Just another week in the Stu

us in our german gearWell, I am hiding in bed, making myself update this.  You’d think it was the most difficult thing in the world…or at the very least, you’d think I had something better that was keeping me busy, like this little thing called employment.  Nah, instead, I have this little thing called endless visitors and I will have you know, entertaining is a full time job.  After Kait left, Lainie arrived for over a week.  In the middle of Lainie’s stay, Trey arrived and he’s here for another week.  The day after he leaves, Chris’ family arrives.  That’s right, eight weeks straight of visitors, all here until Oct 19, which is 19 days away, my day of silence/rest/celebration of normalcy.  Don’t get me wrong, I love each and every one of our visitors and love spending time with them all.  But as someone who doesn’t actually LOVE people all the time (ever), someone who is a grump, someone who loves to nap alone, doesn’t prefer talking before noon and two coffees, well, entertaining and being pleasant all the time is just impossible–ask any of my visitors.

me lain town hallSo far, so good, though.  Lainie made it to three countries during our stay and learned what it’s like to live in our car for three days.  Bet she’s looking forward to doing that again.  She was great fun, a happy camper and I was thrilled to have her all to myself for over a week.me hugging lain  She met my all of my German friends, my friends in the Stu, was my partner in crime at Volksfest, and best of all, we had hundreds of hours to catch up and just relax.  I miss her already and am working on convincing her to live in my basement. 

Trey is here for another week.  Ah Trey, the King of Jager.  He is going to attempt to ruin my liver for sure.  So far, so good with him, too.  After he arrived, the four of us started our tour around the area.  We took them to Wiel der Stadt, me and trey churchthe town within castle walls, where we found the most amazing grocery store within 10km (how did i miss it last time??), as well as an overweight, robust mannequin modeling lingerie, which was slightly odd yet comforting at the same time….We went to the Hozenhollern castle, where the group tour was offered only in German.  That was awkward.  Do you know how hard it is to look interested for over an hour while someone tells stories about pictures and rooms and you have no idea what they’re saying?  I just made up stories in my head.  It kept me busy while all the Germans laughed and pointed around me.  At the end of the tour, the 20 something tour guide came up to me in her cowboy boots and said clearly—in HER BRITISH ACCENT, “You don’t speak any German, do you?”  SOB, I knew it.  I knew those Germans don’t wear cowboy boots and how does she have two accents?  She should be an actress because she does a great German.  Was there any chance she could have asked me that at the BEGINNING of the tour?  It also makes me realize that I must wander around looking clueless.  I really need to work on that.

house on canalWe all went to Strasbourg, France for a day, which was great.  I love, love, LOVE Strasbourg.  It’s my second favorite city in the world (so far), second only to Salzburg, Austria–where I’ll be next weekend.  Ah, but Strasbourg, my pretty little jewel of a city.  We did the typical tour of the Bourg–the Notre Dame de Strasbourg, the canals, the La Petite area, with all its charm and sidewalk artists, bakeries and restaurants lining the cobblestone streets.  We watched the gypsy ladies with their little children props, shaking their cups and not getting a euro from my pocket, though I knowtrey, lain, chris canal what it’s like to have to beg for money at this point…actually, not beg, just steal, which is what I do every morning from Chris’ pockets.  He never remembers to take out his euro and I have myself quite the secret collection going on.  Note to self: If you come to my house and leave your change lying around, I will find it and I will keep it.  That is what the unemployed do, sorry.  And for the record, I’d rather be unemployed than one of these crazy ass street mimes I keep seeing everywhere.  They are a nightmare and I think strategically placed to scare the hell out of me around every corner in every big city over here. (they scare me on the same level as clowns, which makes sense, because they are like the cousin of the clown…) I mean, really.  Juststreet mime because you paint yourself metallic and stand still for hours does not make you a “street artist” and if it does, I’m going to paint myself silly and call myself employed.  Here’s a pic of one to prove my point, but I didn’t take this pic and I don’t know who those kids are, but they should really button up their shirts and stop looking so impressed.  Anyway, after our successful trip to Strasbourg, we rested that evening in preparation for our big night at the Volksfest the next evening.

germans at volksfestVolksfest is Stuttgart’s Oktoberfest and is second only to Munich’s, which clearly can’t be topped.  It was a blast.  It’s like the Big E, a birthday party, a sauna, and a bottomless keg all in one.  Oh, and a costume party, so I guess Halloween, too.  It is amazing.  For 30 euro you get a reserved seat at a table, which is a must, as otherwise, the Germans will seat themselves wherever–we had 54 people at our tables.  You get three beers, which is three liters to kick it off, and a half a roasted chicken, whichbeer at volkfest comes in handy if you order it after your third liter. Between the endless beer, the Rammazoti shot girls, the dancing on the tables (yes, of course I was up there), the carnival rides (Chris and I did the go carts), the corn on the cob on a stick (just as good here), brat on a stick (clearly), and all the American music you could ever imagine sung by Germans (bizarre, they just can’t get enough of Rod Stewart, Huey Lewis, the Boss, and Ace of Base), it was an exhausting display of alcoholism.  I think we’re going back this weekend while some of the crew heads to Munchen to tackle the beast that is the real Oktoberfest.  I’m still in practice mode, as I know my mom wants to see me in November–it’s really best for me to just stick to the mini-Oktoberfest for now.

