Exciting times

It’s been a while. A lot has been going on. All good. Where to begin…where to begin…?

We got back 10 days ago from a fabulous trip to Egypt for an escape from the end of winter. Go figure – the day we boarded our plane, it was sunny and warm. Isn’t that just how Life toys with you? No matter though. The five days we were away were just what the doctor ordered – we soaked up the sun, read our books, hung out with Toby’s parents, slept too long, and ate lots of food. Perfect!

When we got back, the sun was still shining. I survived my first Düsseldorf winter (let’s ignore the fact that it was a pretty mild one aside from the two weeks of -10°C weather), and now spring is in full force! While the next few days are forecast to be cold and rainy (just a glitch in the system, I’m sure), it’s turning out to be amazing. The view of the Hofgarten from our living room windows lets us watch the approach of spring. The park gets greener by the day as new trees decide it’s time to get their photosynthesis on. It’s all so fresh and alive, and I can’t help but feel more fresh and alive too.

Another happy side effect of spring and that funny thing known as Daylight Savings Time is that it now stays light until almost 8pm. It makes the day so gloriously long! Toby and I have been taking advantage of it by adding a morning bike ride along the Rhine to our daily activities.

And now for the biggest news – I am no longer a bum. Yes, I have landed a job! I had an interview the day after I passed my fitness trainer test, and by the end of the interview I had a job at one of the local gyms. And all of this within the last four days, mind you. I know, right?!

Now comes the real test – will Christina like her newly chosen career path? Oh, such a big question for a smart girl who’s dumb enough to try to doubt herself….

Exciting times, indeed!

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For a rainy day

Here I go again, talking about the weather. I can’t help it. It permeates every minute of my day, every cell in my body, every fiber in my down jacket. It always has. I just didn’t realize it until I moved to Düsseldorf – while Phoenix has its own weather, it always played more of a supporting role.

In Düsseldorf, on average, no month has less than 14 days of rain. 14 days! Compare that to Phoenix, where, on average, no month has more than 5 days of rain. What was it that Dorothy said about not being in Kansas anymore…?

So, in the spirit of open-mindedness and adaptation, I polled some friends and compiled a list of what there is to like about gray, rainy weather:

  • always having something to talk about
  • drinking coffee or hot chocolate, which tastes even better on a cold, rainy day
  • the wrinkle-fighting benefits of moist air
  • taking advantage of a free bike wash
  • jumping in the puddles with rubber boots (and the kids)
  • the promise of a beautiful, green spring
  • the beauty of big, fat raindrops seemingly made especially for us
  • clean, fresh city air
  • staying home where it’s warm and cozy
  • having a good excuse to stay on the couch on a Sunday
  • going for a refreshing walk in the rain
  • really appreciating a beautiful day when you get one

Touché.

Park bench etiquette

The sun was shining today, so I played hooky for an hour this morning to wander around outside. Armed with my camera and my new Kindle (birthday present from Toby!), I walked to the park to take some pictures of the crocuses and to dawdle a little in the sun. The feel of it on my face was heaven!

But I did come up with an interesting question – what is proper park bench etiquette when it comes to a single bench, positioned ever so perfectly in the direction of the sun, that already has one occupant on it? The older gentleman was sitting at one end of the bench, and I strongly debated sitting myself down on the other end. But, he had his eyes closed and I didn’t want to disturb him, so I wandered a little more and found my own, unoccupied bench, almost as perfectly positioned.

And then I pondered. Wouldn’t his choice to sit at one end of the bench indicate that he was open to sharing his spot in the sun? I’m only concluding this because I’ve seen people sit smack in the middle of a bench – a rather clear indicator of the desire to be left alone. It’s an important consideration due to the fact that when the sun does finally shine here, the people come out in droves to soak it in. I.e., there’s a very high likelihood that my bench of choice will be at least partially occupied.

As with anything related to learning and integrating oneself into a new culture, the best method is probably to observe, mimic, and then adapt the behavior to suit your own personality. It worked for three days of Karneval partying….

Observing myself

Do you ever look at yourself from the outside? Really see where you are? Stump your own psyche with all kinds of deep what’s-the-meaning-of-life-and-the-world questions? My over-analyzing personality makes me prone to this kind of behavior anyway, and with my (im)pending birthday, this lovely habit of mine shifted into overdrive.

I don’t usually get too worked up about birthdays, but for some reason this one has me thinking more. Maybe it’s because last year’s was such a special one. I turned 33 on March 3. 33 on 3-3 – must be magical, right? It did bring an exciting year – married fabulous Toby, had an awesome party, quit my job, sold my house, moved to Germany, jumped careers. That’s a lot for 34 to live up to….

But, before I get carried away on that tidal wave of thought, let me return to the topic at hand. I thought I’d share a few recent observations, things I wouldn’t have been able to say about myself just half a year ago:

  • I think it’s ‘warm’ enough to leave the windows in the apartment open for hours at a time; it’s 48°F outside.
  • I wish it would get cold again so I could wear my super warm, super hot boots some more.
  • I don’t spend enough time with people during the day.
  • I miss my hair dresser, and not just for the good scalp massage and great hair cut but because she had a quirky, refreshing way of looking at things.
  • I spend an inordinate amount of time in my pajamas on some days – have I become a bum?
  • I eat less sweets (chocolate müsli doesn’t really count – it has oats, and hazelnut bits…).
  • I can drink a lot more Prosecco than I thought.
  • I love skinny jeans, but I hate squeezing myself into a sweater with anything more than a tank top underneath.
  • I’ve driven a car no more than 5 times in the last 7 months (and that’s counting the go-kart at the race track).