner as a group. i'm not sure why or who organized it, but we decided to meet at 7:30 on fri in front of the school. a few couldn't make it to dinner (including nigeria, which i have to admit i didn't mind), so our group ended up being myself, south carolina (the young, immature, conservative), luisa, rasetto (italian woman in germany for her husband's work) and her hubby, granola girl (my new canadian friend who i'll talk about later) and sexy smoker from colombia. oh, and bagaria. herr bagaria is probably one of my favorite people in class, and unfortunately, fri was his last day in class - he flies back to barcelona this weekend to start classes (future engineer) on mon. i think the dinner might've had something to do with his leaving, but not sure. despite being the youngest in our group, he took charge - found the resto, got them to give us english menus, forced them to let us sit outside, etc. i was really impressed. usually i'm the one doing that sort of thing, but i'm happy to let someone else do it. if he were this age and i were 10 years older, prime cougar territory, i would be all over him. (jk - kind of)

anyway, south carolina turns out to be rather nice, but dumb. he is living with his girlfriend's family 2.5 hours outside of berlin. he takes a 1.5 hour train from berlin to some small town where he then has to wait 15+ min for another train to take him to this other town. THEN he has to walk a half hour through the WOODS to this family's house. ???? he's saving 200 euros a month, yet he told me has tons of money to travel and hasn't traveled anywhere because he doesn't like to go alone. that is not worth 200 euro to me, but his unnecessarily long commute isn't what makes him dumb. he says stupid things all the time. e.g. at dinner, he's telling everyone that he thinks its weird that germans wear slippers so much, "American's don't wear slippers," he tells everyone. i said, "well, i think thats because you're from the south. i never go anywhere without slippers." and then he realized he generalizes all americans to be exactly like him from the south. yet, he doesn't change... he says things like this all the time. he's nice enough, but very naive.

we had proper german food and i took some pictures. it wasn't bad, but not spicy enough for me.

yes, that is fish above - i ordered hering. the red things are beats and the other thing was some sort of pickled salad. i only ate the fish. apparently they pickle everything in germany.

here is a picture of our group: (sexy smoker, rasetto, me, luisa, south carolina, bagaria, mr. rasetto, and granola girl)
we had a good time and talked about politics, the differences between us all, etc. we weren't out late since half of the group had to catch trains. the three spanish-speakers (bagaria, sexy smoker, and granola girl) went to some club after dinner, but i had to get home to pack for my SIX AM train to poland...

Friday, September 12, 2008

here's how i do: i play loose

this is for em, because when i rambled about crushes, i thought of one-hit wonder jennifer paige which made me think of him.

for everyone else: notice who her crush is? he is in a lot of movies now. i just can't remember his name... anyone know?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

two things

i'm the only one in class who got 100% on the quiz.

today i got $200 for 358 eur
358 / 250 = 1.432 woo hoo!!!


remember the scene in clueless when cher is sitting in class bored to death and the door opens and everything moves in slow motion? christian walked in and sat near her and she was instantly smitten - she couldn't take her eyes off him. that was me today when a new columbian boy joined our class. he's tall and lanky and looks like a columbian would - not the drug lord kind, the other kind. he has shaggy hair and... a beard? but it's not like a full-on beard that someone in north dakota would grow in the winter. much cooler. anyway, he sat at my table, right across from me, so i could do nothing but look at him. in fact, it felt awkward to look away. we smiled shyly at each other and then a cool breeze came in from the window and passed over him towards me; a breeze and a big whiff of cigarette smoke. a smoker. of course. crush killed. it lasted all of 13 seconds - the longest crush i have had in about 4 years...

well, anyway, as an honor to clueless, and to see how smart my friend dave is, here is the actual movie trailer from clueless (for those of you who don't know, christian is the guy who picks up her pen about halfway through - her crush lasted slightly longer: until she found out he was gay):


final thing (crap! i'm totally going to have to cram now)

what do people think about the new itunes update 8.0? genius toolbar? cool it creates playlists, freaky it sends info to apple... i can't decide. use? don't use? turn off? learn more??

dont. want. to. study.

ok, i really must get going to study for an exam, but i did want to write more thing about last night:

1) can't get a tv - stefan does not have cable, so the tv would not work at all (apparently not even network stations). he might have some thing i can plug in to get it on my computer, so we'll see...

