It's not you, it's me

My dearest readers,

Arbiter Elegantiae has moved!  As you are already aware the last year has brought many changes to my life.  Consequently I'm going to be making some changes to the layout and appearance of the site to improve navigation and also to align it more closely with my current tastes.  You will still be able to find all of my old posts on the new site.

I'll be continuing this evolution over the coming weeks and months (Rome, after all, wasn't built in a day), but they will all be for the better.

You can find all my new content (and old content) here:


Listening To: Rory Charles

Yesterday after spending a good four hours at the hair salon (I'll get to that later) I was wandering about downtown Hamburg when I passed a large crowd around a street performer.  I paused to listen, and as it turned out I really liked what I heard.  The performer is a guy named Rory Charles, who is from Manchester, England.  His sound is a little like Bon Iver and a lot like Fleet Foxes.  It's folksy with liberal use of falsetto.  They were selling CDs so I bought one, and have listened to it a good ten times since yesterday.  It's nice chill music, perfect for the cold autumn weather we've been having here in Germany.  I definitely recommend you check out his website and support his music.  Enjoy!



"Dankesch- Thank y-.... Merci."

Bonjour, mes cheries!

I am once again back in Hamburg after an exceptionally busy long weekend in France.  Before I cover my French adventures, however, I'll begin with Friday:

Friday:  Friday was a really, really good day.  I was already out-of-my-mind excited to be going to France, so the day got off to a great start.  Then for lunch the whole Online department got together and went to a local restaurant.  It was this great place inside a building that used to be a warehouse or butcher's shop or something.  The inside was all exposed brick, and there was a great chandelier made out of painted antique axes.  The tables were particularly interesting: they were wooden, but the wood had been painted in myriad colours, then given a very shiny varnish so that the tables almost seemed to be tiled.  I was facing the windows, so when the conversation switched to German I got to enjoy the view of the tall maples and the typically-European apartment buildings opposite.  We were having inconsistent weather, so I could watch as the rain transitioned to dappled sunlight and then back again.

After lunch - which was an excellent mushroom penne - we migrated a door or two over to a local coffee place.  This one definitely used to be the butcher's shop.  It was huge and open inside, with a high sloped ceiling.  The storage area was separated by some shelving which divided the space but did so elegantly and without eliminating the sense of space and openness.  There was a long bar along the left side, and to the right and centre were scattered long wooden benches and clustered seats.  The tables were decorated with white orchids and glass vases filled with coffee beans.  The treats looked amazing, but since we'd just had lunch I stuck with a drink, which was sooooo gooooood!  Once again I sat facing the windows, basking in the periodic bursts of sunlight while enjoying the banter of my coworkers.  I'm really enjoying the Online department; they're a great group, and the dynamic is one that is really fun to be around.  They're friendly and inclusive and very easy to joke around with, which I certainly appreciate - it lends an ease to life that is sorely needed when so much else takes such effort.  Friday was the first time since arriving in Europe that I actually felt like I might not want to leave; like I had something here that I might want to build on, that I may actually have found a niche into which I might fit.  It was a really, really nice feeling.

The afternoon passed quickly enough, and then it was off to the airport.  Things went without a hitch until I arrived at my gate, at which point they announced that my flight would be delayed by 45 minutes.  This begun something of a stress-fest for me as I was supposed to be connecting with another flight before arriving in Lyon.  Thankfully several other passengers were in a similar situation so the airline announced that our connecting flight would wait for our arrival.  Despite the setback the flights went by quickly and before I knew it I was collecting my luggage and meeting my host, a distant relative.  By the time we arrived at his residence it was quite late, so we said goodnight and all went to get some much-needed rest.

Saturday:  The next morning my cousin arrived from Lille, and so the family took me out and about to see the sights of Lyon.  We started by visiting la Maison des Canuts, a small museum in the silk weaving district dedicated to silk's history in Lyon.  Afterwards we walked through a typical French market, and then went out for lunch together at a typical French restaurant.  The appetizer and entrée were alright, but what really impressed me was dessert.  It was a fondant au chocolat (yes, the same dessert I had in Paris) which was ridiculously good.

