Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Changeling

Omigod! Someone has swapped my child for one who sleeps at night! For more than a week we (three) have been sleeping without interruption until 7am. Holy s?*/$! The baby I gave birth to a year and a half ago has never done that. So whose child is this?!

Fortunately the days are the same as they were before and Chloé is still the bright and energetic daughter I know. So something must have changed.

It could be that she realized she was driving me crazy waking up and not going back to sleep at night. She is very sensitive to my feelings: when I cry, she instantly stops whatever she's doing and gives me a hug. But still, I think she didn't feel the sadness, more the anger, because that was certainly right up there on the surface.

Or possibly it is just the age. For Chloé, 1 1/2 years of broken sleep was enough. She's discovered that sleeping 10 or 11 hours in a row leaves her refreshed and happy and she's decided to continue the habit for a few years. I hope.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Between babbling and voting

I'm baaaack!
At least for one post.

Some updates:

Our babbling baby has proven herself to be one of those babies who start right off with complete sentences with distinct intonation - but no discernible words to those of us listening. Many of the other babies (they're almost a year and a half old; I don't know if "baby" is really the right term) already have a vocabulary of (relatively) clear words. But they communicate with just those individual words and there's no rhythm. So with these minis we know what they're referring to; with Chloé we know that she's asking a question or making a statement. Fun either way.

I've decided that I'm ready to live in a climate of perpetual summer. I found my three years in San Diego meteorologically monotonous, but that was then, and this is now. Cold weather is for the birds. Or not. Let's say I'm like a bird and I'm going to fly away before the snow falls. Or not. At least not until I write my bestseller and become financially independent and buy a villa on a Caribbean island. I will fear no hurricane. I will try to eat fish. And I will dream.

Also climate-related: It's uncommon in Germany to own a (clothes) dryer. Given the low temperatures and humidity, I'm surprised by this. In my (dryer-less) house, I have to zig around the drying racks for three days before my clean clothes are wearable. The pro: increased shopping opportunities.

I'm being haunted by names on Facebook. You find one "friend" from high school and suddenly more and more names are appearing on your screen, names you thought (or hoped) were lost to time. Sometimes it's exciting to be reunited with these names, but then you have to ask, what role can ghosts play in my life? Especially ghosts 10,000 miles away...

Like a good American, I voted. Small print: for the first time. But better late than never. And better when it might actually make a difference.

Also election-related: A German woman (a cashier in the supermarket; needless to say, I don't even know her) asked me who I voted for, and then indicated that McCain was the wrong answer. Apparently the wonder didn't show on my face because she continued to look inquisitively at me, but I thought, wow! Is she really asking me this question? Is politics no longer a taboo topic? But then I remembered someone (another German) launch into a lecture about the malfeasance of George Bush (this was a couple of years ago). Then, as well, I was shocked to hear this man (who I also barely knew) being so imprudent with his intense opinions. I happened to agree, but I knew of a number of people who didn't, and what would happen if this guy talked like that to them? Anyway now I wonder if the issue is a German one (they, and the language, are generally very direct, much more direct than Americans and the English language), or that people feel they have the right, even the obligation, to disagree openly with the policies and attitudes of the American government? I don't know.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What are friends for?

She asks herself this question as she wipes black streaks from her eyes onto a tissue.
Is it the music? Or the weather? Or the loneliness? Really she's not lonely; she went for a walk with a friend just this morning, and had a friend over for the afternoon yesterday.
But I use the term "friend" loosely.
What is a "friend"? Someone you know? Someone you care about? Someone you tell everything? Someone who cares about the everything in your life? Someone who thinks like you? Someone you have a history with? Someone you have a future with?
Damn good questions.
Her "best" friend has almost nothing in common with her, but has the history. Her other friends are all new - no history, but a connection of presence. The baby, the time, the location. But who can she talk to?
No one.
That's why we cultivate long relationships. To build something stronger than the everyday bullshit.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Three babies

