Monday, August 30, 2010

Monumental event of the weekend:

Kyle cooked me dinner.  :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sisters Red: A Review

Jackson Pearce returns with her second modern fairy tale: Sisters Red.  Scarlett and Rosie March are the unfortunate Little Red Riding Hoods of this tale, but they pack a punch.  Literally.  In this new take on the classic tale, Pearce delivers two heroines who aren't afraid to bite back.

When their grandmother is attacked and killed by a Fenris (the big, bad werewolf), only eleven year old Scarlett is left to defend her sister.  She loses her eye and innocence in the battle, and a life-long vendetta begins.  As the girls grow in the care of their woodsman neighbor, they learn the tricks of the trade of Fenris hunting and make friends with Silas, the woodsman's youngest son.

Time passes and hunting is the only life the girls know.  At eighteen Scarlett is ruthless, unforgiving and persistent:  determined to fight until every last Fenris is dead...or she is.  Rosie is her partner, fighting alongside the sister to whom she owes her life.  But things change when Silas returns from a year long sojourn in San Francisco:  little Rosie March doesn't seem so little anymore.  The two embark upon a romance that threatens to rip the seams of the sisters' bond.

Sisters Red is a novel that hinges itself on the idea that a magical world can coexist within our own while we continue on unaware.  The sisters and Silas live deep in the forests of the south.  They are cut off from most of the world and set apart by their knowledge of an evil that lurks just under the skin of harmless looking men.  Pearce enshrouds the trio in secrecy, keeping them separate from normality, and then moves them into city as the hunt rages on.  The effect is brilliantly defined lines of the magical reality and facade of average life.

The book moves fluidly, careening into action and gliding into romance as Scarlett and Rosie alternate narratorship.  The sisters provide two archetypal heroines for readers:  one a warrior maiden and the other fiercely loving.  The tale's only flaw lies within the magical way in which the girls are able to sustain wounds.  I found doubt mingling amid the elegance and beauty of Pearce's storytelling when Scarlett and Rosie were completely undaunted by deep slashes and raging fires.  These girls see a lot of blood, much of it their own, and in some cases the fighting theatrics were a bit overdone.

Still, this is not a book to be missed.  It is captivating, gripping, and fully satisfying at its conclusion.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Facebook, Self-Arguments, and Homesick-itis

"Carrie is currently missing: first-week-back-at-college style organization, new pencils, Casa Fiesta with Jenkins, super fast (dangerous) driving with Brianne, Courtney's late night cookies, her phone, a large collection of Disney movies, Max, dinner at her grandma's house (both), Machaela's extremely random visits, the other 3/4 of her wardrobe and the predominantly English-speaking population of Kentucky. Oh yeah, and her husband. Who is working, as per always."

-Facebook; August 24, 2010

The resulting in-head argument:
  
Self:  You shouldn't be so whiney.  It's pathetic.
Me:  You hush.  I will be whiney if I feel whiney.  I DO miss all those things.
Self:  Do you miss exams?  Or large electric bills?  Or wrong number calls?  
Me:  Well no...
Self:  Then can it.  You don't have it so bad.
Me:  But.  It's not fair.  I get four hours a day with Kyle.  And he's the only reason I'm here.
Self:  What, you didn't WANT to see Europe?
Me:  Well sure, for a VACATION.
Self:  How many people can say they've lived in Germany?
Me:  No one I know.  Which is precisely why I'm not content.  There is no one I know here.
Self:  So make new friends.
Me:  But I like my old one's just fine.
Self:  You don't have to give them up.  Just get MORE.
Me:  Well what about the food.  It's weird.  I just want a freaking chimichanga.  You know.  AMERICAN Mexican.
Self:  Why don't you try out that Italian place downtown?  It looks awesome.  
Me:  What if the menu is in German?  I can't read German!
Self:  Get a pocket dictionary.
Me:  It's heavy.  I don't wanna carry it around.
Self:  It's a POCKET dictionary.  How bad can it be?
Me:  ...
Self:  Just try.
Me:  I've been trying for months.  I just want us to go home.
Self:  Suck it up.  You BOTH can't go home.
Me:  I never asked for this you know.
Self:  Neither did I.  Am I complaining?
Me:  But.  You're the sensible half of my brain.  That doesn't count.
Self:  Sure it does.

