Sunday, August 31, 2008
Here is just some assorted information for anyone who cares to read it:
School starts on Tuesday! I can't believe it. Last week was a whirlwind week of meetings and preparation days, and I'm still sorting through all of the information I received, updating and revising to do lists.
I got a house. At least rented a house. It's a really sweet deal, just a small place, only 8 years old, and, best of all, on the Tobacco River!!! It is about a 30 minute drive from work, but a gorgeous location. Its location is pretty funny: Just off Boos Road (sounds like "booze road") on the Tobacco River. I will post pictures soon.
My school system touts itself as "one of the best in the state, if not in the nation." I love saying that, but it also certainly comes with some hefty expectations for teachers.
I have very friendly colleagues. The schools where I work have big foreign language departments and really nice, social teachers, so it will be difficult to get lonely here.
I find myself smiling all the time. Everyone is so friendly! At the gas station last night I filled up the car, got a coffee, and the cashier didn't even charge me for the coffee! I didn't hide it or anything, I wanted to pay. People in the supermarket are nice and don't throw my purchases! The cashiers even bag my items! And you get free bags in the supermarket! (though they are bad for the environment...sorry environment...) People don't crowd me in lines! Americans have a much bigger area of personal space, and I feel very nice with this.
One person is convinced I came back to the United States because "it is the best country in the world". Well, I hate to say it, but no. I am very happy here, but it also has its not so positive sides. I really liked living in Germany, but it's also not perfect there. No place is the best country in the world, they are all just different. They all have good things and not so good things, and you just have to find a place that fits you. We'll see how it fits us here, and if it doesn't, we will probably make another change...
Sunday, August 24, 2008
The above Big Bucks were out behind the house one morning when I got up, and so I snapped a picture. They are a little bit confused, I think, because they not only come out at the usual deer times of morning and evening, but also all day long to graze the squash and apples back there.
These mama and baby deer were out in front of the house this morning eating some apples. They were really close to the house, and seemed unphased as I stood in the window and took their picture. They just went about their breakfast.
We see this turkey and his friends behind the house by the pumpkin patch periodically.
These racoons were eating apples in the deer's place one morning. They're cute, but also pesky: they will eat the vegetables from your garden and are also carriers of rabies.
I guess I forgot how many wild animals we have around here, even though I grew up with them all around me. Each day I am surprised by all of these creatures. But my brother has also supported my observation that there are actually a lot more deer than usual this year. They are coming out all day long, not just in the morning or evening, and are coming very close to the house and the people, as you can see in the photo of the fawn, he's between the house and the mailbox. They are also not so scared of people: I went for a jog in the woods, and some deer just stood staring at me about 10 meters away, and I went for a bike ride one evening, and the deer just stood in the road staring at me. And when they decided to run away, they didn't go the opposite direction, but right in my direction, nearly knocking me off the bike. Please, hunters, please: hunt a lot this year, do some major population control, because I don't want any of these deer to run out in front of my car. I've never hit a deer, and I don't want to any time soon.
Everybody gets a friendly welcome lick from Sammy!
My brother caught (and was bit by) this praying mantis!
Today we went down to Canton, MI, to celebrate my niece's 11th birthday. It was a beautiful sunny day, and we had lots of delicious foods, including chicken and ribs from the barbie, potato salad, noodle salad (good times and noodle salad!), delicious chips and dips, vegetables and dip and of course, cake and ice cream! All in all, a super duper birthday party. I love all of the delicious foods in America, a prime example of which is our majestic selection of soft serve ice cream:
We didn't stop here today, but did last weekend!
On our return trip to Beaverton from Canton, we got caught in a pretty wild thunderstorm with tons of lightning. I tried taking my first lightning pictures, and got a little bit. It was a really pretty storm, because all around the big group of black clouds was a very intense orange sky. Very neat. See below.
So there you can see the red sky all around the storm cell, as well as just a bit of the lightning right in the storm cell. The lightning was much more impressive in person, though!
