Monday, June 22, 2009

Einkaufen!

Monday, June 22, 2009
Einkaufen is the german word for...

SHOPPING!

I am using the internet in a giant bookstore in the Donau Einkauf Zentrum, for 3 euros an hour. Or, 50 cents for 20 minutes. I am not sure that math adds up.

We are back in Regensburg and are having a great time. The beer is awesome, so far I am more of a fan of the lighter ales and pilsners, which is a surprise as I am a darker beer drinker at home. But whatever washes down the schnizel, right?

A few observations:

Thank god for the smoking ban in Canada.

I could really use a proper shower.

I haven't been hungry in 8 days, and yet, crave ice cream. ALL THE TIME.

German clothing stores in my price range are mostly frumpy or tarty. I need to make more monies.

Regensburg is by far the cleanest european city I have seen.

People do NOT all speak English, as I was told over and over. I am thankful for that 8 week class!

I am thirsty. Fortunately I can buy a beer in this bookstore. Cheaper than a glass of water.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hallo from Deutschland!

Thursday, June 18, 2009
We made it!

Gary and I arrived, jet lagged and hungry on Saturday afternoon. Since then, we have been eating and drinking. And eating. Did I mention the eating? I have consumed more pork in the past 5 days than I have in my entire life. I stopped asking 'was ist das?' on Monday, and assume that it is pork.

Delicious, delicious pork.

I also have a new favourite beverage, Spezi, which is marketed by Pepsi as Schwip Schwap. Just say it out loud and try not to have fun.

Also, the ice cream. Or Eis. Immer Eis in Deutschland. I have photographic proof but this German keyboard is giving me a migrane.

Anywhoo, we have arrived and are well into our trip. 4 museums, 2 castles, a Feengrotten (Fairy Cave), several biergartens and a fascinating exhibit on the destruction and restoration of post ww2 W├╝rzburg, and this is shaping up to be an awesome vacation.

Love to all...

Megan

(PS...it totally WAS a gummi bear factory!!!!)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Away we go!

Friday, June 12, 2009
Well, today is the day. There are no more sleeps!

(I'm not sure that you could call the approximately four hours of lying in bed that I did last night sleeping, but good enough. I'll gravol it up when I'm on the plane)

I am so excited that my tummy hurts. Does that happen to anyone else? It's a full on stomach ache, generated entirely from excitement. Either that or I have significant stomach problems, maybe an ulcer- but I'm thinking it's excitement.

Last night after my parents dropped me off at home, Gary and I had dinner and commenced Packathon 2009. I plan to remove at least 3 shirts and a dress from my suitcase before we actually leave, because I have over-packed (quite unlike me). I want to leave room in my bag for all the fabulous European fashions!

This is a photo of me taken the last time I was in Europe. Digital cameras were new and required floppy discs, Y2K was a recent and embarrassing memory, Britney hadn't gone bald yet and I was 16. Also, T-shirts that said "Princess" hadn't caught on yet, so this is me wearing a T-shirt with a princess ON it.



I would like to state for the record that this was the only piece of apparel, accessory or home good that I owned that indicated Princessly status.

Anywhoodle, in about 9 hours I'll be on a plane, buckled in, hoping not to drop randomly into the Atlantic. I have to go exchange currency and sign the contract for my new job see how she slides that in there, all subtle-like? and have coffee with a friend who just returned from 19 days in Israel.

Other than that, I'm ready! Passport ho, away we go!

(Lame rhyme. Also, thanks to all for your good vibes...they totally worked! I've got an office to return to! Hurrah!)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

So many things to do

Thursday, June 11, 2009
eeeeek.

Brother convocating. Brunching. Packing. Travel Insurance. Currency exchange. Clean out fridge. PACK. Pick up photos. Water plants? EI claim. Take out the garbage. Practice verbs. Eat lemon bars.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Call for good vibrations

Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I'm not usually open about the things I hope for. I may cross my fingers, tell my close friends, but I subscribe to the school that believes that if you don't tell people what you wish for, if you don't get it, you have less people to inform of your soul-crushing let-down.

Well, folks, I'm going to throw caution to the wind this time.

I had an amazing job interview yesterday (hint: Tutus, tights, Elton John) and I haven't wanted a job- no, an opportunity- so much in years. I have wanted a lot of things, and I'm very good at psyching myself up and generating enthusiasm for whichever path my life rolls down, but this time I feel different.

