June 22, 2011

Reflections from California

Well… for the first time in over a year, this blog update comes to you from the great state of California. I am home, I have arrived, and I am alive. Despite having to travel on a bum foot, I made it across three countries (Germany, Canada, and the US), the Atlantic ocean, and am only six hours away from reuniting with my mom in San Luis Obispo. I am writing this to you from the cabin of an Amtrak train where just ten minutes ago, my dearest friend Lauren, put me on a train at the infamous Union Station in Los Angeles. She picked me up the night before at LAX and together, with her lovely German boyfriend, Basti (Queue inside joke: “Put ze baby on my butt!”), we went to In-N-Out where I had a worthy “welcome home” meal – a Double Double with mustard, no sauce, In-N-Out’s delicious crispy french fries, and a not-so-good American Coke (I miss Germany’s version!).

And yeah… I’m home. Wow. I haven’t really had a moment to myself to sit back and think about what that means to me. It’s weird though and I’m sure it will feel this way for days. During the eleven hour plane ride all I could focus on was whether or not my foot was going to explode due to cabin pressure. I couldn’t really focus on my inevitable to descent to American soil. At the airport, all I could think about was how stupid Lauren and I had been for not exchanging better contact details – I hoped she would find me. And find me she did! And once we were together, all I could think about was In-N-Out and how happy I was to see her again. And to hear Basti’s unmistakable Bavarian accent – I might as well have still been there. And then, it kind of started to hit me as I iced my foot and watched Kate Plus 8 and Cake Boss and ate delicious ice cream sandwiches from the comfort of Lauren’s blessedly massive couch.

“This is the first American TV on actual TV that I’ve watched in over a year!” I exclaimed, as the realization of my return started to set in. And, in my opinion, TLC  was a worthy channel to initiate my return to American media. (I love that channel! If it had been 19 Kids and Counting, I would have been in heaven!) And then – all of a sudden – I was tired. It hit me that back in Munich, it was pushing 4 am and I’d slept a total of 2 hours during my travels. I needed to go to bed. So, I took a shower (I missed you stationary shower heads!) and then crashed. Sleep was easy – I passed out right away. But staying asleep was the tricky part. I woke up about three or four times over the course of my eight hour night and kept checking the clock. 12:42, 2:34, 3:45. In Munich, it would have been late morning to mid afternoon. In fact, I went to bed in California at about the same time that I would have woken up in Munich to start a regular work day.

When I did wake up, at 5:45, it was to the sound of the Harry Potter theme song on my Verizon cell phone – a phone that I hadn’t been able to use for a over a year. My ankle was throbbing – I hadn’t felt that much pain in the thing since the morning before I went to have the injury diagnosed. I quickly swallowed an IBU 600 (I love prescription strength drugs!) and readied myself for the rest of the day – my final travels through California. (Kind of.) Lauren fed me toast and orange juice and Basti loaded my suitcases into the car and then we were on our way – and not with a moment to spare. We arrived at Union Station within 20 minutes of my train’s departure. I checked in, checked my bags (which would arrive in San Luis Obispo on a later train), and then we got a go cart to drive me to the platform. As a result, our goodbye was kind of muddled but I know I’ll see her again soon. That’s the beauty of having friends that live in California. You’ll always reunite.

And now… here I am. Riding in a four-seater with my foot elevated and an electrical outlet to my right – rightfully blogging, something I feel I haven’t done properly in weeks. But, strangely enough, it’s still all so surreal. I don’t think it’s really hit me quite yet. Even as the train passes through the ghetto of Los Angeles and winds it way through Glendale, Burbank, Northridge, and Camarillo – all places that I’ve been through and seen a thousand times – it stills feel so foreign to me. Maybe it’s because my heart really is lost in Bavaria. Eventually it will find it’s way back to California but for now, it’s still in Germany and although I am very happy and excited to get back to my life here, I really miss the year of my life that I just left behind.

I don’t even know if I could put into words how much that year of my life meant to me. Being in Germany changed me – at first, it was a rough and emotional change but then it turned around and I learned a lot about my past situations and turned my regrets into opportunities of renewal. I learned from everything that happened to me while I was in Germany and I know that my entire experience changed me into a person who is so completely different from when I first left to start my adventure.

I met so many incredible people on my journey – friends that I will have and cherish for the rest of my life. Soulmates, sisters, brothers, lovers. I met each and every one for a specific reason and they all came into my life because they were supposed to be there. Who would I have been if I had not met them? What kind of an experience would I have had if they had not been there? Through the long nights of binge drinking, club dancing, gossiping, debauchery, fighting, and whatever else we got into we sealed our own fates. We will never forget those moments that we shared. We built our lives around each other and those people and the memories that we made together will forever shape me. To each and every one of you, from June of last year until just last week, you are forever in my heart and I love you so much. Thank you for being there with me and sharing the year with me.

