Oh New York, It Could Never Last

I have loved New York since I was young. What started out as a harmless crush turned into the only long distance relationship I ever felt worthy of pursuing. Four years ago I bought a one-way plane ticket to make it my future. I have never regretted that decision for a second.

But the thing is, New York is not easy. Like any relationship, it takes work. We have had some amazing times together; we have had those moments when you look down in disgust and think, "Now this is what real hate feels like!"

New York can be cold and icily cruel. It has been distant, isolating and stoic. But then when I least expect it, I am enveloped by love. A bear hug of awesome. Even the most mundane activities together lead to unexpected joy. My appreciation for the little things has been heightened times a million. Seasons, nature, fashion, strangers' compassion, individual satisfaction. 

When I first arrived, naive would be a generous word to describe me. I mean, I still believe most infomercial gadgets are probably going to cure cancer, but about real-world issues, I have a clue now. New york is the best teacher: Financial bailouts, political gridlock, gay rights, real estate envy - I had a front row view of it all.

But it wasn't all Cable News Network. New York provided a well-rounded education too. Celebrities, I've seen 'em. Culinary delights, I've tasted them. Fashion icons, I've literally almost run into them. These experiences have made me a better version of myself. (Or at least, a more self-important version, which is fine too.)

But personal growths leads to internal reflections. I notice that the whimsy has warn off, the newness no longer a pull. There is an undeniable level of comfort, but is that enough of a reason to keep things going? "I could have an amazing time here for another decade, but my life probably wouldn't be that different from how it is now."

What we had, New York and I, was never guaranteed to last. I knew going into it that building a future together would require sacrifices. Was I willing to make them? At some points along the way I thought yes. Could I handle never being the center of attention? How about not ever requiring a commitment longer than a calendar year? Maybe, I thought, I could keep it breezy. Perhaps all those trappings of conventional life are outdated by now, I justified.

But unfortunately, as much as I've tried to rationalize my love, I realize New York will always leave me wanting something more. We want different things. I won't lie, the age difference has been a factor. New York, so old and wise, and me in no position to disregard the history and pattern of behavior. I'm not the first young, idealistic girl to fall in love with these streets, and I won't be the last. If there is anything I have learned in life, it's that you can't change 'em. 

Basically, what I am trying to say, is that New York is the George Clooney of geography.

They wine and dine you better than anyone else, share a slice of glamorous life others will be jealous of, and you cannot deny they both gotta hell of a smile. But at the end of the day you can't require anything more. There is no agreement for forever. You will never be able to afford to buy. At some point, you have to walk away, satisfied by the memories and ready for what ever is next. 

We will be parting on good terms, New York and I. It is a difficult time and we hope you can respect our privacy. We are committed to staying friends.

Kind of Sad, Allegedly

In an effort not to start 2012 incredibly let down, I went into New Year's Eve with low expectations. I mean, I was excited for an opportunity to get dressed up, see friends and be back in the city, but in general, I just really could not make any grand effort one way or another. Because New Year's Eve is the worst.*
*With the exception of 1982 when my parents were married. Happy 29th anniversary, guys.

Anyway, my night actually started off amazing, lifting my spirits for the possibilities ahead. What grand act could bring me such happiness? I found a cab in less than five minutes. Granted it was still fairly early, but still. New Year's miracle! Of course this great luck landed me at the restaurant 20 minutes head of the friends I was meeting for dinner.

Normally I would be uneasy about being forced to sit alone at a bar, but bolstered by my newfound "I am a confidant lady who lived in Europe!" experience, I sauntered up and ordered myself a dirty vodka martini. Like a champ, texting (legimately, not even pantomiming, but we've all been there) and sipping my adult beverage.

And then, after I'd marinated in my comfortable smugness for a few minutes, the guy sitting to my left confronted me with the statement, "We have been wondering what you are doing here by yourself." Followed by his embarrassed girlfriend interrupting to clarify they had not in fact been "wondering" about me. It was more or less the greatest fear I have ever had about going to a restaurant by myself. Luckily I was able to assure them I was in fact meeting people and not alone like a total loser alone on New Year's. And then I waited with baited breath for my friends to show up before the couple left so I didn't look like a huge losery liar. (The girls soon came and all was right in the world.)

Following the meal, my friends and I managed to find another cab within a matter of seconds to drive us to The BFF's BFs TriBeca apartment for a party. With a limited amount of eligible bachelors in attendance - although a 22 year old in town visiting his brother was fairly adorable cougar bait - I spent the Midnight Countown awkwardly congregated in a corner with my other single friends. Which was totally fine until I started reminding myself "How you spend New Year's is how you'll spend the new year." Real inspirational.

