Pizza and puppies

Leaving Düsseldorf was a hard thing to do. After nearly three years, it had really become home. We loved our neighborhood, and we had a great group of friends. The kind you can call up and spontaneously meet for Mexican in 20 minutes. My personal training business was booming, and my Zumba classes were up and running.

But change is what keeps life interesting, so we dislocated an entire clan of dust bunnies, had a bittersweet last pizza at our favorite Italian place, and moved to Frankfurt.

Our apartment, while smaller than the one we had in Düsseldorf, is getting quite cozy. The many windows let in every ray of sun the sky gives us, although I am acutely aware of the fact that we will need a window cleaner to come by one of these days. The balcony is gloriously large and finally allowed us to put our American grill to good use over the warm summer we had. Our various trappings of life have slowly found their places again.

The neighborhood is still lacking as far as human connection goes. Frankfurt is a much bigger and more international city than Düsseldorf. Many of the neighbors are reticent to even say hello, and much of the staff at the restaurants we’ve tried don’t bother hiding their indifference. Although, we have found an Italian place, an Austrian place, and a coffee house that are very promising. I’m hoping that if nothing else works, me wandering around with a stroller when December comes will melt all their hearts. And if not, we’ll just have to get a puppy.

The housewife days of fall

Two of the last messages I sent to Toby while he was off on a recent business trip are quite indicative of how much fun the housewife inside of me is having:

“Already learned Spanish, read some more Beckenboden [pelvic floor] book, wrote a little blog, and enjoyed coffee and blueberry cheesecake at the coffee house. Not bad. Now we’re off to dm [the super Walgreens of Germany]. The excitement never ends!”

“Frankfurt is doing well – warm enough to do ‘yard work’ in a tank top. Patio is clean now and ready for the next rain storm :) Up next, chasing dust bunnies with the vacuum cleaner. Then afternoon coffee!”

I don't even want to think about how many leaves are left on the trees - I hope yard work stays fun....

I don’t even want to think about how many leaves are left on the trees – I hope yard work stays fun….

Barefoot and pregnant

Because I had finally hit the point where I could proudly say I was earning real money, I milked my PT earning potential in Düsseldorf as long as I could. When I joined Toby in Frankfurt seven weeks after he’d already started his new job, there was no doubt I would continue with PT.

I first picked a new gym, no easy task when you don’t have a feel for the market, and started hanging out there. I had the effect of double-bad timing to contend with – first there were all the World Cup soccer games keeping people from the gym, and then it was summer vacation when all Germans take off for a few weeks with their families. Needless to say, it was hard to get a hold of people to train with for that all-so-critical initial contact.

I stuck it out for a few months, always waffling between the positive feelings that my breakthrough was coming any day and the negative feelings that our household income would be better off if I spent more time at the coffee house and stopped paying my gym rent and own health insurance.

In Germany you are required by law to pause your work for maternity leave six weeks before you give birth. For me that would be October. I’ve decided to stop a bit early.

I feel a sense of relief now that the decision has been made. It’s also given us something to laugh about. While I have spent the summer falling (comfortably and of my own free will) more and more into the role of housewife as Toby’s job got crazier and mine never did, I am now officially, full-time “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.”

We just talked the other night about how strange it is that we’ve so easily slipped into these old-school roles – Toby being the breadwinner and me the housewife. I don’t mind. Sure, laundry in and of itself isn’t an inspiring job, but the fact that I’m doing it while baking another human being and the fact that it allows us to relax together for the few minutes Toby has each evening make it worthy of my time.

And, as Toby quoted from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “the man is the head of the house, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.” That’s what I’ll think of if the mundane activities of running a household ever leave me uninspired.

From aliens to alien

Yes, that will make a nice comeback to blogging. Last time I wrote about all the alien street art I’ve been finding in Düsseldorf. This time I’ll write about all the alien but exciting things life has been treating us to. The summary goes something like this:

Toby gets new job; quits old. We get ready to enjoy what we think will be another nine months in Düsseldorf. We find out we are actually moving to Frankfurt in less than two. Clever Christina convinces Toby to take time off between jobs. We travel to Arizona and Mexico for family, sun, and relaxation. We celebrate Toby’s birthday in Munich. His best birthday present and our ultimate Mexican souvenir turns out to be a baby, coming in December. Toby starts his new job. Christina keeps up the PT business in Düsseldorf for a few months. We frantically search for the perfect apartment. Compromises are made, but we find a new place to call home. Movers pack and unpack; chaos ensues. Christina finds a new gym for PT. Germany becomes soccer Weltmeister. Belly grows. Order begins to find its place again. Neighbors are met. A new favorite coffee house is found. Belly grows. We visit family in Arizona for one more dose of desert air before winter hits and baby comes. Christina puts PT on ice for the moment. Lists of things we need for the baby are made. Belly grows. Christina sits down to write again.

Cruise control

I wasn’t a big fan of driving when we first came to Düsseldorf, but I’ve since adapted and have been driving myself around quite a bit. I find it to be a potent feeling of freedom – just me in my climate-controlled box on wheels and the road. As a reward for my assimilation, I promptly received not one but two speeding tickets. I also happen to like the gentle but firm tug you get when pressing the accelerator…

I since have gained a wary respect of the German efficiency with which they keep drivers like me in check. There are radar cameras in enough places, so, aside from those few kilometers on the Autobahn that are speed limit-free, I have become a diligent user of cruise control, to the point of me feeling spiessig, which literally translates into bourgeois but specifically implies the part of the definition having to do with concern for respectable behavior. (did anybody else notice what a German sentence that was? 57 words!)

While the tickets are not expensive and don’t give me points on my record, I’m not willing to be teased by Toby any more than necessary. Besides, those pictures really do look horrible…

20140414 cruise control

Sunny Sunday

Germany is a nation of walkers. Sure, in general, people travel by foot way more here than other places I’ve lived. But spazieren gehen, to stroll or to go for a walk, merely for the walking itself, is an actual pastime, a way to actively enjoy your free time. ‘Hey, want to go spazieren?’

There doesn’t necessarily have to be a destination in mind or even a set amount of time to be spent walking. You just go and see what happens. Maybe you meet some friends, maybe you stop for a coffee, maybe you just sit on a bench and watch the people passing by. The idea is to just be out in the fresh air.

Yesterday was the perfect combination of sunny and Sunday, so Toby and I headed out for a two-hour Spaziergang, walk, along the Rhine in the afternoon sun. We certainly weren’t the only ones! Here are some impressions:

20140105 01 Spazieren

20140105 02 Spazieren

20140105 03 Spazieren

Resolve to dare

Inspiration from Theodore Roosevelt for this year’s resolutions…

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

The value of memories

A new project of mine has led me on a journey through my old photo albums and diaries. What an amusing, eye-opening, and (mostly) enjoyable trip it has been.

While I value the ease and practicality of digital pictures, I miss photo albums. I love the feel of the albums, heavy with memories – proof of a life of fun and adventure, a life worth documenting. Pull one from the shelf and instantly be transported to a different time and place, even a different you. Celebrate old successes. Remember people you maybe haven’t thought about in years.

The accompanying diaries provide a more balanced picture, telling both the good and the bad stories, the everyday stories. It’s interesting to step back into a younger version of myself and see the world through those eyes again. I can see where I’ve grown and where I’ve (stubbornly) remained the same. I cherish these old musings.

I think I will keep a diary again, for my future me. I think she’ll appreciate reading about the good times that made me happy and the bad times that helped me to learn and grow. If nothing else, she’ll probably get a good laugh out of it, and my time will have been well spent.