Let’s see, what else is new..

My huge job application for DIA is out and finalized, which is a huge relief.  I won’t know anything for months and it’s me fighting for 15 jobs with 3800 other people.  Nothing like good odds…but I did find 5 other jobs to apply for, so there’s hope.  Gisela’s daughter Tina (my German grandmother’s daughter, of course) asked me if I wanted to walk old people in town to the grocery store and then keep them company as a part-time job when I saw her at the bar the other day.  Hmm.  How do I put this without sounding terrible and selfish?  As good as it would be for my karma I suppose, the elderly scare me because I do not like the smell of death.  And I am not a great caretaker, though I can work with small children because that’s just a case of outsmarting little people.  Older people? Not so much….  I just cannot have people up and die on me and that’s what the really old ones do and so I think I’ll have to pass and hide in my safe, little bubble here while I wait for my big, bad govie job to come through.  Politicians, I can deal with them.  They are heartless, right up my alley.  And they don’t die, they just cause trouble and trouble is something I can work with…I’ll just wait for my job and pass on the good karma for now.  Thanks for the offer, though.

Ah, yes, I almost forgot.  It’s pumpkin roll season, which means my second attempt at baking.  I’m pretty good at making a pumpkin roll, as Katie has taught me well.  This week I’ll be making a whole lot of them and giving them out as Happy Fall gifts (I have a date with Gisela on Friday at 4pm–pumpkin roll and beer at her house!).  They are delicious.  As soon as I make one, I’ll post it. 

flower in hairAnd lastly, but most importantly, guess what’s in 21 days?  That’s right, my 30th birthday!  Tomorrow is the official start to birthday month.  Remember (and it takes a week):  Heather Smith, Lindenstrasse 6, Aidlingen Germany 71134.  Don’t be shy. 😉

Kurbisfest and fall in Ludwigsburg

palace w flowerskurbisAh, with each day now I can feel a bit more of fall in the air.  Take today for instance, it was a solid 50 and no sun and somehow I still loved it.  It still doesn’t smell quite like fall, but I don’t expect it to be prime season until the first week of October, just like at home.  I do expect great things for fall this year, though I’m still not sure the leaves here are the right kind for changing potential.  I want to see some leaf changing fireworks, and I’m just not sure about these trees here.  To kick off fall this past weekend, we all went to Kurbisfest (pumpkinfest) in Ludwigsburg., which is only about 40 minutes from my house.   Lucky me, it was a celebration of pumpkins AND a palace.  God, do I love a good pumpkin.  My obsession is getting out of hand, really.  And a palace, too?  La dee da.  It was the perfect day. 

The palace grounds were amazing.  Even if the kurbis weren’t there (but thank god they were) it would have been great sightseeing.  I really don’t understand how they keep up with the grounds over here, especially since I never see anyone working on the grass or the flowers.  These Germans must do it overnight, when no one is looking, to keep up their impecable landscaping images.  Oh, speaking of such, I am in a massive fight with the old biddy from next door.  Ime under pumpkin hut really had high hopes for us, especially after finding out she speaks English, but she had to go ruin it with her (very poor) decision to use the words “impolite” and “American” in the same sentence.  Last week I had put the dogs out back for awhile so that I did not have to watch them stare at me through the glass.  They are the absolute worst at keeping themselves busy, god forbid they chase a butterfly or run laps around the house.  I figured I’ll put them out back, get some work done and go let them back in later.  Well, just as I went to let them back in, said old biddy sees me and waves for me to wait so that she can come around to the front and talk to me.  I figure she’s going to ask me how I like it here, how my weekend was, or just say hi like a normal person.  But no, she had to go get all anal German on me and inform me NOT to put my dogs in the back anymore, because “maybe I do not know what is impolite like most Americans don’t know”, but she was not interested in seeing them to their business in my yard, which is 10 yards from her house, OVER A FENCE.  She then proceeded to tell me that maybe in America it was also acceptable for me to let my grass grow where neighbors can see it, but in Germany, it is polite to take care of your yard.  No she did not just start this with me.  Yes, yes she did.  And impolite?  Well, she asked for it.  Maybe I should tell her that maybe she does not know, as most Germans don’t, that it’s not just impolite, its really very RUDE  to stare at neighbors, their yards, their houses, their dogs, their anything.  Maybe I should also tell her that as an American woman, I have better things to do then shake my sheets out the window every day, bake a strudel and talk to all the other old biddys on the block about whose flowers are not up to par this week.  And so now, I am not mowing my yard until October.  And every morning, the dogs and I are going to parade around the backyard doing the Poo Parade.  That’ll teach her a lesson about what’s impolite and what’s none of her stupid business.  Ugh.  Welcome to Germany, not everything is rainbows and day drinking.  Now, back to the pumpkinfest.