But it was fine. Low key and low expectations. Which is why I agreed to stop by a bar on my way home to say hi to my friend Jim, the poster child for someone you should under-estimate. It was good to catch up, but more importantly, it was good to get two more cabs with little to no effort. No trouble getting home? NYE VICTORY!!!!

Due to my fairly well-behaved evening, I was rewarded with a hangover free New Year's Day where I took advantage of the warm(ish) weather with a long walk in Central Park. And I have to say, it was pretty perfect.

I was feeling proud of myself and my good decisions until I talked on the phone with my mom. She had been dying to tell me about her night. She wore a dress I had suggested she try on while we were on a post-Christmas shopping trip, "something she would never have chosen for herself." It looked great on her, and I had a feeling it would inspire a fun night out. (I am giving the dress more credit than it deserves - put my mom in a situation with live music and she will have fun, no questions asked.)

Anyway, she was giving me the play by play of the night, I was half paying attention, and then all of a sudden the words, "And then the waitresses dancing on the bar suggested I get up there and I figured 'when else am I going to say I did this?' so I got up there too!!!"

Yep. My mom thinks her night was great because she danced on a bar. I thought I had a great night due to my efficient cab hailing.

When I gave that comparison to her on the phone, her answer was: "That is kind of sad, Rachel."

Hope you had a special time too!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And On To The Next

By all accounts, 2011 was a good year for me. I had some adventures, made new friends, caught up with old ones (hi!), traveled around Europe, and played with puppies. It was indeed The Year of Something.

But hopefully that wasn't my peak.

I can feel the second wave of my quarter life crisis encroaching. Things are changing. It makes me nervous. Although, unlike in 2009, this time I feel more prepared to harness my restless energy for a positive push forward. (At least I hope to.)

I see 2012 as a year of inspiration, of figuring out what I want and how I can accomplish it. I wish the same clarity, perspective, and motivation to you as well.

And if you're not interested in that, below are some pictures of my dog Jesse trying to make out with me as pay back for insisting he be in a picture.

To 2012: A Year of Getting What You Want.

Real attractive, I know.

Walk Down Memory Lane

I have said before, I had the best college experience imaginable. And while I made lifelong friends there, I was also lucky enough to go into it with The BFF by my side. Since we are both still in town for the holidays, she suggested we drive over to campus to stroll around to remember the good ol' days. (Or due to the onslaught of construction during the past four years, complain like old women about how everything has changed. And not for the better.)

First stop was our dorm where we were roommates freshman year. Hardin House is an all girls residence where boys are not even allowed upstairs. Which is how we sort of live in New York considering our apartment set up. Except now we don't have daily housekeeping. Sighhhh. Life is so hard. 

Our next stop was the bench where The BFF was once dumped by her boyfriend. According to Facebook, he is a super weirdo now, so she should have the upper hand but instead she likes to make (joking) comments about how one day they will be together. As you can see, she's still pretty broken up about it.

From there we walked to my other former residence where I was spoiled with chef cooked meals and housekeeping, reminding me that is kind of a miracle I turned out so awesomely well-adjusted as I did. By well-adjusted, I mean "able to keep myself alive." 

We walked around the main campus too, with views of the Texas Capitol in one direction and the UT Tower in the other. Although I might be biased, UT has the most beautiful campus. Also, "What start's here changes the world." Which is not biased, it is our slogan. Therefore it is truth.

And since Austin's (unofficial) slogan is Keep Austin Weird, I leave you with this iconic image. (Iconic why I am not sure, but it is definitely weird.)

It was a fun day. And the fact it was 65 degrees didn't hurt. God bless Austin "winter." And Hook 'em Horns!

Until Next Year

After being in the Christmas spirit for over a month in Germany, it was nice for it all to culminate at home with my family in Austin. The past few days have consisted of the staple holiday activities like eating, laughing and working puzzles. (I wish our society put a higher premium on the ability to work a puzzle, if so I would be the queen of the world, which is just what we all need.) There was also a multi-hour stint of baking, something I never do. (Mostly because my brain is censored with the "See dough. Put in mouth." instructions.) And then there were the presents. I am now the proud owner of an iPhone, hence the bounty of Instagram photos in the future. I know, you are beyond excited.

The cutest picture of me from child hood. Sorry I don't like you enough to share the one of me with a mullet. Maybe next year.
Thanks to our Aunt Barb, Christmas morning remains a time for playing and dressing up. I am channeling my inner Ron Swanson in this photo.

Hope y'all had a great Christmas too!

