Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween. A holiday where you get to dress up and people give you candy. What's not to love?!

I loved Halloween at Denison. We always had the Halloween Bar Party (if you don't know what a "bar party" is I don't want to explain it, for fear of showcasing just how lame Denison was...) and with that came the Caitlin costume. Caitlin, one of my nearest and dearest (because she loves to be called "dearest") is an incredibly talented seamstress and for the pa
st four years has sewn approximately 1,000 tube dresses for Halloween. Sophomore year we were a Monopoly Board (probably the best costume ever), junior year we were "decades"--60s, 70s, 80s--in Florence for lack of a better idea (and Caitlin not living with us in Vienna, and last year we were crayons. This year I'm a bit stuck so I'll probably just raid the costume bin downstairs and go as a pirate/princess/alien/Bob the Builder/Spiderman. Now if only Caitlin were here to sew me a tube dress...

Happy Halloween!

I think this might be my best costume ever:


A bit overdue, I know.

Well last Saturday I went to Milan again. This time, however, I had a purpose! One of my best friends from high school, Ellen, has a best friend from university who moved to Milan to teach at an American school there. So Kristen, Jen & I headed down to Milan Saturday to visit Gabri. I had met her before when I surprised Ellen at Bates (I love surprise visits--hint hint) but it couldn't have been a better weekend. We had a great time just hanging out with girls and eating deliciou
s (and cheap!) Italian food. Gabri and I
Ellen & I at the Bates "80s Dance" last fall

like to try and make Ellen jealous and tell her that we are going to become BFFs (best friends forever, for those of you who might not know, dad) and phase her out of friendship. Every picture we took we'd say, "Ahh, this is going to make Ellen jealous." Which then got shortened to "jEllensy" (a combination of Ellen and jealousy). Saturday we went to the top of the Duomo (sorry Jack, we missed out big time with that one!), ate gelato, had some Proseco, went out to dinner (pumpkin ravioli, truffle risotto, cheese, tiramisu, red wine--does life get any better??) and met up with some of Gabri's co-workers. We also got a ride home from one of the guys and let me just say I am SO glad that I do not live in Italy. The reason? The driving. If I had to drive in Italy like I do here, I would either be a) dead on the side of the road or b) still having a panic attack on the side of the road from my first driving experience. This guy was a great driver and I was happy to be in the car with him, but I would not be able to handle driving in Italy. Anyway, Sunday we explored, shopped (new leather wallet!), ate (Nutella, yum) and headed back to Zürich that evening. Going back to Milan reminded me of when I studied abroad. Basically every weeked we went to visit a friend from Denison so not only did we have a free place to stay but a great, local tourguide. Visit Gabri was great because we didn't have to think about anything (and she knew the great food places!). Can't wait to continue our BFF status!

Gabri & I at the top of the Duomo

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Anniversary!!

My parents have been married for 30 years today*. Weird. (Weird to think that they: a. had lives before I came around b. even existed before I came around!) But Happy Anniversary M&D.
Love and miss you!
Who wouldn't love being married to someone this fun?
(Shoutout to Mrs. Howie--she & my mom know how to have a good time!)

At least my dad knows how to dance!

Happy Anniversary!

*And yes, this post is a shameless means of moving up in the favorite child race.

Some Days

I'll admit that there are some days that I wish to have the comforts of America (Target, Target, Target) here. And not a day goes by without my wishing I could have an international cell phone so I could call my friends when I see something funny that reminds me of them (i.e. bedazzles jeans in Milan this past weekend--Ellen you know what I'm talking about!). But there are the days (many days actually) where I'm walking or driving and get a glimpse of something I could never experience in America--the Alps or a church that's hundreds of years old--and I can't help but smile and think, "I'm living in Europe."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hitchin' A Ride

I'm not one to break a lot of rules (except for that little Halloween Party in high school, but who remembers those things.. right mom & dad?). I don't speed, I obey all posted road signs (except for the occassional "Do not enter" but that was an honest GPS-induced mistake), I don't steal, I never even got a detention in high school! I was a bit of a rule-following wimp, until now.

