Sunday, December 24, 2006

My identity was stolen . . .

by my father.

Yesterday night I got an e-mail from MySpace. It was a very normal e-mail, the kind a MySpace users get frequently, one informing me that I had received a message from another MySpace user. Except that this time I was informed that I had received a MySpace message from CactusClaire--that's me. How had I received a message from myself? Upon logging into MySpace, I saw that I had received the following message from myself:

Hi Claire,

Chuck and I are spying on you. Are you there?


Doug is my dad; Chuck is a good friend of his, someone I see as a family member really. The two of them are up at our cottage for the weekend, spending some quality guy time together before Christmas.

After reading this and laughing hysterically, I received 5, count 'em 5 further messages from the two of them. Here are the highlights, I think they speak for themselves:

subject:i am not who i am ... yet

but i have always wanted to be your Myspace friend
even before there was Myspace

i have reinvaded your father's life because it is necessary
to our mutual salvation or destruction

we were a gay couple in our last incarnation
now we are drunk

subject: RE: RE: i am not who i am ... yet

We here drinking, yakking, and roasting a bird. Bird is toasty. Wish you were here.

Love, Doug

Once again he insists on feeding me, as though I am not fat enough. This time it is a chicken.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Baum has been smücked . . . finally!

There is, after a week of not blogging, much to report, but first things first: the tree!

To the non-Germans out there, to "smück" is to decorate and a "Baum" is a tree. And for those of you who are German, you may have noticed the English-style past tense--deal with it.

After trying for almost a week to find a date when Maria, Patricia, and I could all decorate the tree, Maria and I took charge and started to smück!

We quickly realized that this would be no easy feat: the tree proved to have killer needles, razor sharp and capable of protecting the tree from any lights or ornaments that might compromise its security or personal, tree integrity. Lucky for us I had my handy falconry gloves on hand (quite literally) and . . . oh wait . . . what's that you say? Those don't look like falconry gloves? Speak up a bit, please? Oh, you say they look quite a bit more like ladies driving gloves? Well, my dear readers, I can see you don't know much about the honorable pastime of falconry, but that is neither here nor there. At any rate, the gloves allowed us to safely adorn the tree with lights, garland, orange slices, Chinese lanterns, bells, one piece of chocolate and a small Santa Claus ornament. Ah yes, let us not forget the straw star topping the whole thing off.

If all goes as planned, Maria and I will spend as much joyous time together as we did with our first Christmas tree. Let me elaborate. Three years ago, when Maria and I lived together, we were given a fiber optic Christmas tree by my mother. The tree was plastic, approximately 2 feet tall with short pieces of fiber optic tubes through which a rotating multi-colored light would shine. We laughed at it. We may have even mocked it. Then we finally put it up and we fell in love with it. The tree charmed the pants off us. We spent countless hours sitting in the living room with the lights off, gazing at the tree, drinking egg nog and talking. Holiday spirit at it's best. Although our tree may be a bit classier this time around, I'm hoping for similar results.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Oh Naked Tree, Oh Naked Tree . . .

Stop the obscenity now!

Deck the halls!

Schmück that Baum, ASAP!

As you can see in the picture to the left, Patty and I (and soon Maria, too!) have this lovely, tilted Christmas tree, which is horribly naked! We're thinking that Sunday will be tree-decorating day, but until then, we'll be forced to continue lowering our gaze as we pass the unabashed naked tree.

On the agenda for the tree are some orange slices, small round ornaments, and possibly some cinnamon sticks. Any other suggestions? I'm also thinking that taking down that bulletin board in the background might be appropriate. While I'm at it, I guess I could move the kitchen timer and throw out that old cilantro . . . this is turning out to be a boat-load of work, jeeze.

PS My blog is currently featuring Christmas colors. Sorry all you Hanukkah and Kwanza folks.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dad, is there something you want to tell me?

Just moments ago I received an e-mail from my dear Alisha, which sent me into an intense laughing fit. It was a forwarded article from the New York Times entitled "Gay and Evangelical, Seeking Paths of Acceptance" and the message from Alisha read "The picture that goes with this article (which i haven't read) shows a man in a yellow sweater reading a bible who looks startingly like your dad."

Now, I started laughing before I had even seen the picture, since Alisha and I have a history of finding men in ads that either look like one of our fathers or a combination of our fathers, but I had to laugh even harder upon seeing the photo. My dad really is wearing a yellow sweater and sitting on a couch reading the bible with his partner! Who knew. Mom?

