Monday, June 23, 2008


Ijust went onto the website and saw that my picture was on the homepage...
I think you need to either click on the photos above or follow the links below to see.
Here's me from the front
If you want to check out the actual homepage, you can find it here but it is in German.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

EM Fever

The European Championship (EM) happens every 4 years, alternating even years with the World Cup, of course I'm refering to soccer or football as those involved in the EM. We are now in the quarter final round and this round has brought about quite a few nailbiters that my American friends can't watch. Let's talk about last night's game featuring the Turkey v. Croatia. I was tiredall day and even more so after a hot and humid softball practice so I showered and planned to skip the game in favor of bed but as I walked over to say good night to Patrick, they were about to enter overtime. After 90 minutes the score stood at 0-0 and the trainers were called in to massage muscles before the 30 minute overtime began. I was dying for a shoot out and things were looking good as the score remained 0-0 until the 119th minute and Croatia scored, seemingly winning the game in over time. The team jumped on each other and the fans cheered, there was still one minute of injury time to play and one minute, 15 seconds later, Turkey equalized with no time left. I was psyched, it was shoot out time. Each team gets 5 players to each take one shot each....after7 total shots the game was over and Turkey won. Croatia was shocked, the men literally cried. You actually felt bad for them through the TV. This means that Turkey will play Germany in the quarter final. I'm looking foward to this game becasue Turks are the largest minority in Germany, at least in these parts but I think nationwide. Whatever the result, there will be parties in the streets for hours.
Today, I'm sitting her watching Russia v. Neatherlands in over time. It looks like it won't be quite the nailbiter as Russis just scored (after so many unsuccesful shots on net). Russia wins, Netherlansd are out. The betting pools are going to go crazy as the Netherlands was an early favorite to make it to the final. I'm sure many Germans are celebrating as this is the local rivarly.
On Wedensday, Germany plays Turkey, softball practive was appropriately cancelled so I'm planning to go to an open air viewing at a local brewery and watch the game with about 3,000 fans. I can't wait, my yellow flip flops are out, my red shirt is ready and today, Patrick bought me a Deutschland bracelet. The atmosphere is saturated with soccer and I'm soaking it up!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Spain - the country of balconies

Spain will always hold a place in my heart as the place where some of my important friendships were strengthened and my window into Europe. That being said, I now realize I could never live here. In theory, I love the idea of a loose time schedule, the possibility of daily siestas, beaches, countryside, balconies, ice cream, soccer, history and the laidback lifestyle. In practice, I can’t stand waiting on people, waiting for people and when entire countries shut down for summer holidays – never mind daily siestas. I sometimes wish I could be this laid back but I need to face facts and realize I’m just too easily frustrated (maybe I’m high strung but I like to think I’m goal oriented). My most recent 1.5 day trip to Madrid was motivated by work but we managed to go to the Plaza Mayor for dinner. In Spain dinner does not begin until around 8pm (that’s a bit early for locals). My colleague had an early morning flight so we decided to do a brief tapas bar hop. Considering our meeting didn’t end until half past 7, we were downtown around 8 and set to begin out tapas tour. I always heard about Spanish tapas in the toothpick fashion, where delicious bitesized dishes sit prepared on the bar and you collect the toothpicks and pay at the end based on how many toothpicks you have. It’s a tradition based on trust. I must admit, I’ve never experienced tapas in Spain because my 16 year old self here in a school trip was just not that adventurous. I clearly remember one day of the trip where we were given free time to eat and encouraged to try tapas but my friends and I found a cafĂ© serving chicken sandwiches and happily steered clear of the local dishes. After spending the past year living and traveling around Europe I’ve opened myself up to try almost anything and excitedly got behind my Spanish guide and supported whatever he ordered for us. Augusto asked if we like fish, this question worried me a bit but as I watched the group of 20sometings next to us receive a plate of calamari and heard him use the word frites I became hopeful. We didn’t get calamari, we got fried whole fish that looked like sardines. Unsure of how to eat these guys and slightly frightened by them I held off until my 2 dining partners had each had one. Auguato picked one up and ate all but the tail, including the bones. Christine was a bit more delicate, first adding the lemon and then slowly attempting to bite in. It was now my turn and I couldn’t get around these fish as there was no other option so I added the second lemon and picked one up. The small fish was so hot I could barely hold it without wrapping it in a napkin. With all the courage and capacity I had for strange foods I took a bite. It tasted like a fish – one whose head I’d just bitten off. I asked, for clarification purposes and to buy some time, if it was appropriate to eat the bones. I took another bite including paart of the bones. I could not do this. The fish itself as actually not so bad as long as you didn’t think about eating the skin or look too closely at its form. It tasted like white fish, a bit like chicken actually and the lemon did wonders for flavor. I just could not bring myself to eat the bones. Luckily for me, the fish came off the bones pretty easily and in this process, I could slowly eat my fish while my companions worked on the plate of fish at hand. I was almost relieved to see a plate of Spanish ham (jamon) delivered next. Normally I avoid this sort of ham because it just looks raw . On my visit to Toledo last year, jamon was served in so many different styles it was practically the only option and I finally tried it. To my surprise, it was quite good and I realized it was the local specialty and I was at dinner with the chef of the restaurant so I felt I didn’t have a choice but to try it. By the time it arrived, I had already eaten 2 fish and it was a welcome change. The actual taste of the fish wasn’t so bad and it was worth it because the wine we were drinking was amazingly delicious. We finished up and wandered around Plaza Mayor before deciding on a second tapas bar. The second bar had a selection of dishes laid out under the glass counter. As we entered I saw olives and when Augusto asked what we like, Christine said she would really love some olives – I jumped in and echoed her love of Spanish olives. She also ordered the fish located next to the olives. I didn’t think I could handle any more fish for the night so I suggested a second variety of olives. In the end, we had a plate containing 2 types of olives, 2 types of small fish (without bones and heads this time, octopus and some sort of chutney involving pickles and peppers. I was happy with the olives and the white fish in garlic was pretty good on a bead of bread. I did not try the dark fish, the octopus was not so bad but it brought back the memory of when M and I dared each other to eat the octopus at Haruki Cranston and it was so chewy and then she spit hers out so essentially I won but it was a bitter victory in more ways than one. I avoided the pickles fearing they were sweet and had another glass of red wine. It should be noted that tapas portions of wine are about ¼ of a regular glass of wine and this one left me longing for more of the first wine. After leaving the second bar full, we wandered to Plaza del sol in search of the center of Spain and stopped for a cone of ice cream on the way – 2 things I remembered fondly from my first trip to Madrid. Then we took a taxi back to the hotel. En route, our stomachs realized fish with vinegar and ice cream are just not meant to combine and the heart burn crept up on us. No wonder why Augusto passed on ice cream in favor of coffee. I guess there’s truth in the idea of following the local. Oh well, it was a good night and the heartburn soon faded as I fell asleep in my unfluffy Spanish bed knowing that my flight was not leaving until 12:45 and I could sleep in. Note from Spain: Apparently Spanish ham has recently been discovered by the Americans and Chinese. Since the best jamon comes from pigs who only eat the fruit from a certain tree which needs 100 years to grow and produce this fruit, the supply cannot grow to meet this new demand and prices will soon soar. Spanish pig farmers are excited for this development but the local consumer is cursing globalization.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