"Riding schwarze," (or black, in German) means riding the public transportation system without a ticket. (I'm not sure if my dad made up this name or not, but I use it anyway). How, you might wonder, is it possible to even enter the train/bus/tram without showing and/or scanning a ticket? Well in certain countries, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland are the ones I know, you can get on the public transit systems without proof of purchase. However, there are people that will occassionally check your tickets to ensure that you actually have one. And, if you don't, it's a pretty hefty fine. My family pays for my monthly train pass, but last month I thought, "Hmm, wouldn't it be nice to just keep that extra 82 CHF/month and ride schwarze?" The ticket checkers (for lack of a better term) check often on trains, so if I went into Zürich by train during the day I'd buy a ticket. But when I went after 7 it was free using my Gleis 7! Not a bad deal I thought. Also the bus that I take to Zürich never checks tickets (until after 9 pm) and I've only been checked on a tram once (when I had the monthly pass) so I figured I could get away with it. And I have thus far, it's just that riding schwarze doesn't give me a thrill, like I'm getting away with using a fake i.d.--it just makes me anxious, like the next person that gets on the bus/tram is going to be a ZVV ticket checker and I'm going to lose 80 CHF. Everytime the bus/tram doors open I become acutely aware of who is getting on and if they have the telltale blue uniform and red thing that scans credit cards for those without tickets. Told you I'm a wimp.

Yesterday on the way to the weekly au pair meeting (which I love and look forward to every Wednesday) I was riding the bus, per usual, without a ticket. At a stop halfway to Zürich I see a man with a blue coat get on and I immediately tense up (scanning every passenger when they get on not only makes you look guilty but also creepy for staring), he turns around and I see a "ZVV Something-or-Other" written on his coat and let me tell you it didn't take me more than 2.7 seconds to grab my bag and scoot off that bus. Luckily we were at a stop with a train station a two minute walk away so I bought a ticket and took the train in to Zürich.

I decided to shed my riding schwarze ways and bought a monthly pass again. I don't think my nerves could take it anymore!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

To the Bröcki, With Love

Some days, luck is just on your side. (Tomorrow: testing my luck on public transport)

(Mom & Dad: Do not read the following post as it pertains to me obtaining more stuff--yes dad
, a pair of shoes--but at least I didn't spend a lot of money!)

I've lamented on the prices of
just about everything in Switzerland and clothes are, or were, no exception until the day my friend introduced me to The Bröckenhaus. The Bröckenhaus, or Bröcki, is a place where home goods, furniture, clothing, records, and just about go to die. It cannot be called a thrift store because they are more warehouse than store, and houses more junk than the Mall of America (seriously, Minnesotans don't hate me but I really don't like the Mall of America). But, I love the Bröcki. There are tons of them scattered all over the Zürich area but it took an experienced shopper to open my eyes to the joys of thrift store shopping. (I can hear Molly making the gagging sounds from across the Atlantic.) I always envied the girls who could buy all their clothes second hand and look like they stepped out of Vogue, I usually look like I've stepped out of a J.Crew catalogue (don't worry, I haven't forgotten my J.Crew roots!) so I wanted to test the waters and see if I could pull of a thrifted item or two.

My first trip was to this enormous Bröcki a couple weeks ago and
it was totally overwhelming--you need to be in the right mood and full of energy to tackle these places, much like Nordstrom's Rack--sifting through rows and rows of coats, dresses, ugly sweaters (ugly sweater party happening soon) was daunting. Especially when there wasn't a dressing room--everything you bought was a guessing game of "will it or won't it fit?" I came out of the store 15 CHF lighter having purchased two scarves, a skirt and a leather bag (yes a leather bag). Not bad I thought! I did a little research and found out that there were not one, but two Bröcki's in my town. I went to the first one today and from what I could gather from the sign they were robbed. Now who would rob, no wait, who could rob a Bröcki--there's more than one moving van's worth of stuff in even the smallest Bröckenhaus!

The second Bröcki was in my town and the first thing I saw made the trip worthwhile: a Washington Redskins pin!

Who knows how this tiny pin got into my little Swiss town but I couldn't help but laugh when I saw it and I knew it had to come home with me. I found a pair of sunglasses that I liked (I'm always breaking and/or losing mine) and two cool belts, one grey with a neat gold clasp and a braided gold one.

Total cost for Bröcki
#1: 5 CHF.

