Monthly Archives: October 2011

can’t sprechen sie deutsch

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I take it back… I don’t love it here. I didn’t yesterday, at least. Let me explain.

Although a beautiful view, our window faces the east and the whole place lights up around 7:00. Add in Mike rustling around before practice, and sleeping in is nearly impossible. Yesterday we woke up with the sun, and after Mike took off I decided to do some kitchen renovating. (You’d think since someone had been living here for three months things would already be settled, wouldn’t you? But it needed a woman’s touch, so I rolled up my metaphorical sleeves and jumped in). I washed most of the dishes we own and then took the remaining few out of the cabinets. A few items got the ol’ heave-ho, but the keepers were set in a giant pile for later sorting. Food was organized too, and then came the cleaning. Shelves, cabinets, counter-top… nothing went untouched. The floor was even done three times since I first knocked over a box of bread crumbs and later completely missed the trash can while emptying out the toaster. Things were put in their new homes, and when I was done, I collapsed on the (extremely clean) floor.

Mike found me there when he got back from practice a few minutes later, and kindly offered to make lunch.

After stuffing our bellies with a delicious (halfway) homemade soup we headed for downtown to do some grocery shopping. I of course got sidetracked, walking down by all of the shops, and we ended up in an amazing home décor boutique. They’ve already begun selling holiday stuff, and when we stepped in it was like we’d entered a winter wonderland. Rich golds, purples, and reds were everywhere. Stockings, figurines, dishes, and wreaths. And 50% of it was covered in glitter. It was beautiful and I wanted it. All of it. I ooh-ed and aah-ed at every single item I saw. About four steps into the store and I think Mike was already annoyed with me.

our apartment

The people finally called security on me for loitering, so we had no choice but to go do what we’d come for. And this is when the day went downhill.

I needed a hairdryer and straightener since I opted to not bring them from home (the outlets are different, so I would have had to buy converters anyway), and when we got to the store there were about 30 options each, no lie. Now, I never updated you on my original to-do list (start a blog, learn German, pack up life), but I never completed number two. Needless to say, I didn’t have a prayer when it came to reading the boxes. We called over a worker lady to help us out and even though she claimed she could speak English, she spoke to Mike in German the whole time. I looked like a fool, bobbing my head along and looking to Mike to translate everything back to me. I was embarrassed and getting clammy, and she was getting annoyed. We probably made her describe half of their stock to us, and scan all of them for prices (because whyyyyyy would they have prices on the shelves? That’d be too easy) before we let her go. Then I had to pick out a straightener. Mother fu-BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

Shopping at that store was a big, German mess, and I was crying/complaining through the aisles for the rest of the trip.

We got to the grocery store after I dropped 95 Euro (OUCH) on my stuff. The previous fiasco didn’t leave me in the best mood, so Mike took over pushing the grocery cart after I crashed it into the grape display. Is this a joke? This is a joke, right? We wandered the aisles for a very frustrating two hours (since reading the labels was impossible and the other shoppers were less than forgiving) before heading to the check-out lane. I was warned about this. In Austria, the check-out people don’t do a whole lot to help out the customers. They sit behind the register, scanning your food and pushing it to the end of the belt. You are left to bag it all, but that is of course after you have emptied your cart at the start and paid. Oh, and they don’t provide bags, so if you forget yours, you’re SOL. This system is not rookie-friendly.

Picture this: unruly cart packed to the brim, being unloaded by Mike. Check-out lady man-handling our food and throwing it at my face (at approx 76 mph). Me, already flustered by the hairdryer experience, standing at the end of the lane, struggling to get our two canvas bags out of my purse (two was not enough, by the way. We bought $120 worth of food). Sweating, probably swearing–I don’t remember, shaking, and stuffing food haphazardly into the bags.

On the way home, we got stuck in a traffic jam.

Finally in the safety and comfort of our apartment, we started to unload our stuff. I asked Mike to deflate my birthday balloons to make more room (plus, I wasn’t in the mood to look at things for happy people) while I put the food away. Silently, he clipped the ends of the party favors until… POP! One of the damn things blew up unexpectedly and I lost it. I started bawling, right there in the kitchen. Because I can’t understand people here. Because they can’t understand me. Because I’m never going grocery shopping again. Because I refuse to leave the house for the next six months. Because a balloon popped and pushed me over the edge.

Yeah, it was dramatic, I’m well aware… but I couldn’t help it. The good news is that I’m all better today. But then again, I’m still in bed.

i HAVE arrived

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Note from the author: this post was compiled at three different instances (one in the Frankfurt airport, once on the Frankfurt-Linz plane, and now).

Grab a tub o’ popcorn and get comfortable… this is a long one people!

