Well hello strangers! Plenty to get to today, I promise.
Friday wound up being super awesome, despite having an entirely inauspicious start. That was, specifically, waking up in the pre-dawn (this seems to be happening a lot) sobbing after having a terribly realistic dream my mother died of some drawn-out illness. I can't help but appreciate the thoroughness of this particular cruelty - my dear old subconscious withheld the dream until I was conveniently on the other side of the world and can hardly call my family without jumping through hoops of fire. Thanks subconscious! Doing me another solid, one day at a time. Anyway, enough brooding.
When I woke up for the second time I was inexplicably chipper, and headed off to work with a grin perma-pasted on my face. I think this was partly because it was sort of sunny out (a major achievement for Hamburg) and because I can't believe that my job is actually sitting around drawing and trying to be creative all day... for the most part. I spent the morning in exactly this manner while blasting Girl Talk and The White Panda in my headphones. Oh yeah, we get to wear headphones at work too.
During lunch I went out with a couple of coworkers who I haven't eaten with yet, and got to bond with one of them over our shared love of the delightfully eccentric Werner Herzog. I was surprised to learn that Herzog isn't that well-known in Germany, despite his total awesomeness. If you ever get a chance you need to see some of his films. Most people have heard of Grizzly Man, but my favourites were My Best Fiend, and his version of Nosferatu. I've been accused previously of over-selling My Best Fiend, which I suppose you could call "niche-humour", but I find it totally brilliant.
After lunch I mostly sat around getting Photoshop tutorials, then everyone ended the day early with a beer, which felt entirely European and super awesome. Come to think of it, I think that was the first beer I've had since arriving in Germany. But that really isn't important.
After work I had just enough time to get changed and make myself presentable before it was time to head out to a coworker's place for dinner before clubbing. In North America the practice seems to be to have a light dinner or no dinner so that 1) you don't feel bloated while dancing, and 2) you get a buzz more easily. Here in Europe it is quite the opposite: you have a solid dinner so that you can drink all the more while out. Just a fun fact. The place we went to was called Terrace Hill, and it's located in - this is the COOLEST part - an old bomb shelter. It's this giant concrete affair with towers and a large patio. To get in you're ferried up in an elevator, complete with an Operator. I confess one of my favourite parts of the evening was right at the beginning while we were in line. I was saying something to a member of our group when a gentleman ahead of us in line asked if I was American, to which I of course replied that I'm Canadian. Well, it turns out he was from Minnesota, but was familiar with British Columbia after having lived for some time in Seattle. But really I was just delighted to hear someone with a North American accent. Of all the things I thought I would miss I had never even considered accents, especially since everyone knows foreign accents are hot. But meeting someone from sort-of-home just made me feel a tiny bit less lonely and far from home. Now as for the two questions I know you're all burning to know: 1) Was he hot? and 2) Was he single? Well, 1) yes, he was exceptionally good looking, but 2) he had a boyfriend, because of course every man I find attractive is either in a relationship, gay, or both. I wish there was a way of letting Mother Nature know she's wasting her time weeding me out of the gene pool - I already chose not to have kids, so can I please get a date now?!
But I digress. The club night was lots of fun, and it was a novel experience to have people remarking about my accent all the time. But this brings me to a Europe-rant that's been brewing since my arrival. Everyone smokes here. And they smoke everywhere. All the time. While it's illegal to do it indoors, many people at the club just lit up inside anyway, which drove me crazy. Smoke gives me terrible headaches, and it makes your clothes smell like a homeless person (my club outfit is now quarantined in the cleaning closet). Off the top of my head I can think of..... one person who doesn't smoke. There are a few I don't about, but the safer bet on this continent is that they probably do. It certainly isn't stigmatized here the way it is at home. Grumble. Let's just hope I don't get lung cancer from second-hand smoke, because if I do I'll be PISSED.
One possible consequence of all this smoking, however, is in general the women here are all skinny and are often also tall. This was entirely apparent at the sports-themed club night, where most girls were in some form of spandex and a sports bra. Obviously not everyone looks like a model, but obesity and extra fat are not nearly the problem they are States-side. Not feeling short and fat may be more of a challenge than usual, ugh.
Anyway, true to their reputations the Germans' party stamina was faaaaaaar superior to mine (we didn't even get to the club until 11:30). Goodness knows how long they stayed for, but despite liberal consumption of vodka redbulls by quarter to four I felt like I was going to fall over and decided it was time to go. My friend accompanied me to the metro station and got the ticket for me, then pointed which way I was to go. If only things had stayed so simple! Sure enough I got on the train, but after getting on was convinced that I was headed in the wrong direction. After giving it some thought, I got off at the next station and caught the next train in the opposite direction while feeling frustrated at my bumbling. However, after four or so stops I - of course - realised that I had been mistaken, and that now I was truly going in the wrong direction. Damnit! So, once again, off I got and climbed on to the train going in the right direction. I finally got to the stop I wanted, got off, and then tried to find my way out of the Underground, planning to walk home. As it turned out I just wound up at the stop off for the other line that ran through that station. For once my luck came through and as it happened this train would take me practically to my doorstep. So on I got, and at last I crawled into bed around 5am.
