Miss You

I’ve been feeling a bit melancholy lately even with all the daily items on my ‘to do’ list. I’m melancholy for something I never thought I would be. I spent the last three and half years trying to leave Germany and return to America and now that I have returned I find myself a month later missing my foreign home.

I miss the pedestrian center of the city where every café and restaurant has outdoor tables for eating and drinking and people watching. Even Starbucks hauled out the thick red wool blankets in winter so you could sit outside and still enjoy that feeling of being able to reach out to anyone who passed by.

I miss dinner at Roses and ordering a bottle of wine and crostinis and a plate of pasta. The lively conversation with Piano Girl and the laughter that always accompanied any outing making walking in heels on cobblestones worth all the effort.

I miss the small streets by the Italian Place on the River, the restaurant that we still don’t know the name of. The streets were so small that if another car was coming you’d have to pull up on what little sidewalk there was in order to let them past.

I miss flying down the autobahn in my little German car at 140 km an hour listening to Muse and Coldplay. It didn’t matter where the destination was getting there really was half the fun.

I miss Altenahr and my local winery that made the best Riesling around. I’ll miss the harvest this year and I won’t get to drive through the valley and see the plump juicy grapes on the vines clinging to the hillside. The smell in the valley always lingered sweet and fragrant.

I miss the architecture and the oldness of the cities and buildings, the uniqueness that makes it a great destination for tourists.

I miss my beloved Kolsch and the biergarten on Friday nights where there was nothing but good conversation, good beer and watching the boats pass by on the Rhine.

I even miss my non-English speaking crazy landlady Frau L. Who even though she drove like Mario Andretti and we never understood half of what we might have wanted to say to each other, she was the nicest landlady I will ever come across.

I miss my house with all of its quirky German foibles. I even miss Cat Lady who walked her cat down our street twice a day on a leash.

I miss Hallo Pizza, the only place I know that delivers your pizza in a Smart car.

I miss my husband who’s still half way around the world for five more months.

It’s startling to me to realize that while Germany I did not get along at times I really did come to see how wonderful it was in hindsight. All the while I was fighting it it was charming me and drawing me in.

I miss you Germany.

As I Sit: Random Ramblings

My funk has grown over the last few days.  I just got my first agent rejection on my book (Yippee!  Oh Wonderful!  Keeping humor about it as you can see).  I guess I shouldn’t expect to get picked up the first time I made a query but still, rejection hurts.  They said it wasn’t right for what they represent (what.e.ver) but it was my first (and only) time I submitted my work. So back on the horse I go.  I have plenty more agents on my list.  One down 500 to go.
But I’ve been in a funk these past few days for other reasons too, not unusual for the winter here because it’s cold and rainy or snowy.  It becomes dark at an unreasonable hour and my world just seems to get crabbier.  I wanted to post about how Germany isn’t so bad and yesterday as I drove along, my first random drive in awhile I came up with this post:
Depression?  Melancholy? Self-reflection?  Careful it’s going around.  It seems there is no shortage of any of these things happening in the blogger world these days and there is sometimes little to be happy about.  The economy is a wreck, people are losing jobs in the thousands, bread and milk (the staples of life) are becoming more expensive, packages are shrinking in size but the price isn’t.  The weather has been atrocious with ice and snow storms, fires and disaster all around.  The weather here certainly doesn’t make me all perky these days.  
As I drive home from the city today where I went in search of vacation stuff, where I didn’t even visit Starbucks one of my few American treats I allow myself every time I go to city center, I find myself having driven forty minutes past my exit.  Baby Chick is safely ensconced in her carseat happily untying her shoes and hasn’t made a peep.  The music is good, playing on the iPod a feel good/feel bad mix of Lady Antebellum, Colbie Calliert, Erin McCarley and the car is hugging the close curves of the road as I drive between the river and the mountainside.  The dusty corners of my brain are in need of probing these days.  Inner reflection isn’t likely to become a popular sport while driving, there is the danger factor of paying attention to the road.  But for me, if I’m in a funk, a good drive with loud music usually helps.
In my pre-mom-wife life I drove to Boston from Philadelphia (an 8 hour task) because I liked to drive and a friend was missing her at-the-moment-boyfriend.  I had a car.  I had music.  We were good to go.  I seemed to find and make friends with people who lived no where near me in college (and beyond) simply because I enjoyed driving to North Carolina, New Jersey, Washington DC.  Like I say, I drive to relax and think.
This was my first drive time for the purpose of driving in quite awhile.  Despite what it might seem I am fully aware of the $80 it costs to fill up my small four door sedan.  (No joke as it’s about 1.13 euros a liter x 4 to get a rough per gallon estimate and there you go).  I had some thoughts on this drive.  Are you ready?  Because what I have to say I figured out is going to be entirely shocking.
Germany (might) not be as bad as I always say.
I know.  I was shocked too.  But here was what I was thinking.  I only have 1 year and 19 days left here.  And I haven’t seen anything yet.  Sure we’ve been some places around Germany, not many though.  Have I really explored all that I could explore?  That Benedictine Abbey is still waiting for me to explore it’s beautiful buildings.  And those monks make Siegburger Abtei-Likör, too, kinda cool if you think about it.  A mere twenty to thirty minute drive.  I’ve been saying that I’m going for almost three years now.  Maybe it’s time I did.
There are a lot of things I was reminded of this week by fellow bloggers.  For instance, I have the ability to see so many things because of where I live.  That is very true.  Paris and London are a mere one hour flight away.  I’ve been to each of them.  I also have access to good German beer.  This is very true too.  I do enjoy a good Kolsch now and then (though it’s been awhile, that being more biergarten weather drinking anyway).
As I drove I saw the hills with what I know come summer will be vines of grapes to make the wonderful local wines.  The commercial boats passing by on the Rhine loaded with so many things.  Have you ever sat and watched a boat pass by?  Try it.  It is ultimately relaxing (as a side note, don’t do it while driving please!)  There was something about the look of the hills and the river and the feel of the steering wheel beneath my hands, the purr of the engine, I don’t know but it made me think.  Germany maybe doesn’t suck as much as I think it does.  After all last week there was a tractor parked outside my house and last night while making dinner there were a group of horses going down the street (with riders, we live near a riding school).  All things I doubt I’d have seen back in my old Maryland neighborhood.
Maybe all I really needed was a (mental) smack upside the head to remind myself that this life I have here is pretty gosh darn good.  I’m doing things and seeing things a lot of people would love to be doing.
Of course today it’s raining.  And next week we go on vacation and I’ll have to start the (mental) smack upside the head all over again.  So if I start moaning about Germany can you all smack me upside the head with your shovels?  
viel Dank und mit freundlichen Grüßen