The next Bröcki was one I have driven by every Tuesday on the way to swim lessons with Stephanie. It looks like a junkyard (I think the front of it may even be a junkyard) but I went in undaunted (and excited about my previous purchases). I sifted through the clothes--nothing too exciting but I di
d buy a vest semi-ugly but I'll see if I can pull it off. (This is when I'm thankful for my anonymity, so I can test out outfits without too much embarrassment). But the real pride & joy purchase at this Bröcki came when I was leaving: the series finale of Dawson's Creek. In English. This is when my parents smack their heads and say, "She already has too much stuff!" but how could I pass up the series finale of one of my favorite shows for 3 CHF?

Total cost at Bröcki #3: 7CHF.

The final Bröcki happened on accident. I was driving (perhaps part of my good mood, I love driving and singing aloud in the car) to pick up the kids from their after school French class and I was going to be really early, so I took the long way to school. The road parallels lake Zürich and as it was a clear day I had a great view of the lake and the mountains on my leisurely drive. (I've gotten over my terror of driving, but I rarely go over the speed limit. Actually I rarely know the speed limit, so I'm always going slow!) Anyway I saw a sign for a Bröcki and I thought: well I've got time so I'll just stop in. I found this cool green organizer labeled "Documents," which is great because I keep g
etting papers about my visa, health insurance, bank account (which I have now f.y.i.--more on that later) and I want to keep them together and neat. I've already put them in, labeled them and feel much better about my previous lack of organization! But the real find of the day (better than the Redskins pin and Dawson's Creek, combined!): black leather boots. My size. Made in Italy. Twenty CHF. Hallelujah!!!! Total cost for wonderful Bröcki (who thankfully took credit cards, which just proves that I was meant to have these boots)#3: 23 CHF.

So today I spent 35 CHF but I consider it money very well spent.

Next Bröcki trip: Halloween costumes!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Kitchen Karma

After reading my post about my earlier cooking woes some of you might not believe that my luck in the kitchen was changing. Well it did, but don't worry, my kitchen karma caught up with me.

Last week in addition to the fun things I did with Stephanie we also did a little baking. Now my chocolate chip cookies had never (and I mean never) been the right shape, nor been soft in the middle--they had alw
ays turned out melted, extra crispy, and not very good. Well this time not only did they come out beautiful (I need to take a picture! I promise, I'm going to start posting more pictures) but they were soft in the middle. I don't know how it happened, and if it will ever happen again but I was pretty jazzed. We also made banana bread. Why? I haven't a clue, but last Tuesday I decided that banana bread was a swell idea. It turned out to be a great success. Again, have no clue why and I;m not sure if I could recreate the masterpiece a second time, but it was nice to know that I did it at least once.

But, what goes up, must come down. And this time it came down in the form of a knife (well two actually). I was doing dishes from the family's dinner last week (on my own accord, because I'm that fantastic of an au pair) and as I
was cleaning a butcher knife, the big scary one, it happened to slice into my right pointer finger. Not only painful but bloody! It's in a bad spot too because every time I bend that finger the wound reopens... Luckily, Stephanie has been applying the Band-Aids (Spongebob) and Polysporin (Europe's Neosporin) so one day I hope to have a fully healed pointer. Today the victim of my second knife wound was the left pointer finger. I was cutting bread for sandwiches (the only reason we had fresh bread for sandwiches is because we ran out of white bread--which makes me laugh because all of the white bread packaging here has American flags on them) and sliced into my finger next to the nail. Ouch!

So, kitchen, I've learned my lesson. I'll stop being successful if you stop maiming me. Deal?

This picture explains itself...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wait, What? (Part 2)

This past week was October Break for the kids, and while Mark went to sports camp all day Stephanie was home with me. I actually had a blast with her (apple picking, leaf collecting, book writing, tea party with real tea!, bike riding, going to lunch with her dad), she's such a fun, articulate, and funny five year old oftentimes I forget that she's only five! During our tea party on Thursday she turned to me, put her chin on her hand and said, "So tell me about your last date." She's in a phase where she's obsessed with boyfriends, not having one herself but all of my past boyfriends--not that I've ever had any dad! I was describing one and said, "Yeah, he was cute, cute cute." And she responded, "Oh, well that means he was your best boyfriend then." Smart girl, got her priorities straight! (I know, it's pretty obvious that I have a favorite child, but it's not like I'm a parent! I can have favorites, right? I used to ask my mom who her favorite child was to which she always responded that I was her favorite girl, but I knew the truth. Now that Jack & I both have jobs and especially do not live at home I think we might be tied for our father's favorite!)