After lunch we visited the famous Basilique de Fourvière, constructed in honour of the Virgin Mary after Lyon was spared from a plague epidemic.  It sits high on a hill overlooking Lyon and its two rivers, the Rhone and the Soane.  It is easily the most elaborate building I've seen thus far in Europe: every inch of it was covered in mosaic and cold detailing, which suits my taste just fine.  It was absolutely huge, and awe-inspiring both inside and out.

The exterior:

The interior:

After the Basilique de Fourvière we went to another church, the Church of Saint John the Baptist.  This church was much older, constructed back in the 14th century or something close.  It was also where Henri IV married Marie de Medici, which I found totally fascinating.  It was much more austere and had a whole different aura to it.  It was such an amazing feeling to touch a pillar and know that hundreds of years ago nobles stood in the same place witnessing the marriage of a king.  Well, at least for me it was.

The exterior:

The interior:

One of the most interesting features of the church was its numerous headless statues.  During the French Revolution the strong anti-clerical movement had prompted revolutionaries to behead the various statues of saints and bishops.

After our church visits we wandered along the streets of old Lyon, where I got a first hand look at the Italian influences and even got to walk through one of the "traboules".  These were long covered passages that wound between buildings.  In the old days they were used to protect valuable silk from water damage during winter rains, but during the Second World War they could be used to escape the Gestapo.

After everyone had done enough wandering we headed back to the apartment, where I took a much-needed nap.  That evening my cousin, his friend and I all went out to a local pub, though we kept it a fairly quiet and early evening as my cousin was getting sick and I was far too tired to begin stirring up trouble.

Sunday:  In the morning I (very reluctantly) got up, though life was made much better by a French breakfast: baguette with butter and blackberry jam, paired with an exceptionally large mug of tea.  Then it was off to the train station to begin my trip to Paris.  Luckily after having taken the train to Munich I had a better idea of what to expect and managed to find my seat fairly easily.  I stayed awake most of the way enjoying the absolutely stunning French landscape.  It was a rainy and misty morning, so most of the fields were shrouded by cloud and fog.  The countryside was quite like that of southern Germany, though the character of the towns was markedly different.  The brick of the houses seemed slightly older, and was a yellow-brown colour rather than the customary German white.  The red tile of the roofs was also slightly darker, and at times parts of the roof had completely fallen in.  Spotting the landscape were creamy coloured milk cows and the odd horse, plodding along the lanes that were always bordered by hedges.  One image I'll never forget was a bridge we passed.  It looked to be a construction of the Romans (not unlikely given southern France was once their stomping grounds) that passed through a quiet valley.  It was so old and unused that moss and trees had grown along its top, and the mist seemed to hover around its arches very prettily.  I wish we had these kinds of things back home.

Eventually I drifted off to sleep, and next thing I knew we were arriving in Paris.  I must say the outskirt of the city isn't the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.  I got off the train and then had to navigate the metro to get to my hotel, which wasn't too difficult but was scary.  The Paris metro is nothing short of filthy and there were all sorts of disreputable characters hanging about.  Despite that it was the middle of the day I did my best to get out of there as quickly as possible.  Once I surfaced I got a little bit turned around on the streets, but was eventually able to locate my hotel and breathe a sigh of relief.

I stayed just long enough to check in and drop off my things before turning around and heading right back out.  The first thing I encountered was the huge Eglise de la Madeleine, which looks remarkably like the Parthenon.

My goal, however, lay elsewhere, so I plowed on and was quickly at the Place de la Concorde and the Jardins des Tuileries.  The gardens were absolutely beautiful, and the autumn foliage added to the expereince.  I wish pictures could better convey the real scale of the place, but both the Louvre and the gardens are absolutely huge.