Tell me bloggers, what have you to say to that??  Before you answer you should know:  That's not even tapping the surface.  They're still going at it in there.  

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Series of Interesting Events, or, A Weekend in Three Parts


Part I -- A Rather Remarkable Breakfast

Kyle is currently working the night shift.  So when he came home on Saturday, it was seven o'clock in the morning and time for breakfast.  We proceeded to the kitchen for a delicious (and not so nutritious) bowl of Lucky Charms.  Half way through my bowl I glanced out the window and spotted a little yellow dot in the sky.  Upon closer examination, said dot transformed into a hot air balloon.  

"Hey, look,"  I said, interrupting what I'm sure was a very deserving story. 

"What?" he said.  Then he spotted the aforementioned balloon.  "Oh, huh.  That's cool."  And then he proceeded with his story as if nothing had happened.

A few minutes later a little red dot floated along next to the yellow one.  "Hey! Look!"  I interrupted the story again.  Before long, tons of balloons were gracefully gliding across the sky in a more-or-less straight path.  I have no idea what Kyle was telling me, or if he ever got the story out, but I do have some photos of the hot air balloon parade.  It was hard to capture just how incredible it really was.  (The balloons were too high up for really spectacular photos.)  We watched the whole thing from the kitchen window over the span of about an hour as these little (but actually big) decorated balloons popped up one by one (and sometimes two by two) over the roof of our building.  Have a look:


  




Part II -- A Series of Unfortunate Pet Related Events

By a string of strange coincidences, our current host has recently come into the possession of Mr. Fatty Lumpkins (an incredibly large cat) and a dog without a proper name (who Kyle and I call Lucy.)  Mr. Fatty Lumpkins was here first.  Lucy arrived last Friday.  Both are friendly and lovable...so long as they're kept apart.  So, to smooth things over, Mr. Fatty Lumpkins has been staying in mine and Kyle's room, safely out of reach of the dog.  

However, on Saturday, shortly after the hot air balloon phenomenon, Lucy wormed her way around me and into the cat's territory.  At first we thought they might actually be getting used to one another.  The cat laid under the bed and the dog laid at the foot of it, tail wagging.  But then Mr. Fatty Lumpkins decided to make a run for it.  Lucy took up the chase.

Mr. Fatty did the first thing he could think of, leaping onto the dryer (which is in the bathroom) and inflating to three times his normal rotundity.  Lucy, of course, did the only thing she could think of and started barking like mad, dodging the poor kitty's claws.  

Now, please recall that it's about 8:30AM and Kyle has yet to get any sleep.  Obviously, letting them bark/claw it out was not an option.  So Kyle, sweet as he is, decided to rescue Mr. Fatty.  He picked him up with little resistance, but when he attempted to leave the bathroom the cat caught one glimpse of the dog beneath him and proceeded to take all appropriate escape action.  Which consisted of clawing his way onto Kyle's head.  

When the screaming and louder barking and little kitty yowling started I figured I'd better investigate.  I found the dog in the hall and Kyle and the cat locked in the bathroom.  "Sweetie?"  There was complete silence in the bathroom.  "Kyle?  Are you okay."  Muttering, and then:  "I'm fine.  Just stay in there."  

So I took Lucy to the living room and tried to calm her down.  And just as I thought I was succeeding, the bathroom door clicked open and several things happened at once:  Lucy's eyes widened at the prospect of reaching the cat; I jumped up abruptly and grabbed at her collar; the bathroom door clicked shut again; and Kyle appeared around the corner of the hall.  Lucy was so overwhelmed by the excitement (and scent of cat) that she tripped over her own front paw, flopped onto the floor, and proceeded to pee on my foot.  ON.  MY.  FOOT.  (I was not a happy camper.)

As I'm yelling at the top of my lungs in disgust Kyle is yelling in outrage about the cat, and I don't think at that point either of us knew what happened to the other.  But there was a lot of yelling.  Poor Lucy just laid there between us looking deflated.  I stomped off to the shower, Kyle stomped off to assess his wounds, and Lucy just drooped her poor little head and looked at the puddle.  

