Sunday, November 11, 2007

Life Love and the Journey to Happiness

Disclaimer: This is serious and in my brain and reflective on reality, my emotions are exposed so please do not read if you don't want to think about heavy things. Yesterday I learned that someone I've known my entire life is dying. Well, technically we're all dying but when a doctor delivers the news that it will ultimately happen sooner than later, how do you handle that? I was shocked when I heard it and angry at the same time. It's one of those life's not fair kind of things. What would you do if you learned that your life was coming to an end sooner than you thought. If living ment fighting for each day and not necessarily enjoying all of your days, would you stay in the game or would you just accept your fate. I think we all like to think we would fight for as long as possible in an unselfish way to hang on for the people who care about us and who we love but at what cost? I've been really pondering a few things over the last day and then when I finally stopped thinking about it, I saw this episode of Private Practice In this episode, a young woman learns she will die of a degenerative disesse. At first, she leaves her husband and runs away trying to cause as little pain as possible to the one she loves the most, he was torn up. I won't say any more in light of plot lines, but it is a good episode to watch. The theme that came out of it was that everyone should get to live her whole life, even in the face of a fatal disease. It's inspiring and timely. It brought me back to the thoughts I was having yesterday and made me reflect on life. I feel like my adult life is still just begining, I too want to own a house and someday have kids, I want success in my career and I want to see the world's natural beauty as much as possible. What if I were faced with news of a genetic disease looming? What would I do? These are not Sunday morning questions and maybe they are unnecessary but, I would like to think that I would fight. Like to make that decision now in case it ever comes down to that, if the decision is made in good health, I hope it would be harder to take back if something were to happen. I can't help but htink about the possibility of genetic disease, since my grandmother died of the same cause of her sister I can't help but feel my faith is sealed. I know there is a ginetic test but like the woman in the episode, I've never have the courage to ask for it becasue one answer would be thrilling but the other devistating. Also, I'm not sure it's a yes or no kind of test more of a genetic dispositon that is effected by lifestyle. I guess the best thing is to take life as it comes and jump in head first. Appriciate everything and don't look back. Here's to hoping my person in life disproves the doctors and gets to live the life she deserves.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Once again it has been awhile since I’ve been on here and once again I’m traveling. I guess trains and airports bring out the blogger in me, or this is where I have the most time. So this first entry is mostly a vent bout the new neighbors. As you may remember, I introduced you to the neighbors when I moved into my apartment just over a year ago. A lot has changed in the past year. For awhile the building was substantially below capacity with 3 empty apartments. These three have since been filled and I think it’s time to introduce the new tenants. First in was a single woman in her mid to late 20’s. She rides a bike but other than that does not leave much sign of her existence. She joined in a few BBQ’s this summer and is quite nice. She’s recently finished her degree in architecture and works in the field but other than that I know little about her. She’s quiet and reasonable social, a good neighbor. She lives 2 floors above us. Next in are our next door neighbors; Dennis, his wife, their two kids and for awhile a female friend who had apparently recently buried her father and two mangy dogs. So, first impression, they seam nice enough but look a bit ghetto and have loud children. They have lived next door for about four months , maybe a bit more. They are terrible neighbors. The kids scream and cry a lot more than seems age appropriate, the youngest is often wearing only a diaper when they open the door and it is not warm here and the dogs are long haired and often wander the building with their owner in tow ohne leash. The kids do not go to bed when kids should but rather pound on the floors and scream keeping up the other neighbors. I’ve never even officially met the wife but no one uses their key so the door bell is constantly ringing which sets off the dogs and sometimes the kids. Both parents are unemployed and home all day everyday. We live across the street from a park, they have 2 kids and 2 dogs so one would assume they would go to said park but I’m not even sure they know what a park is because they only leave the house to walk the dogs or go grocery shopping. Additionally they are noisy and do not realize it is none of their business if Patrick owns a bike but does not ride it or borrows his mom’s Mercedes when his care is broken. On top of all this they recruited friends for the last open apartment. Which brings me to our most recent addition…the Upstairs neighbors. Living directly above us, these people knocked on our door to ask if we would mind if they moved in at 8:00pm. Patrick granted permission, 8:00pm is fine and it was really nice of them to ask. We had to ask them to stop banging and moving furniture at midnight and even then, they continued to make a considerable amount of noise until 1:00am. This is not okay. So we didn’t get off to a good start. The word on the street was that our new neighbors would be a single mother of 2. Let’s try a family of 5, in a 2 bedroom apartment! There’s one boy who is somewhere around 17, another who looks about 13, one who is about 7 and a newborn baby girl plus a dog. A mother who wears way too much make-up and a mysterious father who I’ve seen at the grocery store but never met in the apartment. If our next door neighbors are terrible the upstairs neighbors are the neighbors from Hell! Like their friends they are always home and it seems also unemployed, the kids run through the stairs and hang out next door all the time – more doorbell ringing and dog barking! I’m not even sure if these children go to school because I hear them all the time. It honestly sounded like they were bowling with children one day last week! Inside they are noisy but outside they are messy with bicycles strewn about sometimes in front of the door and stolen grocery store carts proudly displayed in the “yard” – I use this term loosely because we have a driveway sized cement yard. They are dirty and produce a lot of trash and refuse to pay the woman who cleans the hallways monthly who is actually one of our nice neighbors. I often find one or two of the children in the hallway any time I open our door. This morning it was the one who is about 13 wearing a crewneck, no pants and mismatched socks and carrying 2 baby bottles. These last two sets of neighbors are of the breed who should not be able to procreate. They’ve also made me resent the German social system which pays financial rewards for children and allows people to sustain families on social support while unemployed. If welfare is everything that is wrong with America because of its potential for abuses, then kinder geld is everything that is wrong with Germany because it can also be abused. Paying people to have children seems like a good way to encourage population but I think it may just encourage those at the bottom of the food chain to reproduce in order to maintain an unemployed life style. I would love to find some studies on the income and level of education of people with children since kindergeld and before.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Lessons Learned in the Nordic Region

I’ve learned three things on this trip. 1) Airports make me write I was ready to give up on my blog and then I found inspiration in the interesting characters one finds in an airport. As I am an efficient traveler, I often find myself checking in online but unable to judge the wait through security, more often then not, I have time at the airport to observe my surroundings, browse the shops, get some work done, etc. Right now I’m on a delay in Helsinki. First of all, I think it should be noted that flight attendants actually scooter themselves around the airport on non-motorized 3 wheel scooters – picture a large wheel in the front and two smaller wheels in the back, each about ¼ the size of the front wheel. These scooters are royal blue with a black metal bike basket in front and bike handle bars. It looks quite funny to see the women in their skirt suits zipping around on these things. Prime example. Carrying on before I get side tracked again… 2) You can take the girl away from the summer but can’t take summer away from the girl. We all know I love flip flops. Equally true is that the further north one travels, the colder the weather. Wearing flip flops to and around Helsinki earned me many second glances. However, since it was warmer in Germany these past two days than it was all of August, I’ve decided to keep my summer footwear out and jackets away as long as possible. Equally not having a coat got me a few reactions but don’t worry, I brought a sweater and it was really not that cold in Helsinki yesterday either. I woke up and checked out of my hotel this morning to find a day of 17 degrees C at 8:00am so it can’t be that bad. 3) German is useful outside of Germany I’ve never been to Helsinki before so I decided to wander around a bit. As it was late, I was advised the only shop that would still be open was Stockmann’s – the Finnish answer to Harrod’s. My local informer told me to just walk straight and I would find it. I knew I was close as I saw bags carrying the store’s name pass me by but Stockmann’s was nowhere in sight. I decided to stop and ask the next person I saw with the bag. She was an older woman with her husband and looked quite approachable. Since English is the third language for the vast majority of people in Finland (it is needed for communication with the rest of the world as so few people speak Finnish or Swedish – the country’s two compulsory languages.) I did not hesitate to ask my question in my native tongue. My question was answered with a blank stare when I realized the English was not working and I cannot even attempt Finnish or Swedish. Discouraged, I was ready to say sorry and move on when the woman said Deutsch. Ah, I can ask for and follow directions in Deutsch, this is great and I don’t even have to feel like a tourist to a local. I ask my question twice in German and get a blank stare. I know my phrasing (“Wo ist…) is correct but I begin to second guess myself in that split second of no response before her husband jumps in and restates the store’s name. Apparently I was not pronouncing Stockmann’s with enough stress on the ck for her to understand my question. In the end, it took only a minute and I got great directions from her husband that pretty much said continue straight and it’s around the next corner in German. Either way I got my directions in German and followed them to the store, which is quite encouraging to me.

