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 :)