Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween- I wish you no fear!

Thoughts from Ariane De Bonvoisin: (Post Peace Summit in Vancouver)

"If I could create a vaccine, instead of the flu one, I'd create one against fear. It's what holds us back, every one of us, in every area of our life. And, while we're holding back, time just moves on faster than ever. We are at a critical time in the evolution of our planet, a time where each one of us is waking up. We feel it. Our intuition is growing more acute. Our inner microphone, as I like to call it, is getting harder and harder to turn off, so that we can't just go along with our normal day. There's a rise in consciousness where we feel more connected to others, a part of something bigger going on, where we each have a role to play. The most important thing isn't to get the promotion, or stay in the marriage, or lose those 10 pounds. The most important thing is for us to remember who we are--why we are here--to do the inner work and find what are our "spiritual" reasons for being on the planet. Yes we do have something great to accomplish. Now. At any age. Wherever we are."

Read more at:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Simple surprising pleasures

Riding in Bernie's car is like taking the opera train through Germany. Well actually she drives a cranberry red Chevy Malibu. And we're just going from the town of Vilseck to the base and back. So it's not a large area of Germany that we're covering. But still. She has Bocelli playing on the stereo. Sometimes with Sarah Brightman. Sometimes with himself.

It is delightful.

I may have to see an opera again.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Travel thoughts from Albert Camus

"What gives value to travel is fear. It is the fact that, at a certain moment, when we are so far from our own country we are seized by a vague fear, and an instinctive desire to go back to the protection of old habits. This is the most obvious benefit of travel. At that moment we are feverish but also porous, so that the slightest touch makes us quiver to the depths of our being. We come across a cascade of light, and there is eternity. This is why we should not say that we travel for pleasure."--- The Notebooks Albert Camus

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rental agreements and Herbert

I met my new landlords last night- Helga and Ernst- the sweetest people ever. They have three kids- the oldest a boy, 40 lives in Switz (and works a bit in Vancouver, BC), then two girls, one 100km away and another 6km away with two boys, 9 & 12. My lease is 600 euros per month for everything but electric- 90 days notice to vacate but four weeks is ok if I don't know in advance. I pay 900 euros in deposit. The square footage is 100m2 (1076sq ft) with one and a half baths and laundry. I have a garage with a clicker to open it. It's the nicest place I've seen in a really long time- a palace. I have no responsibilities for snow removal or gardening. The owners are total dolls--- mostly speak German but I can understand them pretty well. I should be moving in about Dec 1. Update from my shippers stated that my container was due to dock Nov 23.

John (the current renter who's returning to Minnesota) had arranged a translator for me to go over the lease- one of his colleagues at work. We went to the grocery store on the way back to my place, bought a few things and got matching shoe cleaners (that you set on the floor). I got a hedgehog which I named Herbert and he got a duck. He said he came here because he wanted to help with the war effort but he is Left-leaning, so he felt this was what he could do.

Another day of interesting events. I'm still feeling overwhelmed with happiness.

Herbert and Me. Okay I may have lost my marble.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Apt horoscope

Seeing as I'm embarking on a new job which is in an entirely different realm of anything I've previously done, this week's stars guiding me to question my current situation seem quite relevant.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): During this phase of your cycle, you'll generate good fortune if you brainstorm and meditate about your relationship with work. I urge you to empty your mind of everything you think you know about the subject. Adopt a fresh and innocent perspective. Here are some questions to prime your investigations. 1. What's the quality of the experience you want to have as you earn a living? 2. What gifts do you want to give to life as you toil at challenging tasks that are interesting to you? 3. What capacities do you want to develop in yourself while doing your work? (P.S. For your Halloween costume, why not pretend you'redoing your dream job?)

1. I want to have a good time, laugh and be light hearted while bringing sunshine and peace to others' days.
2. I want to see all perspectives, be open and nonjudgmental, while expanding my mind to its fullest capacities.
3. Openness, awareness, compassion.

My dream job I think would be something artistic- most likely repairing and remodeling houses if I am to be honest. I like manual labour and design.

Monday, October 26, 2009


It means "coziness" or "contentedness" or the feeling you feel when you feel just at home. According to Wikipedia, "Gemütlichkeit connotes the notion of belonging, social acceptance, cheerfulness, the absence of anything hectic and the opportunity to spend quality time."

