Monday, December 29, 2008

'Till Next Year!

I'm off to Berlin, y'all! I'm really excited and a little bit nervous. Okay, I'm a lot nervous, but it'll be good for me because I haven't made a big trip like this in a while (not since Lille, I don't think), so I need to pop my security bubble and go out to explore the big wide world. And it's Berliiiiin! Beeeerrrrlllliiiin! I'll try to take lots of photos. Promise.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Brain Dead

The last few days were kinda like you're talking to someone and they're talking about a future or past date in time and you're trying to figure out what today's date must be and you attempt to sneak your way around asking such a ridiculous question by asking for more details about this future or past date. All's I knew was that Christmas was Christmas, but it never felt like it, so that was confusing as well. Maybe this blog post will help me put some things in order; not necessarily the chronological sort.

On the 26th, all the stores in Germany are closed. Me and my buddy had to buy stuff for a dinner party that evening. Most specifically, we were on a hunt for tofu so I could have something "meaty" for the Raclette. Our first thought was Holland, but quite a-typically, the grocery store just over the border was closed. We saw many an unfortunate Aachen car also doing a prompt turn-around. "Hey, we could try Belgium," I wondered aloud. We scampered (as well as one can scamper while sitting in an automobile, which isn't much, but still good fun.) on over to my old town of residence. The GB was open and there I saw hilarious CocaCola products in mini form and multiple languages. Doesn't Dutch look silly? There was no tofu.

We've had some lovely weather today and yesterday. When I'm in Aachen and I see weather like that, I feel like I'm falling in love with the city all over again. Sometimes I feel a little inspired and I take a photo of my cold, cold feet looking over the balcony. Yes, I'm not ashamed to admit: I think that photos of feet look artsy. Look! It totally does! Ha ha. Made you look.

To recap Christmas, I wore my "I'm trying to look nice" outfit (pictured right) and the streets of Maastricht were calm, but festive. I would expect no less from the Dutch.

Oh! And I'm sure you're all dying to know what the vegan girl ate for Christmas! Well, we had a nice dinner with friends on the Eve. Everyone had roast while I had some lovely grilled, marinated tofu. We shared Grünkohl with tahini dressing and maple-mustard glazed potatoes and string beans. For dessert, I made sweet potato pie. I was a little worried about it because I had to make an insane amount of substitutions, but the results was super yummy. A great mid-zombie-movie snack, I might add.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Today was:
wake up late
debate how to spend the day
ride with timo and erin to Maastricht
walk through their christmas market
look for pommes frites
drink coffee
pretty drive
zombie movies

I hope your day was as nice and traditional as mine!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

I know the phrase of this blog's title from reading Little Women when I was about 11. My taste in literature hasn't changed, apparently. For Christmas I recieved a chic lit book from Lukas. It was very sweet of him, honestly. From "Simon" I got a photo of him in a frame that he decorated himself. I almost wish I didn't because when I leave here, I'll have a token by which to miss him more. From the parents, I got an H&M gift card. It was incredibly nice of them.

Then, I gave them all their presents. They were all incredibly happy and grateful when recieving them. Hell, I am too whenever I get a present. I've grown to not anticipate any gifts for Christmas or birthdays anymore. It's an unexpected treat to be thought of in that way. I made Simon a cape and attached it to a shirt to it. It was Amanda's idea. She found it on an etsy site. I sewed it ALL by hand. How cool am I? I got the parents movie tickets and offered to babysit whenever they chose to go. For Lukas, I got white chocolate from Belgium, Switzerland (you can buy Trobelone here in Deutschland) and some fair trade stuff. It's his favorite. His parents are going to hate me later when he's not hungry for dinner (winkey face).

Well, we basically just finished doing that. They just left for church and I'm here finishing another glass of champagne (we all had one together at the gift unwrapping ceremony) and eating Mon Cheri chocolates (vegan!) before I head off to get my train to Aachen!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stressful Holiday Times Inspire Cheezy Poetry

"It's a shopping catastrophe!"
One might well say;
I certainly did
As I picked out my way
Through the drones of people,
Swarming like bees to a hive,
To H&M for a T-shirt I dive.

I didn't need much,
Just a plain coloured shirt.
Still a bitch, though, to find;
Gave me a headache that hurt.
And then one other buy,
A dress shirt and tie,
Per request of the parents,
A last-minute present.

The one that they wanted
Hung high on a rack.
I glanced 'round for help;
A tall man, ladder or ... sack?
What with everyone focused on their own consumption,
I stood just no chance, not with all of my gumption.

I had to settle for less,
One lower down.
I couldn't quite mind
Because at the sight of the line,
I quickly forgot.
But we all should be happy
With what I just bought.