Seasons Greetings From Austin

I am alive, I know you were very concerned. After a wonderful last week in Berlin, I made it back to New York on Saturday. Literally as soon as I walked in the door, I was promptly whisked away by The BFF to a holiday party followed by three straight days of more catching up with close friends, eating, drinking and being jet-lagged.

Also, during that time I won BINGO at Tortilla Flats, where I was coerced into chugging a glass of warm well gin to win a free t-shirt. If you know me, you know I think gin tastes like trees. You are also aware of the fact I am not too mature to turn something tree-tasting down in the face of a crowd chanting my name. RACHEL! RACHEL! is practically synonymous with USA! USA! After being away for all this time, there was no way I was letting down my people. (It was a Christmas Miracle I did not throw up, and the t-shirt is totally awesome.)

Anyway, the last few days have been surreal. Hearing English wherever I go, following the same paths I've worn into the sidewalks of New York, talking with friends as if no time has gone by (this is primarily thanks to The Internet and the fact we caught up on a regular basis but whatever).

It has been great to be back. I miss Berlin, but I am excited to be in Austin for CHRISTMAS! And that is all I can focus on right now.

Well, that, and getting lectured by Dolo on the proper etiquette of taking a flattering picture while riding on a camel. "The mistake I made was wearing white pants."(As learned on the cruise she and my mom took following their visit to Berlin.)

It is good to be back.

Tschüs, Berlin

141 days.

20 weeks.

5 visitors from America.

4 European city mini-vacations.

3 Chelsea Handler books.

2 hairdryers that almost caught on fire.

1,000,000 hours spent watching American TV shows.

My biggest takeaways from my time here:

  • Germans find me funny. Oh wait, that's not saying much.
  • Germans can sound so gruff when they speak, but even the most macho guy's voice raises two octaves when he says tschüs (goodbye, pronounced like choo-ssss). It is precious.
  • Germans do not think it is weird to include a lot of exclamation points in professional correspondence. More does not mean more sarcastic. It is kind of refreshing!
  • Germans love apple juice. Actually they love all juice. I am not much of a juice drinker. Even as a child, it was not my beverage of choice. I find it a little unsettling, to tell you the truth. I was never going to fit into this society.

Yep that's about it.

I will miss having a flat with windows showing off the sunrise each morning. I will not miss having a flat behind a school where children wake me up with their "joyful" screams each morning.

But seriously, I have loved living in Berlin. The city, itself, is cool. "Sexy but poor." Part of me wishes I'd taken more advantage of it (only one night did I stay up until sunrise), but the more dominant, lazy-old-woman in me is happy with my choices. I mean, why leave your apartment when you have so many rooms to wander between, so many compartments to hole yourself up in, so many different places to sit! I was rich with chairs!

The experience of being here was far better than I expected. I worried I would waste it, that I would come back the same. But I've changed. I am so damn mature now, you won't even recognize me. (hahah. lolz.) But, seriously, though, while not exceedingly mature, I am at least different. My expectations for work, relationships and myself are exponentially higher. I've seen what life has to offer, and I realize what I deserve.

Maybe it wasn't all perfect, but these past five months were much needed. Forced to move somewhere without the security blanket of The BFF. Expected to elevate my professional skills. Required to get out of my comfort level and connect with people despite the language barrier.

I will miss Berlin. But I am excited to come home. Get the confetti and streamers ready. USA, USA.

Last Dance, Last Chance for Romance

During my first week of work in Berlin I was introduced to a guy whose office was down the hall from mine. There was an instantaneous GLLLL* moment.

*GLLLLL = a guttural reaction signifying some sort of combination of excitement/anxiousness/awkwardness. This term was coined in college with my friend Keaton, and it works well both out loud in discussion or as part of a gchat conversation. It can also be used as an adjective.

Okay on the same page now? I didn't think so. What else is new? The point is, from that initial meeting, I felt something. So needless to say I was extremely "GLLLLy" when he asked me to lunch a week or so later.

Once out in the real world, aka not the office, the conversation flowed, but with an undercurrent of hesitation. This might have had something to do with him out-of-the-blue sharing his resent resignation of a long-term relationship. Rot flag. (Rot means red in German. Language and life lessons, people!)

There was no way I was going to pursue something with him knowing he was in that mental state. I am only sometimes a dating masochist, and luckily being new to a foreign country was not that time.

Anyway, we had lunch once more after that, but then he went on holiday for a few weeks. I met The German. We both retreated into our own worlds, occasionally saying hi in the hall. Later on I moved offices to the floor below and never had an excuse to see him. And that was that. He was the cute guy who I once went to lunch with and nothing more.