Friday, September 28, 2007

I'm Back

It appears Finnair is one of the few airlines still serving food on a short haul flight. I’m unbelievably thirsty as I haven’t drank anything except a bit of shower water while brushing my teeth and that was ages ago. I watch the drink cart as I receive my sandwich package. To be honest, I was hoping they would only serve a snack, maybe those little pretzels or the always pleasant “trail mix” type. Anyway, back to getting that drink, it looks like they have Lime Juice. Maybe it’s a local specialty, maybe it is lemonade, either way, it sounds refreshing. “Is that lime juice?’” I ask the flight attendant. It’s grapefruit juice. I take it anyway, it was refreshing. Now, let’s have a look at this sandwich. Without opening the blue and white plastic bag, I can see cheese peeking out from a multigrain roll and undoubtedly there’s a thick layer of butter on the roll. Too my disappointment, I was correct about the butter and in addition, there’s some type of unidentified meat on my sandwich accompanied by a shriveled piece of lettuce. I feel compelled to make this sandwich edible and consume it. My first instinct, a roll with butter sounds good, I’ll just discretely remove the meat, cheese and lettuce and quickly reassemble my now empty sandwich. That did not work at all. The cheese took all the butter so I put it back but I didn’t like it so I removed it again, first using it as a knife to spread the butter back onto the bread. Could that meat be roast beet? No I don’t think so. Well I had two open faced butter sandwiched. Airline lunches are always the same, so predictably bad but yet, I feel obligated to at least try to eat the sandwich once it is placed in front of me. Ultimately, the sandwich is always so boring. I should mention the passengers on this plane look anything but boring. In fact the woman sitting next to me is a bit odd. Either it is her first ever flight or she is overly excited about nothing. She took several photographs at the airport with a (gasp!) film camera, I thought my mother was the only person left using one of those aside from serious photographers. Red, in honor of her terrible dye job, only peeled her face off the window to ask for a vegetarian sandwich. Apparently she forgot she was a vegetarian at check-in because she didn’t order one and was thus denied. Apparently she is also not a strict vegetarian as she simply removed the meat and ate the whole sandwich. Even with her neck to toe black outfit and terribly bright red hair, she is one of the more tame looking passengers on this flight. I’m really not sure what to expect in Helsinki but on this plane alone you will find a man who looks like a woman and is wearing Cons, gold jeans, a white blouse complete with ruffles around the cuffs, several necklaces ranging from a sequin scarf to plastic beads to silver charms, eye make up and a white hat Britney Spears couldn’t even pull off back when she was dating Justin. His hair is bleached out and just below shoulder length. His traveling companion also has long hair, brown and frizzy but his outfit is much more demure consisting of a black leather jacket and black shirt and pants. As I watched passengers board, I was seaded in row 4 and rows 10 – 21 were asked to board first, this was not the only oddity. Next came a gang of chubby German gangsters, complete with their blonde locks, baggy jeans and oversized hoodies, 4 boys and a girl wearing a similar outfit with a much smaller, formfitting hoodie and accessorized with a rhinestone belt clearly proclaiming her name, sadly I forgot her name but yesterday I saw an identical belt on a woman named Pia. They were actually denied boarding but for no reason other than they were not sitting in rows 10 – 21. Next up a group of Spanish speaking woman with identical carry on bags. I know they speak Spanish because I was stuck behind their confused babble in the line to check my bags and the 5 of them could not seem to agree on where they needed to be. Directly behind this group was a much calmer, sedated by comparison, group of Japanese tourists. They were middle aged, traveling together in a group of about 8 and they all looked like tourists. There’s just something about Japanese tourists that makes them stand out in a crowd and the older ones love Europe. I will say the twenty somethings are much more fashionable and would stand out for different reasons but you tend to find this crowd at outlets and in America in greater numbers than Europe. Moving on, just when I thought we were done with freaks, 3 guys walk up and I really have no words for their outfits. I will describe the one who was the most eclectic and you will just have to use you imagination on his companions. Picture, 6 feet 2 inches, long hair, black and white all over printed shirt, leather cropped vest with tassels over this, tight black pants, grey and black printed suspenders hanging down which were clearly meant to be worn like this as are on inside out. To top it all off, he is carrying in his arms what appears to be a long red pleather trench coat. You’ll just have to imagine how his friends were dressed. Either there’s some sort of music festival going on in Helsinki or it just attracts the characters. I realize I was ready to put this blog to bed, not because it was time but because I was momentarily uninspired. Welcome back blog! In celebration of the return of my, briefly, halted blog, I will entertain renaming. I’m leaning to Adventures in Liederhosen Land but have not yet committeed so please send along any suggestions!

Friday, September 21, 2007


I fear that I've lost interest in blogging. It's been almost a year and almost 120 posts and while they used to come on an almost daily basis it seems I'm now down to bi-monthly. I'm not sure if this is a signal of my attention span or ever busier life. Maybe I'll ger recharged soon as there are potential huge life changes about to take place in my life. For now I will leave this alone and I will be back at either the next moment of inspiration or on my one year mark (October 11/15). I guess I could be persuaded with topic suggestions. I've started wathing the show Gossip Girl so who knows maybe I'll come back as an anoymous blogger. But do not fear, this blog has not yet been put to bed. Speaking of wich, I was up way too long past midnight last night and should be getting off to a mid morning nap soon. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Welcome to FedEx, err.. my apartment

I work from home and so does Patrick on most days. I get it, we're here during the day when packages are delivered. Our friends downstairs were expecting a package and going away for the week so they left a note for the postman to leave the package with us. He did, they got it when they returned. Somehow this has opened the flood gates for the postman to come directly to us when anyone in the building is not home. It has now extended beyond the post to all delivery men. Today we got two packages. I actually answered the door for the second one expecting it to be the owner of the first one here to claim his book (the package is from Amazon, I can only assume). This delivery man was here once before and he is one of those people you could accurately describe as "a hoot!". He talks a mile a minute and resembles my Pop-Pop in looks. Today, he was intrigued by my last name and asked me something so fast all I could do was smile and say I have no don't find many Fitzgeralds in germany. The funny thing about all of these packages is that my next door neighbors are actually both home during the day as she is a house wife and he is unemployeed, they have 2 kids and 2 dogs and are not my favorite people. Quite frankly, we are the better choice to ensure your packages stays clean and safe while it awaits your return. The upside to being the local post office is that we get to check in with the neighbors when they stop by for their packages and they often find it necessary to tell us what is in them. Some of the things we've recieved for our neighbors include a canvas (about 16x20), an overnight bag sent without a box, a large box from Tchibo that could have held a small child and several standard looking book/CD type packages. If only I could recieve my own packages from my online shopping, which reminds me, mom's getting my Lilly dress today! At least i can still track clothing shipped from US websites.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Life and Brussels

If you're ever on a game show, please do not wear pants under a dress. I'm in my hotel room in Brussels, so glad I traveled in the day before the meeting as I think I got a cold from being cold yesterday. I learned that this was a myth and you could not get a cold from being cold and my legs were cold, how do you get sick from having cold leggs?!?! and why did summer skip me this year? All of this irrelevant really because I need to do a life update and I want to try to classify Brussels as a European City in its own right. Let's start with the initial purpose of this update, it's been way too long. I've had a vacation, a proposal and a birthday all in the same weekend and if that was not enought to overwhelm me, I've startred traveling for work again. In case the news hasen't traveled yet, I'm engaded. I'm actually thinking an engagement deserves its own post and one of those written in the third person so check back soon this may happen tomorrow in the airport. So I'm in Brussels until tomorrow evening then I have a train ride and eventually I'll make it home, I'm in the office Wednesday and Thursday and then my parents come on Friday. I'm getting incredibly excited for their visit. In fact, I frequently forget how hectic my week with them will be and what needs to be done in preparation for their visit. On top of it all, I need to complete my budget for work before going on vacation! Either way, I'm so excited!!! I'm also so excited for my summer dresses. I think because I haven't really had opprutunity to wear my sun dresses, I feel like it's coming and haven't yet realized winter is what's coming! Brussels is an interesting city. There are clear influences of Paris, like the language. Many of the shops are the same as in Germany and the people are a mix from various places in Europe. Belgium waffles sent the streets and are sold at sketchy looking stands by sketchier vendors about every 50 meters. I never thought of Brussels as anything more than the home of the EU/EC. This in itself made it interesting to me. However, this is my second trip here and I'm realizing Brussels also has culture and is an emerging market in the world of fashion. Brussels is also the second city in which I've found Jennyfer. I'm intrigued and glad to know I'll be back here one more time this year. Well, I'm off to wander Brussels in search of a restaurant and some budget planning.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

