What’s German for murder?

Yesterday I was talking to someone at work who is turning the big 5-0.  She and her husband have decided to celebrate by going to Munich, Germany this year for Oktoberfest. She told me they are big craft brewery people and did the whole Oregon beer trail a few years ago and loved it. Because I can’t help myself and because I always think I’m helping, I told her my favorite Oktoberfest story from when Joe and I went to Munich for his 40th.

It involves this dude…

  
So before I tell you how my husband and I almost became a statistic – let me set the scene. Munich, Germany during Oktoberfest looks a little like New York City on New Year’s Eve – if it was only filled with Germans, Italians and Brits. The major difference is that this celebration lasts an entire week. My husband and I booked a hotel a few miles away from the actual fair (which is what it is. Rides, food, games, etc). It was the perfect distance – too far to smell the puke but close enough to see the hordes of people walking to their mecca morning, noon and night. Once in a while a sad, drunk dude held up by his two loyal friends would be walking the opposite way. It’s a 24/7 experience. You go to breakfast, you see drunk people. Wednesday at 4pm? Drunk people. But everyone’s laughing. Everyone’s friendly. Even the few Parisians we met there seemed to not hate us. What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t feel unsafe or threatening like a frat party gone wild. It feels celebratory and fun.

Then you make your way into the fair and have to decide which brauhaus you’d like to tackle on that day. The set-up is that each one offers a different variety of beer. The reality is they all tasted like Peroni to me.

Our second day at the fest we decided to go into the biggest tent – the Hofbräuhaus. Imagine 9,000 people singing John Denver’s Country Road over and over again. At first you think it’s insanity – then after a stein or two you wonder why anyone would listen to any other song. Ever. 

Once we got in, we looked around like visitors at a zoo. There weren’t people hanging from the ceiling but it seemed like there could be and no one would have said a word.  There were no empty tables so we found a spot to stand and Joe went to go find us a beer. There were no bars – it was all table service. If you didn’t have a table, you weren’t getting a beer.  

We took a good walk around the tent and ended up back where we were. No seats. Here’s when it helps to have a husband who looks like he totally belongs in any German or Irish pub. These are his people. 

He walked up to a group standing near us enjoying some beers and asked how they were able to get served. That’s how it began. Immediately this 10 foot tall (really) mustached fellow put his arm around Joe and said,” welcome welcome! We will get you whatever you want!” He spoke English with the perfect German accent,” Welcome to zee festival!”. 

He and his wife, a formidable woman double my husband’s size, took us under their wing. No waiting in lines for anything for us! They seemed to know everyone in the tent. They had grown kids and grew up in the city of Munich. They asked all about us and our travels and how we were enjoying their country. After a few hours the group they came with left and we decided to go to another tent with them. Why not right? We had our own private guides! We felt like locals. Let me also tell you all that my husband is generous by nature. And like all generous people, when someone is generous to him, he feels indebted. Our new German friends seemed to get all the drinks for free all night, we never spent a Euro. 

At the next tent they started telling us about their business. They owned a small bar in the basement of their home. They lived about an hour out of the city. By now I was getting tired. No matter how much fun I’m having, there’s usually a point in the night when I’m done. And because I wasn’t a fan of the beer, I was also pretty sober. 

“You two should come to zee bar tonight! We jump in our cah and go, yes?”. “If you want hashish, we have zat too..”

Then I got even more sober. A basement bar. An hour outside the city. Drugs from a German guy who looked like a Bond villain. I looked at my husband who was laughing and smiling and basically ready to hop in this car. I don’t think he heard any of the details of our impending death and disfigurement. 

“Our cah is at zee back of zee tents”, said his wife in a deep baratone. I tried to give Joe my usual eye. The one I use when the kids are around us and I want to say,” WTF?!”, but he wouldn’t lock eyes. He was in a German trance induced by John Denver. 

I decided to make a big dramatic scene and prayed that Joe wouldn’t fight me on it.  As we walked outside the tent I grabbed Hik and said loudly,” so sorry! I’m not feeling well, we have to leave. Maybe we will see you tomorrow!” And we started walking away. No goodbye. No nothing. Joe just stared at me. It didn’t matter. I’d explain later. When we were safe.