And then, a couple of weeks ago, I went to dinner with my boss. She made a comment about how perhaps I should have given him a chance instead of The German. "Ummm, was there a chance to be had?" I asked. She had thought so. Apparently he would smirk every time my name was mentioned. Well it's too late now, I thought.

But then he emailed me for a final lunch date before I left. With this new found knowledge of his smirking tendencies egging me on, I decided to be bold. I suggested drinks instead. Weekend drinks. Suggesting weekend drinks to a professional colleague is like sending an email that says "We should make out. Best regards, Rachel."

We met at Cafe Luzia, a dimly lit bar at 7:30pm. We talked for seven hours. Seven hours. The length of time it takes to fly across the Atlantic. (I am really hoping my flight home goes by that quickly, but I doubt it.) There was something about us being there. All the previous awkward hesitation out of the way. Enough time has gone by for us both to be available. It was refreshing. It was fun. It was uncontrollably GLLLLy.

Nothing like making the most of a last week. On Sunday afternoon he met me at the aquarium because it's been on my Berlin Bucket List since I have the same interests as an elementary school kid. (Actual conversation: Him: "Maybe I'll take my niece here when she comes to visit." Me: "How old is she?" Him: "Six." Yep, real mature, Rachel.)

But apparently my childlike enthusiasm was appreciated because tomorrow he's taking me to dinner at a restaurant once patronized by Brad Pitt. And on Friday, my last night, I'm going with him to an 80s hip-hop concert.

Because why not?

If I've learned anything from this whole move-across-the-world experience it's that you never know what will happen unless you go for it. And, plus, who else can say they saw De La Soul on their last night in Berlin? Just Me, Myself & I.


When The Saints Go Marchin' In........ To Berlin

Have you ever been curious about what it would be like to be surrounded by hundreds of Germans gettin' down to some good, old school New Orleans funk? 

Well, in a word, it was awesome. (Originally I was worried it might be another "a" word...as in "awkward.") But no. Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue killed it. They always do.

[via Trombone Shorty website.]

Every show I've seen has been nothing short of an experience. These guys are some of the most talented musicians around. I am allowed to make bold claims like this because even though I personally have a negative amount of musical talent, growing up in Austin, the "Live Music Capital of the World," has instilled in me a strong appreciation for the talent of others.

Needless to say when I learned the band was coming on a German tour and playing in Berlin, there was no doubt that I would be there. And luckily I enticed my American friend Rachel to come with me by promising her "the best concert ever." Her reaction afterwards? "That was THE best concert ever."

[via Trombone Shorty website.]

So, this holiday season, I am not going to get you a present. I am giving you your gift right now. It is the gift of knowledge. Listen to their music. Go seem them live. Here is a link to tour dates. (FYI: They will be in ATX, Houston and Dallas in February.)

If the Berlin crowd was any indication (young, old, gay, straight, making out in front of me, not making out in front of me), it was that this show is for everyone who loves fun and dancing. Is that you? I thought so.

[via Trombone Shorty website.]

If I haven't yet sold you on the caliber of their talent, let me just say that any band whose members can rotate instruments deserves some serious credit. Especially while seamlessly mixing in covers of James Brown, Snoop Dogg and Louis Armstrong.

Speaking of Louis, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrew's spot-on, gravelly impression of the King of Jazz brought down the house. And left me wondering for the rest of the night, "How did every German in there know all the words to "When the Saints Go Marching In"???

PS: My other two favorite bands to see live? Ghostland Observatory (Capes! Lasers! Dance party!) and Robert Randolph & The Family Band (Slide guitar! Gospel! Dance party!). (Brooklyn Bowl recap here.)

Where Did All My Money Go? Paris Edition

Me and Ellen in the scariest elevator ever.
Paris was the second stop on my Euro "backpacking" trip I took the summer before I moved to New York. And although it rained almost constantly, my boyfriend lost his wallet, and I consumed enough tuna kits to convince myself I might have mercury poisoning (they seemed like a good idea at 3am), I fell in love with the city.

The only downside was instead of lounging at outdoor cafés, strolling around the beautiful blocks, and spending loads of money, I was a poor college student surrounded by 40 other poor college students, all herded around like cattle from museum to museum. Not exactly très chic.

This time Ellen and I did Paris on our own time. Since we had both visited all the "must see!" attractions before, we did and saw and ate whatever we wanted. It was glorious. 