What a Morning

This morning I suggested a walk and breakfast. I needed to return something downtown and figured I should make the most of the morning as Patrick was planning on going to a soccer game in the afternoon with the boys but I didn't have a ticket so I would be spending the day on my own. We had breakfast at this new bakery. It was okay, more than what I expected, less than what Patrick expected. Overall, the prices were low and the food was average and the chairs were both cute and comfprtable. We finished breakfast, returned my hair dryer and continued to walk around town. I was on a mission to find some nice tea roses. I later learned their German name but alas I forgot it and it wasen't as cute as tea roses. So we started with the flowershop we always walk by. They always have pretty flowers but I've never bought any. As we approached, I noticed there was no sign, the shop had no name, strange. The selection of tea roses and other flowers was just as vast an beautiful as I remembered so I didn't htink anything of it. I found a variety of long stem roses that I just fell in love with. They are light pink and a pale green. I'm not sure how else to describe them. I convinced Patrick to ask if these flowers were normal and if they always have them as I'd never seen them anywhere before and that is when he learned that the shop is closing in 2 weeks. I guess that explained the lack of a sign. It was still my favorite slower shop so I was sad to hear. We kept walking. Patrick remembered the Cinemaxx was having a trailer show, free viewing of previews for umcoming movies. he suggested we go. I wanted to squeeze in one more flowershop first so we continued to wander. As we walked back towards the city center, I saw a woman fall and when I pointed it out to Patrick, he ran over toward her (he used to be in the Red Cross). So this woman had hit her head on a cement stair and was pouring blood from the back of her bed. They literally used a roll of paper towels to absorb the blood. I could not handle the ammounts of blood and had to walk away. I was really shacken up by this, it kind of bothered me. All I could think of was that this woman could be someone's mother or grandmother and they don't even know she is in this situation. The rescue came and took over, Patrick washed the blood off of his hands and we walked away. I still didn't feel calm, I needed some time to walk it off. We walked back by the flower shop and Patrick bought me the rose that I fell in love with.

Once Apon a Wedding

Last weekend we went to a wedding so this post is a bit overdue but I've been busy so better late than never. Patrick's friend from High School married his girlfriend of forever. This is the same couple who were featured in the baby shower entry. Anyway, I really like them both and was happy and excited for the wedding since I heard about it (not since we got the invitationn because they told us in person first). I was excited because they were both so happy and because I love weddings and I'd never attended a German wedding. For that matter, I've never attended a Prodestant wedding but I'm not sure where to draw the dirrerences and since the church part was quite short compared to any other weddings I've been too I'm going to say most of the differences were based on culture and not religion. After all, Prodestant is not all that different from Catholic and the couple is not very religious anyway. So, let the story begin.

I started noticing differences from the very begininig as the bridesmaids did not have matching dresses. I don't think they even coordinated their outfits but I soon learned they also did not have a part in the wedding itself, just the getting ready and they got the title. There were no groomsmen, no seats for the wedding party and no seats really for both sides of the families as there was not even a middle isle in the church. The flower children casually walked in carrying baskets of multicolored flowers (I loved that) about 3 paces behind were the bride and groom walking in together (see photo above) and followed directly by the priest. The groom had seen the bride in her dress before the wedding and it was not abig deal and the bride's father did not "give her away". I'm learning American weddings are of thier own breed. After the brief ceremoney, the "wedding party" left just as they had entered and they walked so fast, I couldn't even get a good photo of them from the front. The marriage was over and everyone gathered outside for champagne and orange juice. While we were waiting for a toast that wasen't someone corralled the bride into a lab coat and gave her some chemicals to spray on paper and make a secret message appear. Many people cringed at the thought of her ruining her dress with the chemical spray, it was red. She completed the message and it was cute then the guys who made it promptly threw it away. Luckily her dress was safe under the lab coats. Now we all had about 3 hours before the reception. There was a hired guide avaliable to give a tour around the city. Since most of the guests were from out of town, this was great idea. We got ice cream instead.

Cut to the reception. Nice location, amazing view, in the heart of the city yet removed froom the noise of the local restaurants and bars. The decoration was cute, simply yet classy and suited the couple perfectly. The food was delicious. Nothing else happened as I had expected or should I say as an American wedding would. There were slide shows, performances, even a quiz. They had hired a woman who plays Elvis songs on a Ukelayle (spelling?) and a friend was DJing but that was mostly for dinner music and microphone/equipment as there was no dancing. The bride and groom did not dance their first dance together or with their parents. The bride did a great introduction where she wrote a poem introducing all of the guests. This was quite a feat as there were about 100 guests! It was nice to know who was who and how they knew the bride and/or groom. All in all it was a new experience for me, very different from any wedding I'd been to in the the US.

To end the night, 7 people got stuck in an elevator. The capacity of the elevator was 8 or 600Kg (about 1300lbs.) If you know anything about European elevators, you will realize that capacity 8 can only comfortable hold 5 so they were not in a good place and it was about 3am so it took awhile to get someone to open the elevator and "rescue" them. As you can see from the photo above, the bald man did the rescuing with sheer strength (and a key to first unlock the door). He was accompanied by a guy in a bathrobe. I'm not sure what their roles were but I think both men lived in the building and just needed to wake up and dress themselves (one more than the other) before making the rescue. What an crazy ending to the night...up 10 flights of stairs, good thing I brought comfy shoes.

Rhode Island

The thing about RI is that you take it for granted if you live there. It seems that people who grow up in RI are excited to leave for college or for a job in a big city, basicaly looking to move onto bigger and better things. I spent the better part of 22 years in RI before moving out. Now that I am on the outside looking in, I realize what was normal for me is not normal for the world. First of all, the beaches. Some of them were crappy but at least RI has beaches and a wide variety of choice so you do not need to spend your days in the crappy beaches. Then there is Block Island. I didn't take my first trip to BI until college but it really is a little bit of Paridise in your own back yard. It is a summer vacation hotspot that RIers have the benefit of visiting on a day's notice and w/o the need of an overpriced hotel becasue you can drive to the ferry from anywhere in RI in under an hour. On top of beaches, there's Providence. Okay it is not a big city from most perspectives but it is compatible with many different audiences. V once learned in her city planning class at URI, who knew you could major in city planning?!?, that Providence is a very well planned city. Since I'm guessing most of you, like m, have never taken a city planning class, I'll explain. It all comes down to the city functioning during the day and at night in the same districts/location. A good example of this is the area near the Biltmore, there are offices but also night party spots in the same block. Provicence has the businesses and some pretty nice office buildings, the Providence Place mall, a favorite of locals and tourists alike, the skating rink in the winter (maybe it is a cafe in the summer), all your typical food chains, and above all parking and driving in Providence are generaly not disasterous. For the inner tourist, Providence has the Statehouse with the 2nd (or 3rd, i forget) largest unsupported dome in the country, the RISD museum which attracts some pretty decent exhibits, historical landmarks and a great view of the city from Prospect park. Additionaly, if you're more into the funky college crowd there's always Thayer St. with cute restaurants and odd shops in addition to normal stores such as CVS and the stupid semi-new sporting goods store. On top of it all Providence has a shore line where summer concerts are often held (more of the kind that attract high school and college students as they are free) but also other outdoor summer events such as Water Fire provide free outdoor entertainment. If it is entertainment you are looking for there's Lupo's where you can catch decent bands while they are still playing in venues small enough that you really can stand anywhere and get a great view. The convention and civic centers cater to larger audiences. The best part of Providence is that since RI is so small, if you get bored with its offerings, you can just find something to do in a nearby city or cross the boarder to MA, you can even hop on a train and be in Boston in one hour! I should also mention Dunkin Donuts, since RIers hate driving long distances it makes sense that DD has positioned themselves on almost every major intersection, this may also have something to do with the company being from the area. Either way it is nice in the summer when you are craving that french vanilla iced coffee. I really wanted an iced coffee yesterday, of any variety really, the only option was McDonald's McCafe but it did not live up. If it is the ocean you are into, there's Narragansett but there is also Newport, famous for its Mansions, Newport was once the playground of the rich. It is still a bit more uppity than most of the state but not unwelcoming. Whatever the season, there's always a reason to appriciate Newport. In the summer the tourists are in town and there is lots of entertainment, the outdoor variety with various festivals and shows most with a nautical focus (i.e. Boat Show, Tall Ships Festival). As the fall comes around the Oktoberfest is the one last hoorah before the island calms for the winter but this is also when the bars pick up as Salve students are back and a good deal of URI students make their way scross the bridge. What better way to pack out a bar than to attract college students. There is always the Brick Marketplace and the Warf for great restaurants, cute shops and amazing views. I really think I am in love with RI. I realize things seem more ieal when you step away from them and there are downsides like the fact that I would need a car to enjoy RI and I'm sure I would soon miss Germany but right now, I really appriciate my home state. I eally miss the beaches, esp. Narragansett and Newport and the summer weather they are experiencing as we have cold, rainy days. The biggest downer, I haven't been in the ocean or a pool yet this summer :( I also miss shopping at the mall and nearby Wrentham and I miss RI restaurants like Spummoin's and Cheese Cake Factory and good Sushi!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