I just want you to know, Dad, that I support your decision. Wait, let me specify: I support your decision to come out, but not to be evangelical. That's just too much for our family.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Proudly braving the cold, head held high, goggles in place

Janosch usually arrives in a classy, thigh-length, gray, wool coat. I think that he usually wears a scarf too. Yesterday, however, he arrived at my house wearing a bright bright bright yellow jacket with goggles. Built-in goggles.

Needless to say, I had to try it on, and while I may have poked fun of Janosch a bit for owning such a jacket, I must admit that my inner Canadian longs for such a jacket. When I think back on those -40 C days living at Hogs Back, I think a jacket like this would have been pretty rockin. So bring it on Canada, while I might not have the tools necessary to brave your frigid temps, I at least know what they are now.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Quite possibly the most depressing idea I've ever had

Like my dear friend Sarah Leadly, I like lists. I feel that lists help me to recognize and consequently realize my goals. Today, in preparation for a seminar that will be starting and basically ending in January (yes, that's right, an entire semester's worth of work will take place on a few short days in January) I made a giant list of my readings to hang on my wall. It turned out to be, as the heading suggests, the most depressing idea ever. I am now faced with an enormous reminder of how much work I have not yet done. Patty tried to cheer me up with different systems of checking off readings that I had done in the past and the readings that I had done now and what I had taken notes on, but alas, the dark cloud of the list can only be listed by speedy, intensive reading.

Said list

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wild Boar Hunt in Germany!

I know you've all been asking yourselves, "When is Claire finally going to do some wild boar hunting?" and I finally have an answer for you: this past weekend. I visited Sarah in Marburg this weekend for her birthday, where the yearly wild boar hunt took place. This wild boar hunt wasn't exactly your traditional wild boar hunt, however. By that I mean, we weren't really hunting wild boars. Ok, I'm starting to sense your doubt, your confusion. Let me elaborate.

The Wild Boar Hunt is a game. Granted it's a game that not many people, not even Germans, know about, but it's great. A well kept secret really. Here's what happens: You get together with your friends on an evening in late fall or winter; put on your warmest, darkest clothes; fill your thermos with some hot, mulled wine; bring your garbage bags (preferably unused); and head for the woods. When it's totally dark, you head out to a predetermined section of the woods and form teams of two. All but one team heads out into the woods and finds a good hiding spot. This is the point where the garbage bags come in--they are good to lay down on. These teams are the wild boars. The last team of two is the hunter team. They wait about ten minutes and then head out into the woods, sans flashlight, and try to find the wild boars. Every five minutes, the hunters can yell "light!" and the wild boars have to shine their flashlight in the air for five seconds. When you've been caught, you head back up to the grill hut where you continue drinking warm, mulled wine and eating cookies. When everyone has been found, you start all over again.

Great fun in Germany! Great fun indeed!

Another item of great fun is one of my favorite holidays of the year, St. Nicholas! Do you guys celebrate St. Nick's? I sometimes have the feeling that this may have been some kind of German anomoly in Milwaukee, as I have met many an American and Canadian who have responded with a confused and quisicle tilt of the head when I mentioned St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas is celebrated on December 6 and it is traditional to put your shoes out at night. If you've been good, you'll awake to find treats and small presents in your shoes. If you've been, the obligatory coal is to be expected.

My sisters (some of them at least)

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The picturesque city of Marburg

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Rich parents for all!

I feel that this sign could be commenting on one of two situations in Germany. Most likely, it is reference to the impending implementation of tuition at German universities. Rich parents for all would thus make payment of said tuition easier.

I also think that this sign could be commentary on the educational gap between rich and poor that is a problem, well, most everywhere as far as I can tell. However, I think that this is less likely the intended meaning of this sign and more likely the meaning that I would like to ascribe to it, seeing that the educational gap between rich and poor is one of my pet peeves/favorite topics. Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 04, 2006

Germany: Enjoying the classics or painfully stuck in the past?

2 Notes before we start on today's post:

Thank you so much for the amazing response to the oh so hot topic of twin eggs! A reader participation record was certainly set there!

Secondly, a warning that this post may be rather generationally limited. If you weren't listeng to popular music at the end of the nineties, then you might be a bit lost. Sorry Grandma and Grandpa, I'll try to make the next one intergenerational again. With that said, here we go.

