Saturday, December 20, 2008

On my way to Vegas

All,

Since I'm suffering from a case of jetlag, I thought I would take a few minutes to update my blog. What better way to fill the void than to tell you about my flight to Vegas.

My vacation really started Wednesday night. I figure once you leave work for the last time, you start your vacation. Carlten was also flying out Thursday morning so we decided to drive to the airport together. They picked me up around 7 and made our way back to their house. We were up until about 11 playing Super Mario Kart on Wii -- tell me that's not the beginning of a vacation!

The next morning we left about 630 for the airport in Frankfurt. Their flight left at 940 and mine was scheduled to leave at 1140. Yeah, I would have some time to kill, but at least I wouldn't have to worry about how I was going to get to the airport. I was actually so early they wouldn't even let me check in at the counter yet.

After Carlten checked in, we went upstairs for breakfast - McDonald's of course -- hey, the golden arches are universal.

Shortly after, they went through security and I went back to the counter. They still weren't checking in my flight, but I found a "bag drop" for people who had checked in online (yay!) and they were more than happy to take care of me.

My next stop was passport control. They asked me several questions because I was traveling on my tourist passport, but had entered the country on an official passport. Eventually, they let me through and I spent the next half an hour entertaining myself with duty free shopping.

After I got tired of shopping, I went through security and settled in for a long wait. Fortunately, I had a book with me. And of course, I talked to Nate for awhile. He was getting ready for his trip to Malta.

Eventually, I get on the plane and start the 10 hour trip to Ohio. The flight wasn't so bad. I was about halfway back on the plane, but in the aisle seat. They showed several movies, though none of them were very good. I mean, could we get a best picture winner or something?

I couldn't sleep so I spent most of the time reading....and ignoring the girl next to me. She was really sick and was throwing up in those airplane bags half the trip. She didn't want to get up so she just hurled in the chair next to me. I had to put in my earplugs and discreetly put my fingers under my nose. I'm a sympathetic puker - everyone's lucky I didn't start hurling in the aisle.

Naturally, our plane is running late and I only have 50 minutes to get through customs and on my connecting flight to Vegas. Most of the people on my flight were in the same boat -- I mean c'mon, who really wants to go to Ohio?

So I spend 20 minutes or so waiting to get through the passport control folks -- naturally, I picked the wrong line. It took FOREVER to get through everything. Then I had to pick up my bag (which wasn't out yet) and take it to the baggage handlers so they could transfer it to my next flight. Then I had to wait in line to go through security again.

Tell me why we have to go through security again? I went straight from the airplane, to passport control, to baggage and straight back to security. Where the hell would I have gotten a knife or gun?

Anyway, I start to get frustrated because I'm running out of time. Then I really get frustrated when people start ducking under the ropes and cutting people in line. I almost made a scene, but decided not to piss off karma. Instead, I told the TSA guy (who must've been all of 18) what was going on and told him to handle it.

So I'm standing there in my socks waiting for my bag to come out of the security machine and then I hear the words I was dreading come over the pa system.

"Final call for flight 37 to Las Vegas at gate B11"

Oh shit.

Where am I? Am I even close to B11?

Fortunately, I see a sign for my gate. I pick up my stuff and I make a break for it. I even ran up the escalator.

Keep in mind I'm in my socks.

I almost fell because the floor was so slick. But damn, I was determined to make my flight!

I made it to the gate just in time and was one of the last people to board. Some of the other people from my original flight got lucky and ran up behind me.

This flight was uneventful. I tried to sleep since I was in a window seat and I probably dozed off and on for about an hour. To kill the other three hours, I watched E! Specifically, Snoop Dogg's reality tv show and True Hollywood Story Clay Aiken.

Hey, all I have at home is German cable. It was fine by me.

A gazillion hours later, I safely arrive in Vegas and for good measure, so does my bag!

My dad picked me up at the airport and I was greeted with homemade chicken and dumplings. Sigh - it's good to be home.

For the record, by the time I got home it was 3 a.m. in Germany, which means I was traveling for almost 24 hours. I was in desperate need of a shower!

Since then, I've been hanging out at home in my pajamas. Although, I did go to DSW yesterday and buy new shoes. I mean, a real shoe store! It's all so overwhelming!

Today, I'm tackling the mall. I can barely wait.

Cheers,
Jen

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving in Germany

So I was thinking about it and I just spent my very first Thanksgiving somewhere other than the US. Spending the holiday away from my family wasn’t a big deal because it’s rare I’m with my parents on Thanksgiving anyway, but I’ve never been in another country. And you know what?

It wasn’t a big deal.

It’s just like another day. Sure, all of the Americans talk about Thanksgiving, but I live downtown and don’t have AFN on my TV. My exposure to the holiday was limited. Although, we did have a traditional Thanksgiving lunch at the dining facility the Wednesday before the holiday.

Since we had a four-day weekend, Nate and I went to Garmisch for some down time. No agendas, no itineraries, no work – it was bliss :)

We drove down Wednesday night and after a brief glitch in our plans (tell me why they would shut down an entire highway and not put up detour signs??) we arrived in Garmisch. We stayed at Edelweiss, which is a DoD resort, so there were military folks everywhere. The resort was hosting a big Thanksgiving feast the next day so I think a lot of folks drove in for the festivities.

Anyway, we were pretty tired so we called it an early night. The next day we went to Neuschwanstein Castle, which is one of King Ludwig’s four castles. It sits on top of a huge hill and it looks like the Disney World castle, not like a traditional medieval castle with a moat. In fact, they said Walt Disney designed his castle based on this one.

During the tour, we learned that the castle was never completed. Once the king died, construction ceased. It was actually only about a third of the way finished and we were only allowed to see completed rooms. The rooms we saw were amazing. The attention to detail and the sheer glitz of the rooms was incredible. I mean, we may paint our living room wall blue, but they would paint it blue and add a mural and thousands of hand drawn snowflakes. It was borderline ridiculous.

But hey, nobody wants to pay to see plain blue walls.

Besides, the whole thing is charming. Not to mention the views from atop the mountain. You can see for miles. You may be wondering how we got up to the castle (or maybe you don’t care – pssh) and t here are a couple of options. You can take a bus, you can walk (it’s approx 40 mins uphill) or you can take a horse and carriage.

There wasn’t a bus available at the time and it was way too cold to walk so we opted for the horse and carriage. I know you’re all thinking how sappy this sounds, but you ride with a bunch of people so it wasn’t just the two of us canoodling in the back or anything.

After the castle we did some shopping in town. My new kick is tea shops. I like being able to smell all of the different blends and pick my own – kind of like coffee I guess. Anyway, we spent a substantial amount of time in one of the tea shops and walked out with a new orange tea. I’m ready to try it, but have decided to wait for Nate. I know, I’m so polite :)

Although it was Thanksgiving, we passed on the feast at the resort and went to a quaint German restaurant. Thanksgiving really isn’t about the food anyway – it’s about who you’re with –

The next day was “my day”. This meant sleeping in and lots of shopping. We started around lunch time and I had to stop at the PX. Nate was nice enough to point out that it was Black Friday and I wasn’t at home. Boo.

I did find some North Face ski pants at the PX though. I know, I know – Jen on a pair of skis? What’s the world coming to? But I am determined to learn! Anyway, I bought some ski stuff and we ran in Carlten, who also happened to be doing the exact same thing. We’ll have to plan a ski trip for next year.

Afterward, we went downtown and did some shopping. Then Nate remembered he saw an ice skating rink on the map and we went in search of the arena. Actually, we more or less stumbled onto it. This led to about an hour or so of ice skating inside. I fully explained that I don’t ice skate. I can barely walk (which I proved repeatedly as I tripped over cobblestones and stepped on him). But he was convinced I would be fine.

To be fair, the ice was really choppy. It felt like the zamboni hadn’t smoothed the ice in hours and it was easy to get caught in someone else’s grooves. But believe it or not, I didn’t fall. There were a couple of scares, but the Lord looks after fools and he made sure I stayed upright. It was actually a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I think we may go ice skating at the Christmas market this weekend. Maybe these folks will believe in zambonies.

