Mind= blown

So, I had hoped that a part of this whole pack-up-and-move-to-Europe thing would be some personal growth and maybe some knowledge gained about other cultures I have yet to experience.

Well, today was the ultimate test to that experience. I think most of you know that I take a language class and I absolutely love it. It’s a private school, with an intensive program to teach you what you need to know so you can go out and get on with your new life in Deutschland (right up my alley). An unexpected perk is that not only do I get to learn from some pretty super awesome teachers, but I also get to meet really incredible people from pretty much all over the world. For the most part, I like everyone that I’ve had class with. Some people of course are more entertaining than others, but I don’t dislike anyone.

Which brings us to today. There’s a girl that sits on the side of me in class. On a basic level, you would think I would connect with her: She’s in her mid-twenties, she’s been married for only a few years and has a son the same age as Oli. Sometimes she has to come in late b/c she has to bring her son to daycare. And then she’ll ask me questions about something she missed.. But, well, y’all know me and my nerdiness. I try to be nice, because I like her as a person, but well, “Don’t freaking bother me when I’m trying to learn!” I can’t help myself, I’m just that student. Anyways, today we had a lesson on German words for weddings. One of our activities was to talk about a wedding we’ve been to (or our own wedding). Of course I go on and on, blathering about my shoes and the dress and whatnots. And then we turn to her. I guess I should preface what I’m about to say with a few basic facts: she comes from the Middle East, and I think she is Muslim- she’s never said her religion, but she does wrap her hair (logical thought process). Now, I like to think that I am very open and accepting of people with different cultures and belief systems. I will never ever tell you that Catholicism is the best or only religion anyone should follow. And you’ll never hear me shout “‘Murica!!!” But I almost fell out of my chair when this woman told me that she had not once laid eyes on her husband before their wedding. WHAT? HUH? Excuse me?

It was at that moment that I thanked the Lord silently that I was born and raised in the South. Not only because I had been taught enough grace and manners that I was able to withhold my reaction internally, but I wasn’t part of an arranged marriage. I’m not going to say that I think an arranged marriage is completely wrong- cultural circumstances, unfortunately, make it difficult for a woman to just go out and find her own man in some parts of the world. But I’ve never known any person who had actually been part of an arranged marriage, much less not even seen a picture of their husband before the wedding ceremony. The concept is a lot harder to wrap your brain around when it is presented right in front of you. Not to mention, I can’t remember the last time my parents ever told me what to do, much less made me do something. I’ve pretty much made my own decisions since I was 17. I worked, I moved out of the house, I had my own car. I dated, I partied (sometimes a little too much, but hey, it was MY mistake to make).

I have a feeling I’m going to hear that stupid game I had as a teenager in my dreams tonight, “It’s time to play Brain Warp!”


If I’m the best-dressed person in the room, we’re all in trouble

So yesterday I shared a post on Facebook regarding baggy pants, and it led to me being called a liar, a racist and a homophobe. If you know me, you know about how absurd that is. I’m pretty tolerant of most people in general and am usually a pretty nice person (I won an award in the 8th grade for being so annoyingly nice). I had heard the story in the post before associating jail-time loving with baggy pants, so I thought it might be true. And since I stole the post from a black guy I know, I didn’t think it would seem racist to some white people.

But I digress.

Instead, I actually think I need to address many more issues I have with people’s style of dress. In the States my biggest peeves were boat shoes and crocs. Mostly because, like their Birkenstock predecessors, they just get grimey and nasty.

But Europe, oh lovely Europe, with your buildings older than my country. The beautiful architecture, the art, the history. You, Europe, have produced some of the greatest and worst fashion trends I have seen to date.

Let’s start with the pros and cons of skinny jeans. Pro: most people have to walk a good bit, and in places like Germany where showers pop up randomly, jeans that hug the leg and don’t drag on the wet ground. Con: some of you have taken the word “skinny” in skinny jeans to the extreme. I really can live the rest of my life without seeing the outline of your patatina, dear. The bottom line: if they cut off your circulation, you need to get a pair at least one size up.

Now, on to the hairstyles that seem to be wildly popular with the younger crowd. The varying assortment of colors I can live with. Not sure how many of you remember my summer of pink hair, but it was a fun and interesting time in which I learned a lot- mostly that guys think if you have an out of nature hair color you must be incredibly wild in the sack. However, the wide assortment of perpetually down-right UGLY hairstyles that I have found here have made me want to walk around with a pair of shears in my pocket. If you can’t style it responsibly, I’ll cut it off and give it to someone who would put it to better use. Seriously- there is one girl in the town where we live that basically parted her hairĀ  just above her right ear and just shaved the rest of the right side off. First, while she isn’t the prettiest girl, I don’t think the hairstyle has done anything to take attention away from her face. Second, in order to maintain the hair falling over onto the left side of her head, she must maintain an awkward position in which her posture is stooped slightly forward and her head is cocked to the left side. If she keeps this hairstyle for too long she may be permanently deformed into the Quasimodo-like stance.

And one more thing- scarves. So chic and so functional. But it is SUMMER now. The temperatures were actually in the 70’s and low 80’s this week. Why are you people still wearing your scarves?????

I could probably go on, but I think I will leave it at this for now. I have met many fascinating people here so far and I don’t want to seem like all I can do is complain. I just needed to vent a little. I must say though, my teachers in the language class are always wearing something cute and they have quite normal haircuts. So I guess they are hope for the rest of the people I see out on the streets.

And this is why we can’t have nice things…

I had a friend/coworker who used to say this every time someone broke a dish at the restaurant we worked at. I use the phrase occasionally in a joking manner. But man, the past few weeks, it seems like this has become my mantra. Maybe there really is an old ghost somewhere in the house messing with us.

Putting Oli’s bed together was a bit of a nightmare. Those things aren’t really easy to put all together in the first place, with having to hold the pieces up in exactly the right position in order to screw them together and having a husband who doesn’t understand this concept. I misplaced the instructions (probably in a box with scrapbook stuff or something). So I was having to figure it out from memory, only this time we weren’t attaching the front rail. Then the pins were to big for the bar that is just supposed to slide in between the two sides. Husband and I tried to adjust it and ended up just scratching up the wood. Lovely.

I think I already mentioned the China cabinet that survived the ship only to be marred during it’s reconstruction in the living room. And my hallway will have to be touched up as it got scratched up presumably with the furniture coming into the house.

A and I managed to not destroy the fridge when we (I) decided we should switch the doors to open from the right. You know, the side that the kitchen is actually on. However, this made us a little bit cocky. I thought maybe we could change the door on the washing machine. It’s a nice little front-loader that we got from a relative. A found a manual online for a similar model put out by the same company. But since he didn’t find the real one, he hadn’t made time to read it. Thus the screws were unscrewed from the plastic latch on the front of the washer. Klink, klink. “Oh no, there must have been bolts on the back of the screws! Ok, abort the mission.” Fast forward one week. We now have the tools needed to connect the washer to the plumbing (we needed one of those little ring things that you tighten with a screwdriver). Everything gets connected and screwed and tightened and plugged in. Turn it on and… nothing. The start light just blinks. I swear I heard a click, but nothing happened. Is the water on? Yep? It’s clearly plugged in. Hmmm… So we finally get online and search for the right manual. Manual says that the blinking light means the door isn’t closed. Hipcheck the door, it’s closed. Well, how does it know that the door isn’t closed? I don’t see any buttons or anything… Oh maybe that what we heard fall last week…

So now I have just resigned to unpack the rest of our things, wait for the bedroom furniture to arrive, call a repairman and drink heavily.