Today's Post:

Germans love Lauryn Hill. I know most of you over there in America are still stuck on the idea that Germans love David Hasselhoff, which they do, but that is neither here nor there. Germans love Lauryn Hill.

Let me specify what I mean by love. Germans actually love Lauryn Hill in the same way that they love David Hasselhoff. If you ask your average German if they love David Hasselhoff there is a 90% chance that they will say "no". If, however, you ask your average German to sing or hum part of a David Hasselhoff song (yes, he was a singer here), there is a 90% chance that they will be able to do it. So what I'm talking about is a more passive kind of love. A simple, long-lasting appreciation. A refusal to forget.

And so, in that sense, Germans love Lauryn Hill. When I get together with my old Gymnasium (German high school) friends, we still listen to Lauryn Hill. I was out at a pretty cool bar in Marburg over the weekend and Lauryn Hill was playing. It doesn't matter if we're talking about early Fugees or the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill--the Germans love it all. Germany refuses to let go of Lauryn Hill.

I suppose this interests me so much because it is in such stark contrast to the new-music-cult of America. The constant search for new music that no one else has heard and the pressure to know all the newest names. Maybe it's just the posse that that I run with, but knowing the lastest music trends is just part of the game. And yet, as I lightly poke fun at Germany, I cannot say which I prefer. While I miss the constant influx of new music very much, I also feel way more cool in Germany, where I rarely run the risk of outing myself as someone whose knowledge of music is a few weeks behind.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Twin Egg Debate

Hot or not hot, that is the question. The object in question: twin eggs.

Over the weekend I bought a small, six-piece carton of eggs. They weren't organic, but they were free range. Now, I generally buy medium eggs because it seems to be the most common size here in Germany, but on this occaision the XL eggs caught my eye. I'd never seen such a thing. Let me rephrase that: I coulnd't remember ever having seen such a thing. I have undoubtedly bought XL eggs in the US, but memories of grocery shopping fade fast. I peered into the carton; I liked what I saw. Six enourmous eggs. Visions of over-easy eggs and toast starting dancing through my mind.

The next morning, I cooked up an over-easy egg for myself. As I cracked it open, I was quite surprised to see that it was a twin egg, featuring, of course, two yolks. A fluke I thought. Later that day I was making banana bread and found that eggs number 2 and 3 were also twins. As were eggs 4 and 6. Egg number 5 was the only one-yolk baby in the bunch.

What does this mean?
Does this somehow point to genetic engineering or chicken fertility drugs? Or are large eggs just by nature likely to be twins? Can two chicks grow in one egg? Isn't it possibly that they would injure one another with their sharp little beaks or claws?

Is this hot or not?
The answer to this question is very much dependent on the answer to the first question. Without knowing the nature of twin eggs, I am unable to judge their hotness or lack thereof.

To my German audience (which may very well be composed of just one person): does this fall into the category of a German topic? It was inspired by an incident in my oh so German life. I might be able to get more German inspiration for my blog if I went to places of interest near Tü, like Burg Hohenzollern for example (cough cough, nudge nudge).

Monday, November 27, 2006

"Do you like This American Life? Because if you don’t, you may be asked to step off to the side"

I recently asked my friend Katie if she thought that This American Life is the best radio show ever. I asked her this for several reasons. First of all, Miss Lewis is an accomplished radio journalist in Canada and I know that she very much appreciates the art of radio. Secondly, as a Canadian I hoped that she could give me a somewhat unbiased opinion on a show with a very American name. Thirdly, I know she loves the show and I guess I knew that she would give me the answer I wanted to hear. So there goes all of my scientific method out the window. At any rate, right I was--Katie pulled through with clear-cut "definitely". She went on to write that liking This American Life was becoming a requirement for her friendship.

"Do you like This American Life? Because if you don’t, you may be asked to step off to the side," wrote Miss Lewis.

Quite precisely, my dear Miss Lewis! Quite precisely! My sentiments exactly.

If you aren't familiar with This American Life, you should aquaint yourself immediately. If you live in the United States, then your local NPR station probably broadcasts it, most likely on Sundays. If you don't live in the US, then I would suggest listening to the show on the internet. You won't regret it. It is absolutely informative, emotional, intimate, hilarious, tragic, heart-warming, quirky, honest, and some other powerful adjectives. It tells the stories of people's lives, of countries, news events, events that didn't make the news, comedians, and normal people with a microphone and a tape recorder.