2) i got me a handy! i have NO IDEA how to add money to this mobile phone, so for now i just push buttons and its fun. it took me about a half hour to change it to english. after a while i'll change it back to german, but for now, english.

3) yesterday i found a new place to eat, thanks to louisa in my class. she told me that at the top of this department store, they have a restaurant with cakes and smoothies. so i go up there and its a huge cafeteria! and i am really really not into cafeterias - i'll eat at one maybe with my mom at the hospital, but that's about it... but no more! i LOVE this cafeteria! it's SO CLEAN, and the food is SO FRESH, and it looks SO PRETTY. i just walked around staring at everything it looked so nice. and the furniture is all modern and fancy - everything they would sell in the dept store. i couldnt read the signs, so again, not sure what i'm eating. i think i ate some eggplant and that one vegetable that looks like a cucumber, but isn't... zuchini? and get this: for a small bottle of wine (2x the size of an airplane bottle), chicken, ratatouille, carrots, and some struedel - i only paid 8.99! and the wine was 3.50. isn't that great? i might go there more often... on my way out, i walked around and found these wine glasses i LOVE. they looks so fun! stefan doesn't have wine glasses, and i was going to buy some plastic ones at the grocery store (which are also REALLY fun), but maybe i'll get one of these now... we'll see...

oh yes

and i forgot to say happy birthday to my dear mom, whose birthday was yesterday sept 10.

and then i realized that today is sept 11th. what's the greeting for this? "happy september 11th."? that seems wrong, but you can't really say "sorry it's september 11th again - it seems to happen every year." it's becoming an important date in american history and yet - what do you say?


i like helping people: giving directions, training new people at work, showing them how to do things faster on the computer, doing my brother's homework when they were younger (jk - kind of), etc. so when the nigerian guy in my class wasn't getting things the first few days (and by first few days, i mean MY first few days, which were his second few days since i came late), I was more than happy to show him what page we were on, explain the grammar, help him figure out the exercise, etc. but the thing about helping people, i have found, is that they can think it means more than it does. this is the case of nigeria, who just had to go and ruin my friendliness by asking me out.

this annoys me for a few reasons. 1) i was NOT at all flirting 2) it's not just that he asked me out, but HOW he asked me out. he kind of stroked my hand and said in this weird voice, "soooo.... what do YOU do on the weekends?" now maybe this isn't a complete "wanna go on a date with me" sort of question, and if he had said, "hey, danielle, wanna grab coffee and practice german?" i might've said yes. so i kind of got a shiver up the back of my spine and pulled my hand away and said, "oh, well, i travel a lot - you know, mein hobby ist reisen." [my hobby is traveling - one of the phrases i had been repeating all day in class.] and he kind of reached for my arm again, so i turned to the italian woman i sit next to and said something. 3) the other reason why i am really annoyed by this is that now that i get the feeling that he might like me, i am unconsciouly mean to him. and i really am not trying to be! it's like in high school when everyone told me this guy chaz liked me. i always felt really bad for chaz - he was a big guy, the kind who sweats when he walks across the room, and he was never clean shaven and he had crooked, dirty teeth and a red face. so i was always very nice to him. then i heard he was going to ask me out, and rather than say no, or actually go out with him, i started avoiding him. i didnt want to be mean! and i don't want to be mean to nigeria, but ... i can't seem to help myself. i'm sooo not attracted to him.