Today, I was talking with a fellow American (David)- he said this is what his grandfather called it when David at sixteen visiting England, felt a strong sense of belonging and peace and felt Europe was one day where he'd end up.

I thought, the perfect word, Gemütlichkeit. The perfect description. I remember feeling like that when I came over here in 1995 with the Jones cousins. It only heightened when I spent two months over here with a now ex-boyfriend in 2001. I always wanted to come back and live here but I thought I'd never be able to do it as an optometrist.

So here I am.

Living Gemütlichkeit. It is good.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Possible car and First Volksmarch

Mini car, for 2800Euros with 48,000km on it. Considering it, along with others.

It's not fancy but it would be good enough to get around for now and if I found my "dream car" I could buy it later on at a more leisurely pace. I think the cold winter weather is going to be prohibitive to bicycling to work from town even.

Onto the more exciting photodocumentation:
My Very First Volksmarch.
What is a Volksmarch? It's a dying pasttime of German folks- walking clubs arrange walks all over the country (and other countries) of varying lengths where you can drink beer and eat or just do the walk. Today I went with Ryan from Arizona, who works in the administrative building with Bernie. We did the 20km walk, through the German countryside and towns. It was a perfect fall day for it, with just a light mist of rain at the end of our walk.

The first checkpoint- at each station, you have to get your little card stamped to prove that you did the whole walk, then can keep track of it in a booklet.

Some German people doing the walk. They sure are fit compared to Americans.

Shed on our walk. With a crop I don't know!

Our first split.

The guy who tells you which way in case you can't read I guess. He didn't seem to want his picture taken.

More Germans walking. With nice vines on the side.

They are serious with their solar panels here!

A German hunting tower. Ryan said that they are only allowed to hunt from these towers- no on the ground hunting.

Slipped one in there from New Zealand! Just pretend those red roofs aren't there. I think the sheep were smaller in NZ.
My first German gnome sighting. Surely not the last.
Arrival into town after the end of our walk.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The military... so far.

I'm having a great time in the military. Really. Granted I'm not IN the military, just immersed in the culture of it. Everyone's so nice. It's like a giant family. There's all colors of people. It's laid back. I laugh all the time. I got paid to walk around base and orient myself and go to the grocery store today. I took a class and test this morning and now have a temporary European driver's license- the official one'll be in the mail in about two weeks. Tried out the postal system today- US rates--- so easy. I got a military library account set up, which is good for all of Europe.

Yesterday, I met my techs and they're two black ladies- one about 30 and the other about 45 I'd guess-- both cool and helpful and asked, "coffee or tea" and what equipment I needed ordered. They said it's very laid back, "We listen to a lot of music back here." We'll see. I'm working with one other optometrist- Amber-something- (so our dept is all ladies) who I think is probably a newish grad. I'll only be seeing military and their families and contactors like myself also. All English- speakers. Currently the optometry department is housed in a portable building, as they've constructed a new one, which we're scheduled to move into in March 2010.

I decided against moving to the other pension. I was told the other place was a party place and I wouldn't get much sleep. So I am staying where I am where my bike is secure also. I've been scoping out cars- saw a cute (black inside and silver out) 1998 BMW 325i for 6,000 Euros, which is about $9,000 US or an adorable (black with camel leather) 2005 of the same for $17,000US. Any opinions, anyone? Then also a newish Ford Ka which is mini and gets kickin' gas mileage for 3400 euros. just have to keep my eyes peeled. I'm sure I'll figure it out.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Something to think about-

Article relating the news of her mom's cancer diagnosis in conjunction with her happiness journal. Psychology today website. Puts things in perspective.

Cancer doesn't make people happy. by Ariel Gore

Insane posting person, that's me

Yesterday I had my first day on base as an official person.

It's technically the middle of the night, at 4:34AM, but I'm awake and my brain's turned on. Since I don't feeling like journaling with paper, y'all are getting the benefit of my brain tortuosity.

Yesterday morning, I rode onto base with Bernie McMichaels, who's the person in charge of assisting with the relocation of new contracted civilian hires and Ying, the new PA from Houston. After being signed into base, we headed for various offices completing tasks, meeting lots of people, who were all very nice. I truly got a good feeling being on the base and chatting with the mix of Americans and Germans who keep it running.

