Friday, October 31, 2008

deutschland archive


the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe

so a few weeks ago, i went to an opera. it was my first opera and so i took notes. i kind of felt like julia roberts in pretty woman except without the dress, jewelry, private plane, hot man, and well... i guess the only thing we had in common was the first opera experience.

keep in mind, i am no stranger to bizarre plays - i worked at the ART, one of the most progressive (and by progressive i mean "weird") theaters in the country, but this was really an odd theater experience.

while sitting there, looking around before the show started, i noticed that it was a huge, ornate building with gold crusting and lions eating people. it was a nice.

so then the lights go down and the music started. beginning! so exciting! the red velvet curtain on stage was down. there was a small spotlight on the curtain while the music played. as the music got louder and more intensive, the spotlight spread. then the curtain went up and the audience was excited. another 10 min or so with the curtains up and the music playing, the curtain then went back down and the spotlight was then again on the curtain. but no people or singing. another 10 min of this spotlight on a blank curtain and music playing. not so exciting. i felt like i was watching the opening of dr. zhivago. (great movie, btw)

finally, the curtain opens and a large stage is seen - it's a big white box with a bunch of metal bars on the sides that kind of look like ladders.

a man comes on stage singing and i think two things: 1) he's not fat and 2) i wonder if he realizes he's singing in latin. i couldn't understand a thing he was saying. i tried very hard to determine if he was happy, sad, forelorn, excited, or just... european because apparently most people can't understand opera and you just can "tell" whats going on. so something happens to him - he oversang or just decided to fall down. either way he's on the floor. so while he's down and out, three women come out on stage singing. they frightened me - they had these obscure dresses on with very tightly combed blonde hair, red lips and blue eyeshadow like mimi from drew carey.
i kept thinking that i wouldn't know if they missed a note.

it's about this time that i realize that they aren't singing in latin - they're singing in german. it didn't really matter - i still couldn't understand any of it.

then this guy comes out who is like at least 6'8". he has a metal hand - it looked like the mesh you wear when you're doing that one sport where you stick each other - that duel thing. anyway, he had a mesh hand and birds were sitting on it. and then there was a pumpkin. so the women give the big man some bread, wine, and something else so he would climb up the ladder on the side of the building.

the guy on the ground is almost dead and the women have mirrors and use the mirrors to revive him. the big guy is still on the wall and i kept thinking, what if he fell? wouldn't that be funny? is that horrible?

then a boat comes out on stage and the big guy climbs up higher. he is stroking and caressing his hand and his upper body while he has food in his mouth. i'm not sure we were supposed to be paying attention to him.

so then this woman comes out singing and she is a cross between ursula from the little mermaid and angelica houston from the addams family.

she is clearly in pain and she violently rips off her hand while the three women stare at each other. then she rips out her hair (a wig, obviously) and then to show just how much pain she's in, she rips off her breast. the dress was black and so when she ripped off her breast, it turned red. it reminded me of indian jones when that big bad guy puts his hand over someone else's chest and rips out their heart (his name is mola).
lots of oh ha oh oh oh oh oh in a really high pitched voice.

so then the monster woman falls dead. they come with a stretcher and take her away, but they forget a leg. so then there is a leg just laying there on the stage.

oh right then the big man takes the witches hand, which was also left behind from the body, and is really excited and continues to caress himself when his broken hand is touched by the dead real hand.

just wait. it gets better.

so then the three women come out with these closets on rollers and what comes out? a very long, 2 foot glass phallic structure. it looked like it was blown glass from vienna and clearly meant to be you-know-what. so they keep putting this in the air and singing to it. in the other rolling closet it a set of metal balls. you can only imagine what these are supposed to represent. my notes then say "gyrating hips" so someone was gyrating.

then, apparently because there aren't any black german opera actors in berlin, a man comes out in black face. they call him the "blonde negger" which doesn't sound as bad as it does to amerians - negger is the word for black person in german. he has bright red lips and eats a banana. i know, i know. i wouldn't go there except this is what happened. someone says "er stinkt" so he was smelly. then they bring a young woman out and she is in a cage. then a second man in black face comes out and he is wearing a white suit with an open shirt and reminded me of tubbs from miami vice.
then there were three old men played by 8 year old boys (they had long gray beards) and they were dragged away.

next came out a rolling platform with an 8-foot tall priest. on the platform was a statue that looked like the sculpture of david.

i was wondering if it was a real human and my suspicions were confirmed when it moved and turned into the thinker.
a few minutes later it moved again and turned into that one statue with the guy and the disc (can't remember the name, so i couldnt find a picture of it). he was really good - i couldn't tell he was breathing despite not wearing any clothes.

next, after the statue and priest left, 2 cat-like people with extra big chests come out holding hands. they seemed happy and then all of a sudden they start stabbing each other.

then a big group of men dressed with black and white striped shirts, black pants and holding spears come out. they start playing the metal balls from the closet and everyone is happy.

then there is a man in a wheelchair with three lions. a gaggle of people behind with white shirts and long arms.

so this was just the first act. i didn't take notes for the second act which was decidedly less surprising - all of the surprises had come out in the first act.

long story short: the mesh-handed tall man finds another mesh-handed woman. the witch comes back but in white. the young girl in the cage falls in love with the boy who had almost died at the beginning.

OH the LAST thing i will say is that why was there a 15 minute applause???? i couldnt leave! we just kept clapping and clapping and clapping. and each character took an individual bow, then they all come out together, brought the orchestra conductor out, then leave, then they all come out again. individually. ?????? it was... an opera experience not to forget.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

she's crafty

today is my last real day in berlin. i am packing and cleaning and just realized that my suitcases are a LOT smaller than i remember. not good. maybe i'll have to run to the post office today and send some stuff home. i really dont want to have to do that, we'll see.

anyway, many have asked what i am doing in the future. tomorrow i leave for münchen (munich) germany and am staying at a hotel in downtown münchen so that i can see the town. i joked about trying to get them to open up a tent from oktoberfest, and i think i really will try to. or at least i plan on drinking a lot of beer. in any case, i will be there until monday at which time i going (first class) to paris via train. i have one transfer in stuttgart and i don't think the time in stuttgart is much, so i hope i dont miss my train. anyway, i will be staying with my dear friends lisa and dimitri (or as we call him, "meat") in paris. i wanted to get there in time to watch the election results with them.

i was going to do some traveling while i am there, using paris as a base, and i still may do that, but i also want to save some money. i was thinking of going to reims for a day or two (where i studied, in champagne country) to take pictures and reminisce. we'll see. lisa and dims will be gone the first weekend i am there, so i may or may not leave. the following weekend i am going to barcelona with lisa and elaine. that will be a nice weekend trip (fri - mon). i get back to paris on monday night and then am leaving for london on the 20th of nov (i think thats a thur). i'm staying with elaine until thanksgiving day (nov 27) when i fly home to fargo. while in london elaine thinks i should go to oxford, so i might do a day trip out there. we'll see. pretty much have no real plans for the next month... let me know if you have any suggestions.

stay tuned to this channel for more travel updates...

funny how time slips away

wednesday ended up being much more interesting than i anticipated.

i had planned to maybe run a few errands and then start packing and just relax. around 1230, as i was sitting down to eat my lunch (soup), the israeli diplomat from my last class called and asked if i had eaten lunch yet. technically, i hadn't. i got ready rapido and got on the S-bahn to meet her near her work. we went to a mexican restaurant and i had fajitas and a corona, which i'm pretty sure was watered down. she reminded me that apparently corona is the worst mexican beer, but it was still nice to have to reminisce.

we talked about my next steps... after i get back to the US - what am i going to do?? i have no idea. i need to start applying for things, but at the same time, there are so many things i want to do, and also i kind of don't want to do anything at all - just hang out at my parents' house and play guitar hero. i think i could be very content doing that AND it wouldn't cost very much! i'm sure my parents are really excited for that...

after we ate, we sad goodbye. i'll write later about some of the things we talked about that i can do in the future. i walked home and stopped at saturn - a large electronics store - to pick up an epilator and some credit for my phone. yes, i bought an epilator. yes, i am afraid - probably more than you. i have decided to wait until this weekend after quite a few beers in munich before using. (oh! and it was only 30 euros - apparently this is really cheap)

after returning home, i talked to some old friends online and did some research on places we can go in paris to watch the election results. i read a lot on the huffington post which was quite amusing. you could have a full time job reading everything on that blog - there is so much.

