Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Naked!

I am in a cheap internet cafe, feels more like Turkey than Hamburg, with the dialects and decor (they sell hookahs here too!). It has been a whirlwind the last week or so. I have been in Hamburg during the week, and then back to Stuttgart for the weekend. Last weekend, we drove to a spa resort town on the French border, in the North of the Black Forest, called Baden Baden. BATH BATH in Deutsch. Its a cool town, main industries are cleaning tourists and taking their money in the casinos, but the town itself is very French Riviera looking and is pleasant enough. It was especially pleasant after 6pm when all the day trippers went home. We had a great Italien meal for dinner and wandered aroudn the town. The next day we had our first Thai meal since being in Germany. Our hotel had a mineral bath spa and pool, which Mazyie loved, and we also enjoyed the spa and foot washing station and misting room that was in the hotel. 

One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Baden Baden was to take part in the traditional Roman baths that they have here. The one I went to, called Friedrichsbad, was built 130 years ago... to be indentical to the Roman baths that once resided here back in the good ol days. It is an all naked deal. And on sundays, when I went, it was mixed. Dont worry I didnt see any women that would make things uncomfortable in the nether reagion hahah that joke was for you Jenna. Jenna didnt want to go, her American insecurities said ``hell no!`` so she watched Mayzie, while I roamed in my birthday suit for 2 hours through 15 rooms of varrying water, steam, and air temperatures (plus a scrub down massage kinda thing from a guy who has a sister that lives in Corvallis), with the finale being an ice cold water plunge. One room was 68degrees C (160 degrees F!) . That is inhuman. I could hardly breath. They wrapped me in huge warm towels afterwards, and it was invigorating. Havent been this clean since I was born! I think I had said this before when we got the scrub down in Turkey. This was comparable to that, except I was naked this time. There were a few other naked men around but it felt fine and not uncomfortable at all. I think I am a natural naturist haha. So Euro of me! A cool experience, one that I had to have some balls to do, and one that I had to show them off abit haha.

On the way back to Stuttgart we stopped at an alpine slide. You know, you sit on a small wheeled carriage sled thingy, have a hand break in front of you and whizz down the hillside on a steal track. For €4.50 Mayzie and I had the ride of our lives. The ride down wasnt the scariest part, either. We sat on the sled at the bottom and an attendent attached a ski lift wire to the back of our sled and this thing dragged us up a VERY steep hill to the top, where we got off and got back on our sled to ride it down. It was intense and something that would not be up to code in teh US. I dont have the pictures here, but it was technillogically primative and a bit scary. Bit the ride down was awesome and Mazyie was yelling for more speed. Glad she digs this kind of stuff.

So back to Hamburg this week, for 2 weeks this time, because I am attending the world famous Wacken heavy metal festival, north of Hamburg this weekend. I had planned this festival for awhile, so I am glad it all works out with work and all. Sucks to be away from home for so long. I am doing some more Airbus training this week, so our project should be full force next week. So I looked at that apartment in the countryside and we will take it! Its kinda dirty inside so it was hard to tell how big it all was, but it will be perfect for us. Huge backyard with treehouse and swingset, very beautiful surroundings. We will move in there on October 1. Until then, my work is finding a furnished place for us in town. I will be back in Stuttgart on August 7, and on the 9th we will all drive up here. So it begins...look forward to the new adventure of the adventure. All of our stuff is being taken by a moving van on the 18th of August, so its all happening quickly.

Yup, a crazy week of flying, naked, apartment hunting, Hamburgy, hotel-y madness.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

In the Middle of Difficulty, lies Opportunity

I think Einstein said that.

Thought I should post an update of what has been going on. I am up in Hamburg now for the second week in a row. Been flying back to Stuttgart on the weekends. The bad news is being away from Jenna and Mayzie, but we have full intentions of getting them up here as soon as possible. The good news is that I have a real job, and that it is interesting, and I will actually be learning something new. I am excited to be doing some Aerospace work, I have always been interested in how airplanes work, but for some reason, most of my engineering has been on the automotive side, so I am eager to learn as much as I can. Specifically, I am working on a project for the Airbus A350, which is a new plane (it has an extra wide body) that will rival the newest Boeing 787 plane, and is set for launch in 2013. I will be working onsite with a 3 man team, at Airbus, designing the hydraulic system (hoses, fittings, brackets) that supply the rear cargo door, the rear rudder, and the rear flap on the tail (called the elevator). Oil goes through these hoses at 5000psi! If the pace of work that I am doing now is any indication, this project will be pushed back by a few years. Lets just say that the gears of one of the largest companies in the world grind very, very slowly. In the past 2 weeks, we are still waiting for computers, passwords, and Airbus authorization to begin the project. But the deadlines do not seem to be moving, so we will be having to work quickly once all the approvals go through. Seems like everything needs to be requested, even moving some desks around, badges, oh man, things go slowly. The chain of command is Anaconda -size. But, it will be good once we start. Lots of waiting around right now. The project is expected to last 6 years, with the majority to be 1 year, at least. Of course, we won't be staying that long, but I am glad that this is something that will last, and will allow us to feel settled and to get in a grrove.