After walking to various offices and buildings in the crisp fall sunshine, (there's frost on the cars in the morning) I ended up with a military ID card to get off and on base, an APO address, a bank account which allows me to get US dollars or Euros without a fee and also pay bills automatically in either currency, leads on auto purchasing and housing and a feeling for the base layout in general.

Splitting the day in half was a trip to the cafeteria, where for $4.25, you pick up a tray and silverware and point at the food you'd like to eat, then deposit the tray for someone else to do the dishes. My dream come true. Just like my days in the dorms. I think I'll be eating there every day.

We left for home a little early, as Bernie needed to stop at the bank, then the three of us had coffee and an apple cake in the bakery in town.

Yesterday, I'd decided that I might need to relocate to a hotel with more occupants. Although the owners here are nice, I rarely see anyone. It's so quiet- like living in a library. The room is nice, but I'm quite tempted to move down the street to a smaller pink room in the Gasthof Hammer, which is warm inside and bustling with Germans and Americans. It just feels more homey. Knowing myself as a person who honestly likes people, (even moreso when I've first arrived in a country or when traveling) I think I'd transition better in the company of other folks in my same shoes. Just visiting there yesterday for a short time resulted in an invitation to go to Stuttgart on Saturday with some guys from Alabama.

God knows I need someone else to talk to, or I'll be posting ten times a day! :)

Bicycle status update

So the owner didn't actually re-assemble my bike-in-a-box, he just took it out of the box and laid the parts on his garage floor.

I'd been warned today by the woman from Fort Yates, ND who was orienteering us that you have to watch out for German men- they try to do everything for women, so you have to stick up for yourself.

I went into the garage to see the state of my bicycle. The bike packers in Portland did an excellent job- nary a scratch. But I was surprised to see it in pieces on the floor. I hadn't wanted it out of the box. I wanted to see how it was packed so I could repeat the procedure myself if needed.

The husband came in wanting to help me, but I think he knew little about bicycles. If it would have been up to him, I would have had a damaged front carbon fork, unattached front tire and bike fenders which were bent beyond repair. The front fender was touching the wheel, so he wanted to hand-bend the metal bands which positioned it rather than figuring out how it should really go on. Luckily I stuck to my guns and didn't allow him to, though two times he had the piece in his hands trying to bend it.

The bike was reassembled. I was pondering what to do next.

Monday, October 19, 2009

First day in Vilseck

It's 6:11AM. I got up at 5:30AM, not too shabby for the first day. Last night, I lasted til about 8:15PM before I crashed asleep.

My pension. It's only a three room place. The owners are wonderful- greeted me with tea and stollen when I arrived. While I was walking around town, the husband re-assembled my boxed-up bike. He also works on base and bikes to work every morning at 7am, so tomorrow I'm going to ride with him. (By the way, they have all separate bike paths, so I won't be sharing the road with cars.) Today, someone is picking me up so I can get all my IDs, APO box and other paperwork done.
It's a little odd waking up alone in a room after five days at Carrie's, knowing that I'm somewhere on the other side of the world. I may try to move to a place which has more rooms later, for social interaction purposes, but most places were booked when I rang.
I wandered around on base a bit yesterday with the man who picked me up. I feel that I won't be hanging out there too much. "The Economy" is much nicer to be in. Most people speak German (duh, it's Germany). In fact, I spoke almost all German to everyone when I was not on base. It's surprising what I remember, considering I took German at UND in 1996-97.
My room has satellite TV. I realised already that I'm not gonna be a TV watcher. It only took one day. I had thought that I'd try to watch more TV over here. Alas, no.

Vilseck, the town that the base is on. Weather's crisp, but not cold. It's a very small town. No snow anywhere in Germany that I saw flying in. (It must have melted.)

If you take a left at the end of this street by the tall yellow and green houses, that's where I'm staying.

Walking around town all afternoon yesterday- lovely.

I even made it to the countryside.

