Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Concert Withdrawals

So... I learned today that Matchbox20 is doing a so-called "Winter 2008 Tour" (link-a-link). And who else but Alanis Morissette herself will be touring with them??? And not only is Alanis touring, but MUTEMATH (my newest band obsesssion) will be touring with them as well. I about had a heart-attack when I read it.

I'm actually considering, em, flying back to see them (yes, it's an admitted sickness)... they're in Texas on the 28th and 29th of February... which would be a month from today.

Can someone explain to me why I'm here? And why Alanis and MUTEMATH are touring together? In Texas? Two hours away from my parent's house? Can someone please explain this to me?

And Rob Thomas isn't too shabby, either.

Seriously, if any of my Dear American Readers have the opportunity to go to this concert, go. I'll be forever jealous, but that's ok.

I guess singing with Scaramouche on the way to and from Krefeld will have to do for the time being.

Unless I find a cheap flight.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hollandia Report

We really had a great week in Holland... my team of co-workers knows how to work hard and how to play hard, and let me tell you: we did both.

We worked pretty long hours (long hours for a seminar, that is), but accomplished quite a bit. There were certain Target Values we had to calculate and generate with the new system, and we managed to manipulate the system to hit it right on the cent. It was a beautiful moment.

For the first three days of the seminar, I managed to keep my identity hidden: everyone (except my German co-workers, of course) assumed I was a German. As an American, there are certain stereotypes people have of me, and I simply didn't want to deal with those this week. I've also noticed that people's view of me often changes when they figure out where I'm from. So. Other than our team and a few Austrians, there were no native German speakers. And other than two or three Brits, there were no native English speakers. Which means I effortlessly had everyone believing I was a German.

Until we went out for Japanese food one evening... which was for me, in a way, a coming-out party. In a cultural identity sense, of course. I don't remember what prompted the comment, but for some reason, I made the statement that I'm an American. Our Japanese colleague from "Inc" (so he's one of the top guys) was completely baffled and didn't know what to do with that piece of information.

Mr. Inc: "Ahhh you American? But you born in Germany, yes?"
Mary: "No... I was born in America. I'm definitely an American."
Mr. Inc:
*stares at me* "Ahhh...so you Father is American?"
Mary: "Yes..."
Mr. Inc:
*thinks long and hard* "And you Mother is American?"
Mary: "Yes, both my parents are Americans. I'm an American. I have sisters who are Americans. They live in America. I'm the weird one who lives in a foreign country, which happens to be Germany."
Mr. Inc:
*scratches his head* "Ahhh... so you not German... so you real American."
Mary: "Yes, a real, American-born American. With an American citizenship and passport and credit card. The only thing German about me is my freaking driver's license."

And then came the Comment of the Evening:

Mr. Inc: "Ahhh... you were so quiet at the beginning of the seminar and you were only speaking German... I thought it was because you could not speak English."

At this point, Marketing Guy and I were laughing so hard, we almost spit Green Tea and raw fish all over the table.

*switches topics*

One thing that's great about Holland is the medication: not only is it cheap, but you can buy it everywhere. It's like in the States, except with a few more options thrown into the general mix. One lunch break we decided to drive to the local grocery store. I loaded up on Vla (a special kind of pudding), Dr. Pepper (yup, this is for you, Mariposa), and Ibuprofen. And at half the price? Stock me up.

All and all, it was a great week. I learned a ton, got to know my co-workers better, got to make some connections with some European Headquarter and Inc people, started reading yet another book, and laughed way more than usual.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Amstelveen, watch out!

Beck and I are going to be in Amstelveen, Holland on business this coming week... so please direct all calls and e-mails to my secretary while I'm out. Wait... I am the secretary. It's my second job. Which is why it took quite a bit of convincing and threatening before our boss decided to let both of us go.

But it only makes sense.

Germans tend to be rather private people. They have their "work life" and their "private life" and those spheres rarely overlap. In the business world, you rarely "talk privately" with co-workers... it's only the few and far between who know anything that goes on in your "private life."

Which is why I feel like my relationship with a certain co-worker, Marketing Guy, is moving wayyy too fast. As he's driving with me and Beck to Holland this week, I gave him, upon request, my cell phone number and my address (so they can pick me up). And now I feel weird, like he knows too much. He's nice and clever and hilarious and all. But all that needs to stay at work.

I guess I'm kind of trapped in the mentality here.

Or maybe I still have issues because of Stalker Boy.

Or maybe I just have issues.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bad Cop! No Donut! (Part II)

So... I got pulled over today for running a pink light (ok, maybe it was a little closer to a deep-magenta-rose). I considered showing the cops my Texas license, hoping to confuse them and avoid paying a fine... but then I remembered that I'm technically not even supposed to have my Texas license. Which I of course don't have. And which I of course didn't illegally obtain last Christmas because the American authorities have no clue. It's all about being a respectable, law-abiding German citizen here.

German cops are ogres in green suits with toy guns. And they drive matching green MINI VANS!

Not only do I have to pay a ridiculous fine, but I have 3 points. Ah, the lovely German traffic violation point system. With five points, I think you win a teddy bear... and with ten points, you win a new CD-player for your car. At 13 points your license is unfortunately taken away, and you have to return the teddy bear and the CD-player.

Now it's going to be even more difficult to avoid speeding and running red lights and stop signs because I have to rush to work to put in more overtime hours to pay stupid traffic fines.

My life is a freaking circle of death.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Work (or, I think I'll stay for a little while longer if I can...)

Work is hilarious and out of control and challenging and fun and weird and frustrating and crazy and other adjectives I oughn't use. And if I expound I could risk losing my job prematurely.

So... we'll leave it at that.

A surprising number of people have asked me lately if I plan on staying in Germany (I must be giving off weird vibes)... so I thought I'd give everyone a little update. I'd originally had three years in the back of my mind. Siemens gave me a three-year Visa, so I thought I'd stay for that period of time and then re-evaluate things.

Right now I'm at about the 2.25 year mark.

My contract at Canon expires in June 2008, but my living permit expires well before then - April 2008, if I recall correctly. Which means I need to know around February or so whether or not they're going to extend my contract so that I can take the necessary steps to renew my living permit (or not).

If I'm offered an extended contract, I think I'd sign it. I wouldn't sign it in blood, but I'd sign it. If I'm not offered an extended contract, then I think I'd try to move to DC where Kat is. Or maybe Fiji. Or Somewhere Else.

Man weiss es nicht.

But I think I'd like to stay here for a little while longer.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Here comes the Sun...

It's amazing what a series of intense conversations (in English!) with my Dad can do. The past several months have been rather trying for me, and being home over Christmas and having time to sit and talk things through with my Dad was definitely what I needed.

He and I think very much alike, and he's dealt with a lot of the same crap that I'm having to currently deal with. So, though there are rarely simple and immediate answers and solutions (if at all), at least I know that I'm not alone here and there's someone out there who cares and understands. It's not that others don't - it's just that Dad has always played a very special and important role in this crazy thing called My Life.

I almost even feel good now. For the first time in a long time. It's a nice, weird feeling.