I am looking at an apartment tonight, that a lady at work told me about. She lives in this quaint, historic village, 15 mins drive South from the city and she has a neighbor that is moving out of the ground floor of a house, and will be renting it out. I drove out there last week, and the area is beautiful. Flat, perfect trails for bikes, countryside, thatched roof houses, brick houses, horses. Near to the train station, grocery stores, kindergartens, and it has a huge backyard. So I am hoping the the inside is as nice. The only problem is that it is not available until the end of September. My work said they will find us a furnished place until then, so that the family can move up. I will find out more tonight as far as dates go, so I will update.

Hamburg is a very nice city, and I am looking forward to showing Jenna and Mayzie around. I think they will like it. There is lots of water around, and it is more spacious than Stuttgart, and it oozes culture and diversity..I even saw what looked like a legitamite Vietnamese restaurant. Not even one piece of schnitzel on the menu!

Better Watch Out!

Back in Portland, when you ride the MAX light rail, the ticket checkers are very obvious---usually wearing bright orange vests and looking like cops. If you happen to not have a ticket (sometimes you dont have time to get a ticket, or you have to run for the train, or the machine is broke) and you see these guys, no big deal. Step off at th enext stop, by a ticket and get on the next train. In Germany, these dudes are undercover. You will have no clue that they are checking tickets, until they are right on you, asking to see it. Regular clothes, regular looking people, only a fanny pack on, to take your details and your money. I havent been caught yet, but there are a few times when I did not have a ticket. It is amazing to see the ticket guy walk through the whole train and not bust one person. Everyone buys tickets, all on the honor system, imagine that. The fines are 40euros in Stuttgart and I think they are 60euros in Hamburg for not having a ticket, so I guess that is scary enough. I bet 20% of the MAX riders dont have tickets.

I love to J-walk as much as the next guy. I don't like having to stop when I am on my way somewhere in any city, and if there are no cars around, I will walk right through the red hand. It feels like its the only law I break, so I do it with pride. In London it was easy, in Portland, it was easy, and in Asia, nobody cares anyway. Not here though. Even after 7 months, I still have not figured out how the crossing signals work, they are seriously complicated. Sometimes there are 2 sets of signals, with a rest area in between the 2 lanes. One will turn green, and the other will stay red, so you must stop in the middle. Why are they not both green? Sometimes, all sides of the intersection will have a green man at the same time! That is crazy. Every intersection is different. I have waited at a corner with a group of people, no cars around. I was so tempted to cross, to DEFY THE LAW, but I also felt the German Pressure (the GP), and have no doubt I would have been scolded if I crossed. Like I have said before, inside every German is a Policeman. I think Mayzie is turning more German than us, because if the signal turns red while we are crossing, all hell breaks loose--''Nick, it was red!! Why did you do that? It was Red!!!!'' ''Yes, Mayzie, I know''. Geezus! But, I digress. So, if you are in Germany, go ahead, try to cross through the red man, you will probobly end up scolded (maybe by Mayzie while you are baby sitting!) or worse yet, dead.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

On Top of Europe

I want to write about our time in Murren but I really do not know what to say. My vocab skills are lacking...so I will post this video of Mayzie. We took a venicular above Murren and did some walking around there, it blew my mind. In a place where every corner you turn can blow your mind, we managed to find this valley. The weather was perfect (it completely POURED a few hours after this) and we found a trampoline in the fields next to a restaurant up there (you will always find someplace to eat in Swtitzerland...this makes it seem like there are lots of people around, but it was very quiet up here). Mayzie did some jumping and we enjoyed the serenity and beauty. I COMMAND ALL OF YOU TO COME HERE ONE TIME IN YOUR LIVES!!!! Bill has travelled a bunch and he said that this is in his top 3 favorite places he has been, so that made us feel good about coming up here. For people travelling Europe, the tendency is to hit the big cities and the cultural things, while the Alps are overlooked. Trust me, pictures do not do it justice.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy 6 Squared

