Sunday, May 30, 2010

Auf Wiedersehen Deutschland!

Tonight is my last night in Germany. I'm really sad. Ko and I got to Frankfurt yesterday and have been having a nice time here. Occasionally I break down, because I remember that I'm leaving the life that I've made for the past two years.

The reality of things didn't really hit me until about Friday afternoon. Until then I had spent so much time worrying about things that I needed to do that I didn't think about everything I'd be leaving behind. It's probably for the best, there was no point mourning the loss of things that hadn't been lost yet. Here's a picture of my apartment on the last day it was mine, and one including Jenny (she came over to help me clean).




I've already said my goodbyes to all my friends (and colleagues) in the lab. Ko is coming with me to the airport tomorrow so I can say goodbye to him there. I'm excited about coming home and starting my new job, really, but I hate this leaving thing. Hopefully my German (and other) friends will take me seriously, and remember that they've always got a place to stay in the US.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

To Do List

Moving out of Germany is tricky. It's a lot like moving out in the US, except

  1. All interactions have to be conducted in German
  2. I have no car
  3. I have to get rid of everything except what will fit in two suitcases.

So in those ways it's a bit more tricky. Here's a brief look into the things that I need to do in the next week and a half.

  1. Go see the Frauenartz for a prescription for "anti-baby pills" (I swear, that's what they're called here)
  2. Make an appointment and go to the dentist
  3. Paint my apartment (scheduled for Saturday - I've recruited a team to help)
  4. Mail packages to US (okay, I sort of lied about the 2 suitcases thing. It's more like 2 suitcases and a couple of boxes)
  5. Close my bank account and transfer remaining money to American account
  6. Go visit the Foreigner's Office to get official permission to stay in Germany, since my flight is one day (!) after my visa expires.
  7. Unregister with the city (i.e., go to the city office and fill out a form)
  8. Cancel my bahncard (train discount card)
  9. Give away all my furniture (I've actually found someone to take it already)
  10. Clean
  11. Do the check out thing with the landlord
  12. Pack

I'm sure it'll all be fine - I've got a week and a half. Plus, everyone is being very helpful - Katha called the landlord and has agreed to come to the check out thing with me. She's also agreed to come with me to the bank. Georg offered to drive me to the dump on Friday. Plus, the painting team will be Jenny, Ko, and Bart (who is arriving from Belgium the day before). And Ko is going to Frankfurt with me, which will be nice (not just because he'll help me with the luggage).

I have realized that the name of this blog will no longer apply once I move to the US. I'm trying to decide whether this means I should

  1. Not worry about it
  2. Change the name
  3. Stop blogging

Okay, that three lists in one blog. Not too bad.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Happy Männertag!



It's possible that you're unaware of this, but today is both the day that celebrates Christ's return to heaven (Christi Himmelfahrt in German) and Männertag (Man's Day). I'm not sure how these two events are related, but the Man's Day part of it means that German men take beer into the mountains and hike and drink. Sometimes the don't really do the hiking part, so the streets of Jena will be FULL of drunk German men today. Did I mention that this hiking/beer drinking thing is an official holiday? Or maybe it's the whole Jesus goes back to heaven thing. At any rate, the stores are closed because people are either drinking or hiding in their houses from the drunk people.

I started celebrating a little early yesterday by drinking a somewhat bizarre mixture of beer and diet vita cola. I should explain that mixing beer with soda is very common in Germany - mixing beer with sprite makes something called a Radler, and mixing beer with coke makes a drink called a Diesel. Both are very nice. I had an unfortunate experience wherein I tried to buy diet coke and my nearby supermarket, but they only had the local brand: Vita Cola. I tried to drink it, but was overwhelmed by the lemon flavor. However, I found that mixing it with beer made it bearable, and gave me the courage I needed to clean out my fridge. Just as an aside, cleaning out my fridge makes me grateful I don't have a particularly acute sense of smell. It didn't occur to me to take pictures of the things I found in my fridge until I was almost done, so here's a picture of a moldy tomato and some fuzzy hummus:



So anyway, the wordiness of this post (and lack of content) is explained by the fact that I've been at home by myself with no one to talk to writing a paper for the past two days. However, I finished the first, somewhat rough, draft an hour ago. Jenny and I are planning on heading down to the city to scope out the drunken revelry in a little while, but she didn't answer the phone when I called. Consequently, I have written this post. And now I will try to call Jenny again. Do you think she's avoiding me?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Picture Update

I'm sure that you've all been wondering how the cake turned out. Quite well, I think. I mean, I did have to add both butter and eggs to the mix, but I think I managed to pull it off. The difficult part was finding space for 32 candles. But I managed it, and even though he's an old man, Ko blew them all out in one breath. Fortunately, that moment has been documented for posterity.


Going backwards in time, we arrive at Charles last night (almost) in Jena. This is the team at Cheers (Jena's American themed restaurant). Charles is spending a short time in Switzerland before starting his postdoc at Harvard. I'm sad, but I'm planning to visit him this summer. I've never been to Boston.


And, earlier that day Jenny and I were fortunate enough to see history being made. In Jena's town square the worlds largest Kloss (a potato dumpling kind of thing) was made. It took 6 or 8 (I forgot) hours to cook. You can see it before it was eaten on Jenny's blog. But this is what was left:



And this is me eating some. That's right, one euro bought something like a pound of potato dumpling. It was pretty delicious. And I'm a part of history.

Enough procrastination. I'm off to clean my apartment.



Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Two Days as a Housewife

I'm not sure if I'm cut out for this housewife thing. This is my second day hanging out at Ko's house while he works. It's a little strange. Technically, I'm finished with work so I thought I'd come spend some time here in Goettingen. Plus, today is Ko's birthday, so I'm celebrating with him.

I still have some stuff to do at the lab in Jena (most importantly, to write a paper before I leave), so I spent yesterday working on that mostly. I also went shopping and made dinner. See! Totally housewifey. The problem is that by the time Ko came home at six I was desperate to talk to someone. I have a tendency to get sort of weird and broody when left to my own devices all day long.

Today I've managed to avoid doing work. About two years ago, Mom gave me 120 Deutsche Marks left over from her 1992 trip to Europe. Since my time in Germany is fast running out, I figured out that they could be exchanged at any national bank branch. Goettingen has one (Jena doesn't). Anyway, the good part of the story is that the 120 Marks were worth €61.36. The sad part of the story is that it took more than an hour to walk to the bank, partly because I walked the wrong way for about 15 minutes. Good exercise, anyway, especially since I walked back, afterwards. Mom also gave me 1000 lire, but I'm not quite sure what to do with those.

On the way back, I stopped to buy a cake mix to make Ko a birthday cake tonight. A good housewife would probably make one from scratch, but as I said, I'm not sure I'm cut out for a life of domesticity. We're also going out to dinner somewhere. I'm going to point out to him that Mom is the one who really bought it, way back in 1992.

Okay, I'm off to bake a cake!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

JOB

The news is: I have one.

I'm very excited. I'm not going to put the name of the school here in case someone stumbles across it and I get fired before I even start for having some alcohol related posts here somewhere. But it's a liberal arts college and a HBCU. If that's not enough information, email me and I'll tell you about it. I start at the beginning of August, and I've been looking at houses to rent today instead of doing work.

Now I need advice - how do you do this sort of thing? They sent me a letter with a salary on it. Am I supposed to negotiate? Also, should I try to get things like moving expenses? I asked if they had start up funds for labs and they said no. I mean, most of the advice I've gotten before seems to pertain to much bigger, public universities. What's the standard in this case?

In the meantime, let's all be excited that I'll have a source of income and health insurance next year. And since the job is tenure track, possibly forever.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

In Which I Justify My Unenthusiastic Blogging

I know that you've all noticed the deteriorating quality of this blog recently. I just can't seem to work up the energy to comment on anything really. For example, just the other day the New York Times printed (by which I mean posted, of course) and article called "Unshaven Women: Free Spirits or Just Unkempt?" and I started working on my rant in my head about beauty standards and policing gender roles (learned that phrase from my sister - can you tell?), but I just couldn't motivate myself to finish it.