Thank you, Miss Lewis, for once again being the inspiration for a post. You will most definitely not be asked to step off to the side!

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Some fantastic musings on testosterone from Ira and the gang.

2005, Episode 220, aired 4/30/05

Friday, November 24, 2006

How did they keep this a secret from me?

Governments lie to and hide things from their people. That's what they do. All of them. And mine is probably one of the most successful at this lying and hiding game. When it comes to a scandal or some corruption, I'm not usually too shocked. And then there are the things that shock me. Listen up people, there are some strange things going on in the United States and I'm here to inform you about one of them.

The Presidential Turkey Pardon. Yup, you heard me, the Turkey Pardon. Via her blog, Miss Lewis alerted me to this strange tradition, which has been taking place, unbeknownst to me, since 1947! Each year the president gets a turkey and then "pardons" it, letting the turkey live a long and peaceful life and eventually die a natural death. Now I'm not the biggest animal rights activist and have been known to partake in the force feeding of geese, but nonetheless, it does seem cruel to tell a turkey that you're going to kill it when you have every intention of not killing it. What we have on our hands here is a clear case of psychological violence (for a hilarious account of some Dutch psychological violence check out the Episode 201, Act 2 of This American Life, aired on 12/7/01). But in light of the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the US government would emotionally abuse a turkey.

By the way, did you guys know this was going on? And if so, why didn't you tell me?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Today today, what a day!

I just got off the phone with my parents. As my mother put it, we hadn't talked in 20 million years, which is actually true if you do the proper calculations, taking into consideration the physical distance between us, the fact that I am an only child, my height and weight, the current length of the days, and the position of Jupiter. And man oh man did the parents pull through for me today. Here were the highlights:

I asked my father what he might like for Christmas. He thought for a bit and said that there probably wasn't anything that I could get him that he would be interested in, other than $100 million. He then proceeded to tell me that the one and only thing that he wanted for Christmas was an infrared meat thermometer and that he had already asked his mother for it. Let's take a step back here. I did indeed say infrared meat thermometer. I was told by my father that one must simply point it at the meat and it tells you the temperature, not just of the outside, but all the way down to the bone. In retrospect I should have asked if this worked on people and animals too, but at the time I was too busy giggling. At any rate, my father was recently reading a book from a chef that he likes about everything that a good gourmet kitchen must have and suddenly realized that he had everything, except for the infrared meat thermometer. I agreed that if the only thing that you could think of for your Christmas gift was an infrared meat thermometer, then you probably really didn't need anything else.

My mother's shining moment in the conversation was when she told me about the 91 year old man who was hunting with a shotgun by our cottage last weekend. Apparently Hunk, the granddad of our neighborhood, told this buddy of his that he could do some hunting on the land around our cottages, with his shotgun. Although two of our neighbors and close friends hunt frequently on this land, they do so with crossbows, a hobby which is far less disruptive to people in the area. So this 91 year old man caused quite a ruckus all day and was also so hard of hearing that when my parents, on separate occasions, returned from running their errands, they had to inch behind them in their cars as he walked down the road because he couldn't hear them. My mother reported that she almost had to bump the man with her car so that she could pass. Eventually he turned around and notice the car, and my mother noticed that his fly was down. Good that a man with a rifle is so aware of himself and his surroundings.

If you know the parents of the Claire, then those stories are probably pretty amusing, if not, you should really meet them. The parents rock.

I hate to sound all new agey, but I think that I was somehow aligned with planets or something cosmic today. I'm not really sure what it was, but as I walked around the city today I felt totally energized and present. Then I came across a box of free ribbon (curling ribbon to be exact) and I knew it was true--today is my day. I now have over a kilometer of ribbon (fuchsia, black, and white) and I feel great about life.

PS Timothy, if you're out there and reading, I think that the sushi district in Tübingen is at my house. If you want a lesson, I'm here for you. You just have to bring the wine.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Schwaben Quellen were really disappointing . . . NOT!

Good day, dear friends! We've got two issues on the agenda today: the Schwaben Quellen and not jokes.

