is thems the thoughts of cows?

Since I've been in Germany taking this little break from reality, I've had lots of time to read for fun - something I never did while in school and working. I read something near thirty books (nerd alert) during the cold of this winter, among them, pretty much everything David Sedaris has published. Total literary candy. Once I started reading them, I couldn't help myself from devouring more. I like to think that Sedaris and I have a lot in common - we're both unusually small people who get carried away living out fantasies in our minds. We both seem to have a "let's see where life takes me" (read: impulsive) approach to life. We both take a more experiential (read: lazy) approach to learning language, as evidenced in many of his hilarious memoirs, most notably When You Are Engulfed In Flames and Me Talk Pretty One Day.

Here are a few of my favorite excerpts about his ex-pat attempts at learning French:

“On my fifth trip to France I limited myself to the words and phrases that people actually use. From the dog owners I learned "Lie down," "Shut up," and "Who shit on this carpet?" The couple across the road taught me to ask questions correctly, and the grocer taught me to count. Things began to come together, and I went from speaking like an evil baby to speaking like a hillbilly. "Is thems the thoughts of cows?" I'd ask the butcher, pointing to the calves' brains displayed in the front window. "I want me some lamb chop with handles on 'em.” 

“I find it ridiculous to assign a gender to an inanimate object incapable of disrobing and making an occasional fool of itself. Why refer to lady crack pipe or good sir dishrag when these things could never live up to all that their sex implied?” 

“What's the trick to remembering that a sandwich is masculine? What qualities does it share with anyone in possession of a penis? I'll tell myself that a sandwich is masculine because if left alone for a week or two, it will eventually grow a beard.” 

And, an excerpt from "Jesus Shaves," my favorite story of all. He nice, the Jesus.

Language has never been my strong-suit. It's far too linear to appeal to my mostly right-brain (read: flighty) way of life. I realized this first while suffering through a miserable three years of high school French classes, but that didn't stop me from trying my hand at Spanish in college and then moving to Germany post-grad to see if I could successfully learn a language by sheer force.

Things are going pretty much exactly as I expected, considering my track record. I can understand most of what I hear in day-to-day conversation, but I usually clam up when it's my turn to talk. I probably only have around 150 words committed to memory and I've created a nice little cocoon of English-speaking friends to keep me safe. My one proud accomplishment? I get asked for directions with a surprising frequency, which I've taken to mean is because I look like a local. I'm proud to say that I've successfully provided directions to several people. In English, of course.


morning walk

Volkspark near our apartment

Baby and I took an early walk this morning in an attempt to help me recover from a too-late night out (seems to be a theme in my life...I'll grow up someday.) The weather was SO gorgeous that we ended up staying out for almost three hours. Spending time outside is such a luxury, especially after the brutal German winter (their longest in 130 YEARS) and a couple years of looooooong work weeks trapped in a dark office.

I write about how much I love this city and our neighborhood all the time, but I think I fell even more in love this morning. I may be a Nashville girl at heart, but it looks like it'll be more difficult than I thought to go back to Tennessee. A few crappy iPhone photos from this morning:

Rathaus Schöneberg, the city hall for our borough, has an interesting history attached to it. President Kennedy spoke here in 1963, where he famously said "Ich bin ein Berliner." On the night of his assassination, Berliners spontaneously congregated at the spot and the the square surrounding the building was renamed John F. Kennedy Platz. President Obama is traveling to Berlin in June of this year, and is rumored to be speaking here to commemorate fiftieth anniversary of Kennedy's speech.

Even the police stations are good-looking

Poodle Pack...groomed to perfection

For something a little less picturesque - I spotted this nightmare of an outfit and spent a good ten minutes walking slowly, and probably not inconspicuously enough, to get a picture:

You're welcome.

Now I'm headed to meet friends at one of my favorite biergartens. Thank God for springtime.

Photo of Café am Neuen See via



Remembering this and listening to this:

Listen - are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?


you are here

Nostalgia is one of my favorite pastimes. Whenever I have brain space to myself, my mind usually wanders into what I was doing a year ago, when the weather was the same. I hear a forgotten song and go back to the moment I first heard it, who played it for me, where we were. When I’m in a new place, nostalgia is my anchor, a reminder that I have infinite experiences and people to be grateful for. In springtime, I’m especially nostalgic because, like the rest of the living world, it’s the perfect time to shed all the old parts you’re made of.

