Sunday, July 31, 2011

Reflections (Part II)

I was recently reading back through some of my old blogs, namely the few that I wrote right before I left for Germany, and I am amazed at how much has changed since those entries. There was one blog in particular that I wrote, and I am having trouble remembering the person that actually typed those words. Despite everything that has happened over here, the good, the bad, the happy memories and the memories I would rather forget, reading that blog made me realize that this experience was so completely necessary for me. You can read that blog entry here: Reflecting

I think we all sometimes get stuck in a repetitive rut, where we look around and think "this is what my life has come to...a series of endless tasks that seem to repeat every day, every week, every month, every year." This happened to me. Being someone who is not particularly fond of change, it is surprising to me that I get so restless so easily. Maybe, even though I loved where I worked, it was because I was stuck in a very monotonous job. Maybe it was because I was (and still am...?) getting my degree in a subject that I find completely boring and so not fitting for my personality. Who knows. I do know, though, that had I not changed something a year ago, I might have gone off the deep end. I was most certainly teetering toward that; moving to Germany was definitely the right choice at that particular junction of my life. I still have my feelings of self-doubt, but I think everyone does; however, if I am able to survive a year living abroad, experiencing new things, meeting new people, living in a different culture and I did NOT lose my shit, then I can do whatever I set my mind to (I just need to figure out what the hell I should be doing...I need direction!!!)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dragging my Feet

Today is my last day in my dorm room. Despite the fact that my lease actually officially ends on Sunday, the Hausmeister has to come "inspect" my room to make sure I have not stolen anything or damaged anything, and he was very adamant about doing this on Friday and not giving me the weekend to get my things sorted out. Even though I am fairly certain he did not do this with my room BEFORE I moved in. Oh well.

For whatever reason, though, I am just so not motivated to pack my things. I think because packing my things signals that the end really is near. I have sort of been able to delude myself into thinking that I still have more time. But having to move out of the place I have lived for the past year is pretty much a clear indication that this experience is almost over.

I am very excited, though, to be able to spend my last couple of weeks with Carrie and Jan. If they are able to handle me living with them for that period of time, I will be convinced that we are all soul mates and they need to move to Idaho with me asap. I mean, Jan did offer some rather radical surgical operations to gain my affection...

Yesterday I also had coffee with Frau Schmitt who, it must be said, is undoubtedly one of the sweetest people I have met over here. I am so glad she was one of my teachers for an entire year, because I really did learn a lot from her. It made me incredibly sad, though, because I am pretty sure that was the last time I will see her. I held myself together fairly well, but of course, started crying as soon as I got home. And Denise is leaving on Friday as well, and I cried again last night. This whole "good-bye" thing is more exhausting than running half-marathons! I need to get a grip on my emotions.

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I am also so physically exhausted. I have not been able to sleep very well the past few nights, because I am one of those oh-so-fortunate people whose brain goes into overdrive mode when I am faced with impending separation or stress, and I continually wake up in the night panicking. I guess my body's way of dealing with stress is to deprive me of sleep until I go completely insane and lose my entire grip on reality. Makes sense. Thanks, body.

But the good news is, Kristin and my sister will be here in less than a week. I hope that traveling around for a bit will take my mind off things, because right now, the thought of no more movie nights with junk food, no more films in German, no more dinner-drink adventures with ACT friends is making me teary-eyed again. Oh, fuck, where the fuck are my fucking tissues??

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This weather can SUCK IT!

July 26th--I am not sure the last time I saw the sun for longer than an hour, but I am guessing, judging by the size of my muffin top, it has been a considerable amount of time. I am fairly certain for the past two weeks it has done nothing but rain in this country. Wait, I take that back. Yesterday, there was sun. And I went on my first run in almost two weeks. I jumped back on the bandwagon, and then got knocked off again today by the weather gods. My body thinks that it is November, and has started packing on weight for the coming winter cold. Problem being, it is not November. I should be in a bikini. I doubt I could pull that off right now.

