The first snow of the year


The thing with snow in this part of Germany is that it’s usually short-lived so it is actually extremely stressful for people like me who love snow more than anything. As soon as it starts and the temperature is just below zero and some gorgeous white begins to blanket everything – even here in the city – I’m like: OH GOD THIS COULD BE IT. This might be the only day of snow we get this season. Cancel all plans. You CANNOT miss this. Ohmygodohmygod. Get gloves and a scarf. Where is a good place to enjoy this? I don’t know I don’t know. It might stop any minute now. I need a thicker coat because I’mma stay outside until it stops. WHERE IS THE CAMERA. I DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT SHOES FOR THIS. I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS SINCE LAST MAY. WHY HAVE I NOT BEEN PREPARING. PLEASE LET IT STILL BE SNOWING WHEN I’M DRESSED AND AT THE PARK. OK I’M OFFICIALLY PANICKING. OH GOD.

— And then I got to the park, and it was perfect. Just all white and quiet and peaceful, and soft and cold and lovely. A few people were walking their dogs. Cars’ headlights made the freshly fallen snow sparkle. And I was just wandering along, smiling like a lunatic, caught between the joy of the moment and the lingering fear that it might be over by the next day. I looked up at the planes coming in from Barcelona and Casablanca, dipping through the thick clouds, and I imagined the pilots announcing: “We’ll be landing at Cologne airport in approximately 10 minutes. Local temperatures are below zero and it is snowing heavily. Thank you for flying with us and have a great day.” And I could just hear the passengers groan about how much they missed the sun and the heat already, and I thought: YOU IDIOTS, you got this so wrong.

Snow turns the world into such a magical, beautiful place. How can you not want this every day?

Hometown art

I found these two Cologne themed postcards in a bookstore a few weeks ago. Aren’t they lovely? I especially like the bottom one with all the different icons representing everything Cologne – or Köln, in German – is known for: Carnival, the locally brewed beer, its shopping streets, the Kranhäuser, the riverboats, its football club, the cathedral, the vast green areas, its zoo, Old Town.

I plan on framing these and putting them somewhere in my room, or maybe the kitchen.

(Postcards by: cityproducts.de)

It snowed

It snowed on Tuesday. A tiny bit. Almost not worth mentioning. Tiny flakes; none of them actually stayed on the ground. For two blissful hours, the lovely white drifted down from the gray-blue sky, tossed about by the strong winds, and died before it hit the pavement, yes, but lifted my spirits nevertheless.
I watched “Lawless”, which was much better than I had anticipated. To give you an idea: a bond between three brothers, Virginia during prohibition, bootlegging, guns, violence. Also, Tom Brady. It sounds too easy, too predictable, and yet it’s fast-paced with a few unexpected turns and I would absolutely watch it a second time.

I’m going home tomorrow. I plan on spending as much time with my family as I can this Christmas season, making the most of my being unemployed. This means a lot of traveling back and forth by train and I just hope that the entire network of German railway won’t just break down as it tends to do as soon as it gets colder outside.

The end of November and NaBloPoMo has killed any inspiration for blogging I may have had (which is the opposite of what I had hoped would happen) so I don’t know when I’ll come back and write here. Expect photo posts, rather than words. And send me snow, if you’re lucky enough to have any.

With my mom


I spent today with my mom, who had taken the day off work so we could hang out. We drove to the big city nearby, and just did whatever we felt like at any given moment. Stopped at H&M to try on flannel shirts and pullovers. Had caramel lattes at Starbucks. Looked at cutesy winter decoration stuff in small stores that smelled like Christmas and played modern jazz. And yes, I did in fact seek out the men’s fragrances section at a large department store in the hopes of spotting Alexander Skarsgård in his Calvin Klein ads, WHAT OF IT? I just needed to smell that Encounter fragrance once. Once. And take home a flyer with his face on it because they had them and I could. SHUT UP AND GO ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS, EVERYONE.

