Category Archives: Ding Dong…

Wedding stuff. My wedding, your wedding, any wedding. It is its own reality and so gets its own category.

Lola


She was delivered at the end of August in a Munich clinic on the edge of the English Garden. Everyone says it (and they’re all right): nothing prepares you for the moment you actually have a tiny human placed in your arms. She’s been turning our world upside down and we’re still settling into life as parents. I should be back up here soon.

In the meantime, it suffices to say: We’re healthy, happy and thrilled to be three.

 

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Wearing the Housewife Title Today With a HUGE Dollop of Irony…Sarcasm

Since I’ve kept my job in Munich (for now) and I’m only allowed to do 50% home office , I now have Fridays off.

This is a mixed blessing as, along with the free time and the long weekends, I still have a husband who has to get up and out the door on Fridays and as this SUCKS, I do get reminded. (Like when I try and get him up after the 5th time hitting snooze. I’ve learned not to take this course of action. Although it does get him going, it’s in a decidedly wrong direction, mood-wise).

Otherwise, a four-day work week is plain old FUCKING AWESOME. It’s the perfect balance between work and play. I will try to enjoy it as long as it lasts (which won’t be too much longer). Everyone should try this at least once.

Very important for someone living in Germany: it means you get to do some of that stuff you otherwise would be forced to cram into your Saturday because Germany is still, almost everywhere, on the “housewife plan”. Meaning that all stores have opening hours that assume you have a wifey sitting at home just waiting to run all those errands before it gets all un-Godly late at like, I dunno, 5:30 or so. For working people to get anything domestic done during the week, you almost have to take an afternoon off.

Have you seen the down side to this though? Yeah. It does mean that I have to do all those errands. So my free day becomes this guilt thing I have to make up for by running domestic errands because unlike SOME people, I am lucky enough to have the time.

So, so far at least, I haven’t managed to have even one of those lazy luxurious Fridays where I put on a beauty mask, take a bubble bath and give myself a pedicure. (What? That’s not selfish if you don’t do it all the time.)

664373 palmolive

I’m also doing more housework than I’m accustomed to* because for several complex reasons (and a few simple ones like being lazy or having no time depending on how you look at it) we still haven’t gotten a cleaning lady. I’m cautious on this topic because although 1) at 80% salary, I admittedly earn less, and 2) I have more time, 3) I really suck at cleaning and 4) I get really grumpy when things aren’t done right although for some reason I can’t for the life of me do it right myself. I also don’t want us to spend the time we have together doing stuff like this. So I’m theoretically saving us time and money now by more of the cleaning myself, but I don’t do a great job and end up really grumpy and pissed off about it.

Plus, I have this “housewife” issue. I don’t want to feel that I am one. There I said it. Hate me. I have power issues and am not cool with anything that makes me feel surrendered. And housework does that. Don’t get me wrong, I do my share, but once things progress past the point where the other person no longer feels like they have to thank you for doing it and it just becomes one of the obvious parts of ‘your job or share of the work around here’, I get allergic**.

But until we get a cleaning lady, I am still doing understudy work, so I do little things to keep the hives at bay and remind myself that this is not permanently my new role. A week or so before we went on vacation Oliver came home early to find me in slim black cigarette pants, peep-toe high heels and a sassy halter-top apron, vacuum cleaner in one hand, gimlet in the other.

ironic

My thought was, ‘why not let housework be an opportunity to flaunt gender roles by taking the stereotype to the extreme by pulling a June Cleaver and break in my new shoes at the same time?’

It worked like a charm, so I made a ThisNext list about it. My apron of choice is not available right now, but there’s plenty of others to choose from:

ironic

And now that I’ve wasted a few good hours of my Friday complaining telling you about it, I’ve got to get back to cleaning and errands. TGIF everyone! 😉

*(see I am being very careful not to say that I am doing most or close to all of it because SOMEONE else sometimes cleans the kitchen, pushes the occasional mop, but never empties the dishwasher…anyway)

** Oliver is also on the record not wanting me immersed in domestic duties, at least not any more than he is, because we BOTH suck and these are the kinds of things best left up to the professionals. I concur darling… I so do.

Honeymoon, at long last.

When the world starts spinning in a different direction, there’s nothing like a complete change of surroundings (and sandy shores and room service) to help put things in perspective. Just a few days after the bottom fell out of our moving plans we were able to drop everything and run off to the Middle East for our long-delayed honeymoon in Oman, a country that is about as different from the normal everyday as I’ve managed to get. I never would have imagined that I would honeymoon in the desert. Given that I don’t like the heat, I’m amazed at how often I actually find myself in the desert and how meaningful those experiences have been. In this case it made perfect sense to punctuate the story of our relationship with a honeymoon in the desert. That’s where it all started after all.