I know I've said it before but Switzerland is expensive. What boggles my mind however, is how everyone manages to have so much money despite the exorbitant prices of just about everything. Friday Stephanie was going to a play date at her friend's house. The mother of the other girl offered to have her driver come pick up Stephanie. A driver. For a play date. For five year olds. (Say it with me now, "Wait, what?") Mark & Stephanie started saying how this friend must be really rich--not because of the driver but because they have a trampoline--and all I could think of was, "You have a live-in servant (i.e. au pair)! I don't think you are hurting for money..." Also, the car that came to pick up Stephanie: the Porsche SUV. Life's rough for this five year old.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Road Outside Columbus

The O.A.R. song "Road Outside Columbus" --which was written about their tenure at The Ohio State University, but most Denisonians really know was written for the rolling hills of Granville and our beautiful University--kept coming up on shuffle last week on my iPod. My iPod has this uncanny way of sensing my mood, and then playing songs that reinforce my mood. Last week my mood was definitely more melancholy than usual, Thursday I didn't just wake up on the wrong side of the bed, but the wrong side of the Atlantic. The cause for this mood? Homecoming. This past weekend was Denison's homecoming, and although only half of my group of girlfriends could go, I still felt that I was missing out. So for my iPod to be playing a song seeminly written about Denison, only led to further depression.

Friday night I went over to a fellow au pair
's house and we watched six episodes of the American show Glee (any show that can incorporate Celine Dion is alright with me!) and I cannot tell you how nice it was just to have a sleepover with friends again. When you're perpetually surrounded by at least 2-8 people all day every day you find that being alone just isn't as fun! We woke up to a rainy Saturday and decided to go to the movies. We saw (500) Days of Summer which I thought was great--despite the 18CHF ($18!!) price tag. After the movie we had planned to meet up with friend's at Zürich's Oktoberfest but, as we were walking towards the train Kristen turned to me and said, "Hey, want to go somewhere?" Now nothing beats the "I hate missing out on Denison reunions" Blues better than traveling! We made our way to the train station and luckily I had a map (surprise!) of Europe and the train times from major European cities (this is a fabulous map that my father bought before I went to Vienna--the man knows his maps!) We said, "Vaduz looks close," and 10 minutes later we were on a train headed for the capital of Liechtenstein. Funny/sad thing about this trip: I have that fabulous Gleis 7 card that allows me to travel on trains after 7pm for free so I only bought a ticket one way--my ticket to Vaduz was 17 CHF--LESS than a movie ticket! After grabbing a few beers (clearly) we hopped on a train and 1.5 hours later arrived in the capital "city." For a Saturday night Liechtenstein was dead. We wandered the streets looking for a bar (clearly) and finally stopped a group of men to ask where everyone was and to find a bar. Well apparently it was the Liechtenstein vs. Azerbaijan football (European, not American) World Cup qualifying match! (Randomly going to a country, with no hostel, plans, or clue and stumbling upon a soccer game sounds a lot like my first trip to Bratislava!) We couldn't get tickets but we stayed for a bit, then wandered back into Vaduz, got dinner and then made our way back to her apartment--there are only so many weekends a girl can sleep outside! It was, however, definitely fun/cool to say, "Oh yeah we just went to Liechtenstein for dinner..." (Added a new country to the list--booyah Jack!)

Sunday was "Thanksgiving" and since it ended early (and yes, I did do all the dishes like I predicted--I'm such a sucker) I managed to get out and meet another au pair and friend for a night of kareokee (yikes! Went with my old Jana's house standby: Material Girl) which was a blast. It ended the weekend on the right note (pun intended) because this week is the children's October break. Mark has a sports camp all day but Stephanie and I are together all day, every day. Working all day again has made me appreciate my current job hours, and makes me wonder: how did I do this all summer?!?!

You can take the girl out of Denison...
Classic Denison "night out" supplies: Longchamp,
heels in the Longchamp, and a sketchy beverage
concealed in a water bottle. Good to know that
despite living in another country, some things never change.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!??

Alright although I do have an interesting weekend to write about later I just had to share this story for all those Minnesoooota hockey fans.