The photos are of gingerbread men that I stole from Isa's ppk blog. Top: punk. Bottom: minimalist

Monday, December 22, 2008


2008 seems relatively uneventful. I quit my job, was homeless and jobless (well, there was that stint in the traditional German restaurant), started a new job, changed cities, made new friends, my Dad came to visit, travelled a bit, fell into good habits, fell into bad ones, got lost, found things, learned stuff.... Okay, maybe there were some noteworthy things that came to pass. I think what makes the year seem a little strange overall is that I feel like I've been in limbo; not knowing where I'm going or what I should do with Life. There are some things that I want to change, though. Some realistic, some far-fetched, some easy and some difficult.
  • Firstly, and I've been really back-and-forth on this, I've decided to start school! I'm going to try to get into Heinrich-Hein Universität here in Düsseldorf. My host family offered to help me out with it and since that teaching job in Belgium didn't work out, this seems like a good opportunity of which to take advantage. I've got an appointment in the foreign office after the New Year.
  • I've moved 6 times in the past 3 years with two "nomadic" periods stuck in there somewhere. I'd like a little bit more security in place of that freedom, now, i think.
  • Save a bit more. Those that know me over here probably already see me as a penny pincher as is, but I could do better.
  • Go to an English-speaking country. I haven't been in one since I left at the end of March 2007!
  • Fly home for a visit?
  • Check out a Scandinavian country. Y'all, I wonder: If I hate the cold so much, why am I so interested in visiting/ living in cold places all the time? It's a paradox. Well, I hear that Oslo in the summertime is quite nice (winkey face).

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday Morning

Preface: I have a general rule to never get on the internet on the week-ends. But whatever. Today I'm making an acception.

I guess I tend to go places on the week-ends. I seldom hang around the house because it's just plain not interesting and I always end up "working" if I'm here. But today is pouring rain and I yesterday was kind-of a doozy, so I've been taking my time 'round here today.

I was downstairs in my room, rocking out to Neutral Milk Hotel, when I heard Simon calling me. His parents were out and his brother was still asleep (it was about 11AM). He walked in and asked, "Rachah?" (That's how Simon pronounces my name.) "Rachah? Can you help me make this? I can't do it on my own." It was a Gingerbread House Kit and I quite gingerly obliged.

It's always a battle for me, doing activities like this with a 5 year old. Part of me wants it to look nice and perfect, but I also know that I have to let the kid do most of the craft himself, alleine, so he can learn or whatever. It's really hard to avoid monopolizing the work and also to keep him involved and interested when I'm doing the stuff that he really can't do.

So, that's what we made together and then we followed that up with some Wacklepudding (Jell-O). I watched patiently as he stuggled opening the package, only offering him tips. And I did cringe as I watched him pour the liquid all. by. himself. into the Jell-O bowls, spilling sugary, sticky, red liquid everywhere. He was really happy and proud of himself all the way through; especially so during the licking his fingers, spoon and bowl parts. Simon was very "home economics" oriented today.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Impressing the Omnis

Today in German class we had our Weihnachtsfeier (Christmas party). Let me preface this by saying that at the begining of the course, an aupair brought a cake in on her birthday. Her host family had given it to her and instructed her to share it with the class. After that, every woman (because of course it's a class filled with aupairs and housewives) brought a cake in for her birthday. There seemed to be a lot of birthdays, actually. So of course I had to explain eventually why I couldn't take part in the glutony. When the Weihnachtsfeier came up, I felt I had to share something really good. I'm sure you understand why.

I made Gingerbread cupcakes from that cupcake book and crunchy peanut butter cookies from Vegan with a Vengance. The pb cookies were supposed to have a little big of yogurt in them, but at the store, they only had these big-ish tubs of it. I never liked yogurt to begin with and I haven't eaten it in so long that I wouldn't really know what to do with it, so I opted out of the yogurt. Maybe that was the essential bit because the cookies didn't turn out so crunchy and didn't hold together very well at all (sad face). I decided not to bring them to the course lest anyone try them and forever think ill of vegan baking. Lukas said he'll snack on them, but after that, I'll just throw them away. It's such a shame when I mess up like that. /vent.

The cupcakes, however, went over quite well. But because the course is full of housewives, everyone brought stuff and not all my cupcakes could get eaten. So now I've got way to many cupcakes and a damned waste of cookies on hand. Yay!

I also made some really forking awesome soup today. It's acorn squash, mushroom, rosemary, lime. Is that strange? I wasn't sure, so I conferred with that vegan forum that I visit. They gave some suggestions.... Well, I love it and it is for me after all and that's what counts. There ain't no one else to impress. Except y'all with my photo.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why Do I Go Places?

I often wonder this myself, but I'm sure that if you're my parent or another caring relative who reads this blog, you wonder this as well. I've realized over the extent of my travels that it's not so much the places you go, but the people you're with, the ones you meet and the friends you keep. But as a nomadic resident of the world, the keeping part is hard. There's a part of me that continues to ask, "What else is there?" And so I search.

Last evening I made a quick, emergency return to Aachen to say goodbye to a friend who is flying back to the States today. One might say that I was a good friend to make such a long trip for such a short visit at the very last minute, but to go was actually quite selfish. On my way there, I felt... so much; meloncholy, anger, fear, confusion, and a bit like my heart hurt. I left in order to get to the bottom of it.

I met her boyfriend first and we walkedd together to the café where we'd all be meeting. We could each tell how the other felt, and without touching on the matter too heavily, we said in our own ways, "Come on now, old chum. Bucker up." I couldn't say that our efforts were entirely fruitful, but we kept on truckin' on.

With the others plus the lady of the hour (well, my hour. the others had more time.), it felt just like the good ol' days, except that we all secretly wanted the undivided attention of Amanda, which proved a strain to split seven ways. When it came time to say my goodbye (far too early), Amanda agreed that it was a splendid idea for our friends to've come together on this evening; "I needed this," she said. I did too.