After my foot was clean (eeeeew) I locked Mr. Fatty safely in the bathroom away from the dog and went to see what happened to Kyle.  He was still fuming.  "I HATE cats."  That's the first distinct thing I remember hearing.  After that I caught sight of blood dripping off his elbow and forming little pearls on the side of his face.  I think I might have missed a few lines of the rant then.  I tuned back in for, "We are not having pets.  Not until we are home with a house and a yard.  I am not getting a dog, and you are not getting a cat, and we are both going to have to deal with it."  I think my eyes were probably the size of saucers.  I just nodded.  

Two days later, Mr. Fatty Lumpkins still hasn't gotten up the courage to leave the dryer, and we still haven't mustered the nerve to try and move him.  Below are photos of the culprits.



Luckily for them, they're cute enough to earn forgiveness.

Part III -- Fun in the...Cloudiness

The photos are kind of self-explanatory here.  But in case you need a hint:  We went to a lake with friends yesterday.







Note that we girls were sensible and stayed out of the shenanigans.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Updates

I have been here for so long, but honestly it doesn't feel like it's been more than a week or two.  The days fall into a pattern and blur together.  Most of my memories are just a jumble of watching countless movies while Kyle's away for some ten hours every day, filling out reams of paperwork and waiting around for one thing or another.  And reading.  I've done a lot of reading.  I think I'm up to...thirteen books, now?  Only a few things really shine.  It's not an entirely bad thing though.  What little time we get to spend together is comfortable and happy, if brief and mostly unremarkable.  It beats the socks off being four thousand miles apart at any rate.

We're still on hold for housing, and still too broke to send me home.  As things stand, whenever I make it back I'm staying until November 30th, and then making what I've come to think of as "the big move."  I have hit a point at which I don't really care what happens next so long as something happens.  I want to either be back home in the states or in a home that's mine.  I am beyond tired of camping out in other people's homes here.  Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful.  It's just...I want to be surrounded by OUR things.  I want to make us dinner without feeling like I'm intruding in someone else's kitchen.  It's exhausting, being a guest for this long.  

However, there are some upsides to the situation.  It's giving Kyle and I much-needed time to readjust to each other.  We're rediscovering how we fit:  learning how to live together without stepping on each other's toes, and figuring out what we enjoy doing together.  In all honesty, most of our time together back home was spent with friends and family, and while we've been apart, we've learned to live alone.  We have a very limited number of hobbies and activities that we can both agree on, but the count is growing steadily, if slowly.  

Still, sometimes I feel like we have accomplished so little in these past months.  We were supposed to have been married and in our own home with a plan to get me back stateside in under a month.  His unforgiving and annoying schedule proved that to be impossible, and now almost an entire summer has passed by and things STILL aren't underway.  I have to constantly remind myself that a few months isn't as long as it sounds like.  Shortly we'll be un-stuck from this in-between place, and the frustration will not be anything more than a dim memory.  Until then, I feel like banging my head against a wall (that isn't mine).  

I mean seriously?  Is it so hard for the Army to approve our paperwork and get us in a home?  It isn't like housing is limited.  Half the buildings here are nearly vacant!

I don't think this post (or my mindset) has one set emotion/point.  It's all a mess of newly-wed happiness, homeless frustration, and impatience.  Here's to hoping your summer has been more productive than mine, at that autumn brings more welcomed changes. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Little Letters

Dear Planters Nuts --

Thank you ever so much for the "NUT-rition; South Beach Diet" blend.  Sure, I'm not a South Beach Dieter, but when you just so happen to put all of my favorite nuts into one blend and put a stamp on the container that says a diet group recommends it, you make Carrie one happy girl.  I am munching on a cashew as we speak.

xoxo,
Your Loyal Customer.


Dear Skype --

You rock.  My friends and I love you.

Continue in awesomeness,
A fan.


Dear Kyle --

Thanks for being silly with me in public today, even though you don't usually like such shenanigans.  I looooooove you.  :)

Forever and for always,
Carrie.


Dear Nightmares --

If you insist upon returning tonight, I will be forced to unleash a team of dream ninjas.  Said ninjas will not be merciful.  I would suggest you stay away.

You have been warned,
Leader of the Ninjas.


Dear Summertime --

Could you please stay forever?

