European Tour: the part that takes place in Europe!

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So anyway, eventually we got to Berlin. Gene’s best friend met us in baggage claim. We arrived around 10 AM and we stayed awake as long as possible…by which I mean we were passed the eff out by approximately 3 pm. Yes, that’s the wrong thing to do but I suck at time changes. And it was a truly awesome nap, by the way. Shortly after the nap, I informed Gene that I would be replacing our yellow quilt at home with a mostly identical setup of the bed we slept in there.

“Okay,” he said.

“I…don’t remember ASKING, sweetie,” I said.

Anyway, here’s the deal. I’m writing a lot about the getting to Europe stuff and other minutiae because our trip wasn’t about seeing the tourist sites (because there are none. Checkpoint Charlie is now literally in the middle of a fancy shopping area. You can get your picture taken with a guy in an Army uniform. I guess Charlie was a real guy. Hmm). Our trip was about hanging out with our friends and their children (our godchildren, in a “in case of emergency” way, not in a “attending your Confirmation” way) and trying to not look like Asshole Americans, trying to order food.

One day, the group of us went to a fancy multi-floor department store (seriously, click on the link and check out the picture of the food hall….yummmmm). Hanging out there for hours was the only thing that I didn’t do that I would have liked to. The place was like Nordstrom on steroids with a 4 star restaurant instead of a food court. Two words: chocolate mousse. I also learned that in public bathrooms you have to tip the attendant for opening the stall door. Maybe it was just the ladies room at the store – either way, I gave her about 3x more than people typically give but it was worth every cent.

Other adventures: went to godson’s preschool to pick up a few times, went to goddaughter’s swim class (entire class in German…), used the video camera to take video of goddaughter’s first haircut (at the kiddie hair salon in the fancy department store, with me sweating bullets that I wouldn’t work the camera correctly, and promising to pay for a reshoot), got lost in the forest behind our friends’ house (a leashless dog park type place, but heavily wooded). Considered giving a German hobo 100 euro in exchange for his hobo dog (poor puppy, cuddled under a blanket next to the human hobo). Ate at a McDonald’s but had to share a table w/ two teenage boys, debated making a MILF joke (but didn’t). Got lost trying to find the Hard Rock Cafe in Berlin but did manage two find two (count ’em, two) gay fetish nightclubs, located within a block from each other. Saw the hotel where Michael Jackson dangled his younger son out a window. (Seriously, Berlin wants a tourist trap to bring in some euro? I think a booth called “Have your picture taken dangling your child/spouse/etc out the window of the Adlon” would be awesome!).

And then, by…oh, let’s say Wednesday, I ended up with the traditional souvenir: a cold. (BTW, know what’s fun? congestion + a steamy swimming pool + German toilet paper in lieu of tissues). (Feeling better now, hooray!)

For my grande finale in Berlin, I door dinged the car next to us at the airport. Luckily for me, someone was in the car to see. Impressively, she did not get out of the car and yell at me in the language of her choice.

And this brings us to Amsterdam. Yeah, we had fun plans, but the aforementioned cold put a damper on things. Thanks to an in-hotel magazine about things to do in Amsterdam, I did learn (sorry for the TMI) that sex and a BJ (sorry) would run a person approximately 50 euro and that a pre-rolled joint would be around 8 euro. Beyond that, Amsterdam is big into adopting homeless dogs, practicing English and not big into selling Chapstick and frisking me in case I was wearing a bra with an underwire from the Al Qaeda collection. Next time we go to Europe, I am definitely advocating we spend some time in Amsterdam. And next time, I’m packing less clothes and better tissues. (My plan is to be able to pack for an entire week in a roll aboard suitcase).

(ha ha ha ha ha, yeah, I know).

European Tour: more yammering

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As I mentioned awhile ago, the trip from Cheesecake City to Berlin had two layovers: Thirty-three minutes in Ohio and an hour in Paris. A rep from Delta told me “No stopping, no shopping” for the Ohio layover. The flight to Ohio actually got there a little early -YAY!- although I did not stop or shop, not even for Toblerone bars the size of tree trunks. Instead, I people watched and tried to guess who was American and who was French.

(It was easy. Fanny packs = American. Dressed like a philosophy professor = French).