On Saturday, we went to the highest peak in Germany, the Zugspitze, which is part of the Alps. We rode a cable car to the top, which wasn’t too bad…most of the time…Every once in awhile the car would hit an area of the cable that would make your stomach drop, just like being on a roller coaster. Needless to say, I didn’t look down.

And of course, my mind works in weird ways. For example, when we got to the top, the guy who runs the car had to open the window and do something to make sure the car was secure. Tell me why my first thought was– oh hell, what if this guy has a death wish? Maybe he wants to commit suicide and he’s taking us down with him? Why did we pick this doomed car to get on? Fate is a cruel beast… -- Okay, by this time, we’re all safely getting off the car, but it makes you wonder.

Is my mind twisted because of the books I read? Or is it society? With all the bombings and terrorist attacks and high school shootings you can just never be sure what someone’s true intentions are, you know? I blame the media. HAHAHAHAHA – that was for my public affairs family.

Anyway, we make it to solid ground and I venture a peek down the route we just came up. After a brief wave of nausea I decide it’s a good idea to quit torturing myself. Especially since we have to take another cable car down to the next level where the runs are.

It’s really crowded because the season just started. In fact, half of the mountain wasn’t open yet because there wasn’t enough snow. We’re just there for sight-seeing this time so we walked around a bit and stopped for hot chocolate – you know, freeze in the snow... We only spent a couple of hours up there, but it was gorgeous. It increased my resolve to learn how to ski.

On the way back down we took the train, which actually runs through the mountain. So naturally, my thoughts are something like – I wonder what’s going to happen if the mountain caves in? Would it be quick and painless or would we suffocate? I know they’re talking about emergency exits, but let’s get real, could we get to them? – Yeah, it was a long ride down the mountain.

At which point, Nate decides to share that he thinks the mountain would be an easy terrorist target.

Thank the Lord he didn’t mention that until we were off the mountain.

I swear.

Since it’s mid-afternoon we decide to head back to his place in Sulzbach because it’s going to take a few hours to get home and we really didn’t want to drive in the dark. We got back safely and just relaxed. Sometimes it’s just nice to lounge and check email and watch movies.

The next day we met up with Archegan at the big Christmas market in Nurnberg. It was ridiculously crowded and I was glad we only stayed a couple of hours. Although my Belgian waffle in the shape of a heart was well worth the trip.

From there our group had to split up. Megan and I were driving back to Heidelberg, Archie was going to pick up their new puppy and Nate was headed home.

But first, we had to find our car.

And I have a poor sense of direction.

We decide to leave the gang in one area and walk to our car so I can get my bags. Since Nate was listening to me, we went the wrong way and had to backtrack. I don’t think he’ll make that mistake again.

Once we were headed in the right direction (I still thought it was wrong – pssh) we started running into a bad part of town. We were where all of the whore houses are located. Say what?!

All along our left-hand side there were windows facing the street. In each window there was a woman on a stool (usually reading a magazine out of boredom) waiting for some guy to purchase her services. It was like a train wreck. I couldn’t help but look. Nate kept telling me to quit making eye contact, but I couldn’t help myself!

I mean, some of these women must’ve been 60 years old. Anyway, eventually I was able to tear my eyes away. Mainly because it was sad. I can’t imagine living a lifestyle like that. Sad.

Anyway, we make it to the car eventually and Megan and I head back to Heidelberg. Overall, it was a fantastic weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Cheers,
Jen

PS – Okay so ending a Thanksgiving blog by talking about whore houses isn’t exactly in the holiday spirit, but hey – whores are people too!

The wait continues

Still waiting for TKS more than a month later…

So I’m sitting in my semi-frigid apartment waiting yet again for those damn TKS bastards to show up. This time, they’re coming to install an outlet so that I can have a phone and Internet. I have been living without net access at home for about two months now and it is not pleasant. Not to mention my wireless card keeps teasing me by saying that I’m connected. Pssh.

Things are still chaotic here in H-berg. I was out of the office most of last month doing TDY stuff and Joint Commission and whatnot. Not to mention all of the holidays! I swear I only worked about 10 days last month. Needless to say, I have huge pile of work that is in dire need of attention. So what better time to take half a morning to wait for TKS?

Sigh.

To be fair, I have been doing work from home for the past hour or so.

Other news – my parents are flying in Thursday morning. It’ll be nice to see them and I know they need a vacation. I have to work, but since they lived here before I think they’ll be able to fend for themselves.

My military ball is also this weekend. It brings me back to days of sorority formals. Mainly because I’ve waited until the last minute to do everything. I dropped my dress off yesterday for alterations and she promised it would be done by Friday. Fingers crossed. I bought some jewelry last night on the way home and now I have to figure out what I’m going to do with my hair. I haven’t gone to any of the stylists here and now is not a good time to start experimenting. There are a lot of balls in the air right now – I hope I don’t drop any of them.

Where the hell is TKS?

Cheers,
Jen

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Working out, bad hair and the fall fest

Blogging is for addictive personalities

So while I originally kept up my blog on a daily basis I have slowly succumbed to the easy way out – i.e. I’d rather read a good book and drink some hot chocolate than update my blog.

Admittedly, this is partly because I have fallen off the workout makeover wagon. I did really well for about 7 days and then, well, then I just got busy. And tired of working out.

In all honesty, the strength building circuits aren’t bad because I can do them at home. I always fall flat when it comes to cardio. There’s no way I can get up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym. I can hardly wake up on time as it is.

Case in point – last Wednesday I had to be at work early for morning report. My alarm went off at 5:30 and I hit snooze. Correction, I hit what I thought was snooze. Instead, I accidentally hit the off button. So I roll back over and eventually wake up. What time was it you ask?

6:45 a.m.

I don’t think I’ve ever made it out of the house in less than 30 minutes, but I did that morning.

Granted, superficial sacrifices were made in the process. Instead of painstakingly drying my hair sections at a time I ran the dryer though it a couple of times and hit the road. It semi-dried because I had the car window down, but the result wasn’t exactly the windblown look I’d hoped for.

The best part?

I told all of the admins about my morning issues and had them laughing til they cried. At which point, they’d always point out that I looked fine, no different than normal.

Fantastic.

So I always look unkempt? Not exactly the uber professional look I was going for…

But back to what I was originally saying – obviously a morning work out is not going to work for me. I always bring my gym clothes in hopes of going after work, but sometimes I’m there so late it’s just not worth it. I just want to go home.

For example, on Tuesday I had to drive to Stuttgart to meet with one of the commanders. It’s about an hour and a half drive, but the traffic is horrendous. Seriously, between the construction and the crazies on the Autobahn I probably cheated death about 5 times on my way there and back.

Traffic was so bad that by the time I got back to the office it was about 7 p.m. And I spent another 30 minutes doing work. Like I’m going to the gym after that!

However, I will say I have been good about going to my Pilates class! I’ve now gone three consecutive weeks in a row. My teacher said I’ve shown vast improvement, but I figure it’s easy to show improvement when you’re the most remedial kid in the class. There’s nowhere to go but up.

My classmates are trying to get another Pilates class going on Mondays – Pshh.

Pass.

So to continue with random babbling – there was a fall fest in Heidelberg yesterday. It’s great because I can walk down the stairs of my apartment, open the door and step out into a huge party.

Granted, the marching band at 11 a.m. was a little much, but it’s all about give and take when you live downtown.

I met up with Danelli and Sobryce, but it took awhile to reach them. I kid you not, there was one part of the street that was at a complete and utter standstill. I’ve never thought of myself as claustrophobic, but I was ready to have an anxiety attack.

Plus, Germans are pushy! This old man kept pushing the small of my back. I had to turn around and give him the “don’t f*cking touch me again” look. He laid off, but the crowd starting pushing and the next thing I knew his beer belly was pushing me forward. I felt disgusting. I felt violated. I was ready to go back upstairs. And most importantly, I wondered why I didn't know more German swear words.