Part one: Welp! My Austrian adventure has officially begun. I left for the airport this morning at 11:30, and it’s all been a blur since. A loooooooong, slow blur.

It started with a virtually tear-free goodbye to my parents and pup, of which I was very proud. Yeah, I know you don’t believe me, but I seriously only cried a teensy-weensy bit when they left me. Alone. Me, myself, and I.

Things didn’t start going sour until the loving embrace of my dad came to an end and I was forced into the hands of the pushiest of all people: airport security. They made me dump my water bottle. AND my smoothie. After I had unloaded all of my stuff (and trust me, I had a lot) into multiple bins, I had to cram it back in my bags and go back through the security line to empty them. I was humiliated and to top it off, my eyes were already red and teary so people probably thought I was some criminal who’d been denied.

After the security incident and a very short flight, I arrived at the Chicago airport. Finding my way around O’Hare was a breeze, and I only had to waste about 30 minutes before I headed to my gate. I got to stretch my legs and even bought myself a book. Things were looking up. I even found something to look into for next time… a car seat on wheels.

"your chariot awaits, madame"

(I will not bore you with the details of the Chicago to Frankfurt flight, as it was long and grueling, and the stories would mainly be about a lady who hogged the armrest)

I’m sitting in the Frankfurt airport right now, sitting out my three-hour layover (somehow, I must have overlooked this part on my itinerary, ‘cause I thought I’d only be here for an hour and a half. Oops!) and this airport is far from routine. Far from the breeze of Chicago, it’s more of a hurricane, with mean Germans charging around recklessly. Walk on one side of the hall? Pish posh! Airports are busy—I know—but the people here are all business, and if you don’t stay out of their way, you get steamrolled. I figured out that if you act like you know where the hell you’re going, people would steer clear. So I stormed around a little bit to blend in.

…then I found a nice, safe place to hide.

Part two: No sooner than I had become comfortable and calm did I hear my flight being called on the intercom. An hour and a half before take-off and they were already boarding!? What the hell, Germans are weird. So I ran up to the counter to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood, and sure enough, more than half of my plane had already checked in.

I scanned my ticket and chased after the herd of people to a little bus. I didn’t even read the sign to assure myself it was the right one (sweaty palms and a panic attack ensued). After riding along for what seemed like ten hours—prob only ten min, but we were getting further and further from any redemption if I had picked the wrong bus—we arrived at the plane. More pushing and charging from the Germans. Half of us got on at the front door, the others at the rear. Of course my seat was in the back. Second to last row, to be exact, and those damn back-loaders all trampled me while I was working my way there.

When I finally made it to my spot I found a crossed-eyed little kid, staring at me and farting all over my seat, and a lady squawking at me in some unknown tongue. I got the hint that they wanted to switch seats with me, so I kindly moved.

As I write these final words, we are starting to pull up to the runway. And guess who is seated one row in front of the only screaming child on the plane? This girl.

Part three: Yesterday after I got into Linz, Kelsey—Mike’s brother’s fianceé—picked me up and brought me home. We walked around downtown a little, and found a cool outdoor market… or so we thought. Turned out it was a compilation of people’s old/used/unwanted crap that they were trying to sell, so we just hustled through and left.

We got back to the apartment after the boys had finished practice, and Mike and I unpacked my suitcases for the rest of the afternoon. It took a while, but it was well worth it. Plus, we started a list of things that need to be done around the apartment, rearranged some stuff, and organized. The list is still in progress, so it’ll be my project for the next week or two.

This morning I woke up at 5:30 and tried to fall back asleep until 7:00. Unsuccessful, I gave up and made/drank a pot of coffee. I ate a delicious zucchini and cinnamon muffin (recipe below), read a bit, and took some pictures of the gorgeous views from our place. I love it here!

Cinnachini Muffins:

1 1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups fresh zucchini, grated
2/3 cups unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
12 whole pecans, or 1/3 cup pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degree F. In a large bowl, mix together sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add the grated zucchini and the melted butter. Sprinkle baking soda over the mixture and blend. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add all dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture.
Lightly coat your muffin pan with a little butter or canola oil spray. Bake on the middle rack until muffins are golden, and the tops bounce back when gently pressed (about 25 minutes). Set on rack to cool for 5 minutes, then remove muffins from the muffin pan and let cool another 10-12 minutes. Makes about 18.

1-800-shoot-me

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Lately I’ve been having minor bouts of paralysis on my upper back/shoulders/neck. I have no idea what is triggering this phenomenon, but I’m really starting to get P.O.ed. Maybe it’s the eight pillows I use when I sleep or maybe it’s the 23 years of holding up my large head that’s finally started to take a toll on my neck. I really can’t be sure. But what I do know is that when I woke up this morning (stiff and paralyzed, of course) I literally had to pull myself to a sitting position. Grab on to my comforter and pull my body up. Something has got to change.