(Gene did, however, have to remind me at least once that I was not allowed to spot check passports during the flight. It was a SURVEY, dammit).

The flight to Paris lasted approximately 11 years, during which Gene slept (thanks to sleeping pills that really needed to work better!) and I read (a book called She’s Come Undone, which was awful. Left it in Berlin with strict instructions to read the book or burn the book, I didn’t care which). The plane did not have individual video monitors (jerks!), instead favoring the “monitor every ten rows” approach, which was fine since

A) the movies were The Karate Kid and The Bounty Hunter and

B) the monitor closest to our row was having a seizure and was turned off and

C) the philosophy professor (seriously – grown man in red pants and truly crazy hair) in front of me kept politely leaning into the aisle, blocking my view and

D) come to think of it, my earphones didn’t work anyway.

European Tour: the pre-aftermath

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So anyway. Our trip to Germany. We were invited to visit all the way back at Christmas 2009, and we’d planned to go over the summer, but as I remarked, it is fraking expensive to go in the summer. Plus, I had the old job bankruptcy problem and then the new job and blah blah blah.

It was huge, getting to take a week off from the new job. It was madness at work – one of the payroll partners was transferring all of their clients to our software – so we were crazy busy for weeks. And we still are – I am hopeful that things will calm down by the end of October, just in time for Year End.

About a week before we left, I told Gene that some of my coworkers were not thrilled I was going to be gone during such a busy time (seriously – some of them worked many many hours over the last two weekends). He said I should arrange for lunch to be delivered. The more I thought about it, everyone in the office would be helping our department during this time and that would be a LOT of money, even for pizza or something, so instead I had two dozen cupcakes delivered.

(Big hit, phew!)

Vacation: Briefly, w/ bullet points

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  • Walked in the door about an hour ago.
  • Been awake mostly since midnight Cheesecake City time.
  • Hella tired.
  • Got frisked in by airport security/TSA in Cheesecake City Airport n’ Bait Shop, and airports in Cincinnati and Berlin. Honestly, I may have been frisked in Paris as well but it was around 6 AM Paris time, which is more or less midnight Eastern time and I’d just rolled out of an all night flight.
  • Wonderful trip although Berlin is not the friendliest city in all of Europe. We spent Saturday night in Amsterdam and they were fabulous. Next time I want to spend more time there and at least see the Anne Frank House (arriving at 8:30 PM and leaving at 5:30 AM does not make for a touristy time).
  • Souvenirs from the trip: chocolates for coworkers and assorted other people (self), one authentic German head cold. Currently cannot hear well out of one ear. Wahh.
  • So glad to be home!

    First, we take Cincinnati…

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    then we take Berlin!

    (OK, actually, first we take Cincinnati, then we take Paris, THEN we take Berlin).

    Am I the only one who thinks it is hilarious that there’s a flight from Cincinnati to PARIS? Every time I think of it I imagine the scene in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy walks out of her black and white bedroom into the Technicolor of Oz. Especially since the airport in Cincinnati is technically in northern Kentucky. (BTW, I’m from Indiana, so if I call the mighty Great Lakes region hick-town, I am also calling myself a hick).

    If I haven’t mentioned it, our layover in Cincinnati is thirty three minutes long. It is literally the only part of this whole trip I’m scared about. Well, technically I was worried because I had not heard back from our hostess in Berlin when I emailed to make sure the men had told her we were arriving. But it turns out that they were out of town…. just a little long weekend…in DENMARK. It must be so fucking cool to be in Europe.

    I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to do if our friends couldn’t host us after all (we’re staying w/ them), but I suspected that it would involve a pass on the Eurail. I think I may have been dropped on my head, because I was picturing us backpacking suitcasing our way around, sleeping on trains, etc when, boom! A reply came from our hostess. Whew.

    (And then Gene told me that Leonard Cohen would be in Germany when we were… how tempting to go be Leonard-heads and follow him around!)

    (We may still go see him once…he was in Berlin in August, but that would have been TOO perfect!)

    Things that happened yesterday…

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    Someday I’m going to start a category here called “Things I would have blogged if I had a smart phone”. I imagine that I’ll do this the day before I acquire a phone that will get me to the internet.

