Stress

I hate it. It sucks. This one thing in Conference planning is killing me. The rest hasn't been too stressful, but what should be the simplest thing is taking a toll on my poor brain. I even had bad dreams about it last night.

TGIW?

Does being thankful for Wednesdays count for anything? One more day and then I get Friday off. OK, I have to work Saturday, but I am off for the Super Bowl (go Giants!).

My latest:

DVD: Superbad. You must watch this film. It's too too too funny. McLovin' rocks. The gag reel is actually funny.

Books: Planet Dog. Non-fiction on all things dog. It was very cute and very informative. I just started Planet Cat today. I also just discovered Lysnay Sands - she writes paranormal romances. I liked the title I read and plan to read the rest of her series eventually. It's sooo hard to find good paranormal romances that I get excited when one is decent and she's better than decent.

TV: One word: Lost. Is it tomorrow yet? I just need to say that if the person in the coffin is never revealed, I might have to hurt someone.

Web: Stumble is still my new toy. The fun of using the site is unparalled.

That is all I've got. Until later.

DAYUM I am a lazy, lazy, lazy woman

I have no intention of promising to post to the LJ more often because I know I am a lazy schlub and will let another million months go by before posting again. I am sure that most of the people on my friends list have all but given up on seeing a new entry from me.

I'll just give a recap: I was promoted and put in charge of the teen stuff at work. It's been a blast finding fun things to do with them and hanging out. As one teen said to me on Thursday as we were playing the Nintendo Wii - "It's so cool that you get paid to do this." And it is. I mean, I get to Guitar Hero, craft funky stuff, make smoothies, and much, much more. Plus, I get some cool job perks, such as free admission to the Anime Festival that just happened in NYC and I already have my free pass to Comic-Con in April. The free books are cool too. If I get lucky, I get to read a book months (or weeks) before it's published. Then, I hand them out to the teens, who also love reading books in advance. It's a win-win situation.

As for home life, all is well save one thing. Once again, I have tendonitis in my knee. I went for physical therapy, but it doesn't seem to be helping. I wish this could be a quick surgical fix and all is well, but I know that's not going to be the case. I see the knee doctor at the end of the month and will know then. The two kitties and two doggies are doing very well and everyone is healthy and happy.

Hobby wise: I am learning to knit. I've got the knit stitch learned and will eventually learn to purl once I get better at the first stitch. I also bought a how to crochet set and will see if I can do that. Entertainment wise, I just saw "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" in the theatres and truly enjoyed it. It was just as good as the first one. I am about to begin reading "Mystik Lake" for work, but have some fun reading put aside when I am done with it.

That's my oh-so-exciting (insert sarcasm here) life since I last posted. Nothing earth-shattering, but I can't complain

My Four Legged Children

On the day before New Year's Eve, we traveled to the local animal shelter and came home with our 4th four legged child. This one was of the canine variety. She's now 3 months old and weighs in at 23 lbs. She's half pit bull and half pointer and is my favorite for the day? Why? Because she had her first bath and she behaved remarkably well in comparison to her sisters. OK, I admit, the eldest is a pretty good bath taker, but those two kitties of mine? Not liking them, thus why they've only gotten one in their lifetimes.

In age order we have:

2 year old dog
about to be 2 year old cat
about to be 1 year old kitten
and the puppy

The dog is a black and tan one, so it's hard to see dirt on her, but our pups is white and boy does giving her a bath make a difference. She's white again!!!! Who knew a little puppy could get so dirty?

OK, I owe more posts in the future. My most abject apologies for not posting sooner, but work has been crazed lately (seems that's what happens when one gets promoted).