In town Vilseck actually.
My old basement with all the stuff that's on it's way in my container.
OK I realise I'm not a morning writer. This stuff is a little dry. Drink your coffee and wake up! That's what I'm off to do.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Flying out to Deutschland

I looked like what I’d imagine an insane first-time traveler looks as I sweated my way through security lines with not one, but TWO laptop computers. One was this tiny Acer Aspire; the other was my 5 year old Apple dinosaur, still good for running music and dvds. I wore two coats as I rolled an engorged suitcase, on which I’d also strapped a pink monkey blanket. Add an aqua blue messenger bag, crammed with books that had to be removed from my checked bag, and you have the idea. Did I mention that I felt the need to buy a Portland shot glass for $2.49 and a Portland coffee thermos for $9.95 after I got to the airport? I’m also wearing a blue t-shirt with Powell’s Books written inside a graphic of the state of Oregon.

Now you see why the poor ticket agents may have felt bad for me.

Or not.

We arrived at the airport this morning about 6:45AM. Carrie and Oatie dropped me off. I got out of Carrie’s car with my 50 pound (army green- no joke) duffel bag and blue bag over my shoulder and carrying my orange bike-in-a-box. Carrie followed with my rolling carry-on. She gave me a hug and off I went.

I proceeded to the line. A NWA lady walked up to help me right away.

After my fiasco of the night before, discovering that I could have only one bag (resulting in emergency bag consolidation) and the bike was going to cost double what I’d been told, I decided that I’d go with the expectation that NW would do the right thing. My horoscope (everyone knows that’s God speaking to us, right?) had told me that if I expected the worst, that was what would happen; if I expected the best, then vice versa.

The first lady told me, “The bike will be $300.”

I said, “I’d been told over the phone that the bike was $150-175.”

She said, “Yes, but our fees have changed. It’s $300.”

I said, “I called last week and the man on NWA phone said $150-175. I could’ve shipped it for free.”

She said, “How could you have shipped it for free?”

“I had a container shipped to Germany. I’m moving there.”

She disappeared and spoke with her supervisor, who then came over and said,
“It’s $300 to ship your bicycle. The fees have changed.”

“I know, but I was told on the phone it was $150-175. Your fees aren’t listed on your website. The only way I would have known this was by talking to the person on the phone.” I maintained my composure. (Probably because I was half-awake.)

She and the ticketing agent went over to a different computer and shuffled papers. I waited. Patiently.

“You already spoke to a supervisor and they told you it was $300.”

“Yes, that was last night. I didn’t speak to a supervisor, the woman on the phone spoke to her supervisor and they told me you were the only ones who could change the fees, so they told me to ask you when I checked in.”

They went away again. And shuffled more papers. Then came back and said, “We’ll charge you the $175.”

“Ok, thank you.” It was only fair. But with airlines, little is fair these days. Once you buy a ticket, you’re at their mercy. No compensation for errors, late planes, lost or broken luggage, the list could go on.

I waited as the woman typed in my info, charged me and got my bicycle tagged up. I said something about how NW has been a good airline and I’d thought I might have to check in with Delta.

She said, “Soon we’ll be no more- it’s sad. It brings a tear to my eye.”

“I know. I’ve been flying with them for so many years because I’m from North Dakota. They’ve always been good to me.”

After everything was tagged, I loaded my 50 pound duffel, aqua messenger, the bike-in-a-box and my rolling suitcase and walked over to the luggage drop, where the man said, “Let me help you with that large item!” Taking away the bike-in-a-box.

I said, “That’s not the big one,” showing him my shoulder bag.

Knowing I could make it with all my luggage was empowering.

I walked off, lighter, when my phone rang. It was Carrie. I told her everything went fine. She said, “That took you a long time at the check-in counter. What were they doing? I was watching you from outside the whole time.”

How sweet it is to have a sister like that.

The last few days at her house were a good ending to my time in Portland. This time when she dropped me off to move overseas, there were no tears of emotion. It was just another move, to a country I know.

“I’ll see you in Germany,” we said.

What fun would flying be without last minute baggage glitches?

I was attempting to check in online for my flight. Previously, one could not check in for international flights online, but now things have improved. Or have they?

The seat selection was fine, but then I got to the part about checked baggage, where there were warnings of extra fees for not checking in online, excess baggage and the part about one 50 pound bag per person internationally. Also a note saying that excess baggage needed to be registered with NWA via phone prior to travel. This information was all available only after starting the check-in process, which is 24 hours prior to the flight.