Place de la Concorde:

Approaching the Louvre itself was just... there are no words.  It has been a dream of mine for a long time to see the French palaces.  I wish I had had more time to really absorb the scenery and the history, but unfortunately I was on a timeline and the lineup to get in was several hundred long.

Once inside I decided to get a portable audio tour and started my wandering.  In hindsight I definitely should have planned better, but there was so little time there wasn't much I could do.  Despite access to maps the Louvre is - as I said - gigantic and it is exceptionally easy to get lost.  So, I wound up wandering all the way through the Egyptian section, which I have little interest in (and at which point my camera battery died - FUCK!).  I finally got out and managed to see the Venus de Milo, Winged Victory (Nike), some of the Greek statue collection, the French crown jewels, and my far-and-away favourite, the Italian painters collection.  In this section I got to see Caravaggio, Da Vinci (yes, the Mona Lisa, as well as Madonna on the Rocks and several others), Raphael, Michelangelo, and many, many, many others.  Some of my stand-out favourites were the massive Raft of the Medusa by Gericault and the equally large-scale Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix, both of which could have easily covered the side of a small house.  All too soon it seemed the museum was closing, and that was before I had had a chance to see a personal favourite, David's Coronation of Napoleon.  Alas, I suppose I'll just have to come back one day.

After the Louvre closed I walked back along the Jardin de Tuileries, where I sat for quite some time to people watch.  At one point some sleazy French guy gave me the eye and then made a kiss-face, which was perhaps the most hilarious thing that happened all weekend.  How typical!  After that I wandered up the Champs Elysées towards l'Arc de Triomphe.  Needless to say there were plenty of fabulous stores, but as it turned out I restrained myself enough that I only bought one (reasonably priced) thing: a navy blue cashmere sweater with camel-coloured suede elbow patches - more on this later.  Finally I headed back to my hotel where I had the wonderful Thanksgiving dinner I posted about earlier.

Monday:  Getting up on Monday was quite possibly even harder than getting up on Sunday.  I don't know what kind of sheets they had on the bed (probably Egyptian cotton), but it was delightfully comfortable and the last sleep-in I had was more than a week previous.  But I figured I have my whole life to sleep and only a few hours left in Paris, so up I got and headed out.  Unfortunately what I didn't know was that Parisian stores don't open until 10:30 on weekdays.  Uh, excuse me what?!  Yep.  10:30 ladies and gentlemen.  So I mostly wound up wandering around the Champs Elysées waiting for things to open and feeling irritated by French laziness (or so I saw it).  Eventually things did open though, and I accomplished one last thing I had really wanted to do: I bought macaroons at Ladurée Royale.  They are reputed to have some of the best Parisian macaroons, but honestly 80% of why I went was their packaging, which is totally beautiful.  I got a package of six, including chocolate, vanilla, caramel, raspberry, orange blossom, and one other flavour I no longer recall.

I got a lavendar coloured box like the one pictured above, which came in a beautiful green bag.  I have every intention of keeping both for the rest of forever.

After my stop at Ladurée I had just enough time to go back to the hotel, collect my suitcase and check out.  Unfortunately this process was made significantly longer by the two women ahead of me who decided that they were going to dispute every detail of their hotel invoice.  Really ladies?  You think a four star hotel is trying to scam you?  Of course in the end they realised that all the charges were justified, and succeeded only in wasting vast amounts of my time while simultaneously frustrating me to death.  At long last I was finally able to get directions to the airport shuttle (an hour long journey) and be on my way.