On Halloween we flew to Abu Dhabi and drove from there to Muscat, the Omani capital, where we spent the next week at the Barr Al Jissah Resort (funnily enough this is part of the Shangri-La chain, the same chain we stayed at in China, bit nicer though).

It’s hard to find the right things to say about Oman.

Oman is made up of desert, rock and more rock. It’s breathtaking rock though, beautiful undulating waves of rock that turn purple-y orange in the evening. Stark and harshly gorgeous in its way. With some oil and some natural gas, the country isn’t overly rich. It’s not enough to spawn an enormously wealthy upper class that imports guest workers from poorer neighbors to occupy the lower levels of the work force. The resources they do have are enough to bankroll the establishment of a modern infrastructure, educational and health care system and get the Omani into the high-end tourist market.

So what you get is what on the surface looks to be a culture just emerging out of the Arabian nights, when in fact on that flying carpet they also have WiFi.

The Omani still work normal jobs. If you get in a cab, it’s most likely driven by an Omani. You walk into a hotel, the manager is Omani. In Abu Dhabi you’d be hard pressed to find a native working in any position other than top management. The workers in ‘normal’ jobs are mostly from Pakistan or India. Here you’re in constant contact with the people to whom the country belongs. They’re very proud their country and are pleased that you’re there to visit. People went out of their way to be friendly and hospitable, even in situations where I expected the opposite. It is a Muslim country, but relaxed. They’re self-aware and secure, other cultures and religions don’t seem to be a threat.

The younger generation is very well educated. Everyone we encountered spoke English. Many had spent at least a year abroad, paid for by their sultan.

I’ve had this post sitting on my desktop for ages. Ive kept deleting and editing it because nothing I said seemed to do it justice. I deleted bits about American issues with the Middle East as a vacation spot (of which there seem to be many) and my own issues about the Middle East in the media (lots there too). Both had an initial effect on my perception of Oman as a spot for our honeymoon, but in the end none of it meant anything at all. The country surpassed my expectations and took me – jaded as I am – totally by surprise.

I can’t wait to go back someday. (Keep in mind – I love/hate the desert.)

This summed up the strange yet wonderful feeling of the place: when shown the sultan’s palace, Oliver asked if he really lived there now. The local guy answered after a moment of thought, “well, yes, but only until Monday. Then he’s taking a drive up the coast.”

I have no idea where Bush is on Monday. So close is the relationship between leader and people there.

Clicking on the image below will take you to the Flickr set.

camel-crossing.jpgOmani honeymoon

The Bride Wore Hiking Boots

It was a few years ago (three?) that Oliver invited one of his best friends to come along to a December birthday party. Z was in town looking for work, finishing his PhD and crashing at our place. On the way to the fridge he ran into a vivacious blond who was there as the date of an aquaintance. The interest that began that night was cemented at a Christmas party a few weeks later, where again lonely Z was invited to join and the blond again joined as the companion of the unfortunate aquaintance.

Those two chatted the whole night, often leaning across the table towards each other to get closer. The unfortunate aquaintance went home early to study, and Z and the blond started talking about going dancing. A little while later, as they ducked into a cab, I remember turning to Oliver and asking if we shouldn’t go with them after all. Clearly there was something going on that could turn into a whole lotta trouble for everyone. Neither one was exactly free and we knew everyone involved… shouldn’t we try to intervene and prevent disaster?

Being practical and without a meddling bone in his body, Oliver watched them driving off with an appraising look and said whatever trouble they brewed was their business, and trying to head it off would only redirect it onto our heads. They drove away, alone and unchaperoned, and did what comes naturally to all people insanely drawn to one another.

The next morning the doorbell rang at 7 am. Z stood at the door, in a familiar looking suit and rumpled shirt, holding a bag of fresh rolls, claiming he’d been locked out when going out to get breakfast.

For the next few weeks, we always had fresh bread.

Fast forward three years, to yesterday at 1:30pm, where we all met in the lobby of our hotel. Everyone laced on snow shoes and carried their dress shoes in bags. The bride wore hiking boots, carried her bouquet and had flowers in her hair. Together we escorted the couple on the 20 minute walk through the narrow snowy streets of Bad Gastein, to city hall. There we hurriedly changed, kicked muddy shoes into the corner, tossed coats and scarves over chairs, and gathered in a room to witness a small wedding ceremony.

After the “I dos” were over, we were tucked into horse-drawn sleighs, champagne flutes were pressed into our hands, and off we went again through town, past our hotel and away into the woods to a cabin somewhere in the middle of nowhere for Gluehwein and a light lunch.