Funny, my reservation said two 50 pound bags were allowed.

So I called Northwest. The agent (Asian woman, I'd guess) was very nice but said the baggage was only one bag; my reservation was wrong.

Secondly, I asked about the bicycle, which I'd called NWA about the week prior. I'd been told it was fine to just show up at the airport and the fees were $150-175 for the bicycle. The woman on the phone said she would check if I needed to have the bike noted prior to travel. When she returned to the line, she reported that the fee was actually $300 and that they'd changed in July. Northwest decided to double the fees.

My flight was $645 one way with all taxes, etc. So the baggage was half that? Insane.

I guess that is where the airlines are making their money these days, on random fees.

Once you get to the airport with too much luggage or the wrong size or wrong type, you are pretty much at their mercy. Do you toss that $1000 bicycle, or do you pay the $300? Fees for phone reservations, fees for check-in, fees for food. Shit, we should all be losing weight if we flew enough, right?

Well, the lady on the phone was very kind and appalled at the fees, which seem rather exorbitant, considering skis, golf clubs and other various sporting items still incur no excess baggage fees. She noted on my reservation the discrepancy in what I was told the week prior (those were the old charges) and apologised, saying that she hoped the check-in agent would be able to help me, as they were the ones who collect the fees.

I guess I am the point of what can I do? I have paid out about $2,000 in stupid fees in the last month. Ranging from locksmiths, to buyers concessions, to bike fees, to ?? At least I have a real job starting on Tuesday. And it's in a country where I can expand my mind with German practice.

This is why I choose to move overseas. I like to travel too much. It's bordering on addiction. However, I do not like to fly anymore. I never know what will go wrong next. What item have I packed that's deemed dangerous, excessive? Perhaps those sunglasses? The shoes? They have metal? Ok. Forget my craziness.

I have to finish my second beer so I can pass out and fall asleep.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A most unlikely tale of finding a [possible] job

I wrote this on 8/22/2009, but then reconsidered posting it - and thought I'd wait until I actually had the job.

It all started with a posting for a job opening at WalMart in Eugene, Oregon. A posting I found while looking for fill-in work in Oregon. I thought I could pay off all my loans if I worked at WalMart for a while, even though I'm not so sure about the place. I googled "Walmart optometry job Eugene" and ended up finding a posting for an opening as a civilian optometrist in Vilseck(Veel-sick) Germany, twenty-five miles from the Czech border, in the Bavaria region.
I contacted the company who was contracted by the US Army to fill the position. They were looking for a start date in October 2009 and said a contract package would be out in a few weeks. This is the first time there's been a full-time opening as a civilian optometrist in the Europe division.

I'd sort of forgotten about the job while traveling Minnesota and North Dakota, attending endless family reunions, not wanting to get my hopes up. After my travels, I arrived home in Minot at my mom's house. The next day, she opened the front door. There was a UPS package for me with all the Germany information.

I started the application process, which involved eighty-three pages mailed to me, one hundred mailed back. Yes, I counted. You know I like math.


This morning my mom called at 7:38AM. I don't normally get up until ten, so this was essentially the middle of the night for me.

She said, Tim called this morning to talk to you. Tim is John 's brother, the one who I used to date in college and after Keith died."

In my grogginess, I was utterly confused about what was happening. "Did he call tomorrow?" I asked. No, that's not the right word.

She said, "You better have some coffee, start singing and call him back."

I started to grind my coffee and prepare my morning medication. After gulping two Americanosdown and singing "On Eagle's Wings" at my dining room table, I placed the call to North Dakota about a job in Germany.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

T 56 hours and counting...

I've gotten a plethora of emails with military-speak. The latest was "Please proceed to the nearest RAPIDS for your CAC issuance." An assortment of abbreviated instructions followed. I'm not certain if I should be proceeding to the RAPIDS in Portland or the RAPIDS in Germany. All I know is that I am heading for the RAPIDS.

Which brings me to my next concern, "Am I smart enough to remember all these acronyms?" Really. I was always a good reasoner, good at math, whatnot, understanding other points of views, but memorizing. No, I was complete Shite at that. If my career were based on memorizing, I'd have to go and sleep under the bridge. So luckily up until now, I've not been required to be a memorizing fool. At least if I am in Europe, I can pick the Ponte Vecchio to sleep under. That makes me feel better.

