Friday, July 28, 2006

flight spy

here i am, at 644 am, squinting at my computer screen in the light of the dawn. After a 2am scramble out of bed to make sure that the first flight from Munich to Milan took off smoothly, I retreated back to the confines of my bed, only to be awoken by my newly acquired 6am mental alarm. Once again I trudged to the glow of the laptop, left on all night in case anything really important should happen (laptops can only tap you on the shoulder when they're left running) and clicked the requisite buttons. Flightview search failed, but Alitalia registers a 15 minute late departure, perfect for his cutting it close hour layover. I could picture the passengers waiting as my recently long haired boyfriend jogged breathlessly through the halls of the Milan airport, finally stumbling onto the Jumbo Jet in time to be tiraded by a bunch of angry italian american new yorkers headed for queens. But at least he probably made it, or he would have called by now. Now all thats left is to fall asleep and hope to sleep till 1230, when the flight lands.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

and fighting the grumpies

wow, my stress levels hit the roof this evening, and I am not quite sure why. The day had relaxed me more than I expected, spending the time with my mom and reading kindergarten books, but as soon as I got home I realized how edgy I was. I called Artur, who I had expected to call hours earlier, to discover that he was sitting in his new apartment having a beer with his new roommate. This should have made me happy, but instead I felt a mixture of hurt and jealously, that he hadnt called earlier if he was home and relaxing and that he was having fun. I wasnt having that much fun, was I? I guaged my irrational female reaction, and hung up with a promise of a return phone call at six and a giant lump in my throat. I was supposed to be heading to happy hour to drink frozen cosmopolitans with my mother and I knew it would go one way or the other: relax me and cheer me up or drown my sorrow and make me all the more irritable.

But I got downstairs to ensuing chaos as my brother and dad struggled to make Quiche Lorraine with recently purchased farm fresh eggs in our boiling hot kitchen, and my mother got herself embroiled in the debate about how much bacon they should use. I could feel my grumpiness boiling over like a cloud, and fussed that we should be going soon, then felt guilty and offered my help, and when refused due to the small size of the kitched, slumped on the couch in a sweaty grumpy teary lump mood. What was wrong with me? Theres nothing to complain about, I am sitting at home on vacation and whining because my boyfriend is so busy moving out of his apartment that he only calls twice a day. Not really much to complain about. But I knew my grumpiness wasnt bound to pass until I talked to him, cause I knew what was really wrong was that I missed him, rational or not, and didnt feel like whiling away the 2 more days till his arrival.

At any rate, my mother and I finally made it out of the house, probably to short circuit an oncoming grumpiness blowout on my part, and ordered our drinks: lovely vodka cranberry slushies. And then hummus, with lime. And then another slushie. Things were looking better, and then the phone rang. Oh hooray, that must be Artur. But no, it was dad. Andrew had spilled the eggs. Could he talk to mom, he needed to know how to get the stain out of the carpet. Blech. Oh, and Artur had called, and they had given him the cell number but he couldnt seem to get it right. Damn. Now I wasnt going to get to talk to him, the one thing I knew might shake me out of my funk. I glowered through the evening, through an espresso, a gelato, and what should have been some wonderful mother daughter bonding time. My mother tried her best to comfort me, but to no avvail. The only slight comfort was the apology email from Artur when I got home, saying he tried the number but it wasnt working. Well, better than nothing.

The best comfort of the evening was taking my scratched cds to the grindstone literally, using a bizarre but functional device of my brothers to buff away the blemishes and burn off some of my nervous energy. Then there were push ups and crunches, part of my new "responsible" fitness routine. Laundry folding, face washing, body lotioning..who was I? Some weird German version of myself, I guess, who didnt seem so weird back in Germany. I have to say, I always thought that dealing with difficult strangers was hard...try it when the foreigner is yourself!

hot and sticky laptop musings

As I sat, staring at the geese waddling across the lawn and continually recrossing my legs to prevent them from welding themselves together because of the heat, I heaved a sigh of relief. I was happy, excited. I was sitting at a very crooked picnic table on the grounds of my moms new pre kindergarten program. It was a beautiful albeit sticky hot July day, and I had tagged along because I couldn't stand to sit one more day in the house and check my email every five seconds. Her new classroom is a small white farmhouse building, clapboard sided, and inside is her usual enchanting kindergarten world. Even I am continually enchanted by the materials in jars, baskets and on trays displayed in the art center: bits of tissue paper, metallic shells, sequins, clear plastic, twigs, stones, paints in every color of the rainbow, yarn, packaging recycled and cut into workable bits for gluing, stringing together: a virtual limitless playground for the imagination. And now that I know I'm heading back to Munich to try my own hand at Kindergartening, I was soaking it all up like a sponge.