So, I'm askin', internets: Good juju my way? I'm leaving for Frankfurt on Friday and it might make my life if I had an offer in hand and an office to come back to before I got on the plane.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

All You Need Is Clean

Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Yesterday I discovered that it takes me exactly the length of the Beatles compilation album "1" to do an entire kitchen full of dishes, wipe down the counters and fold two loads of laundry.

It used to take me two cycles of the Grease soundtrack to dust, vacuum and clean the upstairs bathrooms at my parents' house.

It takes me one half round of ABBA Gold to sashay my way to a clean bathroom, including the floor.

But to clean my teenage bedroom?

Break out your entire CD Collection. This is going to take us through Much Dance 1995, several years of boy bands and maybe even Big Shiny Tunes 2.

What is your cleaning soundtrack? Will the neighbours mock you if they overhear what you play to tidy?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Unsubscribe

Monday, June 08, 2009
I have started the long, unenvious process of (is unenvious even a word?! I think it's not, but it should be. Help me out, Grammar Friends...)

Ok, I have started the long process of unsubscribing to the various e-newsletters, e-blasts, e-updates and daily recipes/fitness tips/writing quotes/magazine blurbs that fill my inbox each morning and make me feel like someone loves me.

All of this email from non-humans is great, and I really do appreciate the work and variety- after all, that's how I make a living- when I'm making a living but we'll be on vacation for 18 days, and I'm not sure when I'll have internet access.

I'd rather spend my precious email moments stolen at the Apple Store in Regensburg reading email from humans who miss my wit than reading the newest Martha Stewart Living Cupcake of the Day. Even though I love cupcakes.

I'm leaving my Reader alone, though. I fully anticipate returning to Canada on July 1st and having 4000 new blog entries to read. You think I'm exaggerating?

I went away for 3 days and had 340 new posts to read. Over a weekend.

No wonder I'm always so busy. ;)

This week!

I've got an exciting week ahead. Only 4 more sleeps until we leave for Germany!

(My family always counts down by sleeps. It solves that "Do we count today?" issue, but also, it's more fun. Occasionally we'll say "4 more get-ups!" which indicates the number of times you have to haul your sorry rear out of bed before the excitement finally arrives.)

Today is laundry and cleaning day.

Tomorrow is a loafing/job interview day.

Wednesday is a parental visitation day.

Thursday is my little bro's convocation day.

Friday is Bon Voyage day.

I wonder if I could get printed day of the week underwears with tasks instead of days. Unfortunately, I think I'd need several "loafing" pairs, because otherwise, I'd be lying to the underwear-viewing world.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Futzing

Friday, June 05, 2009
I have a kitchen full of dishes to wash (grumble) and laundry to do, but it's raining and for some strange reason that makes me very happy, so I'm going to seek out a coffee shop and do some character sketches for a writing project I've been working on since the dawn of time.

Except this time I think I might actually write it.

One week from this time exactly, I'll be getting into a cab with my bags and my boyfriend and leaving for the airport. Sweeeet.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

He makes it look so easy...

Thursday, June 04, 2009
and delicious...

Aside from a sauce-in-a-jar Butter Chicken attempt, I've never really tried making Indian food at home. I love a good chicken in gravy with naan and a spicy basmati rice. It makes me happy in ways nothing or no one else can. Is that pathetic?

Pioneer Woman is a blog that I added to my Reader a few weeks ago, because I love food photography and I get a kick out of the way she writes. I grew up in a ranching/farming community and so I get what she's talking about when she writes about the majestic beauty of the prairie sunset, the sultry allure of a cowboy and the way a heifer's long, silky eyelashes flutter.

Gag. I'm a city girl now. Pass the Starbucks.

But anyway. This recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala looks soooo damn good that I'm craving it right now. And it's 9:00 am. And I think that eating spicy chicken curries before noon might be even worse than my recent morning diet coke indiscretions.

Whaaat? When you wake up at 6:00, by 10:00 it feeeeels like noon!

Fashion: Failure

Inspired by the lovely Ms. PBP, who does the most awesome what-I'm-wearing type posts that make me incredibly jealous of her wardrobe (and her ability to pull together animal prints and not look anything at all like a 65 year old hussy named Ethel who frequents the Bingo Barn in Boca Raton, as some of us are prone to do when wearing giraffe...):

What I wish I was wearing today



Please note the inclusion of a Moleskine notebook, the brand of notebooks used by such greats as Hemingway...

