Friday, March 30, 2007

MC Rove

MC Rove

This link constitutes one of the strangest and most disturbing things that I have seen in a long time. Throughout this 2.5 minute long video I was tempted to turn it off because it was just to strange (and I'm generally a fan of the odd and outlandish) but I held out and you should too, because this video takes our current administration to a whole new level of absurd and sinister.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

And then it rained deodorant . . .

I had just gotten out of the shower and was going through my usual routine of putting on lotion and deodorant. All of a sudden I felt many very small particles falling into my side and back. I was terribly confused.

But really, at this point I should take a few steps backwards and tell this story from the very beginning.

The very beginning of the story is that I've become European in another way: I use and enjoy using spray deodorant. Of course there are some Americans that use spray deodorant, but the majority of them prefer solid or gel deodorants. It certainly took me awhile to warm up to the idea but I'm totally sold now. In fact I had even begun to take spray deodorant for granted until numerous North American guests commented on the strangeness of my deodorant preferences. So that explains what I was doing with spray deodorant in the beginning.

Now comes part two of the story: the words that kept ringing in my head. The day that Johannes left for New York he asked to use my deodorant because he had packed his, so I handed over the can. He took it, lifted his arm, sprayed and then wondered aloud, "Why isn't it cold?" He tried again and this time a pleased look of contentment spread across his face as if to say, "It's cold now." I am of course referring to the coldness of products that come out of pressurized cans.

So here we are in the moment directly before it started raining deodorant on my body. I sprayed my armpit and then heard those fateful words again, "Why isn't it cold," and I decided to spray again. That's when the rain started. To be honest, it totally freaked me out. I felt it first, then looked down and was completely terrified to see little white flecks all over my body. I thought that perhaps they were falling from my nasty foam-core ceiling. But no, it was just way too much deodorant. Way way too much deodorant. My shock multiplied when I looked at my armpit, because it was totally white as well. Have a look for yourself:

The armpit.

That's me looking kind of shocked and freaked out about my armpit and having been rained on by deodorant.

This is the culprit, Rexona Girl. Covered user in white flakes? Check.
I bet that's what the check mark on the bottle is for. Seriously.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Germans take the song "Eye of the Tiger" to a whole new level

This past weekend I traveled to Speyer to visit my old host families and to go to my host brother's graduation dance/dinner. In most regards this dinner/dance was quite comparable to prom. The most notable difference is that the family and friends of the graduates are invited and the graduates put together a bit of a show for their guests. While I wasn't all that impressed with the planned entertainment, I was terribly amused by the reaction of the audience to the song "Eye of the Tiger".

Everyone on the dance floor did classic parter dancing. Everyone. Maybe you too have tone some classic partner dancing to "Eye of the Tiger" and don't see it as a particularly strange thing to do. I, on the other hand, have only ever witnessed people "rocking out" to this song -- bouncing head, jumping, possibly moving arms about wildly -- and was thus quite shocked (and maybe in some way pleased) to see "Eye of the Tiger" accepted into the world of pairs dancing.

Two couples "rocking out" German style to the 1982 hit, "Eye of the Tiger".

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A note of clarification: calming words for the masses

Today my friend Alli left a concerned comment after the hot water bottle post. It reads as follows:

"I feel like I need more details.

Do you boil water? That kind of hot?

How long does it stay warm? I mean, is it lovely as you're going to sleep and then, you wake up in the wee hours, and your bottle is cold, and it makes waking up just that little bit worse because you remember when it was warm?

I'm worried."

No need to be worried, Ms. Larsh! Yes, I usually boil the water and then pour it from my kettle into a small pitcher that has an excellent spout, which is much better for pouring into the small neck of the hot water bottle. Then one inserts the bottle back into the stuffed casing and gets into bed, as outlined repeatedly in the last post.

The great thing is that is stays warm for hours. If it stays under the covers with you, it may still be warm when you wake up. If not, it's usually not cold enough to actually make you cold. By then you are usually in your warm sleeping mode anyway and it's ok. At that point, the bottle continues to be nice to cuddle with because of it's mass. I'm not sure why this is so, but it is.

Alli, if you need me to send you a stuffed water bottle friend, just let me know. I'm here for you.

Monday, March 19, 2007

One small step towards German-ness, one giant leap towards warmth

For times like this when I have little to report about the events that fill my days, I like to delve into the photo archives and into my memories as well. The topic of this entry is the hot water bottle. The purchase of said water bottle was a major event in 2006. And really, when I say 'small step towards German-ness', I really mean 'freakin' huge step'. In the same respect, when I say 'giant leap towards warmth', I mean 'is warmth in its essence and entire being.'

Now I know that hot water bottles aren't just German. I know that we have them in America too (by the way, I like to pronounce 'America' like this: a-merrr-ka) but who have you ever seen using a water bottle? I believe the last time I even heard about a hot water bottle was in a Judy Bloom book about the start of menstruation. If you're cold in A-merrr-ka, then to the best of my knowledge you warm yourself with electricity or fossil fuels. Although my family insisted upon keeping the house at frosty temps to save on heating bills and maybe to be environmentally friendly, we were no strangers to electric mattress pads or electric heating pads in general.