Were they dangerous? Probably not. Did I let my imagination get to me? Maybe. But here’s what’s kept me alive for 43 years. When I hear a stranger invite me to their basement, I run for zee hills. You should too.

Day 4

Sometimes on a Sunday morning, when we aren’t traveling or visiting family I like to go to my favorite place of worship – the blow out bar. No offense to the other places of worship but they don’t make me feel as good.

Do you have a blow out bar near you? Are you hooked? I used to go to my hair salon to get this done – but I always felt a little guilty. Like I was under utilizing the joint. No cut, no color, just a quick 30 minute procedure. A few months ago a friend told me about a new place that opened up near us (ok not NEAR, but you know, next town over). It’s a dream. Walk in walk out.

During my last visit, the stylist told me that I should be able to keep my hair in good condition – no washing – for 4 days. Four days. 96 hours without a shampoo.

I know my sister-in-law Colleen is gagging. She needs to wash her hair every day. I know my husband is wondering when I find time to go (I make time), and I know my friend Howard is reading this post and asking,” what is this F’ing post about?”.

It’s about not washing my hair for 4 days!!!

Here’s how she she convinced me:

  • She said hair goes through cycles, it’s dry then oily then dry. We are so panicked when it gets a little oily that we jump to washing it. But those oils aren’t dirt – your hair needs those oils.
  • Unless you are sweating during a workout or in sand or actual dirt – your hair stays clean a long time. Sweating during a workout. That’s hysterical.
  • If you are really grossed out by day 3 – use a dry shampoo to help refresh (although she thinks it’s not needed)
  • What’s the harm in trying? And you can sleep 20 more minutes. Done.

So I’m on day 4. Does it look as amazing as day 1? No. Do I have to tease it a bit to get some life – oh yes indeed.

I don’t know if I’ll do it again – it was tricky to shower every day without getting it wet. My shower felt incomplete. But extra sleep and no blow dryer in the morning is awful tempting.

Here’s a pic of day 4 (today) – not bad right? Look ma no greys!

Don’t read this before, during or after a meal

There was a smell. It was coming from my son’s room. Not the usual shoe smell that I’ve come to terms with. Or the pee-like smell that I’ve also encountered. This was much much worse.

Rotting eggs. Throw-up. Someone throwing up rotting eggs. That’s what it was like.

I am going to be very honest here. I haven’t been to his room in about a week. I wasn’t avoiding it or anything – but he dresses himself (when he wears clothes) and I say goodnight to him downstairs (because it’s the summer and he doesn’t like to go to bed at 9:30pm like I do).

I may not have actually gone into his room, but I know I’ve passed it these past few days – like when I follow him to the bathroom to watch him brush his teeth or when I do a spot check when he’s in the shower to make sure he’s actually standing under the running water. See, I parent.

But this morning I walked past it and almost passed out. You know when you can taste a smell? Like every good mother of an almost 12-year-old I told him to go in there, bring down all the dirty dishes and figure out what the smell is, while I stayed safely downstairs. He said,” what smell?”.

I bit the bullet and went with him. Into the room. It was a sight to see. He lives like a squatter in there. A well dressed squatter with cable.

We took out all the caked on/baked on/tried up dishes that he collects like a hobby. We stripped his bedding and took out all the trash (in the actual trash can and all around the room). He felt very satisfied after this decided to take off to the pool. I was in a daze. Feeling guilty for obviously neglecting this kid and his living situation for so long. How could I let it get this bad?

I decided to go downstairs and pretend we did everything we could. I told myself I hardly even smelled it anymore. Then my daughter walked by it and said,” what happened in Jack’s room? It smells like throw-up and it’s coming into my room”. Great.

I went back up to his room and got on my hands and knees and started smelling parts of the carpet. I have no dignity.