Getting to the station was fairly simple (the hotel provided me with a small map and directions) and the journey itself was fine: I spent most of it reading Perfume: the Story of a Murderer, which was my chosen entertainment for my French trip.  I had decided it was a good choice because it's by a German author (Patrick Süskind) but set in Paris and other parts of France.  Also it's a really good book.  Anyway, unfortunately once I got to the airport things started to devolve fairly quickly.  At this point I was already feeling extraordinarily travel-worn and a little fed up with the French in general (10:30 - I mean really??).  The thing is, I somehow managed to forget that I don't do well with extended public travel.  Not in Europe, not in North America.  I just get sick of people being in my space, and this was aggravated by the sheer volume of obnoxious fat tourists (no pun intended).  Suddenly stupidity seems to be omnipresent, and while usually I can manage enough patience to handle this graciously, when I get travel-overdose I turn into the Queen of the Death Glare.  While in the Louvre I was constantly irritated by slow-moving people, whether they were old, young, or just obese.  Then there were the frequent Public Displays of Affection (PDA) which were enough to make me feel violent.  At one point I recall thinking that if I saw one more Euro-trash guy groping his girlfriend I was going to lose it.  I mean honestly, what exactly in the goddamn Louvre Museum is making you horny right now?!  Do you absolutely have to feel up your lady-friend's ass while in a huge public area?  Would you want to less were I to drive a stake through your palm?  Thought so.

Worse than the European gropers, however, were the children.  It's no secret that I strongly dislike children, but in extended public experiences like this weekend it morphs into something more like undiluted loathing.  While at the Louvre my irritation was sparked by screaming toddlers whose idiotic parents thought it would be a good idea to bring them along.  For starters, the Louvre is a biiiig undertaking even for adults.  Its collection is so vast that it would take days or weeks to fully appreciate it, and its also just physically big: it takes a long time and a fair amount of energy to trek around it, up and down stairs and through halls and whatnot.  Even as someone who has studied both art and history I found it very tiring.  So, as a brainless toddler with no appreciation whatsoever of what's in front of me I imagine the Louvre would be something comparable to Purgatory.  To add, the food was only located centrally and could not be brought into the galleries, so the children were not just tired and bored but also hungry.  I couldn't decide who to detest more: the children for making the noise, or the parents for their total lack of understanding or consideration.  Either they're too feeble-minded to figure out it's a bad idea, or they don't give a damn, neither of which endear them to me.  Plus, children are just so annoying.  I remember walking through the Egyptian halls, admiring huge carved idols that had been worshiped literally thousands of years ago, when up comes some snot-nosed little brat who slaps his filthy palm down on the aforementioned statue.  His mother, trailing behind, casually calls out "touche pas!", to which the kid responds by doing the same goddamn thing to the next item within reach, which in turn received the exact same response from the mother.  Was it wrong of me to want to exterminate both of them?  Don't know, don't much care.

A comedian once compared children to drunk adults.  They're mentally short-handed little assholes who will weep or shriek with joy from one moment to the next with little to no provocation, both done in the most noisy way possible.  Whatever happened to the days when children were seen and not heard?  Or better yet, not seen and not heard; when they were shut away from the public until they were old enough to behave with some shred of decorum?  Society shouldn't be a right, it should be earned.

You may be thinking that this is an awful vitriolic rant to have flowed forth from just a few hours spent in the company of crying kids.  But oh no, the Louvre was not the end of my encounters with the Satan spawn.  As I left off earlier, I had arrived at the airport and was waiting to check in when things really took a nose-dive.  Directly ahead of me was a family consisting of two parents, an aunt or nanny (henceforth nanny), and an assortment of three or four rug rats, one of whom was being carried by the nanny and was perhaps 18 months old.  The infant was, of course, shrieking as loudly as it could, while the slightly obese nanny did absolutely nothing to shut the thing up.  I quietly prayed to myself that wherever they were going was as far from me as possible.  But because this was apparently The Day From Hell, once we cleared security I of course discovered that not only were they at the same part of the Terminal as me, but they were going to be on the same plane.  Cue death wish.  There also happened to be two other crying infants in the vicinity, so I swiftly left to go find something to occupy my time.

