Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cash Flow

I just submitted my 12th invoice, somehow it is labeled 14 but that's not possible since this is only the 12th month I've worked at my present job. However, this being the 12th month means I've made it to a year. Technically, April 23rd is my one year anniversary at my first real job. I don't even know if I can consider this areal job. Yes, I work full time and have responsabilities but I've done that before, just not for a whole year straight. I would consider a real job, one that takes place in an office and involves a retirement plan - I currently have neither. I do have a home office and Europe is my territory both of which are nice benefits but it's still all a bit surreal if you can understand. On the surface, my job sounds amazing and I'm sure I take the working from home for granted more often than I would if I had recent experience of waking at 6am to commute to work. Let's face the facts, immediately before this I was an English teacher with flexible but unpredictable hours and prior to that I was a grad student/grad assistant/sometimes substitute teacher. It's been awhile since I was working at the 9-5 (APC circa spring 2005) and even then it was only every second day. I guess the last time I had a routine office job was summer of 2003, at the insurance agency. Maybe this is why I still don't feel that I've entered the "real world". The other offputting factor about my job is the pay arrangement. Once a month, I sumbit an invoice and the payment is directly deposited into my bank account. I don't miss having to go to the bank to cash a weekly check but I do miss holding the cash in my hand each week and touching the fruits of my labor. I guess I spend less and save more on this direct deposit scheme but I always feel like I don't have any money and I never feel like I'm getting paid for my work. I don't even get a check stub or an email, just a deposit into my account as if I were working for the mafia. Well, here's to year one, let's hope year two is more fruitful and less stressful.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


"That is my family, my daughter and her kids" the woman in her fur coat and hat leaned in and spoke to me in German but I heard her so clearly in English. As she leaned on her cane for support, I learned they were from berlin. I said her grandchildren were cute (or sweet as it literally translates from German), they were. A tear fell over the edge of her eye and one could only wonder if it was caused by happiness or temperature as we stood outside in the freezing air around a smaller than ideal Easter fire. That was the begining of what would be the longest Easter mass, I've ever attended in the most boring church I have ever seen. The building was made of cement, smooth and clean, everything inside seemed to be a shade of greyish blue. The pews were made of wood, stained this greyish blue with sushions on the seats but not on the kneelers (you really regret this when you kneel 3 times in 2 hours). The walls were bare, about 1 meter before the roof, they were replaced by panels of stained glass which I can only imagine looked better in daylight. The cealing looked like it was held together by an oversized set of Connex and the lights were literaly bulbs on wires hanging to about 10 feet off the floor. There was one small crucifix on the alter. I would guess about 220 people could sit comfortably in the pews, but I would not know for sure as the churh was only about 50% full. This was a far cry from the old church I had expected. This was a far cry from any church I'd ever been in anywhere in the world. I realize I come from RI, where there are two Catholic churches across the street from each other and no one questions this and northern Germany is Prodestant country. However, Germans pay a church tax to support their churches so I guess I expected a bit more. I don't even remember any flowers or palms for that matter and it was Easter mass. The Stations of the cross were not displaed on the wall and I didn't see a confessional anywhere. For me, the people make up 50% of the church experience. Yes, you are there to pray and listen to the Gospel but a church is also a community. A place to meet up with friends of your grandmother or the kids you went to CCD with years ago. The only people younger than me in this church were the 3 grand children of my new friend and there were no more than a handful of people in the whole uilding under 30. Church goers of the Catholic faith in Germany typically have silver in their hair, gold in their teeth and memories of a different era. It's discouraging and always underwhelming to go to church here. Somehow, I expected a difference on Easter, there was none that I could see. Maybe we'll have to try a church in Mannheim, I hear the south is more religious and I no longer have expectaions so maybe they'll be met.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


So, I'm about to enter the world of serious women's softball in Germany. Somehow, I never imagined to be in a place like this and I'm a bit scared actually - the Slateretes never intimidated me. But this is bit more serious and they're taking me on the team via email w/o even meeting me or seeing me play, there's no tryout but they asked me about my experience. Somehow my baseball league does not look quite as competitive.Maybe it's becasue the softball uniforms are black. Anyway, here's a link to the homepage of what will soon be my new team. Wish me luch, I feel like I need to go train. Does anyone have hand weights and a treadmill?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

oh what a night

It's been 2 years since Patrick and I first "met" on our Spring Break trip to FL so he took me out to celebrate yesterday. We had origionally planned to celebrate on Friday but that didn't work out and then I needed to fly on Sunday which put me in Amsterdam through Monday so Tuesday became our night. Patrick bought me flowers for the first time ever (though he has bought me a plants in between) so I thought I should take a photo to remember. Also, he paid attention at some point because those are my favorite roses, yellow with red tips. So I knew the plan involved dinner but I told him I didn't want to know the restaurant because I prefer suprises (aparently I'm hard to suprise). He did a great job, aparently getting a reccommendation from a colleague. I was told there would be a 30 minute drive but that was all I knew until we approached. We were going to dinner in an old castle in the wine region of Germany. The view would have been amazing as it was unobstructed for miles but it was dark by the time we got there so all you could really see were the lights of Mannheim and Ludwigshafen. I got to try out the night view on my new camera at the very least. The city was too far off but I got a few cool pictures of the caastle and even the moon.
Dinner was also amazing, once we realized local specialties were not so appealing. It's a good thing we didn't go here on Friday becasue there was not a main dish on the menu that didn't include meat. Patrick had a veal steak with mushrooms and I had a beef steak with feta cheese on top - which was delicious. After fighting to finish my meat and leaving half my potato behind, Patrick ordered dessert, homemade ice cream parfait. I would go back again justfor the ice cream. Oh and I forgot to mention, being in the winestrasse (literally wine street) or wine region, we had a local red that would also merit another visit to this castle. I know this is rather boring but I wanted to add something to the photos to convey how much I enjoyed Tuesday night. Here's one last photo to hopefullt help you get an idea of the rustic atmosphere in the castle.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Burgers for Dollars

