Thursday, June 19, 2008

I have a home!

Today I went to the housing office and signed the lease for my new apartment. I had planned on moving in toward the beginning of July, but the apartment is ready now and they “encouraged” me to move in Monday.

Really, they kind of steamrolled me into moving in early, but that’s beside the point.

I am thrilled to finally have a place to call my own, six flights of stairs and all. However, I still have a lot of paperwork to fill out and financial things to settle. The government pays for my housing so I need to ensure all of my forms are in order. I can’t afford the $3,000 a month rent all on my own!

To celebrate my new home I think I will bum a ride to IKEA – yay!

The rest of the day was spent running errands. I opened a new bank account, mailed my change of address forms, etc. I also got a cell phone!

The best way to do the cell phone thing over here is to buy a cheap pre-paid phone. It’s so simple. You get the 19 Euro phone and add a 30 Euro card to your plan. My plan works where if I’m talking to someone else on T-mobile or a landline, I pay 29 cents for the first minute and the rest of the call is free. All other calls are 19 cents a minute. Any incoming calls are free – even if they’re from the States!

Now the key is to memorize the dozen numbers that make up my cell number. Between that phone and my work phone, I’ll need to carry a card in my wallet to keep things straight.

Things at the hospital are going well. Every time I turn around there’s another meeting I need to attend or another project team to join. People at the hospital are also starting to recognize me.

Probably because I’ve decided to turn on some Texas charm and chat up anyone willing to get within arms length. Bus stop, hallways – it doesn’t matter.

They probably think I’m crazy.

On the plus side, with all of the work I’m being given (and generating on my own by introducing myself to anything with a pulse) I will not be bored...ever.

Although my posts may become less and less interesting. I’ll be sure to start going to festivals and drinking liter beers so I have more exciting news to report.

For example, I could spend some time talking about the Macedonian restaurant I went to with Amy. I ordered kebabs, but what I got were flattened sausages which were stuffed with cheese and then re-rolled with bacon around it. Talk about a heart attack waiting to happen! I think my arteries hate me…

Or I could talk about the Americans I saw on the train today. They were all fraternity guys, probably over here for a study abroad program. They were wearing Tri Delta shirts if that tells you anything…

Anyway, they were loud and completely lost. They couldn’t figure out which stop to get off at, but they still gave off an arrogant vibe. People always say we’re overly confident and carry ourselves with a certain arrogance native Germans don’t have. I really hadn’t noticed until today.

But, they’re absolutely right.

I don’t know what’s worse. The fact that we’re arrogant even when we’re the foreigners or the fact I’m kind of proud that we can still act confident in uncomfortable situations. It’s a toss up.

On another random note, I have to share this dream I had last night. The gang from DC knows I can have some really cracked out dreams and this one was up there with the best of them.

In my dream, I’m talking to KP and MySister. I don’t remember what we’re talking about. All of a sudden, there’s a knock at the door and MySister goes to open it. She lets two guys in, but I can only see one of them. He’s a big guy built like a football player and he has spiky blond hair. He’s wearing a uniform similar to a police officer.

He starts talking and says something along the lines of, “I’m officer so and so and this is my partner…”

Right around this time my brain kicks in and says these guys aren’t the real deal. I start walking toward them and ask them to step back outside. At which point, I would lock the door and ask for some credentials.

As I get closer to the blond guy, he reaches out and grabs me close to his chest and puts a knife to my throat. All I remember thinking is oh shit, they’re going to rape me, my sister and my good friend. Why the hell did we open the door? We have to fight. I feel the adrenaline start pumping and I wake up.

What the hell.

It’s about 3:30 in the morning and there’s no way I was going back to sleep. I drag all of my bedding to the living room and watch re-runs of Oprah until I pass out again.

The dream probably has something to do with feeling like things are out of my control or maybe warning me that people aren’t always who they say they are. Or maybe I saw something on the news before I went to bed. I’m not sure.

I thought about investing in a dream book, but that would probably just freak me out even more.

Side note: Ladies and gentlemen (but especially you ladies), the type of situation I described in my dream is really not unfathomable. When I worked for the PD in Arlington, there were cases of people impersonating officers to gain entry into homes. Whether it was to rob the joint or the rape anyone inside, it doesn’t matter.

If you EVER have someone come to your door who says they are with the police (or any other company for that matter) ASK them for their credentials before you open the door. If they have a badge, take down their number and call the police station to confirm they’re legit.