So today is day one without my boss. I technically still have a lot of bosses in the sense that there are people above me within the organization but I don't have a bossin Europe right now. I am working with a consultant hired to keep things running in the intirm and I have been reporting more directly to the top two bosses at HQ who both hapen to be out of the office right now as one is on vacation and the other recovering from surgery. It's weird not to have a boss and even weirder when I think about the fact that this is my first real job, I live in a foreign country and am responsible for the presence of the organization in several foreign countries and I've only been on the job for 4 months and I don't even have colleagues as I work from home. It is so weird but at the same time, I'm surviving and that makes me realize how much I've learned over the last four months. It also confirmed what I believed about my personality; I am capable of accomplishing more when I am given the authority. When I am working as a second to someone, I become good at waiting for their lead and following their suggestions. I do not suggest things on my own if they already have idea. Now that I have the authority and it is necessary for me to step up, I feel like I have. I've taken on so much more and have greater ambitions and have been coming up with my own ideas and suggestions. The latter being slightly influanced by previously mentioned consultant who has pitched so many ideas, I actualy shut her off last week on Wednesday as I was overwhelmed. I do still realize I have the problem of not being able to say no. I was really excited by the idea of writing articles in travel magazines so when the person who was asked to write one turned it down due to lack of time with the offer of making suggestions for someone else to write, I of course volunteered. I am now realizing I do not have enough knowledge of the industry to write a good article. I can handle the welcome letter and the letter talking about upcoming events but I do not know that I can write an industry article of substance. I think I may have to rethink this and find a strategy that involves using the PR guy. Either way, I'm still really excited to write something for a magazine even if it is a travel industry magazine. I've also taken on more English lessons lately, again I chalk this up to not being able to turn down a job, so now I teach Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and starting next week, I will be teaching double Monday lessons which will bring my total working hours on Mondays to 12. It is just short term and I'm working on saving money and paying off my stupid student loan so I feel like it is worth it for now. I'll only have the double Monday lessons for the next 5 weeks. I am actualy proud of myself for turning down a Thursday lesson which was quite appealing but would have been too much of a time commitment. Anyway, I feel like I am on a bit of andrenaline rush these days, however, I've been too exhausted to wake up for the 7am runs in the park I recently started with Patrick and Ihab. I need to find a way to fit excercise and outdoors into this new, crazy schedule. Well, one last exciting but stressful thing in my life, I have a Press deadline of August 8th to get my first letter in :)

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Hey is that a giant clam cake? Clam cakes outside of New England - can't be. I soon learn my eyes have decieved me. What looked like a clam cake, that funny brown shape of fried slopp that could be nothing else in RI is actualy fried colliflower in Germany. That's right, they deep fry vegetables in batter and eat as a side dish. It's pretty common. For some reasons Americans have a bad reputation for deep frying things like Oreos and twinkies and even ice cream. I somehow think it makes more sense to deep fry a dessert, which is already bad for you, than to take a perfectly good vegetable and turn it into a fatty greesy dish. However, Germans are not as obsese as Americans as a society. I believe since Germans actualy walk places or ride bicycles as modes of transportation they can eat fatty things and still stay slim. I'm off to eat dinner which consists of no fried vegetables.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

In case you forgot what I look like...

The first photo is in Heikendorf watching the parade of Tall Ships, oddly enough the 4 or 5 masted local ship was not involved as it was at the TAll Ships festival in Newport, RI.
Next photo is a group at the new bier garten near the University from the begining of July.
Then Patrick and I in Wolfenbuettel (sp?) when I convinced him we should go to a festival but it was actualy in Wolfsberg. Who puts wolf in the name of two neighboring towns?!?!
The next photo is me in the airport on the way to Madrid. I believe that's in the Munich airport but I was exhausted either way becasue I had to wake up at 4am to begin my journey!
Finaly, I made it to the Eifel tower. I think the flash didn't work becasue the batteries were dying but at least the photo came out. I still love the Eifel tower even if I don't know why.


At the airport, the only time I have to reflect these days. This is from a couple of weeks ago but I've been "totally consumed" and forgot to put it up. From the outside, I somehow look American. I’m wearing a non descriptive solid white polo with the collar popped when it wants to cooperate and my standard, non-marked Lucky Brand jeans rolled up twice. Flip flops on the bottom, a brown leather belt in the middle and sun glasses on the top. Topped off with silver studs, my silver anchor necklace and a silver bracelet. As I did not see any business colleagues this morning, I took the liberty of dressing casual. I think I look like your standard traveler but still shop workers speak to me in English, even when I sprechen Deutsch. I carry a Longchamp bag which is European in origin (although I bought mine in the Miami airport). I had a black rolling suitcase which I was forced to check in Madrid, but that airport is a whole other story. I opened my bag to take out my lap top and realized just how sophisticated the inside of my bag looks. I’m carrying a lap top, a planner, a leather airline ticket holder, my purse, a book and the Europe edition of the Financial Times. I smiled and then realized I was sitting in front of the wrong gate so I had to pause and get that sorted. My ticket says gate G24 so when I was let off at gate G16, I walked to the left a few gates, stopping at a few shops along the way and then waited patiently as the flight before mine boarded. Once that flight left, the marquee changed to Egypt and that’s not where I want to be. There was a notice scrolling under of a Berlin flight that moved, also not mine so I went to the counter, the first woman directed me to her colleague who sent me to Gate 3 after reprimanding me for not using the electronic monitor – sorry I trusted the gate printed on my ticket to be correct! Anyway, I just completed a journey of 11 gates which is actually quite a distance. My first gate was in the center of the airport, surrounded by small cafes and fancy shops. As I walked I noticed the smokers area was a glass box complete with a roof and several smoke eating devices inside, very impressive. As I walked further away from the shops to my new gate, I started smelling smoke. I soon realized my nose was not lying the next smoking area was literally open space with a few ashtrays and a large yellow sign depicting a cigarette hanging from the ceiling. This reminded me that I am still in Europe. As I sit now, about 50 yards from that last smoking area I can still smell smoke. Why bother? Time for boarding. Will finish later…

Friday, July 06, 2007

Havve You Seen My Bier?

We had a 4th of July BBQ here. It was super last minute as I decided in the morning that I wanted a BBQ since I was missing all of the festivities (including a day off) that were taking place stateside. Patrick organized an impromptu phone tree to get the word out, we bought some groceries, made some salad and dips and had a BBQ at 8pm. It rained at least 4 times during the day but only once during our BBQ and about a dozen people showed up on such short notice so I think it was a success. I had fun at least. Anyway, as a result of the BBQ, we had two half cases of beer (bier since it is German) left over. We live on the second floor and had a lot of stuff to carry so we left them in the Hallway Wednesday night. This seemed like a great idea and outher people in the house have left their beer in the hallway at times. Yesterday, Patrick came home from the movies to notice one of the cases missing. Who would take 1/2 a case of Beck's? and on top of that, who knew it was there. Our door is in the back of the house so for someone to be walking by and decide to steal the beer it not likely, Three out of our 6 neighbors were at the BBQ so I'm pretty sure they wouldn't steal the beer as they know its origin and why would our other neighbors steal beer from inside the house? That is not a way to make friends! Anyway, Patrick posted a sign to day, let's see if it gets any response. The value is not high, 1/2 case of beer + about 5 EUR in deposits but the point is no one should take things from the apartment. I hope we find out what happened mostly out of curiousity but I don't think anyone will come foward and say hi I stole your beer, here it is.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Incubated Weekend

It's only just after 4pm on Sunday and I'm exhausted from the weekend. So much for a relaxing weekend, but it was a really good weekend. Yesterday started with a lot of apartment cleaning which was way over due and planned to happen and then we found out a friend was going ot be ini town and he needed a place to stay so we had extra motivation to clean the place. I finaly got my office into proper order, which is super exciting. Too bad my computer has now locked me out :( Anyway, we started yesterday with happy hour at this Mexican restaurant downtown called Sausilitos, they have great cocktails and the best salsa I've had in all of Germany. Naturaly I had nachos for dinner too. It worked out that three friends from Germany/US who have sinced moved out of Braunschweig were in town this weekend so it was really great to see eveyone. I always enjoy hanging out with other Americans. Anyway, following Happy Hour we all went back to one guy's apartment, with a balcony to hang out befor going to the Jazz fest in town but we never made it to the Jazz fest. On the way to his apt, I got to know this the new roomate of a friendwho has an interesting story. He is Mexican, studied in Sweeden and then got a job in Sweeden which sent himti germany. We instantly got along as our German language skills are about he same but he speeak great English and I like new friends, especialy of the English speaking variety. The night was filled with good people, good conversation, local beer and flips, what more do you need. We all agreed to reconviene in the morning for brunch which was followed by a trip to a new beer garten located actoss the street from the university, a short trip to our apartment, and another gathering at an eis cafe and then a trip to the train station to say good bye to our guest. Now, I'm finaly home and may have evening plans for a board game night so I must nap. ciao!