Twenty minutes later I made it out of the cluster and literally ran into Dan. Well, technically he ran into me, but it didn’t matter. I was so relieved to see four people I recognized. We went back toward the stage and met up with Carlten and eventually even Sled showed up.

Um yes, that’s right – four couples and Jen.

Needless to say, after a couple of Newcastles everything was fine.

Things just aren’t festive if you aren’t drinking a beer and eating a brat (mine was a ½ meter long!).

I also ran into a few people I work with, which was nice. It’s like wow, I actually ran into someone I know in the middle of Germany – yay!

Anyway, it ended up being really cold so we called the evening pretty early around 8ish. I was tired anyway because I had deep cleaned the apartment earlier. I think it’s now safe to call my landlord so he can remove the salmon-colored couches.

I couldn’t call him with the apartment looking a wreck. I wouldn’t want him to worry.

Okay this post was really random. I need to post more often.

I’ll try harder in the future.

Cheers!
Jen

Friday, September 12, 2008

Day five: My legs are starting to feel normal again..

Despite being exhausted, I did stupid circuit A.

I’m working tomorrow morning (yes, it IS Saturday) so I’ve got to get some shut eye.

Don’t worry, I’m only working in the morning and then it’s off to the big wine fest with the gang. It’s supposed to be the Oktoberfest for wine. HOORAY!

Cheers,
Jen

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Day four: So apparently the rest of the world doesn’t stop just because I’ve decided to get in shape

Today was a long day. Period.

The garrison hosted a Freedom Run/Walk today in remembrance of 9/11 so I had to be at work by 5:30 (because I didn’t have the foresight to grab the camera the night before) and to another post by 6 for the beginning of the event. I rolled in right before they started the run.

I snapped a few photos and walked the 5k with some of the people from our center. An hour later -- okay, to be fair we could’ve walked faster, but there were actually a lot more people walking than I thought there would be and the road was cluttered - we finish up the walk/run and I head back to my office to get ready for work.

Let me rephrase that.

I head back to my office to get my gym bag, which I dropped off at 5:30, so I could take it back to my apartment downtown because that’s right – I forgot my pants.

Much as I would’ve liked to have worn sweats all day, I doubt it would’ve gone over well with the command. Especially since I was out and about for most of the day.

I eventually get back to work at 9 and it’s just one thing after another from that point on.

If I wasn’t hunting down bulletin board keys, I was giving out ask me buttons (our campaign for September – long story). If I wasn’t updating the commander’s blog, I was rushing to have posters made. If I wasn’t editing articles, I was having changes made to websites. If I wasn’t doing a news release, I was answering a dozen new emails.

It was a long day.

I rolled out of work after 7 p.m.

I ate all THREE meals in my office today.

There’s something wrong with that picture.

Anyway, I made it home by 8 p.m. and forced myself to do circuits B and C.

Between the 5k walk, the two circuits and the 18,000 steps I registered today, I think I can let it slide that I just ate two cookies….and a number of mint musketeers throughout the day….

Tomorrow is Friday – YAY!

I have another early day because I’m taking two of our docs to a morning radio show. Fingers crossed it goes well.

Cheers,
Jen

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Day three: It's about time to stray from the plan...

Alright so today is the third day of my grand workout plan. The agenda calls for cardio/stretching, but I had to substitute it. I know, I know, I’m already making concessions.

Originally, I had planned on going to the gym in the mornings for any day that requires cardio, however I have morning report on Wednesdays so that was automatically a no-go. Instead, I packed my gym bag and planned on going after work.

However, Kelli and I decided to go to a Pilates class instead. It’s a 12 week commitment, which is way more than my 21-day plan, but I decided what the hell – it couldn’t hurt.

The class started at 6 on another one of our posts. So we book it there and wait around for awhile until the instructor decides to show up. When we finally get in there, the first thing I notice are the mirrors. There are huge floor to ceiling mirrors lining both of the main walls. Uh oh. This could only mean one thing.

They actually want me to LOOK at myself while I work out.

Pssh – what kind of crap is this?

My first thought is go to the real gym, but I told Kelli I would do this so I decide to stay. The first class is about learning how to breathe the right way and how to line up your body in certain positions.

I am by far the most remedial person in this beginner’s class. Between the former dancers and the prior Pilates students, I am at square zero.

At first, I was a little annoyed when the instructor would walk over and correct my form. However, now that I think about it, this is really the best way to learn. By physically moving your hips or legs or whatever, you get to learn the proper way to do the move, which in turn makes it more effective.

You just have to get over yourself.

Which is where I may run into an issue, but I digress.

The class wasn’t terrible and we used lots of props. We had small rubber bouncing balls, giant foam cylinders which reminded me of thick pool noodles and head wedges.

Needless to say, it was interesting.

Tomorrow, I’m going to make up for the cardio by doing a 5k walk at 6a.m.

Wish me luck.

PS - Just for the record, my legs were so sore today that whenever I had to sit down I sort of fell into the chair. My muscles are on strike. Fabulous.

Cheers,
Jen

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Day two: You want me to do what??

Today is day two of my 21-day workout makeover. Woohoo.

Instead of focusing on cardio and stretching, today was all about completing circuits A and C. Circuit A focuses on your arms, chest and butt. There are four exercises you do in a row.

First, you do 20-25 push ups, and yes, they are the girly push ups. Then you do the chest flye where you lie on your back, hold your weights and extend your arms until they’re almost touching the floor. Then you bring your hands back together above your chest. You do 25 of these.

Next, you do backward lunges while holding your weights. You do 15 for each leg. Then you do 20 -25 squats while resting your weights on your shoulders.

Fun, right?

Oh and did I mention that in the small print it says you should do this FOUR times in a row? Pssh.

Part of me wanted to shred the paper and grab a cookie. Part of me wanted to curl up on the couch and surf the net. And somewhere deep down, I found the part of me that was willing to suffer.

So I did the four cycles.

Then I grabbed the information for circuit C and drove on.

Circuit C is all about working your abs. There are only three exercises, but you still do the entire circuit four times in a row. I ran into a problem with the second exercise. I couldn’t figure out how to do it.

I read and re-read the directions. I studied the picture. I tried what I thought was the right thing and nearly popped something out of socket.

I decide at this point that Circuit C is lame and I should substitute the 21 minute abs program instead. I decide this for two good reasons.

1. I don’t understand the directions for Circuit C.

2. I don’t understand the directions for Circuit C.

Okay, so maybe I should get it, but I don’t. Sue me.

Tomorrow is another cardio day. Part of me wants to get up at 5 a.m. and hit the gym before work. However, I’m already feeling sleepy and this means I’ll be working out tomorrow evening. Not to mention, I have morning report tomorrow (where I brief my commander and deputies) and I can’t afford to be late.

What a shame.

Day two down, 19 more to go.

Cheers,
Jen

Monday, September 8, 2008

Day one: Do I really want to do this?

So yesterday I said I was going to start my 21-day workout makeover. And true to my word, I did the exercise regime for day one – cardio and stretching.

I’d be lying if I said I never doubted for a minute I was going to do it because when my alarm went off at 5 a.m., I had serious doubts.

The room was pitch black, it was quiet and it was cold outside of the blankets. Why would I want to get up, put on gym clothes and hoof it 10 minutes down the street to the parking garage only to drive to work and go to the gym? I could always just say my alarm didn’t go off.

But then I remembered my dear Navy SEALs from the book I just finished. Did they whine about staying in freezing cold water for hours at a time? Did they gripe because their hands and feet were bound and they had to learn to swim anyway? Did they throw a tantrum when they had to run 4 miles on the beach in wet, sandy uniforms with 50 pounds on their back?

Probably.

But they did it anyway.

So I got my sorry butt out of bed and went to the gym.

Side note: I picked up a new book during lunch about a mercenary army. Think this means I’ll take up shooting next? Could be an interesting story…Although I’m not sure who would let me handle a gun. Best to find someone who doesn’t know me.