Wow, it's been a REALLY long time since I wrote anything here. Sorry about that. But I AM essentially a lazy person, with the additional (and previously mentioned) handicaps of time-management dysfunction and a now 13-month-old baby. Probably I should stop apologizing for that and just write or not write, but writing is truly important to me and my apologies are as much to myself as to my (one or two) faithful Readers.
As you can see in the photos on the right, this post is not about triplets as a result of hormone treatments, but the new additions to our home: two 10-week-old kittens, two brothers, Caillou (the grey one) and Soleil (the orange one). Unfortunately they ended up with French names...I suppose it just seems more unique and exotic to me. If we went with English, they would be Pebble and Sun, now how cool would that be?
Chloé is in non-stop pursuit of the kitties, as you can see in the photo. At first, Soleil was quite frightened of all of us and stayed more or less hidden, and Caillou seemed to understand that he should let Chloé chase him around but stay just out of reach. Now they're both being fairly lovey and seem to think that they have to sit there and let the baby grab them around the neck and pull their legs...I wish they'd run away or scratch her or something so she'd figure out that what she's doing isn't okay. My stern "Chloé! No!" isn't really going very far.
I'm über-happy to have these kittens, since I've wanted a cat since...well, since I left all of my semi-adoptive street cats (they still lived on the street, I just fed and loved them) in Cairo. But what surprises me is that my feelings towards them are totally different from my feelings towards previous cats. Because of Chloé. I feel like I only truly love her, my baby, and I have no room left for anyone else. With the cats it's become clear, since I've had cats before and I know how I feel about them. But even with Gaetan it's hard. I love him, but I feel like I've got my head so far up Chloé's butt (to put it really obnoxiously) that I can't send any love anywhere else.
Someone told me recently that a mother's hormones are so overdosed and confused after having a baby that it takes a couple of years to get back to yourself. This sounded like a good explanation to me, and I'm holding fast to it although it also sounds a bit like an excuse. But something really has changed, everything feels different. I was always someone who didn't have a lot of friends; I saved everything I had for just one or two people. Now I'm finding it hard to fit two people and two cats into my emotional ventricles. Has anyone else felt this way in this situation??
Crap. Someone started drilling somewhere and woke the cats. And then the baby. Gotta go.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Blog ohne Thema

Well I seem to be suffering from blogger's block. Don't know what to say.
Chloé's being clingy so it's hard to write an essay while she's climbing on me and I can't leave her on the floor crying. She usually sleeps about half an hour in the mornings and then half an hour in the afternoons, so that doesn't provide much opportunity to write.
But now it's evening, the baby's in bed, my husband is cooking dinner...I have time. But still no topic.
I was just looking at a website for a shoe store. I was looking for these Spanish shoes I want to buy (just a note - I've found several pairs of FABULOUS shoes from Spain recently, I think I may have to go there on a shopping spree), I don't know why, they're right there in the store in Stuttgart, but I wanted to see them online for some reason. But anyway this website advertised their "shoe parties." Wow. They deliver about 250 pairs of shoes to your house where you and your friends can try them on while sipping champagne (their suggestion was prosecco, but at my party we'd definitely have champagne...). I'm ready! Let's do it. I even have friends I could invite. And I get a discount based on what the others buy. What a deal.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Making strides

My eight-and-a-half-month-old (do I need all those dashes?!) daughter wants to walk.

She seems to feel that crawling is an unnecessary phase in achieving mobility. She's been turning in circles for about two months, pushing herself backwards for a month. In the last two weeks she's started launching herself forward with one foot to reach a toy that's not too far away. But apparently she finds pulling her knees up and sticking her butt in the air too much work for too little progress. Why stand on all fours rocking back and forth, not moving anywhere and unable to reach and grab a toy (or piece of fuzz)? Pointless. Better to stay on your belly and scoot in all directions. Hands are free and mobility, within about a five foot radius, is assured.

Until last weekend, when, while sitting on the floor in front of her daddy playing with the colorful wooden blocks, she reached out, grabbed the sleeves of his sweatshirt, and pulled herself up onto her feet. Then she smiled, as proud as any eight month old could be. (Daddy smiled pretty proudly, too.) Those first moments were very unstable, since balancing en pointe takes years of practice which she just hasn't had.