An ellipsis is not a suitable ending for a chapter. On this short trip I got to come to some conclusion.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Looong week-end!

I didn't have to work on Friday, so we road tripped it to Trier with a surprise visit to Luxembourg.

Amanda: Where are we?
Boys: no response
Rachel (just off the phone with her dad): Hey Amanda, where are we?
Amanda: I don't know. I just asked and they won't respond.
Rachel: Hey guys, where are we?
Boys: no response
Rachel: hey amanda, do you think we're going to Luxembourg?
Amanda: I don't know, but if we see the country sign, I kinda want to ask them to stop so I can get a photo by it, but I'm too embarassed to ask because that sounds so American.

we then approach a sign

Girls: ahhhh! omg omg you have to stop! stop the car!!
our car: screeeeeeeech.
other cars: hooooonk!

we examine the sign more closely.

Sign: Luxembourg 1000m

we still had a kilometer to go. we got a photo as we drove by it in the car so as not to cause any more fuss.

top left: In Bitburg where they brew the world famous Bitburger beer. When you order a Pils in Germany, the default beer is that one. We were denied a tour of the brewery because we hadn't notified them far enough in advance (late the night before). We did get to see a movie, though, that looked like my buddy Timo filmed it. Or a drunk person. I sort-of got vertigo watching it. There were lots of mustaches involved as well.

bottom right:
A snowy scene in the High Venn in Belgium. We got out and played. I made a snow angle. There were cross country skiers.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Quick One While He's Away

It's been nigh on a year that I've been blogging. I looked back on some of my older posts for the fond memories and with hopes that my writing may've improved. The memories have been warmed, but my soft skillz (the writing) ain't no better.

Here are some of my favorite memories from the year of blogging:
the aubergine tower
street art
the tampon story
the brewery excursion

do you have any?

to the right is some street art in Aachen

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bike Rides and High Fives

Due to popular demand, here are some photos from the bike route. Here, we have featured the Zed house, a place where you can't swim, a kayaking course, sheep, a goat, an office building that looks like a castle, a Georgia O'Keefe-esque photo, and a bridge. Even though I do complain about my job sometimes, it's really nice because sometimes I get the afternoon off and can go putt around on my bike until my feet freeze off.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Goodbye Blue Monday

I keep having such fantastic week-ends that Mondays seem so ugh!

This week-end I had fun going out with Düsseldorf friends, then to Cologne for a Couch Surfing Christmas Market meeting (Why don't I ever bring my camera anywhere anymore?) and stayed up almost all night with a bunch of kids from Bonn. At the meeting, there was a sweet woman working on a radio exposé about Couch Surfing. I might end up on the radio, but I've no idea what station.

Sunday was sunny (a rarity for this region and time of year), so I woke up early and went on a really long bike ride. I should've brought my camera along then, too, because the route that I take (and deviate from) is quite lovely. Some dude showed me it and I greatly appreciate that fact every time I ride out there because I don't believe I would've found such a nice course otherwise.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Burn the Floor

Burn the Floor was a ballroom dance production that a friend took me to last night. I adore watching dance, so the whole evening was already a real treat for me and was compounded by the fact these dancers were of international caliber; unlike the many student productions that I'd seen before. Their energy in both their steps and their souls was entirely contagious. Most of the routines involved a group of 10 dance partners on the stage that was so spectacularly coordinated, I felt like I couldn't watch anything closely enough. It was exciting. The star-studded lighting, sumptuous costumes, skillful steps, and quick beats aided by two live drummers (it was like the Allman Brothers, man!) left me with grin as wide as a cheshire cat through most of the first half. There were also two singers that occasionally participated in the fun and drama, which added a bit of a cabaret kinda feel to the scene. I enjoyed how they moved through the different styles of dance and with it, depicting different eras through costume and song.

I was a tad underwhelmed by the second half of the show. The singers got a bit more involved and I felt they were kinda out of place. Also, there were a lot more slow dance numbers that I didn't find so engaging. I shy away from anything remotely corny (I laughed through most of Titanic, for instance.) and those songs were really filled with it. Another disappointing factor were the entirely too mainstream musical choices. It didn't match the uniqueness of the choreography. How many dance routines have we already seen to American Bandstand and Tainted Love? And finally, the ending reminded me of The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King (although I do love that movie): Is it over yet? Are they concluding now? To make matters worse, the crowd made a standing ovation at the second ending (I detest standing ovations. They're on my uncomposed list of top 10 petty things to hate.), so we were forced to stand through the very last number. And then people attempted to clap in sync with the music (and that's in my top 5 of frivolous abhorrences), but I just tried to focus on how much I loved the dancers' spicy movements. I did. I delighted in it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Games Me and Simon Play

This actually might be a cool German lesson for some of you. I'm not sure if that interests anyone, but there are some folks who understand German and read the blog. Maybe y'all'll empathize.

  • Thumb War: I translate the taunt: eins, zwei, drei, vier, Ich fange den Daumen Krieg an! (one, two, three, four, I'm starting the thumb war. I don't know the word for "declare.")