I brought my things down to the wooden picnic table by the pond and spread the glossy books out on the table: science for preschoolers, designing a learning environment, mudpies to magnets and every array of children's education books. Armed with post-its, I paged through the idea-filled pages, marking ideas I planned to photocopy for my own personal teachers portfolio. Next year would be an experiment, but I knew I would enjoy it. Getting up at 6am will take some getting used to, but having the experience of both working with children and indulging my passion for languages while living in the city of my dreams with my boyfriend who I love, within hours of the places that lie closest to my heart after my Pittsburgh home: Padova, Italy, home to my 4 month study abroad adventure, Vienna, Austria, home to Hundertwasser, my favorite artist, Spain, the start of my adventures abroad, and hemmed in by countries and lands yet unknown to me: Prague in the Czech Republic, the entire north of Germany, Scandinavia, Belgium, Greece in the south: the possibilities were endless. Plus, within a small radius of Munich, the opportunities for adventure seemed endless: mountain hikes, lake-dotted bike tours, local festivals, ancient churches, and that infectious European spirit that seemed to have stuck to me.

But now I was home. In humble Pittsburgh. My friends are: all over the place. Chicago, Washington, California, Boston.. almost none here. My days have been spent cleaning out the terrifying chaos that was my closet, reorganizing my room, cuddling with our pet pug, and catching up on law and order reruns. And waiting for Artur. My almost 7-month boyfriend is coming to visit me in less than 4 days now, his first trip to the US and my first experience introducing a boyfriend to my parents. And the waiting is killing me. Not only am I used to not being apart from him for more than a day at a time, but so much has happened to both of us since I left: I have been reintegrating myself into my old home, and he has moved to a new apartment, made travel arrangements and attended to a lot of little life details. The process of our reunion in MY country and his visit with MY family made me excited but also slightly nervous. Would he like it? Would it be fun? Would the revealing of my "mystery" life at home take away some of my mystique (did I have mystique in the first place?) Well, we would see pretty soon. Until then, I was working on whiling away the days.

The unending nostalgia the accompanied my return from Italy was certainly relatively absent from my visit here, which I attested to the knowledge that I would be heading back at the end of August. I also hoped it was a good sign: a sign that I thought of Germany not as some interesting specimen of a foreign culture, but as my new home. Paging through a picture book the other night, I did feel the reassuring pangs of longing for my new found dwelling place. Of course, my experience this next year would be completely different. Germany would no longer be experienced as a part of a "cultural immersion experience, but rather as a component of my much more "daily" life. Work would be every day, 7:30 to 2, I would have to live from that money:pay my rent, buy food, furnish my apartment. I was looking forward to it more than anything. Plus, I had my own space, a room in a two bedroom apartment in the center of Munich, right near the river and a beautiful church, shared with an apartment mate from..where else...Italy! I had taken it as a sign when I noticed that the walls on the way from the subway stop were decorated with an imitation Hundertwasser mural, made by a local kindergarten.

And the waiting for Artur was getting more tolerable. He had been relatively stressed out by his move (prompted by the relatively intolerable behavior of his 50 year old alcoholic, unemployed roommate), and now that that was taken care of, he seemed (at least through email and phone calls) to be relatively relaxed and getting excited about the trip, even going to the bank and changing his money into dollars. A few hurdles remained, however: the flight, with a nail biting 1 hour layover time in Milan before boarding the plane to New York, a short stay on the floor of the tiny Manhattan apartment of a fellow program student in Munich this year, Christy, and then the short hop of a flight from JFK to Pittsburgh which had taken me last week because of JFKs horrible organizational problems more than 7 hours, including 4 hours sitting on the runway in the loaded airplane. But it would all work out somehow, at anyways, we had been through similarly complicated things before.

But because my computer is becoming as sun baked as my scalp, I am off to seek refuge in the air conditioned confines of my mother's wonderland, and then to happy hour and frozen cosmopolitans with my mom, to muse and dream of our new and exciting years ahead. Until then...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

and in the end...

the time is a flying/and I will be flying/ on monday back to america/ im scared but excited/ but mostly excited/ because im coming back here/ but until I leave/ I have much too much to do/ packing and baking and parties on the river/ pushing trees through the city/ big giant festivals/ fun fun fun.
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