Today we celebrated [Canadian] Thanksgiving, the actual day is tomorrow but nonetheless we had it this afternoon. Mark invited some Canadian friends over for the dinner and it was great: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce (unfortuna
tely not from a can dad) mashed potatoes--everything you that goes into a great Thanksgiving dinner. (We even had turkey hats, decorations, and place cards due to some of my good 'ol craftiness last Tuesday when they had the day off of school--pictures to follow).

The interesting part was when I was introducing myself to the guests, one man said, "Oh we lived in Minnesota when I played hocke
y there! We lived in Woodbury right honey?" After talking about how much they loved Minnesota and would love to move back I asked if he played hockey there in university. Nope, he played for the Minnesota Wild. So I guess I had Thanksgiving dinner with a former Minnesota Wild hockey player (and now a Rapperswil, Switzerland professional hockey player).

Happy Thanksgiving!

My hat on the left, Stephanie's on the right. Her choice
to add the blue feathers & extra long "tongue" as she calls it.

Maybe I am related to Martha Stewart--a turkey out of
an egg carton & construction paper, not bad eh?

Our place cards. Mine is the bottom left corner, Mark's
is the bottom right (no the turkey is not defecating, it's
a hockey stick that says the "Lakers" I guess that's the
Rapperswil team), and Stephanie's at the top. Her's
says Jill--but in cursive, with a backwards J. Cute.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Are You My Mother?

In honor of my beloved mother's birthday (Happy Birthday mommy!!) I thought I would share my "mother-y" experiences.

Being an au pair is tough: you live with a family that isn't your own, take care of children that don't belong to you, and you negotiate this boundary between servant, employee (trust me there is a difference), moocher, and family member (also a difference). The fine line between the mother and au pair is often blurred with me, and to tell you the truth it doesn't make me feel grossed out or mad, but it does make me feel a bit sad. Kids at school are always commenting to Stephanie & Mark about "how cool their mom is" (because I give "underdogs" on the swing set--thank you dad! and can school any of those kids in a game of PIG) and sometimes Stephanie and Mark correct them, but a lot of the time they let the comment slide. It is semi-sad that, because I'm picking them up from French or swimming, other people think I'm doing the role of the mother (but maybe that just means that society is messed up because we assume that that is the mother's role). The mom always sends me a SMS saying, "Oh I wish I could be there!"--but at what point does being there become more important than just saying it? (Thank you to my mom for being there, and my dad for being there and allowing for the purchase of many, many pairs of shoes.)

What makes me feel more awkward than sad is when Mark and/or Stephanie call ME mom. I usually try to deflect it by saying, "Oh you're mom is on her way home!" or something funny (well they think it's funny) like, "Oh I know you aren't talking to me!" It is even more awkward when the mom is home--that just kills me. Speaking of awkwardness: Monday night we went to a play at the children's future high school, or Upper School as they call it here. It was Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park," and it was actually really well done. During the intermission I was standing with Anna & Will and Stephanie came over wanting to be picked up (when you're barely 30 pounds you can be picked up all the time) both her parents stuck their arms out but she shrugged them off and came right to me. During the first half of the play she sat on her dad's lap but after the intermission she only wanted to sit on mine. Tuesday, their dad said, "Do you want me to read you this story, or Jill?" Both Mark & Stephanie rebuffed their father and came over to me. Now I'm not sure how to act/react in these situations? Do I say, "No no, go read with your dad" or just go along with it? Usually I just pretend I didn't notice they picked me over their parents. (I suppose it could be worse though--they could hate me!)

I was reading my friend Kylie's blog about how she was excited to be drawn into the family picture, and to tell you the truth I was excited about it too. Stephanie is currently writing five books, one about her family, her garden, her bedroom, and two other things I can't remember at the moment. The book about her family is five pages long: one for her dad, her mom, her brother, herself, and me. Anna says she always thinks of the au pair as a family member (I can't decide if it is sweet or alarming that this five year old doesn't know life without an au pair, and whenever we play Barbie there is always an au pair...)--but for now I'll think it's nice.

Tonight as I was talking about my mom and her birthday (I couldn't help it) I mentioned that their grandma is the same age as my mom now (Sorry mom! But in your defense she had her kids at 21). Mark turned to me and said, "Is your mom a grandma yet?" No, no she most definitely is NOT.

Happy Birthday MOM! (And only MOM for a long, long time!)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Third Time's a Charm?

