Can’t Get You Out of My Head (July)

Gonna make this quick. I have a train to catch and then a plane to catch and then another train to catch and THEN I will get a gigantic hug from a friend I haven’t seen in 4 whole years. Can’t even wait, people!

So my confession this month is of the embarrassing sort. And I have admitted a lot of things in this space in the past that should have embarrassed me but didn’t, but this one kinda does.

...Sometimes, when I am on the bus or train here, I purposely sit too close to people just so I feel like I have a friend. And sometimes it’s prrreetttyyyyy awkward…lol

But connecting with other human beings is important, right? And sometimes you just need to feel that jolt of energy that can only come from another human.

Saturday was a good example. The train to Hamburg was crowded and I got stuck sitting with this obnoxious group of Scouts (I am NOT even kidding you; some of them were even wearing orange bandanas), and instead of reading my book like I should have, I cozied right up there and laughed loudly at their jokes (which I couldn’t even translate!) and got off the train WITH them, all the way to the street, actually. It was great fun. They hadn’t a clue who I was, where I had come from, or where I was going. Anonymity. It’s pretty much my life right now.

And sometimes? Sometimes I carry my umbrella even though it is small enough to fit in my purse, just to feel like someone is holding my hand when the streets are really crowded.

How’s that for embarrassing?

But whatever, it could be a lot worse, at least I think.

Anyways, if I think my train etiquette is bad, how about this guy who brought his house on wheels onto the train wearing spandex? He wins. I hope he has a confessions blog, too.

Oh man, I SO wish you could better see the look on that woman’s face in the last one. No one could believe this was actually happening.

 

So anyways, off I go on yet another grand adventure. Sorry to let y’all down, but I will NOT be wearing the big hat to the wedding as planned, as I very much so don’t want to be carrying it around for the next 11 days in the UK. Forgive me?

~C

 

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Klimahaus Bremerhaven 8° Ost

Photo Credit:Klimahaus Bremerhaven 8° Ost

Normally when I sit down to write a post, I have at least some idea of where to begin…but right now I can’t say that that is the case. I am speechless at what I experienced today, and despite feeling a lack of direction for this post, I want to write down everything I can remember now before any time passes. Because it was JUST that good.

The building that is pictured above is kind of hard to miss, and even harder to ignore. I have never been a huge fan of museums, so it hasn’t really been at the forefront of my plans to go to this place…but in an effort to stay busy and not get bored, I decided to go this morning after church. I was, after all, at least slightly intrigued by the building itself and the copious amount of people I see coming and going from it every single time I walk past it (which is pretty much every single day).

So in I go, paying €14 which I thought was a lot at the time…in hindsight I would pay a heck of a lot more than that, and will not hesitate to go again despite the fact that it’s fairly expensive entertainment, especially for this city.

I couldn’t possibly have been the only English-speaking visitor there today, but the staff treated me like I was…I was “checked on” a few times, and someone was always there to translate for me or give me tips, which made me feel like royalty…how amazing of them to go out of their way to make sure I had a positive experience. Every time I thanked someone for helping me, they replied “Eez okay. Everysing veel be gut for you, ya.” It was awesome.

Ugh…I don’t feel like my words are doing me justice right now. So I will go to the strongest weapon for relating experiences—pictures. Enjoy : )

(I obviously can’t post all 240 that I took, so I picked a few to post and threw the rest into a slideshow featured at the bottom)

I melted my handprint into the ice in Antarctica…now I will always be a part of it : )

Look at me! Back in Africa…

My heart literally aches with homesickness for this continent. I NEED to go back. Now.

My name in Tifinaugh (Niger)

Just lay down and watch the stars for awhile in the desert. No biggie.

And this? This is where and when I almost cried. Have you ever seen anything more beautiful? There was twinkly/spacey/Enya-ish music playing and a sense of solitude that even the little kids seemed to grasp. I must have layed on the couch and watched those stars blink for about 35 minutes straight.

The Rain Forest…literally.

It might be hard to tell from the picture, but those are actual waves being created behind the scenes there. With really nothing stopping you from walking into the water.

Babies!

NOT a real baby, but still so cute. How babes sleep in Samoa.

Here comes something amazing…

(can you see the zoo??)

It was frickin’ freezing up there. But seaside living is worth it!