Many of you may remember anecdotes about the German baths/saunas that I frequent in the winter. You know, tales of old naked Germans in co-ed textile-free saunas--tales that don't quite fit into our puritanical American modesty, and thus evoke giggles and wide eyes. Yup, those are the ones. Well let me tell you, there is a whole world of said saunas which have been, until now, just waiting for me to discover them. Until recently, I had only been to one bath/sauna in the area, mainly because I knew where it was and how to get their on the train. I was content.

And then came Sunday and the wellness adventure.

Sunday afternoon I received an text message from a friend, inquiring if I would be interested in a wellness adventure later that evening. And you all know me; I hate wellness and relaxation . . . NOT! So, off we went to Stuttgart, to the Schwaben Quellen (the link is to their English page, so don't be afraid to check it out), where I was wowed by sauna after sauna, steam room after steam room, pool after pool--right, you get the idea. Let me try briefly to paint a picture in your mind this relaxation paradise. After putting your things in a locker, stripping down to your birthday suit, and donning your robe, you stroll out of the standard locker room environment into what can perhaps be described as a classy version of a theme park. The main hall is decorated with a tiki flair and from here, you can wander in most any direction to discover a myriad of other whirlpools, cold pools, saunas, steam rooms, relaxation rooms, and showers. Although many of the design elements could be categorized as kitsch, the fact that you are completely warm and relaxed really allows you to look past the fake bird noises and enjoy the whole experience.

The end. . . NOT!

In case you haven't checked out the What's Hot/What's Not list, not jokes are so not hot . . . NOT! Anyone above the age of 20 is used to the trends of their childhood being brought back in a slightly altered form to sell to the youth. It's happened with every era: When I was in high school, the 60's fashion revival was in full swing and we were all clamoring for bell bottom pants; in college the decades made their brief comebacks and we embraced the 70's and the 80's, with brief stops in the 30's and 40's. Much to my dismay, we've been caught in the 80's/90's for quite some time and until now it could be ignored. I could ignore the tapered jeans; I could ignore the horribly cut 80's skirts. Not jokes can indeed be ignored . . . NOT!

Borat has revived the not joke. Dare I say "revive" in my current setting? I would tend to say no. You see, dear readers, not jokes are making their debut on the German scene. Germany was apparently too busy speaking their own language and thinking about that wall of theirs to even notice the not joke trend that swept through the US, or at least it's 10 year old population. And so it is with great pleasure that I witness a whole new generation of not joke users explore the seemingly limitless potential of the not joke.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Temperatures are dropping, excitement levels are rising

Yes folks, it's true, Patty and I are now the proud parents of a small freezer, which will soon be stocked with frozen veggies, ice cream, frozen pizza and maybe some meat that we won't be using immediately. The decision to purchase the freezer was made after a brief period of mourning for our deceased dishwasher. While the dishwash is dearly missed, we're proud to announce the arrival of this new appliance into our small and humble home.

Vive les appareils!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

16 glorious degrees in the middle of November!

For those of you not so up to date on your celcius, it's 61 F here in Tübingen today, the sun is shining, and a light breeze is keeping the smell of autumn fresh in the air!

While I have nothing of great interest to report, life in Tübingen continues to get better and better (although not surprisingly, since I wasn't at all thrilled about being back at all when I arrived a month ago). My classes, both taught and taken, are progressing well and I feel that I am getting better at managing my time with regard to leisure activities, exercise, school, work, and friends.

I do so very much hope that all of your lives are equally fulfilling at the moment.

P.S. Did I mention how much you guys rock at commenting? It's like Christmas every day!

P.P.S. Just a animals were an ever-present feature of Maria and my What's Hot/What's Not list at 259 Bay St, grown ups on scooters will also forever be on this blog's What's Not list. Every couple of weeks I see an adult on a motorless scooter (you know, a board with four wheels and a stick that you steer with) and am overcome with the feeling that it is not only not hot, but downright not right. Take that scooter people!

and just one more thing before I go: Today I learned an important rule for life: wear socks and wool clothing in months that have the letter "r" in them. If that's not a rule to live by then I don't know what is.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sushi sushi sushi in my belly!

I'm so perfectly filled with sushi and so absolutely delighted about it, as well. While I'd like to be able to afford lots of expensive and fancy sushi, I'm also pretty content with my homemade maki and the occaisional nigiri. Making sushi was really a wonderful end to a wonderful weekend.