my new friend

I boarded the bus that would take us to our plan which was situated in an apron position. On a side note, I still haven’t figured out why some people call it an apron position while others call it an outside park position, all I know is both involve riding on a bus. It seems Frankfurt airport has more of these apron positions than they have planes at gates as I’m constantly getting on busses and driving around that airport. However, this time was different. The bus seats were full so I stood by the door as we waited to take on the remaining passengers in standing room only. A guy approached the bus carrying two bags of Duty Free shopping, I giggled inside as he appeared to be Indian or some other Eastern origin and this was the typical look of a Duty Free shopper. As he approached, I noticed that he had a lot of hair and something about it looked off. I chalked it up to cultural differences until he plopped his bags down right in front of me. While staring at the back of his head (he was about my height) I noticed a bit of a reddish tint to part of his hair and right around the part where the red tint gave way to black was a sublet bald spot…this man was wearing a wig!!! From the front he must have thought it covered his balding nicely but from the back it was clearly off color and off its mark. Oh no, now he’s turning around and it takes all I have not to giggle as he is staring straight at me. In my suppression of giggles, I let out a smile and he continued to stare. I was in no mood to make friends with wig man so I tried to look around and avoid further eye contact. Perfect, situation avoided, I exited the bus and boarded the plane. Strapped into my seat, 20F, I took out my book and began to read. It seemed the whole bus load had been seated and we were just waiting for the second bus, I didn’t anticipate the flight being full since I got a window seat when I checked in about 45 minutes out with the cut off looming. Suddenly I see wig man again and he’s putting something into the overhead compartment just one row in front of mine because he’s sitting in 20D. Since we’ve previously made eye contact and I’m reading my book, I don’t feel obliged to acknowledge him at all. He feels differently. Due to the fact that I’m reading an English book in a German airport on a German Airlines he asks if I am American. I confirm without looking up from my book in order to dissuade conversation…then I feel rude. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t engage in conversation because he continued to talk to me after I gave him the cold shoulder. He went and got two pillows and offered me one and then he found some “Bounty to Go” (this must have been brought on my one of the American students on the flight) and asked if it was mine. Then he asked me to close the window – nothing about these offers/requests required conversation and I was glad but apparently I had failed at making myself unapproachable. Luckily for me we were staying at different hotels and I parted ways with wig man for the last time as we exited the plane – hopefully.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Poops = poop/fart...burp

This weekend, I learned that the little things we find funny as tweens are hilarious to adults in a second language. Case in point, while driving back from an away game (the drive was about 2 hours) one of my adult teammates asked what the English word for ::insert appropriate sound here:: poops. My first instinct was to say poop which had no comedic value as it is almost the exact same but I also realized poop has multiple meanings in English so I quickly added fart. This led to several pronunciations between the 5 Germans in the car. Suddenly another teamate made a motion with her hands and mouth and asked for the English word. I said vomit and laughed as a third teamate had previously asked me that question and I was now sitting between the two of them but when I turned to her she told me that was not the right word for the action. Aparently the word she as going for was burp. To me fart should have been a funnier word than burb based on the fact that the German verb "to drive" (fahrt) is also pronounced fart but no one made that connection despite the fact that we were currently driving and it seemed so obvious to me. Anyway, the next 5 minutes consisted of the word burp and ended in giggles and tears, it was hilarious. Somehow the conversation then switched to wanting to shower when home, the German word for shower is Dusche (pronounced douche), needless to say I didn't go into the English similarities there.

Friday, June 06, 2008

a Month in the Life

I'm not looking foward to September. September is generally my least favorite month of the year. September has always stood for the ending of summer (my favorite time of the year) and the return to school. Pools close in September and homework resumes. Fun summer jobs gave way to after school activities - soccer was possibly the only highlight to September and I stopped playing 8 years ago. Last September brought a week of vacation including a visit from my parents and trip to Paris and Berlin. This September is going to be my demise. I just looked at my schedule and I have 5 events outside of Germany in that month. I will be in London, Helsinki, Russia, Brussels and Paris. This means I have more trips than weeks! Immediately following September, i'll fly to Rome for a week of conference and within this time we'll be planning at least 3 November events! Oh no. I will savior summer this year more than ever before. Oh, if only I could go back to camp where there are no worries and the responsibilities are easy.