Love, love, love,
The Girl Who Didn't Bring a Jacket to Germany

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Name is Memory: A Review

My Name is Memory is a love story unlike any I have ever known.  Ann Brashares unravels her tale a bit at a time and toys with her audience much like a cat bats a ball of yarn.  We are tossed to and fro throughout the ages clinging to the memories of Daniel -- a soul who is both blessed and cursed with the incredbile ability to remember all of his many lives as he is reincarnated over centuries.

Daniel's stories pull us into the ancient worlds of Northern Africa and Crete, to the not-so-distant past of war-torn England during the first world war, and finally into the modern east coast of the US.  His accounts are tethered by the same forces that have always driven the human race:  love and vengeance.

In each of his lives Daniel strives to find Sophia, his first love and original sin.  By turn of fate, he succeeds in finding her many times over the long years only to lose her to some uncompromising circumstance.  Once she is his brother's wife, another time she is old enough to be his grandmother, but always she is oblivious to their deep history.  Apart from these obstacles, Daniel is also pursued by Joaquim, a corrupt soul seeking twisted retribution for old offenses.

Brashares entangles her audience so well that by the end of her novel the world appears changed.  Her splendidly planned tale leaves us with the vivid and heavy impression that what goes around comes around, and not always in our favor.  I am thrilled to have found this novel that is truly new:  completely unlike anything I have ever read.  Her words are placed beautifully and with care.  Her characters are made not only of paper and ink, but of flesh and blood.  Brashares' second break from young adult fiction is blessedly actually written for adults.  With the language and finesse of a master storyteller, and an imaginitive, intellectually stimulating plot, this novel is one to place among your most treasured.

Excerpt:

[both images via Ann Brashares' website]

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wandrings of a Not-So-Lazy Sunday, or, Getting Lost in Veirnheim

Today we decided to go for a walk.  Originally, we were going to walk to a very pretty lake, but we got a little lost.  (Kyle disputes the word "lost," but as we never made it to our destination and didn't really know where we were at a few points, I think it fits.)  Anyhow.  This is what became of our day. 

First, meet Mr. Slug Bug:

[NOTE:  Mr. Slug Bug is approximately three inches in length.  Which I would deem GIGANTIC for a little slug.]

Mr. Slug Bug and quite a few of his friends were crawling around in the middle of the bike trail we were walking on.  After discovering a squished member of the Slug Bug clan, I decided something must be done, and Kyle and I proceeded to Save the Slugs.  One by one they were scooped up into an empty McDonald's cup (or prodded onto a stick) and kindly relocated to a shady spot on the side of the road.  When all was said and done, seven Slug Bugs escaped an untimely and unfortunate demise. 

After all the slugs were safe and sound, I discovered my dream home.  Isn't it just perfect? 

[NOTE:  I am 99% sure that we had already taken a wrong turn by the time I found above dream home.]

After a half hour or so we lost all hope of finding the lake and proceeded to wander around the city aimlessly, which is how we found what is quite possibly the most amazing playground in the entire world.  Kyle made good use of the...whatever you call this thing:

[NOTE:  Though this was a lot of fun for us, I think it's a safety hazard for kids.  That's a gravel pit you're looking at, folks.]

Anyhow, it was dark by the time we made it home.  (Which didn't occur until after a German-McDonald's trip, thank you very much.)  So as no one could see anyhow, I did a very dorky and cliche thing and found a flower for my hair just outside of post.


All in all, a very successful trip.  :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fill in the Blanks Friday


[more participants here]

1.  Today for breakfast I ate Breakfast hasn't happened here yet, even though it's past noon in Germany.  Kyle's ultra-crazy schedule has us sleeping in until 3 or 4pm and staying up literally all night.  (A lawn mower was determined to get me out of bed today.)  However, when breakfast happens, it's probably going to involve pancakes.


2.  My go to/never fail recipe is roasted potatoes.  The recipe can be found here.
 
3.  Something I Kyle eats that other people I think is weird is pepper-jack cheese.  On a sandwich.  Every.  Single.  Day.  YuckYuckyuckyuck.

4.  My worst cooking disaster ever was  when I burned a batch of cookies until the were literally blue.  Yes.  Blue.  It's possible.