Friday I had dinner with my friend Emily and then went out with some friends. The cold, gray and rainy Saturday was spent reading a novel, a luxury that I rarely grant myself. And Saturday night was spent at a great house party and the delightful dancing extravaganza that is the Funk Explosion at the Bier Keller. Sunday was slightly less exciting, but was at least relaxing at had the previously mentioned excellent sushi ending. I think after this weekend I actually feel ready for the week ahead. Rested and relaxed.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Word of the day: crackerjack

Yes, the word of the day on my google homepage is actually crackerjack, meaning "of striking ability or excellence". Well let me tell you that the teaching workshop that I went to today was great, due to our teacher, who was absolutely crackerjack. This workshop got me absolutely giddy about teaching and language learning.

PS What do you guys want for Christmas?

Sprechen Sie Deutsch? . . . Uhhhh, maybe

Remember how I used to speak German well? Yup, it's over. I'm past my German-speaking prime.

Due to all this English teaching and intensive Skyping with the Canadian people, I am officially out of practice when it comes to the German thing. I went out with some new friends tonight and, through lack of coherent speech, managed to portray myself as either shy or boring, neither of which are adjectives that I would generally choose to describe myself. I'm sure that every foreigner and expat has this feeling now and again, but I've generally prided myself at my relative aptitude at switching between my two tongues and it's got me a bit blue.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

This is pretty much all I eat

Well, the heading basically says it all. I eat pumpkin, lots and lots and lots of pumpkin. I didn't actually know that I liked pumpkin until about two years ago. Actually, I take that back. At the Nelson's house I ate Terry's pumpkin pie and liked it when I was about 10 but she's an exceptional baker so I think that I just figured I liked it because she made it, not because of the the pumpkin itself. At any rate, I think pumpkin is a veggie to be celebrated and since it's only around in the fall, well, it's time to party hardy! The next time I'm back in the states I think I'll bring back one of those kids pumpkin carving knives, as I think they might be one of the most effective ways to carve a pumpkin. Who'd a thunk it?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tink visited and I have proof!

Hey Everyone!

A most exciting weekend it was indeed! My dear old friend, Tink, came for a visit! Tink's real name isn't actually Tink; it's Ragnhild, however, I and everyone I know is so bad at saying her real name that we all just call her Tink. So anyhoo, Tink came all the way from Norway to pay me a visit--our first visit in over six years--and it was great. We spent the weekend eathing yummy food, hanging out, walking around, drinking coffee and generally amusing ourselves. Nothing could have been a better end to the week of 7th and 8th graders.

Tink eating a mound of cake . . . that other mound of cake is mine

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Tink on the Neckarinsel

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

High on lesson planning . . .

Or is it the permanent markers?

No, I'm here having a great time planning my lessons. I'm on my 6th or 7th hour here at the desk/computer and I think I've really hit my stride. We'll see if I actually enjoy being in the classroom with the pubescent monsters tomorrow, but I just might. I'm finally getting the hang of what these little buggers need: the perfect mix of games, very structured worksheets and grammar activities, activities that remind them that they don't actually know how to use what they think they know, and discipline. Yes, it's true, I often try to remind them that they don't know things. I know it sounds horrible, but it is one of the only ways to make them listen. Their propensity to cockiness is unbelievable, due mainly to the fact that they are good at worksheets and structured situations. What they are not yet so good at is actually using what they have learned. So we go back and forth between speaking and writing practice, and the rules and worksheets.

In other news, my palm needs a new pot; it looks really squished.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

8 heart-warming comments!

Cheers to all of you fantastic commenters out there! You guys really are swell and I hope that you keep it up. And to those of you who have not yet commented, it's not too late. You'll have new opportunities every week to, in the words of the Germans, give you mustard. That's just a nice Deutschie way of saying "to give your opinion about a certain topic". So keep the mustard coming everyone!

As for me, I've made it through two days of the 7th and 8th graders. The first day was rough, the second a considerable improvement, yet I still have no plans of persuing any kind of career involving pre-teens ever. Ever ever ever. I was terribly worried about teaching this class, although I always had this hope in the back of my mind that they wouldn't be as horrible as I thought, that they would secretly be well adjusted and lamb-like. No cigar. They confirmed all of my stereotypes about that age group. However, it should be taken into account that they are paying for me to spend New Year's in Spain with Maria and thus I can't really complain.