oh and there are other reasons why he bothers me now: he'll just reach into my bag (if it's open - he thanksfully hasn't done it with it zipped) and take my dictionary. wtf??? is that acceptable? he'll just TAKE my paper from me, even when i'm looking at it, to copy down the answers because he doesn't know what's going on. he speaks SO QUIETLY, even when we're speaking english i have to lean really really close to him to hear him. maybe that's some sort of tactic or something. one day, i was explaining to him how to form numbers [admittedly, it is kind of backward] and he says, "uggh! this stupid language!" ??? why would you be in berlin learning "this stupid language" if you weren't interested by it? am i missing something? oh, and the worst offense, which is not a good defense, is that he
PAPER. i HATE bent paper!! its one thing to FOLD paper, but why does he have to hand me a paper that is no longer smooth and instead has sweaty fingerprints creasing the paper?? or hold my paper while copying my answers and bend it in the middle to get a certain 'angle' while reading it?? horrible. terrible!

perhaps this is all a bit of cultural miscommunication. but for now, i'm going to class late in the hopes that someone sits in my spot and i can sit somewhere else. (see - again! - i dont WANT to be mean and sit somewhere else. and so i suffer.)


we have been getting really good at numbers in class. what's funny about german is that they combine everything, e.g. we say apple sauce and they say apfelsauce - one word. so, the same is true for numbers. i was born in nineteen eighty-one. in german that is: neunzehnhunderteinundachtzig. yes, that is one word. so if you wrote some a check for $1,981 - you would have to write neunzehnhunderteinundachtzig. (this is getting somewhere)

so in class, the professor asked us for important dates in our country's history, but i didnt get the question at first. she puts up 1776 and looks for another number. i THOUGHT she was asking when our civil war was. how horrible is it that i don't know when our civil war was?? 1820? i'm going to look it up. i know abe lincoln had something to do with it. :) d'oh! so close! 1860-1865. who says you don't learn anything by reading this? anyway, so she was kind of looking around and NO OTHER AMERICAN KNEW EITHER. sad state of our country (there are 4 of us, btw: charleston, new york, phili, north dakota). so then she moves on, asks someone else and thats when i realize she just wanted ANY important year in our country's history, so i raise my hand and say "zweitausandneun." which is 2009. and she smiles and says something to the effect of "why is that important?" and i say "neue-President!" and everyone in the class cheers. LITERALLY. they CHEERED. then frau hadidi (our professor - german woman married to an egyptian) said in english (i wrote it down so i would get it correct) "it was a sad time for all of us." meaning the past 8 years have been sad for the rest of the world. !!

so then we have a discussion in english - which, to me, means that she is really interested in the subject because she HATES when we speak english - about who will win in november. in europe, everything thinks obama is going to win, of course. i hate to point out to people that what is portrayed in european news is not always the case (just like 4 years ago when my european friends were 100% convinced that bush was going to lose). and apparently this is completely acceptable and normal in germany, she then goes around and asks who each of us americans are going to vote for in the coming election. i was shocked for a second, then i realized - hey! i fit in politically around here! so it didnt bother me, as it would in other parts.

but get this - the kid from charleston, he's like 19 or something - maybe older, but he acts younger than my youngest brother, says "well, i was raised republican but i don't want a democrat or a republican in the white house. but that won't happen for another 10 years or so." ????? what delusional ralph nader world is he living in? the system is set up for 2 parties to dominate. i'm not saying i agree with it, but history and logic tells us that its going to take moving of mountains to change the way things are now.

anyway, enough of my political commentary, but if you're bored and interested, check out moue magazine in my links of other blogs i adore and you'll get some fun commentary.

i'll probably complain about charleston again - he's really immature and dumb. he's starting to get on my nerves. but there are other people i can complain about first....

changes to wanderlust

just wanted to bring to your attention some new features on wanderlust - nd style: obviously the formatting is different, hopefully this will allow for less scrolling. also, from now, when there is a new poll, i will only keep it open for 2-3 days, and i will put it in the 'main' section while it is open. finally, the number of ramblings per page is limited to 5, so if it's been a while since you've visited, you may need to continue to 'older posts.'

