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.