Meanwhile she's standing (usually) on her whole foot. The wobbling continues, as does the proud smiling. Frustration (not only for Chloe) is an issue because she can't stand herself but wants to do it all the time.

This morning standing in front of her, I reached down and grabbed her hands. She pulled herself up. I moved a step backwards. She took a step forwards. Wow! I said. Great! Take another step? I stepped back again. Four steps she took. Relying completely on my supporting hands, still the initiative, the steps and the pride and confidence were all her own.

Besides the literal strides, Chloe's also become quite dexterous. She picks things up with thumb and forefinger, and is interested in everything smaller than one square centimeter. She pushes tiny pieces of paper around the floor, grabs the string attached to the beach ball (and knows that in pulling the string the ball follows), and bangs any two objects together to make "music."

It's really funny to watch her in her high chair at the table, playing with the sippy cup lids: they aren't quite cylindrical, so they roll around randomly like weeble wobbles. This is fascinating but confusing. Now she expects everything to roll in all directions, so she pushes any given toy (say, a little plush giraffe) and looks surprised when it moves a couple of centimeters but then just lies there. She shoves it again; same thing happens. I have to laugh.

But sleeping is not one of her strong points. Or to express it optimistically, she's an outstanding non-sleeper. I call her a nano-napper: during the day, she generally takes two or three half-hour naps. Unless we go for a walk in the stroller, and then she might sleep for as long as an hour and a half. Nights, we are currently enjoying what, if it were a sport, would be called extreme sleeping. Gaetan gets her to sleep pretty well, around 8, and sometimes she sleeps until 11 or even 12. Then the fun begins. I nurse her, and she falls asleep right away. I fall asleep right away. I could sleep until 6 or 7 in the morning, Chloe might wake up again an hour later. I don't want to nurse her so soon, and when she realizes that there is no boob in the offering, she cries. So we go into the living room, where lately she's been falling asleep within a few minutes. Before (and, as it happens, last night) it was half an hour (or an hour) of Chloe crying, swinging her head from one side to the other like one of those crazy bears in the zoo, followed by sleep that could easily be interrupted by placing her back in her bed. By the time she slept again, I was wide awake and wouldn't get back to sleep before it all started again (in an hour). But, as I said, this seems to be getting better, and I tend to quickly fall asleep. When she wakes again, I nurse her, she falls asleep, we're all happy. When she cries again, I'm pissed off: at Chloe, for robbing me of my sleep and making nights a nightmare; at Gaetan, for not waking up; at myself, for supporting this. This goes on, every 2 hours if were lucky, every hour if we're not. Mornings, either she sleeps until 6:30 or 7, or Gaetan gets up at 5:30 or 6 with her (he has to get up for work anyway) and lets me sleep until 7. Thank goodness.

So those are a few of the latest infant developments. Don't get me wrong - she's a great baby and I couldn't be happier. Well, I'd probably be happier if I could sleep, but who needs sleep when there's so much life going on?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Internet friendship

I love the internet. I can find information about anything I want in any language. Okay, I may spend hours reading through a bunch of stuff that I'm not looking for in order to find what I'm looking for, but the information is out there somewhere in that digital world, and I don't have to leave home to get it. I can buy books, clothes, or airplane tickets, rent movies, get film developed (digital, at least), read movie reviews on films that haven't even been released yet in Germany. Apparently I can also download pirated movies, watch child porn, or order assault rifles from some country out east, but I haven't taken advantage of these possibilities.
Also I no longer have to buy pen and paper to write to my friends, I can e-mail them: it's quicker, easier and cheaper. Or I can talk to them live on Skype or Yahoo Messenger or Windows Live Messenger. I can keep in touch with friends using sites like Facebook or Linked-In or MySpace. With Facebook it's literally as easy as a touch of a button to connect with someone, or with all of my friends at once.
Wow. The internet is AMAZING.
But is it really? How reliable is this communication? Can we really call it communication?
When I first started using the internet to communicate with friends (through e-mail), I realized that it was necessary for me to know the person I was writing to, and more importantly, who was writing to me. It's just too impersonal. Digital correspondence is just that: digital, 0 and 1, black and white, there's no grey or personality or emotion. As the receiver, you add the appropriate emotion, because you have an idea what the writer is feeling, because you know them. If you don't know the sender, you're probably reading your own personality into what your read.
Which is probably why meeting people over the internet is so successful: you're meeting yourself. But then when you're face to face with the live, non-digital pen pal, you discover that they're someone completely different.
But that's not my point here.
My question is: what happens when you've been out of [live] contact with a friend for so long that you can't be sure of the emotions they're sending along with their 1s and 0s? When every other sentence seems cryptic and maybe even insulting? When you become so unsure of your relationship that you start to feel there no longer is one?
I suppose the answer to these questions is to ask. It is, after all, a friend you're talking about. You do know them. Or did. You've both just gone through changes in each other's absence, so you have to catch up and find a place in the friendship for the new stuff. I believe that an established friendship can cope with even extreme experiences, assuming both parties are willing to do the work of integrating th new with the old.
At least I hope so.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sick baby