Under his desk was the bag he uses to take to the pool – he must have forgotten to grab it when he escaped. As I picked it up, white curd dripped onto my hand. I would have screamed but my mouth had shut itself from fear. Inside was the bottle of milk I had given him to take to the pool last weekend. Not last weekend as in yesterday. The weekend before that! I quickly took the bag into the bathroom and put it in the sink until I calmed myself down. Why don’t I own a hazmat suit? Or a mask?

I decided there would be no “cleaning” it. I went and got a garbage bag – it was time to say goodbye to the pool bag. It was over. DOA. As I put it in the trash – I noticed 3 dollar bills in the inside pocket covered with the horrific white curd. I could hear my mother in my head,” just clean it off, its money. You can’t throw out money.” I also heard another voice. The one that said,”pretend you didn’t see it. It’s not a $20 dollar bill. Give it to the universe.” I liked that voice better.

Once the bag was out of the house I hosed down his room with Lysol. And then Febreze. And then I put a layer of baking soda on the carpet. Pray for me.

Thanks for letting me get that out of my head. Don’t have milk with dinner. Or cottage cheese. Or Gorgonzola. Sorry.

P.S. – you know it’s bad when I can’t take a picture of it. I’ve taken pictures of cat poop. This was worse. It was a crime.

The Kiln Life

We went to visit one of our favorite aunts – which I know I say often, but we have a lot of cool aunts. I can’t help it. Kathy is my husband Joe’s second cousin on his mom’s side and his godmother. She’s one of the first people I ever met in his family (Colleen, his sister, beat her out by a month). I remember Joe taking me out to Long Island, where she’s lived most of her life. We had just started dating and he was really excited for me to meet her. Kathy and her mom, Mary, were a huge part of Joe’s childhood. He spent every summer out there, living and working with them.

She was a single mom at the time raising two kids on her own and working a hot dog wagon that she owned on the beach. She was kind and funny and incredibly hardworking. She was also the life of the party. Cocktails and the beach life were what I remember about that time with her.

When Joe and I decided to elope and not have a big wedding – she’s who we called to help us. Any other relative would have tried to talk us out of it or tried to tell us that many people in the family would be upset. But not Kathy, she was all in. She’s one of the witness signatures on our license and we wouldn’t want it any other way. That day was also a milestone for her. She woke up the next morning and stopped drinking completely. She swears it had nothing to do with our wedding…

Since then she’s transformed her life completely. She’s been teaching for over a decade, she’s raised two amazing kids and had many other adventures in between. The one thing that hasn’t changed about her is her big heart. Her home is always welcome to all. I’ve never once heard her complain about guests or people visiting. She loves it. The more the merrier.

For the past several years, my daughter boards a bus in NYC and heads out to Aunt Kathy’s for a week. Sometimes it’s with a cousin, sometimes it’s with a friend. This year it was with both! We pick her up and usually make a weekend of it – that’s what we were doing these past few days.

She still leaves near the beach – that’s another thing that will never change about her. She needs to be near her ocean.

A couple of years ago she developed a passion for pottery making, and like everything else she’s gone after – she’s completely committed. She took classes. Built a studio. Bought a wheel. She’s in it. Deep.

Ofcourse I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. The closest I’ve ever been to making pottery is watching the scene in Ghost. I mean I’ve gone to those paint-a-mug places a few times with the kids but that’s just overpriced coloring. I wanted to make something. To create! I get excited.

Kathy took me to her beautiful studio – in her even more beautiful back yard. She walked me through the steps and gave me clear instruction. Here are some shocking things I learned that you might already know, but I certainly did not: Clay is tough. Like really really tough. I thought it would be pliable and moldable. I thought it would fold and move easily under my hands. But it doesn’t. You have to use force and strength and balance. You have to have steady but really firm hands pushing and pulling it. Clay isn’t for wimps. You know when you meet those people that make pottery and you think they’re all soft hippies? They aren’t. They can break you with those hands. They’ve taken a hard piece of clay, controlled it, managed it, and made it yield to them. There’s friction on that wheel that can burn you. If you don’t center your clay with authority, it basically refuses to work with you. Clay is a bitch yo.

