Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Home Again

Hey All!
I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and a safe and fun New Years! I was home in Walker from about the 19th of December to the 2nd of January. Only several events of note happened:
Driving on my way to pick up Chris in EGF and just outside of Bemidji, the little red truck I was driving started to fishtail on glare ice and I ended up backwards in the median. Fortunately I didn't roll the truck (as my mom asked me, causing me to hyperventilate some more) but some wires ended up getting welded to the frame, preventing it from re-starting. So I got towed into Bemidji and spent the night at Jeremy Fisher's apartment. It was kind of like a time warp, when I ended up crashing his D&D party, and also quite humorous.

Chris spent "Family Christmas" (we had pizza!) with my extended family in EGF, since I'd officially stranded him there with the truck still being in Bemidji. I think he's celebrated every major holiday with my family now...

To explain the picture...Years ago my Grandpa made a trip to Germany and when he came back, he'd packed his bag chocked full of 3 different types of candy that he found and loved. He proudly pulled out a box of Mentos when either my mom or one of my aunts chirped up saying "You can buy those in the gas station down the road!" So I couldn't break with family tradition and brought back my Grandma some "authentic" German candy...

I went to a "surprise" party for Katie (Marcus spilled the secret a little bit) and I got to see a lot of friends and catch up with everyone. She also went to Guatemala armed with about 10 varieties of chapstick, courtesy of Catherine.

I also went on a completely gorgeous trail ride with Kris, her sister Louis, and my mom. It was all snowy and there wasn't an icy layer underneath everything this year. The horses behaved themselves and Bandit even surprised me by stepping up his pace the whole time to stay in front. I had a wonderful time and it made me realize how much I miss seeing the horses and working with Kris and Diane (although not sneezing) and how weird this summer will be without them. Although I will be home in time for Special Olympics to cheer everyone on and help however I can.

In the airport, walking through the security station I thought to myself: "I want to have a trip like Grandma's" (who's a big people-person and always meets characters on her travels, it seems). I must be careful what I wish for. I went to a money-changer to get a few euros (depressing, with the exchange rate) and noticed the man in front of me (Late 40's, early 50's and with a foreign accent) had wad of euros. Too shy to ask if he wanted to do a direct change, I worked up my courage after he was dissatisfied with the offered rate and approached him. He agreed, and then beckoned me to follow him. Slightly weirded out, but committed, I followed him around the corner. Which made sense, really, not to exchange money right outside the little booth. He led me to a little sit down bistro area, pointed out a table and asked if I wanted anything to drink. Suddenly, warnings blinked through my head and I thought "Steph, you're an idiot." I calmed my paranoia, however, by realizing 1. I was in a public space 2. There were people around to hear me yell and 3. I know karate.

He came back to the table with 1 coke and two glasses and two huge wedges of bistro sandwich. He then poured the coke and motioned for me to have a sandwich. In broken English, he talked about his trip (first time to US to see his mother and brother, plus friends in NY, CA and Chicago he was going to visit), his family (he has 3 sons, the youngest who turned out to be my age who is studying philosophy in University this year)and when he found out I was studying abroad he mentioned he'd studied in Russia when he was younger and spoke 5 languages - none of them English or German. It soon became evident he was "fathering" me and was a little anxious about being in America and had 5 hours before his flight. After a half an hour of chatting or so I had to get to my gate. I wished him luck and we exchanged currencies.

Sitting at my gate later, the flight was pushed back a full hour - leaving me 15 minutes to get to Cincinnati, take a shuttle bus and get on my Frankfurt flight. I discovered there was another guy (stationed in Illesheim - halfway between Frankfurt and Regensburg) and after we were assured the incoming plane from Georgia to Cincinnati was likewise delayed (although, it hadn't been hit by lightening like our plane...yay?) we started chatting about life in Germany. He was pretty isolated (they have cheddar cheese) and wanted to know about Regensburg's nightlife. And thus the extra hour's wait passed smoothly and we made it to our Frankfurt flight comfortably.


After I returned home (see, I call them both home, which is a little strange, but just seems to fit), things slowly got back to "normal". Oddly enough, I feel better about my German comprehension now and am feeling more confident than ever.

A day or two after I got back, Christian (the German guy on my floor) made a Bavarian meal. Now, he's a happy carnivore, so his finesse with making a pork roast was impressive, but my own personal feat of finally trying sauerkraut (and yes, dad, I liked it...) overshadowed it. Now, all they have to do is get me hooked on German beer and say "sammeln" instead of broetchen and I'll be not only German, but Bavarian to boot!

I've done some cooking myself recently as well. A few nights ago I made "Tater tot hotdish" which was...frankly, a disappointment to Eric and me. Christine, who'd never tasted it before thought it was pretty good, but the condensed soup from powder left much to be desired. Next time I think making the base with milk would be a good idea. It was also Christine's birthday yesterday, so I made a Black Forest Cake (even though, yes, Christine, I am aware the Black Forest is not in Bavaria) for her party. I got to it late after Karate, but it was enjoyed by all.
It was slightly humorous, however, as I ended up sitting next to Julia - as in the Julia who I'd tried contacting multiple times to set up a tandem partner meeting. After a slightly awkward moment, we set a date (next Tuesday morning at 10) and now I officially (finally) have a tandem partner. (They speak English and I attempt to speak German...)

Anyhow, that's been my small little world lately (greatly abbreviated).
Oh, I had several people not understand my last post - Nutella is my new "addiction" - not something unmentionable...
Bye for now!
PS - Grandma did make pumpkin pie (and a lot of other pie too!) for Christmas...mmm, thanks again Grandma!

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