Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Changes

A few weeks ago, I booked my Christmas flight to China, and can't help but think about where I was last year at this time.  And let me tell you... the difference is night and day.  Last year around this time, a few critical things happened that started a process of change in my life... and the stark contrast between last Fall and this Fall is crazy.  Sometimes you don't realize how bad a situation was until you've gotten out of it, and a certain amount of time has gone by.

Here are a few changes I've noticed... 

Dreading the weekends --> actually looking forward to the weekends

Being told to stop texting/ calling --> being chewed out for NOT calling when I needed help

Having drunk guys crash my place at all hours of the night --> being able to sleep peacefully

Being sad/ frustrated about flying home "alone" over Christmas --> being excited about Christmas vacation!

Getting calls from friends stuck in prison --> getting calls from friends stuck in traffic

Getting graphically bloody pictures from friends after a street fight --> getting gorgeous pictures from friends on vacation in Singapore, Bali, Mallorca, etc...

Constantly fighting and crying --> only crying when it's absolutely necessary... or crying happy-tears!

Feeling like a 5th wheel --> actually feeling like a few people here like me

Having to re-paint cause a door frame splintered in a fight --> peacefully re-arranging my lego collection

Not being able to use my own bathroom cause a drunk guy passed out in it --> using my own bathroom at my convenience

Constantly dealing with negative comments about my appearance --> wearing the brightest, flowery-est, clashy-est clothes that I want!

Being a human bank --> being taken out to dinner every now and then

Being a taxi for drunk people --> being chauffeured every now and then

Repeatedly being cancelled on --> doing things with people who actually want to hang out with me

Watching soccer every freaking weekend --> not even realizing it's soccer season

Talking about soccer and street fights 99% of the time --> talking about God, ethics, politics, culture, social issues, art, etc.

Being told to shut up and stop singing in the car --> singing Karneval-duets and 90s music in the car

Going nowhere and doing nothing --> taking advantage of everything interesting going on in Berlin!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Taco Disaster...

So… I had a Boy over the other day, and even made tacos… which is a big deal for me, as cooking is definitely not one of my fortes.  Especially cooking for someone else.  Especially for a Boy.  I had been craving tacos for a few weeks, though, and figured he might like to try something Tex-Mex… so I went for it.  But alas… he didn’t really like them.  He found them "interesting."  How can someone not really like tacos?  I’m so confused.  Every normal person likes tacos… and tacos should be a staple in every household.  A dislike of tacos is comparable to not liking oxygen.  Or showers.  Or sunlight.  There are some things that human beings simply need.

Anyway.  At least he was still able to carry on an interesting conversation, despite having to simultaneously force the tacos down.  Which is positive, so I’ll at least give him some credit for that. 

I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t enjoy a good taco.  We used to have tacos every single Sunday for lunch!  So this situation has definitely thrown me for a loop, and is making me question everything I’ve ever taken for granted in life.  It’s certainly going to be quite the challenge being friends with someone who would prefer to eat bamboo than tacos.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Obama in Berlin...

One of my favorite things about Berlin is that there is ALWAYS something going on.  There's rarely a dull moment.  The past couple of days have been pretty crazy here, thanks to a farewell visit from Mr. Obama himself. Basically, the entire city center was on lockdown for 2.5 days... police and tanks were everywhere,  public transportation was delayed/ canceled/ re-routed, and much of Berlin was turned into a temporary no-fly zone.  This might be normal for city-kids... but not for this suburb-raised girl.  It was definitely exciting following what was going on, and seeing how a city operates when top leaders visit.

As most of you know, I live about 5 minutes from the Tegel Airport and drive past it on my way to work.  Wednesday evening when Obama arrived, I knew it was pointless to even try to drive home... so I asked a friend who works downtown if he wanted to meet up and see what's going on!  The entire street leading to the Brandenburger Tor was blocked off, and there were police and barricades in all of the adjacent streets.  So you couldn't even see the main street... and only people who live or work there were permitted access.  It was so intimidating that I was too scared to even take a picture!

Then, on Friday afternoon at work, I suddenly saw two black military helicopters circling around (picture below)... evidently accompanying Air Force One!  Unfortunately I didn't actually see Air Force One, as it was a rather cloudy afternoon... but I did hear it!  Exciting stuff!  