First, the food. Melt-in-your-mouth macarons from Pierre Hermé. Liquid heaven hot chocolate from Café Angelina’s (basically the Serendipity of Paris, minus John Cusack). Baguettes, cheese, more carbs, more cheese. Afternoon champagne and café au lait. Although it was all good, the culinary activity highlight for me was dinner at Le Relais de l'Entrecôte, “THE French restaurant” according to the friend we met there. And not just because of the steak smothered in "secret" creamy mustard sauce served with crunchy French fries.

You see, for approximately the length of time I have known The BFF, I have heard about her two best friends from Lebanon. One I met in New York a few years ago, and now, finally, I can say I've gotten to know her sister. She was just as sweet and fun as I had imagined. (And she has great taste in American entertainment aka got my Serendipity reference and loves Chuck Bass.)

And €20 euros later...
I find myself here.

Moving on to the shopping. The Champs-Elysées Christmas Market, although nothing compared to German Christmas Markts, was decorated with a million lights. Printemps (dressed up for Christmas by Karl Lagerfeld) was full of lust-worthy everything. Galeries Lafayette and its famous animatronic Christmas window displays drew the crowds. Les Puces flea market, which while in the middle of the least desirable Parisian neighborhood, had plenty of old charm.

I should note that Ellen brings out the worst in me shopping-wise. Okay, that’s a cop-out. My fiscal irresponsibility of late is my own fault. I can’t fight the urge to buy my own love! It’s totally cool, no reason to worry… (Dad, I’m talking to you. It’s all fine.) But being with Ellen, when I see a necklace, bracelet, trinket, ornament, original Babar the elephant print, Russian Doll toothpick holder, etc., is not good because she is clearly not a voice of reason. So I have returned bearing gifts (almost entirely for myself) since I am terrible and selfish. Sorry I'm not sorry.

Suit-case-inforced-self-control. (I NEED a GIANT clock, RIGHT??)

Finally, possibly my favorite, the city itself. There are plenty of great cities in Europe. I have been to many, I hope to travel to more. But there is something about Paris. Ooooh la la. I assume we can agree French buildings are totally the Ryan Gosling of architecture.

I fell even more in love with it all when we realized our hotel was a few blocks away from the heart of Montmartre, formerly the home to artists like Monet and Picasso. The evening we spent there, roaming through the stalls at the Abbessess Christmas market, stumbling on the café from Amélie, and trekking up the hill to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, was what I would consider to be perfect.

Although I much preferred the blue skies we had on Friday, Owen Wilson’s character in Midnightin Paris wasn’t totally wrong when he said that Paris was beautiful in the rain. (He was wrong when he said it was the best because clearly fear of poking someone in the eye with your umbrella takes a little something away from the experience.) But still, it was lovely.

"Pinterest: Real Life"

Lights, camera, architecture. (ahhahah)
I hope reading this recap makes you feel as fat and poor yet equally satisfied as I do. It was a great trip, a last European jaunt before I leave The Continent. (Man I will miss writing such annoying sentences when I’m back.)

The 1% (Of Good Flight Stories)

Okay, I feel like I jipped you with one of my "false exaggerations." Now let me tell you a "real" story of "romance."

I boarded my delayed flight late to come home on Sunday night after not so much as talking to a single guy all weekend (and down-right ignoring the advances of a few creepsters at the train station).

Deeply focused on finishing up my trip photo editing before my computer died, I didn't even notice when the guy sitting next to me showed up. In English (I am assuming he thought I looked French and went with the common language) he explained that there wasn't room in the overhead bins for his (large) carry-on suitcase and asked if he could put it under my seat.

You know when you hear stories about a friend of a friend sitting next to the hottest guy ever and they totally hit it off? And you always think "Lucky!! That never happens to me!

Well I was that girl. And it was just as amazing as you can imagine.

More or less my soul mate.
My seatmate was by far the hottest German in the history of Germany. Sure, The German was good looking. But yeah, no comparison. I cannot accurately capture his handsomeness with words so I'm just going to say he was like a blue-eyed, much taller, more approachable David Beckham. I am getting weak in the knuckles just typing this. Swoon.

Not only was he gor-ge-ous, he was also charming with a capital C. And we had good banter about the bag situation. Had any other person tried to take away a square inch of my precious leg room I would have been full of hate. In this situation I was happy to oblige. I am so shallow.

Anyway, after great conversations about our mutual love for New York (he lived there for a few months), we landed. As we disembarked, I secretly regretted not giving him my contact info. I mean, why not, right? What do I have to lose? Well, forgetting what a POS airport Tegel is, I no sooner found myself forced to squeeze in next to him on a bus taking us to the terminal. HOORAY!!! LIFE IS FULL OF SECOND CHANCES!!

I seized the crap out of the carpe diem and offered him my name in case he wants to Facebook me. (I really had to hold my self back from offering to marry him for his green card so he could live in New York like he wants to. Seriously.)