5.  If I could only eat one flavor of ice cream the rest of my life it would be  orange sherbet.

6.  One food I hate and avoid at all costs is beans.  Any kind of beans.  It doesn't matter how they're cooked, or what they're served with, I just do. not. like. beans.  (And like every mom, mine said I'd have outgrown this by now. Psh.  Fat chance of that.)

7.  What is your favorite meal?  Breakfast, lunch, or dinner?   Dinner.   Right now, dinner is the only appropriately timed meal Kyle and I get to have together.  It's been fun cooking for the two of us.  I'm sure that when the new-ness wears off I'll change my mind, but right now I love it.  :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Word to the Wise, or, A Cautionary Tale of European Elopement

A note of caution to all young American couples with the seemingly brilliant and romantic idea of running away to Europe to be married:  Don't do it. Not the getting married part, of course, because that part may very well be brilliant; but the running away to Europe part is not such a great plan.  It's not as simple as it sounds, thereby dashing out a good chunk of the romance.

Eloping in Germany is something that is simply not done.  The legal process (which is just as difficult for German nationals, I am told) is quite lengthy and by no means practically priced.  Aside from the ridiculous air fare for a trip from Louisville to Frankfurt (which is a four digit number, f.y.i.) one must also take into consideration the fees for certified translators (ranging from 40-100 euro per hour), fees for the marriage itself (approximately 200 euro), and the fee for the marriage documents (a whopping 60 euro).

The process goes something like this:  You show up at the registry office in the city where you would like to be married with all appropriate documentation of your birth, identity, marriage status, and monthly salary.  (This took us almost an entire month of my stay to procure because all documents must be notarized originals.)  You must bring a certified translator along to translate all documents.  With the help of the translator and registrar, you fill out a marriage application stating that you are single, over eighteen years of age, and are in no way related to your partner, and you decide what the family name will be.  (That was a particularly nice detail.  We had the option of choosing either of our last names for the new family name.  Not that there was ever a thought of us taking mine.  It was just nice to feel as though my old name had some credit.)  Then you pay a large sum that is determined by your combined monthly salaries, and are informed that you will not be married for another two to three weeks when your marriage certificates arrive in the mail.

You go home to wait anxiously by the phone for a nerve-wrackingly long time.  When the registrar finally calls to inform you that your certificates have arrived, you go back to the office to set a date for the wedding.  (For some reason, in Germany, no one understands why a young American couple would want to be married immediately and without a proper ceremony.  Apparently having a delayed ceremony back home with friends and family is unheard of.)  In most cases the date must be set at least eight to ten days away, and sometimes even further out if you're expecting many guests. (Fortunately, we were not.)  And then, that's that.  On the day of the ceremony you and a translator show up at the office to be legally married.

Now if I were you, my wonderful reader, I'd be wondering why on Earth anyone would choose such a difficult and time-consuming marriage.  Mostly it was just impatience.  And stubbornness.  I always wanted to have a summer wedding, and I had my heart set on being married on our dating anniversary.  When Kyle found out about the issues with his leave (and that he'd only be able to be home for five days in September, which is not enough time to have a wedding and still spend some quality time with family) we knew that our plans had to change.  It worked out for us.  We got to be married on our anniversary (out of sheer dumb luck), we'll be home for three weeks (hopefully) next summer, and I'll get to have the ceremony I really want (surrounded by summer flowers and greenery).

Still.  I wouldn't recommend a German elopement unless the couple in question has unique circumstances, as we did.  However, I hear that getting married in Denmark is much less complicated, and takes only two or three days, as opposed to the weeks of waiting elsewhere in Europe.

Anyhow, here's the fun stuff:  more photos!









The first ones were taken at the water tower (Wasserturm) in downtown Mannheim.  The last few were random shots from a drive through the countryside.  There is absolutely no way to describe how beautiful Germany is.  Sometimes I feel as though I've jumped into a storybook full of magical things.  I am beyond excited to be living in a place like this, but there's still quite a bit of work to be done before the "big move."

At some point this month (when we're no longer flat broke from those ridiculous fees, and hopefully in housing of our own) I'm going back home to do all kinds of crazy post-marriage stuff.  Like have my name changed on my social security card, drivers license, bank account, etc.  And to pack.  And to say some goodbyes that are actually meant for a trip of more than two and a half weeks.  And then, after Thanksgiving, I'll be back.

It's going to fly by, isn't it?