  • Hide-and-Go-Seek. (verstecken) I hate not knowing exactly where he is, though, so we rarely play this. There's a phrase that you say to indicicate that the person hiding should give a little peep, but I forget what it is precicely.

  • I Spy with My Little Eye: Ich sehe etwas das du nicht siehst.

  • Go Fish. I don't translate the "go fish" part. It's awesome. I don't know what the King, Queen and Jack are called in German, though, so we just say their German letters.´

  • When waiting for the bus, I've created this game that involves jumping, sitting, touching or running around a pole depending on what colour car we see. It makes the time fly and people give us funny looks.
  • Milles Bornes (1,000 miles). It's a French (or Canadian?) card game that I've recently taught him. He caught on so fast! But it's hard to keep track of his mileage as well as my own.

  • Ente Fuße (duck feet). It's not really a game, but it's something we'll joke around with in the morning. When shoes are put on the wrong feet, you call it "Ente Fuße," which I think is pretty much adorable. Sometimes Simon crosses his legs and pretends that he has duck feet and tells me that I put his shoes on incorrectly.

  • Lots of board games. Mostly The Game of Life (Spiel des Lebens), Sorry! and Monopoly Jr. He could handle the regular Monopoly, but I can't. Our Sorry! game is in English. If you don't recall, there are cards numbered 1-12 that indicate how many spaces you can go and other specifics. For example, 1 and 2 allow a piece to exit your starting place, but with 2, you're allowed to go again. He never has to be reminded of the rules, even though we don't play it very often, which I find remarkable.

  • Chess! (Schach) I taught him how to play. He's good. In my defence, I do suck at that game pretty hard.

  • Airplane. (Flugzeug) I hold him in the air above me so his stomach rests on the bottoms of my feet. It's really fun to play on the trampoline.

Above is a castle that me and Simon made for the Meerschweinschen (guinea pigs).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cherrybrook Kitchen

My pal Amanda got me this brownie mix from the states. The company advertises itself as being "allergy safe" rather than "vegan." That makes sense because they also manufacture everything nut-free as well. For those that are dairy and egg free by choice rather than necessity, it can be equally reassuring that the equipment on which the product is manufactured isn't shared with blood, puss and cruelty. And I think that we also deserve to bake from a box occasionally just like everyone else.

Product review: The company is small and family-owned. The packaging is damn cute. The Fudge Brownie Mix could not have tasted better had I made it myself. It did not, however, hold together very well. I think that it lacked a proper egg replacer. The package instructed that water, margarine and oil be added to the dry mix. My recommendation would be to add 2Tbs of well ground flax seed to the water or replace the water with non-dairy milk and 1tsp vinegar, let it sit for about 5min, then add it to the mix with the rest. I guess they were trying to be nice to those folks who are allergic to soy and gluten (rice has gluten, right?), which you'd find in non-dairy milks.

Thanks so much for the mix, Amanda. I'm sorry I didn't share it with you, but I'll have you know that it was shared with a very deserving aupair from Czech Republic.

Dream Job

I had more than a few guy friends in high school who were those kids with sooo much intelligence and potential, but only used about half an ounce of it for a passing grade. None of them had very high asperations when I inquired after their great wide futures. Back in those days I'd invisioned myself attending college, then grad school, then saving the world.... I'm not sure whether to laugh at or feel sorry for my childish optimism. Anyway, now I realize how sagacious these boys were. Or, at the very least, how much their dreams have come to be like mine.

Dream Jobs (in no particular order):
  • zamboni driver
  • grounds keeper (I'd really like one of those little claws that you can pick up trash with without having to bend over.)
  • forest ranger
  • organic farm worker
  • postman
  • clochard
  • cargo ship worker (this would be the most difficult to remain vegan at)
  • aupair (sorta. i mean, i do love my job.)

Honestly, I could persue any, some or all of these while trying to figure out how, why and where I should go to school so I could do something that might be cooler, but do not yet have the enthusiasm to do the work to get there. And look, I totally have the potential to make that last sentence not a run-on, but I figure I oughtn't squander what I got.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Food with Friends Tastes Best

My friends from Aachen came to visit me over the week-end! I felt all honored. We made dinner together. We had seasoned rice from a bag (I ain't got no shame about that. it was tasty.), broccoli (Simon's favorite vegetable. Why his parents never make it is beyond me.), cranberry sauce FROM A CAN! (I do have a little bit of shame for adoring that and all of its artificial, can-shaped glory, but I cover it up by pretending that I like it ironically.), and Carrot Bisque from VwaV. We all sat down like a family, but with more rude jokes and politics. It felt just oh-so-nice.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Der Stern... nochmal!

This has not yet arrived at our house, but I do not anticipate its presence very eagerly. I saw this cover in the grocery store today and pretty much thought, "oh my goodness!" and then, "Germans do love titties." and then, "This is way worse than the Kama Sutra edition." and then, "I wonder how I'll discretely stack the magazines and newspapers this time?" and then, "I could totally blog about this."

oh yeah. if you aren't familiar with the drama.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Read Me A Story

I had to put Simon to bed last night because his parents went out to a birthday party. He really didn't want me to. I figure, "Yeah. It's cool to like your mom better." When I was hauling him upstairs (yes, hauling), I told him that he could pick out a book for me to read. He asked his older brother if he could read the book instead because, Rachel reads so terribly! I had to laugh. Because it's true.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bing Crosby

I wrote this little story last night while babysitting that's basically about how much the snow made my feet hurt. It could be better, but it's a blog post. It could be even longer so as to provide more explanation, but it's a blog post. I only mention Bing Crosby because when I think of snow, I think of lame holiday songs, some of which I have to blame Bing Crosby for.

