Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inaugural Blogural

Roused myself from bed at 9:30 (thank you MST and unemployment!) to watch Obama's inauguration. It was all well and uplifting but I was hoping for some more zazz. No "ask not what your country can do for you..." or "we have nothing to fear but fear itself." Not even a "Yes we can"? Where's Will i. Am when you need him? I heard awhile back that the Obama team was downplaying the word magic because certain candidates accused him of being all talk. So, no zazz, thanks very much Hill C and John Mc.

However, the preacher after him who gave the benediction was awesome. I want you to picture a 200 year old man with the jowls of a Saint Bernard and a barely understandable voice. Dr. Joseph Lowry provided all the zazz that Obama sadly missed, including this gem (rough paraphrase): "if you're black, don't be held back. If you're brown, stick around. If your red, you can get ahead. If you're yellow you can be mellow. If you're white, do what's right."

Just then the camera cut to some young Asian women giving each other the "WTF?" look and laughing hysterically. Rhyming is all well and good, but really? Mellow yellow? Was he referencing the song or the soda?

In less national news, I am visiting my parents (yay!) and Ryan is on a business trip in Canada (boo!). Yes we are joined at the hip and even though he's away for less than a week I am throwing myself an immense pity party including cheap wine and Etta James. But my good friend Rachel is dragging me out of the house to go to the local Elk's Club "Inaugural Ball." I'm sure it will be very classy, updates to follow.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Selling off the Heirlooms....

So, been a bit quiet lately. We're chilling at the in-laws until Ryan's job training in Vancouver next week. What have we been up to? Well, at the Stranges, the rule is board games. We have mastered 6 new games, including a new version of the card classic, golf.

While playing said games I've been indulging in cookies and American candies too much. Almost can't fit into the "skinny jeans" I got for Christmas. Oh well, it tends to fall off in Europe seeing as I walk 5 miles a day and live in a 5th floor walk-up.

But the main business at hand is selling off wedding presents. No, not the one you gave us, of course. Sadly there is no cheap way to move overseas. When we originally moved it was only for 16 months, but now it might be 3 years, and as kind as my in-laws are, I don't think they want to eternally store a room full of wedding gifts. So we've had to prioritize. We've bubble wrapped our favorite breakables for carry-on, and we've got a massive box for Ryan's bike.

But somethings have got to go. Surprisingly most department stores take returns nearly 2 years after the wedding. Unfortunately, most of our gifts come from Target who has recently changed its return policy from reasonable to ultra-screw. I love Target's stuff, but it makes no sense to register there anymore, as its virtually impossible to return gifts sans receipt. Thus I've taken to Craigslisting, and have made out okay so far. Now if only the exchange rate would fluctuate this way a little....

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Missoula Whiplash

There's a strange disparity about being back in the United States. Nothing's changed... except me. Everything seems familiar, but like I'm looking at it through weird goggles. European goggles. Not to sound snobby, but suddenly I'm noticing how weird we are as Americans: loud, excitable, and a bit in-your-face. We tip our waiters and service people 20% for their extra super cheeriness and for checking on our water glasses every 3 1/2 minutes. In Germany its preferred that waiters appear maybe twice during dinner and are only tipped a Euro or two.

But the funniest thing about being back in Missoula is that everywhere I went I ran into someone I know. People I haven't seen in years are suddenly calling my name through the mall, I'd whip around and search for random person's name. Try and escape with a few politenesses, but often have to explain the whole "this is my husband we live in Germany" bit. (Its not necessarily a quick explanation.)

Ryan's always teased me by saying "For being from Montana you sure are a big city girl." While I love Missoula's quirkiness and appreciate the many friends I have there, its nice to escape into a big city's anonymity. Its just lower pressure than having to remember my third-grade Sunday School teacher's name.

Country Roads, Take Me Home

Where to begin? The last 18 months or so living in Europe has felt like an invisible wall keeping me away from all my loved ones and familiarities. I've simply been dreaming not only about seeing my family but also all things American. Junk food. 24 hour drug stores. Big cars. Cheap cocktails. Ice cubes.

Our flight over with Delta was surprisingly nice. Personal TV screens with free programs, and not only recognizable, but tasty food! Quite a pleasant surprise as compared to our previous experience with Air Canada. The only trouble was getting in and out of Seattle, buried in a freak snow storm. Between Atlanta, Seattle, and Missoula maybe 7 extra hours of airport delays. Gross. But it could be worse, in SeaTac hundreds of suitcases and passengers were stranded with no flight in sight.

But after more than 30 hours of being awake, we made it into Seattle. We spent the night at the Stranges and it was very nice to see them again. Surreal to be driving around Seattle, which for months had inhabited only dreams and memories. We hung around the house eating and playing games until it was time to head back to SeaTac.

The flight to Missoula is always funny, usually full of 'good ole boys' pointing out their ranches from the plane window or girls who know someone you went to high school with. In the great big wide world having the Missoula connection is a magical bond. Its the one flight I stow my ipod and acclimate myself to the Montana's slight drawl.

And finally, more than 60 hours after leaving Munich, we walked through the tiny security gate at the Missoula International Airport and I saw my family for the first time in over a year. It was just as great as I remembered.