Back to day one.

So I get to the gym and all the lights are out. Say what?! I know I didn’t just get up, drive all the way out here and not be able to get in the gym. Okay, secretly, I was kind of hoping that was the case because then I could go sleep in my office, but that’s not really the point.

Eventually, I find some people with gym clothes on and ask where the gym is. Never mind they know that I work there and have no idea where the gym is. That speaks for itself.

I finally get to the “gym in a box” and Amy and Doc are already there working out. They ask where I’ve been. I say lost.

I get blank stares.

Whatever. I still made it. I work out for about 30 minutes and think I’m going to die. My breathing is off and my heart is going about 192 beats a minute. I recall the wellness lady telling me I shouldn’t go above 194 because it may kill me.

I decide to slow down.

Even then, my heart rate is about 185. When I get finished my face is as red as a tomato, my middle school shirt (everything else was dirty!) is soaked through and I want to pass out.

It may have been short, but I consider it a good workout.

I feel obligated to mention that I later ate Popeye’s for lunch, which totally negates any of the calories I burned this morning. Whatever. I freakin love me some Popeye’s.

Plus, I came home and did my Pilates and abs workout for my “stretching”. That has to count for something, right?

Tomorrow is circuits A and C training. Will keep you posted.

Cheers,
Jen

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Does it look like I walk for fun?

Yesterday, Megan and I did a volksmarch here in Heidelberg. Volksmarching is a huge sport in Germany and this is one of their bigger events.

Essentially, volksmarching is just walking. However, while I thought it was leisurely strolling, it’s really more like power-walking. Or maybe even hiking.

There are several different courses you can take starting with a 5k and ending with a 42k (I think – I know it’s marathon distance). We did the 10k course.

We started back behind the health center and wound our way up and around the hills on the other side of the road. It was actually kind of peaceful. We walked through the vineyards and hiked up some hills in the forest.

Granted, I huffed and puffed up the hills, but no matter.

When we got about halfway there was a stand being run by some boy scouts. We had skipped breakfast so we grabbed a couple of bread and cheese sandwiches. The boy scouts just went up another notch in my book.

The rest of the course was relatively easy since it was either flat ground or downhill. It took us about two hours to do the six-mile course and we registered about 14,000 steps on our pedometers. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, you should walk 10,000 steps a day. Weight loss starts in at 12-14,000.

Just some fun facts for you.

That night I could definitely feel the strain in my legs.

So I’ve decided it’s time to get back in shape. I’ve been lazy for way too long.

So tomorrow I’m starting a 21-day workout makeover plan. I’m hoping if I post my progress to the web I’ll hold myself more accountable. Or at the very least, I’ll have to come up with some better excuses.

Tomorrow the madness starts. I hope I wake up on time. Faulty alarms are so common nowadays…

PS – I finished a book called The Warrior Elite this weekend. It follows a young group of Navy guys as they go through the initial course for Navy SEALs. The physical punishment and mental obstacles they’re put through are insane. If you have time, it’s worth the read.

Plus, it makes my 21-day plan look like child’s play. Talk about motivation!

Cheers,
Jen

Vicenza!

Last weekend, Megan and I took advantage of the four-day weekend and flew to Vicenza, Italy. We left her apartment around 6 a.m., made it to the airport about two hours later and actually got on the airplane about two hours after that. Our flight was only a little more than an hour so by noon, we were in another country. Man, I love being in Europe.

We stayed with her friend Lance, who just recently got back from deployment. He and his friend Sean picked us up at the airport and the weekend officially began. The two guys actually live in the same apartment building in downtown Vicenza so it made meeting up for meals fairly easy. We had lunch and walked around downtown for a bit. Megan and I ended up going back out while they rested and found a great department store called, Coin. There was a big sale on housewares so I bought two of these canvas paintings of girls in sailor outfits. They’re going in my bathroom :)

By the time we finished up at Coin we got a call saying Megan and Lance’s other friend Hugh was in town. He drove about six hours from Germany instead of flying – it was a last minute trip. The three of them went to school together in Boston and this was the first time they had all been together in a couple years I think. It was a mini-reunion of sorts.

Anyway, we have dinner, go to a bar and then go to another bar called Art Café. This is where all of the American Soldiers hang out. It was a normal bar, but I’ll always remember it because this is the first place I had to use an authentic Italian toilet. For those of you who don’t know, it’s essentially a huge square cut into the bathroom floor. Then you stand with your legs on either side or squat. All I can say is thank goodness I was wearing a skirt. If I had worn jeans, I’m not sure how I would’ve used the restroom without peeing all over myself. I think I would’ve just held it.

Anyway, we go back to Lance’s apartment, stay up for awhile chatting and eventually crash. The next day we head for the beach. It’s only about an hour away and we get there in the early afternoon.

Megan gave me some of her super tanning lotion (because let’s face it, I’m white) and we settle in for a day of tanning. I alternate between dozing and reading one of my romance novels. Ah and people-watching. Italians are all so tan. However, some of them were straight up crispy. There were a couple of guys near our blankets and they looked like baked chicken that had been in the oven too long. You know, when it gets that thin crispy skin?

However, since I’m half-Irish, not Italian, I didn’t have to worry about crispy skin. Instead, I had the pleasure of having lobster legs. Maybe I didn’t flip over enough, maybe I should’ve just used regular suntan lotion or maybe I just don’t belong in the sun. But for whatever reason, my legs were bright pink. In fact, a week later, there are still some tender pink spots on the front of my legs. Now I’m paranoid about skin cancer. But that’s another story.

So we get back from the beach and I get to take a shower. This is the only shower I take all weekend (they’re teaching me to rough it). Like their toilets, the showers are kind of funny. There’s a huge tub and the shower head is about a foot about the lip of the tub. This means you have to squat in the tub so that you can shower. Needless to say, I made a mess.

Eventually we all get dressed and go have dinner. Then we head to a fair we had seen earlier in the day. Y’all know that I’m not one for carnie rides. I mean c’mon – you want me to put my life in the hands of some guy making crappy money who put this ride up 24 hours ago? Pssh – please.

However, sometimes the group sentiment wins out. Which is how I ended up on a ride called the Matrix. Let me just say, I’m glad I’m still breathing because if that thing had broken it would’ve been a shitty way to go.

The ride has four arms with rows of chairs. So you all face each other in a big circle. I kind of looks like of those claws from the claw machines. Then the whole arm starts to swing back and forth like the big ship at Six Flags. At first, it’s not so bad. I’m like wow, I can hang – no worries.

Then it starts to get a little higher and starts to spin in a circle at the same time. At this point, I start to feel a little uneasy. Then the arm swings up into the air and I find myself staring straight at the ground. Not only am I staring at the ground, I am being lifted out of my seat. The only thing between me and solid ground is the restraint that comes down over my chest.

I am scared.

This goes on for a few more cycles and the ride slows down and comes to a stop. Then the Italians riding with us start chanting. I am in shock and saying a silent prayer of thanks that I’m still alive. So imagine my disgust when the ride starts up again.

Was it the Italians chanting? Was it all just part of the ride? Who knows? All I know is that we started up again and this time we went faster and we went higher. I can’t open my eyes. I manage to find Sean’s shirt and I hold on for dear life. He later said that he knew if his restraint broke that he’d be okay because I had a death grip on him and he wouldn’t fall.

I do not like the Matrix.

All I could do was close my eyes and try to breathe. Stupid carnie rides.

Anyway, I guess the guys worked up an appetite during the ride because we stopped for crepes. I’m pretty sure if I had put anything in my stomach it would’ve just come back up. So in the interest of group harmony, I passed on the crepes.

I don’t remember much else about the evening except we left the fair and went to the bar next to their apartment. Megan and I had long islands that looked black. Talk about a red flag.

I go to bed early and leave the three of them to catch up in the kitchen.