I'd decided to leave for Aachen very last minute with naught but the clothes on my back. Of course I did not consider the practicality of my footwear. The drive back to Timo's flat began with a long, downhill slope. Giddy as we were on accounta the uniquely seasonal weather, it didnÄt seem so dire taht Timo could not break, despite that he was going at a mere snail's pace down the snow-covered raod. A good German driver though he is, Timo had neglected to swap his summer tires out for winter. Hopeless to drive, but not yet stranded, we left the car where is was, on the side of the road, and made to trek to our destination on the other side of the city.

Me and my buddies didn't tramp along for 10min when my feet became veritably soaked. I wined. My friend Amanda, also ill-equiped in the footwear department, complained as well. Rightly so. Our feet really hurt. Back at Timo's, I was able to remove my shoes and trot around in my water-laden socks until my feet lost some of that dreaded pins and needles feeling. But I didn't have long to recover. There was a train to catch.

On to the train station I went. The route there takes only about 20min. Having been mentally prepared for the second walk of the afternoon, and knowing it would feel as if my feet had plunged into an icy cold stream (which, in fact, they quite nearly had), the reality of the trek didn't seem so bad. By the end of the walk, though, I was reduced to a gait like something between a pained waddle and a stiff shuffle.

More than an hour later, I make it back to good ol' Neuss, but I still had to fetch my bike that I'd left in front of Simon's Kindergarten on Friday. I had to get him to school in the morning. Thank heaven there was a bus, otherwise I think I would not have won the battle. (between myself and the weather? me and my impractical shoes? I don't know, but it was war by god.) When I finally reached my bike, Simon's was still parked next to it. His parents had forgotten to pick it up after we took the bus home on Friday, rendering my long trek through the snow (okay, on the bus) obsolete.

Even the very last few meters home were torturesome. In my doorway, tearing off my shoes was arduous. Then the socks. My toes, they were white. White! I don't know crap about frostbite, so I'm not sure if I did the right thing. I tried to wiggle my toes ("wiggle your big toe!"), but it was painful. Soooo very painful. Then I tried to rub them a little. I tried ever so slightly lukewarm water from my shower, but then it felt like knives cutting through every nerve ending. I swore a lot and retired underneath the covers of my bed, convinced that I'd be crippled for life. And I swore some more. It got better, but it was pretty much the worst experience ever.

Friday, November 21, 2008

'Nanner Bread

I've made this before, but in cupcake form and talked about it here. Kittee's banana bread is the best damn banana bread ever. I think I'm going to freeze it, though, and save it for later. Possibly Thanksgiving in Aachen on Sunday or maybe for a rainy day.

And apparently there's a possibility that we won't be eating much bananas in 10 years. The New York Times wrote this article about that. Complete with requisite pun.

EDA: FIRST SNOW OF THE YEAR TODAY!!! + sleet, rain, hail and... sun. It's been strange day.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Crumb Trail

I saw this play last night in Düsseldorf. It was put on by this Irish acting troup called Pan Pan Theatre, I think. I'm mostly telling you that so you can try your luck Googling it later. The story of the play itself wasn't particularly clear, but that didn't seem to be the point of it. I think their intention was to give us something to chew on and to present it in a provocative, aesthetic manner.

I can't formulate my own ideas, so I'm going to take some from the programme:

The piece is a sort of detective story, sharp and blunt. Detecting where we are at - but in the dark. No crime has taken place - or it has and we haven't noticed or simply don't care - but there is an overwhelming sense of foreboding. Fear, panic, stress, crisis....

Stuttering. Due to our vast stores of Panic within us. Some of us mangage to have some control over the amount of panic within us. We use religion, stories...

In The Crumbtrail the constant challenge of making the performance is passed on to the spectator. Possibilites are always more important. Searching out mechanisms of perception rather than creating effigies of supposed reality. Playing with views and illsions connecting diverse media, putting performers, objects and meterials into a new perspective again and again....

I personally enjoyed the musical interludes. And the many projectors laying around and the different ways they played with them.

It was a small venue and not very crowded. I made eye contact with some of the actors more than once. That's never comfortable. They were probably wondering, "What the hell is that girl doing wearing that huge orange coat? She looks like a boob. Maybe she's Dutch."

They also have YouTube videos (Pan Pan, I mean. I don't mean Hellbenders or anything. In fact, I don't believe they can opperate video cameras. They lack opposable thumbs.), I think, if you care to look.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

4000 Reasons Why I Hate Glasses

Glasses suck big time. I think that I can name two reasons that they're good: 1. They're more economical and 2. I feel less exposed if I have them on and am not wearing make-up. I actually don't care about the second reason.