Auf Wiedesehen Deutschland

Day 8

Last day here. Booooo! We enjoyed one last scrumptious breakfast before going back to the room to finish packing. We were done so early, we checked out early and made our way to another hotel to pick up the Lufthansa shuttle bus to the airport. That little van can scoot! We averaged 100 mph on our way there. Once at the airport, we went in search of the Premiere Tax Free booth (we bought some souvenirs and are able to get money back for them – what we didn’t know is that we could have done that for all of our items, but we didn’t find out until it was too late.) We schlepped everywhere to no avail (and Frankfurt airport is HUGE by the way) and decided to check in. For whatever reason, my laptop is suspicious because it got tested both ways. Once checked in, we got lunch (I had chicken, I couldn’t have one more meal of meat) and then made our way through the security gates and to our boarding gate – VERY early. So early, they kicked us out and sent us to ANOTHER security gate. After waiting forever, we went through a more thorough security check because the US requires it (and by thorough I mean getting groped by the agent. If I smoked, I would have asked for a cigarette after). Of course, we left late and finally took off – on the flight from hell. It took forever and we had to circle a few times before we FINALLY landed (we were at least an hour delayed in the air and about 45 minutes before taking off). It was great to get into comfy seats and get driven home. I immediately unpacked (I don’t feel settled in until I do so) and attempted sleep. I tossed and turned a lot and realized the little duvet I had at the hotel was warmer than my comforter. Thus the Germany journal ends. Until my next vacation (which I don’t have plans for yet, though a rumor is going around that some family members want to go to Vegas in September), I bid this journal adieu.

Last Day in Germany

Day 8

It was a relaxing day as we planned. We woke early for our nummy breakfast and then played around on computers until lunchtime. We had pizza again and walked the streets for only an hour before going back to the hotel – it was too cold outside! It hit about 45 as the high today, so brrrrrrr! We came back in and I sat back to finally finish my book (The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak). It’s a YA book, but it’s also 500+ pages. I loved each and every word of it. If it doesn’t win the Printz Award (an award given by the American Library Association for Best Young Adult Book of the year), I will be deeply surprised.

Not wanting to venture out in the cold, we ate in the hotel. Since lunch was so big, I had a Minestrone soup (though with clear brother and different vegetables) and a huge salad. I am sure I gained much weight eating all this heavy German food! Other than that, we’re just going to relax and pack some before heading home tomorrow.

Day 7

Day 7

More observations: the Germans love gambling and porn. There are many “Las Vegas spiehalls” here in Mannheim. The funny thing is, I guess city code requires them to block out their windows so pedestrians can’t see inside. According to the signs, there is darts, arcade, gambling, and more inside. Interesting huh? Also, there are a lot of erotica shops here. Again, the windows into the actual store are blacked out, but they have some window displays of the lingerie sold there as well as pictures of models wearing said lingerie (and no, they do not airbrush out anything here). Also, when I was up late one night, I decided to see what was on TV (most of the time, I would catch a few minutes of the music video channel or CNN because those were the only two that had English). Flipping through, at least 3 of the 20 channels had one commercial after another for phone sex places. Sometimes, there would be one of the girls on, half naked dancing around. It was soooo weird. Plus, like any hotel, they had pay movies. What they would do would be give you a 2 minute preview of what was showing. Superman Returns in German is very odd. The other channel would be the porn movie that was on. Again, just plain odd. I also caught a minute of the German version of “Deal or No Deal” (their host is blond, though it’s short) and the show from the 80’s or 90’s called “Step by Step” (with Patrick Duffy and Suzanne Sommers). Then of course, there were three channels dedicated for soccer.

Last night, we decided to stick close to the hotel for dinner and lo and behold there was a pizzeria right down the block. Now I know all of you are thinking, “how good could pizza in Germany be?” The answer: really good. Almost as good as NY pizza. Why? Because the person that owns said pizzeria – and most of the other Italian restaurants here – are 1st generation Italians. Here, we’re getting the real deal. The dough is paper thin and the cheese is different (supposedly Germany cheese is one of the best), but it’s nummy. What was funny was ordering the stuff. My German is minimal and trying to decipher the various toppings almost impossible. So, there I am skimming through the menu when I saw “peperoni.” That I knew. I love pepperoni pizza, so I ordered it. Note to self: pepperoni in German does not mean pepperoni. It means peppers; of the jalapeno kind. They weren’t that strong, so the pizza was good anyway.

Onto Frankfurt. We took the ICE train to Frankfurt, cutting our time in half. It’s a very comfortable train with a restaurant car and these huge bathrooms. I wasn’t sure I’d recognize my Aunt, but she hadn’t changed since I last saw her. She took us around the main city for about 40 minutes or so. They have some gorgeous architecture there. Of course, we took many pictures. After, we went to their apartment to spend the rest of our day there. Their little apartment is actually pretty big and absolutely gorgeous. From what my aunt says, it’s insanely expensive to buy real estate where she lives (a house could cost 1 million Euro), so most people rent. I’d rent too if houses in NY were that highly priced! Seeing my Uncle did give me a bit of a start, but I knew that. It was a great visit though, especially catching up with my cousin and asking them about some differences between the US and Germany (for example, here they have to pay for Kindergarten). I would have to look away from my Uncle once in awhile, but I am still glad I went.