The next day Megan, Hugh and I wander around Vicenza and window shop. When we get back to the apartment Hugh and Lance both take naps so we slip out and head to a café. We have coffee (mine had bailey’s and mint cream, hers had caramel and nutella) and prosecco (a sparkling white wine – it’s fantastic).

Then we head toward another café down the road. We figured the boys would catch up after their nap. The place we stop at is fantastic. Although at first, we were a little apprehensive. They didn’t have menus and the girl didn’t speak very good English. So the chef/owner comes out and starts talking to us. We end up with rum and cokes. He asked if we wanted 3 or 5 year old rum.

Huh?

We say 3.

We’re like man; this is going to be a $20 rum and coke. Who asks what year you want?

The chef comes back out and he’s got our rum over ice and little coke bottles so we can pour our own. This is the best rum I’ve ever had. Period.

He also brings out fresh bread that’s gooey on the inside and crunchy on the outside, fresh salami (I could live off this stuff), black olives, peanuts, sugary pecans and tomatoes. He explains each thing to us and we’re blown away. Talk about a presentation! We decide this is our new favorite place in Vicenza. Not to mention the rum and cokes end up being about 5 euro a piece. Not too shabby. The boys join us and have some wine. Eventually we leave and the chef gives us his business card. If only we lived there…

We head to another bar and sit outside on the steps. I’m not sure what time we went to bed, but it was late.

The next morning, we get up early and head back to Frankfurt.

Vicenza is officially crossed of the to do list.

Note: I’ll add photos later!

Cheers,
Jen

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Blink 180 what?





Does anyone else remember Blink 182? I found their cd while I was unpacking and I had forgotten how much fun their music can be. I’ve been blaring it from my car whenever I get a chance. The security guards give me funny looks when they hear some of the lyrics as I go through the gate to work, but it is what it is. Who wouldn’t want to hear the “Party Song” or about how “the state looks down on sodomy?”on an early Monday morning? We’ll find out tomorrow.


I have to be at work at 6 a.m. so I probably should be in bed right now, not typing a blog post. However, I’m wide awake and lying in bed would be pointless. Some would argue I should be doing some work or at the very least surfing the net, but my blog is in need of some TLC.
Work is still progressing in the right direction, but there’s still a lot to be desired. Growing pains suck. On the bright side my business cards came in, which clearly means I am a professional.
Ha.

Tomorrow I’m briefing some new employees on public affairs – something I did last week for some of our higher ranking officials. I have to remember most people have no idea what I do. Usually when people see me I’m taking notes for an interview or snapping photos – they think I’m a reporter or a photographer. I should relish this opportunity to teach people about what I do. Hopefully, it’ll sink in.

On a personal note, I’m still surrounded by boxes. You’d think I would take the time to unpack everything and you know, build a home, but no. Instead, I’ve built a path from the living room to the kitchen, to the bedroom and bathroom. Everything else is just shoved to the side. I’m feeling unmotivated. Maybe if I knew people were coming over I’d straighten up. I should take a page out of Co-Worker’s book and schedule a house-warming party. Then I’d be forced to clean…or would I? Part of me thinks I would. Part of me thinks I’d relocate the party to the pub downstairs.

Speaking of pubs – do you like how I can always segue into drinking? – I felt really old on Friday. I was at work until about 6:30, which sucked but doesn’t really matter, and got home around 7ish. I was walking to my apartment from the parking garage and there were two girls dressed up in cocktail dresses and heels. They were blitzed and one of them fell down in the middle of the street because of the cobblestones. They start laughing hysterically and I couldn’t help but think of college.

Followed by the, “you couldn’t at least wait until the sun went down to get ripped?”

That’s when I had the “oh man, I’m getting old” thoughts.

Is it just me?

Other big news – okay not big, but worth mentioning – our organization has a holiday ball each year. Yep, that’s right. After four years of sorority formals, I thought I would be able to put the dresses away and be done with the whole thing (with the exception of fabulous weddings, of course). Apparently, that’s not the case. We have a full blown military formal each year. Go figure.
This means dress shopping. I’d wear one of my old formals, but let’s face it, they’re no longer in style and they no longer fit. Ladies, if you want to keep your sanity, do NOT try on your old formals. It’s not fun.

Trust me on this one.

Anyway, because our dollar sucks so bad buying a dress here really isn’t the best idea. This means I need to do online shopping because I can’t make an emergency trip back to the States for a dress. If you know of any decent Web sites, please send them my way!

Alright, I should go check on my laundry – it’s been about two hours so it should be wrapping up.

PS – the photos are of me and Amy. We went cruising up the river today and stopped in a small town to hike up to some castle ruins. Wicked.

Cheers,
Jen

Monday, August 4, 2008

Wurzburg!







This weekend Megan and I went to Wurzburg to do some sight-seeing. I got to take my car on the Autobahn for the first time, which was uber-exciting. The weather was fabulous on Saturday so we drove with the top down. Funny, driving at 90-some odd mph really isn’t that much different than driving 60 mph with the top down. Your hair is going to look crazy no matter what so you just enjoy the ride.

Speaking of MPH – I was kind of wary to hit the 100 mph mark just because you know, it’s 100 freaking miles an hour. I finally got over my “fear” on the way home Sunday. I looked down and I was going 105 mph. I think you just sort of keep pace with traffic and you get in the habit of passing cars, ect. At one point we ran into some traffic and I remember it felt like we were going all of 30 mph --- we were going 70 mph.

Of course, there were still people passing me who were probably going 115 or 125 mph – I just couldn’t bring myself to go that fast.

I digress.

So we got to Wurzburg and we walked around the market place and grabbed some lunch at one of the local restaurants. Now in Germany, you don’t have a hostess or anything. You simply sit where there’s an open seat and your server will get to you when they can – it’s very chillax. So I was sitting at a table for four while Megan went to the restroom when this random guy comes up and starts speaking to me in German.

Of course, I have to explain I have no idea what he’s saying and he thinks I’m blowing him off. After a brief explanation, I realize he wants to sit at the empty seat at our table. He said he’s from Scotland and was visiting on vacation. So I tell him to sit. When in Germany, right?

When Megan came back she was a little confused, but played it off relatively well. The three of us just toughed it out through our meal and his two glasses of strawberry wine. He seemed nice enough, just really sweaty and a little hairy. Oh well, whatever. It would be a good way to meet people when you’re traveling alone and if I were him, I’d pick the table with the two young chicks too.

We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the town. We went into a couple of old churches. These churches are absolutely gorgeous. I can’t imagine actually attending a service at one of them, much less getting married. We had to wait for a wedding party to finish up before we could go into one of the churches. What an experience.

We also went to the Residence, which is a palace in Wurzburg designed by some of the leading Baroque architects. It was damaged in WWII, but they’re remodeling it piece by piece. Some of the progress they’ve made is amazing. They’ve taken old statues missing faces and limbs and given them new life.

You can also walk around parts of the palace and look at the rooms, some of which seem really random. They would have a couple of chairs or maybe a small desk. I wonder if they actually used these rooms. Like, I’m going to go sit in the rose room and reflect on worldly events. Or I wonder if they’re like all of us – we may have a formal sitting room, but we always end up in the living room or the kitchen. It would be interesting to have a flashback in time.

Side note: My favorite room was the shimmery green room. The original coat was some type of silver/shimmery paint and then they painted green over it. Although the paint has darkened over time, especially because of the damage, there were still parts where the walls absolutely seemed to shine.

There were also gardens attached to the home. They had these awesome cone-shaped trees. They looked just like gnome hats. There was just something about them I found appealing. Of course, they also had the hedges and the dreamy flowers and statues.

Megan said it reminded her of Alice in Wonderland.

A trip down the rabbit hole indeed.

Afterward, we made our way to the hotel and I spent about 20 minutes trying to parallel park. Man, it’s just one of those skills I have yet to master. I’m always afraid I’m going to hit a car! I need to practice so she can’t make fun of me anymore :)

I’m not sure what the best way to describe our hotel would be. Probably clean and efficient. There were these two cute little twin beds side by side and your other basic amenities. We didn’t spend much time in the hotel anyway.