If it were to happen on a daily basis, I'd probably be annoyed with the traffic and interruptions... but observing everything from afar for a limited amount of time was definitely interesting.



#Berlin #ObamaBerlin

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Family Reunion in Berlin!

My favorite guy in the universe was in Berlin a few weeks ago!  Although he was here on "business", we still had some great times and talks together!  It's crazy thinking about all the places we've been together... we've really been all over the globe.  And of course, whenever he's in Europe, we have to meet up.  Nanjing... Amsterdam... Brussels... Basel... #Berlin... been there, done that.  :)

At the Brandenburger Tor... :)

And at the capitol building...

Here's a team picture... these were some amazing people, and it was a very encouraging couple of days with them.  God is doing some #crazyShit here in Berlin!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Berlin Pub Talk

Last evening was quite eventful... an acquaintance works in political/ social media, and asked if I wanted to tag along to a discussion forum.  The topic was hate speech in social media, and how to deal with it as both an organization and individual.  It was all super interesting, with a good mixture of guest panelist monologues and audience participation (or interruption, in some cases :D ).  This was definitely a much different group of people than the groups I normally associate with... let's just say the evening was started off with the moderator welcoming the "speakers of the press"... and me shifting nervously in my chair, hoping no one would notice the stray financial analyst in the room who can't even identify the current US Secretary of Defense.

One of the most interesting discussions concerned the extent of free speech on Facebook in Germany vs. the US.  Of course it's always entertaining hearing people talk about the US, and hearing an outsider's opinion of "my" country.  Evidently there's quite a bit more tolerance of online free speech in the US than there is in Germany... so the big question for the German social media leaders is:  to what extent should an American service provider (i.e Facebook) cater to German laws?  Is it Facebook's responsibility to tailor their product based on the country in which their service is?  Or is it the country's responsibility to deal with it, create their platforms, etc.?  

Another observation is that my German definitely isn't as good as I thought it was... I feel kind of like I did when I first moved to Germany and had an extremely difficult time with the "church lingo."  These are the types of words you just aren't exposed to in school, and definitely have to learn as you go.  So this is a much-needed challenge, as I always love learning something new and haven't really been pushed or challenged on an intellectual level in a while.  Score!!  :D

Anyway.  How do you know you're in a room full of social media gurus and journalists?  By comments such as these...

*spoken in panic*  "Does anyone know what the #hashtag for tonight is?  Do we have an official #hashtag?!"

"I haven't tweeted my location tonight... I don't want any trolls showing up."

"OMG!  The Russian press office re-tweeted me!!!"


#pubtalk #socialmedia

Monday, October 03, 2016

Blast to the Past!

Last weekend, I was in my old hometown for a very long weekend!  It was weird being back there, seeing old friends, being so close to my old work, and driving the familiar Autobahn routes.  Though I love it in Berlin, I think western Germany will always feel like home, in a way.  After all, I spent 8 years of my life there... had my first professional job there, my first apartment, my first car.  Here are a few impressions from my time back "home."


On Saturday, I saw my old coworker at Photokina - the biggest imaging trade show, where both Canon and Zeiss had stands, of course!  Ahhh - worlds colliding!  It was so much fun getting to see her again.  :)  She even said they're looking for someone in Finance... hmmm.... :)


One of the bridges leading to the Kölner Dom is completele covered in locks... it's beautiful how bright they are - glistening in the sun!


*bling bling*


The Kölner Dom... just as amazing as it's always been!  We were definitely impressed!


Lego needs to create a Kölner Dom set... just my humble opinion...


Yes... we climbed the 500+ steps to the top... yes, it was creepy... yes, we were out of breath... yes, I need to start exercising... yes, it was extremely high... yes, I envisioned it crumbling to the ground... yes, it was definitely worth it!  :)


Next stop... the Lindt Chocolate Museum!  My favorite part was the production line... and of course the samples at the end. :)


It's snack time!

I also visited one of my all-time best friends from back "home", but unfortunately don't have any pictures... I'll blame it on her four-year-old who kept distracting me and correcting me German... or her two-year-old who kept peeing all over the floor... or her 6-month-old who was terrified of me and would inevitably start screaming if I even looked at her.  Needless to say... it was a crazy, busy, amazing visit!


