Monday, December 12, 2011

Home Decor German style

At 6:00 p.m. last Friday night in the rain and darkness I found myself packing my husband and one little striped dog into the Honda for a one hour and thirty minute drive to the Ikea in Schnelsen, Hamburg.  It was Friday night so what else could we possibly do for 'fun'?  This trip was possibly inspired by a sudden neurotic dislike of my living room.  I thought it would be cured by this rug:
Doesn't that look beautiful?

It turns out that in person it's rather disappointing.  The pretty cream is more of a dark tan and apparently it's hand woven or something but the entire effect says 'dingy and faded' more than 'the answers to all your decorating needs'.

 My biggest problem with home decor in Germany is that with a middle income family we have Ikea and... well, pretty much Ikea.  We've bought a couple of things from Dom and Hendryk still has the remnants of his bachelor pad but the rest is from Ikea. 

Ikea.  Ikea. Ikea.  I love Ikea but I'm so sick of it. 

Can I find another store that sells home furnishings?  Please?  I guess as an American I'm used to having a ton of inexpensive variety.  Shopping is so vital to the American way of life that I took it for granted that I could just walk out and buy whatever I wanted.   I dare say, Germany needs a wider variety of stores.  Do you have any idea what I would give to go to Target and load up a cart and bring it home.  Target, I miss you SOOOO much.  All of my friends back home have your throw pillows and I want them too. 

I'm going to check out Urban Outfitters the next time I'm in Hamburg and see how their home furnishings compare.  At least I will always have Urban Outfitters.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I think H's heart sank when I suggested we get haircuts together before we went to the ball this weekend.  Why?  Probably  because I have a horrible history with Friseure.

It's not all their fault.  A lot of Germans have straight hair.  I have American hair.  It's thick and wavy and unmanageable unless you know what to do with it.  When I lived in Chicago my hair stylist was from the South Pacific.  She had hair similar to mine, thick, wavy and frizzy.  She knew exactly how to cut my hair and flat iron it to low maintenance perfection.  She was so fabulous she only did cuts and I usually had to wait a week before she could fit me into her schedule.

When I moved to Hamburg four years ago I started going through salons like wildfire.  For a year I found an overpriced salon where a debonaire gay Englishman cut and highlighted.  Included in my 80 to 120 euro service was gossip about how Tom Cruise was secretly in the closet.  Unfortunately he quit and when I went back to the salon for my roots I ended up with bad highlights.
 That's not really me, image via Google.  
(Nine out of ten pictures of bad hair are of Christina Aguilera?)

Since then I've had my hair turned orange by an inexperience colorist, been given bangs when all I wanted was a trim, had uneven cuts, terrible layers and lots of frustration. 

My husband suggested I try RYF.  I took a picture of my old hair, via Chicago, and explained in terrible German to the stylists, Nenna, what I wanted.  It's important to note that Nenna didn't have typically German hair herself.  It was thick and frizzy and beautifully highlighted and she did exactly the same kind of thing my stylists in Chicago had managed to do.  I was so grateful I gave her an outrageously huge tip and when she moved from one RYF to another I followed her faithfully.  It's also worth noting that Nenna was really, really nice.  She put up with my awful language skills and never got impatient when my hair tried to form impromptu dreadlocks.

Last week I didn't have time to drive all the way to Hamburg just to get a haircut so I optimistically tried the first salon I could find in Malente.

I started to have a niggling of doubt when the Friseurin asked me if I wanted my hair cut wet or dry.  I know from experience it's not possible to cut wavy hair dry because it won't be even.  She fumbled with my thick hair, dropping clips and yanking out tangles.  She cut only the bottom layer and declared herself done.  I asked her via my husband translator to trim all my layers.  She did and again declared herself done.  I tried to explain she needed to blend the layers.  She didn't understand.  The owner came over and said my hair had to be dried first.  I argued, asking that they cut it exactly the way Nenna did because there was no way I was going to a ball with bad hair.  The owner raised her voice incensed, declaring my hair too 'dark' to cut wet.

I have never been yelled at by someone in a customer service position before moving to Germany but now I'm getting used to it.

After I refused to back down, the owner attacked my hair with thinning shears like an angry Edward Scissorhands.  I sat there flushed faced while clumps of hair fell to the floor and tried not to panic since stress isn't good for the fetus or whatever.  When she finished I said they could attempt to dry it and couldn't help but laugh at the frizzy lion's mane when they finished.  I wrapped my frizzy mess in a bun and we left.  I snapped a picture before I restyled it and after.  The second picture also my four month 'baby bump' which looks more like I ate a giant burrito.  Doesn't the bedroom look so much better with the bed made?

After I styled it my hair cut was actually very nice.  The experience of getting it isn't something I'd like to have again so next time I'll probably go back to Hamburg. 

Customer service is priceless.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Things in German

My German is still pretty bad after all these years.  I make an effort to watch German tv, listen to German radio and do everything myself.  I make doctors appoints, go shopping, read and answer letters in German.  I take sick Redgie to the vet in German.  I have taught kindergarten in German because even though I'm trying to teach five year olds English, unless I can give them instructions and ask them to stop hitting each other in German they aren't going to learn anything.  I ask for directions in German, go to the post office in German and talk to my in-laws in German.  I got my wrecked car towed in German, called the police in German and explained to the car dealership that I needed a rental car in German.  I chit chat with the nurses at the doctors office and go to the dentist in German.  I tell people I have no freaking idea what they're saying to me because my German is bad in German.

There are some things that I can't do in German. 

Like I can not be pregnant in German.  It's just too complicated and scary.  I mean the word 'placenta' is 'mother's cake' in German which is... ten times grosser?  Easy to remember?  One more of hundreds of new words I would have to learn to be pregnant in German?

So I decided that even though I need to learn more German, better German and all that, I absolutely refuse to have this pregnancy in German.  I have no idea what I'm doing anyway and why make it harder by throwing in a complicated language when I'm already tired and irritable most of the time?

One of my biggest problems was that I moved outside of Hamburg and I don't want to drive an hour to the big city to see a doctor.  I was so lucky to find both a doctor and a midwife within 10 minutes of my house who are willing to speak English.