It's 4am Saturday morning. Chloé's crying (this is not unexpected), so I take her out of her crib to nurse her. But she doesn't really want to nurse. And she feels very warm. Scheisse, I think, and take her out to the living room.
Yep, she's got a temperature. 38.9 (102°F). What do I do now?!
Read. The baby book. "What if your child is sick?" chapter. Okay...Up to 39° is not too serious. Okay...So should I give her tylenol, or just put her to bed? But first, how do I get her to stop crying??
And meanwhile Gaetan is snoring away in the bedroom. Men! I think, although I know that you can hear almost nothing from the living room when both doors are closed. I decide to let him sleep. There's no point in both of us being awake.
After not too much carrying and cooing Chloé does indeed fall asleep and I put her back to bed. Gaetan wakes up when the bed squeaks as I slip under the covers.
Ca va? he asks.
Chloé has a fever, I say.
Yeah, just go to sleep, we'll see how she is in the morning.
And so we sleep.

We all sleep until 6:30 (not too bad), but the fever is still there when Chloé wakes up. It's a little higher, and after re-reading the baby book, I decide it's time to try the pharmaceutical route. After the rectal thermometer, she gets a rectal tylenol. But she takes it well.
Sitting at the table with us while we have breakfast, she seems to be feeling okay. I give her a piece of bread to play with (she hardly ever puts stuff in her mouth, although she can chew on bread as long as we're paying attention that she doesn't try to inhale a huge piece). And surprise! She eats it! Well, presses it around her mouth for a while. Everything is fine. Then she looks at me, opens her mouth a little, coughs, and pukes up the bread and all the milk she drank this morning. She's crying and looking at me with eyes that say "Fix it mommy," but all I can do is hold her and tell her it'll be alright.

I have my Writer's Group this morning but I consider staying home. Gaetan urges me to go. He sounds very confident that she's doing better and they'll be fine for the morning. Trusting in his confidence, I go.
After the meeting, everyone goes for coffee. I really enjoy spending time with these people, and I figure Gaetan and Chloé will be able to do without me for an extra half hour or so. I call him to let him know.
So how is she? I ask.
Fine, he says. Well, not really. She puked again after the carrots. Then she cried for a while. But now she's asleep.
Geez! Then I'll come home.
No, no, stay. I'll wait for you for lunch.
Wow, I think, what a great husband and daddy.