Patrick made me go to Burger King for dinner tonight - based mostly on us having no pots and pans to cook anything. Needless to say, dinner was a bit of a disapointment. However, this particular Burger King does accept American Dollars and at a rate of $1.50 per Euro. This is interesting since today's exchange rate puts us at $1.55 per Euro. Too bad you couldn't buy burgers for USD and return themfor EUR. I guess i was not completely truthful when I told my Aunt and my grandfather that they should not mail me USD sicne I could not spend it in Germany.

Ponder This

Have you ever thought about how you became the person you are today? Were there outside factors which greatly influenced you life? Is this your destiny? Have certain choices along the way made significant differences? I was having a conversation with Patrick the other night and he made a comment about how he would be a totally different person, had he studied Physics instead of Business Engineering. It really got me thinking if I my personality and persona would be different had I studied something else and what else would I have studied? At one point I wanted to study mariend biology and when I think about it, my life would be different had I studied Marien Biology, at least on the surface. I can tell you one thing, chances are good that I would not live in Germany since there is not much marien life in a country with such a small coast. In life, I would be less flexible based on my career, but would I have become a different person. I just don't know. I like to think that experiences shape you but do not form your personality. Esentially, everyone has his or her own personality and that is only enhanced by life experiences. I would have never decided to study Physics because that does not fit my inherent personality so where Patrick fears that he would have become an anti-social, all black weaing physicist without a hair style, I can't even begin to fathom myself as a physcist EVER. At this point, I guess I should point out that in gErmany, moreso than in the US, what you study is what you do with your life. It is rare to study one thing and find a career in a completely different field. Whereas in the US, a degree in Political Science does may well lead you to a career in Marketing. Think about it, what choices have you made that could have altered your personality and were these choices fated or did you really have a say in your own destiny?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Moving Up or Down?

I just moved from a fully furnished apartment to an apartment that has 1 mattress and one new area rug and 3 computers and I did this willingly. This is my first foray into the world of moving. I guess it may be odd that I made it almost a quarter of a century w/o ever actually moving. I realize I live in Germany and I lived at college and I lived in New Hampshire and I even lived in London but never did I need to move all of my stuff from out of a place to which I would never return. I always had a bedroom at my parents house where I could leave the majority of my stuff taking only what I needed. If we’re being completely honest, a lot of my “stuff” still remains in this bedroom. My dad claims he’s going to make my old bedroom an exercise room but it’s been 3 months since I heard that and I haven’t heard anything more so I feel pretty confident my stuff is safely stored. This is important too because for some reason people took to buying me gifts like glasses and photo frames, things that would almost certainly break if transported across the Atlantic so I needed a place to leave them in addition to random useless stuff I have but will not need in the upcoming years. Such as Prom dresses, does anyone need a few Prom dresses? It would really be the first step to removing my belongings from my dad’s “exercise” room. ;) Anyway, I’ve recently helped friends move and it was tiring but fun and finished in one day. They moved about 400 feet. We’re moving to what I could easily equate to a Boston/NYC move but between two cities, each about he size of Providence. It’s about a 4 hour drive in between the old and new apartments which means we need a moving truck. Thanks to Patrick’s relocation package that is not a problem but we’re waiting for our appointment so for the next two week’s we’ll both be living in the new, unfurnished apartment. This is ultimately better than the alternative which we’ve been practicing sine February where by Patrick lives in Mannheim while I live in Braunschweig and he visits Braunschweig one weekend every two weeks. That was not the most fun. I guess it made me realize my independence and I already miss my softball practices and English lessons but it’s just time to move on. I’ll go back for one last English lesson and I’ve found a new softball team here which will hopefully work out. Last night I slept in a king size bed with 4 pillows in a hotel with as many stars and now, after 5 hours of travel for a trip that should have taken 2, I return to our small mattress on the rug on the floor in the living room like a squatter. It’s kind of fun and I’m pretty sure I’ll never do this again in life so I’m making the most of it, which is of course why the mattress is in the living room instead of the bedroom. That and the living roomo faces the back yard as opposed to the street and we don’t have curtains yet. However, in 6 months, I’m sure I’ll love this apartment as much as I came to love the first one, maybe even sooner if the furniture goes well.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Bye Bye Braunschweig

Here are some photos I took of Braunschweig last weekend, a brief montage if you will before saying good bye. I hope to do this once more before moving for good.