And then, yesterday I found the NPR game where you have to match world leaders' names to their pictures. It turns out that it took me 14 tries to get the 12 names in the first game. After that I got everyone. I blame my mistakes on NPR, actually, since radio doesn't help you figure out what people look like. But this is all you get by way of a post about it.

Of course, my favorite topic is the weather, and I've skipped such fascinating topics as "Why the H*** is it still so F***ing Cold Here?" and "The Trees are Blooming Outside My Lab Window: I Think That's Nice."

The reason that I can't bring myself to get motivated to write about stuff is that I'm being crushed by uncertainty. See, Jenny has this friend who seems to be bumming around Thailand studying yoga and posting lots of pictures of herself (wearing face glitter, mostly) on facebook. This sort of thing inspires Jenny to wonder why her life doesn't have more adventure. Not me. This sort of thing inspires me to wonder whether glitter girl has health insurance.

Fundamentally, the issue is that I'm risk-averse. I'm not spontaneous, and I'm only fun in very controlled circumstances. And (just like 2 years ago) I'm in a situation where I don't know what's going to happen in the next couple of months. I think it'll be okay - I have 2 phone interviews next week. Both, as it turns out, are for temporary positions, making it likely that I'll be in this same situation in a couple more years.

There are other issues of course. I'll almost certainly be far away from Ko. Last night I dreamed that I had an interview in Chicago (where he's had a post-doc lined up for months) and I was so excited. In reality, I got two rejections (sent by different people) from the same Chicago college. I guess the really wanted me to know. It's still slightly possible that I could end up there, but only slightly. So we'll have to do the long distance thing (an unpleasant option) or break up (more unpleasant).

And then there's the general issue of making friends and leaving them. Actually, I'm rather tired of this. I come to a new place, start to know people, hang out, become friends - and then I have to leave again. I'll try to stay in touch, really, but I'm not going to get a facebook page so it's going to be difficult. I'm worried that I might be using up my friendliness.

I'm trying to think of a way to end this post, but these same thoughts have been going around in my head, and there's no way to end them either. Well, alcohol or sleeping pills, but that doesn't make sense for a blog. I guess I'll go with the traditional approach.

And they all lived happily ever after.

THE END

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter Weekend: Berlin

In Germany, both Good Friday and the Monday after Easter are holidays. Ko and I decided to go to Berlin. And, as a very early birthday present, he bought me tickets to the opera. Here are some pictures from our trip. This is me out in front of one of Berlin's most famous landmarks, the Brandenburg Gate (or Tor, in German).


Click on it for other pictures, including some of Ko and me dressed up for the opera.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's time you knew...


Also, you have a spider on your face.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Get to know me, 2010 edition

Mom sent this to me today, and rather than ignore it like I usually do, I'm posting it on my blog. Actually, I'm pretty sure I did this last year also. Anyway, here it is. And, if you reading it consider posting it yourself. Or not. Whatever.

Welcome to the 2010 edition of getting to know your Friends. ' press FORWARD then change all the answers so they apply to you, and then send this to your friends including the person who sent it to you. The theory is that you will learn a lot of little things about your friends that you might not have known!

1. What time did you get up this morning?

6:30


2. Diamonds or pearls?

Pearls, not that I own either.


3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

"Men Who Stare at Goats" or, as it was advertised "Männer die auf Ziegen starren (OmU)"

4. What is your favorite TV show?

Whatever I'm watching at the time. Currently, "Star Trek Voyager"

5. What do you usually have for breakfast

An English Muffin with cheese or peanutbutter or something.

6. What is your middle name?

Katherine


7. What food do you dislike?

Boiled Eggs


8. What is your favorite CD at the moment?

Old 97's "Hit By A Train"

9. What kind of car do you drive?

My feet

11. What characteristic do you despise?

People who talk baby talk to non-babies

12. Favorite item of clothing?

hooded sweatshirt

13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?