The sick baby stays warm (but not terribly hot) and cranky all afternoon. I know a fever is there to fight something undesirable in the body, so I don't want to keep giving her tylenol, but I realize her crankiness is probably a result of the fever. We try to get her to sleep as often as possible, go for walks, go in the car (all the while keeping her bundled, but not too bundled, in the Cosi). She doesn't sleep well.
In the evening we decide to give her a bath. The steam must be good, the warmth. Maybe she'll enjoy the water. She plays a little. It seems to keep her calm.
I decide to just nurse her in the evening instead of giving her a bottle and cereal. Safer. As it happens, she doesn't barf, but she doesn't sleep, either. Finally at 11pm I tell Gaetan to go to bed - again, there's no reason for both of us to be up. I'll wake him up in two hours if she's still not sleeping.
After some wandering and bouncing through the living room, she sleeps. I try to make myself...not uncomfortable on the couch, and I sleep as well, for about an hour. Then she's awake and grumbly again. Doesn't want the boob. Doesn't want to sleep. Doesn't seem to want to be touched or talked to. Again I ask, what do I do?
Almost an hour goes by and it's two o'clock. She's not sleeping, I don't know what to do besides hold her, it's time to wake up Gaetan. He did agree to get up if needed. Well, I need to sleep so he's needed. So I wake him up.
And now I've got a grouchy husband and a grouchy baby. Great. And I feel all he's doing is trying to get out of his side of the bargain: he asks if I tried to put her in bed. Yes. Did you try to feed her? Yes. When? An hour ago. Why don't you try again? Ahh!
I try again. She eats. She goes to sleep. I'm still irritated that he didn't just take her and make himself comfortable (and it was comfortable; once I didn't have a baby in my arms I was able to set up the cushions just right) on the couch. But we sleep until 4.
The next morning she seems much better. Even at 4 her fever was gone, and at 6:30 we all feel, if not bright and cheery, at least able to start the day.
This was only our second experience with sick baby in her 8 months. I consider us lucky, definitely. But I wonder if it becomes easier to deal with if baby is sick more often, if you have the experience that baby is ill but will get better. Or if it never gets easy and all you can do is keep yourself from getting sick with worry.

The Well-Beaten Baby

Really I just wanted to use this title.
One of Chloé's "toys" is a heavy-duty looking plastic whisk. Its odd shape, the material and size make it something interesting to touch, play a drum with, whatever. Also we can "beat" her like a giant egg, which she really loves, especially if there are accompanying sound effects.
But it's amazing what babies and kids can be interested in. Like with the tags, we adults can always be surprised by what draws their attention. We buy Christmas gifts, they play with the wrapping paper, or the box. We give them an intricate toy designed to challenge all of their five senses and they're entranced by the tag. It's nuts.
So why did I start this post with the whisk story? To show how ordinary household items are just as fascinating as expensive toys. Even more, kids are interested in them because they see us using them, and naturally they want to do what Mommy and Daddy do. I sit down to read my magazine, Chloé wants to read too. Or at least tear off the cover and then the rest of the pages. I start typing my blog post on the laptop, Chloé wants to type as well, although, unlike on a desktop, every time she smacks the touchpad something unexpected happens.
Still I'm glad she's so curious. It can make life difficult, but I suspect an apathetic baby won't grow up to be much more than an apathetic adult. And we have enough of those already.
But I digress.
Until next time, faithful Readers.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tag fascination

Chloé has a stuffed animal that looks kinda like a cat princess in pyjamas. It is also a hand puppet. It has everything a baby's stuffed animal should have to engage the baby: it's made of several different kinds of material, has ruffles on the arms and neck, a night cap (not a drink, a head covering), a cute kitty face and ears sticking out of the cap, even a tiny mirror attached to one hand by a piece of elastic. But more often than not, she plays with the little white tag (about 2x4 cm) attached to the side. She takes it between her forefinger and thumb, coos at it and then talks to it, turns it front to back. It's like this amazing discovery in the midst of a glut of infant provocation.
And it's like this with everything. Tags are just fascinating. You don't need any special toys, just something safe for the baby to play with - with a tag.
I read that this is an attention to detail that babies develop when they're around 7 months old. They notice smaller things and then inspect them. And most toys for babies are big and bold, to attract their attention, I guess.
Chloé also likes to tear up paper into tiny little tag-sized pieces and examine it. Unfortunately she's starting to eat those little pieces, so we may have to take away the fashion magazines that she so enthusiastically tears up.