There is so so so much not pictured, too! In Samoa, there was a rainforest at night exhibit that was impossible to take pictures of because it was pretty much pitch black, plus it was literally raining in there so I had to hide my camera in my jacket so it wouldn’t get wet. It was kind of like going to the cornmaze…that same kind of “lost but safe” feeling…I just wandered around until I found my way out.

Oh you guys, it was so cool. Every country/continent featured was so real. The temperatures were incredibly accurate. I went from sweating my arse off to freezing cold, back and forth, many times. At the entrance there is a free bag/coat check, and I tried to check my coat and they said no keep it, and I can see why. And the smells! Switzerland smelled like cows, no joke. Africa smelled like campfire. Antarctica smelled like fish and ice. You get the picture. And the ground wasn’t ever just cement or linoleum if you were in a country…it was totally real. In Africa you walk through sand (which I would like to believe they had delivered from Africa, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case!) The ground in all the European exhibits was pebbles and cobblestone. The rain forest was some kind of squishy, “wet” material..you get the picture. You would love it here so much. I almost cried a few times, just overwhelmed by it all. (and no I am NOT pms-ing, thankyouverymuch)

My heart has been physically aching lately for Africa. Sometimes, when I least expect it, I can smell it…sweat and fire and spice. And it brings hot, burning, rarely-shed tears to my eyes. I want to, need to, go back so, so bad. But today, thanks to the Klimahaus Bremerhaven, a tiny bit of that was pacified in a way. No it wasn’t the same as being there, but it helped. My heart is full. Full of gratitude and wonder and thrill.

~C

PS I know I promised that post on real estate here, and believe me, I am getting to it! Things just keep coming up that need to be posted first. It’s still coming though : )

Dear Canada,

This morning I woke up and felt restless…as much as I have settled into a routine and way of life here in Germany, I needed to break out of that today and feel some adrenaline and have an adventure. And also, it’s been raining a lot here lately, and even though rain in Europe is a little more bearable than rain in BC, it has still been getting under my skin and standing in the way of plans I have made, and I knew that if I didn’t get out of Bremerhaven today I would go into a dark place emotionally and I really don’t want that to happen.

So I packed up my laptop and Nikon and put on some comfy shoes, walked to the cafe and got a nice steaming hot drink and stepped onto the train bound for Bremen. If you live here permanently, Bremen probably isn’t the most exciting place to visit…maybe like someone from Abbotsford, say, going to Langley for the day (um, except this is still Europe so Langley is a terrible comparison!). But different is good sometimes, and even if I didn’t pick thee most exciting destination, it got me out of the mood that was settling in.

And now I am here. I knew exactly where I was heading for when I got off the train at the hauptbahnhof and started walking through the rain armed with a backpack and umbrella.

Starbucks.

It’s only the second time I have been here since arriving in Europe last month, and for me that’s pretty good. I want to take advantage of other coffee shops here while I can, knowing that Starbucks will be waiting for me when I get home, but today? Today I need the comfort of something familiar. The comfort of knowing that even if she knows only broken English, the sweet girl behind the counter will be able to understand me and my (complicated) order. Today I want to feel included and not excluded. I want to feel like I fit in. I want to not be navigating confusing signs today. I want to feel like I am home.

Because Canada? I miss you. Today, I really really miss you.

I have shed very few tears since coming here, but today they threaten me.

Yesterday at the pool a little girl climbed onto my lap in the hot tub and tried to painstakingly talk to me about something…I stared at her and tried so hard to grasp what she was saying, but I couldn’t. Between her sweet little lisp and the noise of the pool and the language barrier, a normal conversation was beyond our reach. But her Opa came to our rescue and did his best to translate for us…she wanted to tell me that she was visiting from Switzerland. But she was calling it Swiss (which is pronounced like Sweets) and I thought she was asking me for sweets (candy) and I didn’t have any….so as you can see, it was a confusing few minutes. But through her Opa I learned her name was Laura and she will be 7 years old in September and she is learning to swim. It was a 5 minute conversation that absolutely made my day. Because despite the issues we had communicating, she made me feel like Christina…if that makes sense. She sensed my heart for children and without knowing me at all she climbed on my lap and let me hold her and she talked to me and connected with my heart, and that? That meant the world to me.