all in all, unexciting 2nd to last day in berlin, but it suited me just fine...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

another day in paradise

whew. what a day.

i was laying in bed playing solitaire on my ipod when i heard the house phone ring this morning around 930. i jumped up and ran into the living room. it was jp asking if he could stop by in 10 minutes to pick up some things from his suitcase. sure! no problem for me. crap - put away laundry, pick up, clean bathroom and do dishes in 10 min. jp seems to be late a lot, so it worked out. well, no, thats not totally true - the apartment wasn't that bad, so it would've been fine if he had just showed up at the door. except then i wouldn't have really been dressed well, but thats besides the point. once he got here he wanted to practice piano. since i wasn't using it for once, i told him it wasn't a problem.

jp left right before i did. i got on the U bahn (subway, T, metro, underground) to meet jen for lunch by her work at potsdamer platz - about 20 min on U bahn and one hour by foot. jen had texted me earlier this week warning me that there was construction on the u bahn so they were using buses once at alexanderplatz. i live close to alex platz, but i got on the stop before which is a block away from my house. once we got to alex platz everyone got off the train and i remembered what jen had told me. since we were underground, and had to go to the street to get on the bus, i just followed everyone around me. when we got to the hardly-marked bus, i asked someone if this was the bus to go to potsdamer platz. yes, he told me. i got on.

i was busy listening to a podcast about chuck, the best tv show, when i looked up to see that we were going BACK to alex platz (where i had just gotten ON the bus). ??? i looked around and realized the majority of the bus had gotten off at the previous stop. that's when i noticed the sign that explained that the bus was just for four stops and after four stops, we could get back on the U bahn. riiight. that's the problem with living in a country where you dont understand the announcements made over public transportation. i had to call jen to tell her that i was going to be late.

in any case, i finally met up with jen and her friend from work for lunch. i had a delicious salad - i asked them to put balsamic dressing because i didn't think i would like the coconut dressing that came with the salad. it wasn't until i got the salad and realized that there were two dressings on when i realized that when i asked for the second dressing, i didn't technically ask for the balsamic dressing INSTEAD OF the coconut - i just assumed they would realize i didnt want TWO dressings... so i got balsamic AND coconut. mental note: learn how to say "instead of" in german.

after lunch, i went to see nights in rodanthe. i went because 1) it was playing at a convenient time but mostly because 2) gavin rossdale sings the theme song. i'll write some other time about my connection with gavin. so i had a feeling that i was going to be a sad movie, but thought i could handle it. about 2 minutes into the movie i saw two words that made me rethink my choice of film: Nicholas Sparks. shit. "there's no way i'm not going to cry," i thought. i munched quickly on my popcorn hoping the salt would dry me up so i couldn't cry. not that this has ever worked before, but i thought i would give it a try. didn't work. not that great of a film, but a bad film doesn't mean i won't cry.

anyway, i walked home and stopped at dussman to get the book that stefan wrote. i picked up two german cds, as well. i was running behind in time so i jumped back on the S bahn (above ground vs. U bahn which is underground) and got home in time to quickly check my email. i then went to jen's to have dinner and make apple crsip which i will blog about next monday on mad tasty. on my way to jen's i stopped at a mexican restaurant, frida kahlo, and got chicken quesadillas for me to eat. i think someone forgot to tell the germans that 'queso' means cheese in spanish. i don't think there was much cheese on the quesadilla, but it was good none the less.

the clock read 1045 when i got home tonight. despite being tired, i watched all of my podcasts so i don't get behind. i sure do love AC360.

well, only 2.5 more days in berlin. sob! will write more about those thoughts later...


with less than one week to go in berlin, i realized that i hadn't posted pictures of my apartment. so here they are...
from this entryway you can head to the bathroom (left of where this picture is taken), straight ahead is the bedroom, the door to the left of the bedroom is the kitchen and to the right (on the other side of the jacket) is the entryway into the living room.
above is a picture from the bathroom showing you what i have to do to turn the shower on. notice the two pipes going into the faucet for hot and cold water. right below the hot and dials is a white cord going out to the right. on the left side of the white cord is a metal circle thingie. for me to take a shower, i have to pull the metal circle thingie out so that the water doesnt go out of the sink faucet, but instead travels up into the shower. and yes, that is the shower with my shampoo bottles directly to the right. the shower curtain doesn't go all the way around the shower so i could brush my teeth while in the shower if i wanted to.
this is my kitchen - more than adequate for me. i have not really cooked since i've been in berlin - just warmed things up. notice the pantry door is open? keeping it open has reduced the number of spiders considerably.
here is the bedroom. in germany, they don't use the fitted sheet and a flat sheet, just a fitted sheet and comforter. and the comforter doesn't go all the way around the bed, it is just big enough for one person and the idea is that you tuck under you all around. see under the lamp between the window and the bookshelf? spiders like to live there. rephrase: likED to live there. then i came along and killed them all.
and voila! the living room, where i spend most of my time. there are only six plants in this picture. i have to take care of at least twelve. but, as of the writing of this post, they are all still alive!
this is the plant i call the monster. it scares me. notice that it even has to be held up by a string.
here is the piano that jp plays. sometimes i pretend to play it, but i can only play like 15 notes of für elise. it doesnt last long. playing those 15 notes four times takes about 2 mintues. then i have nothing else to do.
this is actually where i sit most of the time: rambling, watching tv on my computer, reading the news, chatting to people, etc. notice the plant behind the door? it was trying to attack me, so i had to turn it.
and finally, the dreaded oven. if i had wanted heat, i would need to make this big ceramic thing work. i think you put the fire in the black box on the left at the bottom.

so this is where i have lived the past two months. jp and i were talking about how we could never let someone live in our apartment like this - we're not trusting enough. something about being from north america.

Monday, October 27, 2008

hammering in my head

germans are known for being efficient and organized and i will give them both of those qualities - in fact, thats partly why i wanted to come here: i thought i would fit in, or at least fit in better than i do anywhere else. and i am always so pleased when i find something and think, "that is truly efficient!" and i havent had to think anything other than that except for TWO things which bother me a great deal.

i have found their weakness!

first, german street numbers are not in a logical order. in fact, i dont know how they do it - but they dont put odd numbers on one side and even on the other, which seems very logical to me. here is a picture of my building - note that i am 21.
now i turn from the exact spot i am standing in the middle of the street and take a picture of the building across the street and look at what it is
doesnt make sense!!

to show again, here is my building with my number 21 and the door next to us, number 20.
it's tough because you would never know if you were going the right way down the street until you had walked a few blocks! i used the fancy panoramic function to get a picture of my whole building:
yes, its' very communist era. my door is to the far left.

the other thing that bothers me is, and i have mentioned this before, but now have pictures to show how truly annoying it is, the spines on books do not all face the same way. here are two books from stefan's collection - both facing "up":
now look at what it looks like when i turn those books on their side so that the "front" is still "up":

you can't read the name without turning your head!

here is another picture to illustrate my point:a few weeks ago i was at dussman, basically a german borders or barnes and noble, and spent over 100 € on books i probably dont need. i bring them home and realize they wont stack nicely! the spines are all wrong!!! what is the point of this?? it's so inefficient! and now my book collection will look messed up - as if I had made the mistake. horrible. terrible. i don't know why this dosn't bother more people.

ain't too proud to beg

happy monday! a few items of housekeeping:

1) kit kat. zaz! i am now a food writer! i know you can't believe that i would have anything interesting to write about food, but i am going to try at mad tasty, a creative cooking melting pot. i will be doing a weekly feature every monday about some kitchen katastrophe i have been in or created. it should be fun, so add mad tasty to your weekly blog reading.

2) if you haven't noticed, most of my posts in the past few weeks (this one included) have been titled with a throw-back to pop culture, mostly song titles or album names. so my test to you: can you guess or find out who the singer or cultural reference is?? quiz yourself and if you feel inclined, put your guess as a comment. i will then respond to my own posts with the artist and or explanation of the symbol.