Next time you see me I'll be wearing one of these bad boys

So I stayed in bed, where it’s safe and warm. Most of what I need to accomplish today doesn’t involve much moving around anyway, so here I lie.

I’ve been trying to tie up loose ends for the past couple of days so I don’t get to Linz and realize I missed a very important step along the way. Today’s to-do included things like getting Euros from the bank, double-checking flight and baggage information, picking up meds, and getting an international driver’s license… things that I thought should only take about 30-45 minutes each, and that was being generous. Was I ever wrong.

First order of business was checking flight and baggage information. My itinerary was practically written in Sanskrit, so I thought it’d be a smart idea to have someone verify that I had the information correct. Otherwise and undoubtedly, something would go horribly wrong. What!? My scheduled flight was last Friday!? How the hell was I supposed to read that bullsh*t German e-mail you sent me??

So after being turned down by the Eastern Iowa Airport dispatch man (“I’m sorry, ma’am, you’re too spastic and I can’t help you”), I called the airline’s 800 number. Only to be bullied by the automated man for fifteen minutes. I think I’d pressed about 548942393 keys and been misunderstood by the robot 20 times before I was finally put through to a live operator. Once there though, it was smooth sailing. The lady was extremely friendly and helpful, even signing me up for the frequent flier program and sending me a new itinerary (in English!).

Next on the list was figuring out where and how to get an international driver’s license. After being transferred ten thousand times, that conversation went well.

To wrap up the phone conversations, I called US Bank to get info on foreign currency, traveler’s cheques, etc. For reasons I will never understand, they don’t put local branches’ phone numbers online. So after 10+ minutes of online searching (to no avail), I found a number that I thought would be adequate and gave it a ring. Again I talked to an automated person, and again I wanted to scream/punch things. If only I could move my upper body… damn. After another 20 minute convo with a robot, I was connected with a live operator, who then told me that I’d called the wrong number and I should have called a local branch. Mother fu-BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP! Bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! Is this a joke?! Bleeeepity bleep bleep! *Click*

So now I’m off to pick up my prescription. The way this day has gone so far, I can’t imagine what’s in store at the pharmacy. I think I’m going to ask them to slip me some anxiety/anti-psychotic pills.

let the good times roll

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Today has been a great day. You wanna know why? I’ll tell you why.

  1. It’s beautiful, colorful, and sunny outside (though quite breezy). The perfect fall day.
  2. It was my last day at work. I will miss you Parlor City, and all the treats you fed me.
  3. I ran a fabulous run…the wind literally swept me off my feet!
  4. Mike called me this afternoon and the conversation wasn’t a complete bust like usual (jk, Mick Jagger).
  5. I got a package in the mail (a BEAUTIFUL necklace from my most loyal and loving friend, Ariel).
  6. I bought/am currently sipping on UV Cake to celebrate my birthday.
  7. Mom and Dad are buzzing around preparing for this weekend; family and friends are coming to send me off.
  8. One week from today I will be on a plane to Frankfurt.
  9. The amazing and hilarious Abby is coming tonight to drink wine, chillax, and mayyybe get some packing started.

….Annnnd that’s pretty much all I can think of. It has been a really wonderful day though. I hope you are having a good one too. If not, check out this website, it’s bound to give you at least one smile: http://theoatmeal.com/djtaf/.

Well, th-th-th-that’s all folks!

miss independent

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It really hit me today that I’ll be leaving in one week. One! One week and I’ll be on my own in uncharted territory. One week and nobody will wash my dirty dishes for me. One week and I’ll have to start preparing all of my own meals…unless of course, I get that chef I asked for.

I will be an independent woman (insert Destiny’s Child lyrics here).

Anyway, I decided that if I’m going to finally cut the cord and stop relying on my parents for everything, I’d have do it soon. That’s when I decided to become domestic. Hmmm. What do home-loving people do all day? They cook and clean, of course.

First thing was first. I had to have the look down. I took my cue from your average 50’s housewife/Susie Homemaker and got my hair chopped off. ‘Cause who has time to style hair when there’s so much to do around the house apartment!? Then I did a load of laundry, and whipped up (microwaved) some homemade applesauce. Annnnnd that pretty much sums up my domestic progress. Baby steps, people!

what a girl wants

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Today is October 9th, folks. And you know what that means. No? No, you don’t know? Well… (drum-roll please)… it’s my twenty-third birthday in ten days! HORRAY! YAY! YIPPEE! BADABOOM, BADABANG!