Note to anyone thinking about visiting Germany (sorry Morgan and Kristin): do not come during the "summer." You see, summer apparently does not exist in Germany. Summer is like a Portland spring. The weather may creep towards the 70s, but it never really gets there. Not to mention the hot water in my room went out, and I had to race over to Carrie's to use their shower, because it was too damn cold for me to even consider showering in the blisteringly cold waters.

I could not figure out why I had become such an emo asshole lately, and now I realize it: it is SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder). See, I am from Boise, aka the high desert. We have four distinct seasons: winters are real winters, summers are real, honest-to-God summers. I keep reading people's status updates on facebook about how miserable the heat is at home. People who keep bitching: I would gladly trade places with you right now. I want my 100+ degree weather! I want dryness! I want that feeling you get when you have been walking outside for 10 minutes, sweating out every last bit of liquid in your body, and then you walk into a store and the wind is knocked out of you because the AC is cranked to arctic temperatures. I WANT THAT NOW! This is my first summer, since I was 7, that I have not been in Boise. I did not realize how much I loved it until I did not have it.

I am beginning to think this is divine intervention: I do not want to leave Germany, I am dreading the thought of leaving all my friends and the wreck I will inevitably be, but truth be told, this weather is seriously making me reconsider my pull to live here. I am not cut out for this. I do not like mold growing on everything. I do not like habitual rain, nasty slugs that I keep stepping on, my clothes never being dry, wearing a fucking hooded sweatshirt in July. As soon as I get home, I am hiking up to the cross at 5 in the evening: the hottest part of the day, without sunscreen (maybe a hat) and laying out on top of a rock, overlooking the dry, hot desert that is Boise.

Despite how much I may dislike certain things about Idaho, there really is no other place like it. I have lived all over, but always seem to get sucked back to the Gem State. And I am pretty sure I want to stay there, at least until I get that itch to leave again. But I am fairly certain the U.S. is the place for me (maybe Canada, but Canada is practically the U.S., it just has legalized gay marriage and weed...wait, why am I not living in Canada??)

But I have to remember to keep an open mind. While it is a good idea to hold fast to your convictions, I think it is also important to be open to whatever life may throw at you. So Boise, you are mine, unless another amazing opportunity presents itself (another year-long Urlaub in Deutschland...maybe. No, I am going to say nine months so I am home in time for a real summer).

Friday, July 22, 2011

life in a nutshell

Yesterday I got back from the Basque Country (in northern Spain, in case your geography is a bit rusty) smelling of ocean (and unwashed hair) and it has to be said, I had an amazing time. I got a lovely "German" tan, saw old friends, ate great food, and drank fantastic drinks. It was a much needed break after my whirlwind of an emotional week--finishing the play, finishing school, passing my test (HELLS YES) and packing up all my stuff. I am STILL having trouble processing the fact that I will be home in 24 days.

One of the things I have to do when I get home is find a job. I have been looking for basically anything at this point that is part-time, does not require a lot of thought process and gives me a decent paycheck. Of course, I have been looking at law firms for odd jobs they may have, but also with accounting firms, coffee shops, etc.

Last night, something very strange happened. I found a law firm hiring a runner (which is the best job ever, simply because you are not trapped at a desk all day), and even though the pay is not fantastic, it is a job. I realized, though, that this law firm employs one of my former high school a lawyer. And I was suddenly met with this overwhelming feeling of underachievement. Here I was, applying for a job as a runner, and this girl had already graduated law school and was gainfully employed. We both graduated with roughly the same grades, same extracurriculars, went to similarly stacked colleges, and yet somewhere along the line, she went to law school and I did not. I started to panic thinking about how perhaps I have been wasting my time and not buckling down and becoming an adult. What the hell am I doing with my life??

