Tag Archives: Life List

More Life List Items – Double Check.

To Do (in) Life List Item # 13. Go to Bourbon and Branch and # 21. Have Drinks at the Tonga Room (before it’s gone).


Both of these are long checked off but had never been accounted for. Being 7 1/2 months pregnant, it’s fun to revisit less sober times. I am soo looking forward to my first cocktail and a whole bottle of wine just for me. Until then, memory lane must suffice.

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Life List – Another One Checked Off

To Do (in) Life List Item # 101. Renovate the Austrian Apartment.

√ Check.

This was one heck of a learning experience. It was fun, often stressful and frankly was enough to give me pause when considering whether we ever want to build a house. I’m not sure I want to care that much about drawer pulls again…at least for a good long while. Now it’s done and we can enjoy it.

There we are!

It's more put together than any apartment we've lived in. I'm not sure if that makes me proud or embarrassed.

Here’re all the related posts:

* A recap of what led up to this (link)

* Before, during and after pictures (link)

* How we dealt with reluctant workers (link)

* The Kitchen (link)

* The Entryway and Bath (link)

* The Bedroom (link)

* The Living Room (link)

* From Dining Nook to Cocktail Corner (here)

And we're done here for now. On to the next one!

Renovation: The Living Room and Cocktail Corner

Part 2: The Cocktail Corner

Cozier, but now seats more.

The dining nook became the cocktail corner, sort of by accident. We replaced the original faux farmhouse table with a much smaller table we got from the proprietors of the oldest Hütte on the mountain. It’s a super cool old little table, but it certainly makes things cozier. But for cocktails, I reasoned, this is more than fine.

We’d been looking a long time for a table and had gotten nowhere until we asked someone on the mountain to help us find something with “Hüttenerfahrung” or a bit of mountain experience. They did one step above that. When we went to  thank them, the wife smiled and said with a wink that the table had tons of experience – including plenty of good times for them in their kitchen. What that really means, was purposely left open to interpretation. Continue reading

The best joke I never planned.

Last year on April 1st, when he picked me up from the evening train from Munich, I took Oliver to a nearby hotel bar for a sundowner. After we ordered our drinks, I handed him a gift bag overflowing with colored tissue paper. He pulled out a bundle and unwrapped this book:

"One Man, One Book: Certain things in life that a man should know."

I had my life list, I told him and I knew he had one too, at least in his head. And since he hadn’t written one down, I explained, I thought I would give him a book of ideas to inspire him.

Then I told him to open it to a particular page and read the entry. As he flipped through the pages, I handed him a pen, telling him that he could already check something off.

He took the pen and his eyes dropped to the page. Reaching the bottom, I saw his brow furrow a little. I saw him read it again, the little crease getting deeper.

He stared at the page, and then looked up at me, bemused… or perhaps insulted?

Whatever it was, this was not the expression I was expecting at all. I took the book from him and looked at the page he had read.


I’d intended for him to look at this page:

Maybe I should have included a helpful arrow.

But instead he’d read this page:

(Translation: How to fake an orgasm.)

And that’s how I told him the first time I was pregnant.

(Translation: How to father a child.)

Lift List – Wearing the Mink

To Do (in) Life List Item # 72. Wear the mink


One of the first things I noticed when I moved from San Francisco to Munich were the furs. Whereas, at that time in San Francisco, few would have dared venture out on the street in fur without a bodyguard in tow, the women in Munich were fearlessly strutting about. Young and old, not-so-poor to the very rich, as soon as it was cold out, they were all decked head to toe.

Once I got over the  shock of realizing that there were still places in the world unimpressed by PETA terrorist tactics, I also saw (and experienced) the logical reasoning behind it all: it got really damn cold in Germany.

It has to be relatively easy to shame starlets and fashionistas in California into turning away from furs when it’s pretty much too warm to wear them anyway, but it’s a whole other thing to try and do it in a country where you can still freeze to death on the street at noon. Although too expensive today to be considered utilitarian, furs are warm.

It still took me years to decide to ask my mother about my grandmother’s mink. It’d been hanging neglected in the back of a closet for over 35 years.

A hand-me-down from an older sister that married well, it was beautiful and always a little sad there, as if it knew it may never be allowed outside of the house again. But I either never had time, didn’t have space or couldn’t figure out when I would ever wear such a thing, so I didn’t pursue it.

Then after a few years of idle threats, this June my mother finally marched through customs in high summer with the coat over her arm. The right opportunity to wear it didn’t present itself until the last weekend in January, when the temperature dropped, tons of snow fell all over Germany and I found myself about to leave for an over night trip up north to attend a birthday dinner in a nice restaurant without a decent winter coat that I would be caught dead in.

So I decided to wear something dead instead. Here’s how it looked.

I think my grandmother would have approved.