  • I can't see anything when it rains. It sucks even more when hiking in the Smokies.
  • They fog up when I walk inside a warm building, retreating from the cold.
  • Sometimes I forget to push them up higher on my nose by grabbing the frame's rim and I push them up right in the middle and feel like a huge dork.
  • Any water-related activity.
  • Reading: I feel like I have to take them off to see properly. For some reason this is annoying.
  • Sometimes if you're at Love Parade and you have perscription sunglasses, you put them on and forget that you've left your real glasses somewhere.
  • No peripheral vision.
  • Smudges that never seem to leave.
  • Kissing someone else that also wears glasses. Major awkwardness!
  • Not knowing where they are when I wake up in the morning. Then I can't see anything and finding them is pretty difficult. I have gotten better at this over the years.

There's bound to be more....

  • Oh, sometimes spastic frenchmen can break them on a Saturday night and you have to wait 'till Monday to get them fixed.
  • And roller coasters!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Der verbotene Blick auf die Nacktheit

"The Forbidden Gaze at Nudity," was the exhibition that a friend and I went to see here in Düsseldorf on Saturday. Here's a translated discription of exhibition's theme from the museum's website:

In Greek mythology we read about Actaeon the hunter who inadvertently stumbles upon Artemis bathing in the nude. As a punishment for catching this glimpse, he is changed into a stag and is subsequently torn apart by his own dogs. This horrific event was a fairly frequent subject for paintings in Greek art.

After Ovid had included the story of Diana and Actaeon in his book on transformations - "Metamorphoses" - the subject was frequently depicted between the Renaissance and Classicism, as part of a general move to revisit antiquity. This subject from Greek mythology attracted renewed interest among 20th-century artists who focused largely on the psychological aspect.

Using works that relate directly to this mythical tale, the exhibition seeks to cover a broad range: using paintings from antiquity, the Renaissance, Mannerism, the Baroque, Classicism, the 20th century and contemporary art, the exhibition offers an introduction to the complex area of the forbidden glimpse and of erotic art. While delighting in the subject, the exhibition nevertheless maintains the necessary respect for this fascinating and difficult subject.

I may have shared this before, but please allow me to reiterate: I am not a cultured" person. I ain't got no fancy
knowledge 'bout art, history, theatre or whatever, but maybe that makes me more of a statistical control. I don't have so much experience with the subject, giving me a more objective opinion. Maybe?

So anyway, I really enjoyed this exhibition. I was a little worried about feeling awkward or offended by some or most of the pieces, but it wasn't that way at all. There were a lot that I found very touching and many others that were just beautiful, interesting and generally asthetically pleasing. It was also nice to see it with a friend; there were some paintings, photographs, sculptures where we said to each other, "Now what's this all about?" and we tried to sort it out amongst ourselves. My friend was more well informed in art and culture than I and was able to recognize the names of certain artists (for example, Edvard Munch) and tell me what else they were known for. That was just another aspect about the visit that made it all the more interesting.

If you like, here are some other paintings that were featured in the exhibition.

The friend that I went with is from Neuss, so when she drove me back home, I invited her in for some dinner. She's vegetarian and thinking about going vegan. I'd just gotten some bok choi, bean sprouts, hoisin sauce and soy sauce all for €3 at a local asian food shop (and dudes, they sell maramite there! that's for another time, though). So I fried that up with some eggplant and tofu and it was heaven. The End.

EDA: And, just some food for thought: I picked up a book of "erotic photography" the other day (actually, like, two months ago, but whatevs) and in there was a quote from some famous dude. While I don't remember the dude, I do remember (maybe not verbatim) what it said, "Erotic photography reaches the line, pornography crosses it." Something to keep in mind when evaluating a presentation of artwork such as this.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I think that my German has been getting better. In my class the other day, we had a short test so the teacher could see how we were doing and I got everything right except for this one sentence with the dreaded trimmbar verb, kennenlernen. That one can go fuck itself, though, as far as I'm concerned. Anyway, I'm kind-of proud of myself because I do pay attention and take care to use the correct article, declinate my adjectives accordingly, expand my vocabulary (that bit's coming around pretty slowly), get the right order of the subject, verb and object in every sentence and... alright everyone probably tries to pay attention to those things, but I have as well and I believe that it's paying off. So, progress = positive. Yay!

On a similar note, a story about me and Simon:

Simon (okay, a short digression: some people don't use their kids' names in their blogs. Instead they write S. instead of Simon, for example, to save the kid's identity from internet creeps. Sometimes I wonder if I've made a poor decision in not previously considering this option. Thoughts?)... so, Simon and I were playing foosball downstairs yesterday. I always let him cheat in that I allow him spin the players 'round real fast rather than forcing him to always keep contact with the handle that spins them. Other than that, I'm a bit of a stickler to (for?) the rules, mostly because Simon is a poor loser; and on this day, I was winning by a large margin. My thought is that it's a good lesson for him if I choose to behave like someone his age would, like the outcome of the game actually matters to me. So he started getting pissed off and insisted that some of my goals shouldn't count and I wouldn't have none of that.