I wound up in the duty-free section looking for some chocolate to ease up my all-consuming hatred for humanity.  As I was purchasing it, however, I noticed the woman placing it in a special bag, which she then appeared to airlock, which I thought was strange because I was just going to eat it anyway.  On closer inspection I saw that it said clearly "Do not open until you have reached your final destination".  What the fuck, France?!  I had already surrendered my baggage AND made it through security, I was buying the stuff from the airport vendor, but for some reason the French figured that it should be sealed up until I returned to Hamburg, which completely defeated the fucking point and just gave me another thing to carry.

Livid, I went in search of the most sugary coffee I could find.  I even took the trouble to order in French as I really needed them to get the order right.  I ordered a Cafe Mocha, which on their own menu clearly described espresso, steamed milk and chocolate syrup.  What I received instead was the shittiest coffee of all time.  It tasted like dirt, and after three sips I gave up and threw it away.

The "fun" didn't end there.  When boarding time was finally approaching it became crowded, and of course the little demon child from earlier began crying again.  And kept crying.  And crying.  The useless nanny brought The Thing right up next to me, at which point I was so repulsed I had to step back two metres so as not to curse or explode in some violent manner.  At long last the plane started boarding (second half of the plane first), though when I got on I noticed that certain passengers had ignored the order in which people were invited to load and had just piled on whenever they saw fit.  A little enough offense, true, but in my current state of mind this just infuriated me more.  Tired, murderous, and overdosed on train tickets, plane tickets, metro and bus tickets, I managed to settle in the wrong seat twice, which was embarrassing and so very frustrating.

When the plane began takeoff I soon discovered that demon child was only two or three rows behind me because - you guessed it - it started crying again.  This continued for the entirety of the hour-and-a-half long flight.  When we finally got off the plane (the expression "like a bat out of hell" comes to mind) the escape was only temporary as everyone wound up at the baggage carrousel anyway.  I hardly should have to say that Satan's minion cried the entire time we waited.  It's a miracle I didn't commit a massacre.

Finally I escaped to a cab, and then to my apartment which was blissfully empty.

Reflecting back on the trip there are (of course) things I would have done differently.  I would have planned my tour of the Louvre ahead of time, and I probably would have planned to stay longer in Paris.  Actually, I probably would have planned the trip for shortly after my arrival in Europe.  I think part of the trouble with this weekend is that I'm simply tired of the foreign.  Different countries and cultures are wonderful and very educational, but being away from your own home and culture for so long is exhausting, and after a while you begin to fatigue of all the extra effort needed for everyday life.  It's easy to start to resent differences that you once celebrated, simply because they make life a little more challenging.  I don't have the same boundless energy that comes with excitement over new travels, rather I feel burnt out and ready to return home.  I find myself in a strange kind of state - I am still very much foreign and there is so much I don't know (notably language), but at the same time I've been here much longer than most tourists and seem to have absorbed a great deal of European snobbery: I often feel contemptuous of tourists despite essentially being one.  Strange indeed.

A final factor which contributed to the exhaustion of the weekend was the language.  My French skills are infinitely superior to my German skills, but for the last three months I have tried to speak German whenever I've possibly been capable.  So it's kind of my default language at the moment, though I obviously speak English 95% of the time.  French has been a far-distant third.  This weekend was disorienting because all of a sudden the order was rearranged.  I found myself starting to thank the French servers with a "Dankeschön", which was followed by a stuttered "Thank you" and finally a "Merci" (hence the post title).  In a twist which I might at another time call "amusing", today when I returned to work I found myself inclined to respond in French rather than German.  This language dyslexia is annoying and just concludes with me spending most of my time stuttering incoherently.

Anyway, there's much more to say but it's very late and I have to work tomorrow, so I'm afraid I'll have to conclude here.  More to come soon, I promise.


Happy Thanksgiving from Paris!

Bonjour, mes amours!

I will, of course, have a long update coming along in the next day or two chronicling my adventures in France, but I thought I'd take a moment to wish everyone a wonderful Canadian Thanksgiving!

