Friday, November 25, 2005


It's the day after Thanksgiving, and here in Dusseldorf it's just another day. No crazy 'Black Friday' shopping sprees to signal the official start of the Christmas season (although Christmas lights and decorations were up in stores and around town as of the end of October...). The Weihnachtsmarkt season has officially started, however. So that means that in the center of town there are many little houses/stands set up to sell crafts, food, tchotchkes, Gluehwein (a hot spiced red wine - yum), and other goodies. Think of the Union Square Holiday Market, and you get the idea. But I digress...

I started out talking about was a little strange to realize that I wasn't going to be spending it with my family back in Brooklyn this year. I know my friends at school were feeling the same way about missing the festivities with their families back in the US, so one of them decided to hold T-day at her place. Well, there will be around 21 of us going over there tomorrow, food in hand. She's making the turkey and stuffing; the rest of us are bringing everything else: several pumpkin and squash related items, veggies, bread, desserts, and - oh yes - wine.

I mentioned to my friend A that this will be the first Thanksgiving without the traditional family dysfunction. We won't be falling into our usual roles as we do when we are with family. Should be interesting...I'll let you know how it goes...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Ok, some of you probably already know this, but I'm obsessed with giant pandas. Specifically, one Tai Shan, the 18 week old giant panda cub born in the National Zoo. At this point, I can't even remember how I found out about the little guy, but I'm hooked.

I've also got my mother addicted, and we trade stories about him as if he were our own little cub. There was a point when we seriously considered how we might 'borrow' him for a little while. Especially on those days when his mom, Mei Xiang was being brusque with him. However, they have also shared some incredibly darling moments together, like when Mei comes lumbering in and scoops him up to cuddle him and give him a thorough cleaning. I know he can't hear me, but I nonetheless speak to him, giving him encouragement when he's trying to do something new and difficult. It's been so amazing to watch him develop and learn skills like walking and chewing on his feet (just like human babies do!).

I seem to have forgotten to mention how it is that we are able to watch our little guy: there is a Panda Cam which gives us unlimited access to his whereabouts and goings on. Check it out. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Mom's Visit

About a month ago (damn, how time flies!) my lovely mom came to visit me here in D'dorf. We had a whirlwind week of activity: first an afternoon spent in D'dorf exploring the Rhine area and the Altstadt (that's me and mom along the Rhine), then down to southern Germany to F's village to celebrate his father's 65th birthday and his retirement, then back up to D'dorf the next day before setting off for our Amsterdam Adventure.

Unfortunately, things took a bit of a turn for the worse...

Mom got sick, and I regressed to being about 13 years old. Sullen, and oh-so-fun to be around. I have apologized profusely, and mom, I'll say it again: I'm really, really sorry.

Although we had some rocky moments, I think overall it was a good trip...we stayed in a charming B&B in the heart of the Jordaan area run by this adorable couple, Ken & Vlad (Ken hails from CA and used to be a pastry chef, and Vlad was a dancer - he even knows Misha!). We stayed in a recently renovated duplex room, with a brand new Italian bathroom - beautiful tiles, jacuzzi bathtub, rain shower, and, oh yes, phallic fixtures. But more on that another time...

The weather was beautiful, and we spent many moments lazing about in Vondelpark (Amsterdam's Central Park, below), and just wandering around the city on foot. We were told that it was a fluke that the weather was so good; they normally do not have successive days of sun and warmth. I've realized that I now have an idealized vision of Amsterdam - every time I have visited (3 times since I moved here) it has been gloriously beautiful. I don't care - I think I'd still love Amsterdam in the rain...

So mom, thanks again for coming to visit! Next time I promise I'll behave...

Jingle Bells?

Monday and Tuesday were a holiday here in Dusseldorf, and since the stores would be closed today (Tuesday), I decided to go into the 'city' to do some shopping yesterday. Imagine my surprise when I went into one of the department stores here to find it completely decorated for Christmas! Christmas?!?! Yesterday was October 31st, not November 25th. Heck, it wasn't even November 1st! I didn't realize that they were crazier here than in the States with Christmas marketing.

My internal clock is a little screwed up - once I see those decorations I start a countdown to Christmas. I'm now feeling as if I only have less than a month until Christmas (which in my case would mean less than a month until I'm home in NYC). Unfortunately, I still have almost 2 months until I get to fly back and see everyone...sigh.