Monday, February 25, 2008

It was all black and white at the Oscars

Or at least the clothes were...
Now I have to admit that I'm not officially a fashion expert: I'm not a fashion editor or a designer or an "It" girl being sent boxes of clothes to be worn and photographed leaving tomorrow's "It" club, but I have recently become something of a fashion magazine connoisseur (or at least compulsive buyer), and I'm wondering what (un-)inspired everyone to show up in black (or white, or if it absolutely HAD to be a color, then red) for the walk down the red carpet. I realize the films were dark, but that doesn't make the award ceremony a funeral! Where are the bright, bold colors that are supposed to be coming this season? I guess the stylists couldn't decide which theme would be most acceptable so they took the path of least resistance and recommended black and white to all of their clients.
I say: Resist! Go bold! Don't let a stylist tell you what your style is. And who cares if the newspapers write about your alleged fashion failure - at least they're writing about you (just in case any of you Readers are Hollywood stars...).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Working Mother

I know what you're thinking. You don't work, you stay home with your baby.
There's so much work here at home, I've become a champion multi-tasker since becoming a mom. For example, I'm typing this post for you, loyal Reader, while my daughter is on my lap nursing. When the computer started flashing that I'd better plug it in before the battery died and it forgot everything I'd input, I held the still-attached baby to my breast, leaned over the side of the couch and plugged in the power cord. When she falls asleep in a few minutes (the magic of breastfeeding), I can go do the dishes. Then I can paint a couple more drawers on the jewelry box I'm finishing for my sister-in-law. By then Chloé will probably be awake so I can lay on the floor with her and try to taunt her into scooting forward instead of pushing herself back. Then Gaetan will come home and I can downshift into my usual relaxed self, while he gives her a bath, feeds her and puts her to bed.
But still there's work to be done. I manage fairly well with laundry, the dishes, vacuuming, and Chloé (although she can't really be termed "work" she is extremely time-consuming). But the table's a mess with stuff I don't know what to do with (mail, magazines, receipts, plants) and crumbs from breakfast this morning. There are toys everywhere (but what's the point of cleaning them up when they're back on the floor again in about 10 minutes??). The pile of my half-clean clothes on a chair in the bedroom reminds me of the leaning tower of Pisa. My vanity is a dump for all things cosmetic. The dust on the commode is almost as high as the pile of clothes on the chair. That shelf in the hallway still hasn't been cleared of the painting utensils (but I can't put them away while I'm in the middle of painting projects). I have ten sewing projects in my head and five pieces of fabric waiting to be sewn. The "Lou the Wolf" story needs to be translated, the Cabo Verde article needs to be written. And the list goes on and on...
This morning I saw Gaetan was wearing a shirt usually reserved for weekends, which reminded me of the (yet another) pile of shirts waiting to be ironed. So what comes first, the ironing or the blog?
The blog.
But if I start now, I should be able to iron two shirts before she wakes up. The dishes will wait.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Current events

I've finally gone wireless! Now I can sit in the warm living room and type my blog posts on the laptop. I'm completely firewalled and anti-virused as well. How 21st century.
This lovely Sunday (it's uncharacteristically sunny) we're listening to the American Country Countdown on AFN (American Forces Network) Europe to quell (or perhaps to enhance) that nagging homesickness that comes on about once a year. And country (and western) you generally can't get outside of the USA, so it has that American...charm.
Later we're going to clean the car interior. We're trading it (a VW Polo, something I don't think we have in the US - a little smaller than the Golf) in for another VW that can hold two adults, a small child in a car seat, a stroller, a portable baby bed, and all the rest of the baby paraphernalia that you can even imagine before having a baby.
Now Monday and our appointment with the car dealer have come and gone and we bought the car! Gaetan was a bit surprised that he'd signed for a big car (and a big loan) without even a "Congratulations!" from the salesman. It's true, his "all business" attitude was a bit weird. He was very friendly and talkative, as usual, but didn't show any real empathy for a young car buyer who's just bought a car worth twice as much as his trade-in. But he seems like a good guy - he just didn't know his customer needed a calming smile and a pat on the back. Does that make him a bad salesman..?
Chloé's getting obnoxious over there on the floor so I'd better go entertain her a little.
Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Life in Germany, Teil Eins