I know it’s a pain, but please do it. It could save your life.

And don’t worry about pissing off the officer. Any officer worth his salt will give you props for taking the proper precautions.

Okay, off my soapbox for today.

Tomorrow is a long day of training – blah. Send me some funny jokes so I have something to look forward to when I get home!

Cheers,
Jen

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Notice!

All -

I have decided to start a second blog - I know, I know... One should be enough. The key word being should.

The additional blog, called The Juicy Bits, will contain stories about drunken nights and merry debauchery - things that should not be shared on a public site!

If you want access to the "fun" stuff, shoot me an email and I'll add you to the list.

PS - This is not Germany-specific. I plan on including some of the more interesting nights we had while we were in the sorority. A flashback of sorts!

Jen

Monday, June 16, 2008

NO, I'M NOT MARRIED. YES, I'M A FEMALE.

All –

Since today is Monday and we all had to go back to work I have decided to spare you my daily rant about how I can’t sleep. However, all bets are off for Tuesday.

This morning was uneventful as I only attended a meeting and read the paper. Regardless, I worked up an appetite and by noon I was starving. I decided to tag along with Amy and grab lunch.

We went to a Thai buffet near the office since I had claimed to enjoy Thai food the other day. I just prefer the not-so-spicy Thai. Anyway, the entire place was empty so I started having my doubts. Empty at 12:30? That’s a red flag for diarrhea and stomach problems.

She explained it’s because of the training holiday and most people are at home, not lining up to eat at the Thai buffet. Only time will tell if she was telling the truth. Good thing I’m such a sucker for a buffet.

Despite my misgivings, I gorged myself on eggrolls, fried crispy things and rice. Yum.

Afterward, we ran into a bit of trouble trying to get back on the installation. See, when you go through the gates they scan your ID card before you can pass through. Then cars are pulled at random – although I think attractive women and sports cars are more “random” than some – to be searched.

You have to get out of the car, open all the doors and the trunk etc. You also have to show your international driver’s license. Unfortunately, Amy couldn’t find her license and they told her she had to go home and get it. Who knew killing a few hours at work could be so easy?

So we head over to her temporary apartment and she rummages through all of her belongings only to come up empty. Then we dig through her car and come up with a whole lot of nothing. Not two minutes later, she found her license…in her purse.

This is something I would do. It’s really not our fault though. When you carry a large purse things tend to get lost inside. Don’t ask me how, they just do. I think the best solution is to manufacture purses with internal lights. So as soon as you unzip it, it lights up like a crackhead scoring a hit.

Hmm…The crackhead thing was kind of harsh…I’ve been reading way too many Tucker Max posts lately…

Long story short, she found her ID and dropped me off at housing.

I met with my counselor, told her I wanted the big apartment with the ridiculous stone steps and we made a verbal agreement. We’ll meet with the landlord Thursday to sign the paperwork. Exciting!

Then I went over to the Welcome Center to check another in-processing block. Yes, that’s right; I’m still doing in-processing stuff. The information they gave me was actually helpful, but the person working the counter rubbed me the wrong way - no, not like that - who’s a perv now?

She just naturally assumed I was a spouse. This, in and of itself, is not offensive. I’m glad in the sixty seconds she’d known me she decided I was likable enough to trap someone into spending eternity with me. What bothered me was that she didn’t think I was the one with a job.

When you sign in to these places you always have to check your status. Mine is always civilian, not family member because I’m the one with the government job. Makes sense, ja?

So she keeps asking if I’ll need help finding employment on the economy and not to worry my husband can come with me to the scary in-processing classes. What the hell?

AND this is not the first time this has happened. When I was scheduling the transportation of my goods at Quantico, the guy helping me actually had the audacity to ask if I was filling out paperwork for my husband. When I said no, he asked again just to be sure. Hey, dumbass, I’m pretty sure I know if I’m married.

Seriously, do I have a huge stamp on my forehead that says incompetent?

All I’m saying is what the hell is wrong with these people? We actually had a female competing for the presidency, but I can’t have a government job? I have to have a husband because I work for the Army? I must be a “dependent” because I’m female? Heaven forbid a single female under the age of 25 be able to support herself and have the balls to move to a foreign country on her own.

Bastards.