This past weekend I went back to Munich for the third time and the last and final weekend of Oktoberfest 2009.

Before I get into the weekend I've got to write this first.
Disclaimer: If you are a.) my mom (my dad will probably think these stories are somewhat funny) b.) my parents' friends (except for Carol who will probably think these stories are funny too) c.) my extended family members and/or d.) parents of my friends, please do NOT read the following post. My weekend was/is not something that most adults will want to hear about but in order to give an accurate description of said weekend I need to include them. That being said, I know you will all read it anyway, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Also a list of people there might be helpful:

1. Me
2. Kristen--au pair who I went to Zermatt with last weekend
3. Jen--au pair
4. Chris(map)--a "m-au pair" (or male au pair) who is here working for his brother until November
5. Chris--the American who lived in Zürich and played football
6. Patrick--Chris' older brother

Kristen, Jen & I met up in Zürich to have a bottle of champagne (or 6) to kick off the weekend, and by the time we met up with Chris (map) at the train station we were already having a blast. The train ride was fun and we made it into Munich around 5:30. We were meeting my friend Chris & his brother at 6 so it gave us just enough time to stash our bags and prepare for the evening. We got dinner and then headed over to the Oktoberfest grounds, couldn't get into a tent so we opted for plan B. We met up with an old teammate of Chris' who was in town for Oktoberfest and went over to his friend's apartment for a birthday party. From that moment on my time-perception was a little hazy--it seemed that time wasn't a factor at all this weekend but I will try to explain it as best I can!

After the party we, the six Americans, still wanted to go out so we hopped on a train and found a cool bar area (how, I have no idea...) We stayed and danced in these clubs until ab
out 4 am (I think) when we all decided it would be best to get some sleep before the drinking festivities the following day... The only problem was we didn't have a place to stay. My friend Jeff from Zürich offered to let us stay with him but it would have been way crowded Friday and it was clearly too late to try and make out way to his apartment. So we took a taxi back to the train station and sat down at a table in Burger King (woof). The train station looked like a war zone--there were bodies everywhere! People who, like us, stupidly didn't have a place to stay were crumpled in heaps in every corner of the station. After a quick cat-nap at the Burger King Chris had a wonderful idea: let's go take naps at the Olympic Stadium! (On Sunday we all were wondering why he wanted to sleep there and he had no good answer--but it seemed logical to us all at the time). We hopped on the metro to the Olympic Stadium and I got up the escalator and promptly turned around--it was cold outside! So instead, like homeless people, Jen and I napped on a bench at the metro stop. An hour-ish later we realized that it was a silly idea and maybe we should head back to the train station. At this point it was 8 am and we napped for approximately 37 minutes and then got ready for the day! The funny thing was that you know how most situations like this (like sleeping in a Slovakian airport when its 37 degrees inside to make you 6 am flight to London) you know will be funny later? Well this was incredibly funny at the time (as well as later). We would all be half-asleep and then look around, realize we were sleeping outside etc. and just crack up.

Saturday morning we changed clothes (in the train station) and headed over to the Oktoberfest grounds which were already hopping and crowded. The tents were pretty much at capacity so we went to a restaurant to have our first, of many, beers of the day. The restauarnt was great and we got to drink outside of it after their lunch--I was holding out for the giant pretzel--making new friends along the way! Later we met up with my friend Jeff at the Paulaner Biergarten which was jam packed. At one point I went to the bathroom, making new friends on my jou
rney there (Mostly they were men: the Italians said I was the most beautiful girl at Oktoberfest but the British boys said I had nice teeth--hey I'm always ready to hear I have nice teeth! I like to know that my years of painful orthodontia work paid off!). On my way back to our table I ran into Chris who had made friends with a group of Italians--well an hour plus later we were still hanging out there, getting free beer (Chris made sure that they weren't drugging my beers by drinking half of them for me) and trying to escape the creepy grasps of the Italian men. We decided that maybe they weren't the best guys to be hanging around even after we made up a relationship so they would stop being so smarmy (they didn't) so we went back to our table.