What I am actually wearing today




Mildly depressing. With the exception of the red jacket, gladiator sandals and that exact bag, I almost own the first outfit.

Please. Someone. Help me dress myself in something other than a black tshirt/sweater and jeans!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Maybe it's in the genes

Wednesday, June 03, 2009
I have the most intense craving for barbecue.

Not steak- though we did have awesome bacon wrapped filets with grilled asparagus and my mom's foil-pouch potatoes last night (I burnt them but good, and Gary and I fought over the delicious crispy bits).

Not hamburgers, or hot dogs, or even smokies on a bun drizzled in ketchup and sweet bavarian mustard.

No, I mean barbecue. Slow cooked smoked meats, cold slaw salads, buttery corn on the cob, icy beer, spicy, tangy sauce. I don't eat pork, but in the past 6 months I've changed my mind. Hit me, hit me with some meat, for the love of god.

And a side order of hush puppies.


Pleeeeease.

I don't know where this craving is coming from, if it's a throwback to my paternal grandfather, who was from Alabama, or if it's just that it is hot, it is summer, give me barbecue.

Maybe I can convince Mama and Papa B to take me out to Big T's on Saturday. A girl can hope?

(if not, then maybe Mexican? Yes?)

Estimated Nap Time: 3:30

This morning I woke up sometime between 4:30 and 5:00. I tried pretty much everything I could think of to fall back asleep, but it didn't work. Gary left for the gym at what I think was 5:30, and I finally gave up. I made a piece of toast, I checked my email, I retired to the bedroom with a paperback novel about a teen suicide pact.

Why I read Jodi Picoult books, I will never understand. I find them predictable, formulaic, depressing and completely addictive. But no matter how many times I tell myself that I'll hate myself in the morning, I cannot put down one of her books about the legal dramas of children dying of cancer or Amish girls killing their babies. Sigh.

I can't say that reading an entire book before 10 am is a waste of time, but now my daily schedule is totally whacked.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

But the screaming! And the wailing!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Every Monday night Gary and I go to his friend's house for Monday Movie Night. This has been a tradition for Gary and his friend Ashley since - well, before I was around, and who am I to mess with tradition?

But since the birth of Ashley and her partner's first child, we no longer watch movies and have settled into a comfortable routine of dinner, two episodes of the hit Canadian makeover show "Style by Jury" (we don't have cable! Indulge us!) and one or two episodes of The Sopranos.

Baby Jillian is going to be so well adjusted and informed about any number of things, not limited to mobsters, the F-bomb, strippers, drug trade and FBI code names. (I kid- I'm sure we'll stop watching when the kid can actually understand what's going on, or gets to that super-cute repeats everything she hears phase)


(Token cute photo of Baby J and Gary. It's the only one we've got, she was 1 week old at the time)

(Ok, it's the only one of Baby J that we've got that doesn't also feature yours truly and a bottle of cold Canadian beer)


Lately the tot has been having a bit of a rough go. She's 2 months old, and just learning to deal with the injustices of living on earth. Ennui, angst and taco envy have set in. Along with lactose intolerance. And that thing babies get that makes them cranky all the time- colic? Cholera? Eh. Whatever.

This week was no exception. Baby J cried for about an hour straight until she finally fell asleep. I'd like to think I helped with that, as I was the lucky bottle-holder and burper immediately before she entered dreamland. But just as I finished devouring my second taco (note to self: one pound of ground chuck does not enough tacos for 4 hungry adults make), a loud wail was emitted from the direction of the baby.

I sprung into action.

This caused both parents and my boyfriend to chuckle heartily and comment that "Megan just can't wait to be a mommy!"

Now, I will admit that I have a titch of the bebe fever, but mostly the "I like to hang around them because they are cute, but also like to go home and soothe my raggard senses with vodka after the playdate is over" variety. I am not, under any circumstances, ready to be or "just can't wait"ing to be a Mommy.

And this is where one of the true lessons of womanhood became abundantly clear to me.

Only a mother is capable of ignoring a wailing, screeching child. Anyone else, particularly one equipped with her very own uterus, is forced to awkwardly jump into "Ohmygodit'scryingwhatthehelliswrong!" mode.