Thus, when I moved to Germany so many years ago, the hot water bottle was truly a phenomenon. A phenomenon which took me about seven years to approach and get to know. Seven years. Think about all the fear of the unknown that develops in seven years. Really, think about it.

Then, one day last spring I was in the grocery store of all places and they had hot water bottles with snuggly animal cases for just 3 Euros and I knew I had to act. However, after purchasing said snuggly hot water bottle, it sat on a high shelf in my closet through spring, summer, and fall. I thought about using it and then at the last moment I always turned away, for doing something for the first time can just be daunting at times.

In December I was visiting my darling host sister, Anna, when I was overcome with illness. Anna, being a good German, gave me a hot water bottle to sooth my aching body. And voila, I was in love!

Throughout the cold winter (ok, it actually wasn't that cold) I diligently filled my little ducky with hot water, crawled into bed, and had some of the most glorious nights of sleep of my entire life.

Thus, when Maria came to visit over Christmas, I knew that she must also have a hot water bottle. Because wouldn't it be cruel to fill up my snuggly hot water bottle each night, crawl into bed, and have the best night of sleep ever, while next to me, a cold little Maria lie awake) (OK, the awake part probably isn't that likely, but I digress.) And to be honest, the thought of just giving her my hot water bottle for the duration of her stay was far too much for my fiendishly warm egocentric self. And so, for her birthday, she got this little lamby.

And that is the story of the hot water bottle, one of the little things that makes me feel more German . . . and warm.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Long walks and SHEEP!!

The sun is back, the days are getting longer and the weather is borderline warm -- time for walking. During a warm spell in the winter Kristen got me into walking. In over two years of living in Tübingen and being surrounded with big hills all covered in woods, I had been walking in the woods maybe 4 times, max. I am indeed quite lucky that K tuned me onto the wonders that are just feet away from my doorstep because climbing those hills is not just good, knee-friendly exercise, it's also an incredible sanity builder. Got a problem? Feeling neurotic? Feeling down in the dumps? Mad at someone? I suggest a walk in the hilly woods! (Even better is to start with a nap, wake up, have a light snack, and then head out to the woods.)

Anyhoo, I'm getting off track here. The thing I was actually really excited about was the sheep. I got to the top of my big big hill, looked up, and saw sheep sheep sheep! Yahoo! You might not know this about me, but I love sheep. I think they have great faces, I love wool, they say great things -- what's not to love? Actually, when I got to the top of the hill and saw the sheep I actually uttered the words, and pardon the language here, "F#%k yeah" because (1) I was really happy to see sheep and (2) because they seemed to me to be a sign of good things to come.

So, in conclusion, yeah to walking and yeah to sheep.

This is a picture of me making a sheep face. Not quite as good as my toothbrush cover impression, but not so off base if you ask me.

Monday, March 12, 2007

My Favorite German Tradition


Weisswurstfrühstück, or a breakfast of white sausages, is one of my very favorite German traditions. The picture of Johannes above pretty much sums up the Weisswurstfrühstück experience: white sausage, wheat beer, and big pretzels. The breakfast/brunch is traditionally served before noon, although I don't think we pulled ourselves together in time for the deadline. Carina and Ari did come over at 11 but it seemed that the only things we had were pretzels and sweet mustard, thus lacking the key ingredients of sausage and beer.

I kind of forgot to take pictures until the breakfast was well underway . . . so it's a bit meager looking. Actually, Weisswurste and co. never really look good . . . they just taste delicious. Also featured on this plate is a pile of white which is Johannes' onion dip -- delicious.

Here Carina executes an excellent Weizen pour. The rule was that you had to drink one beer (1/2 liter) for every pair of sausages that you ate . . . oh my.

The preparation of the pretzels! Big big salt! If you've never had a big German pretzel and you're thinking that it's maybe like big pretzels in America, please think again. They are not comparable.

After our breakfast we went for a short walk in vineyards to, you guessed it, keep drinking beer. The sun was shining and tons of people were out walking, hanging out with family and jogging. We were the only people we saw sitting on a bench with beer . . .

In conclusion, I recommend all of you to come to Germany and have a Weisswurstfrühstück with me. Don't be daunted by how icky Weisswürste look; I can assure you that they are delicious!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Berlin Highlight #247: Glasses

It is no exaggeration to say that my trip to Berlin revolved around glasses. Two beautiful specimens owned by Matthias, Caitlin's beau. One doesn't just wear these glasses; one wears a persona. Donning the glasses means adopting a new personality or simply realizing an previously ignored aspect of your own.

Wearing the glasses is a form of self creation of self recreation.

Wearing the glasses is the ultimate disguise. You become utterly unrecognizable.

Wearing the glasses changes how you are seen by others and by yourself. They change the way you walk . . .

. . .and the people that will talk to you (Do you honestly thing Paris would hang with Matthias if he was glassesless?)

The glasses add a newfound element of seriousness to your life and to your being.


Friday, March 02, 2007

You can say that again

In Berlin, I saw two signs that I really enjoyed.

Wait a minute, you moisturized with text books.

Unfortunately, this ad isn't as funny as it seems; in reality it is encouraging us to spend less money on beauty products and more money to help children fulfill their basic needs.

This one is pretty self explanatory and EXCELLENT! Sorry that it's a bit blurry, but I took it with my cell phone.