28 May, 2009

A Ducky Reunion



We just had a barbecue last night for the European soccer championships... So much fun.

Most people were watching the game so the five of us that didn't care sat on the terrace chatting in English! I hadn't realized how long it had been since I had spoken English with a group of more than three people. Get three Germans together and it’s hard to keep the conversation in English.

Here’s a question for you, when you say you are going backpacking in Oregon, what does that entail? We had a semantics debate last night. It was so bad I had to pull the "Hey! Who's the native speaker here? “ which of course didn't work. Here, backpacking means taking a bunch of gear on your back and city hopping via trains. I explained that backpacking also means camping and hiking in the mountains, but apparently that's just a 3 day hike. As I write this I realize what a silly debate it is. I assure you that it was gravely serious last night.

There are so many things I have saved up to write about in this blog, and every day I think "Ooh I still have to add that stuff about how amazing and powerful I thought Versailles was and that all of my photos were taken on a disposable camera because my digital's battery died in Paris. I also have to remember to write about Philipp meeting me for 20 minutes at the train station in Manheim when I was coming back from Paris, seeing the original "Disney castle", how much fun I am having working with Isa in the office, the first Barbeque, and planning weekend adventures with my roommate Birgit.”

And there is so much more to tell about how things are changing here, or more specifically how I am changing here. So many good things are developing from the little challenges I bump into each day. And with such a great distance from my life in Oregon I can reflect more clearly on how I dealt with daily challenges at home and how I would like to live differently in the future. But, the best part is that I am living in a real life dream come true.

The thing about a real living dream come true is that you start to think that all your dreams are possible. And you begin to dream even more than before. Life becomes optimistic. And you think, if this dream that seemed impossible, impractical, and almost impertinent in the face of life’s rules was in fact exactly the dream that was meant to be my reality, then what other dreams have I set to the sidelines that are indeed exactly the things I should pursue even if they are unexpected and unconventional. Especially when placed in the context of the world I chose to live in for the 26 years prior to this one.

I didn't believe I could live and work in Germany when the idea first crossed my mind 4 years ago. I didn't believe it when I found out that other people were already doing it (Jeff was working in Germany in landscape architecture and didn't speak German). I also didn't believe it when I took a class 2 years ago to teach English as a foreign language so that I could try living abroad. I only believed it when it hit me over the head for the 500th time that the things I thought I was “supposed” to do weren't making me happy at all and that the things I wanted were so much easier to do because they were the right things for me.

Why did I feel so selfish at the thought of following the desires of my heart? I didn't trust those desires yet, challenging them was the best way to be rationally sure as well as passionately sure. Making dreams come true takes time and reflection, and self awareness. It requires living in the moment, while allowing myself to think into the future and trusting that present challenges are part of the process that will take me on my journey that is revealing itself a few steps at a time. I have always thought of my life as the ultimate design challenge, it’s just this year that I have really begun to understand what my design process is.

If life is a path then for me it generally goes like this: sometimes I see the straight path in front of me, sometimes it bends and I can’t see very far ahead, and occasionally I get a glimpse of a part of the path that’s a few miles down the road, I just can't see how long the trail is before I’ll get there. That’s the most frustrating thing in the world! It’s also why I keep walking.

When it’s a straight path I get bored and want to redesign everything around me, when the path is bending and turning its more exciting but I get tired and wonder when I will feel like I have arrived. When I see that glimpse of the future I get excited, scared, and worried and have to remember where I am and that what I am experiencing on the path now will prepare me for the next turn in the most unexpected ways.

This weekend I am going on a three day hiking trip, with a backpack. I’ve never been backpacking before so I am really excited. I have a lot to do to get ready and don’t have time to tell you about the fantastic weekend I had meeting the German Ducks in Tubingen or the crazy collages I am making for a project at work. I’ve never had so many wonderful excuses.

24 May, 2009

Best Day Ever!

Multiple weekend adventures in one grand slide show! See comments below the slides.

14 May, 2009

The Ultimate Slumber Party - Paris Part 2

City lights
Parisian food
a visit to the hair salon
art museums
lots and lots of talking
about boys
a forgotten trashy romance novel
in an adorable apartment
and a great friend
all in Paris.

After a day in Paris searching for travel sized shampoos in every drug store and a stop in a Parisian hair salon for a hair cut, it began to rain.

"The rain will totally ruin my hair." I sighed.
"Oh no!" said Christina, "and we don't have any shampoo!"

Déjà vu - Paris Part 1

On my way to Paris I wrote the following in my Journal:

Here I am on my way to Paris and I have Déjà vu. Stopping at the Karlsruhe Hofbanhof to change trains, I have found myself looking at the train departures board to find the track for the train to Paris. I am intensely aware that it is the same board I stood in front of almost exactly 4 years ago with Alyssa, Steffen and Bernward.

Alyssa and I had just spend a few days of our 3 week " We have Bachelors of Landscape Architecture degrees so lets visit all of our friends in Germany to celebrate - tour" with the boys. Bernward had 2 minutes until his train came and had to run to catch it. We made a quick goodbye.

Alyssa and I had missed our train and would have to wait another 40 minutes or so till the next one that would take us to meet Christina. So, Stephen waited with us and we had a coffee at the bakery next to the train departures board.

Today, I have about 40 minutes to wait for my high speed train to Paris so I am taking a moment to jot down this memory while having a cup of coffee in the same cafe, at possibly the same table as the one where Alyssa, Stephen and I spent our extra half an hour, enjoying each others company and discussing the interesting and surprising experiences of traveling and growing up. And again, like on that day, I am getting on another train heading out to meet Christina.

As I remeber this other trip I start to think about how great is was, how wonderful my friends were showing us around, how Alyssa and I completely nerded out on landscapes, gardens, public squares, pedestrian only town centers, renewable energy and stromwater trenches and I realize something about this trip to Paris that makes me a bit sad. Especially knowing that at the end of the trip I will be seeing Versailles.

Alyssa's not getting on the train with me.