First, a bit of humor -- compliments of the Onion....
And now for a quick round of catch-me-up.
First (foremost) -- I'm on my way back to San Diego. After a lot of deliberation, I've decided to head back to Southern California and leave my job, good friends and interesting life here in Hamburg.
It was not an easy decision -- there is so much more to see, so many more places to explore in Europe. But, love will out in the end: with Tj. and Bill living their lives in San Diego, the need to return to SD grew and grew.
I'm still in Hamburg through the holidays. I will spend Christmas with my family in Niedersachsen, then work the three days "zwischen den Tagen" between Christmas and New Years with my last day at work being the 29th.
I get to spend New Years Eve together with my buddies Maik and Andreas here in Hamburg -- I will miss them very much and hope they'll get a chance to visit SD in the near future.
Then I have just over a week before catching a bus to Frankfurt on the evening of the 8th of January. I fly the morning of the 9th from Frankfurt to Dublin, then from Dublin to Chicago, where my sister and nephew will meet me at O'Hare!
Our plans are to spend the evening and night in Gurnee -- home of Gurnee Mills, where I can get a quick overdose of US shopping before heading to Door County, WI on the 10th. I know my parents will be waiting at the door for me -- I can't wait to get to Sturgeon Bay and spend a few weeks catching up and just generally spending time with them. One of my plans for returning to the US is that I get back to see the family much more often. We're tight-knit, even though I am always far away -- I would like us to be able to spend more time together now that I'll be at least on the same continent.
A few weeks later, Tj. will fly in, we'll spend a few more days with the family and then start a roadtrip back to San Diego! This all depends on my getting a car while I'm in Wisconsin.
One of the great dilemmas I've had living in Hamburg has been not having a car. It meant, of course, that I was dependent on the subway, the DB, other people (thanks Dave and Frank!) and on my feet to get around -- but it also meant I didn't have a car payment, insurance, parking hassles, gas prices, etc to deal with. All in all, though, it is next to impossible to live in the US without a car. Unless you are in a few of the great cities with reliable public transportation (SF, Chicago and New York spring to mind), you are more or less 'required' to reach places by car. So, I'm in the market for something reliable AND fun when I get back -- leaning towards a Jeep Wrangler! (Not so great for Wisconsin or the ride back through the US in the middle of the winter, but GREAT for life in SD!)
I've been lucky enough to secure a position with IKEA SD, the store I worked at before leaving California for Hamburg 1 1/2 years ago.... It will be interesting to see how things have changed, who is there, who has left, who has come back (I understand I'm the 3rd or 4th person to do so!)
OK, I also make a New Year's Resolution here, in print: I vow to update my blog at least once a week -- more during exciting periods, such as my first impressions upon returning to the US and the roadtrip back to San Diego. I want friends back here in Germany (and throughout the "Old World"!) to be able to keep up with news and what's happening in my life. So, stay posted -- there will be more to come! Remember, you can also see the latest pictures I've taken at the link above to my Picasa site.
On a very sad note: one of my dear co-workers here in Hamburg has passed away. On Thursday, December 21st, the head of our office came in unexpectedly while on vacation. He called us together to make a brief announcement -- Kathrin Paulsen had been found dead of natural causes in the seaside rental cottage where she was spending the holidays in Denmark.
Kathrin and I had just been talking during our office Christmas party about the plans she had made for the trip. She was looking forward to reading through a stack of books she was bringing with, was stocking up on groceries and a case of wine. She said she didn't care if it was cold or warm, wet or dry -- she was mostly looking forward to getting away from it all and catching up her reading and relaxing. She was eager to get on the road early the following day and get started on her vacation. My heart goes out to her family, who will undoubtedly find it hard to believe, as I do, that someone so caring and intelligent is no longer with us.
And, finally -- to everyone near, far and unknown but reading this post: A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year to you and to those you hold dear. Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!
"A new normal"
5 days ago