21 October 2004


Yesterday, over at The Litterbox Jen came up with a perfect money-making scheme: She is going to rent out her cats!

The idea wouldn't be nearly so funny to me, except it reminded me of a time when My Little Chinese Guy approached me about doing almost that very same thing.

I have mentioned My Little Chinese Guy before. While in most respects he was a sweet guy and we had some very interesting and stimulating conversations, in some ways I found him a little eccentric. I never figured out why he thought he needed to give me a watermelon or why he preferred the bathrooms near my office, but the day that he softly knocked on my office door and politely asked if he could borrow one of my cats for a few days really took the cake.

At first I blinked a couple of times and shook my head as if to clear the cotton out of my ears. It had been one of those days where I had been staring too long and too hard at the computer screen and I thought maybe I hadn't heard him correctly. "Excuse me?" I said. He repeated his request to borrow one of my cats. "Why?" I asked, a little suspicious. He always seemed to like my cats, even though he was one of those people who was a little over-anxious around them.

Then story the came out. He lived in a little house and apparently, a rat had decided to move in with him. It was eating his bread and leaving turds all over the house. "A rat?" I asked, "Are you sure it isn't just a mouse?" No, he was convinced it was a rat, and a damned clever one at that. Up to that point, it had apparently avoided all of the traps he had set out. I suggested poison. He explained he didn't want to use poison when he though a cat would do nicely to catch the thing. This, he explained, was the reason for his visit. I was the only person he knew that had a cat.

He thought since Scooter was such a big tomcat, he would be the perfect rat-hunter and promised that he would take good care of him if I would loan him to him for a few days... just until he caught the rat.

When I tried to picture Scooter hunting a rat, I laughed out loud. I tried to explain to him that Scooter was a pampered indoor house cat who had never even smelled a rat. I wasn't even sure he would know what to do if he saw one. That was the problem, said my Little Chinese Guy. Scooter needed some experience in being a cat. He should be outdoors hunting. This would give him the perfect opportunity to tune into his instinct. "No," I said, "You are not borrowing my cat."

He then tried to convince me maybe Mouse would be better equipped for the task. After all, he said, it appeared to him that she had the right attitude for it. While I agreed Mouse would probably make a better rat-hunter, I held firm and would not let him borrow my cats. Crestfallen, he finally gave up. He told me to have a nice day and left my office.

I never did find out what happened to that rat...

20 October 2004

"Passing Admirers" Progress

I am back to working on "Passing Admirers." I just love this piece! It is so pretty!

I love the scene, I love the looks on the ladies' faces, and above all, I love the Victorian clothing! However, I must say with all those high necks, tight corsets, and extravagant bows I am sure glad I never had to wear those dresses!

A Girly Post

The other day while I was walking through the mass pedestrian confusion that characterizes the approximate 500 meter journey from Karlsplatz to Marienplatz here in Munich I was saddened to discover that they had turned The Gap into yet another H&M.

What is it about H&M? Sure they have trendy clothes that come with a decent price tag, but does the shopping zone between Karlsplatz and Marienplatz really need five of them?! Well, maybe... one of the reasons I don't buy a lot from them is because I get so impatient waiting in line behind a bunch of teeny-boppers for a dressing room.

I am really not against another H&M store, but why did they have to close The Gap to make room for it? Not only have I always been a fan of The Gap, it was one of the few stores here in Germany where not only the sizes made sense, they were accurate! My other lamentation is that since I didn't know they were closing the store I missed out on all the great clearance items and prices.

But back to the issue of sizes. I have pretty much abandoned the attempt to translate American sizes into German sizes, because it just doesn't work. In the US, I usually wear a size 8 or 10. That is supposed to translate in Germany to 38 or 40. However, an American 8 or 10 is more accurately a 40 or 42.

Sure, you might think that I am lying to myself. When it comes to the issue of weight, body image, and sizes, women have been known not only to deceive others, but also themselves. Either I don't really wear a size 8 or 10 in America or I have gained weight and so the 40 or 42 might actually be a size 10 or 12 and I just don't want to admit it.

However, in both of these instances you would be wrong. Before I left America I was regularly wearing a size 10 and that was the largest size I had ever worn because I was at the heaviest point in my life. As a matter of fact, I have lost almost 25 pounds since I came to Germany two and a half years ago. When I first came here, I was buying 42s but now, as a general rule, I am buying 40s. In addition, I brought two pairs of my "skinny" jeans with me from the US (size 7/8) and for the first time in three years, I can wear them again. So obviously, when they try and give you American sizes that are equivalent to their German sizes here, they are wrong.

However, this doesn't surprise me. A long time ago I read an article somewhere that discussed how American sizes have shifted over the past 30 years or so. According to this article, American sizes have shifted downward about two sizes over this time period. Therefore, what was labeled as a size 12 in 1974 is labeled a size 8 in 2004. The reason for this is because even though we are heavier now than we were then, we like to think we are not. What better way to do this than by saying, "I wore a size 8 in 1974 when I got married. And two kids and 30 years later I still wear a size 8. Obviously, I can't be that fat!"

Of course, since the shopper is their livelihood, the fashion industry complies. After all, how tough can it be to design a size 12 but stick a size 8 tag in a pair of jeans? I suppose since European women tend to be thinner than their American counterparts, the fashion industry hasn't had to make those adjustments here. Therefore, European to American clothing conversion charts use 1974 figures instead of 2004 figures. I guess that would make sense... even though I am not too keen on the idea that even though I have lost weight I am still wearing the 1974 equivalent of double digit sizes!