New Zealand

14. Favorite brand of clothing?

Banana Republic

15. Where would you retire?

Retirement is not even something I can conceive of.

16. What was your most memorable birthday?

I'm not sure, but I'm going to an Opera in Berlin for the next one (30 - yikes!)

17. Favorite sport to watch?

Anything short that doesn't require me to pay attention for a long time. Like bull riding or luge.

18. Furthest place you are sending this?

How far does the internet go?

19. Person you expect to send it back first?

I think Sara T. did it last year.

20. When is your birthday?

May 23

21. Are you a morning person or a night person?

I think afternoon

22. What is your shoe size?

Oh, man! Fine 12.

23. Pets?

Sammy is coming to live with me when I move back to the U.S. But none currently.

24. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us?

I'm going to Atlanta for a job interview tomorrow. And I should be packing instead of this.

25. What did you want to be when u grew up?

An astronaut. What else?

26. How are you today?

Thirsty. Also, forgetful. I left my wallet in the lab this afternoon.

27. What is your favorite candy?

Chocolate and pepperment

28. What is your favorite flower?

Daffodils


29. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to?

The day I get a job. Not actually on the calendar, but whatever.

30. What are you listening to right now?

My itunes on shuffle. At the moment it's a song from Les Mis

31. What was the last thing you ate?

Some of the chocolate cherry cake that Katha made

32. Do you wish on stars?

not usually

33. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

green

34. How is the weather right now?

warmish (60s) and overcast

35. The first person you spoke to on the phone today

Jenny. When I called to ask if she'd bring my wallet home from the lab

36. Favorite soft drink?

Coke Light

37. Favorite restaurant?

Maybe the currywust stand? Or the American Bar. I like french fries. I'm so sophisticated

38. Real hair color?

brown

39. What was your favorite toy as a child?

my yellow blanket

40. Summer or winter?

summer

41. Hugs or kisses

hugs

42. Chocolate or Vanilla?

chocolate

43. Coffee or tea?

coffee

44. Do you want your friends to email you back

sure

45. When was the last time you cried?

Walking down the street on my way to work this week, listening to a book on tape. One of the main characters died.

46. What is under your bed?

shoes

47. What did you do last night?

Started packing, then watched an episode of Voyager

48. What are you afraid of?

Not having health insurance next year

49. Salty or sweet?

Salty

50. How many keys on your key ring?

8

51. How many years at your current job?

Two

52. Favorite day of the week?

Saturday

53. How many towns have you lived in?

5

54. Do you make friends easily?

usually

55. How many people will you send this to?

Don't know, 10?

56. How many will respond?

How should I know?

Monday, March 15, 2010

What Invert?

This is for everyone from Georgia Tech - apparently this video featured at the latest Benthic Ecology meeting. Awesome.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

International Food

I'm at Ko's house tonight. We spent most of the afternoon cooking a mediocre meal and a really good dessert (involving pineapples, whipped cream, and contreau). However it was the shopping that really amused me. It turns out that Goettingen has an international section in the Real (sort of like a German Walmart). More excitingly, there's a USA shelf. I took a picture to document it.


The funny thing is that these are exactly the sort of things you can't find in Germany. I had been explaining to Ko that very morning about poptarts. Also exciting - the barbeque sauce. I tried a German kind and it was so bad that I wasn't brave enough to geth another one. There are a couple of things I'd like to see added though:
  1. Root beer
  2. Salsa that doesn't have sugar in it (actually, the Mexico shelf was directly to the left, but it was entirely stocked with this weird brand of disgusting foods. Trust me, I've tried it.)
  3. Chocolate chips
  4. Mixes to go with alcohol. You know, like margerita mix or sour mix
  5. Black beans and or pinto beans without sugar in them. I know, this should probably also go in Mexico.
  6. Caro syrup
  7. Creamed corn
Okay, that's all I've got at the moment. I'm really impressed by the crisco. The only problem was when I tried to explain to Ko what it is, exactly.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Rhymes with "Hope"

It's been so long since my last post, I've been feeling like this one should be extra super mega great. However, since that's unlikely to happen, I'll just include a bunch of little things that have happened recently. Ready? Okay, let's go.