Of course, I went to Germany to work but it ended up being nothing more than background noise to my entire adventure. I love the girls and I will miss them – of course, in the same way that I miss and love any other children that have come and gone from my life. They were great girls – so smart and sharp, full of sunshine and so sweet. They had their moments, like any normal child would, but for the most part, they were well-adjusted and strong little girls. They will have some rough years ahead of them, no doubt, but it is my hope that they will overcome and grow into beautiful, strong, and respectful young women. Hopefully I can visit them again throughout the years and keep up with them. I’d hate to lose touch with them. Their mother, however crazy she was and however difficult she made my life at times, will never be forgotten. Infamously – of course, but I am grateful for the chance that she gave me to come into her family and take part in her culture and be a part of the city. I never felt like she was a mother figure to me but to be fair, she didn’t really try very hard sometimes. Haha. Nevertheless, I am grateful for the opportunity that she gave me. I wish her the best with her future au pairs and hope that she realizes soon that she doesn’t really need one and could save herself a lot of money every year on that realization. Haha.

Being a part of Germany was an incredible experience for me. I’d never been to Europe before I started this adventure. I’d never really traveled anywhere or done anything very remarkable with my life. Well, except for my summer camp counselor adventure but these two experiences wouldn’t exist without the other so… I take that back. My summer camp adventure was the first remarkable thing that I’d ever done and, even though I didn’t know it then, it changed my life. Germany changed my life. I keep saying that and I’m not really backing it up with any evidence, am I?

Being in Germany taught me a lot about myself and helped me discover parts of my heart and soul that I didn’t even know I had. I went through a lot of emotions while I was in Germany. I was hurt and battered by a lot of men and I made a lot of stupid decisions, usually while I was drunk, but I learned a lesson every time. Sometimes I repeated the same stupid mistakes and hated myself for it but in the end, I came to realize that I wouldn’t get anything of life if I didn’t have those mistakes to learn from. I didn’t go looking for them, of course, but when they happened – I tried not to beat myself up about it. Life will, most definitely, change now that I am home but the life that I had in Germany was worth living. I will forever be a different person because of the things that I experienced while I was there. For the rest of my life I will always have those “one year in Germany” stories to tell every new person that I meet and I’ll always have that interesting edge over the less traveled and more stationary people that I meet. Gives me something to look forward to as I go out into the world and introduce myself to new people and new opportunities.

I can’t really identify with how it feels to be home. I think those words will come over the next few weeks and months as I get settled into my life again. Right now, I am happy to be home but I am missing Germany. In a few weeks, I will probably be bored of home and crying for Germany. And then something will come up – I’ll start my new job or I’ll meet a sweet, handsome new boy – and I’ll love California again and Germany will be just a fleeting thought. It will come and go and fluctuate as my life changes. All that I can do now is remain grateful and appreciative for the year that I spent in Germany and know that nothing I do, from here on out, will ever compare to the adventure that I just experienced.

And do I dare quote and improvise Rihanna lyrics? Somehow, given the year of my life and the amount of Rihanna that I listened to, danced to at clubs, and sang karaoke too, it seems appropriate (and not to mention the amount of times that it rained while I was in Munich). She’s kind of become synonymous with my time in Germany, anyway.

Germany, you had my heart
And we’ll never be worlds apart

You can stand under my umbrella.

No? It doesn’t work? Haha. Oh well. Germany, I will miss you. Thank you for everything. You have my heart. Forever.

June 16, 2011

Happy Anniversary!– One Year Passed and the Unconventional Gift I Gave Myself

As of yesterday, I have been in Germany for exactly one year. On June 15th, 2010 I boarded a plane in Los Angeles and arrived in Germany 12 or so hours later. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year already. And it’s been an awesome year – as you know if you’ve been reading this blog the whole time. I haven’t been writing much, it’s true, because I’ve had other things to do but once I get back to California, I’ll be able to collect my thoughts and have some serious and emotional reflections. For now, I’m just here to say, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY GERMANY! We started our year long love affair one year ago! Ich liebe dich. To celebrate this momentous occasion, I had all kinds of celebrations planned. One of which went horribly wrong. Haha.

On Tuesday night, I went to one of our favorite bars, Shamrock’s Irish Pub for one last Tuesday night of karaoke, beer, and good friends. It turned into a shitstorm of craziness. It was totally worth it though. Because even though I ended up in the hospital because of it, I was with my friends and I had a GREAT night. Absolutely no regrets.

But… yeah. I ended up in the hospital simply because I am a klutz and when I’m drunk, I’m a super klutz. Although I don’t remember much of the details, apparently I fell down the stairs to the bathroom (there are two of them, ha) as the bar was closing and ended up on the floor. I remember my ankle hurting but it wasn’t unbearable because I walked 1/5 of the way home from the bar. Pretty much the length of my entire street, which is about 8 to 10 blocks. Somewhere along the walk, I lost one of my shoes and my wallet. Woops. (My shoe was found my the twins down the street. Ha. Thanks, girls!) I’m pretty sure I remember hobbling the whole way home but it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t walk on it. But when I woke up in the morning… hot damn. It hurt.