Saturday, June 16, 2007


"The begining of the summer brings back the memory of days with less responsibility and more fun" I saw that comment on someone's MySpace wall and it really hit home. Summer brings with it an air of freedom. While I was super busy at the begining of last summer, I had the excitement of graduation. followed by a hellish schedule of summer classes and work. That being said, I had August to spend at the beach working temp jobs, shopping and just enjoying life. Since I worked so much May- July, I was able to afford a month of relaxation. Now I've just started a new job and I'm feeling in over my head. In need of some summer relaxation. The nicer it gets the more I cures myself for not becoming a teacher. It just makes me try to thin of a way to have an out door job. I ealize I like the professional responsibility and the people I meet in my job but I would be happier with less stress and more outdoors. How can I make this happen? Well if I had abalcony, I suppose I could work out doors and if I was overlooking the ocean I could mitigate at least some of the stress. Summer makes me miss the freedom of being a student and think of turning to a career in acadamia. Then I ask myself if this is what I really want. I want the soft salt water of the ocean on my skin and the sticky feeling in my hair. I want to wear flip flops and skirts, I want to be care free. I wonder if I'll ever have that again. I'll take the mountains and Orford beach over a city any summer day. I always knew I was not made for the city. Somehow, I still want to work in NYC when I return to the US. I think that is because I know it is not so far from the coast and I have friends there. To be lonely in a city is different than to have friends to keep you entertained. Cities are convient too, things are accessible and shops are open late. Cars are not necessary. I still want to move to NYC but I never wanted to stay more than a few years. I feel the same way about Germany, a few years is enough. Although I'm naking a serious commitment to German learning and I've brought Patrick on board and given him some responsibility and motivation to teach me so we shall see. Sometimes I wonder if I would have been happier as a nomad. The problem is I like the lifestyle a real job can make possible, I want a nice house and I want things. I guess I'm just a product of marketing and America, what can I say.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Does it Ever End?

I think you will agree with me if you are in your first (or even second or third) job. We all have those Devil Wears Prada Moments, the ones where you realize you're expected to work more hours than you signed up for and you're not doing it for the pay but for the future reccomendation. I've been having a whole week of these moments. Somehow, looking to the future is always my motivation, just get through this week and the next will be easier but it hasen't been that way yet and just when I think I've caught up and organized the road ahead something comes up. This week it was a postponed event, one less thing to do next Friday but one nbigger headache for the fall. I thought it would get easier in the summer, we shall see. If only I were getting paid by the hour, I think I would not mind as much. Just remember, a million girls would kill for your job, haha.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

IMPORTANT -Read the post below first

Don't here until you've read the post below. It was so invigorating, she decided to go for a run, she she threw on some shorts, grabed the pod for a little inspiration a la Justin and headed off around the block. The top two photos are the immediate results and the bottom 2 are post the post-run shower with a hing of gel for control. She is still happy, no worries, the small tail is gone from the back and she plans to see a proper hair stylist this week to clean it up. After all, she's not tha much of a hippie :)

An American Girl in a Great Big World

As she stood in line to buy her ticket, she realized her exhaustion and wanted to cures her job but since she just stepped out of a satisfying meeting sheaccepted the exhaustion, knowing that this part will pass and vowing to do everything in her power to avoid the mistakes others have made in her future planning. She listened to the words being spoken around her zoining out to their meaning and focusing on the sound. She watched the legless man in the line opposite and wondered how he would board the train, she also wondered how he lost his legs. Soon it was her turn and after quickly dodging a sales pitch she got her ticket and was on her way. The train was leaving from Gleis 9 at 16:13. It was now 15:32, Gleis 9 is directly across from the ticket office. In deciding what to do, she contemplated changing into the comfortable clothes and shoes she had packed the day before for just this occasion but quickly decided that would be a hassle in a small bathrom stall with a large backpack and a suitcase so she stayed in her business clothes. This particular day she had chosen her outfit carefuly around her favorite but never worn blazer. A soft, kaki, single brested, slightly longer than average and Tommy Hilfiger blazer lined in lime green. When she bought it last year she fell in love as much for the fit as for the lime green lining but had difficulty matching it to anything. Today she choose to wear it over a black tube dress. She started to thing about how sill she must look in a dress, a blazer, heels and wearing a red oversized backpack, more suitable for a backpacker than a business woman, this made her smile. She never really dressed to fit a mold, there are times she wishes she could look effortlessly pulled together but she came to grips with the fact that she wil never be a size 4 and never have straight hair so effort will always be required to look effortlessly pulled together. Since the train wouldn't get in until almost 19:00, she decided to pick up dinner to take along, sushi. On her way to the platform she stoped by Hagen Daz for a treat and then sat and waited for the train. The ice cream was the perfect distractin from waiting. Soon she boardedthe train and was lucky enough to find a free seat at one of the tables. The train was quickly overpopulated and she appriciated her table even more once she remembered she had a fresh copy of Us Weekly. What better way to pass a 3 hour train ride than with a trashy American magazine, an iPOD and eventualy sushi. She was completely in her own world as she sat in her black cocktail dress, currently sans blazer and with pink ballet slippers subbing in for the heels, listening to Dispatch and reading about Lindsay Lohen and Vanessa Milano's photo shoot with knives- the things you miss in Europe! She was happy. Us Weekly does not have enough content of photos to last a 3 hour train ride so she had plenty of time to enjoy her sushi and ponder. Quickly, her thoughts were on change, possibly inspired by the previous day's discussion on change management and possibly inspired by boreom she came to the conclusion that it was a time for a dramatic change in her life. It's time to cut her hair. She had been growing her hair for almost 3 years with only minor trims in hopes of one day chopping 10 - 12 inches to donate to Wigs for Kids. She knew it was never her hair that she carried around, it was being cultivated to harvest and pass along. Diligently, she fought the urge to dye it in any way or cut it before it was long enough. She conditioned daily and deep conditioned at least twice per week to minimize damage, breakage, split ends and any other hair crisis. She enjoyed it while it lasted but now it was time to give it to someone else. She had planned to treat herself to a fancy hair cut in New York City when it was time, as a personal reward for completing the mission. That was way out of the picture now as was her trusted hair stylest. Being one who does not easily trust new hair stylists and appriciates impulses, she decided that she would cut her hair herself, tonight. First it was just an idea but by the time the train pulled into her home station it was decided, the hair goes immediately. She pulled it into a low poneytail and looked at her reflection in the train's window, not bad. She realized she could handle this. She'd never cut her own hair more than an inch before but that wasen't going to stop her, in fact, she would have done it on th train had she had a pair of scissors. Although, after a brief conteplation she realized cutting one's own hair on the train would most likely give the wrong idea to the other passengers and scissors are probably banned on the train. It would be the first thing she would do when she walked into her apartment.

Friday, June 08, 2007

London Love Leggings, Explained

Okay so I guess I owe you an explanation for the previous leggings comment. I would just leave it at it’s true but, that will not do justice to the statement. First of all, it must be said that when I first entered London in 2003, I made the statement that it looked as if the 80’s had puked all over the city. Now it’s not just puke but total revival. Seriously, I was in London for 2 days and it was like a time warp onto the set of Growing Pains. I expected leggings but I did not expect the rest of it. I cringed when I saw women wearing tights under shorts with ankle boots! I even caught a glimpse of teased hair in the tube station and Claire’s is full of neon, plastic jewelry. As a child of the 80’s, I’m a supporter of leggings, footless tights, funky jewelry, leg warmers and crazy prints. I even like the wild colors and clearly I can’t say anything bad about big hair. A line needs to be drawn at the shorts/tights/ankle boots combo. I’m convinced that the neon, plastic jewelry hasn’t caught on as Claire’s is not the most fashionable place and Top Shop had a much more respectable selection of funky jewelry. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that shoulder pads and patterned sweaters never return. Some things just need to stay in the past.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Back to Basics

When I started this blog, it was intended as a public journal consisting of my observations as a foreigner in a foreign land. A lot has happened in my life since October and it has become more of a catch all for anything I wanted to say or observe about anything. So...I decided a post about Germanities was long over due and really what better time than now, as the sun stays out longer and summer makes its way in Germans are showing me a new side of their culture. The major sign it is summer in Germany is the ice cream. This time of year, it is almost impossible to walk down town without seeing a variety of people strolling along eating ice cream, each cone more delicious looking than the previous. It is so hard to not stop at the next Italian eis shop and get a scoopfor myself. Which leads to me eating ice cream just as much as the next German. The most distresing thing I have discovered anout summer here is that A/C is not standard! My first car was a 1993 Mazda Protege (and I loved it!) with manual windows and locks but it had air conditioning. Patrick's 1997 Audi A4 has power locks, power windows but no A/C. It is not that the A/C is broken or needs a recharge, it simply does not exist. This is unheard of in my world where my dad called to ask if my A/C was broken last summer when he borrowed my car and couldn't get the cooling system below 65*F! I've become accoustomed to an sirconditioned life in my parents' home, the office I worked in for years and in cars. Even if I didn't use it, it was always an option. I don't expect my apt. to have air con but the language school I work in doesn't even hav it! To make things even hotter, the doors and windors must be shut during lessons to avoid noise pollution AND Germans are of the belief that if a fan blows on you, you will get sick, then you will have to wear a scarf to heal and who wants that in the summer. Seriously, I had to face the fan towards the closed windows! Nothing porductive came out of that but we had :air circulation" haha welcome to Germany. The thing I find the oddest is that in the middle of companies focusing on being environmentaly friendly, air con is just begining to catch on here, to hell with the environment, Germans are inconsistant anyway!