Well, it's about time for me to fall into bed and pass out after two of the hardest days I've had in a long time.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A request to all family members and pals

Please leave comments! I live for your comments!

Ok, so that might be a bit of an exageration, but I really do enjoy comments and it lets me know that someone other than myself is looking at my blog from time to time. A very big thank you to those of you who do comment.

At any rate, not much is new here. I'm in the midst of planning a class that I'll be teaching next week for 7th and 8th graders in their fall vacation. We'll be covering a variety of topics, including Halloween, Harry Potter, celebrities, flirting and possible some American Civil Rights history. Wish me luck!

Other than that I'm just chuggin' along.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Konsider the Kohl

On our roadtrip, Sarah and I were confronted with controversial question: Is cabbage a decorative plant? The city of Boston has taken to using a variety of cabbage in many of its planters. While I thought the cabbage was rather novel, Sarah was not so sure. I'm guessing that because the German diet is so cabbage-heavy, that seeing it used in a planter seemed absurd.
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Thursday, October 19, 2006

I found my twin!!!

I had never really met anyone who looked like me. Other people said I looked like friends of theirs, but I never saw these friends and I was sceptical. Until I met birdiesaur. Birdiesaur is a dinosaur toothbrush cover that is kind of bird-like and who happens to look a whole lot like me. The photo says it all. I don't have a toothbrush for a body--it's more of a facial likeness.

Strangely enough, while we were in a bar in Boston one evening, a gentleman who worked in the bar came over to us and said, in a very thick Boston accent, that I looked exactly like his step daughter, gave me her e-mail address, and told me to get in contact with this person who he claimed had a striking resemblance to me. I never found her, but I did find birdiesaur. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 16, 2006

Germany takes Facebook to the next level

The topic today: online friend networks. I was reluctant to join them, now I'm in many of them and I still know why I was reluctant to join them: they are superficial and mainly for the purpose of procrastinating and seeing what people from your past look like now. Yet, I like them. I like procrastinating and I like seeing what people from my past look like now.

The truth is, I'm a member of Facebook and MySpace and StudiVerzeichnis, the German version of Facebook. While I rarely ever look at Facebook because it is the lamest of the three, StudiVerzeichnis has one hilarious function: letting you see who has looked at your profile. This turns StudiVerzeichnis to the silliest courting game I have witnessed in some time. One's online stalking is exposed and I think that everyone gets quite a thrill from it. You log on and on your start page see that four new people have viewed your profile. If you're me, then there is a good chance that you already looked at their profile in the hope that they would look at your profile. This new fandangled German thing-a-ma-bobber also shows you how your are networked with people over different people. It shows you how many degrees of separation are between you and exactly what they are. I'm highly amused.

I joined yesterday.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Two visions of Marie

Last week I made the obligatory journey to my stylist's salon and home for our yearly day of dress-up. This time, I had the pleasure of wearing many wigs (as many as four at once) and having white make up caked on my face. But indeed, the results were worth it and I got him to wash my hair afterwards, which is always awesome. In the first picture I am my stylist's vision of Marie Antoinette, in the second I am the photographer's vision of Marie Antoinette. One somewhat more Hollywood, one perhaps more historical.
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Back home?

It seems that over the past year, I've become rather confused about the word 'home'. Confused about where that place is for me. I've caught myself referring to both Milwaukee and Tübingen as 'home' on a regular basis. I guess I'll just make it easy for myself and say that I person can have more than one home. Granted that means that I just left home and got home all at once (well, there were about 10 hours of travel time in between).

So here I am, in Tübingen. It's strange to be back--it seems that I was gone for so very long and things feel a bit different than when I left. For one, getting used to life sans partner is more difficult than I had expected. Have no fear, my dear readers, I'm sure things will improve in the coming days and that I will be back in my third home, the land of optimism, very shortly.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Back in MKE and ready to go!

Sarah and I have returned from our road trip and believe it or not, it is almost time to return to Germany. We had a fantastic 10-day trip out East, which started at the end of September. We headed out at "8am", which was of course not really 8 am, but rather 9:30 or so. We sailed through Chicago and headed through the boredom that is Indiana. Then we veered South to our first stop, Kenyon College and the home of my dear friend, Abe Shriner. Abe was a great host, taking us to his friend Fritz's birthday party and giving us a warm, dry place to sleep on a cold and rainy fall night.