I recognize there is a miniscule chance I will ever see him again. But who knows, maybe I am the 1%?

(In terms of meeting your soul mate on a flight, not monetarily, unfortunately.)

Paris Is For (Imaginary) Lovers

BIG NEWS: I saw Ryan Gosling in Paris!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I spent an hour and a half with him!!! He was soooooooooo cute. Totally Sexiest Man Alive material. He looked just as good as he did in Crazy, Stupid Love. Smokin' hot. Except I had no idea he had so much pain boiling up behind those steely blue eyes. Like, I swear his gaze was massaging my soul. I know it sounds weird, but it was powerful stuff. I mean, maybe you just had to be there? But I don't know if you could have looked past all the blood. So much blood.

Oh, I saw him in the movie Drive, did you realize that? Are we not on the same page? God I am such a confusing writer. MY BAD. But either way, Team Ryan!

Our encounter took place at the end of an exhausting day spent wandering around the streets of Paris. Ellen and I had stumbled on a theater showing American movies with French subtitles and quickly capitalized on the opportunity to sit down out of the rain and drool at Mr. Gosling. When we pulled the trigger on movie choices, we knew very little of what to expect. As in, I had no idea there would be lots of literal trigger pulling directed at peoples' heads.

When the movie opened stateside a few months ago, my Facebook Newsfeed was littered with "Woah, Drive is intense!!" status updates. I honestly thought it was more like "Woah, Ryan Gosling is really good at maneuvering a vehicle!" or "Woah, Ryan's piercing eyes can put you in a trance!" (I believe what I want to believe.)

There was a point in time when I fancied myself quite the Quentin Tarantino aficionado. Now I am an old woman who can barely stomach the sight of blood. (Even dripping down the work-of-art canvas that is Ryan's perfect face!) Long story short, I had zero idea that I would be watching Ryan bash in a guy's head with his foot in an elevator. (Don't worry, I'm not spoiling the movie - there are plenty more scenes of gratuitous violence in store.)

So yeah, I saw Ryan Gosling in Paris. Which almost made up for the fact that our dreams of eating at Chipotle were shot.

Pre-Paris Anticipation

Paris has been packed with celebrities during the past week or two. Including Ryan Gosling, who, I'll admit, I used to not get what the big fuss was about. I mean, sure, he was cute or whatever, but kind of not that special?

And then one day I opened my eyes. He is stunning, I realized. How could I have been so wrong? Why did I wait so long to make this discovery? My life could have been so much better had I known from the start. From now on, Team Ryan all the way! He was robbed this year, People, robbed I say!

This isn't the only thing I've been so blindly wrong about. For years, decades even, I made the ridiculous claim to hate sour cream. No thanks, I'd say, none for me. And then, after a life-time of rejection, I tried it. It was love. Taste bud magic. Why had I deprived myself of its wonderment?

Speaking of sour cream, there is a Chipotle in Paris. YES. You read that right. This is only the second location in all of Europe so it is prettttty big news. Sweet, glorious Chipotle, oh how I've dreamed of our reunion. (FYI Ellen and I booked our trip before learning about this if that somehow makes me seem less pathetic.)

Either way, this weekend's itinerary: Fantasize about Ryan Gosling walking the streets of the City of Love while consuming as much sour cream as humanly possible atop my burrito.

I must make up for lost time, after all!

(Don't judge. Okay, maybe just a little bit. But we're all entitled to our own priorities.)

And I Will Miss You Most of All

Santa approved.
Yesterday in line at the grocery store a dime fell out of my wallet. The guy behind me picked it up, and in German made a comment about how it wasn't a German coin.

In my typical "I would rather pretend to understand what you are saying instead of just admitting I don't speak German" behavior, I smiled and nodded.

He soon realized I was totally faking it and asked me where I was from in English.

Then we fell in love.

Just kidding. But he did ask me a lot of questions about my life. After I told him I was leaving Berlin in a few weeks (I can't believe that's all I have left!), he pointed down to one of my purchases on the conveyor belt.

"I bet you're going to miss that," he said about my four-pack of Weihnachts Bier, aka Christmas Beer.

Oh boy you have no idea. When people ask me about my time here, I'm going to tell them the truth.

"I moved to Germany and fell in love. With the beer."

And then one single tear will delicately roll down my face while I remember our beautiful times together. Because it really is that good.

(I will not, however, recount any other stories of heartbreak because I have moved on and am now re-dead inside. Jaded Rachel 2012 Edition! Sure to be a real treat!)