I also bought a Stutenkerl (bottom left photo). It’s a traditional pastry sold at bakeries this time of year. I don’t know the story behind them but they remind me of my childhood and they are delicious, so there. Sweetest part of the day, though? Looking in those dressing room mirrors and being genuinely content with what I saw. Most delightful reward for months and months of hard work.

Too many words on grapes

Apparently, according to my dad, grapes are in season in Germany right now so we’ve been eating them like crazy. Breakfast wasn’t quite enough? Let’s have some grapes. Wouldn’t mind a small dessert after lunch? OH I’LL JUST EAT THESE GRAPES LIKE A BOSS. (I don’t know how to use “like a boss”. It’s awkward every time I do.) And how about something to snack on while we enjoy this football game on TV? Well, are there any grapes left? (We continue to have grapes left. We bought ALL OF THEM.) Seriously. These grapes, you guys. I always thought grapes are just about as bland as cucumbers because usually they are. It turns out, if you buy stuff the time of year it’s grown locally instead of being flown in from Morocco, it tastes NICE. Like- these grapes- they’re all big and plump and a light purple/blue-ish color (GO AWAY WITH YOUR INNUENDOS, CHILDREN) and so sweet. So sweet. With just the right amount of tartness. I didn’t eat anything but grapes until 8pm today, at which point my body was like “Are you kidding with this? STOP WITH THE GRAPES.” But no. There can never be enough grapes. There can be enough words on grapes, though. So: moving on.

I’m reading Ken Follett’s “Fall of Giants” which follows five interrelated families through the dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women’s suffrage. It is fantastic, you guys. It is a difficult read, yes, mostly because I tend to read at times when history and politics are somewhat indigestible to me (like right before bed or when my eyes are too tired to stare at Pinterest pins anymore) and when I started it, I felt the same way I felt about “War & Peace” which is: too many characters, too many similar names, too many places I don’t know, too many parallel story lines, JUST STOP. But of course “Fall of Giants” isn’t quite as challenging as the Tolstoy classic and I’m actually really enjoying it now that I’m past the first 100 pages. The book is part of a trilogy, the second part of which was released this fall and I’m already impatient about the paperback coming out.

What else. I mentioned eating grapes (DID I?) while watching football. Football is important in this house, especially international matches – even if they’re friendly matches that don’t technically matter in any way. Germany played Holland last night and we watched it and it was terrible, just absolutely terrible, and it ended 0:0 and JFC wasn’t that a waste of an evening. BUT Sweden played England at the same time and THEY DELIVERED. My glorious Swedes, you guys. All royal-like and handsome and cool/collected and KILLING THE BRITS. Heh. I followed live match updates on a Swedish newspaper’s website while my dad refused to change the channel to what was clearly a better game than Germany vs. Holland, and only understood a quarter of what was being said, except GOAL over and over and over again. Long story short: they turned a 1:2 into a 4:2 – the fourth goal, scored in overtime, being especially delicious. To top it off, this was the very first match in Stockholm’s brand new sports arena, which made the Swedish win even more meaningful.

So, grapes and Swedish football and WW1 novels. That’s all I got. I don’t know. What do you usually do on Wednesdays?

Home sweet home


I took the train home to my parents’ on Tuesday. So I thought in between telling you about the places I’ve lived (here and here), let me also tell you something about the place where I grew up and where my parents and my brother live to this day. It’s a small town in Northern Germany – far from cities the size of Cologne. And- it’s magical here. I had to leave, of course, to realize that. But that’s the way it goes for everyone, isn’t it?

I went for a walk this afternoon through the fields behind my parents’ neighborhood. The winter sun stood low and red and warm, it smelled like fresh earth and dead leaves, my fingers were cold, it was empty and quiet, and I could just breathe and- be. Just: one step after another on half-frozen mud, rain boots on my feet, Ryan Bingham in my ears.

I’ve been going a little stir-crazy in Cologne these past few days and coming home is exactly what I needed. I have some sweet little things planned – baking, window-shopping, coffee with grandma – and right now that’s enough. It’s good.