After dropping our stuff off we walked back to the old town and grabbed some ice cream and a couple of beers. We relaxed outside under the umbrellas and people-watched. Megan thinks I can pull of a leopard dress and red pumps. I’m still skeptical.

We also saw this older woman in a shimmery outfit with nice-sized heels. She looked kind of like a mermaid with legs. I’m not sure why I remember that, but it sticks out as important…

Once we finished our beers we headed toward the wine store. We had heard about a wine party, but when we got there we found out it was on the side of the mountain. So we walked over to the bus stop and took a shuttle bus to the wine party.

The rest is fairly uneventful – we had some wine, some fries and danced to some polka/80’s music.

The lead singer kind of looked like Maria – random, ja?

The next day we came home and recovered from our trip.

A good weekend all around.

Cheers,
Jen

Friday, August 1, 2008

My stuff has arrived...

It’s about 7:30 p.m., I’ve had a half bottle of wine and I’m surrounded by boxes of crap I should’ve gotten rid of ages ago. Life is interesting if nothing else.

My movers arrived at about 8 a.m. this morning and stayed until about noon. I felt like such an ass. I live on the fourth floor and they had to carry all sorts of awkward boxes up the spiral staircase from hell. There were only three movers – 2 men and one woman (what a trooper). It had to be at least 90 degrees outside and they were literally dripping sweat onto my furniture and boxes. One of the guys actually had to change his shirt because it was clinging to his body.

I felt terrible, but there’s not much you can do at that point. I just kept forcing water down their throats to keep them hydrated. I think they only took one break the entire time. Their legs must be made of steel. Maybe I should look into becoming a part-time mover…

So now I’m surrounded by boxes and mismatched furniture. I’ve started stacking things in my storage closet, much like a game of Tetris. Everything has to be turned just the right way so everything else will fit. Unfortunately, I’ve stashed a box in there that shouldn’t be there.

You see, I packed two weird rectangle boxes with a weird green trim. One has stuff for good will; another has kitchen stuff (I think). Being lazy, or at the very least inattentive, I shoved one of the “green” boxes at the back of the storage closet thinking it was the donation box (which makes no sense anyway). Of course, it wasn’t.

And naturally, I didn’t figure this out until after I had shoved a number of totes and tables ect. in front of said box. Faced with this dilemma, I decided what any full-blooded American would decide – eff it. The box can freakin stay there. If I need to buy replacement stuff, so be it. That box is the least of my concerns. I need to worry about the rest of the crap all over my apartment, namely the crap all over my bed. I can’t even see it at this point. I know it’s there, but I couldn’t even tell you the color of the sheets. Your guess is as good as mine.

So being the complainer that I am, I mentioned this to Jughead during our chat session. He pointed out that when he moved into his apartment he opened a bottle of wine and kind of chillaxed while he unpacked. Good call, Juggie. Good call.

I decided to open a Riesling I’ve had in my fridge for about three weeks. I’ve been waiting to get a corkscrew, but as it turns out, it’s a screw top. I’ll be damned.

Now I know it sounds cheap (and it was – only about 3 Euros I think), but its fabulous wine. And I should know, seeing as I’ve already had half a bottle.

Which leads me to the here and now. I’m chillaxing on my striped love seat (that matches absolutely nothing in my apartment) and sipping on my white wine. I should probably get up and clear off my bed so I can get some rest, but I’m relatively comfortable where I am. Maybe I’ll pull a Homer and develop my own personal ass groove.

Ah and for those of you that were concerned, all of my stuff made it into the apartment. There was a brief scare when my box spring got stuck in the stairwell, but the guys made it work. They were almost home-free at that point and I doubt they wanted to drag it down the stairs any more than they wanted to wedge it the last few feet. Bless them.

Alright, I suppose I should continue unpacking my “treasures”.

PS – the paintings I ordered on eBay also came in today. They are absolutely fabulous and they couldn’t have had any better timing. Although I’m sure the delivery guy was curious as to why I had sweat dripping from my face (hey, it’s hot!). Maybe he just thought I was out of shape (a valid option).

Cheers,
Jen

Monday, July 28, 2008

Geez, it's been a couple of weeks now...

So I’ve been a total slacker when it comes posting entries on my blog. I need get my act together! As always, there are lots of things going on across the pond.

I found out last week that my household goods are finally here! I’m working with the transportation people to set up a date for my furniture to be delivered. I’m totally stoked except for one small drawback…

As it turns out, if the movers can’t get my furniture up my spiral staircase they’re going to leave my furniture in the street. Yep, you read right, in the street.

Apparently, they’re under no obligation to make your furniture fit in your apartment. They’re also under no obligation to take your furniture back to storage, to the dumpster or anywhere else for that matter.

My only real concern is about my box spring and my couch. I think everything else will fit. Fingers crossed. One lady said she sawed her box spring in half and then put it back together. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, right?

Work is going relatively well. I’m still working long hours (this Saturday I worked 8 hours), but I’m starting to feel more comfortable with my job role. I’m hoping that by the end of the year I’ll have more of a routine down. Although, given my line of work, routines aren’t very common. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Shortage of vaccines? Maybe. Stars and Stripes banging down my door? Could happen. My boss wants me to re-vamp the entire web program in the next four hours? Okay, unlikely, but still possible.

I guess it’s kind of a double-edged sword. Even though I’d like a routine to a certain degree, part of what I love most about my job is that you never know what’s going to happen. Keeps you on your toes – and it’s definitely not boring.

I guess what I should say is that I hope by the end of the year I’ll be comfortable performing all of my job duties. Yeah, maybe that’s better.

On a completely unrelated note, I saw Dark Knight this weekend. I’m sure it wasn’t the same viewing experience all of you had since I saw it at the theater on post. This translates into regular seating, a small screen, bad audio and lots of screaming babies. But hey, it wasn’t even 5 bucks to get in!

Anyway, the movie was fantastic. I love Christian Bale, but Heath Ledger stole the show. I kept trying to picture him from 10 Things I Hate About You or A Knight’s Tale, but he was completely lost in the role. You’ve got to see it to believe it. Everyone else in the film was irrelevant. Bat what? Bat who?

Yesterday was a lazy day by anyone’s standards. I did some laundry, finished up the alumnae newsletter (finally!) and “lounged”. Amy dragged me out for dinner, but I had already eaten so I went with a liquid meal – i.e. a half liter of beer.

Good times.

Now I’m going to try and be disciplined and do my Pilates.

Fun.

Cheers,
Jen

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My wheels are here & I can pick them up!

All –

I have fabulous news for everyone relying on me to drive them around in Germany! Granted, at this point in time it only affects me, but good news is good news any way you slice it.

Not only did I pass my driver’s test last week, they called to let me know my car is here! Megan is going to take me to the equivalent of a DMV to register my car on Thursday and then it’s off to Mannheim to pick up my vehicle. I am ecstatic.

Speaking of my driver’s test, it was hard. There were 100 questions – 75 multiple choice/true-false and 25 matching (signs). I only missed 6, but I think that’s because I’ve become a good guesser.

We had a 2 hour class before we took the test, but I didn’t take too much away from it. We watched a 45 minute video narrated by their version of a stereotypical German polizei, handlebar mustache and all. Like putting this random guy on the screen is going to encourage me to listen to the words in the background. All I could think about was his wicked mustache and funny glasses.

My instructor wasn’t much better. One, he was REALLY loud. Everyone had to take turns going up to the front of the room to turn in our forms. Then he would publicly berate us if we forgot to fill in a blank box. I thought he was going to get on me because I filled my out in half blue and half black ink – don’t ask – but he didn’t.

Instead, he called on me repeatedly during the class to see if I had studied beforehand. Or maybe he thought I just looked really confused. Whatever. Driving over here IS confusing. They have this right before left rule that makes my head hurt. Any time you come up on an unmarked intersection, you have to yield to the person on your right even if they’re coming from a stopped position and you’re driving straight down the road. It makes no flippin sense if you ask me, but unfortunately the Germans didn’t consult me before putting their driving laws into effect.