Luckily, freaked out Sarah was replaced by "put things in perspective" Sarah. And I realized that yeah, okay, she may be a lawyer and have a job and all of that, but life is more than just a job. Why are we all so defined by what we do for a living? Or defined by what we have not accomplished? Like not being married or not having kids or a career. Why does any of that matter? Life is made up of experiences! I have lived, dammit! So I started making a list of 15 things in my life that I have done that are unique experiences for me, which define me and make me the person I am. Things I have accomplished. And I encourage everyone to do the same. Whenever you start feeling like your accomplishments are not enough, start making a list of things you HAVE done. I can guarantee it is a lot longer than the list of things you haven't. So here I go:

1. I graduated college (twice in December).
2. I lived in another country for a year.
3. I have run 8 half marathons in 4 different countries.
4. I sunburned my boobies on a nude beach in Spain.
5. I have gone snorkeling in the Caribbean.
6. I have gone horseback riding through the rain forest in Panama.
7. I celebrated Canada Day with Canadians in Canada.
8. I got drunk at Octoberfest.
9. I have ordered a beer in 10 different countries.
10. I acted in a play.
11. I have been sea kayaking in Malibu.
12. I worked at the Magic Kingdom in Florida.
13. I have done questionable things in Humboldt County.
14. I drank an Irish man under the table. An Australian later drank me under the table.
15. I have the most amazing friends in the world.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

es ist fast vorbei...

Today I have my final test in Studienkolleg--it is the same test I took when I first got to Germany, the same test I took in February which placed me into a super high level of German (which I am still not convinced I belonged in) and it is the same test that is probably going to cause me to have a nervous breakdown in the next five hours. The only way I could be MORE excited to take this test is if it included a free cavity search by Glenn Beck.

The funny thing is, as I was studying last night, I finally had an "OMG, THAT is how that works" moment with regards to something that has been plaguing me with German grammar. The complexity of German grammar, I have to say, is very similar to how I would imagine constructing a car would be. There are all these tiny parts that, alone, make no sense, but put together, produce one sweet-ass ride. I have been completely lost this entire semester, trying to figure out why we turn verbs into nouns and nouns into verbs, which verbs take the Akkustiv, Dativ, Genativ, etc., Relative Clauses, Participle construction, Konjunktions, all that fun stuff. It made no sense. But, whilst staring down my sample E-test, it finally all clicked. I mean, I GET it now. At least I hope I do. I guess the test will be the deciding factor in all that.

Today also marks the day where I launch into official crazy, get ready to go home mode. It starts out a small snowball, but that sucker is getting pushed down the hill, and I fear that the next five weeks are going to go by so quickly, I am not going to be able to process everything. Today is the test, followed by tech rehearsal, followed by two dress rehearsals this weekend, followed by three performances of our play. After that, Spain for a week. Then I come home, have one week to move out of my apartment, send stuff home, sell stuff I cannot take with me, etc., Then Kristin comes, then my sister comes, we go to Amsterdam, we go to Berlin, I come home and have two days before I fly back to America.

Where the HELL did time go?? Can it really be true that my time here is almost over? That I have only five weeks left in Deutschland? It somehow just does not feel...right. I remember before I left, we had a meeting at Boise State with the international office people, and they explained that, moving back home after six months or a year abroad, we would experience "reverse culture-shock." For the first seven months I was here, I could not imagine this--I loved everything America and disliked almost everything German. And then somewhere, everything changed, and I began to really embrace the Germans. And now I fear that this reverse culture-shock is exactly what I am going to experience when I get back to Idaho. I mean, shit, I caught myself at dinner the other night eating with my arms on the table! Knife in one hand, fork in the other! Which is what used to annoy me so much about the way Germans ate. 20 years of etiquette training out the window in one year. My mom is going to lose her shit when I come home for family dinner.

This entire experience has been surreal. Sometimes I think that it is not happening, that I am still at home, especially when I have to do mundane things like go grocery shopping. But then someone speaks German, and I look around and realize I am 6000 miles from home, and that all this really did happen, all this IS happening. I think back to my 18-year-old self frequently, and how, 9 years ago, graduating high school, I would never have seen myself living in Germany. Or trying to learn German. Or even back in school getting another degree. None of it. It is amazing how life can change in an instant.

But, as I have said before, everything in life happens for a reason. We all have a destination before us, and though we reach the end that we are supposed to, we have the option of taking as many different paths as necessary to get there. And that is where the unpredictability and excitement in life lies. I do not know what comes after this whole experience, but whatever it is, THIS experience will shape it in profound ways. I know it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Today's Failure in Essen Abenteuer is Brought to You by...