Saturday, August 23, 2008
-the cars are big
-the streets are wide
-the people are big
-there is constantly music on in every store, and in the mall it's overstimulating because there's mall music and then each store has its own music
-there are tons of billboards along the highway
-there are so many wild animals everywhere
-there are no sidewalks
-where there are sidewalks, nobody's actually walking on them
-nobody uses a bike for transportation
-there are no buses, trams or trains
-it's so quiet
-it's so dark at night
-you can hear crickets, lots of them
-everybody's so nice
-there's no grafitti
-people look each other in the eye
The strangest thing is that things that used to seem so big seem so small now, and some things are just so different than I remember them. I remember there being action, and now it just seems so quiet. Everything goes so slowly now. It probably always did. The animal noises in the woods never used to make me nervous. I'm so used to not looking at people in the supermarket, and here everybody is saying "Hi!" to me. Huh. I'm vexed.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
This is my new cat. Somehow he fits all of the interesting, unexpected things that have happened lately just perfectly. You see shortly after we'd given up the job search in America for this year, and shortly before I got the e-mail about the great job that I now (almost officially) have, he turned up on my parents' road, just a tiny kitten, half starved to death. Someone hadn't been able to kill him, so instead they chose to toss him out on a road with nearly no houses on it to certain death. My parents heard him meowing by the road, picked him up and rescued him, even though they had already decided that they would have no more pets. Tom could hardly move (he really was almost starved to death), but they nursed him back to life, giving him milk and food. And then, while I was in Michigan in June for my interview, he was attacked by a larger tomcat. This tomcat bit him in the back, leaving him nearly paralyzed. After that he had some difficulty walking, so my parents once again nursed him back to health, and he managed to gather strength and learn to walk properly again. Now Tom Kitten is an active, thriving little tomcat himself, very playful and friendly (and hard to get a good picture of because he's always jumping around). And if I get all necessary approval, he will be coming to live at my house as soon as I have one!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
The moment my plane took off from Dresden this morning I started to cry. I've been saying goodbye to Dresden and to friends and even to Wilhelm for days, if not the last weeks. Every time I did something, like riding over the Elbe on my bike (on Friday), walking down my street (yesterday), seeing the sunset, looking at the Frauenkirche from Wilder Mann (yesterday) it was goodbye Elbe, goodbye Förstereistr., goodbye Frauenkirche...but it wasn't real until the wheels of the plane left the ground this morning and I realized that my feet wouldn't be on Dresden soil again for a while, probably not until next year. And then tons of memories started flying through my head...about telling friends I was pregnant back in 2005, remembering how shocked some were (standing in the kitchen of one language school), how excited others were (having lunch at Petit Maroc), about how I met my husband (an infamous escape story from an infamous idiot, but I should probably thank that idiot for chasing me away to where I found my Ger-Man!), about arriving here on February 3, 2003, getting lost in a snow storm on my first day, eating a bagel, the excitement of moving into my first apartment on Conradstraße, the excitement of my first very own apartment on Alaunstraße, assembling my furniture in that apartment and how much fun it was, the bubblegum smell of the Putzi toothpaste factory that took me back to my childhood at my grandparents' house chewing Big League Chew bubble gum, the first time I saw Wilhelm in the hospital and how tiny he was and how scary it was (but also remembering when I woke up from whatever drugs they gave me how I first asked "how is my boyfriend?")
I've never left a place quite like this. In so many ways, Dresden is where I grew up, so much has happened. Sure, it wasn't easy taking off from home five and a half years ago, not knowing what would come next, but in so many ways, Michigan can always be my home base. My family is there and it's no problem to go back. I guess realistically it's no problem to go back to Dresden, we know so many people there, and it's so much easier for us to just go, no Green Cards, nothing...It's just scary to leave so many friends and so many fun memories behind. Of course it wasn't and isn't all fun in Dresden, our future looks a lot brighter in the United States (but we'll see about that when we get there), but we will be pretty uprooted for a very long time I think. We have such a nice network of friends and so many connections to various people and organizations in Dresden, I am very positively surprised by how many good friends and excellent business connections I made in just these past years. It really hit me yesterday how many good friends we have, thinking about our going away party (actually parties), and then everybody who spontaneously stopped by or called because they remembered my departure date. All I can say is thank you to everyone for everything. And see you soon.
Bye, Elbe. Bye, friends. See you soon!
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I hate moving. It's absolutely the worst thing ever, and I never want to do it again. Packing and selling and writing lists and taking photos, and then your hard drive crashes and everything is gone. Everything as in 5.5 years of photos, hundreds of audio CDs, tons of documents...And this the day after we bought a second hard drive to back everything up, but hadn't done yet. Well, maybe it's not really gone, it's actually probably still there in that little box, you just can't access it. I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Disclaimer: This post is based on true events. The participants' names have been changed, and any resemblance to any real people, living or dead, is purely coincidence.