Yeah, so he called on me and I don’t think I ever got the answer correct. No wonder he looked at me funny when I did well on the test. Or maybe he looked smug because he thought he had taught me something. Who cares? A driver’s license is a license.

In other news, I just found out this afternoon that Tina signed up to run a marathon in Greece in November. I thought about volunteering to join the running club as well, but then I remembered that I don’t run.

Instead, I may look into planning a trip to Greece so I can go cheer her on. Sounds like the perfect excuse for a mini-vacay!

Anyway, hope everyone is having a kick ass week so far!

Cheers,
Jen

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fourth of July Germany-style

Happy fourth of July weekend! I hope everyone enjoyed their day off and the fireworks in their area.

Megan and I had a girls night Thursday and made white trash margaritas (ala Begley!) and watched old Sex in the City episodes and Bridget Jones’ Diary. When I said girls night – I meant girls night!

I spent Friday running errands. I went to the Familia Center, which is like a strip mall, but inside. They have an awesome bakery, which I had to stop at, and a big grocery store, which was my original destination.

I probably spent an hour wandering around the store looking at the different German products. Did you know their condiments come in a tube? You can buy mustard in what looks like a toothpaste tube. It’s strange at first, but I guess you get used to it.

I played it safe and bought things like yogurt, bread and chocolate. I probably could’ve gotten these things down where I live, but walking around the Familia center is just fun. They also have a huge wine section and sell wine in juice box-type packages. Too weird. Although, they’re probably perfect for picnicking.

Friday night, I went over to Danelli’s for a fourth of July BBQ. SoBryce was also in attendance. I made white trash margaritas (anyone else noticing a theme?) and they made baked beans, potato casserole, wursts and squash/zucchini. It was a tasty BBQ! Granted, you usually eat burgers and hot dogs on the fourth, but when in Germany…

Eventually we wandered down to the town square in Schwetzingen because SoBryce had seen an ad for fireworks. We walked around for about an hour, but we never saw any fireworks. There was a big hoopla at one of the installations, but no one was in any state to drive. Plus, I still don’t have my driver’s license. We won’t get into that…

When we got back to Danelli's, we created my very own Wii character. Of course, they made me take the Wii age test right off the bat. I'm 37 in Wii years, but considering I've only played once or twice, that's not too shabby.

I also beat everyone during our first game of bowling :) Now if only I could take those bowling skills and use them in real life. Maybe then I could bowl at the bowling alley without people staring.

I ended up spending the night in “my” room and came home the next day around noon. I spent Saturday running around with Amy.

There was an African market near our places so we walked down to watch the dancers and buy shell bracelets. They also had some Ethiopian food, but I had already eaten. Bummer. Oh well, I’m sure there will be another random fest in the near future. Today, I heard a do wop group busting out some tunes down below my apartment. You never know what’s going to happen downtown.

Anyway, back to yesterday. So, I tried Indian food for the first time last night. I’m not sure if I liked it or not. I had chicken with this really sweet orange sauce. It was just ok. The bread, called nan, was really good but I think that’s because it was basically a flour tortilla.

I brought the rest of my food home, but I have a feeling I won’t eat it.

I finally got some rest last night and slept for about 10 hours. Today has been all about getting laundry done (since it takes 2 hours per wash cycle!), getting some work done and relaxing.

I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time with my new love, eBay. Danelli told me about this fantastic art site where you can buy paintings for $1 and then pay to have they stretched. I bought two, but am having trouble buying the stretching service. They should have more detailed instructions!

I’ve also started searching for my favorite stores like The Limited, because they don’t sell their clothes online. You’d be surprised how many clothes are on eBay that are still new with tags. Although, if you really think about it, it shouldn’t be that surprising.

I can think of loads of clothes in my closet (er…on the boat that contains my closet) that still have tags on them and have never been worn.

I’d sell them on eBay, but that’s too much work. I’d much rather just buy things.

PS – After I took a shower this morning, I put my pj’s back on and haven’t changed since. Yay!

Cheers,
Jen

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Whoops!

All-

Looking back, I think my last few posts have been kind of crappy. It's like I'm driving the complainer train or something. So to offset my whiny ways, here are 10 things I'm absolutely diggin right now.

1. I just had a strawberry margarita and nachos for dinner.

2. I'm off for the fourth of July so tomorrow is technically Friday.

3. The bottle of wine I bought is finally cold enough to drink.

4. Tomorrow is pay day.

5. My foot is much better than two days ago.

6. I still love my job (despite the minor complaining the past few days - sometimes ya just gotta vent).

7. My cell phones play "I've been waiting for you" and "Come on and pick it up" when they ring.

8. You can watch Tila Tequila episodes online (I know it's a sick sick world)

9. I started a new book (granted it's about the Iraq war - not exactly light reading).

10. I already have some awesome friends like Megan, Danelli and Amy.

No more complaining!

Much love,
Jen

Monday, June 30, 2008

Sleepless nights mean restless days

All –

Last time we chatted I was on my way to watch the Germany/Spain soccer game. Unfortunately, Germany lost. There were lots of depressed Germans and lots of excited Spaniards, who surprisingly enough were in the middle of downtown Heidelberg.

The game itself wasn’t even very exciting. I think the most exciting thing that happened was when Megan got upset about the goal, slammed her water bottle down in the air and landed on my huge Beck’s beer bottle which then proceeded to smash into a million tiny pieces on the cobblestone ground.

We played it off like we were upset about the goal…

And don’t worry, there was only a little bit of beer left anyway. My drinking was not heavily impacted by this unfortunate accident.

Anyway, as I was saying, it wasn’t very exciting.

After the game we go our separate ways. They end up walking all the way home because they took the wrong bus/train/streetcar. I walked all of 50 feet and up three flights of stairs.

Normally, the noise doesn’t bother me, but I absolutely could not sleep last night. I was up until at least 3 a.m. and I got up at 6 a.m. It sucked.

Although I probably could’ve saved myself. Ivy said he was up watching a movie and I was more than welcome to have the guest bed. Apparently, one block over makes a world of difference when it comes to post-game noise.

I didn’t go, but mainly because I was up chatting with my parents. I was telling my dad how my commander was irritated with me over the weekend. Apparently, he tried to call me Friday night at 9 pm (I was already enjoying a margarita at Fiesta Mexicana at this point) and I didn’t pick up. Granted, I didn’t pick up because I left my phone at Danelli’s on accident. It’s not like I deliberately blew him off.


I’m hoping this all blows over because he definitely gave me the cold shoulder at work today. He’s just going to have to get over this. I mean, c’mon. One, I’m not on call 24/7 unless it’s an extreme emergency. If I was constantly on call I couldn’t have wine with dinner or travel more than 20 minutes away. I am allowed to have a life, you know?

Anyway, enough about that – it’ll put me in a foul mood and I’m not even close to done with my post.

Like I was saying, I didn’t get much sleep last night but I felt awake enough. I even left the apartment early!

Unfortunately, luck was not on my side this morning. I’ve been having some foot pain on the top of my right foot and it’s been making it hard to walk. I’ve been putting off having it looked at because I figured it would just fix itself.

But the good Lord takes care of fools and he made sure I got to a hospital. On my way to the streetcar I full on twisted my ankle because of the cobblestones. I almost fell over the pain was so bad. For a minute, I thought I had fractured my foot.

I hobbled all the way to the streetcar and it took me an extra 45 minutes to get to work so I was late on top of everything else.

I was hella busy this morning, but decided I should have someone check out my foot. One of the nurses looked at it and said she thought it may be broken. Say what?!

I ended up getting my foot and ankle x-rayed shortly after that. I hadn’t even looked at my foot since I twisted it because I had been so busy and when I pulled my shoe off it was grotesque. My entire ankle is the size of a baseball and the top of my foot is swollen. My foot just ballooned. It was gross.