German Thanksgiving Wasn't So Bad After All

Another Thanksgiving away from home has come and gone. Luckily it was full of friends and multiple helpings of sweet potatoes to make up for being thousands of miles away. Oh, and the Longhorns beat A&M. I was also thankful for that.

Ellen arrived on Thursday night from Spain, and although she was unfortunately delayed with a lost bag situation, we had a good mini-feast including turkey, gravy, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole
For a first time Thanksgiving cooking attempt in a foreign country, I have to say: I am amazing!!!! I am the best American ever! You all should be jealous you weren't here to experience it! I might have trouble over-compensating with braggery!
And on Saturday we had Round II. Americans, Germans, Austrians, Haitians and a French girl. We are pretty global after all. 

In addition to Thanksgiving, we also celebrated the start of Christmas Market season, something Ellen and I have been eagerly awaiting since approximately July. Spoiler alert: It was just as amazing as we'd hoped.

We kicked things off on Friday night at the Lucia Christmas Market at the KulturBrauerei in Prenzlauerberg. Even the drizzly weather couldn't dampen our excitement. (Ha.)
It was also the start of our Glühwein (mulled wine) tour where we learned that you can pay an extra euro or two to keep the mug. Aka our favorite souvies. Aka souvenirs. Aka really smart idea to bring back six coffee mugs when there might be a spatial issue with my suitcase.

Saturday morning we woke up with a mission. We had done our research, learned which markets started at what time, and planned accordingly. Up first was Alexanderplatz.

[You might recognize this clock from my masthead.] 
We'd heard this one was a little cheesy and touristy.

And it was.

But that doesn't mean we didn't enjoy ourselves. *Enjoy ourselves is code for "spend money"
[Obligatory "Rachel Stand Like A Statue" picture slash Berlin Bear pic.]
Next we made our way to Gendarmenmarkt in Mitte.

This market was definitely the most beautiful in terms of location with the tents nestled between some of Berlin's most historic buildings.

It also had the most random holiday entertainment, e.g. a guy singing Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side".
And it was the only place where I saw dogs whose facial expressions made me keel over with laughter. I mean, if these Mops don't make you smile then you should probably skip the Christmas season all together because your heart is clearly made of stone.

Our final stop of the day was at the Schloss Charlottenburg Markt across town. 


It was interesting to see how each market, although selling similar (or the exact same) things, all had different atmospheres. This one was more of the Palace-y feel with, you know, the palace serving as the backdrop. 


It was a great weekend. I am currently trying to determine how best to pack up all of my loot (which includes gifts for others!) and haul it back Stateside. I keep reminding myself that it shouldn't be that hard. I mean, if Santa can can do it, it has to be possible. Oh wait, shit.

Hopefully everyone else had a great Thanksgiving too! 
And hooray for the official start of the holiday season!

Remembering Felicity

A few months ago, my cousin made a Felicity reference about Noel inviting everyone's favorite curly haired heroine to go to Berlin with him. Having not thought about that show in for-ev-er, a wave of nostalgia passed over me.

This weekend with no big plans and the onset stages of a cold leaving me with little energy, I decided to jump in the deep end of late-nineties' memories. Seventh grade to be exact. 

I had forgotten so much about what happened in the show. I had blocked out how totally insane Felicity was in those first few episodes. (Watching that horrible display of CGS could not have been good for me at that young, impressionable age.) 

It made me miss that feeling of moving to New York, getting your ass kicked, and then falling in love with it. It made me wish I were back in college, naive about the impending real world. It made me worry that soon Felicity would cut off all her hair! If only I could go back to stop her! (I haven't gotten to that episode yet, thank God.)

Re-watching it all felt weird. It wasn't the same. Then, about half way through the first season, it hit me. My original viewing of these episodes took place years before my first boyfriend. Before my first heartbreak. Before my first kiss even. I was literally a different person. It was a another world.

I remember being devastated when Ben liked Julie instead of Felicity. I had been there! I loved popular guys from afar too! Does this mean they won't fall in love with me one day? What if I make a really big effort?

I realize now, the answer is no, they will never like you. Get over it. While Ben does have perfect hair, he is kind of a moron. He basically has no real personality. He's not even a brooder. He's just sort of there. Sitting under a mop of beautiful hair. Much like the middle-school crushes of yeaster-year, he probably won't amount to much. You can do better. You will do better.
I remember thinking that it was so cool to live in that co-ed dorm full of interesting people. With your own answering machine! People leaving notes for you on your door. All those parties! So much drama right down the hall!  