Moms can tell. Moms can understand babyese. "I'm hungry" cries versus "I'm in extreme pain" versus "My world is crumbling and I have stopped breathing!!" cries.

I, an innocent, 25 year old female bystander, cannot. Any whimper to my ears sounds like impending doom. SIDS! Choking hazards! Modern pop music! SIDS!! I am constantly raging with adrenaline and fear around babies.

And, to top it all off, as one of my co-patriots (albeit fictional) so eloquently said (and I so haphazardly paraphrased):

What's with the soft spot?! If they are going to come with a self-destruct button, at least hide it!

Whatcha doin'?

Oh, the irony. My 9-5's were filled with a burning desire to be doing something, anything, oh-please-pretty-please, some activity that is soul-fulfilling. And now I have all the time in the world and I'm sitting in our apartment watching Season One of Heroes.

This is not an enriching, soul-massaging time. It will be in 10 days when I'm off gallivanting across Bavaria.

There's never enough. Never enough time, never enough money. Never enough of both simultaneously.

Sigh. I think I'm going to go grab a slurpee and sit in the garden patio on top of the parking garage. If I can't be doing important, legacy-leaving work, then I guess I can be sitting in the sun getting some colour, reading some trash.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Under S, for Steinbeck?

Monday, June 01, 2009
This afternoon I wandered over to the used book store a few blocks away from our apartment building. I've been meaning to pop in for months now. My old favourite used book store was a few blocks from the house I lived in (the Fortress of Smoothitude, she was) before I moved in with Gary, but it closed sometime after I started spending all of my free time in his apartment and less of my free time wandering the streets of Hillhurst/Sunnyside alone.

It was replaced by The Mommy Store. If that's not a sign that a new phase of my life is beginning, I'm not sure what is.

At any rate, I wandered in. I find the key to perusing a used bookstore is twofold: keep an open mind, but keep focused. It helps to have an idea of a genre or author you like in mind, but one can never know what scrumptious literary gems are hiding in a stack of Louis L'Amour paperbacks.

Thus, I went in with the following goals in mind:

1. Get a general, poking-about feel for the place.
2. Check out some paperbacks for our upcoming trip. (ELEVEN MORE SLEEPS!!!)
3. Find a reasonably priced copy of The Grapes of Wrath in passable condition.

This used book store, located mere footsteps from the end of the C-train line, sandwiched between shady "office" buildings, a Holiday Inn Express and parking lots, is unlike any other I've ever experienced in this city. Perhaps in this country, and I have seen some interesting used book stores in my day. (One in Winnipeg springs to mind, and one somewhere between Washington and Idaho, and one called Packrat Annie's in Nelson, BC, which just got a quick peak through a rain-streaked window.)

This is the kind of used book store filled with tiny rooms and claustraphobic corners. It was windowless, dark, and musty. The floors were stacked with boxes, every visible surface covered in piles of books of every condition. Folio books with never-cracked spines were sandwiched between Trixie Beldon stories and a copy of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

You know those people who die, and then their family or friends come to clean out the house, only to realize that the recently departed never threw out ANYTHING and that they were essentially smothered to death by stuff?

That was the exact feeling of this bookstore. There was hardly room for me to turn around to examine the shelves, which were crammed full from floor to ceiling. I'm a tall lady, and I had to stand on my tip toes to see the titles on the top shelf.

I have no idea how the portly man working there even gets in and out of the building. I'm pretty convinced he lives there, amid stacks of torn Harry Potters and neglected Biochemistry Textbooks.

It took me several minutes to figure out how the lit/fiction section, located in a small room at the very back of the store, was organized. With only the light from a single flickering fluorescent bulb, I searched through the stacks, going around the room three times before I gave up my search. If The Grapes of Wrath was there, it wasn't located next to the other Steinbeck books, or in the American Classics section. I was pretty sure that at any moment I was going to be hit over the head with an encylopaedia from 1947 and/or be teleported into one of my favourite novels at ANY MOMENT.

I walked up to the front and was amazed when the man working there told me with absolute certainty that he knew he didn't have a copy of the book I was looking for, but that he'd keep an eye out for one and put it aside for me.

How he knew, for sure, that he didn't have that particular book amid the thousands in disarray, I'll never know.

But I do know that I loved that place- creepy, dusty, dark, book-smelly hole in the wall, the antithesis of the modern bookseller. God, I hope I didn't dream it.