In 45 minutes, my two hour internet access time limit will run out and I will have to go back out there, into the streets of Europe, and maybe then I will be ready to face it again. Because I know this is a grand adventure and I really am loving it. But right now I am very thankful for Starbucks and the green aprons and purple couches and chalkboards with specials written on them and the fact that I can hear snippits of English being spoken around me. I am thankful for this familiar comfort right now. It feels like home to me.

Thanks for listening…I feel much better now. The half-sweet, non-fat, no-whip, extra hot marble mocha might have helped too, though…just a little bit : )

~C

 

We’re Going to the Zoo Zoo Zoo, How ‘Bout You You You?

And by ‘we’ I mean ‘me’, because Gramma left last week. So I am flying solo. And I am very, very brave.

Ever since I got here I really wanted to go to the zoo, so I did, even though I felt kinda weird and creepy going alone. But I went anyway. Twice. Once would probably have been enough, except it started pouring rain the first time and as you will see, the zoo is mostly outdoors. So it was just not fun to get soaked. And I pinched my finger badly in my umbrella so I was pretty grumpy the first time around. Therefore I went back today, and it was much better!

I should probably mention here that even though it’s called the zoo, it is more of an aquarium. A really cool one, too!

Here are some pictures (which I am not even sure if I was allowed to take, actually…I’m not sure if I was getting dirty looks from people because A) I am just so beautiful and they are jealous, B) photography is not allowed, or C) I was pushing their little children out of the way to get a better look)

As you can see, these children are excellent listeners and follow ALL the rules…including the one that says to never ever climb the rocks.

SUCH a cool zoo, hey?

Funnily enough, the most popular exhibit was the one with the raccoons. Forgive me for not sticking around to get a picture of one…if you REALLY want to see a raccoon, just go to your garbage cans tonight and you’ll find one 🙂

My first time seeing a Puma!

Arctic Fox…cutest!

And last but not least, I (quickly!) put together a little video of all the feeding times that I caught today. Mostly for my little buddy, Lane 🙂

(before you play it, I would suggest turning the volume down on your computer—I don’t know if it’s just mine but it is REALLY loud for some reason, even on the quietest setting).

I absolutely adore the fact that those kids couldn’t get over the monkey’s popo…just too cute.

Next adventure on the agenda? A little day trip to Hamburg on Saturday, The 8° Ost Klimahaus on Sunday (kinda like Science World, only not about science!), followed by a trip to the UK from Tuesday onwards to visit my friends that I have not seen in years! That will bring us to August, in which I will be travelling to Denmark, Sweden, and Italy, and then…HOME!

And next up for the blog, a little look into some of Germany’s most coveted real estate : )

Love,

~C

Kicks

To quote über famous author and blogging sensation Kelle Hampton…today, I am enjoying the small things.

My new Converse OneStar kicks, to start! They say good things come to those who wait, and let me tell you, I have been searching high and low for the “perfect” shoes for this journey of mine, and I found them. Wearing purple shoes in Europe? Abso-freaking-lutely!

Grocery shopping in my new hometown.

New shampoo and conditioner (hey, I said small things, not exciting things!)

A puzzle. What’s a vacation without a mind-numbing activity, right?

As you can see, I have come VERY far 🙂

TONS of exercise.

Wow…looking at this picture it is clear how badly I need a new bathing suit (or swimming costume as my loves in the UK would say).

And also, the zooooooooo! (which really needs a post of its own. coming soon)

Life is good. I sleep a lot. And found a place that makes the best hot chocolate in the world. Seriously. I am not looking to give up coffee, but if I ever wanted to I would most definitely need to move here in order to replace one addiction with another. Because that’s how I roll.

Back soon with a post from the zoo 🙂

~C

 

 

Segue

(isn’t that a fun word? there are lots of words I hate, but that one is so nice to say…seg-way. seg-way. seg-way)

On Thursday morning I packed up my bathing suit and towel, as I do every morning, and grabbed a bus ticket and my iPod, fully intending to head to the pool and get a solid 1.5 hour swim in before I committed to any big plans for the day.