#Cologne #Köln #NRW #Photokina #Schokoladenmuseum

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Lollapalooza 2016

So... one of the September Highlights was the Lollapalooza music festival here in Berlin.  And as Lindsey Stirling was there, I of course had to go!


It's Lolla time!  This was probably the most expensive bracelet I've ever worn...


Lindsey!  She's by far one of my favorite performers of all time.  Her music is great, and she has so much energy on stage.  She played a great mix of some old songs as well as songs from her new album.


The Kaiser Chiefs!  They were hilarious... I don't think I've ever seen a goofier or smart-aleck-ier lead singer.  We were dying laughing!  I would definitely see them again...


Ah, the Chainsmokers... honestly... they were so-so.  They did have some good beats and remixes... but the transitions from one song to the next were anything but smooth, and practically non-existent.  Also, the remix clips that they did were so short... I felt like they were moving from one song to the next every several seconds.. without any real thought-out transitions.  But I did hear their new single, which is one of my current favorite pop songs... "Don't let me down."


Last, but not least... Kings of Leon!  They were also amazing!  Though by the time they were on stage, I was pretty tired of standing and jumping around... :D


Yeah... this pretty much sums it up!  :D  Though I didn't "repeat"... one day was definitely enough.


#Lollapalooza #LollaBerlin #Berlin #TreptowerPark #LindseyStirling #KaiserChiefs #Chainsmokers #KingsofLeon #NeverAgain

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Tegel Sunsets

One of my all-time favourite places here in Berlin is the Tegeler Sea... it's about a 20-minute walk from my apartment, and I'll go there every chance I get!  To get to the sea, you first walk through a beautifully quaint pedestrian zone, which contains enough ice cream shops to make any girl with an out-of-control sweet-tooth more than happy.  This weekend, a friend and I spent the evening there taking a boat ride, watching the sunset, walking along the water, and of course indulging in Indian food and cocktails.  Here are a few favorite Tegel sunset pictures from the past couple of weeks!





And of course the "real reason" I love going to Tegel...


Friday, August 19, 2016

Ophthalmologist Appointment

Bizarre experiences with doctors are obviously not limited to NRW… they also run rampant in Berlin, and have been a topic of discussion here in the office this week.  A few days ago, my colleague’s boyfriend evidently had a headache.  As you can pretty much only get herbal teas, cough drops and children’s aspirin over the counter here, he decided to go to the doctor.  Instead of prescribing him some… say… *scratches her head*… *thinks about the options*… Ibuprofen or Tylenol or Aspirin, they rush him to the hospital and do all these head scans.  And require him to spend the night there.  For a HEADACHE!  German doctors obviously have difficulties dealing with headaches… last time I went to the doctor after having a headache and sore throat for 5 days, I was sent to the neurologist with a migraine diagnosis.  Though really all I needed were antibiotics because I had strep throat.  Good call, socialized medicine.

Anyway… this week, I had an appointment with an ophthalmologist.  Why?  Because my optometrist recommended it, a friend who works at an eye clinic recommended it, I hadn't been in 5+ years, and my vision basically changed over night.  Those should be good enough reasons, right?  Nope.  Not for this ophthalmologist in Berlin.  After waiting for 45 minutes (although I was the second person on the day's waiting list), the appointment lasted about 1 minute... because that's basically the amount of time the doctor needed to tell me not to show up again until I'm in my forties.  Evidently routine check-ups aren't necessary until then.  And evidently you're not supposed to go to the ophthalmologist unless you have an acute problem.  And it's evidently normal for your vision to change.  Over night.  

So I took one last look at the lovely Zeiss Visulas YAG III, thanked the doctor for her time, and told the receptionist I'd be back in about a decade.  Adios.

#ophthalmology #socializedmedicine #doctor #carlzeiss #berlin

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Translation Project 2016

So... it's time for another *drum roll*... Translation Project!  After probably not enough thought, and a little push from Dad, I started talking with a guy from back home.  I'd like to live in the States at some point when I grow up, so why not talk with an American Boy?  We hung out (he was in Berlin) and wrote for no more than a couple of months, and it was one of the most bizarre things I've ever experienced.  I've seen a lot... but I have never seen anyone so all over the map, and have never gotten so many mixed signals.  In retrospect, I feel like I finally understand what he was trying to tell me... so here goes...