Yesterday, I received an email welcoming me to Vilseck base from the major who's in charge of new civilians. She's sending someone to pick me up at the airport in Nuremberg on Monday and then I've been instructed to get dropped off at my hotel. Tuesday morning, the major is going to pick me up at 7:30 and outfit me with all my necessary IDs and cards and introduce me to my new clinic.

For the my last two days on US soil, I'm snuggled in at Carrie's house once again. With Oatie in tow, the place is a sanctuary of free wifi happiness, albeit interrupted by various repairmen, as the furnace stopped (was clogged with algae) and one of the bathroom electrical circuits had a breaker trip in the attic. No wonder we couldn't figure that one out.

My new buyers are moved into my house and apparently delighted with the place. Praise the lord. I'm happy to be Sara-less-one-house. Soon to be Sara-with-no-houses, but that'll have to wait til spring.

Auf Weidersehen! Guten Nacht! Tchus bis morgen.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

One down, one to go.

The last night in my house... (I had planned to drink myself into a stupor.)

Moving day: 13 Oktober 2009.

Some of the junk in my basement. Cripes!

Mom: your piano story went over so well- see the shipping order. Kathie is an industrious North Dakotan who is not afraid to set goals and acheive them.

There goes the piano. It's wrapped with paper and cardboard and shrinkwrap.

Hopefully the final fig suicide I ever have to see.

All my stuff. That part in the front is just their packing materials. And the whole container is for me. I should've gotten more things!
The movers and I were out of the house at 4:56PM. Buyers took official possession at 5:00PM. The other realtor came over to get the key and the title company called to say it recorded just before that. So tomorrow I will have a wire into my account. Perhaps travel money? Just kidding. You never know with me.
The saga of the sale was not without its hishs and lows, truly a tale to be told- as life is, most of the time. If it were all smooth sailing, how would we know when we were happy?
I find it slightly odd that I am moving to Germany in five days, but also I find it slightly normal. What does that mean? I do not know. I expected that I would have a feeling of glee or relief or something on my last walk-through, but I just felt flat. I am glad to be done with it.
(***=moronic computer issues)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Babysitting Oatie, Hawthorne and Lulu.

Lulu and mini Dave (aka Calvin) sitting on my couch.

How Hawthorne looks if you're not wearing glasses and had too much to drink. Or forgot your V-8. Do they still sell that stuff?

My vice of choice. If I was drunk enough, I'd steal this sign. I think it would be quite complicated though. I might end up in jail. Then I couldn't move to Germany. Ok, I will enjoy my picture.

Just like the Jonie Mitchell song, "From Both Sides Now."

Oatie lanquishing in a pink monkey dream. Thanks to Auntie Dee for the going away blankie.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The next 10 days:

The sun is shining, the gods are smiling. The dust has settled. The cards have fallen. The figs have laid. Ok, I made up that last cliche. However you put it, everything is as it should be.

I just said goodbye to Chris, a lovely blonde woman who was here on behalf of the moving company hired to ship my few belongings overseas. The company was chosen for the safety of the transport of my beloved piano.

Earlier today, Lourdes (my very old friend and roommate from 1998-2000) and her baby Calvin visited with me on my orange sofa. We wandered the neighbourhoods strolling to lunch at Grand Central Bakery.

Yesterday, my closing date was moved to October 13th at 5:00PM due to the Columbus Day holiday on Monday. A true godsend, as movers were just finalised in the last day. With all the stops and starts and other things, every single thing hinged on another and somehow they have all connected together. Nicely.

SO HERE IS THE FINAL FINAL FINAL SCHEDULE (of which I could not speak until just now.)

Mon 12 Oct: sign papers to close on house
Tues 13 Oct: movers arrive at 8AM and pack up; closing at 5:00PM
Wed-Sat 14-17 Oct: take it easy and see friends
Sun 18 Oct: fly out to Germany NWA
#226 Portland to Minneapolis 8:29AM-1:50PM
#310 Minneapolis to Amsterdam 3:10PM-6:30AM arrive 19 Oct
#8283 Amsterdam to Nuremburg 8:40AM-9:55AM (KLM)

Remember all, I have a TWO BEDROOM, TWO BATHROOM apartment in BAVARIA with a WASHER AND DRYER. PLEASE COME AND VISIT. I promise I will bake you cookies and talk your ear off if you grace my threshold.

