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Astronomical Clock, Prague

Astronomical Clock, Prague

Jacco and I wrapped up my EuroTrip adventure with a weekend vacation in Prague. I think I’ve found my new favorite city. By the way, USA… I’m home!!!!

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Rip Tide (Days 17-19)

It’s amazing how much can happen in three days. Do people live in fast-forward here in Germany, or…?

Anyway, I’m so thrilled and proud to announce that my sweet Jacco has accepted a new orchestra position, on top of which, our trio has two new concerts to add to our schedule! Our first is at the Palais Sommer festival in Dresden, which consists of a string of outdoor music performances by the Elbe, and our second is a castle concert in The Netherlands! I’ve never seen Jacco’s motherland, so I’m especially excited for that one.

I’ve spent the majority of the past few days watching the Chemnitz Philharmonie rehearse and perform Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9, which Jacco told me was composed in hopes of converting atheists into believers — it’s really an astounding piece to listen to, and after the hour-and-a-half run time, it left me feeling a little emotionally strung-out  — but after hearing three complete run-throughs, I got used to it. I can’t say for sure if the symphony succeeds in converting people since I already believe in God as it is, but I can say that the second movement is really fun, like watching Pirates of the Caribbean, except the video doesn’t work so you just listen to the audio. Anyway, I was very impressed by the performance and decided I was a fan of the work.

I don’t know if it was the German-sized (read: generous) glass of wine I chugged in the ten minutes before the concert started, or if generously large glasses of wine make me feel a little snarky or whatever, but I compiled a mental list of concert etiquette *OFFENSES* that I spotted last night, and if I don’t vent them out here, I might implode.

So….

1. Wearing large, fancy hats to a symphony concert. This is not so hard to comprehend. Hat-wearing-lady sitting toward the front of the stage = three rows of people who can’t see Scheiße. For the love of all that is good and decent… save the headwear for the Kentucky Derby or Prince George’s christening.

2. Candy wrappers. If you think you might need to pop something sweet in your mouth during the softest (or even loudest, actually, because it’s all distracting) part of the concert, just…. don’t. Unwrap that mess before the concert or something. I have to admit, I am really skilled and well-practiced in making facial expressions to let someone know I disapprove of their concert etiquette (a.k.a., I’m kind of a snob, sorry), but I always feel a really guilty when that person is over the 75 y/o age bracket (and I’ll probably upset someone by saying this, but candy-wrapper perpetrators seem to populate that generation…). But ok, I digress… Just don’t do candy.

3. LEAVING DURING BOWS. I can’t even. This goes for curtain calls at the ends of operas, as well, and it’s the etiquette breech that offends me most. Applause is a way for an audience to say THANK YOU to the performers, and unless you totally hated the music and don’t want to say ‘thank you,’ then please stay in your seat (or stand if you feel compelled) and give the musicians an extra two minutes of your life since they just worked really hard for you. Bows are also a way for performers to say ‘thank you’ to the audience in return, and would you disregard someone’s ‘thank you’ in everyday life? Probably not. Also, clapping isn’t hard. It’s possibly the easiest thing you’ll do all day.

And that’s all I have to say about that. *drops mic*

So today, Jacco and I visited the office that tells all the foreigners what to do, and we got some good information on visas and such for when I come back in August — my options include applying for either a freelance artist visa, which enables me to stay in the country for a year, a language course visa, which extends until the end of my German studies, or a job search visa, which lasts for three months. The freelance visa and the job search visa require me to have a solid knowledge of the German language before I’m approved…. so, uh…. I’m hitting the books for the rest of the summer.

I named this post ‘Rip Tide’ after the song by Vance Joy that I’ve listened to on loop this evening… It’s so catchy, it will have you singing about rip tides and cowboys running from themselves. Disregard any and all misspellings of ‘you’re’ in this lyric video. Enjoy!

Minted Artists & Designers (Quality comes of Love)

Love love love this post —- don’t mind if I do use some of these pictures for inspiration while I decorate my new place!

Minted Art, BeautifulHelloBlog.comLET’S MEET THE  ARTISTS & DESIGNERS OF MINTEDMinted Art, BeautifulHelloBlog.comMinted Art, BeautifulHelloBlog.com

Hello everyone!

I have been thinking about love recently  (cute, I know), but not really your typical mushy-love but the kind of love that drives you to do hard things – and to like it.  You know, passion.  Sometimes it’s less about what you do and more about how you do it.
…And loving what you do spills over into how you do it. Quality comes of love.

It’s a cool thing when you meet someone (or a group of someones) that have this love, this passion, in their souls.   It’s contagious and exciting and you always come away from these encounters a little richer and having learned something golden.