Starting new is a tough concept for me – I am fiercely loyal to the people and places I love. I have always thought that any problem can be fixed by enough hard work or optimism or a shift in perspective. I can count all of the things I’ve quit on one hand, and can’t even begin making a list of things I’ve persisted through to the point of exhaustion. I like it when things work. It’s easier that way.

This time last year, I finally came to terms with my first real heartbreak – a slow burn of a failure whose charred remains are still smoking. I’m independent to a fault, but when I commit to anything, I continue to believe in its goodness until it breaks me. Even when everything good has long since dried up. This time last year, I began spiraling into someone I could no longer recognize. I was living in my hometown – a place I love with a proud vengeance, but an immeasurably tough place to be when things aren't going well. I felt like there was a magnifying glass on my failure. An emphasis on what I fucked up. By the Fourth of July I decided to commit to change.

I decided to seek out infinite possibility and it was waiting for me the second I opened my eyes to it. It took me one week to find a job abroad and two days to sign the contract. I booked a plane ticket almost immediately. I decided I was comfortable draining the savings account I’d religiously built up over the years. Best of all, I didn’t have to ask anyone for help. Miraculously, moving to Berlin was byfar the easiest decision I’ve ever made. When I stepped off the plane, I felt awake for the first time in months. I was surrounded by an abundance of space, something I hadn’t seen in the two years I’d been in Nashville. Jetlagged and dry eyed, I heard a steady mantra: “you are here, you are here, you are here.”

For now I’m thrilled to be wandering in the total unknown. My feet always hurt because I walk everywhere. My head is wrapped up in conjugations and new letters I can’t pronounce. My heart feels four years younger. I don’t have an end date or an idea of what’s next, but I do have a new perspective and for the first time in a long time, I know it can fix anything wrong.


Barcelona [part II]

On Sunday, we took day trip to Montserrat, a multi-peaked mountain and monastery an hour train ride outside Barcelona.

Our day got off to somewhat of a rough start (i.e. waiting on the wrong platform for the train to take us out of the city and completely failing to realize we'd missed the train until forever after it left.) We remedied the situation by picking up a few bottles of wine and drinking them, European style, on the steps of a museum (I know y'all are ready for me to get over myself.)

We finally boarded our train and rode out of the city, where we were greeted with lush landscapes, a rushing river and tall, bald mountains.

We opted to take a cable car up the mountain and hiked as far as our lungs could take us.

Montserrat translates literally to serrated mountain - the peaks look like a massive knife up in the clouds. The range is peaceful and gorgeous and ethereal, a fairy tale over the bustling city below. I found out later that some of the most outstanding peaks have charismatic names like La Panxa del Bisbe, L'Elefant and El Moro. Personified nature always make me smile - I guess it appeals perfectly to the parallel sides of me that love words and the outdoors. In other words, I am the world's biggest nerd. 

If you can't tell by the way we dressed, we came TOTALLY unprepared to hike up a mountain, but decided we'd be idiots to not take advantage of the views. Needless to say, our hike was...unique, but 100 percent worth the climb.


Barcelona [part I]

Barcelona was a total dream - in part because the trip was comprised of, byfar, the sunniest days I'd spent in Europe at that point, and in part because I got to spend it with Maggie, another Nashville girl. We happened to be on the same flight out of Tennessee and discovered across the aisle of our plane that we were both going to be in Europe at the same time. Maggie is a total badass and is waaaaay cooler than I'll ever be. Way to go, Mags.

I was only in Barca for two days, but we fit a lot in during that time - a football game, a day trip to Montserrat and lots of walking around the city. The perfect weekend to officially welcome spring to this part of the world.

stoked about this airport view

beautiful winding streets

gaudí's casa batlló

las turistas

park güell

park güell

park güell

park güell

the incredible boqueria

barcelona-mallorca (barcelona obviously won)

(I am a gung-ho Vine-er)

gorgeous sagrada familia


Tomorrow, a journey through our (long) day at Montserrat. 


little things

A delayed weekly round-up, because the real fun came this weekend when temperatures jumped to the fifties (fahrenheit, of course) and the sun stayed out for hours (!) at a time. Berlin is even closer to heaven in springtime.