Without giving too much away, I'll say that I celebrated with a visit to the Louvre, a walk along the Champs Elysées (and perhaps a teensy bit of shopping), and a fantastic meal at my hotel here in Paris.  My Thanksgiving dinner was:

• Appetizer: cold prawn and crab salad with tomato, avocado, cucumber and carrot with a slightly vinegar-y dressing.  Taken, of course, with some incredible baguette and butter.  Totally fabulous, trés Francais.
• Entrée: seared halibut with a pesto sauce and mushroom risotto, with a side of mixed greens and creamy dressing.  Very, very good.
• Dessert: fondant au chocolate with strawberries and a vanilla créme sauce, paired with Earl Grey tea.  No one does fondant like the French.

It wasn't exactly mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, but it was absolutely delicious and a perfect end to my day.  They even played La Vie en Rose during the meal, which I loved but figured that the poor servers were probably tired to death of hearing.  I would have taken pictures but unfortunately my camera died today part-way through the Greek sculptures hall - more on that later.  Anyway, though I wish I could be sharing the wonders of France with my amazing family for now all I can do is send them my love.  I hope you're all having equally lovely holidays, or, if it's not a holiday where you are then I hope you're enjoying a pleasant weekend.


Listening To: Around the World Playlist

Alright, so this (small) project has been on the back-burner for many weeks now... or months, I suppose, since I started it before I left for Europe.  Ideally I would have been able to collect more songs and give it better flow, but I've been so short on time lately that it just wasn't happening.

Basically I wanted to gather a collection of music relating to travel, distance, or European cities.  I kicked things off with an upbeat Euro-club vibe, but after a few tracks things mellow out into a more relaxed vacation feel before taking a slight rise in tempo so as to bring things full circle (the first and last tracks are both called Around the World).

Hopefully one day I'll be able to come back and streamline this, but for the time being, enjoy!


Listening To:

Much like my manicure posts and fashion posts I've been neglecting music as well (though not as badly as the others).  Anyway, in a gesture of reparation I thought I'd pass along a decently-hefty collection of everything I've been listening to for the past little while.

Big Jet Plane (Stern* Disco Edit) - Angus and Julia Stone.  This one was sitting at the top of HypeM's most popular list, which was how I found it.  Sometimes the masses are wrong, but this isn't one of those times.  It's chill and funky, something you won't be able to resist nodding your head to.

Don't Lick the Rainbow (Mike Posner/Daft Punk/Mord Fustang) - Basic Physics.  Mike Posner can be reasonably be depended on for catchy stuff, but what I really loved was how Daft Punk was worked into this - I only wish there were more of the Harder Better Faster Stronger sample.  This is another good one to have on hand for your Friday nights.

Flying Overseas (Soul Clap Efunk Mix) - Theophilus London.  Loved the original, love the remix.  This manages to retain the tropical bliss of its parent track while adding an intriguing beat to keep your attention.

I Stand Alone (Ocelot Remix) - Theophilus London.  While the original was pretty good I think I prefer this remix.  Usually I'm not a dubstep fan but this is a definite exception - while it adds the trademark beat it doesn't sacrifice melody like most dubstep does.

After Party - The Lonely Island feat. Santigold.  Okay, so I won't lie, I love pretty much everything The Lonely Island comes out with.  Motherlover? Yep.  3 Way (The Golden Rule)? It was practically on repeat.  Jack Sparrow? It's on my iPod.  After Party, much like the others, is ridiculous and humorous but also super catchy, which is a pretty rad combination (pardon the '90s slang).  Enjoy!

Midnight Life - The White Panda.  I won't shy away from saying that The White Panda's most recent album disappointed me.  I reminisce about the days when they released infectious hits like Golden Encore, What Lonely Girls Do, and Hold On to My Momma.  However, Midnight Life hearkens back to the days of their more brilliant combos, when they somehow made awesome music even more awesome by mixing it with other awesome music.  Excuse the over-sell.