Not that I’m upset or anything…

On a lighter note, I was riding the strasse back to work and noticed all of the 80s-style mullets on the train. They’re not being sported by old folks either. Nope, the mullet is the hip new trend for teenagers and people in their 20s. I guess all trends really do recycle at some point.

Flashing forward - This evening I made a trip to the grocery store to buy things for dinner, including more bread.

I was very excited at the checkout because the cashier started speaking to me in German. I have no idea what she said, but the point is that she thought I would! I’m finally learning to blend in. Fortunately, people have been saying I have enough of a European look to fit in – you know, until I open my mouth. They also keep mentioning the French thing…do Germans like the French? I may need to research that…

Anyway, not only did I buy two brotchens, I bought two pretzels. I LOVE their pretzels.

I had been putting off buying them because you actually have to order them from the bakery. So today I sucked it up and managed to say zwei brezels without choking! I was so proud (and so hungry) I ate an entire pretzel on the way home….and I just finished the second one.

Now I’m ready for some lemon tea.

Side note, Danelli is throwing a soccer party tonight and making a special chili. It pained me to turn down the invite because we all know I love a good party, but I need to go to bed early. The commander is coming back from the States and I can’t afford to look worn out the first day I run into him.

Double side note, most of you know I’ve been living out of a suitcase for about six months now. It’s crazy how you forget about simple things. For example, today I met a guy in the credit card division who’s from Baltimore. I asked what part and he told me and he asked me where I lived. Would you believe I couldn’t remember where I lived? All I could remember was that it was near a huge Jewish community, which naturally, I had to share.

Forty-five minutes later I remembered, but that’s not really the point is it?

Cheers,
Jen

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sundays are slow days...

All –

I am pleased to report I didn’t get up until almost noon today. Okay so, I didn’t actually go to bed until 1 and yes, I tossed and turned, but still almost 10 hours of sleep is nothing to complain about!

I spent the early part of the afternoon lounging around the apartment and watching one of two English-speaking channels on my television. I also spent time doing two very important things.

1) I started a load of laundry. This is not as easy as it sounds. German washers take approximately two hours to complete one load of laundry. This is if you use cold water. If you need hot water, it will take even longer. For whatever reason, German washers don’t have a hot water hook-up so the machines have to take cold water and heat it for each load. Needless to say, you can literally spend an entire day doing laundry. From what I understand, dryers also take a considerable amount of time. I opted to hang dry my clothes.

2) I spent time updating my Facebook profile. Well, I spent some time updating my profile. Then I spent countless hours playing the never-ending movie game. Why I couldn’t comprehend the idea that it would never end I’m not sure. I kept thinking surely the questions will start to recycle themselves and then I can safely walk away. But alas, there are still more questions left to answer.

Fortunately, my new friend Amy called. I met her at the CPAC office my very first day of work and we had agreed to have dinner or something later in the week. She came by the apartment and we headed downtown to the Hauptstrasse.

Most of the stores are closed on Sundays, but the restaurants are all open and some of the more touristy shops are open for a short window of time. We walked up and down the Hauptstrasse and she pointed out some good places to go shopping – yay!

I also took her to my potential apartment and I learned she will be living less than a block away. I think this is a sign I should take the big apartment with the stone steps. This means if something were to happen, she would be close by – not to mention she’s a doctor! So if I fall down the six flights of stone steps leading to my apartment, she’ll be able to treat me while we wait for the ambulance.

We had dinner at a small sushi place around the corner and have decided to become regular patrons. Everything just tastes so much better over here. I think because it’s more authentic. And because she’s a girl after my own heart, we stopped by the gelato place to get dessert.

I got home around 6 and started another load of laundry – you really have to be committed to the chore since it takes at least two hours – and tried to iron some. I quickly tired of ironing and opted to call my dad instead.

I ordered his gift late so I figured the least I could do was send an e-card with family photos and give him a call on father’s day. The rest of my family is actually in Texas right now so he’s probably enjoying the peace and quiet at home for a change.

He also said he’s been thinking long and hard about my apartment situation…he said I should take the big apartment with the stone stairs. You only live once, right?

Tomorrow I should meet with housing, although I can’t remember when my appointment is…might need to check on that…hopefully there won’t be any issues securing my new home. Fingers crossed.

Have a good Monday!

Cheers,
Jen


PS - Today I learned my friend Polly's dad passed away. Please keep her and her family in your prayers. Love ya, girl.