As I was leaving the apartment (or attempting to), Gramma comes up behind me and forcefully tells me that she is coming with me because first we are going to the doctor. Okay, so I had been having some lower back pain and unusual cramping and a headache, but I was completely willing to blow that off and just get on with my day. But not Gramma. Oh no. She hates doctors in Canada. Hates Western Medicine. If he wasn’t married, I’m pretty sure she would marry the local naturopath in White Rock, who she pretty much worships. But German medicine? She’s all about that. She swears by the doctor here.

So off we go. And within 10 minutes after getting to the clinic, I am getting my first ultrasound. 10 minutes after that, we’re sent to the hospital. So we walked there. That’s how not-very-sick I was feeling. I already thought this whole thing was getting blown out of proportion and we weren’t even half an hour into it. We got to the hospital and I’m immediately given another ultrasound. Then I get hooked up to an IV and am told I am not going anywhere for a few days.

A few DAYS?!

I was so, so, so super choked.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of what being at St. Josephs Hospital was like, let me just say that I really, really, really felt humiliated at this point by my lack of German. I’ve been taking care of myself for a long time now, and as much as I might still struggle with it, I have learned to advocate for myself and ask good questions and take care of business. So imagine how I must have felt, 3 days after my 28th birthday, to not have a translator at the hospital, but rather someone who totally takes over the conversation and rarely, if ever, let’s me in on what’s going on. Don’t get me wrong: I love my Gramma. Y’all know that. But it still was upsetting to me to have plans being made almost behind my back, even though I was sitting right there. I never knew what they (she and the doctors) were laughing about, and of course sensitive me always assumed I was being laughed at. I didn’t know what was going on or what was wrong. I was pretty mad, actually. I had a lot of feelings go through me these last few days, and few of them were pleasant. There were some doctors and the odd nurse who took a stab at speaking English with me, but truth be told, it was a very lonely and isolating 3 days.

And things had to get worse before they got better.

Like I said, I didn’t totally understand what was going around in the minds of these doctors and technicians, but somewhere along the way I gathered that I had a kidney stone. But that’s why I was very confused when I received not one but two enemas, plus a hysteroscope, two very painful catheters put in by a student nurse, and a round-the-clock IV dripping who knows what into my veins. Blood work and urine samples were taken every 4 hours. I feel like a human pin cushion.

At St. Josephs Hospital, there were 20 TV channels that I could watch. 20 channels in exclusive German. Let me tell you, you haven’t watched Glee, South Park, The Simpsons, ER, and House until you’ve watched them ridiculously dubbed over by over-the-top voice actors and actresses. I mean, really, there is only one Lisa Simpson and there is only one Rachel Berry. But it was pretty hilarious (as well as frustrating), even though I felt out of the loop with shows I watch all the time. (okay, I don’t actually watch South Park…at least not anymore!).

There were some weird differences between this hospital and ARH or Peace Arch, the only two hospitals I have stayed in in Canada (don’t even get me started on my hospital stay in South Africa!). First of all, the doctors and nurses don’t wear gloves. That seemed really weird to me. Even when changing IV’s and dealing directly with blood; no gloves. Also, when you need to give a urine sample you are given a dixie cup. Like an everyday drinking glass. And there is nowhere official to put the pee cup, so you just leave it wherever you want, and then someone (without gloves on) just comes along eventually and if they happen to notice a cup of pee they casually pick it up and walk away. It doesn’t even say your name, so how they know it’s your sample is beyond me. Another thing is, they don’t really wear scrubs. The doctors have white coats, yes, but the only dress code I picked up on was that the hospital colours were white and blue. And blue jeans count. So do white jeans (which should really be outlawed). Speaking of clothing, they don’t have any hospital gowns. Whatever you arrive in, that’s what you wear. That was super strange to me, especially since they did so many procedures on me…you’d think it would be a heck of a lot easier for everyone if I didn’t have to take all my clothes off every time they needed a sample (sorry, TMI, I know).

I found out yesterday I was on the surgical unit. That would explain why the 84 year old lady, whose name is Esme, that I shared the room with had only one eye. I also found out that they were initially planning to remove my appendix. Hence the surgical unit.