Eventually, we decided to go upstairs and play Monopoly instead. During that game we had another disagreement wherein I genuinely thought he was making up another rule so he could keep some high ground in the game. (I must also add that Simon was extremely tired from staying up late -'till almost 11!- doing Sankt Martin stuff the day before and he also woke up early and had a long day playing with his friend, going to gym class, eating too much candy, etc.) We ended up having this long talk about it and I wanted to compromise, but not give him exactly what he desired. It was just a game after all. That's what I told him. And finally back to the point of progress: I couldn't help but wonder if we would've had such a big problem if our communication was in English or if my German were closer to adequate. It turns out he was right about the rule, though. I felt kind of like an ass, but hopefully I'm an ass whose heart is in the right place?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thumbprint Cookies: an erotic masterpiece

Simon, his friend and I made cookies today. They're from Vegan with a Vengance and, per usual, taste orgastic. There's peanut oil in 'em. One wouldn't think that'd work, but it totally forking does. I used strawberry and apple jams. I taught the boys how to say "strawberry" in english and they really couldn't manage.

We used to bake these in The Blue Chair in Sewanee. More often than not it was a plain sugar cookie kinda base with strawberry jam in the middle. I always thought that they looked like vulvas.

I'm a blogging champion of late.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sankt Martin

Last night was Sankt Martin. The kids come 'round the neighborhood with little lanterns and knock on your door and WAIT. Get this. They sing you a song!! Simon sung it for me this morning; it goes something like: The stars are up high in the sky/ and we have our lanterns down here./ We're going around to ask you a question/ and we hope that you'll be there. Now it's like remembering a dream and the harder I try to remember, the more it evades me. I'll attempt to persuade Simon and his friend to sing it to me again later.

Back to that evening: The boys in the photo sung (sang?) their song and I stood in the doorway with an expression on my face like I'd just dropped a ton of ecstacy and came across a herd of unicorns. When they finished, I held out the appropriated bowl of candy because Sankt Martin is kinda what the Germans do instead of Halloween. They then obliged to a photo for this American tourist. Aren't their lanterns great? Aren't their faces adorable?

For someone that insists she's never going to put her overies to any use, I certainly obsess a good deal about all the cute things that children do. You have no idea how much I think about good names for kids either.

Why Sankt Martin? The dude was apparently a Roman soldier and later became a monk. He shared his cloak with a beggar during a snow storm and then dreamed that he'd been sharing it with Jesus. Jesus appreciated the gesture and somehow that brought Martin down the immortal road of sainthood. In some obscure way, that ends up translating to nominating a day where kids can walk around a neighborhood with paper lanterns and ask for candy. Hi! I'm Rachel, queen of butchering biblical stories.

Tennessee is soooo purty

My mother took these photos the other day. One is taken on top of the plateau and the other from down in the valley. I'm guessing that the valley is Hawkins' Cove? The one looking off the bluff is right by a convent close to my house. I've been to quite a few weddings there. As in the priest usually stands on that grassy part before the rock starts. It's even more amazing in person.

I used to walk or run out there in the afternoons and every time it was difficult to turn away to go back home. Euroland is great, but I never find myself so enraptured by such an overwhelming, simple, natural beauty as I have back home. It'll still be there when I go back for a visit, though.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My friends can cook and photo edit!

Amanda found this baby on a website and suggested we make it for family dinner over the week-end. I guess because she was curious about cassoulet. See, she was in Paris recently with her host father and he took her to this one restaurant where they're supposed to serve the best cassoulet, like, evah. But sadly, cassoulet is a Christmas dish, apparently, and even though the Germans are already all over the Glühwein and Strödelkuchen*, I guess the French are not quite ready for that holiday spirit.

So, cassoulet is normally a really meaty dish, but this one is vegan and got everyone's approval; even Amanda's despite that Timo (Himself?) snuck tofu in. Mmmmm... tofu. What we all noted was that it was so nice and simple. I think that I often try to make the tasties that I put in my mouth a bit too complex. This change to a more lucid palate was pleasant.

And please excuse that dreadful photo. One of these days I'll get a camera with a manual focus so we can all look at what I want you to look at. In the mean time, we'll make due and look at how that website's version of a cassoulet totally schools ours. Props to Timo on the photo editing.

*I have no idea what the actual name I'm searching for is. Someone wanna help me out?

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Tip Tip Top

I had another splendid week-end. Instead of boring you with all the minute details, I'll tell you my top five favorite things that happened.

1) I got to see a friend's band play a little gig. Socially, though, it was kind-of strange and awkward, but that's another story. It was a worthwhile experience overall.

2) On Saturday I met with my American girlfriend in Aachen and we just had a nice, simple afternoon. Oh, and I drank a lot of coffee. Aaaand I put on this eyeliner and it was such a pleasurable experience, you wouldn't believe.

3) Feuerzangenbowle. It's a super alcoholic winter beverage that invovled fruit, red wine, rum and huge ass hunk of burnin' sugar. There's a tradition at the Aachen university to make that, get pissed and then go to the uni theatre to see this old, crappy, black and white film about students making that same drink and getting pissed. We skipped the movie part.

EDA: here's something on wikipedia about it!

4) An all-vegetarian chinese restaurant with seitan on the menu and cans of soymilk in the cooler. I went there with a vegan friend and we talked about how all her lesbian friends are turning straight and discussed our favorite vegetables. Also, the people working at this little place were insanely adorable; I could've pinched their cheeks until they bled.