Friday, May 25, 2007

My hair

I straightened my hair the other day. It is so long! I've decided that I'm going to wait until the end of summer to cut off the 12 inches for donation. I like long hair in the summer.

London Loves Leggings

…But that’s a whole other entry. I sat in seat 1A, my favorite seat on a plane looking out the window, dreaming about sleeping in my bed and trying to determine which country we were flying over. I remembered the first time I was ever on a plane. I was 14, a freshman in high school and on my way to Orlando, FL for a family trip to Disneyland. I recall looking out the window (I was in the window seat with my grandmother sitting next to me) and thinking I could do this for work. At the time it was a random thought and I’m not sure why that was in my 14-year old train of thoughts and daydreams. Today I looked out the window and recalled that moment as I was flying for business and in fact in business class. I felt so naive and happy at the same time I regretted the fact that I’ve only had 10 hours of sleep in 3 days. I realized then that while it is work, I have a really great opportunity in front of me to travel Europe. I guess this holds a bit more excitement for an American as it does to a European. I’ve found that Europeans find FL and CA and NYC much more glamorous than Paris or Spain or London. Reflecting on my journey, my job and my future in this under slept state left me to realize my internal optimism. I think I will never be that over-the-top, happy every second of every day kind of girl but I believe I will also never be a miserable person and that in itself makes me happy. I also remember a good friend once saying to me that I don’t carry baggage, this is true in life and in flight. I don’t see the point of holding feelings inside and I am an amazing packer when it comes to luggage. I do have a terrible job packing when it comes to moving out of an apartment or to another country. So, I’ve been thinking about my upcoming work-related travel ventures lately. In June I have Brussels, Frankfurt, Rome and Paris. The thing is I am literally in Brussels for one day, the day of the event and I’ve already been to both Rome and Paris so I guess I am most excited for Frankfurt since I’m traveling by train and can possibly add a few hours to my day for exploring the city and maybe I’ll even convince Patrick to come along . Rome actually scares me a bit, not because of the city at all but the event is in about 3 weeks and the agenda is being finalized tomorrow afternoon so registration will only be open for about 2 weeks and this will be my first event without a partner and to top it all off, my boss is most likely going to be in South Africa at the time AND the big boss happens to be in Rome so she’s going to come to the event so it all comes down to nerves here. I do have a friend in Florence and the event is on Tuesday so it may be possible that I fly in over the weekend and hang out with her before the event. I guess it really depends how prepared I am going into the event. I was told once I get through June I’ll have survived and the job gets easier from there and I believe it. There’s that whole learning curve thing but also I still playing catch up from my predecessor. She should have had most of the Rome event planned when I took over but she had done nothing so it feel into my lap under time pressure. Travel lesson of the day: Trains will always be delayed, even if you are in Germany but more so in London. Planes too, even if you board the plane on time, as a rule, you will sit on the plane for 20 minutes or more, anticipate extra waiting time if flying into or out of a major airport like Heathrow, Miami or Frankfurt. Don’t complain, all of these delays are out of your control, anticipate them ahead of time and prepare accordingly. Be pleasant and smile and thank all of the employees you meet, it is not their fault. P.S. I’m pretty sure I saw a Russian mail order bride being returned to Russia via sleeper train today. It was great! (though not for her) P.P.S This is my 100th entry!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Wildfires are in FL too

I lay here in a haze of smoke. On a dock in Miami beach listening to the ocean splash against the beams beneath me. I can look out across Biscayne Bay and see the amazing homes on the other shore. I can turn my head a bit to the left and see the skyscrapers in the distance but they are clouded by the smoke. A plane flies overhead carrying a banner, undoubtedly marketing directed at the tourists laying on a not so distant beach. I can’t read the message, not because I have bad eyesight but because the sky isn’t clear enough. As I lay here and thing of all the stuff going on in our atmosphere at the moment, I realize I didn’t apply sunscreen. I don’t like sunscreen. I need to wear sunscreen, in my case, not to prevent a burn but to prevent skin damage. Unlike the dry landscapes; in Georgia, in the Everglades and throughout Florida, my skin does not easily burn. This is why I neglect sunscreen. Skin burns as a sign; protect your skin. The wildfires are burning as a sign that the land was too dry. These fires are at a current state of uncontrollability. They have been burning since I arrived over a week ago. While FL may be the lightening capital of the world, wild fires are becoming more common as of late. This bit of knowledge prompts me to consider what causes wild fires. Lightening, along with arsonists are the two biggest catalysts so humans and nature. That being said, one must also consider the necessary conditions for a wild fire; dry grass, leaves and trees. If wild fires are more prevalent now, one could reason that rainfall to the same areas has decreased. Can we relate this to global warming? I’m sure everything can be blamed on global warming these days and that’s not what I want to do. The point that I am trying to lead into is the fact that humans have an obvious impact on the earth and vice versa. These fires have caused roads to close, people to stay indoors and in the extreme for people to evacuate their homes. Since I wrote this on May 12th, I did a bit of research. As of May 18th there were 174 fires, down from 190 the previous day. Here's a bit of a report on a few of them, notice the cause was lighteing forall. "WILDFIRE OVERVIEW Florida Bugaboo Fire –Yesterday, fire crews dug into a four-foot deep peat bog and found an active fire burning. There are many areas like this within the fire interior, so the fire will be here for sometime to come. Firefighters are widening the fire lines by dropping fire retardant (or “slurry”) from air tankers. These bombers can spread retardant over an area 50 foot wide by 500 foot long. At 10:00 a.m. today, mandatory evacuations were lifted for the area from Lassie Black Road south on the west side of US-441 and Burlap Road (forest road 263) south on the east side of US-441. Residents were allowed to return home but were urged to stay packed and ready to leave if conditions change. Mandatory evacuations still impact between 400 and 500 homes from the Lassie Black Road north to the Florida-Georgia line. A portion of the Florida National Scenic Trail from Olustee to White Springs is closed. There are more than 25 Florida counties and cities that have provided personnel and equipment, which does not include the forest fire fighters which come from all over Florida and the United States. Cause: lightning. Dairy Road Fire –The Dairy Road Fire is in Bradford County. Total is presently at 15,000 acres. On May 8th, one residence was damaged and two outbuildings were destroyed. Cause: lightning. Balsa Fire –The 18,027-acre Balsa Fire is in Collier County about 12 miles east of Naples. On May 8th, 12 residences at 54th Avenue & Lee Williams Road were evacuated. Three homes & 3 outbuildings were destroyed. Cause: lightning. Deland Complex –The Deland Complex is composed of three fires – the 6,575-acre WF Airport Road Fire in Flagler County (85% contained), the 850-acre Red Oak Fire in Lake County (95% contained) and the 2,600-acre Lee Fire in Lake County (95% contained). This complex has been managed by the Division of Forestry’s Blue Incident Management Team since May 4th. Two outbuildings were destroyed on the Red Oak Fire. Causes: under investigation. Middle of Nowhere Fire -The 6,500–acre Middle of Nowhere Fire started on May 3rd in Charlotte County. General location is off Highway 31 behind Fire Station #9. Fire is in cypress swamp with heavy fuel. No immediate threat to structures. Cause: lightning. " from

Lizards in Miami

There’s a cool lizard outside, I run and get my camera. Upon my return, I am excited to see that he has not moved. I tip toe slowly over to him pointing my camera and ready to shoot once I am satisfied with the view. He shimmies over the side of the banister, I must get closer. I have him right where I want him so I plant my feet, lift my camera and splash, he’s in the ocean. I missed my opprutunity so I wander around, camera still out looking for another lizard. I am in Miami beach, there should be no shortage of lizards here. I notice one through the fence. I’ll never be able to get close enough to that one, but wait he looks wet….it’s the same lizard resurfaced and ready to sun, I try to get closer and he scampers off, running like lizards do with their legs so far out from their bodies. I’ve now lost the same lizard twice so I turn my attention to the pool. It looks swim able so I get closer and there’s a larger lizard out on the dock. The pool is not removed from my mind, I’m focusing on getting close to this guy without losing him. This one is about twice the size of the other and dosen’t look like he wants to go for a swim so I consider myself lucky. As he allows me to get closer and closer, I start to think about my safety. Lizards are related to crocs and they both swim so they must be closely related. Do lizards bite, will he lunge towards me if I get too close. Clearly lizards don’t live in Germany and despite our close proximity to the ocean in lil’Rhody, the cold winters are not suitable for lizards so I don’t know much about proper lizard protocol. In the end, I conclude that I’m still bigger than him so it can’t be that dangerous. I approach, I take the photo, and another, he turns his head, I get closer. I need to lean over thabanister to get the full shot that I’m aiming for, I do. He belly flops into the ocean legs spread out and instantly disappears with a small splash. I lean over the edge looking for him but there is no sign, the water is cloudy which leads me to believe it is also pretty deep. Do lizards know how to swim? Or do they just sink to the bottom and walk from there? I realize, I know very little about lizards. The only thing I know for certain is that they are cold blooded and must sun themselves to det energy, kind of like a solar panel. I also know there are no lizards in the pool thus, there should be a Jen in the pool!