Just since I am already being so honest here, and since I promised myself that this summer my blog was more of a diary, I would just like to point out the most painful part of this whole experience…It wasn’t the poking and prodding, or the (for lack of a better term), invasion of privacy. It was something the OB/GYN said casually to the nurse during my hysteroscope…he told her, in English, “Nope, nothing there. Vacant womb”. Why is that SO painful to me? Um, it’s not like I had any suspicions that I was pregnant or anything…it was just the way he said it, like there should have been something there, that made me feel like I had lost something…maybe that doesn’t make sense. Plus all those ultrasounds…I might not be trained in reading sonograms, but I know enough about human anatomy to know that I was first seeing my liver, down to my kidneys, further down to my appendix, and then yep, there is was…a dark, empty womb. I don’t want to have another ultrasound until it’s showing a high-kicking little peanut for me to love.

Anyways, it was a rough 3 days that I don’t want to repeat, but I will admit that the rest I got to have was lovely and the quiet was good for me maybe. I was cut off from everyone except Nikki, as she happened to be the one phone number I know by heart from helping one of the kids learn it. Also, there were 2 nurses who really stuck out to me, because they tried to talk to me even though they felt awkward and silly and inadequate…Kai and Nina, plus my day doctor, Dagmar, who tried to kindly distract me while shoving yet another needle into my unwilling veins.

Something really interesting about those veins of mine? The only one that seemed truly cooperative was the one directly beside my love tattoo. My wrist is now black and blue, but maybe my body chose that place because it knew (and God knew) that I needed all the love I could get…I stared a lot at that IV as it slowly but surely dripped unit after unit of fluid directly into the word, love. The body’s funny like that.

So, that was my little vay-cay segue, and I have (obviously) been discharged and am on the mend. I spent 52 hours in the hospital (and btw, 31 of them were spent fasting from everything but water), but I am not sick anymore. Tomorrow I am going swimming, and I am picking up where I left off.

Getting stronger. Loving myself completely. Knowing God deeper.

~C

Top 10 Reasons Why My 28th Birthday Rocks

Time: 9:15pm

Music: He Said (Group 1 Crew)

1) I had an awesome birthday party in June, which I never even talked about on here because I ran out of time. Minus a few who couldn’t make it, the crew came together in the most wonderful way, and we all look forward greatly to the reunion party we get to have when I return to Canada.

2) The Happy Birthday Care Package:

Everyone should be lucky enough to have Myranda/Mandy/Hannah like this one in their life. She blew me away with this wonderful, carefully thought out gift she sent me to Europe with (though I shouldn’t have been surprised—the girl puts Pintrest to shame!)

3) Did I mention I am celebrating this special occasion in EUROPE?

4) No picture, but yesterday Gramma, her bff Hanne-Laura, and I all went out for a fancy-shmancy lunch at a real classy place where you really shouldn’t dip your fingers in the candles or wish for a straw (maybe I will learn by 29?) to celebrate my birthday. The waiters were all dressed like penguins and barely any food came with the meal, and the best part was when the platters arrived, and it took two whole people to ceremoniously whisk away the metals domes to reveal the main course. Pretty cool.

5) My 27th year wasn’t easy, but guess what? I’m not 27 anymore! 28 is going to be seriously amazing, I can feel it, and that begins TODAY!

6) Since I am 28, I get to make 28 wishes (don’t argue with me).

7) I got to open this card today, and I got to really bask with no distractions in the love of a friend who knows my heart and could project weeks in advance what her girl would need to hear on this very day.

8) Skype date with my FullHouse peeps! Loving every second of getting to be ‘near’ my second family!

9) Dear Gramma arranged her own little celebration, and sang me Happy Birthday all by herself when I walked into the kitchen tonight. Bless her heart.

10) The Happy Birthday Care Package has finally been put to use!

Some people don’t believe that birthdays are a very big deal, and honestly I thought I would grow out of them eventually, but I never did. It’s healthy, I think, to take a good long look at your life and see where you were a year ago, two years ago, or even 28 years ago, and realize how very far you’ve come (and yes, how very far you have to go).

Thankful today for the ones who have walked this road with me faithfully, and thankful today for this life I have been given.

~C

Who you are ain’t what your going through
So don’t let it get the best of you
Cause God knows everything you need,
so you ain’t gotta worry

You may be knocked down now
but just believe what He said, He said

I won’t give you more, more then you can take
and I might let you bend, but I won’t let you break
and no, I’ll never ever let you go
Don’t you forget what He said

He Said-Group 1 Crew