Dear Jenna,

Today you are 36. It has been a pleasure to celebrate your birthday with you since the 22nd one. Of all the years we have been together, I think the days surrounding this birthday are the most stressful. There have been some good ones---we celebrated your 29th birthday on board a boat off the coast of Southern Turkey where a cake was hand delivered from a small row boat to our boat, we drank in pubs for many of them, hiked for a few, camped for a few, enjoyed the peacefulness of our farm in Terrebonne, and we visited Victoria last year. Most of them we were surrounded by friends (at least they were close), and that is the difference with this one. I know you are lonely and you feel like our time in Germany has been like pushing "pause" on your life. The things that are most important to you--family and friends, and commradarie amongst co-workers and other mellow, friendly people, to be challenged intellectually and stimulated by your outside envirnoment...well, none of these criteria are being met right now. Of course, these things are very difficult to control, and I felt going into this Germany thing that we would be both be happy--me with travelling and seeing new things, and you with meeting interesting people and being in a new interesting place. I feel very guilty about your unhappiness, and I am sorry that it turned out this way. It is not enough for you to just be in a new place--you are attached to family and friends more than I am. I really didnt understand what that meant until now. It seems we have always been surrounded by a support group, but now we are not, and it shows. You are not the Jenna you want to be right now. But I feel helpless, like this whole adventure is laying on my shoulders....it is up to me if it succeeds or not. I am pushing and pushing, not knowing when to give up my dream of living in Germany. I know now that Germany is not the country for us, and I doubt 10 years here would cure that notion. But I find it very hard to give up and go back to Portland right now. So here we are, at a stalemate. No stability, hardly any money...a situation we did not want to be in. I start my new job on Monday, up in Hamburg, away from you and Mayzie for 4-6 weeks, the last thing I wanted to happen. We will move up there probobly, but it will be more of the same. We will not be any happier up there. It is still Germany.

I don't know what I want anymore. I know that I want you to be happy, so something will need to change. I do know that I love Europe and am thouroughly enjoying travelling around, but you are much more important to me than that. I know we have talked this topic to death, there needs to be some action...but I have no idea what that will be. It's almost like I have no control. The practical side of me wants to stay here and make it work because of the investment we have made--furniture, car, paperwork, etc. and the fact that this was my dream for so long. The emotional side is ready to throw the towel in so that we can be happy again, in a more stable environment, because I am tired of feeling like this. But is that in Portland, or where? I think it would help if you are working (in an english speaking country) so that new friends can be made. So...England again, Oz, NZ, or where? Who the hell knows. Seems overwhelming trying to get all the paperwork done and to push you to move somewhere else when you would rather be back in Oregon. But if we can be patient, we can do it any of this fairly quickly.

This is by far the biggest test our relationship has been through in almost 15 years. But I know that the whole cliche "what doesnt kill us makes us stronger" thing will apply when we look back on this in a few years, wherever we are. I know that we are a great team and we can get through this bout of temporary craziness.

I love you more than ever and hope my tendencies to push push push to make things happen and work in my favor don't push push push you out the door.

Nick

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Teacher/Parent Meeting

Today was our first ever teacher/parent meeting at Mayzie's kindergarten. Jenna and I sat down with Mayzie's teacher Simone at the little table, on the little chairs, just like the kids do. It felt a little weird and awkward at first, like we were in trouble, but it was informative. Simone speaks enough English to get her point across, and we speak enough Deutsch, that we only needed the German-English dictionary for a few words. The meeting started off with Mayzie's history--"how was the pregnancy"--huh?, "how do your parenting skills differ from eachother"--Very different haha, "what are Mayzie's favorite things"--candy and TV, "does she get sick alot", "how do we discipline", "what are your favorite things about Mayzie", "what are your least favorite things about Mayzie" ....kinda like a job interview for a summer camp counselor or something. She later told us that this information will be passed onto any other kindergartens we may go to, so we wont have to do this everytime.

The part we were waiting for was Simone's observations and assessment of how Mayzie is doing. Mayzie does not hang out with any girls...she doesnt really play pretend or dress up too much, would rather be outside running around playing with the boys, or playing with blocks. She has two friends there that she constantly hangs out with, Finn and Fayn. Finn hasnt been there all this week and we found out that he moved to a different kindergarten so that he can stay there all day, since his parents both work, so now Mayzie has one friend, Fayn. Fayn hits kids alot and doesnt speak any German, so unfortunetly he is not the best playdate for Mayzie, but she likes him. Mayzie is on the dominating side, so she picks friends she can boss around. Simone told us that Mayzie hits kids sometimes also, not too much, but that she does. When Mayzie gets in an argument, she does not back down easily, and when other kids argue and fight, Mayzie will be right there telling them to stop it and telling them to be quiet. So she likes to be in control of all situations. Mayzie loves to sing and she is a good listener. She joins in very well with the group and gets along with all of the teachers. Simone was impressed with her Deutsch skills and said that Mayzie is fitting in well and said that the things that are bad about her are OK, but that we should know.

So thats that. Nothing we werent aware of already, really. She has always been agressive and strong willed. I like the independent part, but that could also lead to being overly strong towards others, which is no good. She is observant and learns from the other kids' behaviour, which is how she is learning hitting and Deutsch. Raising a 3 year old amongst a stressful and fluctuating environment like we are in is not the most ideal situation, but we need to try and stay aware and balance her out.

So to the dungeon she goes!

She looks even more like a boxer, with her first black eye! She hit her head on the sink at our hotel in Murren, barely cried and this is what she has to show for it:

Monday, July 6, 2009

Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau

3 days in the Lauterbrunnen valley. Hiking, eating expensive food, hiking some more, seeing the most beautiful alpine setting possible. Glad to show this area to my mom and Bill...I think they loved it as much as we do. Already planning on going back when we are rich haha.