all comments and suggestions welcome, of course.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Guten Tage!!

oh crap. or should that be Gut Tage? I need to learn me some deutsch.

so yeah, today was a good day. a very good day.

woke up later than i wanted (oops), but didn't have to kill any daddy longlegs (although I probably ate some in my sleep)... got ready and headed to class. [although i'll just say this once: its sad when i wake up and no one has commented on my blog... sniff, sniff...] did my homework in the library then had class from 115-545. after class, i hung around with louisa, my new italian friend. she is a 52-year old professor of library science in roma. i really like her. i asked her to show me how to use the U-Bahn and S-Bahn (basically subways and tram system). so we first went to this board where they have postcards and other random booklets up and she gave me a bunch of things to do. then we went to the ... Hersksheft Markt, i think its' called. something like that and she showed me how to take the trains. looks easy enough. then i walked to alexanderplatz to find me a phone, or as they say in germany "Handy."

i first wandered into some store area - kind of like a small mall - and it reminded me SO MUCH of this mall where whitnee and i would walk through in budapest. it even smelt funny! (or is it smelled? crap, my englisch is good not). :) then i found the proper shopping area in alexanderplatz. i went into this store which is kind of like a best buy, but with some sears type stuff, too... i found a Handy for 20 Euro, which is pretty damn good. can you imagine getting a pay-as-you-go phone for $30? hmmm... maybe you can, i havent tried pay-as-you-go. anyway, the guy didnt really speak english, and i dont really speak german, but we were able to understand each other and the understanding was this: i need my passport to get a phone. so i have to go back tomorrow, which is fine. not like i have anyone to call anyway! i have no friends! ha!

then i checked out TVs and think i am going to get one - i can get a TV for like 99euro, and then i'll just sell it when i leave. the nights are LOOONG and boring here if i dont go out, and having deutsch in the background will be good, i think. so i'm going to do that when i get my phone tomorrow...

then i came home around 8 or so, warmed up some chicken things that are most like chicken nuggets, but not really... then i skyped with imke and we planned our trip to... MAINZ!! yay! technically, now its a trip to bonn, renting a car and driving through castles to Mainz and then back to Bonn... should be fun - that is for 2 weekends from now. then i figured i'd book a trip for this weekend since i'm not doing anything. so, now i'm going to.... POLAND!!! yay! there is a really cheap train to Warsaw for 78 euro and a hotel night at the hyatt for 95 euro, so - cheap weekend in poland! that will be sat AM to sun PM.

THEN i briefly chatted with RWH who i think has a new bf, and hasn't told me.... *finger shaking* and also one of my FAVORITE people from the old job who said that my best qualities were "motivated and independent, yet team player." !! awesome! and my negative is "bitch." yay! i've always wanted to come out of the closet and truly be one. ha ha. anyway, talking to them just made my day - even if it was for just a second!

now i shall go to bed with a smile on my face. sigh.... :)

somewhere a clock is ticking

this song from snow patrol (on Final Straw)... it just came on my itunes and i think i know this song from somewhere other than this album. where is it from?? i looked online and it said veronica mars and one tree hill - neither show i have ever seen. i think it's in some movie and i'm picturing neve campbell and skeet ulrich, although i know its not scream. so i think it's some sort of scene like when skeet sneaks in her bedroom window. any ideas what movie this song is from??

how do i get a movie / video in here?