So you know how I have been working with Minted to bring a small collection of limited edition art prints to their collection?  Well, I’m not alone!  Minted has such an amazing group of highly skilled artists and designers in it’s…

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Part of Your World (Days 12-16)

As I’m writing this, someone is singing a karaoke version of ‘Part of Your World’ from The Little Mermaid on the street outside our apartment. The irony of hearing this song — not to mention the unexpectedness of someone singing Disney melodies on the street, and not even in tune, but ok, whatever — kind of has me thinking about the ‘fish out of water’ concept and how much I can relate to little Ariel, minus the seashell bra but definitely plus the intense desire to explore and belong in an entirely new setting.

What I thought I looked like when I arrived in Germany:
Edward Kitsis, once upon a time
What I actually looked like:
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In other words, I don’t have a big rock with water splashing around me and the ocean perfectly framing my fins, I just have a neck pillow, but the idea is the same. I’m ready and optimistic about this new phase in my life. Since I started writing, I’ve heard two other karaoke songs on the street: ‘A Whole New World’ from Aladdin (actually my favorite Disney movie) and ‘Defying Gravity’ from Wicked. There seems to be a positive theme going on here…

Recounting the past few days, I watched The Netherlands (Jacco’s home country) destroy world champions Spain in their first match of the World Cup (Hup Holland Hup!), completed the final concert of our chamber series (I felt the best about this one!), explored the art museum here in Dresden (Jacco got in trouble for trying to take a picture, so we hid the camera and he snuck another pic — I almost had a heart attack — being a rebel is not my thing), and went to a garden party in a town near Leipzig for the colleagues in Jacco’s orchestra. Fun times 🙂

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Now, karaoke girl is singing Taylor Swift… and I’ve decided the karaoke connection to my life is cut off for now. Bis bald...

Days 10-11

As I left the apartment alone this afternoon to grab some groceries, I had this really weird feeling I was forgetting something important… Oh, duh — my German-speaking boyfriend. It’s not that I don’t like to do things on my own — I do really like getting stuff done on my own, actually — it’s just that facing the German-speaking world alone in a city I haven’t quite memorized makes me feel like a football player at a dance audition or something. It’s all new, I’m anxious, and I just try to look like I know what I’m doing.

The problem is, no matter how hard I try to blend in to my surroundings, German people just know. Germans can spot an American in a crowd almost as easily as they could spot a whale swimming with a group of goldfish. They can detect my red, white, and blue heritage before a word even pops out of my mouth. I mean, I’m not even wearing Nike’s, T-shirts, or ball caps, I swear — it’s just a sixth sense, I’m totally convinced.

Given, Germans are a friendly and kind group of people. The social atmosphere here is very warm. I just hate embarrassing myself when I stumble over language. And Germans, obviously, speak German… and quickly.

A typical German conversation for me goes as follows:

Me: (shopping, checking out at the cash register, walking, or whatever.)
Herr or Frau X: (speaks German very quickly, seemingly asking a question because the inflection goes up at the end.)
Me: Uh… (tries to string some of the words together) (often comes up with nothing) Entshuldigung, aber ich verstehe nicht. Ich spreche English… (smiles apologetically.)
Herr or Frau X: (smiles politely) Ah, alles klar, alles klar. (but continues to speak German to me, very quickly) (sometimes asks an additional question.)
Me: Um… Ja. (not sure what I just agreed to) (sometimes I mix it up with Nein)
Herr or Frau X: (confused)
Me: (awkwardly smiles again and walks away)

As I was walking to the entrance of the Karstadt, I noticed a young German guy with dreadlocks playing guitar on the bench out front, singing ‘When You Say Nothing At All’ by Alison Kraus with perfect English pronunciation. A woman behind me clearly didn’t know the English lyrics, but she still apparently knew the song, sing she began humming along. It struck me then that despite language barriers, music can unite people in a way that few things can, because music doesn’t necessarily need words to reach people. (Oh, my God — I’m so cheesy sometimes it scares me.)

And, actually, I did pretty well  with my language skills today during my shopping experience, which makes me ***very happy.*** Hopefully, my Germlish will only continue to get better… Fingers crossed.

The past couple days have been days off, which is awesome. I’ve gotten a little sick, but praise the Lord for German medicine, because it’s obviously good stuff. Last night, Jacco and I saw Maleficent (in English! Phew!), and we loved it! Angelina Jolie may be my new spirit animal…

The World Cup starts today. I’ve tried out saying ‘football’ instead of ‘soccer,’ but I’m not fully committed to this switch. Love you too, Germany, but I’m gonna have to go with USA on this one! Let’s goooooo!