This was taken while at home. To be honest, we were too distracted to take pictures on the trip. Furs are rather scarce up north, it’s more of a Bavarian thing, so Oliver was worried the entire time that I would be attacked by hippies. He busied himself scanning faces for signs of aggression and let documentation of the moment slip.

For the record, I support the ethical treatment of animals. I also equally support the ethical treatment of people. This coat was a loved status symbol for my grandmother, who didn’t have too many nice things. It’s a shame to waste it, so I’m wearing it. This one is checked but not crossed off the list, I’ll keep looking for further opportunities to take it out for a stroll.

Oh, and the feeling? Really wonderful actually. The luxurious weight and smooth swish of it when I walked was delicious. Ooh, yes I could get used to that feeling.

Life List – Not checked yet, but on its way

To Do (in) Life List Item #43. Move beyond the ponytail; Master 5 styles for my hair

When making up my List of Things To Do Before I’m Too Old, I realized that, although it’s been dyed, curled and straightened, I don’t think I can claim to have ever bothered to style my hair in anything but a ponytail. Other than the occasional professionally-done up-do at like, my wedding (skipped prom), that has been it.

Until last Wednesday.

Wait! Before I get to that – my pictures are all in America – you’ll just have to imagine the route that got me here:

Childhood – A massive braided ponytail. Worn every day. Heavy like a horse’s tail, it stung just as badly when wielded as a weapon. Also, bangs.

Freshman year –  Quickly learned that a dorky white  girl cannot wear a red bandanna headband in an inner city school without a WHOLE LOT of negative attention. Otherwise smoothly transitioned to wearing it down. Also, somehow avoided the Big Bang phenomenon of late early 90’s.

Sophomore year – Waves just all of a sudden turned into real curls. I also went freakishly prematurely grey. Very grey.

Remaining high school years – Mostly spent learning to deal with the curls and how to cover the greys. Also, discovered scrunchies.

College – Got up extra early, every morning, to wash and dry my hair into my Julia-Roberts-Mass-of-Curls that had to be just so for me to have a good day.

First Job –  San Francisco + the fog = Back to braids and ponytails. Hair now 75% grey = Dyeing is a way of life.

Germany – After a brief relapse into curls that were accidentally dyed black though a cultural misunderstanding with a Spanish hairstylist and the meaning of the words “not blond”, the  pony tail pretty much became a fixture.

As I said, until last Wednesday.

Here's me before, heading out to the salon.

This is me hoping this isn't a huge mistake.

This is me right afterwards, at a friend's apartment.

The reaction so far: My friends’ four-year old greeted me with polite distance, quickly excused himself and went to bed having no idea who I was. My husband keeps doing double-takes. A large portion of Thursday was spent being approached by co-workers who hadn’t recognized me and thought someone else had snatched my office. It’s like I’ve joined the witness protection program.

I still have to figure out four other things to do with it, but there you are, my new haircut and the first of five new styles.

I think I like it.

I say I have officially moved beyond the ponytail.

Life List – Let’s Tackle a Big One First

To Do (in) Life List Item # 19. Own real estate


Our Christmas present came early this year.

A few months back when I started putting together my Life “To Do” List, I included this one almost as an after-thought. As an kid from a from a middle class American family, this step was just assumed. A lot has changed since I left California and now these predictions about our generation not achieving the same life style as our parents are really starting to hit home. I wasn’t as shocked as some at the outcome of last years’ crisis, in part because I’d already accepted that I had set myself back more than just a few years by moving abroad and starting over from scratch. But I still figured I was bound to get there someday.

Over here in Germany it’s also a bit different. The German version of “The Dream” is to build a house, plant a tree, have a stammtisch and sire a son. But also prominent is the idea that you might skip the whole home-ownership thing and rent your whole life. In fact, in the major cities it’s usually more expensive to own and live in your own home vs renting.

In our case, what has really stood between us and owning an apartment though has been the uncertainty of where we’ll be in 18 months. Financial issues aside, it just hasn’t seemed worth it to go to all that trouble for something we would have to turn around and sell in a few years.

The Carinthian mountains and valley, and the Slovenian and Italian Alps.

Then it finally dawned on us: We do know where we’ll be, at least twice a year, on vacation. In Austria, tucked away in Carinthia is an alp with a little local ski resort where Oliver’s family has been vacationing for over 35 years. Their small apartment, about a 3.5 hour drive from Munich, was our escape whenever we needed some roommate-free time alone. It was where he took me, straight from the airport, when I arrived for my first visit*.

There it is!

The idea finally occurred to us when we were listening to a friend, in a similar situation, who had just shelved house-hunting in favor of renting, choosing instead to invest in a vacation apartment. With his family growing (at last count, three kids), they were facing significantly increased travel costs just to take a weekend vacation. When they learned their favorite hotel was building bungalows, they jumped at the opportunity to buy one. The hotel would even rent and service the apartment when they weren’t there, allowing them to offset a lot of the costs.

That turned the lightbulb on over our heads. Continue reading