Monday, October 5, 2009

On going semi-veg: failure.

I recently decided that I'd try to switch to mostly (rather than strict) vegetarian. This was partly because I'm not a black and white person and also because I didn't want to flummox people when I came to visit. So I've had some fish and some meat recently. It's not going great. Suffice it to say, my digestive tract doesn't like me.

Then I read the NY Times today: E.Coli shows flaws in ground beef inspection. Watching the cows being hosed down prior to slaughter along with the interview of Stephanie who ended up paralyzed from tainted beef, didn't do anything to help me move away from vegetarianism. It's not the fear of having an e.coli infection myself, it's more of the actual process of getting meat to the table- the lack of regulation in the food industry and the treatment of the animals.

The last piece is that Carrie and I watched Food, Inc today at my favorite movie theater in the whole world, the Laurelhurst. The movie investigates the changes in the food industry in the last fifty years, the changing role of farmers and generally makes you think. It's not anything new to me, but if you haven't pondered where your meal is coming from lately, it's worth a watch.

I think I'll continue to be vegetarian, though lax it a little, so if I'm somewhere where there's meat being served, I won't alert my hosts of my dietary preferences, but I probably won't be eating much meat anytime soon.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

California and TP

Here's a couple pics from our last sunset in San Diego: (just down the street from our hotel)

And onto my last days in Portland:
(I'm working on this one. The gnome knows all!)

What a sweet little dragon. I've always considered myself lucky to be a Dragon.

And for the grand finale, a photo I took in the bathroom of the Fresh Pot. For years, I have wondered if there is toilet paper in this locker, or if one of the employees truly has the initials, T.P. Or if it is just a good little joke. My first house in Vancouver had one of these T.P. holders. Nostalgia strikes again!

Friday, October 2, 2009

A few more weeks in the interim zone.

"Travel is like love: It cracks you open, and so pushes you over all the walls and low horizons that habits and defensiveness set up." -Pico Iyer

This morning I woke up at 8am, which was too early, so I lulled myself back to sleep in the semi-darkness and marshmallowy foam of my bed. Knowing that I was expecting a call at about 10-11AM from Germany -John, the psychologist who’s apartment I am assuming once he returns to Minnesota, I wanted to be mentally prepared and non-groggy when he called. However, I couldn’t pull myself out of bed. So I got a glass of water and went back to sleep.

At 11AM he called. I’d been awake awhile trying to figure out where the missing five square feet went in the footage calculation for my basement. This required about one hour of contemplation. Finally, I realized, it was the porch! Upstairs. Not in the basement. That’s it. What a relief to find those missing five square feet.

So then I was ready to start the day. The phone rang. He said, “It sounds like you have a little cold.” Damn, I didn’t cover up the morning voice. How do I say I have become the biggest lazy ass in the last three days, spending most of my time in bed or reading, plowing through two books and onto my third?

We had a simple talk, where he told me a little of what he'd done in Germany- walks to the coffee shop and art fairs nearby. I decided I’d take his place regardless of the outcome of a recent idea- which was to offer the single physician assistant, Ying, from Houston to live with me.

I’d been thinking about how I’d rather not live alone. I was commiserating with my mom. Who is wise. Always. (Though our relationship is not perfect, it is good.) She mentioned Ying. I thought it was a great idea. I said, “I’ve lived with an Asian person before and it was great!” Ha, ha. Just had to laugh a little. I've offered it up and either way, I feel good about the apartment.

This afternoon, I’ve been wandering around Hawthorne street. To the bookshop and the little gift shops. Taking pictures. Thinking. Telling people I’m moving to Germany in two weeks. Or so. It’s only been in the last two days that I’ve really started to think. It’s a little scary just to think about it. Change is always something you just can’t feel out in advance. You have to see what happens, each minute at a time.

Anyway. Radiohead is on again at my little coffeeshop, The Fresh Pot. Radiohead's been permeating my life for more than ten years now. There’s something peaceful and enduring about them. The sound makes me feel real, alive, whole, and enduring also. I’m ready for the next step.