Days 4-9

I’m sitting at Café Momo in Freiberg and sipping a hot green tea in 90 degree weather — I think it’s safe to say I’m acclimating quickly. Despite the heat, the weather is nice underneath the umbrella here on the terrace, since there’s a really constant, calm breeze keeping me from sweating bullets all over myself and the patio furniture. It’s a really nice day, actually. I came here with Jacco for his Der Rosenkavalier rehearsals this morning & afternoon, and I thought I’d write about the past few days since I have a little free time!

Thursday, Jacco’s parents, brother, and sister-in-law came to visit for the weekend, and we had dinner together at the café where Jacco and I ate on Tuesday. The thing I love about German restaurants is that they’re generally quiet — no loud music squealing your eardrums out or people screaming at each other. The meals are much more relaxed, which I love, and the service is pleasant but slow-paced in comparison to American restaurants. After ordering drinks, the main course, and after-dinner drinks, we were there for about three hours — I can picture my brothers squirming in their seats, ready to get the hell out of Dodge, but I think a long meal can mean a better way to eat. Taking time to enjoy the food — what a concept!

Our first concert was on Friday at Schloss Bieberstein, a castle a half-hour from Dresden. The hall where we performed was really like singing in a bathroom. The acoustics were amazing! The sound really spun (not to mention that the room was very forgiving of minor mistakes!). The audience was very receptive, and my Master’s program teacher even came (she’s hosting a summer program for American students in Freiberg — the same one I came to last summer)!

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Saturday was a shopping day since many stores closed this weekend for Pentecost. Jacco and I had another delicious dinner with his family, this time at an Italian restaurant. We made it to bed relatively early in preparation for our concert on Sunday. This time, we were on the mainstage at Theater Freiberg — the space was much different than Bieberstein’s, of course, but it was fun to sing on that stage!

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Monday was a day off —- praise. Jacco’s brother and sister-in-law left Dresden Sunday, so Jacco, his parents, and I spent the day sightseeing. We went to the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, which on first glance looks like a museum about bathing or something, but it’s actually a museum about humanity in general and how the body works. During the second World War, the museum acted as a supporter and curator of Nazi propaganda, but has obviously since been remade to serve a better purpose. My favorite part of the museum was a big exhibit on dance. They displayed pictures and videos of innovative people in the dance world — even names like Josephine Baker and Madonna (both of who liked to dance with their boobs out. I’m not sure what the significance of this is, if there is one, but I guess dancing boobs out is innovation in itself sometimes). The museum had Just Dance set up on a Wii, so I did a little dancing myself (to Jennifer Lopez, obviously). Jacco recorded it on his phone — I look less like J-Lo when I dance than I thought. Bummer. After the museum, we walked around the big park in Dresden, took pictures at a castle we don’t know the name of, and finished the day with dinner at a Tex Mex place where the waitresses wore cowgirl hats and flannel shirts (Amurrika!)

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That brings me to today, just after 15:00, sitting at Momo with my tea. More updates soon!

Days 1-3

It’s been a busy three days! Monday, I arrived in Dresden in much better shape than when I came in December via US Airways (thanks for all the fun times, US, but I prefer to travel without missing every single connection I book, having to re-route my trip at every stop, and arriving at my destination with absolutely no luggage… it’s not me, it’s you). My trip with American Airlines/Air Berlin was successful and stress-free. Maybe you can teach US Airways how to be an airline, AA? Just a thought…

It was so wonderful to see Jacco again after 8 weeks apart! I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face when I first saw him at the airport — what a handsome guy! Excuse me for gushing, but even seeing each other in person is always a huge luxury since it doesn’t get to happen very often.

Jacco surprised me with KEYS TO THE APARTMENT and this awesome, touristy key chain that I am definitely going to actually use.
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After some dinner at ‘our’ sushi place around the corner, we ran some errands, came back home, and totally crashed.
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Tuesday, we had our first rehearsal for our chamber concerts. We started at 10 am, which would have been the equivalent of 4 am back home — and I was so disoriented. Hell hath no fury like rehearsing under the influence of jet lag. At the end of 2 hours, my body was screaming for rest, so we walked back home (after we ate some lunch at a cute little outdoor café and bought some flowers for our patio — pics to come later), and I took a 3-hour nap coma. It was such a beautiful day yesterday. I put on my bathing suit and sat on the terrace with Jacco for some good-ol’ American-style sunbathing, then Jacco made us a delicious dinner. I could definitely get used to this life!

Today was another great day. We walked to the historic part of the city to do some sight-seeing before our rehearsal — I’ve gotta say, I love being in Europe, partially because I can eat all I want and never gain a pound since we walk so much. Ausgezeichnet! Speaking of German words, we came across a language school where I may be able to enroll in some German courses in the fall, and the instruction is one-on-one with a teacher who also speaks English. Things are coming together!

These are some of my favorite pictures from today:
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