Jenna, you’re stupid. Turning 23 doesn’t do you any good.

You’re RIGHT! It does absolutely nothing for me. Birthdays in general come in close second to Christmas for me, which is why I am so pumped. I can brag to everyone that I’m another year older and wiser. Plus, in an attempt to get what I want, I can use the excuse that it’s my special day, and nobody else’s. “No, I get the VIP treatment and the biggest piece of cake, it’s my day!”

And then there are the gifts, which may or may not be the best part of  are totally not the point of birthdays. Nonetheless, they are a bonus. This year I decided to make a wish list, to make it easier for you all to pick out what you are going to shower me with. At first I thought this might be a little greedy, but I was reassured that it wasn’t after the 100% dependable advice I found online. Here is what my good friends at “Today I Wish” have to say about it: It is not greedy to write a wish list for your birthday. In fact it is quite the opposite. It acknowledges that other people may not always know what to get for you. Because they care deeply about you, they will want to get the best present for you. Ha HA! Just the optimism/backing I was looking for. Here goes:

  1. the Baker’s Edge pan. I don’t know about you people, but I am totally a “live life on the edge” kind of gal. Just kidding. But I do love me some brownies FROM the edge. This pan ensures my baked goodies turn out perfect, ev-er-y time!

    YUM! Gimme somma doz!

  2. a chef. How great would it be to wake up every morning to breakfast in bed? Snarf down one meal, do some things, come home to another meal, do some more things, and then fine dining for dinner. And I can finish off my gourmet supper with the brownies I baked in my new pan. Sounds like a plan to me!

    Hold the meat, please.

  3. Nikon’s 18-200mm Nikkor Telephoto Zoom Lens. I can take extra close close-ups with this sucker.

    Zoom zoom zoom, makemyheartgo boom boom boom

  4. a dog. To be specific, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Now, I’ve already talked to Mike and he refuses to get me my dog (this breed is even Canadian… so I don’t completely understand his “reasoning”), so this would be the perfect gift for any Mike-haters that may be out there. Together with this puppy, we shall spite him.

    Awww

Well ladies and germs, that’s all. If none of these ideas seem adequate and you want to give me a more worthy gift, feel free to send me cash money. I am currently between addresses, but I’ll make sure to post the most up-to-date one when I can. Thanks in advance everyone, this was the best birthday ever! 

psychobabble

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I’m a little bossy. And when I say “a little” I mean full-blown, and when I say “bossy” I mean a monster control fa-reek.

If things don’t go my way, stand back people. Jenna has checked out and a clammy anxiety-ridden spaz has taken her place. That being said, stress and I don’t really go hand-in-hand. For those of you who have had the displeasure (or could in the future) of being around when I’m stressed, I apologize. When my plans take an unexpected turn, my level-headedness flies out the window. Something horrible overtakes my body and I become a hysterical, sweaty mess. I try to plan ahead so things are a little more anticipated but sometimes that backfires, and then comes a hurricane of emotions/swear words/perspiration. Have I mentioned I get a teensy bit warm when I am nervous? Actually, today was the prime example of when planning goes bad. I tried to start packing this afternoon, but was a big ol’ FAIL and almost turned into a meltdown.

I have an extremely organized and detailed packing list. It’s four pages (yes, you read that right. Four pages… typed… Times New Roman… 10 pt font). So you can see why I was overwhelmed. I tried really hard to focus, but there was just too much going on and I didn’t know where to start. My packing attempt, summarized: look at my list, look at my closet, sigh, repeat.

After about 45 minutes of this, I decided I’d done enough for one day. So I tied fresh ribbons onto my already easily-identifiable luggage and called it quits.

On a completely unrelated note… here is one of my all-time annoyances, to which I am sure many of you can relate.

the suite life of zip and jany

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I am happy to announce that my dear friend Jana is ENGAGED! Any fears of being an old spinster? POOF! Gone forever! I am so thrilled for her and her fabulous fiancé, Michael. You two truly are meant to be, and I cannot wait to see your life together unfold. Enough with the mush, I can’t stop thinking about how kick-ass this wedding will be! Booze, cake, and friends… evvvvvverywhere.

Her gawww-geous ring

Speaking of getting old/starting a new chapter in life, another friend of mine is pregnant. Imagine a little pair of chicken legs with an exercise ball placed on top. Then a head. That’s what Zip looks like. She is the definition of an “all belly” pregnancy, and boy, is she adorable! I can’t wait for her little man to finally clock in. Less than two weeks ’til his E.T.A.!

Annnnddd while my friends are off growing up, I’m sitting here blogging about their cool and forward-moving lives… wrapped up in my baby blanket and hanging out with my mommy and daddy. Sweet life, Jenna!