1. I've had a cold (I told you this post isn't great). I'm mostly recovered now, but I've managed to infect Carsten and Friederike. Hah! So now they're also walking around with tissues.

2. Ko is an uncle as of this morning. His new nephew is named "Joop." I think it's pronounced something like "Yope." According to some research that Friederike did this morning, it's a Dutch version of the name Joseph. However, I don't know why he gets bent out of shape when I mention that my imaginary child's name is Aslo.

3. Carsten told me that New Balance shoes are worn by white supremacists in Germany. Apparently it's because they have a big "N" for Nazi on them. I had no idea, but it's unlikely that I'm going to change. They offer a wide range of sizes and widths.

4. The weather has rewinterized. It snowed this weekend, and apparently it's going to be below freezing for some time.

5. I'll be in Atlanta this month. I have a job interview nearby, and I'll stay around for the weekend of March 27-28. It's not much time, but if I get the job I'll be around a lot more.

Also, sorry about the not so delicate nature of the poll on the side. It's just that Jenny told me that for most people it's at 10:30 at night, but that's not the case for me at all.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Switzerland, 2010

Some of Georg's current lab started with him in at the EPFL in Switzerland. And, because Matt is one of them, almost all of us took a road trip down to Lausanne this weekend.


Here's a picture. Click on it for more. It was a pretty good trip. Charles parents are amazingly nice, and I've never eaten so much cheese. Also, Matt did a really good job with his public defense. He's moved to Lausanne, now, so I think it's goodbye forever. However, he told me I can expect one email per year, so I'm looking forward to that.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Even though this makes me a bad American...

Jenny's been writing about things she likes about Germany recently. And, since tonight is the Superbowl, I thought I'd mention how much I like the fact that Germany is missing certain things that I've never liked about the U.S.

1. American Football. I don't like it. College, professional, whatever. I mean, it in itself is not so bad, I just don't like the way in turns people into lunatics who urinate in public places and keep me from parking on days when I really need to get to the lab. Sure, soccer is bad in Europe, but the scary police officers in the riot gear keep things under control. Plus, the stadium for the Jena team is nowhere near the lab, so that makes things much better.

2. Valentine's Day. This is most likely the stupidest holiday ever. At home you can't escape it, it's everywhere. I've found that it makes me sad when I'm not dating someone, and sadder when I am. I mean, it's hard to get expectations low enough. So I've adopted the strategy of pretending like it doesn't exist, which is much easier in Germany.

3. Drunk Men Yelling Stuff at You. It has nothing to do with how attractive I am, living in Atlanta people yelled at me or honked at me all the time. Here, this doesn't happen. Even when I walk past a crowd of rowdy college boys. Nothing. Okay, at first I felt somewhat unattractive because I wasn't getting the attention, but feeling safe while I walk down the street is more that worth it.

That's all for now. I hope y'all enjoy the Superbowl. I will miss the Superbowl food. Germans don't really understand how delicious a dip can be. Ranch dressing doesn't even exist here. Horrifying, I know.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sideways Windmill

video

From my trip to The Netherlands. I couldn't seem to make it rightside up. But enjoy.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Positive Energy Is Starting To Run Out

Update on Job Search:

Nothing yet. I'm very frustrated and anxious, but more or less holding it together.

Occasionally I get something like this:

Dear Applicant,

Thank you for your interest in our Assistant Professor of Biology position. I regret to inform you that the position has been filled. Although we received materials from more than fifty very qualified applicants, please be assured that each application was reviewed with careful consideration by the entire faculty of the Division of Natural Sciences. Best wishes for a successful job search.

Yeah. Thanks. I didn't want to work at your crappy school anyway.

No word from the place in FL yet, but it's not expected. However, I know that they know whether or not I'm hired. They're waiting for approval from the Provost. It's a slow process. If I didn't get this job I'm going to be discouraged. Just think of this as a warning for those of you who serve as my support network.