Despite the exceptionally late night I woke up around 10am. Since I still hadn't gotten an alarm clock I decided that I would use Saturday to figure out how the metro worked and to go find an alarm clock. After studying their website for a short while I deduced which line to use (only one train this time!) and how much to pay the ticket machine. The ticket machines, thank god, had a nice and obvious British flag at the bottom so you could view the menu in English, after which things became pretty simple. If you're ever coming to Germany, there are three important things to know before you take the metro. The first is (obviously) which line you need to get on to. The second is how many zones you'll be moving through, and the third is the name of the direction you're travelling: it is really easy to lose your sense of direction underground. If you know these three things though, you're set. So my travels on Saturday wound up being about a million times easier than Friday night and much easier than my travels last Saturday too. Just like last Saturday I started the trip off with some Starbucks. Even though it's not amazing coffee it reminds me so much of home I can't resist it. Also, the interior of the one I was at yesterday was absolutely stunning. It's right next to the Hamburg lake, and it had a balcony level above main floor, much like the dome of a church. The walls, pillars and ceilings are all painted in a Rococo/Baroque type style, and next time I go I'll take my camera so you can all have a look. After my dose of caffeine I hunted down some home-accessories type place I FINALLY FOUND AN ALARM CLOCK. It is bulky and ridiculous but it was both a clock and alarm and therefore I bought it. Setting the alarm was a fairly simple matter, but I have discovered that turning the alarm off is quite a different matter. It's one of those old-school clocks with two buttons and zero directions. I have concluded that I must turn on my alarm in the late evening, and simply turn it off when it fire-alarms me into wakefulness. Oh yes, that's the other thing. It sounds like a goddamn fire alarm. I can just imagine how fun this will be.
Anyway, because alarm clock shopping is about as fun as sweater lint and I had an entire day to kill I decided to have a good wander around Hamburg's shopping district (a dangerous pastime for my credit card). I had had my heart set on finding some lilac coloured trouser shorts after falling in love with a look I saw on College Fashion a few days ago:
This isn't to say I went home empty-handed though (bahahahahaha imagine!). No, instead I hit the cosmetics counter at Chanel, who I have discovered does makeup unlike anyone else (a post on this to follow), and then got some aviator sunglasses - an item I've wanted for a long time but have had difficulty finding an adequately light and flattering pair.
Now I'm going to introduce a debate that has me quite conflicted. About two years ago I became friends with a girl in a class I was taking. She happened to have a purse that I admired every time I saw it and I made a point of finding out the designer, who turned out to be a British brand called Mulberry. They make beautiful, understated, classically-designed handbags in staple colours. The purse stuck in my head, and I don't exaggerate when I say I had a dream about it once. However, being a student I had never had the kind of money necessary to invest in one of these bags previously, and I've never even seen them sold in Canadian stores. And then it all changed. While I was out last Saturday I was exploring a big high-fashion department store and there, in the corner, was a Mulberry collection, and amongst it was what I've come to think of as my bag. Now I hardly need to tell you this, but I'm one of those people who can justify just about any purchase, no matter how ridiculous and/or expensive. Therefore it is nothing short of miraculous that entirely-without-self-control me managed to make it out of the store without this purse. What stopped me, of course, was the price tag, which works out to be about 1/6 of the budget for my entire stay in Europe. Were this the end of my trip I would get it without hesitation, but since there are still three months and countless adventures ahead I am hesitating to spend that kind of money. The thing is, it's not often that any purse holds my attention for two years, which I would consider a good indication of lasting love. Furthermore, it's a classic design and classic colour from a reliable label, so it stands to reason that this would be an item I'd buy once and own forever. Everyone knows one good purse is worth five "meh" purses, which is probably why they cost so damn much. As I mentioned earlier, I don't know whether these purses are sold in Canada, which means now would be a good time to get one and it also means I'm not going to have to look at it on the arm of every woman I see once I get home (I hate the omnipresence of brands like Louis Vuitton). If I get the purse, it will always be a reminder of this trip; something special I got in Europe. Finally, it turns out I'm going to have much less time off from work than I had anticipated, and so I won't be doing the kind of moving about I had thought I would. So, there isn't going to be quite the financial drain I thought there would be. So would it be so very bad to buy the purse? I can't decide!! Votes please???!! To aid in your decision making, this is the much-discussed purse:
So, having (arguably needlessly) spent money, I headed home and went to bed nice and early.
Today it poured rain, so I did the sensible thing an lazed about in bed watching movies, cleaning, and getting some laundry done.