Here’s the scoop…

So. I took down the countdown to America ticker and put up the Christmas ticker. Why? Because putting Moving Back to America Jan 2009 seemed like a long time. Yep, we’ve signed on for another year of craziness here in Germany. The job (and the perks) were just too good to pass up. We will be moving house (thankfully someone else will do the actual boxing and moving of furniture – I will be interested to see them bringing our heavy headboard down the small spiral staircase and fit the good American size couch in the tiny 3 person elevator, or conversely carry it down three flights of stairs). I am going to make sure I have my camera handy 🙂

Goodness knows they got it all in here; they’ll have to get it all back out. I am really looking forward to going house shopping, which should be sometime in the next two weeks or so. It’ll be nice to have a proper house with a yard again. Where I can turn out the animals, or er, kids, when they start getting keyed up. Plus not dragging grocery bags and two kids up a flight of stairs to the elevator a few times a week will be great too.

Wednesday morning (before my parents arrive – yikes only three more days to clean the house!) we are heading off to the Peugeot dealer and maybe VW to see what they can do for a one year lease on a car or two. I’ll be sad to see my nice little BMW go, it’s been a good car (to drive anyway). We also have our BMW guy Mr S working on a lease for a Mini Cooper. How completely awesome would that be? I LOVE those cars. I wouldn’t be able to drive it, as it’d likely be a stick-shift, but who cares. The passenger side works pretty nicely too. So we’ll see.

In other news I found my computer. And it ROCKS. I decided to get the iMac desktop with the 20 in glossy display screen. This thing is unreal. We went to Media Markt in Cologne because they basically have an Apple store in the store. And the best part (since this was a worry) the Mac’s purchased in Germany can easily be placed to operate in any language, including English. We asked how we would get the operating system in English and he said it’s no problem, you just change it from German. Even better. Granted, it’s a bit more in Euros with the ridiculous 20% sales tax but I don’t know we’d easily get a desktop from the US. I am so excited. It’s going to be great for photo and video editing and movie making and digital scrapbooking. I just can’t get over the screen size (20 inches!) and the glossy display is really, really nice. It will take time to get used to a Mac system (which by the way, you can also operate Windows on a Mac. You have this Parallel operating system and it works just fine the Apple Guy said.) The “close” tab is in a different place than Windows and the setup is different. I’ve been a PC user all my life so it’ll take some getting used to. We looked at the blog on the screen in the store. It was amazing! The colors and the display and how I could still see all the icons to open different programs if need while having the internet page still up on the screen, that’s pretty cool too. Can you tell I am a bit excited? Hopefully we will be going to get it next week.

Thanks to all those who chimed in and commented or emailed me with Mac info.

Overall, a good day!