I’ve now lived in Germany and worked with German keyboards long enough that I regularly switch my laptop keyboard to the German layout. Because otherwise, I make too many mistakes, misspelling my surname for example. I can now type faster on the German keyboard layout. Still, there are a few instances where I switch it back to the English layout. One is for typing in programming languages. I’ve got the German layout memorized and never got the stickers, but several keys essential for coding are just not as accessibly located in that version: greater/less than signs and forward and back slashes.

I have dedicated the last several months to making a more permanent change in location within Germany. As an “alien”, this change process is not the easiest. The main takeaway is to never ever again try to move during the month of August. All the authorities and officials you need to talk to are on vacation and any paperwork you hand in will just sit there until the person in question returns. I’m sure there are instances where everything goes smoothly, but for some reason I’m hitting every bump in the road. On the bright side, I’ve got some extra time to spend on my projects.

PatternMy new room is beautiful, but I need curtains. Since I’ve got the extra time, I decided to sew them myself. I had the pieces cut to the right size at the shop and have now begun sewing them. In order to let some light in, the top 50cm are a brown chiffon. The main bit is a dark green-brown-gold paisley (see above). Thus far, I’ve sewn the two fabrics together and hemmed the bottom of the one half. The light is too dim right now to do the other one, so I’ve just pinned it in place. Next, I’ll need to go out and get 5m of bias tape (dark brown) for the vertical edges, plus about 1.9m for the top (width is about 0.9m each). I’ll aim to get a wider type of bias tape for the top so that I have room to make holes for the curtain hooks. I hope to be able to hang them in two days or so. Next up are the balcony doors. I might just do the brown chiffon for those as privacy curtains aren’t as necessary on that side of the room. We’ll see, though. The last time I worked with chiffon, I learned that sewing chiffon onto chiffon is extremely annoying as the fabric is filmy and slippery, but that sewing it to another fabric is just fine. Hence the paisley and bias tape rather than hemming the chiffon by itself.

Here is the back side of one half of the curtain set. Obviously, I need to iron this as well. Need to find an ironing surface.

Curtains 001




Mittags Buffee

I’ve never particularly liked lunch as a concept. At school, it always meant the difficult decision of who to sit with and something from a brown paper bag, hastily packed in the morning. On weekends, it usually meant leftovers and time spent not doing whatever I wanted. Now that I’m working, I really actually enjoy my lunch break. A time to reenergize for the second half of the day. I have adapted well to the German habit of a later lunch (even though this is often inconvenient in the village where I work because half the shops all go on lunch break either from 1-2 or from 1-3, so a visit to the post office or bank means I need to take my break from 12:30 to 1:30 instead). What I have not adapted well to is packing my own lunch. I haven’t been in the habit of doing that over the last nine years partly due to dining halls in college and living close enough to grad school to walk home and make my lunch fresh. The few times over the last couple of months that I’ve thought ahead, I usually manage to forget at home whatever it was I packed up the night before and put in the fridge. Oh well, that was dinner already done!

My mother has an impressive cycle of foods. If we ate spaghetti with meat sauce on Monday night, we knew that the meat sauce would get some spices and be reincarnated as either chili or tacos or both on Tuesday and/or Wednesday. A roast chicken’s leftover bones and meat would mean Potpie soup broth. A pot roast’s leftover vegetables would show up in a vegetable soup. Somehow, this clever scheme has not rubbed off on me. I like to experiment and rarely make the same thing twice. I might have the same basic thing over and over, but each time, I see some new thing lying around and think “Oooh, that might taste good with that”. Generally, it’s passable, sometimes it really does taste terrible. Generally, because I’m experimenting and am not entirely sure that it will actually be tasty, I make enough for one meal.

My goal this week then, will be to aim to make it work for two meals (lunch the next day) and to also remember to take it with me. You can’t take it with you if you can remember you have it? Bad pun. Sorry.

In other news, I have recently taken over the main tenancy of the my apartment from my previous flatmate. I have acquired a subletter and am now trying to systematically (but mostly erratically) replacing the things that disappeared in the move. This week, after several tries, I managed to get a floor rug (large) and laundry detergent (I was down to the Christmas-themed socks…). Those were my goals last week. Along the way, I may also have acquired some cleaning supplies, a cutting board, an extra hand towel, and a casserole dish. This week, my goal is for some pillows to sit on in the living room, some cushy stools (I already know what and where, but will not get them until next Saturday because that store closes at 7pm during the week. I work until 6 and by the time I got to the store they’ll either be closed or shooing customers out the door.), and something to hang coats on. My goal for November is a couch bed. But that is a ways out, hence the pillows. I’m contemplating actually making the pillows myself, but I think I might just stick with pillowcases and leave the pillow making to people who are better at it/have experience.

The title of the post is something I saw on the window of a local Chinese restaurant. The correct way to write it would be “Mittagsbuffet.” As it is, they can still capitalize on their error by putting a picture of a fairy on the window. “Fee” means fairy in German. Magic fairy provides your lunch for you? I’m probably going to have to be my own magic fairy for a while…

A transition

As a now former college student, I give myself an A+ for being able to make and achieve short term goals. Do homework for next week. Start and follow through (nevermind how last minute) on a research paper. But now that finishing school was just something else that I checked off a month ago, not just some nebulous idea still looming over the horizon, I find myself slightly at a loss. Now I need another goal looming over the horizon.

In high school, I successfully created a goal like this: live in Germany someday. Now that I’ve just managed to accomplish both this goal and that of finishing school at the same time, I’m doubly due to find something else to look forward to. To scheme for. To dream on. Long term goals are somewhat harder to grade, though. You never know if it was a good idea until long after you’ve achieved the goal. So, I suppose I could pose myself the question: Now that I’m here, what I am going to do?

In the short term, I do have concrete goals. Find housing. Establish a lifestyle that no longer needs to revolve around getting next week’s homework done or integrating studying into academic breaks. Okay, maybe that one might take a bit more time.

In the long term, perhaps I need to transistion to a new question word. Why? To some degree, school and college have become simply a fact, something that “everyone” does. It has led me to where I am now in no small degree. Why did I want to live in Germany? That’s somewhat more difficult to answer, though I’m sure it had something to do with the fact that I took German in high school, was and am fascinated by the culture, and have German and Pennsylvania-Dutch heritage. But, I bet there are many people on the eastern seaboard and in the midwest who can say something similar.

This idea is something that occurred to me nearly a year before I even applied to be an exchange student in Germany or had spent more than three days in that country. Certainly, I was very into geneaology in middle school and am still at least mildly interested in visiting the myriad places in Europe where my ancestors lived. My mother terms my move as a sort of ‘reverse immigration’. Perhaps this is a kind of personal search for the ‘American dream’ and an extension of it in global terms. As our world has offered more ways to connect to more places and people, I think that our goals now also have the capacity to break out of the confines of a limited place and group of people. However, I do think global movement is a recognition of how human contact and relationships can spread. This could be seen as somewhat cautionary as well, though, because it is quite possible to spread too thin. Relationships must be nurtured and this is certainly much simpler in a less globalized situation. I am now dependent on e-mail, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, assorted other Internet-based connections, a Europe-only cell phone, snail mail, and face-to-face interactions to achieve communication. For a random person who grows up in a small town, goes to college within a 30-mile radius, and then gets a job within a 60-mile radius of the college, the invisible methods of Internet communication are perhaps still useful, but are surely not as essential. I recognize that I have become rather dependent on the Internet to occupy me from day to day, to tell me what is going on in the most remote places around the world – places I may never see in person.