Sarah's inability to read German; or, more aptly put, Sarah's inability to read German like a GERMAN, and not like an American.

Every Monday after rehearsal, I like to go to Ilsetopf, a very lovely little restaurant on the corner of Ilseplatz, which also has a splendid Bier Garten, and has proved to be one of my favorite spots when the weather is nice (and it has been consistently nice on Mondays for a few weeks now). Other members of ACT join me as well, and this has turned into a regular little spot for me. I love when people working at places that you frequent often both a) know your name and b) know what you drink. Like I have said before, it is the small things in life that really make me just gush with happiness.

I am usually fairly predictable with the food that I order (Flammkuchen (Ph? Keine Ahnung--I have probably just spelled wrong, but neither here nor there--but the Flammkuchen with garlic sausage and peppers). It is so good. Today, though, I decided to be healthy and order a "Salat." Now, see, I figure that anything that falls under the heading "Salat" presumably has some form of lettuce in it, perhaps a few vegetables here and there. I mean, "Salat" elicits visions of healthiness, yeah? So I order the "Duett," which I assumed would be salad with meat on it (I recognized the word "Fleisch"). This is what came out:

This, my friends, is most definitely NOT the salad I was expecting. THIS is simply a meat salad with fried potatoes on it. See, I think like an American: I see salad and think SALAD. Germans think salad, and it could mean lettuce, or it could mean this: a deep-fried fatty goodness.

Well, I ate most of it anyway, with the promise that tomorrow I would do an hour and a half of hill running. Which means I am going to have to get up early because it is supposed to be hot tomorrow. UGH.

Not only that, I proceeded to choke on my Dunkel Weißen (like out-the-nose, doubled over, unable to breathe choking), and Simone informed me that I had "caused her German heart to cry" because I wasted valuable beer. Germans have priorities, and is not my health... All-in-all, tonight's eating adventure was a huge failure, though we live and learn, right?

And by the way, Happy Birthday, America! We celebrated last night here in Deutschland in your honor, and honey, we would have made you proud!

Friday, July 1, 2011


I can't really describe the feeling of listening to an old album that has been collecting dust (metaphorically, since all of my cds are on my computer). It is like rekindling an old friendship--the friend never left you, you knew that they were always there to support you, but because of time or change or what-have-you, you lost touch. Coming back together is a flood of emotions and feelings that you had forgotten about. Sometimes this reunion is bittersweet, conjuring up memories from the past that you had wished to forget, while other times it just brings the simplest smile to your face.

I also love that, no matter how much time has passed, you still know all the lyrics to all the songs on said album. And each song holds special meaning. It is the small things in life that truly remind me of how wonderful life is. And how life without music or art or more aptly put, beauty, however you define that, is simply not worth tolerating.

Anyway, today, while perusing through my iPod looking for a suitable cd to listen to while I read my book, I came across Natalie Merchant's "Tigerlily."

I have not listened to this album in its entirety, I am guessing, since I was in junior high going through that whole Lilith Fair phase. (Who am I kidding, I am still IN the Lilith Fair stage, though I believe everyone else refers to this as "lesbian rock" and the artists have changed over time, but whatever). Thinking that this overcast day was the perfect opportunity to reunite with Ms. Merchant, I have now listened to the cd well over three times. And I remember every single word to every single song. And it brought back such a flood of sentimental memories, I had to go for a walk to sort of rehash through some things.

This cd reminds me of the Idaho mountains in winter. Not just the mountains themselves, but the smell, the feel, the taste, everything. And this is one of the things I miss most about Idaho when I am away for a long time. It is just a feeling. I think anywhere you grow up and have distinct memories of will elicit this sort of gut-wrenching yearning to be back in that place. Walking through the trees and knee-deep snow in the dead of winter, smelling fires burning, people making hot chocolate, the sound of the wind in the bare trees. The nights when the snow just falls perfectly under lights and there are no cars on the road. Everything seems so peaceful and so right (right up until you have to wake up the next morning and drive to work in "winter conditions," at which point my happy, little meditation state is replaced by me screaming at 2C drivers on the connector).