5) The ballet! Me and my vegan friend had been trying to see one together for ages and it finally worked out last night. Even though we got lost trying to find the restaurant, our tram was late and we were hopelessly distracted by sexually aggressive primates in a shop window, we made it, albeit slightly tardy. When waiting with the usher for the opportune moment of entry, I felt like I was in school again and in very big trouble for being truant.

The ballet was about Hans Christian Anderson and some of his stories coming alive and manipulating his life, etc. My friend told me beforehand that this ballet had gotten bad reviews, so I went into it expecting very little. I ended up really adoring the entire thing: costumes, choriography, the stage, lighting.... Afterwards, though, I had to admit to my friend that I wasn't able to completely follow the plot. She told me, "That's the ballet for you. The storylines are always weak and people think there's more to it than there really is." Now this girl is cultured, I thought.

pictured: from the Deutsche Oper am Rhein website.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Vegan Hardcore: Headache or Elation?

This is a genre of music that, I must admit, have not yet been able to grasp. Back in the day, I knew a vegan kid who listened to vegan hardcore. I had a huge crush on him, but lacked the mohawk and vegan tattoos that'd generate any sort of sex appeal in that community. Fuck 'em.

I was listening to this vegan hardcore band this morning: They're cool, but I'm still not feeling it.

I also used to be aware of this vegan straight-edge punk band who'd dress up like pirates and have a keg of root beer at their shows. I forget their name. I think it was a Chicago thing. That was a pointless story, but at least you now know that such a thing can indeed exist.

Speaking of hardcore, straight-edgers and punk, here's Sarah Kramer showing us how to make chocolate chip coconut cookies. I'm making them for a friend's party in Aachen this week-end. I didn't have chocolate chips, so I subbed cocoa powder instead. It made them not so sweet, which suits the Germans' taste a bit better and mine too, actually.

Today I discovered the coffee in the house and am procrastinating like crazy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

And the winner is...

It's no secret. I hate the news. I make a point to avoid it. But when I check my email in the morning, various headlines are hurled at my eyeballs by Yahoo. Today's contained the words "landslide," "victory," "black," and "president." Rather than immediately click on the Inbox icon, I stared at the photo and its caption for a moment, my mouth likely agape. I really thought, very briefly, that it was a link to an Onion article. That goes to show how little faith I had in my fellow Americans. Honestly folks, good job. I didn't think you could, but you did it.

This isn't much of a blog post, so I'll add on some pumpkin-y things later.

Friday, October 31, 2008


It's Halloween! and I'm not excited about it at all. I've gotta admit, after going vegan, this holiday stopped being so fun. Reeses, Snickers... no more. And here, people don't do the fun costume parties or anything.

This evening, I'm going all the way out to Bielefeld to see a band that my friend Catherine wants to see. That's their poster there on the left. And they really do dress like that on the stage. So hey, that's almost like a real Halloween.

When I picked Simon up from his final painting class (which he abhors) today, I asked him, per usual, how it was and he responded, "Good!" "Really?", I asked, somewhat surprised. Then he realized the mistake he'd made and corrected himself, "No! It was bad! Really bad!" Whatever. We've signed him up for the next one that begins in January.

EDA: The Disco Biscuits also have this really cool song called "Astronaut." you should listen to it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Learnin's from Euroland

My friend Amanda did the same thing on her blog not too long ago. This is in no particular order, ok?

  • I prefer fiction to non.
  • Silence is valuable.
  • Baking is almost never healthy.
  • I do NOT like the news.
  • How to take care of myself. To rest when I need it.
  • Anger doesn't help anything.
  • I prefer complete independence as opposed to any kind of dependence.
  • Cooking for one.
  • I hate the disco.
  • Friendship is really important.
Hmmm.... Amanda's list is a lot better. She compares how things are here to the U.S. a bit more. I'd like to, but I forget too much about it. My list seems a little bleak. Like, "cooking for one." But cooking for just yourself is really fun because you can put as much nooch or whatever in what your making and you don't have to care what anyone else will think of it! And it's also funny that I say that anger is no good, then go on to profess my hatred of the disco. But really, it's best to stay clear of those places.

Okay, maybe you can take a momment to pause and reflect upon what you've learned in the last year or whatever. How to divide fractions? Gardening skillz? How to really piss off your sibling? Feel free to share.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Yes or Dried Tofu Knots

In Cologne yesterday, I had a killer find at a random asian food shop: a bag of "dried tofu knots" for 99 euro cents. Your guess would be as good as mine when trying to imagine what sort of texture and taste this packaged food would aquire after rehydration. I boiled them for about 10min in vegetable bouillon and then sprinkled them with soy sauce and brown rice vinegar. Result: Tasty! and also quite chewy.

Of course I double-checked the label that it was vegan. Ingredients: soy beans, water. Well, I suppose that is what tofu is made of, but should we still be calling these buggers tofu knots? It reminded me of an argument about stem cell research or the likes that I'd heard in my philosophy 101 class from back in the day. But before we go there, let's talk about Yes.

Yes, Yes. The pop rock hit from the '70s that kept going until no one was too sure what was actually going along anymore. How much was the band Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe? Was it still Yes despite the departures and returns of many a guitarist, keyboardist, bass player...? What makes them Yes? How can these knots remain tofu? I'm no guru. I've only just compared tofu to another British progressive rock band.