Ah and because there’s always icing on the cake – I hadn’t shaved this morning AND I was wearing the shoes that always make my feet smell. It’s not like they were just some random x-ray techs – they’re my co-workers!

Anyway, I found out later this afternoon that my foot is fine, it’s just sprained. I have to elevate it and ice it and something else. She called it RICE, but all I could think of was sushi.

Hey man, it was lunch time.

I spent the rest of the day running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Have I mentioned that the four deputies are all full and light bird colonels? I essentially have like six high-ranking bosses.

Ugh.

So I stayed late at work and took my time getting home so I wouldn’t twist my ankle again. I also made this fabulous tortellini I found at a German grocery store. Yum.

Now I’m sitting here wondering why I ate all that food. I’m so full. How am I going to make dessert fit??

Alright, it’s nearly 8 so I better get to work. I’ve got too much to do during a normal workday so it looks like I’ll be working from home for awhile. Exciting.

Maybe if I get some crutches people will lay off some.

Cheers,
Jen

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The weekend is for drinking AND for errands :)

So even though I spent most of the weekend drinking with my new buddies (ref: Juicy Bits), I still managed to get a lot accomplished.

I spent most of the day Saturday with Amy. Our first stop was the IKEA in Mannheim, which we had a hard time finding. We probably drove around for the better part of two hours looking for this IKEA. Never mind it’s a huge blue and yellow building the size of a small farm. It was hard to spot.

We finally get there and spend a couple hours looking at the showroom and picking up things for our respective apartments. I go small and end up with some hand towels and some bathroom glassware. She goes big and buys two tables. We also find these fabulous rugs to decorate her bathroom with –

Oh and the very first thing we did at IKEA was eat a hot dog. You get your hot dog and you add mustard, onion straws and pickles. It sounds disgusting, but it was fabulous. On the way out, we got soft serve ice cream :)

Did I mention Amy shares my love of eating?

Next stop was on post to find a yoga mat. I end up with an iron.

We get back in the car and finally find the furniture store, which had just closed ten minutes prior to our arrival. We decide to go to the IKEA in Heidelberg instead.

I know it sounds like we’re obsessive-compulsive about IKEA, but I really needed three more bathroom rugs and they didn’t have them in Mannheim.

Side bar – we also went to the bookstore and I started researching how to make sushi rolls. I think I’m going to make sushi my new diet. If I eat it for one meal a day I think I’ll start losing weight. Thoughts?

Anyway – after the second trip to IKEA we make our way to the Reve in Schwetzigen. There’s a Thai restaurant inside the grocery store she said I needed to try. It was definitely worth the drive.

Afterward, we go mini-grocery shopping to buy some essentials. For me, it means meat, bread, cheese and wine. Yum.

Then she dropped me off at home and I went off for my night with Megan and Archie (ref: Juicy bits).

Fast forward to Sunday –

I told Amy I would help her move her table up to her apartment today. Her patient was late (she was on-call this weekend) so she started moving her stuff earlier than we expected. She called right as I was getting ready to go have breakfast with Ivy (ref: Juicy Bits) so I invited her along to the bakery.

The three of us took our baked goods (chocolate brotchen for me) and headed toward the river. We had our breakfast on a bench while we watched the boats float by – surreal.

As it turns out, the woman’s apartment Amy is moving into is also the same woman who promised Ivy her kitchen table. Small world. He decides to tag along so he can check out his new piece of furniture.

We also manage to persuade him to carry the table up the stairs for us, which was really probably the safest thing to do anyway. Her stairs are 100 years old and warped as all get out. I could barely keep my balance and all I was carrying was a purse.

Her apartment is really nice, by the way. I think her bathroom could house a set of twins it’s so big!

After a quick tour, Ivy goes home and we head to work so she can see her patient. I spend the time goofing off in the staff room and scheduling a photo shoot for tomorrow.

Then we head off to the furniture store in Mannheim. She doesn’t find any rugs, but I found a yoga mat! Now I can do my Pilates again and not feel so guilty about those damn chocolate brotchens.

Which really aren’t that filling anyway….so we decide to go to the bowling alley for some grub. We both went intending to get salads, but caved and got burgers. The burgers were excellent. Any time I need my American burger fix, I’m going to the bowling alley.

After this we head to the PX for a few more things. We end up running into my boss and his wife.

Sigh.

Why is it I always look like crap when I run into important people?

I try to keep the conversation short and sweet, but Amy keeps the conversation going.

Sigh.

It’s time to go home.

I got back a few hours ago and I’ve been working on laundry and typing this blog post instead of doing work. I don’t get paid enough to work on the weekend.

Tonight is the big Euro 2008 final game. It’s between Germany and Spain and their supporters have been chanting outside my window for about an hour and a half now. It’s going to be noisy the rest of the evening so… if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

I’m going to meet Megan and Archie at the Big Pommes (French fries) stand in about 20 minutes or so and we’re going to go watch the game. It should be insane.

Seriously, these are fans like you’ve never seen fans. They put even the most outlandish NFL and NBA fans to shame. Paint your body in team colors and sit in the cold to watch football? Big deal. These folks would sit there naked and throw in a chant for good measure.

Let the alcohol flow.

Ah and GO GERMANY!

Cheers,
Jen

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Today was a good day

All –

I am absolutely 99% exhausted and should be in bed right now. However, I am feeling the overwhelming urge to jot this down so I will summon the last 1% of strength I have left to make this statement.

This week (and especially today) I learned something very important about my job – I’ve run around scheduling media visits for a special event, was out until almost 11pm last night at a partnership-building dinner, I spent almost the entire day doing warrior activities with our employees and I didn’t get home until almost 8 because I had to attend a community meeting.

I’m tired, I’m pretty sure I sprained my foot, I wore kevlar for a few hours in the sun, I got helmet hair from wearing a helmet two sizes too big, I know I walked into at least two spider webs while I was in the field and the most time I spent at my desk today was about an hour.

And you know what I learned?

I learned that I love my job.

There is not a doubt in my mind that I am in the right spot at the right time. I’ve always said things happen for a reason and this is just another piece of evidence for the books.

There were two very distinct events that led me to my sudden epiphany – both of which happened today.

Event 1
As I mentioned above I spent the day outside at our Best Warrior competition. This is where people compete in different events such as shooting, land navigation, combatives and the oral board. These people are amazing. They’re smart, they’re physically fit and they believe in what they’re doing. I was blown away.

But what really hit home for me was when these amazing people started saying how they thought I had the coolest job in the world. How I must be presented with the coolest opportunities and meet amazing people all the time. And asking how I got into the field and that they too, may want to go into public affairs someday.

The fact that these people thought I was the one with the cool job blew my mind. They’re the ones doing all the hard work, you know?

Then I got to thinking and they’re right. I have been blessed with a truly amazing job. I get to travel all over the world, I get meet these awesome people and I get to do cool things like hike through a forest, shoot guns at a range and eat lousy MREs.

How many people can say they do that on a regular basis?

Event 2
The second event that made me realize how much I love my job happened during the community meeting. It was, on a professional level, a huge breakthrough. During the meeting, I was actually able to run through the public affairs tactics I was going to start implementing based on the community’s feedback. Wow. I didn’t know my brain was already starting to analyze and process these things so quickly. I was impressed :)

What’s more is that I have some constructive criticism to give to the two speakers, both of whom are my bosses. Even better is that I actually feel comfortable giving them the criticism! Yes, it’s my job, but it’s never easy to tell someone something they should work on improving, especially when it’s your boss. BUT, I actually have enough confidence in myself and in my advice that I’m going to sit down and chat with them about it. Wow. I’m a public affairs officer…and I love my job.

Just wanted to share this bit of good news with the people I love.

Anyway, this has been me rambling on and on about what a great day I had. I hope all of you had a great day as well :)

PS - I’m not gloating, just excited.

PPS – Fiesta Mexicana is this weekend and Danelli and I are going tomorrow night. Look forward to a new Juicy Bits post!

Cheers,
Jen