OMG can you even imagine how they managed to actually make plans without cell phones? Always asking "Did you get my message?" How could she, Noel, if she wasn't in her room? Oh the humanity being tethered to that cord. Having spent my first year in an all girl's dorm living with The BFF (things got a lil' dicey toward the end), I can tell you if we had added the presence of guys in that situation, it would not have ended well. Thank goodness Towers was just down the block. (The UT freshman dorm equivalent to Animal House. Sigh. The good ol' days.)

I remember wondering why Felicity wore so many damn sweaters. Coming from Austin, where there are approximately eight brisk days of fall/winter per year (which I really, really miss btw), I just did not understand this fashion choice. And those horrible long, colored-denim skirts. Terrible. But I always liked her leather backpack.

I don't hate all of her bulky sweaters! They are kind of 2000-and-late, right? Plus New York is cold. I bet those dorm rooms are draftp And the backpack is still timeless.
Maybe it's the cute Chosen One vibe?
I remember feeling so betrayed when Noel's stupid girlfriend Hannah showed back up. (Jennifer Garner has never had a more vilifying role.) SHE RUINED THEIR LOVE! Then oh no Felicity, don't do it. Don't sleep with beautiful bad boy artist played by porn-star-turned-"serious"-actor Simon Rex! Even though he is wearing a really cool necklace and wants to "draw you"! Noooo, how could you do that, slut??

The minute Simon's character made his debut, my brain immediately screamed, "Sexy Andy Samberg!!!!" And then it was ruined for me. Actually, no, Noel ruined it for me. Um hello, what did you expect Felicity to do when you left with stupid duck-faced Hannah? Don't you dare blame this on her. Having actually had my heart crumpled by basically a replica of ugly-shirt-wearing, "I'm a nice guy, I swear" Noel last fall, I have zero pity for him. Good riddance, Felicity. You can do better. Plus Simon is undeniable hot. Even though I will now subtract points for the pooka shells, and the portrait sketch she gives up her v-card for is comparable to what you can buy in Central Park for $20, I don't blame her. Noel is the worst!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

So, if you are faced with hours of uninterrupted time, I would totally recommend revisiting an old favorite. It is amazing how thirteen jaded years can change your perspective.

I leave you with the best quote of the entire show:

Felicity: "Why do you have a webpage?" 
Noel: "Why does anyone have a webpage? Too much free time, not enough friends, justify owning a computer."

Bwahahhaa. Basically sums this blog up prettttty well, huh?

Channeling Tommy Fresh: Treat Yo' Self 2011

I don't know what it is about the start of Christmas shopping season, but every year I cannot get through it without buying a bunch of presents for myself first. Because I am the worst.

I used to feel guilty about it, until I saw this episode of Parks & Rec:

So I've decided to do what I do best: Justify my ridiculous behavior. This weekend I embraced the Treat Yo' Self philosophy. Curious what sorts of material happiness I've bribed myself with?

1. J.Crew Lodge moccasins in vibrant coral

Because I might have some lodge needs in my future...

2. J.Crew Edie pursette

With the MUSTHAVE 30% off sale code it was practically free.

3. Airplane tickets to Paris!
Ellen and I are meeting halfway between Malaga & Berlin
to continue our Christmas market tour!

4. Mentos
In hindsight, these were a mistake. I think I might have broken my jaw.
But sometimes you want what you want.

5. LillyBerlin lamp [TBD which one...but I have given myself a mental gift certificate to purchase a lampshade from this adorable store down the street before I leave.]

 The hardest part will be deciding on which one. Here are a few of my favorites:

This is a pretty signature Rachel color
I heart this, but does that make me a small child?

This would be kind of an "adult choice", right?

There is nothing better than this.

Now that I have this behind me I can focus on others...hopefully.

You Spin Me Right Round

Last weekend a friend shared her sage dating perspective with me. Apparently due to my "unsettled energy" I tend to attract guys with the same qualities. There I am in all of my tornado-esque glory, chaotically rotating with someone else. Neither of us with anything to tether us to the ground. 

And honestly, I have really loved this about my life during the past few years. I am happy to be flexible, waiting for the next thing that comes along. If I had been in a permanent place, I never would have been able to come to Berlin. I would have missed out on this experience. 

But now I am at a cross roads. What's next? Do I choose to make "life" decisions pinning me to a specific place? Am I ready to commit to the idea of one "future" with the hopes that I will find someone with the same plan?

Some mornings I wake up and think yes! Other days I roll over and go back to bed.

This is the kind of crap you find on Pinterest.

Is the energy you send off into the universe what you get back? Truth or SATC content filler I choose to ponder due to lack of anything else interesting in my life to share?  A little of Column A, a little of Column B?