I’ve never seen so many pumpkins and ghords in my life, though I was disappointed in a few things.  They did not have an annual pumpkin growing contest, the one where the 300 pound pumpkin isn’t even nice looking anymore, but you are still so excited that it won the blue ribbon.   Also, there was a bit of cheese factor going on at “the World’s Largest Pumpkin Show”.  Most of the pumpkins were arranged to make storybook scenes.  Though it was great for the kids, it cinderella displaywas kinda creepy for the rest of us. I’m not sure how some of these kids didn’t have nightmares that night of the witch eating Hansel or how ugly Cinderella look.   And lastly, there were no pumpkin martinis (I miss you Half Moon Bay pumpkin Martini), pumpkin wine, pumpkin beer (in germany, really?) or pumpkin pie.  I did eat akurbis ravioli nice little pumpkin ravioli and bisque, but really, that doesn’t make a festival, now does it?

Anyway, it was a great day outdoors with friends and we ended it with an evening at the bier garten, per usual.  I met Albert, my new German friend with the handlebar mustache who told me after 6 beers, “I can always watch a football game, but how often is it that I can talk with a blond girl from America with blue eyes?”  Ah, Albert, you charmer, they’re hazel, but I’ll let it slide. 

I’m off this week on yet another German adventure.  Tomorrow we’re off to tour Germany until Sunday— and making a stop in Sylt (thank you for the fabulous suggestion) with Lainie.  Sylt is the home of the very first nude beach in Germany and its rumored that saunas line the beaches so that you can warm up, streak into the North Sea, and then warm up again.  How very kind of them.  I can tell already it’s going to be a very interesting week….

Nine days with Kait

DSC_0589Well, what was a six day visit with Kait turned into nine days and she wanted out.  At one point in our visit she actually said, “I feel like a rat in a hell hole.”   Now I’m not quite sure what that really meant but I get the point.  She wanted out, only 16 or so hours after we changed her ticket for an extended stay.  I think its hilarious, the amount of damage we were able to cause in the days she was here, and her extreme sense of urgency in getting back to Boston, where normal adults function and festivals created just for drinking don’t exist.  I am officially in a self induced rehab until next Thursday, which is exactly the day Lainie arrives.  God help me.

With Kait, we cannot do anything half-assed.  We had too much fun.  Too much fun and too much booze.  Too much winefest, too much laughing (as if there is such a thing), too much facebooking, too much pizza and fanta, too much of all around bad behavior which we can blame on the fact that we hadn’t seen each other in 3 months.  We thoroughly ruined our bodies, and in fact I think we became somewhat less intelligent in the days we spent together, it was that great of a time.  I was sad to see her go, but we probably shouldn’t see each other again for awhile.  And there is no way we could live in Europe together, due to the fact that we’d surely die or at least get arrested.  I heart her, but we are nothing but trouble together.  As a tribute to our fantastic visit, I am listing our most favorite moments or quotes of the nine days she was here. 

1.  The ‘stache video.  Yes, there is wax involved and and it’s a riot, but it’s not going on fb, it just isn’t.

2.  The Battle of the Bulge video.  It’s on her page, not mine.  And I don’t think it’s at all weird that we were caught on tape taking pictures of an older man’s bulge in outrageously tight capris. DSC_0684 

3.  “Helloooo ladies….” Nothing like being picked up on the street. 

4. Turnstile assault.  An old man actually assaulted me on the way into the WC so that Kait and I could get in using the same .50 euro.  Very thoughtful but the bruising on my thighs lasted for days. 

5. Winefest…a night of sneaky cobblestones and smashing glass.  “What is her problem?” was asked of me that evening, shortly after pulling her up off the ground due to her “shoes”.  There is no easy way to answer that question, I know…

6. I’m just going to wash these with Palmolive.  Yeah, why not?  Not like I don’t have Tide right downstairs. IMG_0635

7. Are you naked under there?  Yea, why.  No reason, just move over. 

8. Soccerrrrrrr baaaaaaaaaaaaaaall!  Pull your pants up!  Inconsiderate German boys.

9. Wait, hold up.  Where are we going?   Don’t worry about it, I’ve got it covered.  Shit, we’re going bobsledding, aren’t we?

10.  Let’s do Stuttgart night.  What will we wear? I’m wearing leggings and a jean skirt.  You can wear skinny white jeans and one of your 15 belts and he’s wearin capris and that felt hat with a feather in it, of course.  Everyone wears suspenders.

11.  I’m just going to put on your drindel and jump on the trampoline. 

12.  I’ll be having his baby in two weeks…Whatever, have his baby, I just want a picture with him. 

13.  Change your flight.  I can’t.  Why?  It’s not like you have a job.  Change it and we’ll be in France by sunset.

For the record, I know none of this is normal behavior.  I’m also aware I might not make it past 55 at this rate but hey, have fun while you can, right?  Fun indeed.  Now back to my detox…