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.