So yesterday evening we had our going away party because I will be the first of us 3 to leave next Sunday at 5:50 am. Lots of people came, and it was quite enjoyable to have a colorful mix of family, friends and colleagues and of young and old together playing, laughing and just having fun. The afternoon was rowdy with most of the family and friends with kids coming, and fortunately we have a big courtyard with playground where the kids could run around, color everything with sidewalk chalk, play ball and ride around on various cars, bikes and scooters. It was really fantastic to have the kids there having so much fun, and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves.
After our colorful afternoon of fun, coffee and cookies (mmm, and thanks to everyone who brought delicious sweets, especially the giant Dr. Quendt sampler, as well as other generous and very nice presents for all of us!), we moved on to the grilling part of the party, during which the beer started to flow and the meat was grilled! Our favorite neighbor stuck his head out of the window from high above the yard, and we expected him to complain about the noise and the grill, but amazingly enough he didn't. It's either because he's learned that whatever he says makes no impression on us whatsoever, or that he's heard that we will be leaving soon and going far away. Meat and cheese was grilled; olives, cheese, salad and other delicious antipasti were served; and once again, more beer flowed. Darkness fell, people with tired kids started to go home, then the rowdies showed up. They trickled in slowly, and though they are impossible to control, I was glad to see them, as they are always good for a laugh. These guys (and girls) are not dangerous (at least not to spectators, but I wouldn't want to get involved in their reindeer games), they are just the usual suspects and very likeable people. One woman performed debaucherous acts with three men at the party, on the balcony and in our bathroom. Another woman told woman one how she would like to begin some kind of relationship with the man woman one is also in some way involved with. Someone knicked the shit out of my chairs by using the chair seat to open beer bottles, red wine was spilled all over one table and seeped into the top, giving it fancy red streaks. I went to sleep at 2 am because all of this confusion was exhausting me, but my sources tell me that these uncontrolled acts of indulgence did not stop at our house, but continued at the bar until the sun came up. I can proudly say that my husband, my son and myself all behaved ourselves and managed to have a productive day today despite the late night. I'm not so sure about some of our other guests, though.
Party scorecard: A++ for entertainment value, A for effort, but an F for proper behavior. We just wanted to get all of our friends and family here together to say goodbye, not have a swinger party. Gosh guys, you can do that without us, I mean, we must be some kind of prudes to move to America...
Thursday, August 07, 2008
First you stole my bike back in 2005, and now you've stolen my name. See below:
"SKR" - "Skinheadkontrollrunden" nennen die Rechtsextremen ihre nächtlichen Touren in Sturmhauben und Springerstiefeln: Mit Taschenlampen und Schlagringen machen sie sich auf die Suche nach Opfern, wer ihnen in die Quere kommt, wird zusammengeschlagen. Die Männer überfallen Dönerbuden, attackieren das Büro der Linkspartei, fallen in annähernd militärischer "Marschformation" über Volksfeste her. Regelmäßig bleiben Verletzte mit Platzwunden, Schnitten und Prellungen zurück.
This is from Spiegel Online, one of my favorite news sources, and it tells me that you Neonazis are defaming me by naming your little "Skinhead control rounds" SKR. What you do in your "rounds" includes going around beating up Turkish guys who just want to serve some delicious snacks, some left-oriented political activists, foreigners (so why did you have to go and use my initials, rocket scientists?) and pretty much anybody else you don't like.
Neonazis, I don't like you and you probably don't like me. Though I've had some very shady situations in my time in Dresden, such as being hit on by one of your NPD party members (he invited me to an intercultural exhibition about Japan !?), being nearly employed as a simultaneous translator by a disabled former NPD party member to call a refugee camp in Africa to talk to his girlfriend (my friend who did take this job had the guts to ask the former NPD member if this didn't in some way conflict with his views, and he made it clear that he no longer beloned to "the party"), oh, yeah, and not to mention that you stole my bike three years ago.
Okay, okay, maybe I'm generalizing too much by mixing up the Sturm 34 group and the NPD--the NPD would certainly feel insulted if I am balling them together with Sturm 34. "No, no!" they would say, "we are just nationalists." Well, I don't care. For me you are all one and the same, and strangely enough, where the NPD is strong also seems to be pretty close to where Sturm 34 is carrying out their stupid "rounds".
I don't care about your slight shades of gray between the NPD and Sturm 34. You are offensive, disgusting bullies. I wish I could tell you to just go away, get out of this beautiful country that you are giving a bad name. I would love to do everything I could to simply have you deported to the moon or somewhere else where you only have each other to beat up, but I'll be going away first.