    Yesterday’s annoyances:

    1) Got to work early, but later than I’d planned since I was making an early exit and Boss Gwen wasn’t aware of it

    2) Car service I’d scheduled for ride to airport did not materialize. Took hoopty cab to airport, cost more than car service, driven by cabbie who had to be coerced to pick up my suitcase. Tipped said cabbie for absolutely no good reason.

    3) At Cheesecake Airport, sat next to older lady who would not shut up! Ugh, go buy a copy of People and let me enjoy my laptop (and free Wifi) in peace!

    4) Flight from Cheesecake left late, got to Atlanta late (due to weather), 45 minute layover turned into two hours of pacing airport waiting for it to reopen (closed due to weather). Made it to Indiana about 11:30 instead of before 10:00. Mother Nature, phhhhhfffffffttttt.

    5) Seatmate on flight from Atlanta stole my cookies! And was not respectful of the “Keep your damn self on your side of the arm rest!” rule.  Isn’t that a universal rule? If I don’t know you, I don’t want to be touched by you. (Oh and!! when she brushed off the crumbs of MY COOKIES she brushed them onto me! Rude!) (And she took any unclaimed packages of cookies she saw as we exited the plane). (Ahem)

    Good Things That Happened Yesterday (in order of happening):

    1) Dad met me at the airport. It is so nice to be met at the airport.

    2) WHITE CASTLE WHITE CASTLE WHITE CASTLE (I think this is the cheeseburger the LOLcats are after)

    3) Met GWEN my adorable tiny tiny niece. She is SO cute and I will pester the heck out of her with the camera. Once I wake up.


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    Yes, I know how to spell* D-I-L-E-M-M-A. About 40% of the time on Babycenter the word gets misspelled as “dilemna” and it always makes me cringe. Where do these dingbats get an “N” sound???

    So anyway, I have a dilemma. At my new job, I will have 2 weeks of vacation a year (plus sick time and my birthday off). I start the job on 7/19. Gene still wants to go to Germany to visit his friend and his family. How on Earth do I ask for a week off less than two months into starting a new job? What if they say no? And say I can’t have the job after all? And then I end up with zero jobs?

    I know the answer is I should call the HR director at the new company and talk to her about it but I am so very scared. When I had an interview with another company in March, they made it clear that I’d be lucky to have 5 consecutive days off anytime in the next year. New Employer seems more laid back than that but am I pressing my luck?


    *More horrifying, I tried to spell the word “spell” as “spelle.”

    random thoughts…

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    First, I see that WordPress version 3.0 is available. Hold me, I’m scared. Oh, how I hope they will let me upgrade automatically. If this blog disappears sometime this weekend, assume that I had to do the tech stuff myself. Please light a candle for me 😉

    Second, I wonder what Gene plans to cook for dinner. He was in VA but he’s home now (showed up just as I finished making the bed with clean sheets).

    Third, my hives (why do I want to call them scales? or scabies? or rabies?) are recovering remarkably after just two days of Prednisone. Yay!

    Fourth, that means that the hives will not be accompanying me on my visit to Exotic Indianapolis. I’ll be in town from late on the 29th until midday on the 4th. YAY! YAY!!!! I plan to pack an entire suitcase with my Illicit Gymbo Stash (gifting it to Brandy), which means that I will need to buy a new wardrobe once I get to Indiana. Actually, that’s not a bad idea. YAY!

    (And those are the official dates – I finally booked my flight earlier today. Holy Hell, I miss Indiana and its residents and I am SO excited to finally meet Gwen.)

    Travels with Laineyd…

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    Going to Indiana from approximately June 30-July 4. Yay! (However, I am not going to Arkansas as my grandfather’s wife’s granddaughter and her family are visiting right before I’d be there and that’s a lot of stress).

    (I will get to Arkansas, I WILL). (I’m not proud that I have been saying that since 2008). (Also not proud that I am annoyed that my – ?? – step-cousin? – will be there more or less when I want to be there. Not thinking the most charitable of thoughts).

    So, yay! Can’t wait to see my beloved family in Indianapolis in July. And that goes double for my beautiful niece, who I cannot wait to meet!