3) until the US catches up, germany "fell back" last weekend so we are now 5 hours ahead of the east coast. you can use the nifty world clock function on the right to find out what time it is here. and there if you don't know what time it is where you are. that might be a problem...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

happy birthday homie!

today is my brother's birthday. i was the first to wish him a happy birthday since i called him at 12:01 berlin time. when i got up this morning i tried calling, but he didn't answer so hopefully he had a good night out. here are all of the fabulous hot people with birthdays today:

1983 Jonathan Erdmann (tech wiz)
1963 Natalie Merchant (Singer-songwriter)
1963 Marla Maples (actress)
1962 Cary Elwes (actor)
1962 Dylan McDermott (actor)1951 Bootsy Collins (Funk singer and bandleader)
1947 Hillary Rodham Clinton (politician)
1947 Jaclyn Smith (actress)1946 Ivan Reitman (director)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

what should my brother do on his birthday poll archive

what should my brother do on his birthday? (mc avail)

watch football 5 (71%)
see a fortune teller 2 (28%)
eat birthday cake 5 (71%)
drink lots of beer 5 (71%)

Votes so far: 7
Poll closed

what should my brother do on his birthday poll archive

what should my brother do on his birthday? (mc avail)

watch football 5 (71%)
see a fortune teller 2 (28%)
eat birthday cake 5 (71%)
drink lots of beer 5 (71%)

Votes so far: 7
Poll closed

mmmmm madtasty

so i would like to draw your attention to my friends' newest blog mad tasty. i will be a contributing writer, but my first post is still pending. for now, check out the site for excellent recipes and fun stories from the kitchen at right now there is a contest among the writers for best risotto, so check it out and vote. i'll keep you posted when my posts are up...

Friday, October 24, 2008

movin' on up - to the east side

i'm sure everyone has been waiting in suspense to hear how i did in my class... well, suspend yourselves no more! i have the results... out of a possible 80 points, i got 70 right!!! thats 88%, baby!

so sandra gave us our tests back and i know i could've done better. one section, i got completely wrong because i didnt know what a 'modalverb' was. if i had known that they are "must, should, could, etc" i would've gotten it all right. i just saw the word "präteritum" and wrote the first thing i knew of that was präteritum. so anyway, good job to me! sandra also gave us each a sheet where she wrote how well we did in the whole class on various subjects - listening, speaking, reading, writing, and grammar. i got a "1" in all of them except grammar where i got a "1-". 1 = sehr gut (or very good). zaz! i am pretty sure i did better than most in the class.

so then, drumroll... i got my certificate! double zaz! and this time it says:
"can understand sentencs and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his / her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need."

still not the best, but slightly better!

so the last class i took was A21 as in A1 is beginner, so A2 is next. then they divide A2 into two parts: A21 (first) and A22. i think the idea now is that i have passed the first part, so i should go on to the second part. but i am kind of tossing around the idea of going back to the US and studying my butt off by myself and then maybe coming back here next spring to start in B. that's right: BEE. B class would be so good. maybe i can finally get a certificate that doesn't say "simple" on the back...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

white trash beautiful

yesterday was a rather good day.

my exam was... fine... i am sure i got at least 50% right. which is good! but we'll see today what the results say.

i was a little annoyed during the test: one of the chinese girls in my class kept sneaking a look at her electronic dictionary. i understand that her score has nothing to do with mine, but i was just thinking, "why bother? what's the point?" this test isn't really going to make us FAIL the class; although, technically, she probably should take the class over again - just for her own benefit. things like this don't make sense to me.

anyway, i got home from class and jp, the piano player, came over to practice. i went to get some wine and when i got back he was leaving. its kind of nice having someone else around - but only at my discretion and not for long periods of time. :) after that, i was going to warm up some leftover thai food, but jen called and had a bad day at work so we decided to go to this restaurant called white trash. as indicated by its name, it is some sort of american/irish/english pub-type restaurant. i heard someone outside call it an irish pub, but the menu is mexican-heavy, so i think its american. our waitress was english, she might not have even spoke german. they have a really great menu for their food, but also for its wit.

Direct from their menu (i know because i stole it):
"White Trash Drink Recommendation: ... at white trash fast food we recommend drinking cause its good for you, and it makes people like you, but most important, it makes it easier for you to like other people."

selected daily by Martin our Kitchen Chef. For good functioning sex glands and Real-Life RESULTS!
Dorade or Forelle (Rainbow Trout) 11.50 euro
fresh, not frozen, seasoned, sauteed, butter roasted, a dead fish could not be happier or more delicious. Yes, this fish is so fresh he knows you're hungry, but please show no mercy."

i had the nachos and a margarita. they were possibly some of the best nachos i have ever had. yes, i have not had cheese since i've been in germany and nachos are really one of my favorite foods, but also they had VEGGIE chili! it was so good. the margarita was a bit bitter, but it's a margartia - you cant REALLY complain.

it was great to see jen - it was only my 5th time or so since i've been here (which has almost been 2 months). she gave me the idea to look at 'cheap' grad school programs here so that i can come back and stay longer and learn some more german. i spent a bit of time looking at that when i got home last night. we'll see.

to end out the night, i had some wine, relaxed and watched chuck. zaz!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

what is your favorite kind of beer poll archive

what is your favorite kind of beer?

pale ale 3 (27%)
irish red ale 1 (9%)
brown ale 1 (9%)
stout / porter (dark ale) 1 (9%)
pale lager 1 (9%)
pilsner 4 (36%)

Votes so far: 11
Poll closed

time and chance

as per usual, i have procrastinated.

by the time this is posted, i will be in class about to take an exam that will either pass / fail me auf deutsch (in german). i can't imagine i'll really FAIL, although that would really really suck. if i do, it's my own fault - i have put off studying and redoing my notes and just general "language learning."

ALTHOUGH, i must say i can tell a HUGE improvement in my german. it's still rather mediocre, but i think i have the basics down. i can very easily tell you the following:

Ich bin siebenundzwanzig Jahre alt. Ich bin nicht verheiratet und ich habe keine Kinder. Ich bin bankauffrau. Mein Hobbys since reisen, blog schreiben, und Kino gehen. etc.

[i am 27 years old. I am not married and have no kids. I am a banker. My hobbies include traveling, blog writing and movie watching.]

tonight i ordered dinner again and this time i was able to communicate with the delivery guy! and i kind of almost understood the menu online. right now i am also watching this tv show on channel vox, which seems to be like food network. my friend jen's boyfriend's best friends are on this show called mein restaurant. its a competition between 5 different couples around germany to start the best restaurant. the people i almost know are in köln (cologne) on the other side of germany. jen's boyfriend was there las weekend helping them set up the restauarant, so its a very recent show. anyway, what i find interesting is that me watching it now vs. watching the last episode last friday - i can definitely tell a difference. in a good way, of course.

no matter what, i don't think i'll ever break this ... let me rephrase: i work better under pressure and i don't think that will ever change. if i'm not nervous, it's almost certain i will do badly.

hmmm... i just realized that as i write this i am not at all nervous. nicht so gut.

chain of fools

i like people with a sense of humor. and when learning a new language, a sense of humor is key.

there is an italian guy in my class with whom i always seem to end up. he's cute in that "my little brother's friend is so cute" kind of way. the other day, when sandra asked us to work together, i went to the other side of the room (we never sit at the same table, which is why its so weird that we're always paired together) and when i sat down next to him i said, "wir sind immer zusammen." [we're always together] and then he said, "yeah, we're working girls." ?? did he just call me a prostitute?? i was like, "huh?" and then he spoke more slowly, "we're working good." ohh right. so i told him what i thought he said and he laughed. then sandra hands out the paper for us to work on and its full of drawings of a woman doing things - waking up, going to the movies, etc. and we're meant to have a discussion saying what she's doing. but some of the pictures aren't super clear, so he and i went through and said each thing in english first.

me: at 9am, she woke up
him: at 9:20 she made breakfast
me: after that, she studied
him: then, she touched herself while looking in the mirror
me: ...