Monday, September 8, 2008

commentary on life in berlin

in class, i have met a very nice norwegian girl named ingvild. i asked her today if she had been to the fernsehturm (big tall TV tower) and she said no, so then i asked if she wanted to go with me to have coffee. she said, "sure" and seemed kind of happy and then a second after she thought about it, she said, "i think i heard that it wasn't so good." did she change her mind and not want to go with me? i wonder if i have done something weird and made her scared. i hope not!

anyway, i'll keep you posted on my one potential freunde...

so after class, i went to the grocery store to get some dinner and more candles since the smell keeps seeping back into the apartment. well, first, i had to hobble all the way there because my shoes gave me horrible blisters. everyone was staring at me on the way but i dont think it was because of my limping. i realized today that i dont think i'm cool enough for berlin. this is a very very alternative, yet totally trendy city. i just look too... boring or something. when i'm comfortable and in my tennis shoes, i stand out because they're so american. then when i'm in flat eropean shoes, i can't walk properly. i just cant win! and i saw some guy put a sticker on a lampost and i thought, "my friend, dave, would LOVE it here." which i know he will.

back to the grocery store. its a wonder they get any business at all because their store front is a restaurant. you have to go THROUGH the restaurant to get to the grocery store. isn't that funny? i passed by it three times before someone in class finally told me that its behind the Donner (kebab stand). now i like to go there just to walk around and laugh / stop myself from throwing up in my mouth. i wonder just how many animals they have to kill to fill a german grocery store. they sure like their meat here. today i noticed meat in soup (understandable), meat spices in the veggie section (?), then meat flavored breads and pretzels. oh, and speaking of pretzels: i could either get the smaller, "bio" pretzels (which means organic - but dont worry they're still "gut!") for 1.49 euro OR a bag twice the size but not bio for 0.35 euro. guess what i got. that's right - according to my uncle jerry, organic is not technically better from a food safety standard. and i certainly don't want to eat a deadly brazillian spider (danke, rich!).

on my way home, i passed a hair salon called Unicut. Unicut?? Is this really good marketing? How many people truly go to get his or her haircut just like the next person? and i think they cut men and women's hair. hmmm.... [mental note: do not make appointment there.]

then, a very seemingly straight looking guy rode past me on a bicycle (bike riding is a la mode here and everyone does it). i guess it doesnt matter whether he looked straight or not because what was weird is that he was carrying a HUGE metallic gold PURSE. a purse. not like a cool artsy bag or half-holding it like he was carrying it for his girlfriend. straight or gay: it looked really funny.

i was going to come home and do lots of studying, but then i was thinking that i won't have as much fun at places. e.g. in the grocery store, i make up whats in things since i cant read the labels. oh! and, btw, i might not be a vegetarian anymore! i went to a little asian stand after the grocery store and ordered some noodles. she kept asking me "mit fleisch" or something else and i know that "mit fleish" means "with meat" but i couldnt understand what she was saying otherwise, so i just repeated her. how horrible is that! 1) she was speaking german 2) with an asian accent so 3) there was no way i was going to get my point across and 4) i didnt want to confess to not knowing what she was saying. i know! i dont know why! why would i care that this person knows if i'm german or not?? i think i was so upset by not fitting in with my 'look' and hobble that i figured if i could fool one person, i should keep the ruse going. so, i pretended to be listening to my ipod more than them and every time they asked me if i wanted something, i'd wait until they reached for it "bitdkwlig?" and then look up as they pick up the soy sauce bottle. "ja, bitte." and then they said something else, "keptfurnameishen?" and picked up a scoop of something funny (probably dried meat flakes or something) and i said, "nein, nein!" and then they said some number and i handed over a ten euro since i knew that would cover it. success! i'm eating meat (uh-oh) BUT they thought i was german!

mainz oder dusseldorf??

yay! i'm so excited right now! i guess i do get excited about some things. i just finished skyping with my freunde, imke, who is german but lives in belgium now. we have decided we are going to meet in western germany not this coming weekend but the one after since we haven't seen each other since.... hmmm.... probably since i went to budapest 3.5 years ago to see her?? wow. it cant be that long. maybe. wow.