It took some convincing but I managed to get my host-mom to take me to the hospital. I was miserable. I was laying in my room, crying for my mom. It was sad. So, she gave me taxi money, my angel-amazing-of-a-friend Ana agreed to meet us at the hospital and help me out and then we were on our way. It was slow goes it because I couldn’t put any weight on my right foot. But we managed it okay. In the end, we didn’t stay at the hospital because the wait was like 4 hours so Ana used her SmartPhone and found an orthopedic doctor and we taxied to Odeonsplatz for a second shot. From there, I was given crutches and properly examined.

Turns out that I tore the ligaments in my ankle and I won’t need surgery but just have to rest and wear an ankle brace for the next four weeks. I’m still on crutches now because everything is still tender and sore but I’m trying to recover! It’s put a bit of a damper on my packing and cleaning plans. Also, I’m mostly sad about the fact that I can’t continue running for a while. I was doing SO good and was so into it and now I have to take a break. Hopefully it won’t be hard to take up again and my ankle won’t give me any problems later. Lord knows I have enough issues with my feet!

Right now, I’m trying to focus on rest and getting the swelling to go down but it’s hard when I have packing and other crap that I have to do. Also, I’m only here for FOUR MORE DAYS. So I have a lot of goodbyes to get through and hopefully no more stupid, idiotic injuries.

June 10, 2011


I don’t know how to write about my trip to Berlin. It was fucking awesome. Pardon my French but seriously. It was. I’ve sat down and tried to write a detailed report on the weekend and I just couldn’t do it. Let me see if I can sum it up. I went on a road trip with three of my really close friends here in Munich and we drove five hours to Berlin where we met up with some other friends – people that we knew from Munich or our past and separate lives – Laura and Alison – and we spent the weekend clubbing, wandering the wild and vibrant streets of Berlin from 11 pm until 5:30 or 7 in the morning, drinking Berliner Pils (and Augustiner Helles, too!), and touring incredible German history sites. We took a four hour walking tour in the merciless east German heat and I stood beside the Berlin wall. The bunker where Hitler killed himself is now covered by a parking lot. I saw the hotel where Michael Jackson hung his tiny baby out of a window. Checkpoint Charlie is really overrated. The Berlin Cathedral looks ancient but it really isn’t that old. Communism was crazy. The sun was out the entire weekend and it was glorious. Karaoke is much more fun to watch when you’re in an outdoor stadium with three hundred other people. Flea markets sell super cheap friendship bracelets and a shitload of vinyl records. I went to the most fabulous party found myself surrounded by gay boys and never felt happier or more wonderful. Berlin helped me embrace my inner fag hag and brought me a whole gaggle of new gay boyfriends. I find that I can never have enough. I ate bratwurst from men that walked around and wore sausage grills over their shoulders. Have grill, will travel. I didn’t go to bed before 3:30 am on any night of the entire weekend. I ate the best cheeseburger I’ve ever tasted… twice. I didn’t have proper Berlin currywurst. Damn. I bonded with my skinny love. I loved Berlin. I absolutely loved it.

DSC01657Yours truly at Brandenburg Tor
(I prefer the one in Munich, to be honest.)

June 2, 2011

Ich Bin Ein Berliner! (No, Seriously… I Am! Okay… Maybe Not)

Well, ladies and gents, I am off to Berlin today! I am so excited because I would have been devastated if I had missed a tripped to Berlin while I was here. It’s one of the places that I really, really wanted to see while I was here in Germany. Fortunately, I have really good friends and so this trip to Berlin has been really easy to plan. My good friend Anne, who is one of my few German friends in Germany, comes from the Berlin area and so she’s providing the car for an epic road trip. Fio and Nuno will join us on our 5 or so hour adventure up north and we will meet our respective parties once we get into the city. My close friend Alison, who I met while working at Camp Cayuga in 2007, is living in Berlin right now and so Nuno, Anne, and I will be staying with her there. Our friend Laura, who once lived here in Munich with us, is going to school in Berlin now so Fio will be staying with her there and we will see her, too. It’s going to be a weekend of sight seeing, beer drinking, and club dancing and I am so excited. I haven’t been on a proper vacation since Rome and I’m looking forward to getting away for a few days! Especially since my time in Munich is dwindling down to mere days. Only 19 of them left!

Brandenburg gate

JFK in Berlin

He just said, therefore, I am a donut!
Since a “Berliner” is a German donut. Ha.
Silly Americans.

(And as you can already tell, I have given up on the 30 Days of Germany challenge, in which I post a German something or other every day until I leave. I should have known that I couldn’t commit to that. I never finished memes like that and I’m fairly certain that I have commitment issues, anyway. So… on to the next half-assed challenged, eh? Haha.)