"I really want to see you again - let's meet in London!"  =  "Sometimes I would somehow like to meet someone (preferably female) somewhere someday and do something."

"I'd really like to get together with your parents when I'm in Austin next month."  =  "I really want to get together with some chic's parents at some point."

"I'm not interested in playing games."  =  "Having you book an international non-refundable ticket, and then cancelling doesn't count as a game.  That's life."

"Come visit me in Boston - I'll use my frequent flyer miles to fly you out here!"  =  "I kinda want an In-N-Out Burger."

"It's important for the man to be the leader and take initiative."  =  "Why don't you jump on this out-of-control emotional roller-coaster with me... and we can crash and burn!"

"I'm looking for [insert various characteristics] in a wife."  =  "I've got a date with another chic next week."

"Let's agree to always communicate openly and honestly."  =  "Why don't you go ahead and pour your heart out and I'll just kinda tell you what you want to hear."

"Work is kind of stressing me out."  =  "YOU are kind of stressing me out."

"Yeah, I need some space to figure things out."  =  "Check out my drama on facebook."

"I'm a Calvinist."  =  "I'm part of a super secret group of Elect... kinda like my first-class status with Delta Airlines.  Who needs church and other people when you've been hand-picked for limited atonement?"

"I really like you."  =  "I really like the idea of a girlfriend.  It has nothing to do with you personally."

I really like you."  =  "I really like a good bbq."

"I really like you."  =  "I think I'd make a good beat-boxer."

Ok... that might have been kind of mean... but then again, reality can be cruel.  And I'd rather laugh about it than be upset about it.  :)

#sorrynotsorry #relationships #americanboys #indecisive #wtf #london #justkidding #mixedsignals

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Sony Center

This weekend, we were at an art exhibit in the Sony Center!  There was everything from oils to collages to photography to sculpture... mostly from local artists.  We weren't allowed to take pictures of most of the work... so I can't really post anything here... but what I do have are a couple of pictures of the Sony Center!

Looking up at the "tent"... it was a bright and beautiful day!  (Until it started raining).



Here's a view of the DB (Deutscher Bahn) building taken from inside the Sony Center... being tucked in between the sky scrapers always makes me feel like a little kid visiting a big city for the first time.  It's still breath-taking!



And of course one of the best parts of the day... a spaghetti ice cream with cherries and white chocolate!  So good!


Lately I've been extremely thankful for my developing friendships here.  It's great being around people with shared interests, who are at a similar stage in life, and who have similar beliefs.  Don't know what I would do without this amazing group of girlies!

#berlin #sonycenter #summer #icecream

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Berlin and Blogging

It's certainly been a while... but for some reason I've recently had the urge to start writing again.  Maybe because there have been so many exciting things going on in life.  Maybe it's because I feel like I'm at least trying to get back on track spiritually and emotionally for the first time in years.  And maybe it's because I had chocolate ice cream for breakfast this morning.  But whatever the reason, for the first time in years I feel like I'm at least trying to get on the right path again, and actually have some interesting things to write about.

As most of you know, I moved to Berlin about 2.5 years ago.  It was a crazy step, and although there have been some rough times and quite a few ups and downs. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.  Several people have asked if I've regretted the move, as not everything has turned out as anticipated.  But I definitely haven't.

Here are a few observations of Berlin, to kick-start the Blog again...

People are generally proud to be here.  Whether they've been born and have grown up here, or have landed a job and moved here, people are proud to be living in this city.

It's very rough-around-the-edges... from the construction to the graffiti to the vending machines with disposable needles.

There's always something interesting going on!  Concerts, art exhibits, fireworks, demos, markets, fights, and the list goes on...

You can hear American English everywhere!  I used to have to go to the airport and eavesdrop to get my AE fix...

People run red lights here worse than in Texas (I didn't realize this was even possible).

In general, people on the streets and in the stores seem somewhat unhappy, rushed and preoccupied.  They also look at you weird if you say "hello."

There are still hard feelings between the East-Germans and West-Germans.

The city never sleeps!  People enjoy walking their dogs at 2am,..

It's super multi-culti!  The mix of people, cultures, languages, and food definitely keeps things interesting... sometimes a little too interesting... :)

#berlin #culture