anyway, we were going to go to mainz, near frankfurt, which is in the rhine valley where there are lots of castles, but it might be cheaper and faster to go to dusseldorf, near cologne (where i have been with whitnee many years ago). we are going to each think about it tonight. i think i am mostly indifferent, although mainz does have 6 pages in my germany eyewitness guide. dusseldorf only has 2... BUT i am unemployed, so cheaper may be better... i guess i dont really care. what do you think?? either way - i'm pretty sure i'm traveling first class train, baby!

it was funny talking to imke, i told her my tragic story of being in german 1 for the FOURTH time and she said "oh, na dann ist es kein Wunder, dass es langweilig ist." i said, "what? you think i'm a wonderkid?" that is apparently not at all what she said. i need to learn study more.

so, while i am off dreaming of one day sprechen deutsch, tips? suggestions on where to go? if not, i may have to leave it up to imke since i'm a taurean and therefore indecisive.

just guess...

how many daddy longlegs i have killed in this apartment. i have been here funf Tage (5 days). i just looked them up on wiki. should not have done that. now i am going to dream they are going to eat me. damn!

Sunday, September 7, 2008


dinner: bad rose wine and apfelmus (apple sauce). mmmm....

well, my first weekend in berlin wasn't bad. i already accomplished a few things on my list: i saw brandenburger tor and unter den linden - both without intending to do so. yesterday i walked from here (mitte) to potsdamer platz. its over 3 miles from here; it took me about an hour to get there and i just happened to arrive in time for Wanted - a movie i have been meaning to see all summer. good flick if you don't mind watching something that absolutely could never happen. i rather liked it. anyway, i walked home afterwards and that's when i stumbled upon the gate and the fancy street. unter den linden is kind of like the Champs-Élysées in paris in that it's HUGE and a big tourist trap. but i liked it. they have a lot of benchs and it's not quite as crowded as the champs, so maybe i will walk there some day to sit and just be.

other than that, i have been on a huge quest this weekend to clean my apartment. jen stopped by earlier today and mentioned that it smelt better (vanilla, for those of you who couldn't guess) and said it looked better. i'm feeling more comfortable. we think the smell is that of sulfer from the pipes, so makes sense that the bathroom and kitchen smell the worst. i wanted to go get some takeout food, but just didnt feel like putting on proper clothes to leave, so i ate my applesause and drank some wine. at least its cheap.

skyped with my friend elaine for a bit and that was fun. i'm heading to london in a few weeks for her golden birthday, so we are looking for things to do. any ideas?? clubs to go to in london?

now i'm watching a movie called edison force which is not a horrible flick - got some of my favorite people in it: kevin, ll, jt, morgan, and i guess i like piper a bit. i feel really smart because the movie takes place in Edison, everywhere USA. when JT is putting fed ex labels onto boxes, it says "Edison" and the state is blank, but the ZIP is 80201 which is DENVER. i'm a genius. which reminds me, i need to start a movie review...

the rest of my night shall consist of studying german and... well, not much else.

Friday, September 5, 2008

first fri night in berlin - disappointing

only because i didnt do anything. i'm a bit knackered from the past week - wedding, packing, traveling, class, smelly apt, etc. so after class today, which i decided to stay in (thank you dad and dave and ryan), i went to the rossmann to get cleaning supplies and candles. now my apartment smells BEAUTIFUL. i give you one guess what it smells like... go ahead. guess.

so then i finished watching the office because i, stupidly, started it last night, then felt i had to finish the whole of season 4 tonight. by the time it finished, it was nearly 8 so i ran out to get something to eat. i walked around a bit and then discovered some turkish corner store. i'm getting pretty good at feigning indifference when i go into stores so they dont try and strike up a conversation with me in german. didn't go far, but i have to tell you -

it's great. i dont know if i've said this yet or not, but i MIGHT like it more than paris. we'll see. germans are actually good looking people (as opposed to many french - not you, dimitri, of course!) and they all seem happy. maybe it's all the beer they're drinking. anyway, i heard a lot of english which didnt bother me! usually in paris or elsewhere in france that annoys me. i can live with it in england (although i have to admit the first time i saw an indian in london with an english accent, i was SHOCKED - i was so used to indians having american accents). anyway, came home and talked to bobby and my brother online. am hoping to get someone i know out here to berlin - its so cool. and since i'm only in class 4 hours a day - that means lots of time to spend with meeee!!!! so come on over!!