i thought i was going to have to explain what he had just said to make sure he understood. then he starts laughing and i realize he did, in fact, realize what he said AND meant to say it. we laughed really hard because the picture really looks like she's either giving herself a mammogram or should be given some privacy. we don't even know how to say either of those things in german. so, we decided that it was the picture for getting dressed.

we continue through the sheet. after she got dressed she took the subway and then went to class. she stood in line and then went to a museum. she studied in the library, made some photocopies and then the next drawing of her is with a boy sitting on a bench. my italian partner then said, "she make sex." i had to laugh at 1) the english translation and 2) his italian mind! to me, they are clearly "flirting" which is a word we know. i wonder if all italians think like this.

so that was the italian guy.

yesterday in class, i was sitting at a table with the israeli diplomat. we were doing an exercise where claudia had a birthday party (a character in our book) and her friend stefan burned the dinner. our teacher asked us what we could do if we were with claudia, stefan, and the other party goers. some people said, "we could go to a restaurant." "we could eat at someone else's house." then the israeli diplomat says, under her breath, "wir konnen Sebastian essen." [we could each sebastian] she kind of chuckled and i looked at her with a puzzled expression. huh? sebastian is the sexy smoker who sits on the other side of the room. i look up at him and he had heard the diplomat say his name so he had this weird look on his face and had a hand in the air as if to say, "what?? why would you eat me?" so i look back at the diplomat and now she is really laughing. keep in mind, this whole time, her back is turned to sandra. so the teacher can't see that she is laughing. i look back over at sexy smoker and he had the most... ridiculous face. i started laughing. which made the diplomat laugh harder. so then i'm laughing harder. and the more i thought about it, i was like, "what the heck?? why would we eat HIM? he's so skinny, he wouldn't taste any good!" so then i'm trying really hard not to laugh, which just makes me laugh harder. then sandra asks if i'm ok and if i need to go get some water. i think she was trying to get me out of class, but i knew if i had to stand up i would just laugh harder, so i continue to try to control my laughing. i take one more look at the diplomat whose shoulders are just shaking with laughter and i start crying. not sad crying, but the "i can't believe i'm laughing this hard and i can't stop and its not even that funny!" crying. after about 5 minutes i finally calm down. later i asked the diplomat why she said that. "well, because he burnt dinner." and i said, "no! stefan burnt dinner. sebastian wasn't there!" and she just said, "oh, well i meant we should eat the guy in the story because he burnt our dinner." so she was laughing at the prospect of eating the guy in the story and i was laughing at the prospect of eating sexy smoker.

so now combine the two.

after the diplomat and i complained that we were working with the weaker students, sandra put me, the diplomat, and the italian guy together. we were supposed to come up with a situation where one person introduces a second person to the third person and then everyone has a party. so we just start talking in our group and for some reason, i completely blank on anything i can say. so diplomat and italy are just talking back and forth and i think to give me an easy question, italy asks me, "wo sind die toiletten?" [where is the bathroom?] we laugh because, while we know this is correct, it's kind of funny to say in a skit about a party. so then i tell him the first door on the right. then later he asks for some food so i tell him its in the kitchen, the first door on the right. we laugh at the prospect of the bathroom being in the kitchen. while we're busy laughing, every other group has written out scenarios and is ready to present to the class. we have NOTHING. so, we go up to the front and improvise. i open the door, diplomat introduces me to italy and i beat italy to the cuff and say, "are you ok? the bathrooms are the first door on the right." so he laughs and says "thank you, i dont feel so well" and goes off. the diplomat and i have a short conversation where she tells me "this is my funny italian friend." he comes back and then we all go to get something to eat in the first door on the right. no one in class laughs. i dont think the class got our sense of humor. or maybe our german is just so far above everyone else's, they didn't understand what we were saying. that must be it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

spying glass

one of the nice things about being a movie fanatic is that i have seen many films. so when they come on german tv, i can understand whats going on even if its in deutsch. the other day i was watching die firma (the firm) with my least favorite actor in the world, tom cruise. i have pretty much boycotted his movies; however, since this movie came out before he turned crazy, i feel that i can still watch it. (and also, i didn't realize he was in tropic thunder, so i did go see that) while i was watching die firma, i kept thinking - what if tom cruise's character had been a fat, lazy tv-watching lawyer? he would most certainly be dead 35 minutes into the movie! all tom cruise does is run in that movie. [of course, one could argue that the firm would not have hired a lazy guy because they want active guys anyway, blah blah blah. that's not my point.]

watching this made me realize that there are probably certain skills that everyone must have for those "just in case" situations. you know, just in case you take a job with a shifty firm. or just in case you start dating an international spy. or maybe just in case you ARE an international spy. here is my list of skills i have decided everyone should have (i am going to start working on these right away):

run down 10 flights of stairs and up 6 - if you have to run anything more than this you're probably dead either way

hold breath for 2 minutes - this is good in case you have to hide under a boat in a river OR if someone is trying to drown you - you can play dead

read upside down - i once read that jamie lee curtis learned how to do this so she could see what directors thought of her and other actors. this seems to be a skill that would not be hard to learn, and most probably could do it, but the key is to do it without the other person knowing

know a language that no one else knows - i'm thinking pig latin or farsi - this is important in case you need to get someone else's attention or talk about someone who is in the room. you could be like, "while i distract the guard, you grab his gun!" this is tricky because you need to make sure that whomever you are with also speaks this language. or maybe you just learn that one phrase.

lie - it sounds easy, but you need to be able to think quickly and lie. not just 'plan' to lie like "i know i am going to tell my teacher that i forgot my homework at home even though i didn't do it." you need to be able to lie for those times when people ask you things suddenly. "do you know how to get to alexanderplatz?" "no, i am not a russian spy!" ok, i guess that isn't lying since i really am not a russian spy... but you get the picture.

disable a bomb - it's not always the red wire that you cut. in fact, if i made a bomb, i would make it so it WERENT the red wire that you cut just because everyone thinks that. except now that i have told you that, it might actually be the red wire.

pass a lie detector test - this goes well with the lying, but is a bit more intensive. you need to be able to control your heartbeat. tricky. i've tried.

scale a building - i forgot why i wrote this down, but i am sure it would come in handy. this particular type, parkour, seems easy to learn.

start a fire - this is actually a simple need not only for those instances if you were to accidentally fall out of an airplane over a frozen tundra but if you find yourself in an communist block apartment in eastern berlin.

sky dive - we can all tandem dive, you need to know how to do it allein. that's german for alone.

play dead - this is good in case you are in a bank robbery and bullets are flying or if someone is trying to attack you. its even better if you can fake dead WITH your eyes open.

learn an obscure instrument - the balinese gamelan is a great idea.

are there any skills i am missing? i really need this to be an exhaustive list - it could mean the difference between life and death!

rollin' and scratchin'


so yesterday in class our teacher told us that we have an exam tomorrow. crap. i sooo have not studied as much as i would've liked. well, rephrase: i haven't really studied at all. i have all these notes i want to redo and workbook exercises in my book and all this other stuff. then jp, the piano player, was going to come over this morning to practice and i thought, "oh, great, if he's here, i'll be forced to study." and then he had class or something so he didn't come and have i studied?? no! this is horrible! so i have decided that if i do ok on my test, i can download the most recent episode of chuck and watch it. but not until WED NIGHT. at the earliest.

this is how unfocused i've been lately: i was "lifting weights" at home - stefan has some free weights around and so i thought, "great, i'll buff up my arms." so i'm lifting them and it says something like 5kg. i have no idea how much that is, then i see it also says 3.3 lbs. oh ok, i can deal with 3.3 lbs and there are two of them so its like a 7 lb weight. lift, lift. struggle, struggle. why can i not do bicep curls like i used to?? i used to do 8 lbs easy! wow, i really have gotten weak since i came to europe.

ok, that (above) was all yesterday.

today i realized that the 3.3 lbs weights, of which there are 2, are on each side of the dumbbell. so it's a 14 lb weight! i think i'm the dumbbell. no wonder it was so hard. except its not so bad because now i kind of feel proud of myself since i lifted so much. ha.

so thats whats going on. i may even turn off my computer tonight and not turn it on until tomorrow after the test. oh, did i tell you its a 90 min test?? isn't that crazy! and we have to write and listen. scary! so thur is the last day of class which means that i have friday and all next week with nothing to do but go around berlin. that should be fun.

