December 2007

In 2007 I reached most of my goals. I ran a half-marathon, did outdoor rock climbing, got my TEFL certificate, learned basic (very basic) German and moved to a foreign country. The only two that left me hanging were doing 8 things from the 101 things to do before you die list, and selling all my stuff on e-bay. I did manage to sell a lot of my stuff, but I also gave a lot away and ended up putting some in storage at my sister’s house. Oh yes, and I only read 38 books instead of 52, but I’m still glad I made the goal because I read way more than I have in years.

It seems making reachable goals is a lot more fulfilling than making goals that I’d like to happen, but in all likelihood will never be achieved (like working out everyday). So, this year I have similar goals to those I made in 2007. Here they go:

1. Read 52 books, or one book a week. If nothing else, I’d like to at least read more books than I did in 2007.

2. This one was supposed to be “finally take that rock climbing trip with my sister,” but she just told me she’s going to El Salvador from May until August so I don’t even know if I’ll have a chance to see her this year.

3. Run another half-marathon (the cowtown in October), but train better this time. I want to beat last year’s time so I really should train.

4. Buy a bike and ride it to school.

5. Pass all my pre-requisites, aka don’t slack off in my first semester back at CSUS.

6. Really learn German, like in a class. I now know I can’t get by with “Guten Tag,” so I’ve got to do something more organized.

I think those are all doable, yes?

What were your New Year’s resolutions?


Tony and I are headed back to Paris tomorrow and not looking forward to it. We’ve had such a nice stay here in Garmisch we don’t want to leave. And as we sat discussing how much we’re dreading going back to Paris, we realized what a couple of spoiled brats we are.

“I can’t believe we’re complaining about going to Paris,” Tony said.

“I know!” I said.

I guess it doesn’t matter where you live, when you go on vacation it’s hard to face the fact that you have to go back to real life.

So instead of being super sad that I have to go home tomorrow, let’s talk about how much fun I’m having here.

Yesterday we went ice skating and I learned that Tony is actually really good at it. He was a big show off, doing turns and skating backward and what-not. It was hard to get a good picture though. Here’s Tony and Harry (Tony’s cousin’s fiance).

Then we walked around town and got some wurst. Can I just say that I can never come to Germany again if I don’t want to gain 600 pounds? I’ve been here for only 10 days and I swear I’ve gained about 20 pounds. The food is just too good to be reckoned with and I stuff myself because I know I won’t have all this yumminess when I get back to Paris. Oh, so the pic of me and my wurst:

Behind me to the left is the little stand where we bought it. Yum!

Also, the other day we went to the coolest indoor pool I’ve ever been to. Actually it had about six pools. Two kiddy pools, a giant wave pool, a warm pool, a diving pool and a spa. It also had two giant water slides that ended in their own little pools. I didn’t have a camera so there are no pictures, but trust me, it was awesome. I felt like I got to have a day of summer and it made my heart smile. They had sun lamps in there, so that boosted my happiness rating by a bit.

My favorite part was the diving pool. They had boards ranging from 1 meter to 6 meters (the platform boards). I only dove from the 3 meter and the 1 meter, but it was super fun. I tried a bunch of my old dives from high school and I was shocked at how well I was still able to remember them.

Despite all of this exercise in the past few days, the one thing I’m looking forward to in France is losing some pounds again. I liked my jeans being loose.

Everyone have a safe and happy new year! Kisses to you all. Mwah!

It’s getting to the end of the year and I don’t think I’m going to finish book 39 before we get to 2008. For those of you who are looking for good books to read, I thought I’d do a little recap of the books I’ve read this year. I thought I’d do a star system to let you know what I thought of them, but I decided instead just to denote the ones I think are really worth you reading. My top rated books (the one’s I think you should get from the library ASAP) are in bold and have five stars.

OK then, here we go.

1. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner *
2. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (rated Rebecca’s least favorite book of the year)
3. Naked by David Sedaris *
4. Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella * (note: this is chic lit. note: read the whole series not just this one)
5. The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
6. No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe * (note: I’d suggest Things Fall Apart if you’ve never read anything by Achebe before)
7. Garbage Land by Elizabeth Royte *****
8. The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived by Dan Karlan, Allan Lazar and Jeremy Salter
9. Falling Through the Earth by Danielle Trussoni ***** (rated Rebecca’s No. 1 book of the year.)
10. A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut
11. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
12. Baby Not on Board by Jennifer L. Shawne
13. Leaving Microsoft to Change the World by John Wood
14. Candyfreak by Steve Almond *
15. The Life and Times of the Thunderbold Kid by Bill Bryson
16. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris *
17. A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke (rated Rebecca’s second worst book of the year)
18. Dreams of My Father by Barack Obama
19. Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston *****
20. JPOD by Douglas Coupland
21. Nature Girl by Carl Hiassen
22. Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres *****
23. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn *
24. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
25. God Grew Tired of Us by John Bul Dau
26. A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown
27. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini *****
28. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
29. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling * (note: only recommended if you like Harry Potter, in which case you’ve likely already read it)
30. Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali *****
31. The Heartless Stone by Tom Zoellner *
32. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood *****
33. The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
34. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
35. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger *
36. Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood *
38. I Am America (and so can you) by Stephen Colbert

I think it’s impossible to be in Germany and not think about WWII. As Americans, we spend a lot of our childhood history classes learning about Adolf Hitler, the Nazis and the concentration camps. We’ve painted Germany as this evil country that allowed all of these terrible things to happen. And somehow in our minds Germany remains the country it was 50 years ago. For the record, this isn’t true in the least. Germany is a modern country with modern people who just want to move on. I almost said they want to forget the past, but I don’t think that is the case. It seems that they are willing to accept the past and recognize it as a way of ensuring it doesn’t happen again.