On the way back to the train station, I saw my first gas station. Yianni and I had remarked to each others that we had no idea how these people got gas and there were three gas stations back to back! We decided to walk back to the hotel from the main train station (bad idea – it was cold out there!) and made it to bed. I crashed late (around 1:30 or so) because of reading. I have to say though, my trip here and my trip to upstate NY has confirmed for me that I need to move from Long Island. I didn’t have any really bad allergy days here and the two times my belly bothered me, it went quickly away. I’ve actually felt pretty healthy body-wise my entire trip here (I don’t count my knee hurting or aching muscles – those are from all the walking I’ve been doing. One of the days in Heidelberg, hubby and I estimated that we walked about 10 miles). Tomorrow is our relax day before leaving for NY on Tuesday.

More from Deutschland

Day 6

Some rumination about Germany:

At the hotel, there is free internet as usual. What’s odd about it is you can only access it in the lobby. That means no relaxing in your jammies in your room while chatting. It means finding a spit where there aren’t any smokers about and logging on. Thank goodness for Radio Shack and European adaptors.

Traffic is also interesting. They speed like demons here. Even the train was hitting what seemed like 100mph. At the crosswalks, when the pedestrian sign is red, the people don’t move. There can be no car for miles around and they’ll still stay until it turns green. This works out for the cars because since they don’t have to worry about pedestrians crossing when they shouldn’t. they zoom.

The train system is an odd one. So far, we’ve only paid for one ticket. I go to the automatic ticket booth, but I don’t get charged. It seems when you do pay for one, you are on an honor system, because there is no conductor on the train to check for tickets. That could never fly in NY.

The German people are really friendly. They smile and wish you a good day when they see you and are unbelievably nice when you tell them you don’t speak German. We tend to ask “Sprechen Sie English?” first thing and this seems to get good results. Though, when they reply a little, they know more English than I do German.

It’s fun to know people. When we get to the Hotel, we invariably pass by one of the members of the touring company of “Grease” (they are here until Monday), so we say hi as we go by. It’s kinda neat.

I love how they set up their bathrooms. The sinks and stalls are separated by a door and then even the stalls have their own doors. I guess it makes for easier traffic flow if you just want to touch up makeup or wash your hands.

Lastly, this is a note to myself. When feeling lightheaded, it is not going to help by taking my anti-vert right after I’ve had a small stein of beer. Seems the two don’t go well together. I wonder why….

OK, onto Heidelberg:

We stopped at the Christmas Market for a quick snack. I had a waffle with Nutella mmm..chocolate) and Yianni had one with honey. It hit the spot and covered us while we wandered about the Castle once more. We took many pictures and walked around their enormous gardens with hills from hell and a gazillion stairs. People in the Middle Ages must have been buff! We had to sit a few times after walking up some of those hills. I definitely need to get into better shape.

We took the mountain tram up one stop and then went all the way down in the front car – it was really cool! Then onto the Main street in Heidelberg. We were getting hungry, so we wandered down pretty far (the place was jam packed) and found this great little place called the Lowenbrau Brewerei. Of course, we both had some Lowenbrau beer. I had the dark beer and hubby had the Oktoberfest beer. For food, he had the pork cordon bleu and I had my favorite food of childhood LeberKase. I can’t directly translate what this is (the restaurant calls it Meat Loaf, but it’s made with pork I believe).With it came a traditional German potato salad. It was amazing and really reasonably priced! I gotta say though, after all this meat, it’ll be nice to have chicken or pasta again!

I have to say: I love, love, love, love, LOVE Heidelberg. I left my heart there. (And yes, there’s a song “I Left my Heart in Heidelberg” – I don’t know if it came before the San Francisco one or not. The Alte Town (Old Town) is breathtaking. Every other building is historical. What’s funny is that the top of a building will be gorgeous and the bottom will have some modern store. And though we’re in Germany, we can’t escape certain stores; today we saw a Starbuck’s. It’s like the plague – they’re everywhere.

Tomorrow, we’ll be visiting family. I’m excited about seeing my cousin and nervous about seeing my uncle. He’s my Da’ds twin and the last time I saw him was 12 years ago at my Dad’s funeral. Luckily, my brain is kinda sludgy from being undermedicated and tired, so hopefully it doesn’t totally freak me out. I’ll let you know afterwards…