I made it through my first Global Conference. I was the baby so everyone kept asking if I was okay, that made me a bit nervous that I looked like something was wrong. I did feel I was doing okay because my boss took me around for the first day or so after we arrived but by day 3, she let me free. If I wasn’t doing okay, I think she would have kept me by her side. I met a lot of people, some more useful than others. I also got to know the entire staff. There are a couple of points that should be noted about the staff. First of all the entire staff is only about 30 people, including the web designers and representatives of another company we outsource our printed materials from. Looking at the HQ staff, one quickly notes there’s only a single male in the office. There is actually one more male on the team but he is the director of Asia Pacific and thus a contractor who never works out of HQ. In addition, there are a lot of new people. I think this is a mixture of the organization’s growth and the fact that it is a non-profit organization which may hinder salary increases thus attracting recent grads. In addition, people are often hired on short term contracts and only renewed as needed. However, one overwhelming thing I noticed about the staff is that EVERYONE loves their job. I feel that it is too early for me to make a definitive decision, but, so far I also love my job.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Sorry, I was off managing Europe.

I've been away for a week. I was busy. Without sounding corney, I like to think of this of the next step in my life. I now have a full time job. The kind where I have responsibilities, one of them being to man the phone from 9-5:30. Listen to the people who tell you the 9-5 is dead. It is. Anyway, I am a bit hesitant to call it a real job because there are no tangible benefits to working freelance. Anyway, I spent the week in London training with my director and my counterpart out of South Africa. It was similar to the training set up for most college positions such as RA or Mentor in that it was a week long intensive training program. We spent all day every day together. In this situation, I feel it was incredibly effective. We all got along really well which was a plus. There was also an event semi hosted by us so I got to experience that first hand and then we went to an awards ceremony put on by a supplier which provided another first hand experience and some networking. Those of you who know me know how much I love networking. I am really looking foward to getting into this job. I think it will never get boring as there is always something to do and new ideas are welcomed all the time. My dream job includes; travel, networking, exciting topics, business suits,projects, and a good co-workers. So far, this is checking off all the criteria so I'm quite excited. The travel bit is at the forefront now as our global conference is in Miami and then I took 2 days off after the conference. I leave this Tursday so I will once again be away from the blog. I will try to squeeze one in at some point but if not, it is most likely because I chose the sunny pool over the indoor blog. Managing Europe is a tough job, a girl needs to maximize her ocean time. I'm not too optimistic about German summers although spring is turning out to be quite nice here.

Friday, April 20, 2007

more photos

Holland-home of bicycles, houseboats and tulips. Only in behind doors = restaurant


After Patrick finished his exam, I took two days off from teaching and we took a relaxing trip to the Neatherlands to enjoy the scenery. The main purpose of our spring trip was to go to Keukenhof, the flower park in Lisse, Neatherlands. Thanks to the internet, I learned that the 70 acre park has more than 6 million flowers. We drove down on Tuesday, the trip set to take four and a half hours more or less. We crossed the boarder after about two hours without any problem. In fact, noone checked us into or out of either country. The sky was overcast when we left and most of the way so we decided it best to stop in Amsterdam on Tuesday and enjoy the flower park on Wednesday as the forcast was only for partly cloudy on Wednesday. We wandered about Amsterdam for a couple of hours, enjoying the sights. Amsterdam is so pretty during the day. The sun began to come out. We took a stroll through a market. The architecture in the Neatherlands is so much more intense than in Germany. In Germany buildings are either rectangular or half timber. In the Neatherlands, especialy outer Amsterdam and the areas surronding the Autobahn, buildings defy normalcy. They come in all shapes and it is not uncommon to see asymetrical designes. As this was my first time driving in Holland, I had expected to see tulip fields on the side of the Autobahn as in the photos I've seen. Somehow those are only west of Amsterdam but they are breathtakingly beautiful. West of Amsterdam one will also find the Atlantic ocean. Our hotel was actualy walking distance to the ocean. I dipped my toes, or rather I rolled up my jeans and put my feet in ankle deep. It was nice. The hotel was so cute and homey I loved everything about it including the rumpus room like lounge area in the basement complete with leather couches, a flat screen TV, computers and a stash of classic board games. In the morning we had breakfast and set off for the park. The Kaukenhof is the largest spring bulb park in the world but I never would have predicted it would draw such a crowd! It was like Disney World but full of adults. I dare say it is a peaceful setting becasue that is only true when you find yourself in a distant area unreached by the masses. In spite of the crowd it was still awesome. I took almost 300 photos in the park and I wasen't the only one. Everyone was taking photographs, art was placed throughout the park to encourage photography. We saw two TV crews filming in the park, one from the BBC, I was unable to identify the other. There were also many elderly visitors in wheel chairs, making me realize why the senior discount is only 2 euros. The median age of park visitors is most likely around 40. This is not to say that there were no young people. There were not many children but other than that the audience was quite varried. I heard English, American English, German, French, Dutch, some type of Chinese and I'm sure many more languages were represented. In Holland it seems that most people speak Dutch, English and German. Dutch is a crazy language. It sounds like German with a HEAVY accent. All of the sins are only in Dutch EVERYWHERE so we began to decipher the language, it was easier for Patrick due to the similarities to German. Pretty much, you take the German word add a j somewhere, usualy in the end and double either the first or last vowel and you've gout Dutch haha. I guess that's not a fool-proof method but it seems like it would work. The trip was amazing and at over 50 times the size of Wembly stadium, Kaukanhof truly is a Super Garden!

Saturday, April 14, 2007


First, I must point out that ice cream is Eis in Germany, pronounced ice which is slightly confusing. I was teaching English and the topic was travel tips for foreign countries. One of the tips; don't use ice if the water is bad. I said this outloud and he looked back at me with a blank stare. Feeling stupid, I explained how ice is formed out of frozen water and then he laughed and told me he was thinking about ice cream. The second the sun is out, you can bet you will find ice cream cones in people's hands and all of the seats filled at the down town eis cafes. I'm not sure why the Germans at URI loved American ice cream so much when they have Italian Gelato so easily avaliable. There are Eis Cafes everywhere. There are two on the same street as my office in fact. Most of them also have walk up windows for easy access. However, I would like to point out the rising cost of one scoop of Eis. When I first arrived in Germany, one scoop cost 60 cents (about $0.90), as the weather started to get warmer, shops began to increase the cost and now almost all shops charge 70 cents for a scoop. I even saw one selling a scoop for 90 cents. While I don't feel like they are over charging, I was shocked to see prices instantly jump everywhere. Where is the shop that keeps charging 60 to get more business? Then I wonder, are all the Italian Eis cafes run by the Mafia? Is there price fixing involved? Maybe they are just money washing schemes?


This Easter was different than any others before. It was the first Easter I didn't go to church, it was the second Easter I was away from my family as I did spend an Easter in Italy but it was the time I most anticipated missing my family. I spent Easter with Patrick and his good friends, I guess I should call them my friends now too since we did spend some time together. Anyway, for me Easter is about church and family. I was in a church but for a baptisim. It was a really nice service, the priest was great, friends sand and plaed instruments. The location and weather couldn't have been better. Somehow it just didn't feel like Easter. It was the most intense baptisim I've ever been too and everyone was so friendly and the baby, Linnea was perfectly calm. I really had a good weekend. It was my first experience with Southern Germany and my first weekend with Net98 and friends. I also think it is impressive that the 8 of them have remained so close over the past 9 years while almost all of them have lived abroad at some point or another. Luckily for me they all chose to spend some time in English speaking countries so I didn't have to over stress on a whole weekend of non-stop German. It was interesting for me at times to just sit back and watch the relatives and friends. With so many conversations happening at once, I was unable to cohesively overhear anything. In spite of the feeling of being overwhelmed, I was able to sit back, take it in and just smile. When families get together everyone talks at once, it happens, it happens in all cultures.