Today, in Munich, Tony and I passed a Jewish monument and a Jewish museum of some sort. It was getting late so we didn’t go inside, but it really got me thinking.

For so many years I’ve heard people pose questions like, “How could the German public allow something so horrific to go on?” and “Why didn’t they do anything to stop it?”

I think this is silly thinking. Why didn’t they do anything? Well, the No. 1 reason was probably fear. They didn’t want to end up in the concentration camps themselves, nor did they want their families sent there. In a repressive government you don’t speak out lest you end up in a grave.  Secondly, I think many of the German people were probably trying to just live their lives with some degree of normalcy. After all, they’d spent the past 30+ years at war. But lastly, and more to the point, I think they were just apathetic.

As I said they’d been at war for 30+ years. They were probably sick of hearing about the war. Tired of trying to fight or make a change in a government that was fully out of control. After all, the United States has only been at war for five years and the apathy of the American public can be felt worldwide. People ask why Americans re-elected George Bush. Why didn’t Americans do more to stop the war in Iraq? Why? Why? Why?

Well, the truth is Americans just don’t care anymore. And those who do care feel like they can’t do anything to change it anyway. We register to vote. We protest. We write letters and volunteer and what do we get? Nothing. We get the world thinking that all Americans support this war, or at least the 51 percent who re-elected our war president.

Now, I’m not comparing the Iraq War with WWII, nor am I comparing George Bush with Adolf Hitler. What I am comparing is the apathy of the American people with that of the Germans 50 years ago. Not only that, but the general laissez-faire attitude of the rest of the world. It seems no other countries want to get involved because they don’t want to start a WWIII. But I hope if the next president is as gung-ho about starting wars where they shouldn’t be, then some country out there will step up and say no. America needs to be put in its place if Americans aren’t going to stand up and change things themselves.

Tony and I spent the last few days visiting his family here. On Christmas Eve we went to Mittenwald to see his Great Aunt and Uncle, along with their children and grand daughter. I got to see what a real German christmas was like (they celebrate on Christmas Eve).

First they lit candles on the Christmas tree and I nearly had a nervous breakdown worrying that the curtains were going to catch fire and send the house up in flames. Then they play a Christmas song that calls the children in to open presents. Even though there weren’t any children they still did it so I could see what a traditional Christmas is like. Then they sang Silent Night in German and then they opened presents. We at lots of food just like we would in the U.S. and we ate way too many cookies and sweets.

We also took a small Christmas tree (tanenbaum) to the cemetery where Tony’s grandparents are buried. There, we lit the candles on the tree and had a moment of silence before going to leave a candle at the grave of one of his other ancestors. I thought it was a really beautiful tradition though. I also snuck a picture (is that sacrilege?).

We also went on a tour of the town, which looks like it’s straight out of a Thomas Kinkade painting. The preggo pictures of me are from that tour. Also on the tour, we saw the most ornate church I think I’ve ever been in (pictured above). I get really creeped out in churches like that though so we didn’t stay long.

Then on Christmas day we went to a town called Icking to see Tony’s second cousins, who are all our age. We kind of just slacked around though because it’s a small town and everything was closed. Not only that but it’s FREEZING here. On Christmas eve it was negative 15 degrees celsius, hence the bright red nose in the pictures. Oh, but we did go to a pub when we got a bit stir crazy and I tried a drink named after me (the Radler). It’s lemonade and beer. It may sound gross, but it’s actually pretty delicious.

Hope you all had a good Christmas too.

It’s time for Sofia to push me down the stairs…

KIDDING! I was just imagining what my life would be like if I was Angelina Jolie and stupid enough to have my picture taken with my hands in my pocket.

Real blog coming soon.

Um, this is the cutest little town I think I’ve ever seen. Tony and I are in a valley created by the Bavarian Alps so we’re surrounded by mountains. And all the houses are just so typically what you think of German houses that it makes me just want to pinch their cheeks (if they had cheeks). We spent a lot of time walking around yesterday, but, as is the case in France, nearly everything was closed because it was Sunday.

Luckily, the restaurants were open and I got to eat real German food. It was amazing. I’m even going to have to agree with Tony and say I liked it better than French food, although it was much heavier than French cuisine. I only had three dumplings and I felt like I was going to pop. We also ate at the pizza place called Renzo’s. All of the workers were speaking Italian and the pasta and pizza were so authentic I felt like I went to Italy for the night. They also gave us free glasses of Amaretto at the end of the night so I for sure like them.

We’re staying in what once was Tony’s grandparents’ home. It’s absolutely beautiful and way too big for Europe. Everything inside is made of wood so I feel like I’m staying in a German cottage. There are views of the mountains from every window. Oh, and it’s above a bookstore. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this (although I’m pretty sure I have) but my dream is to own a bookstore and live above it. I’m pretty much faking my dream right now.

Back in the day the bookstore was actually a furniture store, owned and operated by Tony’s grandparents. I love them for that even though I never met them.

Um, so enough talking, here are some photos:

This is the bedroom we’re staying in.

This is a German helmet from WWI, found in the living room here.

This is the fridge disguised as a set of cupboards. Love it!

This is the view from the kitchen.

One of Germany’s oversized words.

Tony with one of the drunk guy’s from the train.

A bookshelf I hope to replicate in my own house one day.

Proof that German’s aren’t afraid to admit that Santa’s black.

Tony drinking Gluhwein at the Christmas Market we went to yesterday.

OK then, if you want to see other pictures you can look in the photo album. I don’t want you guys getting too bored.

Have a merry Christmas!

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