Club Paradise - Drake.  Ahhhh Canadian Pride!  Good ol' Wheelchair Jimmy has done it again and come out with an intelligent piece of work that you'll want to keep close.  The background melody is chill, the harmonies are slightly intoxicating, and his singing in the chorus is the perfect way to tie it all together.  Drake, you rep Canada well!

Slow John (Lil Wayne & Com Truise) - The Hood Internet.  Quite frankly 99% of Lil John's lyrics offend me, but occasionally I'll overlook that.  The Hood Internet put out a few new tracks a few weeks back, all of which I enjoyed.

Bass Like TV (Dev & The So So Glos) - The Hood Internet.  This one's a bit of an unapologetic party-girl anthem.  The more power to ya.

World of Swimsuits (The Cool Kids & Ford & Lopatin) - The Hood Internet.  Maybe it's because of the oh-so-subtle '80s vibe this track has going, but of the three from The Hood Internet it's my favourite.  Try not to dance along, I challenge you.

Australia (Peter Bjorn and John Remix) - The Shins.  So I gather that The Shins were real big back in '07 around when I was graduating from high school, but apparently I totally missed that boat.  Regardless, this remix is a major improvement on the original.  It is catchier than herpes, and waaaay more fun.

Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO.  Okay, so this is yet another track that I'm waaaay behind the bandwagon on, but on the off chance you haven't jammed to this already I hope you enjoy it now:

Drive Motion Picture Soundtrack - Cliff Martinez.  I haven't had a chance to see Drive yet as it won't even be released here until early 2012, but I've heard very positive things.  I have, however, checked out its soundtrack, which is a work of brilliance.  I've already posted on Kavinsky & Lovefoxxx's Nightcall, which kicks off Drive's soundtrack in excellent style.  The sampled music is expertly selected, and followed by a score which leaves absolutely nothing to be desired.  If you're at all a fan of film scores this is a keeper.  You can buy it off Amazon or iTunes, or if you're cheap you can find the tracks on Grooveshark.

Third Time's a Charm

Okay, so it's been months since I managed three posts in one day, but I figured I spent so long talking about my dirndl that I should probably post some pictures of it.  So, without further adieu:

Marvelous Manicure: Snake Print

I know everyone, it has been way too long since I uploaded a manicure pic.  However, after all Friday night's partying on Saturday I was very ready to settle down to some docile activity.  I've also been absolutely obsessed with snake print recently, which you should all know is a hot ticket item this season.  I'll confess that I didn't always love it the way I do now.  In fact, I used to think it was trashy and gross, which is why this sudden love for it surprises me.

But now for the details: I started with a coat of Chanel's Particuliere, then used Sally Hansen nail pens in gold and black to add the scales.  Overall I'm pretty pleased with how things turned out, especially given how damn hard snake print is to replicate.  I won't even get into how long it took to do my right hand.

The Beginning of the End

Happy October everyone!

This week I moved to the Online department, kicking off the last phase of my internship here in Hamburg.  While the work so far isn't quite as familiar as what we did in Design, it is quite similar to what we did in Advertising.  I expect it will wind up being a fairly even blend of the last two departments.  Four out of five of my new coworkers are tall blond guys (how German!); the fifth is a petite brunette girl.  Two of the boys look so similar they could be twins, which was thoroughly confusing when I was having names explained to me.  Having now spent two days in their company I can confidently say they are a friendly bunch and I foresee us all getting along quite well.  The whole bunch are complete coffee addicts, so at least three or four times daily we head to the company espresso machine for a brief social and a hit of caffeine.  I've found this has been a good opportunity to break the ice and get to know them a little.