The Schloss Arkaden

This is the Schloss Arkaden or Castle Arcade for those of you who want to hear it in English. Basicaly, it is a mall. It's not even as nice as the Providence Place mall, there is no m
ovie theatre and the food court consists of McDonalds, an Asian noodle bar (pretty good), a German wurst shop, a coffee shop and an ice cream shop. All good but the concept of a food court has filtered through with a few problems. The basic benefit of a food court is that all restaurants share a common seating area thus allowing each member of the shopping group to choose his or her food and all sit togethere to eat. There is no common seating area in this food court. In fact there is hardly and seating area at most of the eateries. Anyway, everyone knows the most important part of a mall is the shops within. The shops here are not bad but they are far from impressive. Most are duplicates of stores that already exist downtown. There are a few high end shops that only exist in the mall. However they don't impress me becasue they tend to sell labels like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger for twice as much as in the US. Anyway, I would assume you are still wondering why my photos are so dark. I have yet to mention that those photos were taken around 6:10 am on March 29th, the Grand opening. Patrick made me get up at 5am to go to a mall and it wasen't the day after Thanksgiving! However, if I ever had enough commitment to shopping to wake at 5am on the day after Thanksgiving, I would imagine the atmosphere to be much like it was at the Grand opening of the Schloss. First of all, this is the biggest and one of very few malls in the area, secondly the facade was constructed to replicate an old castle and third the unemployment rate in Germany allows people to have more free time. In all seriousness, a lot of shops were giving away free things and there were some good deals to be found so most of the city was in the mall by 8am! It was seriously crazy. You could not walk against the crowd as the human trafic flowed around the ring on each of the three floors. The mall is set up similar to an American mall. The one thing lacking is an anchor department store. The closest thing to anchor stores are the stores located on the ends, none of which are department stores, those remain outside the mall. I did get some good deals on necessary office equipment and I got a nice pair of sunglasses and 2 glasses of champage and the most exciting shop in the mall is Starbucks, the first one in Braunschweig! Even though I ordered, of course, a caramel frappachino and they made me a coffee frappachino and couldn't pronounce my name when it was ready, the guy remedied the situation and I took my coffee cocktail to work at 10, a happy girl. All in all, I am impressed with the Schloss, not becasue it is a mall, but because it is practicaly across the street from where I work and uber convient.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Easter Weekend

In the Catholic religion (and other Christian religions), today is Holy Thursday, tomorrow is Good Friday than comes Easter Sunday and, if you are really serious, Easter Monday. In Germany today is the last day before a 4 day Easter weekend. In a land where "Seperation of Church and State" is not an issue because it simply does not exist, and neither does religious diversity for the most part, Easter is a big holiday. At this point, I'm pretty sure it is not for the religion but more of a time to be with family and relax. However, I hear religion is very regional and present in the south to a greater extent so I don't want to generalize. Anyway, I feel like it is just that Germany takes these two days off as I've missed so many one-day American holidays (President's Day, MLK Day, Veteran's Day, etc.) Not like I get paid for them though since I am not teaching. I feel like I can't complain about my teaching wages at the moment as I got an April 1st raise as a result of profits being up in Germany. Anyway, it seems like people prepare for this long weekend at least one week in advance and I am not refering to planning family visits rather planning to do all or none of their work or take to some extra vacation days in conjuction with the Easter holiday. I will be spending my Good Friday holiday cleaning the apt. as my family is too far away and my boyfriend is preparing for a major exam in 10 days and nothing will be open. I will be missing my family and their two Easter hams and their colored eggs (I don't care if the chickens do live in cages!) and the morning Easter egg hunt (can you guys still hide a few pink eggs for me) and Easter Sunday mass and talking to people on the steps afterward and generraly spending time with my family. Holidays away from your family really make you appriciate them more and take them for granted less.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Home Sweet Hops

As I step off the strassenbahn (street train) my noise is filled with the sweet smell of what I can only imagine to be hops. I must be in my neighborhood. It's funny how this smell, of which we were warned when we moved in has become so familiar to me. Whatever it is, this odor is the by product of one or both of the breweries surronding my apartment. The smell lingers outside when they are brewing but it never comes inside. Even when the windows are open, not often since its been winter, I don't smell it inside. I don't think the smell sticks either as I've never smelt it on myself or anyone else outside of our neighborhood. It's the mysterious odor that lingers in the but, it dosen't travel much further than a one block radius around the brewery. I'm still not sure where it comes from but it always reminds me of where I belong.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Flavor of Love

Germans love flavors. They add butter to sandwiches in addition to some type of pimped up mustard or mayo and gravy in some form tp most other sources of meat or starch. It is normal to buy pre-marinated cuts of meat and seasoned ground beef. A meat connisour I am not so I haven't tried many of the flavored vaireties but I have sampled a few. There are others, such as raw, flavored ground beef and weiss wurst that I will never taste. Just last night I used preseasoned ground beef which I didn't realize until I smelled much stronger spices than any of the ones I had used. Generaly, I am used to flavoring my own meat so this was not so odd. However, I have noticed the general pallettes of Germans are different than the American tongue. As I type this, I am eating pepper (think the garden variety) flavored potato chips. Pretty much the most popular flavor option I've seen here. You would be hard pressed to find any of the American favorites; salt & vinegar, sour cream & onion, or BBQ. On that note, BBQ is the default flavor for tortilla chips beyond salted. You can also buy BBQ dip, cheese dip or salsa. Don't expect the salsa to be too spicy, I've tried 3 varieties now ans eaten at one Mexican restaurant, salsa in Germany is more sweet and processed tasting than anything. Want cheese flavored tortilla chips to dip in that salsa, too bad. Not an option. How about cheese puffs? You will find a snack food that looks the same, feels the same, is a bit smaller in size but is missing that bright orange cheese color that was sure to stain your fingers. Put one in your mouth and your taste buds are in for a serious shock. There is no overwhelming salt tast, no cheesy flavor, in fact there is an odd similarity to a peanutbutter sandwich because, in Germany, these are peanut flavored. Although, peanut butter will not be found in many German households. It is more of an American import looked down apon by those who have never been to America as a child. While we are on the topic of snack food, watch out for popcorn at the cinema. I expected that over salted over buttered taste that you can really only get at the movies and is part of the cinema experience. Big disapointment, pop corn is sweet and without salt. If you really miss the flavors American snack foods, you can always go to Subway where they stock a selection of Frito Lay products to go with their subs. Tastebuds be prepared for a shock!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A letter to Blog

Dear Blog, I am sorry for neglecting you. I have been teaching too many classes to get out and experience anything worth writing about. When I did experience notable things, I forgot them before I got home to write about them. I will work on this in the future. Maybe a I should carry a tape recorder at all times. Sincerely, ME On a life note, I bought dirt for my flowers. Currently the dirt is in its bag and the flowers have not met it. Introductions must happen tomorrow. If I can nurse these flowers back to health and keep them there Patrick will let me buy Hyacinths. I do love the smell of Hyacinths, it reminds me of Easter. They are also quite pretty but rather short lived. Essentialy, by the time I can prove my plant nurturing skills they will be out of season. I would think this is all part of Patrick's plan for me to not own anymore flowers, however, I'm pret. The ty sure he is unfamiliar with the blooming season of hyacinths. On the topic of Easter. I can't dye Easter eggs this year. Patrick only eats free range eggs or those that come from chickens in a pen. Eggs from caged chickens are not an option. The only white eggs at Real are from caged chickens. The problem arises when you remember that eggs must be hard boiled before coloring. I don't eat hard boiled eggs and Patrick will not eat them from caged chickens so the eggs will never get eaten. As such, we will have no Easter eggs. :( This will be the first year I've not colored eggs with my mom. (Mom, make some good ones for me) Maybe I can color the eggs and give them to homeless people. It would bring them happines and food. Now I'm onto something... Good Night

A letter to Blog

Dear Blog, I am sorry for neglecting you. I have been teaching too many classes to get out and experience anything worth writing about. When I did experience notable things, I forgot them before I got home to write about them. I will work on this in the future. Maybe a I should carry a tape recorder at all times. Sincerely, ME On a life note, I bought dirt for my flowers. Currently the dirt is in its bag and the flowers have not met it. Introductions must happen tomorrow. If I can nurse these flowers back to health and keep them there Patrick will let me buy Hyacinths. I do love the smell of Hyacinths, it reminds me of Easter. They are also quite pretty but rather short lived. Essentialy, by the time I can prove my plant nurturing skills they will be out of season. I would think this is all part of Patrick's plan for me to not own anymore flowers, however, I'm pret. The ty sure he is unfamiliar with the blooming season of hyacinths. On the topic of Easter. I can't dye Easter eggs this year. Patrick only eats free range eggs or those that come from chickens in a pen. Eggs from caged chickens are not an option. The only white eggs at Real are from caged chickens. The problem arises when you remember that eggs must be hard boiled before coloring. I don't eat hard boiled eggs and Patrick will not eat them from caged chickens so the eggs will never get eaten. As such, we will have no Easter eggs. :( This will be the first year I've not colored eggs with my mom. (Mom, make some good ones for me) Maybe I can color the eggs and give them to homeless people. It would bring them happines and food. Now I'm onto something... Good Night