Another slow winter

February 24, 2012

It's hard to believe February is almost over - it seems as the though the new year only just began. I swore as I climbed out of last year's spring funk (it's hitting early this year, I believe from a lack of fun and magical snowy winter weather), I wouldn't let this happen again. Alas, here I am, over a month since my last blog post, still mostly waiting till noon to shower and spending unhealthy amounts of time on Pinterest and eating sweets. Boo on me. 

No snow, but a seriously frozen stream

Cannot believe these folks are so blatantly breaking the rules - 
that's so un-German of them!

Hearing all my fellow expats in the colder parts of the country complain about all the snow makes me just a little jealous, as we've only gotten little sprinklings here and there, but nothing snowman-worthy. My mother emailed me in a panic as the sensationalist American media was referring to the recent cold snap across Europe as a 'Death Freeze,' in an effort to put to rest her visions of us frozen mid-stride on the sidewalks à la The Day After Tomorrow. I suppose this is a little scary, but we never got anything like this where we are. The cool part of such cold weather - like in Amsterdam - makes me feel a bit let down that I didn't what I've come to expect as our regular German winter. Bailey-dog also missed her usual frantic gallivanting through the snow and nosing around until she resembled someone with an '80s drug addiction.  

A break in the weather (it was literally hailing and snowing 30 mins prior), meant acting like kids at the playground on a trampoline...

... and zip-line! 

On the plus side, the goals I wrote down for myself in the new year haven't just been stuffed in a drawer and forgotten about. While the German drivers' license hasn't really progressed and apartment projects are awaiting a build up of more funds, the other week I finally had a break-through with my French audio lessons. I had been listening for them for about a week and frustrating the hell out of myself, as every prompt to answer a question meant I replied... in German! (I've said it before and I'll say it again - Europeans who can jump around between two, three, even four languages impress me like you wouldn't believe, and make me feel just a little bit retarded for basically falling apart once I attempt more than two at a time) I felt as if the years and years of French I had studied (granted, back in the day) was lost in the recesses of my brain, buried beneath what has now been years of attempting to learn German. But then the most amazing thing happened - one day, all of a sudden, I was able to respond to those prompts in French without even thinking about it. It was as if something in my brain just needed to get back into French mode and everything I thought I had forgotten started coming back to me. Now this isn't to say I'm going to be terribly strong conversationally for our trip next month, but I'm hoping it will at least get me a little respect amongst the notoriously-hard-to-please Parisians for a solid attempt. Cross your fingers that I don't make une idiote of myself!

Somehow while focusing solely on the progress of my French, I've realized my German has settled into a not-so-terrible place. I've been able to have (granted, fairly basic) conversations with various repair men and my neighbors in the last few weeks that have surprised even me. And like my recent French successes, I haven't had to think about it too much - it just comes. After living her for over two years, I'm sure most Germans - and the more studious expats - wouldn't be terribly impressed with my skills, but I spent the first year and a half mentally berating myself every time I said the wrong thing (or worse yet, was at a complete loss of words), so I'll take the good where I can. I even got up the courage to try on lipsticks at a make-up counter the other day and not only chatted with the girl working there about the color I chose, but also managed to compliment her on her hair and talk about wanting to do something different with my own. I suppose it's these little things that will one day add up to me being a fluent speaker and I'm enjoying each win along the way. 

Perhaps even more exciting are the travel plans we've been able to nail down in the coming months. Not only did we find a great apartment for our six days in Paris next month, but I've found great eating opportunities (what any good holiday is all about!) and even connected with a few more expat bloggers there, one of whom I even hope to meet up with while we're visiting. Additionally, we finally booked several nights in Riomaggiore during my mother's visit this summer. Not only am I getting back to the Mediterranean and the Riviera - where I first fell in love with Europe and the lifestyle here nearly two decades ago - but I get to show my coastal-living mom what my favorite coast looks like - not to mention all the amazing seafood, pesto and wine! If we can just get our second summer holiday and trip to Thailand booked, I'd be the happiest woman alive. 

Now to just get through the next four painful, grey weeks of winter weather... 

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische