Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On Changing a Name

It's no secret that I got married and changed my name. In fact, the name change process has been almost completely finished so you see can find my new name on my mailbox, University id, bus pass, passport, and office door. However, there are a few things that still need to be changed which have caused me some headache such as my US drivers liscence, ma Germany visa and my frequent flyer card. The liscence was the first road bloack, aparently, due to a 24 hour computer update cycle you can't change your name at the social security office and the DMV on the same day. Since I was only in my home state for about 10 hours, I had no chance but I tried. Now, I'll just wait until it expires and I have to renew it in August +/- 3 months which is another assanine policy for another post. The visa is not done because I'm not really sure what the steps are, some one says I need an appointment, someone says I don't maybe I can change status, maybe I just need the same one transplanted into my new passport and maybe I have to go to a different office completely. I don't think it is really a problem at this point as mine is still valid for some time. Finally the frequent flyer card is more of a hassel than I ever would have thought. Can I change it on the phone? no. Online? no. They need a copy of my new passport, ok. can I email it? no. Per fax or mail only. To complicate matters, I have an outstanding reward which expires next month but I can't book a flight for next wek then fax in the name change because I can only use the reward for myself and clearly a changed name makes me a different person before I change it! This is one of those situations where I just gave up because my German is not good enough to argue with customer service and when they are charging me 26 cents a minute I don't really feel like wasting my Skype credits in ultimately being put on hold so she can check with someone else. So that's the name change status update. It's not too hard, a little stressful but I keep telling myself I only have to do it once. Which reminds me, I still have credit cards to change over/cancel. I also see it as a chance to simplify my life and get rid of cards I don't use instead of changing my name. From a social perspective, it's been a bit more fun. My work phone now shows my new name whenever I call anyone which has led to a few fun reactions. My work email has also changed and the sign on the door is the best. I've had one completely lost student thus far and just this week, I had a student, who clearly knew who I was despite the name change, look at the door, look at me and then as I watched it click, he asked, "Did you get married?" I think, next time I should say no for fun. There have been some negatives as well. First of all, I am taking a huge hit in the alphabet falling from F which always left me in the first 1/4th of any alphabetical list to T which will put me in the last quarter. I guess now I'll know what it's been like for my cousin to be a W all these years. Secondly, my initials have changed. Anyone who knows me, knows I really liked my old initials, I even had a perfect one motion connected initial for signing off on things. It just does not work anymore, there's no way to connect a J and a T without it looking like a messed up version of one of those letters. Not to mention my initials are now JT...eww. To finish on a high note, Germans can finally understand/pronounce/spell my new name (sometimes with a bit of assistance on the end) which is a huge improvement when making appointments and reservations!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Snowed In

Snowed In
Snowed In von Jen Thomsen, acrylic gloves enthaltend

Inspired by M -, I've been using Polyvore again and it'S a lot of fun. I first found Polyvore while wedding planning although I find it more practical for interior decorating. You can search from a huge international database and find everything from clothes to furniture to food. I find it to be a great way to mix and match colors and test out particular pieces of furniture. I made a board that mimics my actual living room and asked friends to suggest a new coffee table and the result was an Ikea model I was contemplating myself. This bord is in honor of the snow in Mannheim and RI. My ideal snowed in day would involve a fireplace, a cozy blanket, oversized sweater, hot chocolate and home baked cookies.Pretty much how I spent yesterday if you replace the fireplace with movies and Wii!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I just read this article about a man who shot at the FL school board. In the end, he was the only fatality. However, the article quoted his Facebook page which it appears he started only days before to leave a message. In his message, he says he was born poor in a land where the rich rule (not a direct quote). However, I could not disagree more with that statement. Maybe I could agree that the power is in the hands of the rich but I certainly don't think being born poor in the USA is irrreversable. Sure, money makes it easier to get ahead but the USA is one of the most upwardly mobile countries I know. Taxes are relatively low and even the poorest of the poor have more opprutunities than people living in several other ocuntries. Education is free and even though University is expensive, there are many opprutunities for need and merit based scholarship. In my experience, it is easier to jump income classes in the US as compared to Europe. In fact, on a daily basis, I notice that most of the students I meet at University here come from priveledged backgrounds and/or educated parents.
It really frustrates me when people blame thier status in life on thier parents or upbringing. I firmly believe in the self made man. American was built by the self made man so it especially baffels me when Americans feel they are restricted based on class. I believe you do need a certain level of internal motivation to suceed and a willingness to leave your comfort zone and comform to accepted norms but if you really want to make something of yourself, money and the financial status you are born into should not be a glass celing. Is this too idealistic of a view? I'd love for opinions, even if they disagree with me.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Spinach Salad Pizza

I wanted to make a spinach salad for dinner but I was cold so i decided to turn it into a nice warm pizza. I was a little nervous so I only topped 1/3 of the pizza with spinach and did the other 2/3 in a sauce/cheese/meat/vegetable combo. The spinach side turned out amazingly delicious. Here's what you'll need to make your own:
  • fresh baby spinach
  • goat cheese
  • walnuts
  • honey
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • dried basil and oregano
  • salt and pepper
I washed the spinach and set aside to dry on a paper towel while mixing the dressing. I used a heaping teaspoon of honey, a bit of olive oil and about 2 teaspoons of balsamic. Mix those liquid ingredients together and add basil, oregano, salt and p
epper to taste. I then put the spinach leaves in a bowl and coated them with dressing. Spread the coated spinach on pizza dough (mine was bought but you could make your own if you are so inclined), top with crumbles of goat cheese and walnuts. Bake, cut and eat. The dressing gives it a bit of a sweet taste while the spinach gets nice and tender and the goat cheese melts on the inside. I apologize, I ate the nicer looking slices before I thought to take a photo.
As for the other 2/3, in a much less creative way, I topped with shredded pizza cheese, feta cheese, one chopped up slice of deli ham and 2 chopped up green pepperoni (not salami but not jalepenos, I've forgotten the English word for these).

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I'm a bit behind schedule since Christmas is in 2 weeks but here are a few photos from our Halloween weekend in the north. I picked the last apples of the season. We made some spicy chili using the chili peppers from P's parents' garden and the ingredients we bought from a store that sells 16kg blocks of cheese but only super tiny pumpkins. You can't really tell from the photo but I was a mermaid wearing a cardigan because it was cold. For most of the guests, it was their first Halloween. I love sharing Halloween with others! Someone else has more photos from the dinner though, KOK is it you?

The Lion King

In getting away from posting about things I hate, I"ll write about something I love, The Lion King. Disney first made this movie when I was a child and I was in love. I even had a Lion king birthday cake from BJ's one year, complete with a plastic Simba and Nala. Then, The Lion King opened on Broadway and I was sad to miss out when the drama club saw it as part of the NYC trip I didn't participate in my freshman year (you better believe I went each of the next 3 years). Finally, while studying abroad in London, I saw the Lion King musical - the day before I left. After all those years, it did not disappoint. To top it off, we got amazing orchestra seats at a great price with our student IDs. I left the theater and later the country happy with my Lion King experience.
This summer, for a birthday present, P's parents bought us tickets to see the Lion King in Hamburg. I had recently learned from friends who went that the Hamburg theater is on an island and you need to take a boat to get to it. We went to the show a couple of weeks ago.While, that's not completely geographically correct, the boat part was right. For the first time, I was going to see a musical in German and one I had already seen. I was worried I would not understand and it would disappoint. Once again, the Lion King did not let me down. The boat to the theater, while short, really added to the experience - once you got on there was no going back. The theater itself was nice and our seats were right on the aisle which meant we got a close up view of many of the animals as they entered. As for the German, it was hard to understand, many of the actors were not native speakers and had strong accents which could be attributed to that or to their characters. The songs seemed off with German words but it was still a lot of fun. I could understand a good bit of the show and what I didn't get in language I filled in with my knowledge of the story. It was a really great evening!

Face Piercing

I was sitting on the strasenbahn across from a girl with a labaret (that under lip piercing) and she was playing with it internally. So, picture a round metal ball slowly being sucked into her skin until it almost went through and then popping back out. It gave me the chills.

Last week, I was sitting across from another pierced face on the strassenbahn. This girl was quite pretty but looked like she had something coming out of her nose because she had a black nose ring through the middle of her two nostrils.

I realize I've been writing a lot about what I don't like lately and this is another one of those posts. I just don't understand what makes someone want to pierce their face. Before you tell me I'm just not the piercing type, I should divulge that a former version of myself longed for an eyebrow ring and a nose ring but my uncle forbid me (not that his opinion counted) from piercing anything on my face right about the time I turned 18 and had 8 holes in my ears and one in my navel. I took his advice pretty seriously though because even my teen aged rebellious self knew I didn't want scares on my face and I did want a real job some day. For that matter, I guess I would have lost my part time job at a conservative insurance agency that forbid even earrings on men as part of the dress code.

Now, I think about it every time I see a girl with a pierced face on the strassenbahn, what kind of aspirations can she possibly have? Unless she works as a piercing model or in some related industry (art, music, etc.), it's pretty much career suicide. Also, it often looks bad. Do you want people to think you have something sticking out of your nose? The worst is when face piercings get infected and the jewelry is surrounded by a swollen red circle, so unattractive. In my opinion, there is no real justification for face piercings. To me, it's a screaming sign of someone crying out for attention or trying to fit in, someone with very little foresight. Am I missing something, is there another side to this story? Can someone enlighten me to the benefits of face piercings?