If living/working in Germany has taught me anything it's that the key to getting to know people is persistence.  It would seem that especially when cultural and language differences are introduced everyone becomes quite shy, and it's up to you to help them over it.  At this point I just do my best to be relaxed, humorous, and inquisitive, and they usually get too distracted by my 21 questions to feel overly self-conscious.  So, before you know it everyone is friends.  This isn't to say that you'll all be going on weekend shopping trips together (at least not for a while), but at the very least you'll be able to chat and banter comfortably, which counts for an awful lot.

Things in general are pretty great right now.  I'm indescribably excited for my trips to France/Ireland, and am also a lot happier now that my return home isn't quite so distant.  Furthermore, plans for my return are slowly coming together.  I always like to have plans in place: not just Plan A, but Plan B, Plan C, etcetera.  I think I've already mentioned the career opportunity in Toronto, which is currently a tentative Plan A if things come together.  What's really making me content, however, is that I now have two additional back-up plans if Toronto doesn't work out.  Over the last couple of weeks two particular Design companies have been brought to my attention.  One is based in Vancouver, and the other has locations in both Montréal and Toronto, not to mention in several European locations.  I haven't had much time to research the former (I only discovered it today), but the latter is quite prestigious and could be a major step career-wise.

If life works out perfectly here's how it will go: I will return from Germany and begin on the Toronto project.  Following the Toronto project (which could be anything from 6 months to a year, who knows?) I would be able to score a job at either the Montreal or Toronto site of my preferred Design company, and a while down the road could possibly spend a year abroad in their Parisian office.  Plan B (which is still pretty great): if Toronto doesn't happen then I would hope my German internship would be impressive enough to get me an internship either at my first choice in Montreal/Toronto or (Plan C) at my second choice in Vancouver, which would conclude with a job and pick up where Plan A left off.  So, no matter what I have a plan and a way forward.  The idea of being directionless or without a goal terrifies me a little.  Also, I have a bet going with a friend of mine to see who can be more successful by the time our 10 year high school reunion comes around, and I have no intention of losing (en garde Sam!).

As for the long weekend (Monday was German Unity Day), it was pretty good.  Friday night a few of the Design people took me out to celebrate my last day with them, and so first we hit up the Schanze, followed by some weird sisha (?) bar since it was ladies' night, and concluding at the Reeperbahn.  I didn't get back home until 6:30, so I spent most of Saturday in bed catching up on some rest.

On Sunday I met up with a friend from work at a place called The Beach Club.  It's right down by the banks of the Elbe, and it's basically this big patio.  The thing is, the patio is covered in sand and beach chairs, and all the drinks are tropically-themed.  I gathered it's the place to go when there's no such thing as a real beach nearby.  They played fun techno music and it was a gorgeous day so we stayed there for quite some time (getting complimentary drinks from the bar - not bad!).  After that we strolled along the docks on the Elbe, then took a ferry down past the Altona to an area whose name I don't recall.  I got to see the famous building shaped like a giant glass boat, as well as some of the famed crate-like architecture by the waterfront.  We arrived at a little restaurant/bar area, and went to a little place called Fischerestaurant (spelling?) where we all enjoyed a dessert.  It was a pretty little place with soft lighting and climbing plants overlooking the cozy cobblestone street.

Before getting up to my apartment I made a quick stop at the gas station nearby for some milk, and it just so happened that a big tour bus full of drunk men was stopped there.  While in line one of them tapped my shoulder and said something German, to which I replied I didn't understand.  They proceeded to invite me to drink with them, but I gave them and excuse and slipped away because I had no idea where the bus was headed or what kind of characters they were and it generally seemed like a bit of a sketchy idea.  But nonetheless it was pretty amusing.

Sunday wasn't remotely exciting as it was dedicated entirely to chores.  I won't bore you with the details.

As for romance, there is none in my life and I have no expectation it will be otherwise until I leave the country.  The less I think on it the better.

Well that about sums it up, but I'll try to update on Tuesday (more likely Wednesday or Thursday) of next week regarding my trip to France.  Until next time!