Around 7:45 (I think) we decided to go into the Paulaner tent, Chris got inside and I'm still a bit hazy on the details but about 45 seconds later there were six security guards tackling him to the floor. Not even kidding you. At first we didn't even realize that it was Chris, we
just thought it was some dumb, drunk kid being an idiot--we didn't realize that the dumb, drunk idiot belonged to us! Well they were taking him out the side door so Patrick and I ran over to try and get the scoop and get our friend back. They opened the door at one point and I saw Chris getting "handcuffed" with zip ties (I mean zip ties? On a boy that is 6'3" it looked a bit ridiculous). I asked the security guard if they would just let him go with us and we would promise not to take him back to the Paulaner tent. They said in this situation they had to call the police, but they were on their way. Shoot. Meanwhile Chris' brother Patrick is nearly having a hissy-fit because his "baby brother is going to be deported." The police came and escorted Chris to their station while Patrick and I tagged along. They asked Chris who we were and he said his brother and girlfriend and all I could think was, "Don't drag me down with you!!" They let him go after a minute (thank goodness) and we were on our way. While the others went to the Hoffbrauhaus I decided that the best thing for a drunk kid was a carnival ride! Two years ago my friend Jess & I went on this giant swing ride so I had to ride it again for her.

After the ride we met up with the group at the Hoffbrauhaus and approximately 10 minutes later we were missing someone... Chris, of course. We were supposed to meet up with Jeff around 10 pm to make it onto the train to go to his apartment and since we were missing 1/6th of our group it wasn't looking likely. We split up, Chris, Jen, & myself went to the train station to see if we could find our friend while Kristen & Patrick stayed behind to try and find him. At the station we realized the others didn't know how to
get back so I volunteered (seeing as how I know Munich "so well") to go fetch them. I got the other two and we made our way back to the train. I knew that if we went to Jeff's without Chris I wouldn't be able to sleep without knowing that he was safe (it's the inner au pair in me). I made them go off (of course they couldn't get Jeff but ended up getting a hotel room an hour outside of the city) while I stayed to walk around Munich and look for Chris. Yes I know this seems stupid, to be a girl, alone, in a city with 5 million drunk people about but I didn't know what else to do. I walked back and forth and around and around and couldn't find him. (Also I forgot to mention that he had neither cell phone or wallet at this point). Around 1:45 am I decided to sit on a bench at the train station and try to formulate a plan (I had decided that at 5 am, if I still hadn't found him, I would go to the Olympic Stadium and try there--I was getting desparate!), but it was like finding a needle in a drunken haystack. There were lots of smarmy men that were annoying and bugging me, but I was in such a bad mood (yes I can have those, and for the Denison girls you know how rude I can be when I'm in one...) that any kind of creepy advance was brutally rebuffed. There was this one older guy who came and sat next to me and tried to get me to come sleep at his house in Munich (uh no thanks), I told him I had to find my friend, he told me I'd sleep really well there (yes in a coffin), then he tried to get me to come have a coffee with him etc etc. The only reason that this conversation is important is because I had it all in German, so at least I got some practice! I was feeling utterly helpless and I was thinking this is pretty much just the hardest and worst game of "Where's Waldo?" I had ever been a part of when, I am seriously not kidding you, two guys came around the corner wearing the jeans, the red & white striped shirt and hat, even the glasses and backpack of Waldo--I couldn't help but crack up. At 2:30 I was about to head out to walk the grounds again when I checked the waiting room/sleeping room for people without beds. And lo and behold but who do I see passed out on the floor? Christopher. I didn't know if I should kick him or hug him. (I woke him in a not-so-nice fashion, but I was still incredibly glad that I had found him and was no longer alone!)

After two hours of attempting to nap on the ground (woof again) we sat down by the trains and waited for ours to come at 6:15 am. We got on, took it to our hotel and promptly fell asleep at 7:30 am. We woke up at 10 am, not feeling (or looking) our best, but glad to be indoors for a change. We went back in to Munich, decided that maybe the time for Oktoberfest had passed so we got lunch at the original Hoffbrauhaus and toured Munich a bit. (Sorry JKC, didn't see your street performers this time!) We made it to our 4:30 train and spent the journey home in a car full of guys who weren't willing to give up the Oktoberfest drinking and singing spirit! We made it home though and I was especially grateful to be sleeping inside again!

My motto ever since I studied abroad has been "It's all going to work out" because, for me (knock on wood), everything always seems to work out. And I know some of you may not consider sleeping outside "working out" but at least we were together--well most of the time!

This weekend was a bit wild & next weekend is "Oktoberfest" in Zürich--but at least I know I've got a place to sleep!