Monday, October 20, 2008

it's five o'clock somewhere

in case you didnt know, i am a beer drinker now. well, actually, i have never NOT been a beer drinker, i have always just migrated towards the drinks with a bit more... color i guess. wow. i just realized i like drinks because of their color. wow. i'm shallow.

anyway, this all happened because last summer i went to the fargo jazz festival with my dad. (yes, fargo is big enough to have a very good jazz festival.) we went to sit with his friends and who do we see? mr. ahonen! my elementary school gym teacher! he went to college with my dad, so when we moved from minot to fargo back in the late 80s, we were suprised to find my dad's old college friend was my gym teacher. having your dad's friend as a gym teacher can be good ("erdmann! come do your physical fitness pull-ups test!" [blank stare because i have NEVER been able to do a pull up.] "ok. next person!") or it can be bad ("no more boys? erdmann! go play on the boys team!") having my dad's friend as a gym teacher is the actual reason why i had never ice skated, despite growing up in north dakota, until i was in my 20s. i can't remember why, if it was the stinky ice skates or i was afraid of falling, but i NEVER skated in gym class. i got to wear my sneakers and push the kids around (not in THAT way - like push them from behind when they were on skates and i would get them to go really fast. not so that they fell down). mr. a made everyone else skate, but not me.

anyway, seeing mr. a was great - he was really cool and understanding about me abruptly quitting my job and moving to europe. and then when he found out that i was moving to germany, he got really excited because he had recently started brewing his own beer. and he made me promise him that i would drink a lot of beer and learn as much as i could while i am over here. i have kept up one side: drinking a lot of beer. i haven't so much learned a lot because there aren't a lot of 'beer houses' in berlin (at least that i can find) to have tastings and whatnot. but when i'm out with people i try to order beer. and i bought beer to drink at home - i got a six pack of .5 L bottles for 1.99 euros at the store. the first one i tried i LOVED and then for some reason after that i was like, "ooooo, now i know why its only three dollars for all of this."

so to show my commitment to beer drinking, i have downloaded a whole bunch of podcasts on my ipod and have decided that i am going to go to munich the first weekend of november to kick off my month of travel. technically, i decided to go because it's "on the way" to paris and i haven't been there before and won't be incredibly expensive, but then the beer aspect cemented my decision.

i just looked on wiki and did you know that beer is the OLDEST and most widely consumed alcoholic beverage??

and to further show the importance of beer, here is one of those forwards you've probably gotten, and i wanted to keep:

If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in Delta Airlines one year ago, you will have $49.00 today. If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in AIG one year ago, you will have $33.00 today. If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in Lehman Brothers one year ago, you will have $0.00 today. But, if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drank all the beer and then turned in the aluminum cans for a recycling refund, you will have received $214.00. Based on the above, the best current investment plan is to drink heavily & recycle. It is called the 401-Keg. A recent study found that the average American walks about 900 miles a year. Another study found that Americans drink, on average, 22 gallons of alcohol a year. That means that, on average, Americans get about 41 miles to the gallon!

cheeseburger in paradise

so my friend lisa just sent me this link to a very funny video and i thought i'd put it here for you all to enjoy.

the world is a sad state.

jusqu'au bout

it works! it really works!!

and what, pray tell, works? my french! story: so the other day i got an email from stefan, the guy who owns this apartment. he wanted me to contact this guy, jean-philippe, so that he could see the apartment. i sent him an email and with a name like jean-philippe, i figured he was french so i wrote "salut" (which means hi or hey). we played phone / email tag and finally last night i called him so he could see the apartment. he asked if i spoke french, and i was like, "oui, mais pas tres bien." (yes, but not that well) so then he asked if we should speak english or french and i was like, "up to you." so he starts speaking french and we had a proper conversation! zaz!

so this morning, he stopped by. i thought it curious he wanted to see the apt because i came blindly and i thought that was how things were done here. then i figured out why: he is a piano player and was looking for an apt with a piano so he could practice. so he tried out the piano and i think he is going to take the apt now. so thats cool. oh! and the even cooler thing - he's not even french, he's french-canadian! from montreal. über-cool.

in other apartment news, i have decided not to even bother with the oven while i am here. it hasnt been so unbearably cold yet, and i have less than 2 weeks left (sob!) so if it DOES get that cold, i'll just put on more sweatshirts. jp made a good point that "we're from cold countries" so we can put up with it.

also, i found out that stefan is a proper author! i asked what he was writing in the US and he nonchalantly answers, "i'm trying to think of a subject for my next book. my newest book came out last monday." !!! so then i looked on and there they are! his books! i'm so incredibly impressed, i am going to go to the book store and find his books and buy them.

ok, i have to shower and then do my homework from last week i still haven't done. i hate being a bad student!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

monday, monday - is tomorrow. tonight is sunday

so i am just too tired to write anything worthwhile tonight (not that anything here is worthwhile, i guess...). instead, here is a video to show the german sense of humor. i should say in advance that they are considered to have either 1) no sense of humor or 2) a very bizarre sense of humor. be sure to watch the whole video - the first three minutes or so is very dry....


Saturday, October 18, 2008

platinum blonde life

big news around here: i no longer have colored hair. i pulled all of my extensions out (you can't really just PULL them out, it's kind of a fancy hair tricking process) because they were creating dreadlocks. yes, that's right. dreadlocks. i understand this sounds funny, but it's true. because hair naturally falls out all day long, if it didn't fall "out" of my hair, it would get trapped around the metal pieces holding my hair in place and then it would wrap itself around a chunk of my hair. you couldn't see it since all of my extensions are under the top layers of hair, BUT i could feel it. and not that i have anyone running his hands through my hair, but IF i did, he would be able to feel it, too. so the color had to go. almost 3 months: pretty good go at it, i think. and i still have all the hair, so i can put them back in sometime. zaz!

the only issue now is that my hair is brown. and i have no issue with brown haired people, but it seems very dark for me. no plans for now except to keep growing it until next september at which point i will cut it and donate to be made into a cancer wig. i wonder if someone walked by i would be able to tell, "hey! that wig is made from my hair." that would be cool.

Friday, October 17, 2008

rock the vote

i'm going to bed completely ecstatic ce soir (tonight). i was supposed to go out for dinner and then to a ska concert with a friend, but she didn't feel like going out, which was fine because i wasn't feeling that great. i didn't go to class today because i didnt feel well and, well, because i didn't want to. and i can do that. so there.

instead i did some stuff online and then went to a movie - mama mia. skip it if you were thinking about seeing it. i understand that there are a kazillion excellent actors in it, but thats the point: they're actors. and someone thought it would be great to get them to sing abba songs. not so much. good effort to all of them, but none of them should quit their well-paying acting gigs to start a singing career. and i don't know much about singing, but i could tell that they didn't have strong voices.

anyway, i walked home, which was cool. and in honor of national cupcake day, i went to this really really cute and quaint bakery called, you guessed it! cupcakes! see how cute they are here. got home and had the cupcake and some wine - mmmm. then i took a shower to get ready to go out. when i got out of the shower, i discovered my plans were cancelled. i decided to go to the resto we were going to go to (monsieur vuong) and get my favorite dinner : glasnuddlesalat (glass noodle salad) with chicken. mmmmmm. it was delish!

so cut to what made me so excited tonight. i was watching the anderson cooper 360 podcast for the day and ... words can't describe how elated i was... i've started to get really involved (and since i'm thousands of miles away, by "involved" i mean reading a lot) about the financial crisis and the election. so AC360 is great because they give a good summary of everything that is going on. and what do i hear to my surprise?? north dakota, my dear and beloved fatherland, is no longer considered a "red" state. we are now PINK. zaz!!!!!!!!!!! obama is considering "a play for north dakota, west virginia, and kentucky." a state always considered conservative, and there is nothing wrong with being conservative, is now reexamining priorities! conservatives are realizing that those issues which are decidely different from liberals (abortion, war) are not as important in these times as the economy. my cousin dustin put it best when he said, "Why exactly anyone making under $200,000 would support McCain is beyond me. You can’t play the experience card anymore with folksie Palin running as VP. Unless, you are voting simply on pro-life or pro-choice. That seems a little selfish in these difficult times." my aunt brenda wrote an excellent summary:

"The outcome of this election will determine whether we will continue to ignore the deep problems our society and country face: 30% of our children living in poverty, racism, inequality of pay between men and women for the same job, global warming and environmental degradation, lack of health care insurance for millions of our citizens, growing inequality between the haves and the havenots, deteriorating infrastructure (roads, schools, electrical grid) and the belief that we can rule the world through military might."

if you haven't noticed, i am clearly liberal. but it doesn't matter, my main message is this: VOTE, people! i don't mean to use this as a political blog, but i do want to encourage EVERYONE to get out there and vote. we absolutely cannot become complascent with less than 3 weeks to go. and even if you are going to vote differently than i, it's so important to give your vote and have a say in how the future of our country - YOUR future - goes. you an check out anderson cooper here or subscribe to the webcasts on itunes - they're free! and lots of fun to watch. they are funny, as well. they're also doing a feature naming the top 10 culprits of the financial collapse, its very interesting.

i never did talk about this, but i always meant to do so: a few weeks ago, i had a funny ending to the night and when i got home on a saturday night at about 1am, i checked the mail and found - this is great - my ABSENTEE BALLOT!!! it was such a satisfactory feeling to have the piece of paper in my hands. i sent it back last week and then today, to discover that they might actually count my ballot if it's close, is sooo exciting! if you have an absentee ballot, make sure to send it in ON TIME.

oh right, also, so after i saw the AC360 news about north dakota, i called my old friend, josh boschee, who is in charge of the obama campaign in fargo to congratulate him and his team for all of their hard work. i think he was surprised to hear from me (we haven't talked in 9 years), but he said that 17% of conservatives in north dakota are thinking of voting for obama. this is life-changing. amazing! i am so proud of my fellow north dakotans. if you are interested in helping the campaign, send me an email or write a comment. i will give you contact information to get involved. less than 3 weeks - any time at all will make a great difference. i wish i were there to help, so help for me, people. we can do it!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

i'm only happy when it rains

the conversation the israeli diplomat and i had with sandra, our teacher, yesterday had immediate effects. when i got to class today, everyone was standing outside the classroom. sandra was inside with the door closed setting up nametags and hiding candy.

when i walked in the room, i chuckled quietly to myself (cqtm - it's like lol but better. i've been trying to get people to use it, but no one has picked it up): she had set us up into groups - i was sitting with the people who were really good at german. the iraqi girl, who i have decided bothers me because she is always trying to correct people (not in that helpful sort of way, in the 'i know' sort of way) and shouting out answers when someone else is answering, was at the table on the other side of the room (with those who are having a bit more difficult time). i felt like i was one of the cool kids.

to help us learn prepositions, sandra had placed little werther's originals all over the room. when we found one, we were supposed to tell her where we found it "on the table," "under the tv," "between the green frog and the notebook." then we could eat it. until i just looked them up on wikipedia, i thought werther's were an odd choice of candy to use - i just learned that they are from berlin. gasp! i totally assumed they were american. i do this a lot - assume things are american just because i am. like george michael or cheddar cheese. [a side note: i learned about cheddar cheese's origin when i was going to school in france and my friend whitnee and i were having one of those "great things come from AMERICA" conversations with our friends from england who were having the same conversation, but in their mind, "great things come from ENGLAND." whitnee and i were like, "yeah, cheese isn't all from france. cheddar cheese is american." our friends were aghast, "no! it comes from CHEDDAR, ENGLAND." right. that was embarrassing.]

so, werther's are german. i am not a huge caramel fan (do you say car-mel or car-a-mel? i say carmel), so i wasn't going to eat it, but then i thought of my grandfather and decided to do so. my grandpa joe passed away from colon cancer when i was 10. before he died, he was limited in his ability to walk so he always sat in this brown rocking chair in my grandparent's apartment in fargo. whenever we would go over to visit, as soon as we walked in the front door, he would throw us a werther's. as i sucked on the candy, i thought of him - he was a great grandpa.

anyway, the israeli diplomat got to class late, and when she sat down next to me she kind of winked. we knew. we were in the know. class was actually kind of fun. we watched this funny video to learn the prepositions. basically, prepositions are a bitch in german. or maybe the whole german language is, but we're just learning prepositions. depending upon what you are saying, after a preposition the article will change. here is a funny video we watched in class demonstrating this very notion:

it was a good class with lots of learning and when we were done, it was raining. i had to go to the post office, so i asked the israeli diplomat to give me a ride. on the way, she asked me what i was planning to do next. i told her some of my ideas and she told me she was very disappointed in me because she thinks i am very smart (i said, "you dont know that!") and thinks i should do more. this was right before we got to the post office so as i left the car she said, "we're going to talk about this more later!" i've been warned.

to end the day, i spent the rest of the night watching diggnation because when i got home - gasp! - i discovered that i had filled up my whole computer with videos. so now i have to delete a lot of them. life is so difficult when you have nothing to do.


wed was a fun day. i woke up early and went to the american consulate almost outside of berlin. or it might be outside, but still accessible from the u-bahn. when i came from underground to the street, i did not know which way to go. i picked a direction and started walking. up in the distance i saw a long line of people and two german police officers. "ah ha! i bet i have found the consulate," i said to myself. i cross the street and sure enough see an american flag behind a heavily gated building.

i walked up and looked at the people in line. "you don't look american to me," i thought. i was not excited to stand behind all of these people and then i saw the sign "american citizens stand here." no one was standing there - zaz! so i go up the stairs and this guard says "american?" and i said "yeah" and waved my passport. he motions me to the security gate. it was an oddly proud moment when i got to walk past everyone. i will say that i am not often "proud" to be an american but at that moment, i was proud to get in the special door.

my purpose for going to the consulate was so that i could get some extra pages put into my passport. when in london, i discovered i only had two squares left in my book - agh! so i hoofed it to the consulate to get the extra pages sewn in. it was cool and now my passport is extra thick and i look super important.

after that, i booked it to class stopping to get some monseiur vuong glasnuddlesalat on my way. class was fine - normal. after the end of the day, the israeli diplomat in my class said to me, "danielle, how do you find this class? are you bored?" and i was like, "eh, if it were harder, i would work harder. it's not, so i'm fine." a general reflection of my non-working mode at the moment. so we go talk to our teacher, sandra, after everyone had left.

the thing with the new class is that we are all in such different levels. there are 3 people who speak very well and ask questions in german. i think i am probably right behind them in my level. then there are those who are good - going along normally and then there are those who have
what is going on.

one of the chinese girls in my class should be in the pre-level 1 class (we are in the level 2 class) and so she is horribly lost and i feel badly for her. but the israeli diplomat had a good point - being in a group with the people of her level is actually detrimental to our learning. and we're paying enough that we should be able to move forward quickly. sandra agreed and said its hard for her, too because she has to try and explain things to those who don't understand. to make a long story short - i think we might do some different group work today or something...

anyway, after that i was going to go to a lecture on movies in berlin, but i was late, so i didnt go. i ran a few errands and then... dum dum dum...

i went to a bikram yoga class! oh man it was tough. it was 90 min in a 105 degree room (40.5 for your celsius lovers). !! if you dont know me very well, i should maybe explain that (while, yes, 105 is hot for anyone) being born in one of the coldest states in the US, i have very thick skin. or maybe its thin. i guess i dont know. what it means is that my boiling temperature is like 80 degrees BUT my freezing is like 0. i am much more happy with the cold and the snow. so within about 5 min, i was wiping my face of sweat. others were just starting to prespire. anyway, it was a very long class and i keep thinking "please, don't pass out. just don't pass out. don't pass out in class. pass out later." well, i never did pass out, but i wasn't able to do all of the poses. it was good. there were 4 or 5 of us who were knew (the class was in english, i should explain) and there were some people in the class who were sooo flexible and good and just crazy looking. it was almost inspiring and then i was like, "wait. you just look unnatural. the body is not supposed to go that way."