i decided, since i didnt really have any plans, that i would spend the night in. i think, in the back of my mind, i was going to clean, but that hasn't happened. i think i'll take my laptop to bed and watch a movie ro something. hopefully get up early, maybe clean a bit, but i think i am actually going to go walk around and head towards potsdamer platz demain. its 3 miles from here, so i think i'll try walking. maybe bring my journal and camera along for the ride.

my only other thought before i head to bed: i just sang a song in my living room
i'm in
i'm in
nah nah na-boo-boo.

not really singing to anyone in particular, just tickled to be here.

guten abend.

[what does my apt smell like now????]

what to do? what to do?

so yesterday was the first day of class for me. due to a wedding last weekend and me wanting to use my airline miles to fly here, i was not able to get here until wed afternoon (even though classes started on tues). so i went in at 10am for a placement exam which basically consists of meeting with a professor so he / she can determine which class you should be in. online, earlier in the summer, i took a placement exam and scored in A2, which is basically the 2nd level (A1 being the first). i was happy with that placement since i've taken german 1 three times. yes, 3 times - not because i failed, but because my previous attemps to learn german were spaced so far apart, i thought i should reveiw the basics before beginning again. [the first time was in france, so that was a french --> german class, quite difficult and i think i quit going after 3 or 4 weeks (it was free and on sat mornings at 8am). then at northeastern my last semester i needed a class to take up 3 hours of my life, so i took german 1. finally, when i moved to sacramento, i thought i'd get involved in the german cultural center of sacramento and started taking classes there which was also a bust.]

anyway, after a few questions, the professor thought i should be in the beginning level since i dont SPEAK german. however, the A1 classes in the mornings (i had signed up for morning classes) were full. apparently there were others who shouldn't have been put in A2 right away. so, he asked me to join the afternoon class. i hesitated and we agreed that i would try it out for two days (yesterday and today) and then determine if it was the right level for me. i went to class yesterday and it was quite. basic. we did the alphabet and an hour on numbers. the thing with the goethe institut is that they are a german cultural center and cater to people from all over the world. so it isn't an english --> german class. they try to teach you german as how a baby learns a language. he or she doesn't see an apple and know the word "apple." the baby learns that a red almost-circle food to eat is an apple. so they try very hard not to speak english in class and people are supposed to 'pick it up.' HOWEVER, it just so happens, everyone in my class speaks english. not necessarily as a native tongue, but happens to know it. [in jen's class, there were people who did not speak english.]

so here is my dilemma... the class was very very basic. AND it's only for 4 weeks, although i signed up for an 8 week class. so, that means i would move in to A2 after 4 weeks. it is a smaller class, so i would get more time to practice speaking. i am one of the more experienced kids in the class, and helped the professor explain some things yesterday (in english, not in german, of course). i really like the people in my class and the professor is nice and funny. i asked her after class if she thought it was the right class for me. she said she couldn't tell. i mentioned that i can't speak as well as i can read or understand and she said that then the other class might be tougher. since goethe teaches 'understanding and speaking' before direct translation, their levels are set up differently and i am kind of right between two. i know a lot of words, but haven't practiced saying them a lot.

there are more issues i am dealing with, though. if i stay in the A1 afternoon class, i will miss out on a lot of cultural programs that the institut puts on each day. they are at 2pm. also, i'm thinking - well, i'm paying a lot of money to be here, i should push myself and get the most out of it, so i should go in the A2 morning classes. then i think, yeah, but it's also my time to relax and get to know the city. and today i slept in until TEN. thats CRAZY. plus, an afternoon class breaks up the day quite well. its from 115-545 vs. 830-1 for the morning classes.

i'm torn. i'm going to wait until after class today to make a final decision, but i am leaning towards staying in my class because i like the people, i can get used to the time, and if i change classes, it's like starting all over in a new one a week late.

what do you think??