It took me three attempts to create something that looked like something – but it was addicting. I totally get why she loves it. Before I left I snagged some of her amazing pieces. Because I’m type A I’m trying to talk her into opening an Etsy shop so other people (like you) can also get her pieces, but she told me to calm down. She’s just doing it for fun (for now).

Here’s her sun filled studio



She has these beautiful Buddha statues all over her house – this one protects women, children and pets. This has nothing to do with pottery but I love the idea.    IMG_5151

These are her pieces that I grabbed. I was greedy. I don’t care. They are pieces of art!  

   The pieces look delicate and beautiful – but they can survive a lot of heat. Kinda like lady who makes them.

Hot Date

Well not really that hot, but my husband and I did sneak out to a movie last night. On a Sunday night. Aren’t we crazy? We’ve always loved movies. When we first met we went to a movie every Friday night. This was pre-Rotten Tomatoes so you really didn’t know what you were getting. It was great. We would see whatever was out. Action. Love story. Horror. We just loved going. We saw really good movies and really bad ones too. The only governing factors were the time of the show and the theater we saw it in. Now we need all of the internet to tell us it’s good before we deem to see it.

Things slowed down when we had kids – we saw fewer and fewer movies. Babysitters were hard to get – and it just seemed easier to just stay home. As the kids got older we started taking them to the movies with us, which meant most of what we saw involved princesses, action hero’s and toys. That was fun too.

We passed on our love of movies to them – actually just to my daughter. My son is a good sport but there’s a lot of other things he’d always rather be doing (although 2 summers ago we watched the entire Harry Potter Series together and he still talks about it). Kera on the other hand, loves movies like we do. She loves a good scary movie equally as much as she likes a good indie. And because she grew up in a world with YouTube, she loves documentaries too. My husband and I were secretly delighted to hear that she may want to focus on film production in college (or music. or something else). We acted all cool like, “oh that’s nice…”, when in reality we were both more like,” omg! omg! that’s what we should have done!”. What’s wrong with us? We need to calm down.

Where was I? We love movies. Now that the kids are older we have lots of opportunities to sneak out on our own, and we do. We love Oscar season and try to see everything nominated that we can get our hands on. We love the summer fluff movies and the fall serious moves (ok I love the fluff, my husband takes a nice nap). Our local theater just installed all recliner seats. If they start serving wine I’m moving in.

We come from a long line of movie lovers. My mother-in-law used to take my husband and his sister to the movies all the time. My family loved the movies too – hooray for Bollywood! When we meet people who don’t like the movies we are immediately suspect. Not like movies? Do you hate America too?

Long story long – we went, we ate popcorn, we had fun. Happy Monday!

(forgot to mention that we saw the The Gift. We give it two thumbs up and a very red ripe tomato)

Spice of life 

All those who love me know my devotion to heat. Not heat as in temperature, what I’m talking about is the burn of a good pepper. For most of my life I’ve ordered my pasta, curry, and Chinese food extra spicy. My go-to condiment is crushed red pepper. I almost cried when I realized that our pizza place offered fried hot peppers as a side. Anyway my point is… I like spicy. I like spicy very much. Well I’m not the only one! There’s more freaks like me.

Here’s the segment that came on the news tonight that proves it!  Apparently very spicy peppers have the power to lower cholesterol, keep blood cells healthy, and make you more interesting as a person. I may have made up that last one – but I believe it to be true. 

Guess what I was eating when the segment came on… I’m a genius!  Based on my pepper consumption amounts, my blood cells should be doing the mambo. So go out there and have a pepper people. Or don’t. I’m not the boss of you. 

Wide Open Spaces

Upstate NY

We went to visit some friends who are like family and started the trip at this beautiful 5 acre property. The home is stunning – beautiful inside and out like the owners. But the back yard…with a full garden and apple orchard is what I love! If it wouldn’t have been the height of rudeness I would have sat on a wooden bench they have, in the shade, the whole time. Don’t you love guests who care more about your vegetation than you? Tell me you can’t smell the green fresh air in these pictures? Btw – those raspberries were delicious. One fell on the ground as I was looking at it. Just popped right off the plant. It was spooky. Weirdo raspberries. It’s a thing.

   
    
    
    
 

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