i went with granola girl and after that we stopped at a bar for some smoothies. i stunk, so i didn't stay long. came home and watched some diggnation - so fun. good day. guten tage. or gut tag. ich weiss nicht (i don't know).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

when were you popular poll archive

when were you popular? (multiple choices possible)

in the sandbox - those babies loved me! 3 (20%)
elementary school - prepubescent rocked 6 (40%)
junior high - others were awkward, i was hot 4 (26%)
high school - everyone, including teachers, adored me 6 (40%)
college - once away from 'rents, i went crazy 9 (60%)
hell, i'm popular now! 10 (66%)

Votes so far: 15

when i grow up

learning a foreign language can be embarrassing and sad.

yesterday, in class, we had to interview each other to learn the forms of "to be" in the past tense. e.g. i WAS in fargo in august. you WERE my friend before i fired you. we WERE eating rocks. just kidding. but not really.

anyway, i interviewed this australian girl i sit next to. right off the bat, she is a bit different from everyone else - she is 6'2" and a dancer, which is great she can use her height for something cool. she also has bright magenta hair. not red. not pink. magenta. and her voice is kind of... kind of funny. she's nice although i don't feel as if i have 'connected' to her. so we interview each other and here are the questions and answers:
[we were instructed to talk about when we were 10 years old]

did you have any siblings?
"no" [sure - nothing out of the ordinary here]

did you have your own room?
"yes, i had a small room" [ok.... why would you admit to having a SMALL room? why not just say, 'yes, i had my own room'?]

did you have any pets?
"no" [no big deal]

did you have a lot of friends?
"no" [and then because i felt kind of bad for her answer, i ask, "well, did you have A good friend?" to which she answers "no, i didn't have any friends." !! i didn't know how to respond. then she said, "we moved to new zealand." and i was like, "ok..." but i didn't know how to say "yeah, its really tough when you move and you're young." sad.]

did you like school?
"no, i didn't have any friends"

so two things about this: 1) it must be hard to have to remember this and 2) if you had such a horrible childhood, why not make a new one up??

this other woman interviewed me and i was like, "yeah, i had lots of friends and cousins and i liked school because i was popular." and she laughed and then i told her "once i was in junior high, i was no longer popular." and she said, "oh, were you too smart?" and i was like, "yeah..." although now that i think about that, i am not sure thats why i wasn't popular anymore. i peaked in mrs. toay's 3rd grade class - that was my most popular year of existence. the boys used to chase me at lunch and i was kind of head of the girls and along with the head of the boys agreed that on odd days the girls would chase the boys and on even days the boys would chase the girls. and they used to call me metal toe because i kicked all the boys i liked. not in the place where it would hurt a lot, just in the shins. and it actually made me more popular. it was all downhill after that year.

so, anyway, back to class. when the teacher called on me i tried to make magenta sound happier "she didnt have a LOT of friends" (not mentioning that she didnt actually have any friends) and didn't bring up the small room thing "she had her own room." i thought i did a pretty good job of answering the questions without making it seem sad. but then the chinese girl who also sits at our table and mostly never knows whats going on, when called upon, talks about magenta all over again. "she had a small room and no friends" we all kind of looked at each other like, "didn't she have anyone else to talk about? magenta was already presented."

so the morale of the story is, when you move to a new country, you can make up a whole new past. i guess you could do this even if you haven't moved, but people might find that weird.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

slow down baby

last weekend was very cultural, yet tiring, for me. zaz!

on saturday, i went to the reichstag, which is the german parliment building. it was very fancy, but the main attraction, which is the dome at the top was actually closed. here are some photos of berlin i took.

see the big tv tower in the background? that's where i live. well, not IN the tv tower - but i live about 7 min behind it.

som fancy german writing.

i walked to and from the reichstag which was probably about 2 hours roundtrip. i met my italian friends there. it was nice to get out and go. we then went to get something to eat and i was so exhausted, i had to put my head on the table. i think saturday night i didn't do much. jen called to see if i wanted to go out, but i was too tired.

on sunday, i met my russian friend from this new class at a gallery to look at some guy's art collection - it was like a museum collection except this guy had died and so they made a foundation so others could enjoy his work. i have to admit that surrealism is a bit bizarre. some of it is cool, but some is just weird. my friend is an art critic from moscow, so she has seen like 20 museums since she has been here (in only 2 weeks). i was blown away by this guy's collection, but she told me that although the artists he owned were impressive, he didn't own the best pieces from those artists. of course, that's exactly what i was going to say.

here are a few thoughts that struck me and i wrote down:
one artist didn't "believe in the world's permanence." hmmm...
had to do with sigmund freud's analysis of dreams
the secret is free from prudishness
the comedy of death
create from the unconscious
art of the mentally ill
the US portrayed as a labrador (??)

some of the art were drawings, some were sculptures, there were paintings, and then some made me think, "i could do that." one guy used fumage - candlestick smoke painting. if you click on the wikipedia link, you will see a picture that i saw in the collection. doesn't it seem like anyone could do that? maybe the point is that not everyone does it...

i think i am not eating enough meat because after the exhibition, we had some food and then went on a walk and i was exhausted, again. i ran home to change because i realized that i was going to the opera on sunday night and figured i shouldn't wear jeans. i took a nap and did not want to get up. then went down the street to get some pad thai, which wasn't bad, but i miss american thai food, changed, and then went to the opera. i walked in right when they were closing the doors.

why were half the goethe students wearing jeans?? i was so annoyed! i could have gotten so much more done if i hadn't had to go home. oh well.

the opera was ... i dont think there is a word for it. i will have to write about that later.

after the opera, i booked it to the movie theater. quel week-end! what a weekend!


so in case you haven't noticed, i got my computer back from rehab. the clue should have been when my typing went from tzing like this to actuallz tzping the right z and y. it only cost me 170 euros. eek. but it was worth it. and i have only had liquids around my computer a few times since then, but no spills!

so, anyway, my point is that i discovered zaz. zaz! and i'm keeping it. and i'm going to make it famous. so use it. and tell them where you got it and after a few months i'll make a wikipedia entry on it. nike. just do it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

du hast mich

agggggggghhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!! why do i not understand german????

i was just in the bathroom getting out of the shower when the dj on the radio started giving some news and i heard "Butch Vig" (a music producer for nirvana back in the day and now in GARBAGE my favoritest bad in the whole wide world) "something something." it was confirmed that he was talking about butch vig when he said "nirvana" and "garbage." what the dj was talking about, though, i dont know! then i heard him say "gibbity gop garbage, shirley manson interview bahoodihop." luckily interview is the same in german and english. but who is giving the interview? butch? shirley? are they breaking up (for real)? is there a new cd? rumors have had it that there will be one in 2008, but thats been questioned because shirley is on sarah chronicles. argh!

THEN the dj says something like "foo fighters tschimpertschein john mccain campaign my hero." ???? are foo fighters supporting john mccain? (wtf?) or did foo fighters deny the mccain campaign the ability to use their song "my hero" for his campaign?? ahhh!!

and if i had time to look all this up, i would, but i have to get ready to meet my russian friend at a museum waaaay on the other side of town and then tonight i am going to an opera - my first opera! ye haw! wait. that's country. little o' lay-dy hoo... is that yoddeling? hmmm...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

whenever, wherever

yesterday was the day of granola girl.

my friend from my first class who is from canada and "teaching" me yoga came over friday morning at 11 so that i could take some pictures of her for her soon-to-be yoga website. she recently finished a yoga class with some yogini here in berlin and was über-excited to get more clients to teach people. she really loves yoga and i envy her enjoyment - i wish there was something like that that i could get excited about.

anyway, we took pictures and talked and then went to monsieur vuong, this really great vietnamese restaurant. we discovered that both of us get take-out from there at least 3 times a week. funny we've never seen each other. now maybe we'll actually be un-anti-social and go together! so we go and had a delicious lunch and i realize that i would be late for class. i decided that rather than being 20 min late and disturbing the class, i would just show up at the break - 1.5 hrs late. it worked out well because i had things to do at home and having a bit of time was good. when i got to class, it seems i didnt miss much, so it all worked out.