On the other hand, there are so many great jobs to apply for. Consider this one:

The Department of Biology at Indiana State University invites applications for a tenure track position focused on the conservation and biology of bats. This position is available at the Assistant or Associate Professor level. Applicants should have a Ph.D. in biology or related area, and demonstrated research expertise in bat biology and conservation. Postdoctoral experience or equivalent is desirable.

All of you bat biologists should look into that. Also, if you're qualified to teach Anatomy and Physiology, I know of approximately 7,000 jobs that you can have. See, I didn't get a PhD in anatomy (or physiology) because I thought that we had pretty much figured that stuff out.

Okay, I'm stopping this now, because it sounds more bitter than I had intended. I think the sun is shining right now (objects are casting shadows, which is unusual for a German winter) so I'm going to focus on that and write some more cover letters.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Things I Don't Understand

One of the frustrating things about living in a country where you don't speak the language is that you have no idea what's going on much of the time.

For example, once Ko and I were standing at a traffic light when some man came and stood really close to me (and Germans stand farther apart from each other than Americans). Then he started to gently stroke the traffic light pole. He had something metal in his hand, so it made a distinct sound each time. I took a step away from him. Up and down, up and down. Eventually the light changed and he walked away.

In another case, I saw a crowd of men dressed as clowns talking to an H & M poster with a pretty woman on it. This may have been a bachelor party, but I can't be sure.

And my apartment building is always putting up signs I don't understand. I try to remember what the words are so I can look them up when I get upstairs, but that rarely happens. The other day I saw something that seemed to indicate something about filming a something, which I assumed I misunderstood, but then it turned out that the next day there was a film crew outside my building. Okay, so I didn't see any actual cameras, but I did clearly see a wardrobe trailer and a catering trailer. And many of the other trailers were labeled with a picture of a video camera. Hopefully my building will end up one TV at some point, so keep an eye out.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Because today is not a holiday in Germany

Also, I'm feeling sort of uninspired when it comes to posting. At some point I'll give you an update of my life, but in the meantime, here's something not at all surprising. You can read the article here.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Snow on my Balcony

I keep thinking I'll take pictures on my way to work, but it hasn't happened. I know people get tired of hearing this, but it's cold here. It snowed all weekend and this is how my balcony looks now:


I stuck a ruler in the middle of it - 20cm. I think we've had a bit more than that, but the balcony is slightly protected.

Okay, I'll try to keep weather related posts to a minimum. But I just wanted you to get an idea.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pie

I'm at a job interview today. First - man are they exhausting. But the people have been really nice, so that's good. The worst question so far: If your life were a pie, how would you divide it between your personal life/sleep, teaching, research, and service.

There's a graph builder over at the graph jam link on the side, if anyone actually wants to make their life a pie.

Also, I should point out that the biology people thought that was a hilarious question. It was during my special meeting with the active teaching committee. I was their first interviewee.

Friday, January 1, 2010

10 minute break post

I'm rewarding myself for practicing my job talk with this short break to post update my loyal readers about my life. I have a job interview next week. I'm excited, but also nervous. Especially since I get to do a research presentation and teach a class. It's sort of tricky, since the students won't actually be there, but we'll see how it goes. Anyway, research presentation is made. Lesson plans will be prepared after they tell me what the subject is. I'm trying to be cool about it.

In other news, Sammy got a haircut. He hasn't stopped shivering since. He's curled up in my down coat on the chair beside me shivering right now. It's possibly the most pathetic thing ever.

I discovered a new TV show this morning. It's called "Dancing Your Ass Off." Have other people seen that? It's where fat people compete to loose weight through dancing. Kind of awesome. I'm a little concerned that when I move back to the U.S. I won't be able to handle the English TV, and I'll just sit in front of it all day, drooling.

I hope that people had nice New Year's Eves. Mine was lame but pleasant. Mom and I made hamburgers and guacamole and watched a 30 Rock marathon. I just wasn't excited about the possibility of going to a bar. Jeez. I'm an old lady already.