One thing you should know about Germany is that many stores, shops, and other businesses traditionally close for lunch. This tradition was perhaps, in origin, consistent, but now it means said businesses could be closed between 12 and 2 or 12:30 and 2:30 or 1 and 3, or basically anything between the two extremes, you never really know. Of course this variance is from store to store, not day to day (not quite clear from the preceding sentence). Or they may not close at all, since the tradition is apparently slowly giving way to capitalistic demands.
Only recently were stores given permission (yes, there was a law not allowing it) to remain open in the evenings. And Sundays are closed. In theory you're not even supposed to work in your garden, clean your car, or hang your laundry out on your balcony on Sunday. Sunday is reserved for worship. Of course restaurant or gas station employees apparently don't have definite worship rights. Bummer.
Besides that many stores (even restaurants) which are open Saturday also close on one day during the week.
Now I can appreciate the circumstances of the (very) small business where there's only one guy manning the shop and he can't spend 24/7 there - he's got to go shopping himself, not to mention eat, sleep, etc...But how many of those shops are even out there today?? That's exactly the point here in socialized Germany. It's not fair to that sole proprietor that other shops are open longer - he'll miss out on all those customers that come in the not-so-wee-hours of the ... afternoon and evening.
So clearly I'm a disgruntled American who is used to everything being open, if not 24/7, 9-9 Monday through Saturday and at least 12-6 on Sunday. Okay, taking a walk around a nearby lake with all the other Germans (seriously, they're ALL there) is healthier and more enriching for anyone's life, but the most relaxing Sunday activity has to be shopping (and at least your credit card gets to work out...but we'll save the credit card theme for another blog entry).
So now that I've made a short story long, this morning I had a frustrating experience of a similar nature. I've been needing to go to the library to take back my books (which I was quite proud of myself for at least thinking about, since 9 times out of 10 I don't think and get to pay the late fees). I couldn't go on Monday (when I usually remember) because it's, what a surprise, closed. So I waited until Wednesday morning between 10 and 12 when I knew they would be open. Chloe and I got ourselves ready and since I saw that it had been raining (although wasn't raining at the moment) I brought the rain cover for the stroller. Five minutes into our walk it started to rain. Quick! The plastic cover! And the umbrella for me! But damn, it's really windy, and the spokes of the umbrella were nearly hyperextended. But then I got things more or less under control, and we continued our expedition to the library (with constant vigilance regarding the wind-umbrella interaction).
When we got there it was closed. Although it wasn't Monday or Sunday or lunchtime or evening, it was closed. For training. And I ask: Why don't they do their training on Monday!?
This is one of the frustrating aspects of living in Germany. I know you're thinking that it's not a terribly significant thing, surely something that can be overlooked. Yes, I say, but it's an everyday thing, a not at all abstract thing, that happens all the time. And perhaps most importantly: when you've known something else, it's hard not to compare.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Plans and movies

Shh! The baby's sleeping. Time to blog.

Actually I just thought that since it's being published in a flyer that I blog, I'd better start...blogging.

I think I might try to (how's that for uncertainty??) have a few different blog themes. I love movies, so there will be a movie critique theme. I talk about the baby incessantly so that will definitely be a theme. I live in Germany and that's something to talk about. Okay, there will be multiple themes that won't necessarily be listed exhaustively here.

Today's theme is movies.

Last week I watched Vacancy and my opinion is strong possibility for disappointment! This is pure Hollywood. They had ample oppotunity to create something that could honestly be called horror and they passed every time. The end is the worst. Who dies? The bad guys. Who lives, although shot and left to die the entire night? The good guy - and his whiny wife. And the bad guys, or at least Frank Whaley, put on a pretty good show. Definite scare potential: we ask ourselves, is he just weird, or really nuts? Okay, it's called a horror movie, so we're fairly sure he's nuts and a killer, but he does a good job of keeping it grey.

I have to warn you, Readers: Don't compare Vacancy to The Descent. That was a REAL horror movie. Scary throughout (who's not scared of mutants creeping and crawling around in a cave you can't get out of??), and the ending is alarming, both cinematically (the last scene is a jump-out-of-your-seat shocker) and thematically (you just don't expect this particular turn).

The baby's awake again and calling for me (in that screaming way that babies have) to come play with her, so more movies next time.