after class, i knew i had something to do but couldnt remember what. i started walking towards alexanderplatz because i had this feeling that was the direction i should be going. and who do i bump into? granola girl! and her german friend she met in equador. he is in town for the weekend to see her. they tried to get me to walk with them, but i couldn't remember what i needed to do so i said i needed to go to alex. i didn't remember what i needed to do until today so i just wandered around the galeria at alexanderplatz.

granola girl and her friend stopped by my apt to pick me up for dinner. we were going to go to a thai resto (craving pad thai), but then we realized we had asian food for lunch, so we went on search for mexican food. after walking down oranienburgerstrasse for a good 15-20 min, i stopped and said, "should we ask this guy where the mexican place is? i know there is one on this street." and as i'm finishing my sentence i look up and realize i had stopped just before the meixcan cantina. ! zaz!

and odd note... we sit down and the three of us are clearly speaking english and the waitress comes over and starts speaking to us in spanish. the other two in my group spoke spanish, so it all worked out, but all throughout the meal we were wondering why she spoke spanish to us. funny.

they tried to get me to go out with them afterwards, but i was tired and not wanting to pay a cover charge (albeit 3 euro) and whatnot. so i headed home and slept like a baby. danke, zwei margaritas.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Greta Garbo, and Monroe, Dietrich and DiMaggio - Vogue

Last night I *thought* I had plans with Jen and her mom, but now i realize they weren't really set in stone. after class i had to buy credit for my phone and got a few groceries at the store. when i got home, i called jen, but she and her mom were at a ballet that was about to start, so i didn't end up meeting up with them.

thanks to encouragement from my friend, bubby, i decided to get out of the house. we were talking about wine and how much our vino enjoyment has cost us over the years. he averaged it could cost up to $3,000 / year. that's crazy! and now that i think about it, i am sure i have spent at least that much, if not more. i have like 70 bottles of wine waiting for me at my parents house in fargo. hopefully it's less than that by now - i did try very very hard to decrease the supply while i was home in august - i think i even gave away at least a dozen bottles. maybe there's only 50 now.

anyway, i mentioned how i could really go for a glass of wine with dinner, but i didn't have any wine here at the apartment and all the stores were closed. he said that he was actually kind of worried that i didn't have any wine around. this may not be a good sign. :)

so, after thinking about it, i realized i could kill many birds with one stone (i almost said kill one bird with many stones): 1) get out of the house 2) have wine 3) finish my homework all by going to the movies! so, i left the house early and went to a 10:15 showing of The House Bunny. I got there 45 min early and set up shop in the little cafe at the movie theater (theaters here are sooo cool) and did my homework. before going in to the movie, i got me a bottle of rotwein (red wine) and some salty popcorn (they also have sweet which is kind of gross). (it wasn't a FULL real bottle - it was a mini one - i'm not an alcoholic!)

the house bunny was cute - typical Legally Blonde meets Adam Sandler flick. It was entertaining and worth the 6 euros. it had an EXCELLENT soundtrack and when i got home i looked it up on itunes only to not find it. then i checked on wiki and there have been no talks of releasing a soundtrack. too bad, it would've been good.

oh, and on the way to the movie, which is kind of on the other side of town in potsdamer platz at the sony center, some guy came up to me in the U-Bahn station (tube, subway, T, underground, what have you) and asked me in a sheepish voice, "do you by any chance speak english?" and i looked at him, "i actually do." so i started showing him how to use the ticket machine and he said, "oh, american! or canadian?" and i thought it was very astute of him to notice my midwestern/sounds-a-lot-like-canada accent. i asked where he was from (we've already established my lack of ability discerne accents) and he said, "well, obviously i'm english" (i nod in agreement as if, of course!, i meant WHERE in england are you from) "and I live about an hour north of london in a town called you'll-never-remember-it-anyway."

we were going the same way so we get on the u-bahn together and he was so nice and cute! oh and gay. i also have to talk about how i am attracting the gays like flies over here, but that is for another time. he commented on how there are a LOT of americans in berlin and i told him my little-known fact that the israeli diplomat in my class told me: 1% of berliners are american. can you believe that! that's 300,000 people! so we chatted and i kind of wish i had given him my card or something - he seemed like a nice, pierced guy, to keep in touch with. (and he didnt have any friends - he was supposed to come with a friend and she backed out on him at the last minute so he decided to come alone anyway.) he was on his way to the gay neighborhood, so i am sure he ended up fine.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

the sodom and gomorra show

can anyone recommend any good podcasts to which i should subscribe?

(already got fotc)

this ain't a scene, it's an arms race

last week, i started a new class at the goethe institute - it's the second level and we're actually starting to do tougher things. the only problem is that this is hardly just the beginning in german language.

my new classmates are greatly different from the first class. the whole dynamic is different, including our interaction with the teacher - sandra. she wants us to use first names, but the 'Sie' or polite form with each other. we don't have a jovial, 'group' feeling - everyone is afraid of each other and we don't feel like a happy family trying to learn german. here are from where my classmates come:
china 3
japan 1
mongolia 1
brazil 1
iraq 1
columbia 1 (sexy smoker)
australia 1
argentina 1
norway 1
russia 1
israel 1
cyprus 1

that was the original makeup. one chinese and the japanese guy have left. we have added one more russian, one more israeli, and a new italian guy. there are waaay more students in this class than i would prefer. and i have a few issues with the new teacher: i don't know why, but it seems that she is trying to force us to get to know each other. each day, she mixes us up and has us move around the room to do these different exercises with new people. the issues i have with this are the fact that it takes at least 5 minutes for us to get in these new groups, and another 5 to get back to our original seats (taking up good 'learning' time) and we have naturally sit near people we are like and with similar abilities. those at my table are the strongest and the best speakers. and we all speak english, so if we don't understand something we are able to explain it to each other. the other day, she asked me to sit at another table so my back was not to her and i couldn't communicate with anyone. i understand that this may be a way to 'force' us to communicate better, but our german is not at that level where we can do anything but flail our arms and squwak.

there was this really annoying chinese guy who would consistently talk at a normal talking level, in chinese, to his chinese friend to explain things to her while our professor is talking. it was SO ANNOYING - sometimes i couldnt hear sandra. she asked him to stay after one day and now he is not in our class. i think he moved to a lower class.

also, the iraqi girl. i am pretty sure she is shooting death rays at me. she sits almost exactly on the opposite side of the room (we sit at tables, not in desks) and every time i look up, she is staring at me. i dont know why. i fear it's because i'm american and she therefore hates me. i want to tell her - i'm sorry! it wasn't me! i didn't want to invade your country! i did want to talk to her to get her thoughts on the US, except now she is annoying me, too. the day i had to sit with the other table, i sat at hers and she has this habit of 1) answering sandra when sandra has asked a hypothetical question and 2) when someone else is answering, and they pause, she answers for them. i dont know if she is trying to help, show off her ability, or just likes to hear herself talk, but this really bothers me. and half the time she's not even right! she'll try to tell you how to pronounce something and then sandra will correct her. AGH!

i have made some friends, and i'll write about them later.

wake me up when september ends

one of my fancy new podcasts is M6 - a french newstation. i thought it was interesting that the story was "one month remains for barak obama to fight john mccain." not, the two candidates have one month to debate each other or show americans who will do a better job. no, their news is that obama must win, and he only has one month to go to beat mccain. this is how europe thinks.

mr. brightside. mrs. brightside?

so today i booked my ticket from paris to london on the eurostar for nov 20th. and they got smart - to sign up for (and therefore start earning miles / points on) their mileage program, one must buy a ticket for a certain amount of money - impressive! i bet a lot of airlines would have many less people in their programs if that were the case. [my ticket was not enough money so i will not earn miles or points - this does not make me happy; although, i do think it may be business savvy.]

anyway, i had to chose a prefix. but these were the only choices: mr. mrs. miss. dr.

one time, i was on the phone with some customer service rep and she said, "well, you have 'miss' marked here, would you like me to change it to 'ms.'?" and i said, "well, i don't think i'm that old for ms." but she explained that miss was for a 15-year old. so apparently i have graduated to ms. however, it appears that in england i am not given the choice - i'm either married or a young girl. so i think this is telling me that i have missed the boat to the glorious land of growing up.