19 October 2004

Conspiracy Theory 101

Disclaimer: By going any further you understand that once you read this we may have to kill you.

In order to understand Evolution you need to realize that everything is controlled by a secret society made up of illegal immigrants with help from stock brockers.

The conspiracy first started during Parting of the Red Sea in France. They have been responsible for many events throughout history, including The Disapperance of Atlantis.

Today, members of the conspiracy are everywhere. They can be identified by sneezing.

They want to bitch slap Rush Limbaugh and imprison resisters in Siberia using hot air balloons.

In order to prepare for this, we all must cross the street. Since the media is controlled by Planned Parenthood we should get our information from The NRA.

* * *

You too can create your own conspiracy theory... just click here!

An Endangered Species?

Rumor has it that I am an endangered species. "What?!" you say, "How can you be an endangered species?" There are over 200 million Americans and the population is growing every day. It is true that the number of people who are of European decent is declining, but they are far from being an endangered species. So how can I, an American of European decent possibly be an endangered species? The answer is simple: I am a natural blonde.

According to this article from the BBC, "a study by experts in Germany suggests people with blonde hair are an endangered species and will become extinct by 2202." While I admit that this startling statement is a little bit unsettling, it also makes me feel special. Could it be that I am soon to be on the list next to the giant panda, the bottle-nosed dolphin, and the bald eagle? What sort of rights should I demand as an endangered species? How can I ensure that my kind and my habitat are protected? A whole new world of activism could open up for me...

On the other hand though, Professor Jonathan Rees claims it is unlikely that blondes would die out completely. While natural blondes could argue that we are being threatened by chemical pollutants and an invasive species - the unnatural blonde - unlike the giant panda, bottle-nosed dolphin, or bald eagle, blondes are not really threatened by a loss of habitat. Our disadvantage comes from the fact that blonde is a recessive gene.

Therefore, according to Professor Rees, "[t]he only reason blondes would disappear is if having the gene was a disadvantage" and most would say that is not the case. After all, there are a lot of advantages in being a natural blonde: Sayings like "Gentlemen prefer blondes" or that "Blondes have more fun" and celebrities like Pamela Anderson, Britney Spears, or Marilyn Monroe show that even though Western society labels us with a lot of negative stereotypes, a good number of people think looking like us is beneficial.

Natural blondes are victims of accepted discrimination. It is painful and demanding to be an intelligent blonde and have to fight against negative stereotypes every day. I put on a brave face and accept the challenges and paradoxes of being naturally blonde, but I would be lying if I said that I hadn't thought about how my life would be different if I wasn't a blonde: Would people take me more seriously? Would people still question my intelligence? Would people continue to make assumptions about my sexuality based on my hair color?

The blonde gene may be recessive, but if the blonde personality wasn't dominant we would avoid the problem by going brunette. So while I may not be at immediate risk of extinction, I would love to do something to endanger all those unnatural blondes out there! ;)

18 October 2004

Must I?

I am beginning to think I have lived in Germany too long. It isn't because I have mastered the German language, because I have started wearing a dirndl, or because I drink beer for breakfast. None of these things are true. I think I have lived in Germany too long because of a simple one syllable English word: "must."

As a general rule, we don't use the word "must" too often in English. Think about it. How often do you say that you must do or say something or that you must go somewhere? Normally, (American) English speakers say "have to" when one has no choice but to do or say something or go somewhere. (example: "I have to go to the grocery store before we run out of milk.") In these situations, one can use "must," but we don't do it.

"Must" is a word that has authoritative connotations in English and while you may tell yourself you must go to the store and get milk before you run out, if your neighbor tells you that you must mow your lawn, you are most likely offended because you get the feeling that your neighbor is trying to tell you what to do.

Before moving to Germany, I only used the word must when I was emphasizing something extremely important or urgent. However, after living in Germany for a while, I have noticed the word "must" has crept into my daily English vocabulary. The reason for this is a simple two syllable German word: "müssen."

Literally translated, "müssen" means "must." However, it is one of those words that has layers of meaning. It can also mean "have to," "should," or "may." It all depends on the translation. The translation of "müssen" into "must" by German speakers can be problematic. For example, Target GmBH, an English language training service based in Munich, has an entire webpage devoted to the problem of "must."

One of my early communication problems with my mother-in-law came from the fact that with her rudimentary English knowledge, she was unaware of how using the word "must" would rub me the wrong way. It wasn't until I learned a little bit of German that I understood she wasn't necessarily using "must" to be bossy, it was just a literal translation. (Actually, she is bossy and a *tad* overbearing by nature, but I think her using "must" in English is not so much a reflection of that as a translation problem.;) )

Regular use of "must" in English started out as a joke between A. and I. At first we used it when joking about the things his mother would tell us. Then we started using it when we had to things that we didn't want to do for one reason or another (examples: We must go to the gym tonight. I must change the cat litter tomorrow.) But now, I notice that I use in my everyday English usage. I guess only time will tell if it has reached the point where I must be careful when speaking to other English speakers so that they don't misinterpret me!

Clearance + Shoes = Happy blondelibrarian!

Look at what I got on clearance today!

I saw these shoes some months ago and wanted them really bad, but didn't want to pay the price for them (65 Euros). Today I found out that since they are last year's style they had to go. Price paid: 35 Euros!

And as anyone who knows me well will tell you, I have a thing for stripes... So these are just so ME!

Striped Cons
photo by blondelibrarian

Excuse me while I do a happy dance in my new Cons! I wonder if I remember how to moonwalk?