Thursday, September 4, 2008

goals while in deutschland

i'm a list maker. it's almost as if lists make me i do them so much. and being in a foreign country doesnt change that, so i shall make my first list. goals while in berlin:

1) study german at least 2 hours a day outside of class

2) see at least one movie per week - and after about a month, hopefully start seeing german movies

3) see the following places / things:
- Unter den Linden: one of most famous streets in Berlin
- Staatsbibliothek: massive building that houses state library collection
- Humboldt University: browse second hand book collections
- Friedrichswerdersche Kirche: Neo-Gothic church
- Brandenburger Tor: Brandenburg Gate (really old and historic)
- At least one museum on museum island
- Have coffee at the Fernsehturm (television tower that has rotating cafe)
- Tiergarten: landscaped park
- Olympiastadion: home to 1936 Olymipcs

4) try a new restaurant each week

5) travel to Poland

6) see somewhere else in Germany

7) blog at least twice a week

8) spend less than $100 / week (maybe after the first week since i have to buy a lot of cleaning supplies)

9) try to be nice to strangers

10) engage at least one person who I do not know per week in a conversation

11) improve small talk abilities

12) start movie blog

13) write in movie blog at least once a week

14) learn about German beer

15) actively participate in fantasy football - go Berliners!

16) learn about one famous german person

what else should go on my list??

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

the apartment

hopefully this weekend i will be able to take and upload some photos of my new apartment. it is quite large for a european apartment, and i like space, so that is good. i am renting stefan's apartment (a guy i met on exberliner.com - a site that finds furnished apts for people). i knew stefan was a writer and had gotten a scholarship to write in WI for a few months, so he was putting his place up ot earn some extra income. what i did not know is that not only does stefan write for one of the most famous soap operas in berlin (Verliebt in Berlin), he is also a porn writer. i know this because there is a certificate on his wall from "cum2cut" awarding him for best "deep dive superhero." i dont even want to know. what i do want to know is whether or not he has put video cameras up in his apartment. i was always afraid of that in my apartment in paris - my landlord, frank, who was really hot, btw, seemed to be the sort of person who would rent apartments just to spy on his tenants. i'm hoping stefan is not looking to get some ideas for his writing from me....

so yeah... the apartment smells. at first, i thought it was the smell of "man." and my friend anny was like, "is that a good thing?" and i pointed out "not if there isn't one here!" then bobby asked if there were a lot of plants around (which there ARE) and he said the smell could be from them... ??? finally, my friend jen, who came over tonight, thinks it just smells musty. either way, candles are the first thing i will buy tomorrow - splurge on, in fact.

it's not a horrible smell and once you're here a while, you can't smell it, but i am rather particular that way...

it's "clean" in the sense that i have been to friends' places that are "clean" like this, but compared to what i like, it's not quite clean enough. thats fine, i'll spend a lot of time cleaning and then be perfectly at home.

stefan left all sort of post-its around the apartment telling me how often to water his plants. i didnt want to tell him that i have NO IDEA how to care for living things other than myself (which is doubtfull that i do that even), so i asked him to tell me how often to do it. they're all different! one is "whenever the 'earth' is dry" and a few are 2x/month and some are 1x/week. this could get complicated. i'll feel really bad if i kill one.

i was going to describe how the toilets flush funny or i had to hacksaw my charger, and how i dontknow how to make the bed, but its midnight and i am really tired. or feel like i should be tired, so i am going to head to bed... if i can figure out how to make it...

as an fyi - berlin is 6 hours ahead of the east coast.