Here we are at Fritz's birthday party, drinking really large beers, although you can't really tell how large they were. We gave Fritz some fake hillbilly teeth for his birthday. We didn't get the impression that he was very excited about them, but others at the party seemed to enjoy them, so that was gratifying.

We departed early the next morning and had a day full of rain, rain, and more rain. In the evening the rain got so bad that we had to stop at a gas station. Lucky for us the gas station served salad, which provided an already needed break for our digestive systems, already growing weary of fast food and tons of car candy and chips. We then had a nap in our sweet bed on wheels (aka the futon in the back of our mini van) and kept on driving until about 20 miles outside of Boston, where we slept in the parking lot of a travel plaza (you know, where they have fast food, a crappy gift shop, and a gas station, all in one convenient location--at the side of the highway where there is nothing else in sight).

Now, I'm not sure how all of your are envisioning the back of our mini van, but I imagine it is with a bit of scepticism. Think again. The back of our mini van was pure comfort. A double futon, a fleece blanket, a king sized down comforter, a bunch a pillows--heaven. We also had our suitcases back there and a fully stocked cooler.

Here we see Sarah, waking up one morning after a particularly refreshing sleep in the car. It is a bit foggy because, actually, it was a bit cold in the car and the lense didn't like it.

Ok, wll, I've got some things to do now, like getting ready to return to Germany, so I"ll have to write about the rest of our trip later. In the meantime, if you'd like to have a look at the complete album, here there are at this new photo site that I am trying out. Let me know how it works. At this exact moment, not all of the photos are on there yet, but probably by the time you try to click on it, they will be. Enjoy!
Road Trip Out East

PS just a note on my last post and the comments that ensued: we were doing grammar in the attic, rather than German. And yes, grammar has to stay in tha attic.

Monday, September 25, 2006

"I'm smelling my notebook" "I'm smelling this empty cup of coffee"

Sarah and Claire here, bringing you the latest news from the attic. We are learning grammar and it smells like poop--not the grammar, but the attic. As the title says, Sarah is sniffing her notebook and I am smelling and empty cup of coffee. It's not a good situation. Does anyone want to talk to us about the differences between past perfect and past perfect progressive and present progressive and present perfect progressive and present perfect and simple past and . . . uhhh . . . did we forget any? Our heads are spinning and neither of us can remember ever wanting to express things so specifically in time as these tenses allow, but maybe we will when we are back in smart land, I mean the university. Maybe sniffing notebook and coffee will help us.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

So many Sara(h)s that rock my world

Yes, it's true, there are so many Sara(h)s that rock my world.

Sara Selena, my long lost childhood friend, who I reconnected with this past weekend and who I am very please to add to my list of phenomenal women friends.

Dr. Sarah, showing the UW Madison Med School how it's done and how to have great hair while doing it.

German Sarah, who is currently learning to speak like an American right here in Milwaukee and who has been cracking me up with references to suicide plants and all sorts of psychology jargon.

How many of you know three breathtakingly beautiful, highly intellectual and funny women with the same name? Yup, I knew it, none. Yet another reason why my life is great.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Recap of the summer

Here it is, my friends, a photographic summary of the summer. It was nice to go through these photos again to remember what an eventful and wonderful summer it was. Photos of Jack and Alisha's wedding and move are still to come.

The BEST picture of the summer

There is no doubt in my mind, that this picture sums up everything that was wonderful about this summer: wonderful guests, The World Cup, the German-colored duster and the tickling of strangers that occured with it. This may also go down in the books as one of Zosia's most brilliant ideas ever. Posted by Picasa

The parents at the best dinner of the summer

Alisha, Jack, my parents and I went out for an amazing meal at Sanford's before Jack and Alisha moved away. The food was fantastic and the company was even better. We were by far the loudest people in the restaraunt and it was clear to all of us that no one could possibly be enjoying themselves as much as we were. Posted by Picasa

The newlyweds at dinner

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Alisha's reaction to yet another horrible song that shouldn't be played at her wedding

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Jack presiding over the difficult wedding music decisions

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The Shriner Brothers in all of their stoplight colored goodness

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A sculpture at the Amsterdam airport that accurately conveys the feeling of internatinal travel

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Kristen and Patty examining the goods from the garden--YUM!

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DELICIOUS beans from my garden

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