A few things that made my week a little bit sweeter:

This colorful building discovered in a new-to-me corner of Schöneberg 

This Americana band made up of Germans and an English dude

One of several gates from a Saturday spent in Potsdam

A hike around Lake Wannsee that reminded me of lakes back home

A post-hike weissbier at a biergarten that felt right out of a grown-up fairytale. So much so that I can't seem to find any information about it online. Magical.

And, a mellow springtime song to kick off the week. Get happy y'all.

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you know what they say about trouble

Swings a little more in the pop direction than I'm usually into, but I can't get enough of this song.



Cute and warm - impressive

This "What I Know About Germans" list, discovered through überlin, is about as dead on as a 100-point list can get. If you're living in Germany and looking for a laugh, or interested in learning what my life amongst these well-dressed, well-educated, heavy-drinking people is like, check it out.

Some of my favorites:

  • They have excellent winter wardrobes (I suspect this has something to do with the fact it’s what I would classify as Winter, ten months of the year).
  • They speak English better than most English people I know.
  • They have unexpectedly wicked senses of humour. 
  • Germans don’t tend to jay-walk. And they judge those who do.
  • Germans can drink. And not just write themselves off, vomit in the bath tub at 2am, wedge in a kebab and back it up the following night, a la American/English/Australian binge drinkers … I mean drink. While the rest of the world is vomiting in the bath tub, the Germans are calmly ingesting their 57th shot and washing it down with a beer, their cheeks a little rosy, their eyes a little glazed, but their livers working as smoothly as a German made automobile.


festival dreaming

I'm trying my hardest to figure out a way to make Glastonbury logistically and financially feasible. There are very few things I love more than sleeping in a field for a week in the name of music, and Glastonbury is the fest that did it first. I was lucky to go to Gastonbury's little sister, Bonnaroo, for five years and had the honor of working for the fest for the last couple of those. If I wrote a coming of age story, it would definitely be set at Bonnaroo - I've made good decisions and awful decisions there, surrounded by my favorite people all while seeing performances by the best musicians I've ever seen. Since it doesn't look like I'll be able to make it to the big farm in Tennessee this June (tragedy), my heart is set on trekking to Worthy Farm instead.

Tickets are sold out, but I'm researching other outlets and really hoping that the stars align so I can get my festival fix. Any tips from Glastonbury veterans? This could just be a dream, but for the sake of fully committing to this total fantasy, I've already started planning my total fantasy outfits.

festival dreaming


my feet are gold/my heart is white


we're going to be friends

My new favorite blogger, Liv Hambrett, an Australian who's been living in Germany for years, wrote today about the number one thing that's been plaguing me since I've been here - which will be a whopping three months next week - making friends. Making real, easy-to-call, see-you-in-ten-minutes friends in a country where you don't speak the language, don't know a soul, and don't have a work group helping you meet people you have something in common with, is the most difficult thing I've ever done and the only thing I was really worried about before I hopped on the plane. Here, a particularly resonant quote from her piece:
"I find myself, once more, in the generally nervous, uncomfortable position of having to make friends. Of having to enter, with either stealth or flat out asking for mercy, pre-existing social clusters. And it’s not easy. In fact, making friends is hard work, particularly at an age at which you have friends, you have brilliant, smart, funny, like-minded friends that form part of a group you have spent a lifetime cultivating. Particularly at an age when asking ‘can I play too’ doesn’t come as naturally, for various reasons, as it does when you’re six. Particularly when you can’t help but feel, wearily, been there done that, that you have friends, they’re just not here."
I wrote about my frustration and pseudo-loneliness a little last month, but the Easter Holidays, which mean four days off of work here in Germany and four days of Homeland marathons and finishing three books I've been working on, have inspired me to kick it into gear on the friend front. This week, I'm sucking up my pride and officially seeking out other outlets to hopefully find at least a couple people to hang with on a more regular basis. 
Also, one of my biggest irrational fears is that I'm always on the verge of annoying the shit out of people when in reality (so I'm told) I'm not, so I'm attempting one more round of attempting to enter pre-existing social groups...which is probably my worst nightmare. Good vibes appreciated.
In the meantime, I'm missing these "brilliant, smart, funny, like-minded friends" that just don't happen to be here in Berlin with me:

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