Walking back in the dark, we stopped along the way at a roadside hut to toast the couple again with schnapps, never actually leaving the footpath, standing in the snow in the yellow light of the small tavern. Returning to the hotel (after a small search and rescue where the groom’s parents were briefly swallowed by the forest, but reappeared unharmed in a taxi), we were greeted with more Gluehwein and paper bags of roasted chestnuts.

It was a simple and totally charming affair, free of any pomp or pretention, intimate and heartfelt.

They’re lucky to have found one another, and here’s hoping they never lose that (horny) magic that drew them together. Congratulations to Sierk (aka Z) and Tessa.

Nice surprise




Nice surprise

Originally uploaded by meganinmunich.

Going to the post office the other day, I found a nice surprise waiting for me. After four and a half months of marriage my husband and I are living apart on separate continents…but we’re still getting wedding presents.

Thank you Marc and Bonita, they arrived safe and sound and are lovely.

Wedding in Bremen (or Two Weddings & a Rickshaw Part 2)

Wedding in Bremen, originally uploaded by meganinmunich.

Well my marriage is one day shy of Month Two, surpassing Drew’s first and eclipsing Brittney’s drunken impulse in Vegas. Honey, if you’re reading this, given the competition, I’m so proud of us.

Maybe we’re hanging tough because we did it twice that day.

By three thirty in the afternoon Oliver and I were technically married in the eyes of the German government. This point is where many people in Germany stop and go have dinner. The rest go to church and do the religious version. We did neither. Our second ceremony, that took place later that same day, is one that often occurs in the USA and is practically unheard of over here. Working together with a ‘theologist’ that we’d found, we planned a second ceremony that took place in the ‘central park’ of Bremen, on a stage right next to our reception site.

Now, when looking through the photos in my flickr slideshow please know that Oliver’s mom gets all the credit for the location, flowers and decorations. It is amazing what that woman accomplished using one Best of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, some vague babblings in pigeon German from me, and a hell of a lot of determination. With such a setting as she created, there was no way the rest of the day could be anything but perfect. Which it was.

My parents, by the way, get oodles of credit for their part in giving us a wonderful wedding that they didn’t get to have the fun of planning, and they managed to fly to Europe twice in less than a year (the second actually reclining their seats).

I’ll spare you the details that probably only matter to me. Two months later I have the following residual images still floating in my head:

Continue reading

Two weddings and a rickshaw (pt 1)




Kiss

Originally uploaded by meganinmunich.

Pretty soon I’ll be all done discussing the wedding, sharing photos about the wedding and talking about the wedding. But as this is the only wedding I plan on having ever, I’m going to dwell a bit longer on the topic.

This link will take you to a slideshow of the civil ceremony which took place in the early afternoon on the same day as the ‘real’ wedding and reception. For those wondering why we didn’t consolidate the two, an explanation: Here you can’t have a ceremony of your making and sign papers on the spot and be done with it. The legal ceremony is one thing and the church/theme/destination/beach at sunet/ skydiving ceremony is another. Some will legally marry in winter of one year to take advantage of taxes and then have a religious ceremony and party six months later when the weather is better/kid is weaned/reception location is free or whatever. But regardless of what kind of ‘second’ wedding ceremony you do, the legal date is considered your ‘real’ wedding date.

I found the whole idea of separate wedding days and legal weddings vs ‘other’ completely too practical, mechanical and cold. (Obviously I still have issues about it). It was really important to me that we do everything on one day so that no one could tell me which was more important.

Having seen plenty of couples leaving after civil ceremonies in Munich , I knew how impersonal and awful they could be. Having been to Oliver’s sister’s wedding the year before, I’d also seen how great they could be. Oliver had proposed a few days before his sister’s marriage and we’d kept it a secret until afterwards. When we arrived for her civil ceremony at this cute, fairytale farm in the Bremen countryside, I knew this was where we would get married too. It even worked out that we had the same sentimental old guy to do our ceremony. He was a little doddering in his old age and fudged my name and told everyone I was from Florida, but his fanciful, romantic side came through in just about every word he said.

A few handfuls of guests joined us for the ceremony and champagne toast and cheered us on as we sawed a log together as our first act as a married couple. This was intended to show that marriage was teamwork, with each person pulling their weight and never pushing.

After we successfully fufilled the task, our officiant, Herr Kothe, wrote the date on it and gave it to us as a reminder of the day (and date) with the advice, “never go to bed angry, always talk about everything and keep this somewhere visible so no one has an excuse for forgetting the anniversary. If one of you does, then the other can wack you over the head with it.”