Monday, April 20, 2009

Restoring My Faith in My People

If you live in MA or ME, today you celebrate Patriot Day. Unfortunately for me, I am not now nor was I ever a MA resident which means I don't celebrate Patriot Day and I don't get a German driving licence (but that's another story). In the spirit of this little known holiday,and because I'm a fan of the New England Partiots, let me know you a story.
Last Friday, I left my office like any other day, happy to be heading home after what felt like the longest short week ever, I called Patrick to gauge his arrival at the apartment. Upon closing my phone, a girl from behind asked "Where are you from?". If you are not German, you should know this NEVER happens, Germans may listen to your conversations but they never ask personal questions on the street (or at the strassenbahn stop) which reference said conversations. For a minute, I almost ignored her, not believing she was talking to me but then I caught on and I like new friends so I answered vaguely by saying, the US. She shot back, "I know that. Where in the US?" Already I didn't like this chick with her attitude and the rest of the conversation went a little something like this:
Me: RI, where are you from? Rude Chick: I'm American too, California. Me: Oh, I had to ask since I've met several Canadians in Mannheim (true story). RC: What are you here for, studying? Me: Yup, you? RC: Me too, what are you studying? Me: Marketing RC: That's pretty boring! Me: What are you studying? RC: Graphic Design Me: (realizing the University of Mannheim does not offer Graphic design) where? RC: at the Fachoschule (kind of like community college/trade school), it's just like a college degree.
::Around this time, I am beyond done with our conversation and thankfully see my train approaching, as I try to politely excuse myself to get the train, I learn she is taking the same train, ugg::: RC:(after we go about one stop and she tells me how hard German high school is, she asks) Isn't the University in the other direction? Me: It is actually back by the stop we got on at but I'm not going to the University. RC: What stop are we at? Me: ::reads stop off of the train sign:: RC: oh my stop is next. Me: Thank God! There was a lot more conversation on the train but mostly her telling me how hard her studies are and how she is doing so well in Germany for the past 5 years and speaking German, etc. I never got her name and hope to never see her again. I went home questioning the American attitude, are we really that obnoxious? Have I been in Germany for too long? Fast forward to Monday morning. I walk to my stop on my way to work a bit earlier than normal and sitting on the bench in the stop is a girl who screams AMERICAN. First of all she is wearing a UCONN Hoodie, jeans and sneakers, topped off with a ponytail and rhinestone sunglasses on her head and a mini sport Huskies back pack. She stands out like a sore thumb in my mind but after last week's experience I don't know if I should approach her or even stay anywhere near her in case she catched onto me. For the record, I was blending in rather well with my white pants, black polo, jean jacket and black and white scarf, my hair was in a loose bun with a head band and I was carrying my Longschamp tote. I sat down next to her and took out my keys in the hope that she may notice my Vera Bradley ID holder (only an Amei would recognize a Vera pattern). It didn't work and in an effort to restore my faith in my people, I said excused myself in German and asked her if she was from CT. Apparently she was from MA but went to UCONN and is now in Germany to go to the Music school but it didn't live up to her expectations so she is soon to transfer to Holland, at UCONN she studied accounting and worked as an actuary before deciding to study opera in Europe. Her parents are both opera singers so it is in her blood. Her name is Brittney and we had a short conversation, she was very nice and talked more than I so I kind of know her life story. I guess I just needed a New Englander to restore my faith in Americans abroad. Now I can rest easy once again.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I've got Mail

This morning I was pleasantly greeted with photos in my inbox. The first email was from an MBA classmate who I had all but lost touch with for the past 2 years. She had a baby in March and sent the cutest newborn photos, what exciting news! Following these pictures of the future I had another message with a photo from my past.
One of my best friends is moving across country and in the process of packing things up from his parents house, he came across a pre-digital photo from a high school era party in his back yard. I won't share the photo but will tell you it is of my favorite girls from Pawtucket and we are somehow making a human chair with our arms. Thankfully we had good taste and our outfits are not regrettable circa 1998 summer tank tops and shorts. This picture came with a note, "Wish we could all be back here again for one summer's afternoon". It really gave me something to think about on my morning commute. What are the odds that we could ever recreate that moment from the not so distant past...slim. Of the three of us in the photo, one is in NYC, the other Boston and I'm across the Atlantic, the sender is about to be in San Diego. I started thinking of great high school times I had with these three and it is hard to realize we have all grown up and moved on. It has been 10 years since we were sophomores in high school but so much has changed. We could barely drive then and now we graduated college and past our sophomore years in the real world. Maybe we will all be home for the holidays, maybe we won't. We keep in touch via phone, email and facebook but we miss birthday parties and random meetings. Thinking back to high school and even college, it was so easy to have all of your friends at arms length, walking distance even. Now I am a world away and the distance is increasing. I long for the days of bathing suits and volleyball when Mapquest could tell us how to get anywhere and we could just drive. We worked part time to pay for gas, movies and clothes and did sports every day after school. At the same time, I am happy to move forward, to accomplish things on my own and not need to depend on my parents (although I miss their swimming pool on warm summer nights) but I miss those summer days that often ran long into the night.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What a Wreck

The kitchen was super clean and I just saw a recipie for cherry vanilla cupcakes and frosting today so I thought I would try my hand at making a cake from scratch. Up until now I'd only ever made cakes from packages and used frosting from the can (or whatever you want to call the plastic thing that frosting comes in) so this seemed like as good a time as any to try to bake a cake from scratch. I alreadz planned to bring my nice fluffy cake to work tomorrow and share with my colleagues. Well, as you may have guessed it didn't turn out as I was expecting...or really anything like I could ever imagine. I decided to make a chocolate cherry cake insead of vanilla because, really who does not like chocolate!? I also added a drop of red food coloring since the cherry juice made the frosting look a dirtyish pale pink but none of this mattered becasue the cake looks like this. That leaf looking thing is what I saw when I flipped the cake out of my spring form pan. I know the point of a spring form is so you don't have to flip but I wanted to see what the underside looked like. When I put in the toothpick to test if it was done I suspected the middle to be hallow. I never tried to make it hallow, all I wanted was light and fluffy. This is the most dense cake I have ever made. Oh and the frosting, don't bother. However, I will share my new found frosting knowledge that is is all butter and sugar, eww! So, I had a couple of problems and I think the main reason is that I don't own a mixer so this "cake" was completely mixed by hand with a whisk and aparently I suck at whisking. I should also admit that the frosting was looking more like a cake sauce than frosting at one point after I gave up and added lots of cherry juice so I threw in some flouer to get it back to that icing consisenct. Clearly my colleagues are not getting cake tomorrow but maybe I'll show them what they could have had haha. Betty Crocker is my new best friend. *Edit: I forgot to mention that I broke a bowl (one of my favorites) and spilled half a bag of sugar in the process of making this wreck.