Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Willkommen in Deutschland!

    I've been a military spouse for a little over 8 years but with my husband for about 10 years so moving isn't exactly "new" at this point, but it's funny how much you can forget in 3 years. Typically, with the military, we move every 3 years but there have been two occasions when we moved more than once in less than 3 years including 2009 when we moved twice in less than 12 months. The frequency and bullshit tends to depend on the active-duty soldier's timeline, career path, and general military needs.

    It's not that bad, though... a lot of people complain about it but honestly -- most places we've lived, I was ready to LEAVE by the time we were told to move again, so even if moving itself is a hassle, the whole move is usually a good thing for us.

Atom sitting on Nick - Nick is lying on an air mattress.
My Mom and littlest brother came to see us the weekend before we left, so I could hand over my car since we were only bringing one with us. They had never met Atom before and Atom didn't take too kindly to people trying to hold him so when my brother went to pet him Atom climbed on Nick and was like "I'm bigger now..."
His face (and ears) say it all! 

Moving with Dogs
    Arranging for the dogs was, by far, the most stressful of the entire experience. The military makes all flight arrangements when air-travel is required for a PCS (permanent change of station) move, so we were relegated to the use of only a specific airline. Luckily, that airline accommodated pets and the military, BUT the flight were were placed on involved a stop and the first portion of the flight plans could only accommodate ONE of my TWO large kennels. So--- that was a hassle. We eventually got on a direct flight, opting to land in Frankfurt instead of heading straight for Stuttgart, and the larger plane was able to take both large kennels as checked-baggage and accommodate my carrier for Atom as in-cabin pet travel. Problem solved... but my streak of gray hair grew a bit in the process haha

After we prepared the kennels for the bigger dogs and prepared Atom's carrier, Atom climbed on the air mattress and was waiting to go in his carrier, thinking we were leaving right away. 
He fell asleep on the end of the mattress waiting for me to put him in his carrier haha

Packed the rental car, Jake & Zoya in their kennels in the back, Atom in his carrier in my lap.

At the airport, Nick was signing in and organizing the tickets.
I waited with our luggage and the dogs, then helped get the kennels on the scale and over to the TSA guys where Nick took over to help hold Jake & Zoya while their kennels were inspected and prepared for the flight.

They were anxious, but they eventually relaxed until we got them again after the flight haha

Atom wasn't really impressed....
This is while we were waiting to board the flight. I gave him water and a handful of food. He first tried to hide the food under his blanket, then ate it. Then tried to tip the dish of water over, then drank it, then put his alligator toy half-way in the bowl with whatever water was left hahaha

   In the past, we were able to sedate Jake and Zoya with medication but I opted not to do it this time. They were obnoxious in the airport while I checked them in, breaking both of their attached food and water dishes, then Zoya knocked the airline-supplied water dishes off her door as well. She's a pain... it's not her fault, but it's not my fault either. I can't get through to her because her anxiety is just too bad. It's been like that since we adopted her in 2004 and she was about 2 years old at the time so in the last 8+ years if I haven't been able to show her everything will always be okay and Mummy & Daddy with always ALWAYS be back... I doubt I'll be able to ever get through to her. So I just deal with it...

   Atom was fine. He's a "world traveler" haha
   But her agrees that First Class is way better than Economy...

WTF - Baggage and Carry-On Confusion
   When we got our tickets and turned over Jake & Zoya along with our 6 checked bags, the airline reps confirmed that it was okay to bring a carry-on, laptop bag, purse and Atom. But when I went through the door to go to check-in for the flight, the random security employee said I could only have two bags not the three. So Nick had to take one bag back and turn it in as checked baggage, which was really just a hassle. Not troubling, I didn't need anything from the bag anyway, but it was a pain in the ass and could have been avoided if the airline reps gave us accurate information.

Long Flights Can Suck, But They Don't Have To
    I don't particularly travel well. I don't enjoy hotels, I don't enjoy trips, I hate driving, and I don't like crowds. I don't have an "issue" with crowds, and I'm far from being Adrian Monk, but I don't care to share germs with dozens or hundreds of people in close quarters. No thanks. I like my own bed, my own shower, my own stuff, and no matter what I do, I doubt I will ever change with regard to that (much to my husband's chagrin)...

   When we got ready to board, I consulted the desk staff and was able to upgrade, but only slightly. There was nothing available in First Class and I couldn't afford the Business Class upgrade even if it was available, but Economy Plus was slightly better than Economy, and it was done for nothing since we were on Military orders so I was grateful and not going to complain at all.

   We boarded the plain and our new seats put us next to a very pleasant young man who, with his very neat beard and amusing personality, reminded me of Chuck (Zachary Levi). I told him this, and apparently I'm not the first to point it out, but he said he more often gets told he looks like Jim Halpert from The Office. I don't watch The Office, I've only seen the UK and US versions once or twice and only parts of episodes so I had to look it up to be sure I was thinking of the right person. I was right in recalling who he was talking about, and with facial hair I can see how people would see that as well because the passenger had lighter hair like John Krasinski but I still think he looked like Chuck... he had not watched it, so I told him he should.

This is hilarious so I figured I'd stick it in here too... I'm not too familiar with the actor since I don't really watch The Office but he's clearly very funny...
(this kind of reminds me of something my sisters and I would do hahaha)

    The passenger's beard was neat , which I appreciate because it's not "distracting" -- I can't stand when guys grow facial hair and don't make it neat. It's like, do you want to look homeless? Ugh... When I talk to someone with messy or unruly facial hair, that they clearly don't take time to maintain, I find it distracting so when they're talking and I'm trying to pay attention I keep thinking "ewww... why don't you just shave it off if you're not going to make yourself presentable?!" Don't judge -- you know you do it too haha

   It was nice though, to sit with someone that was pleasant and funny, and sociable but not obnoxious. I try hard to be sociable and NOT obnoxious, but I don't always succeed.

   I liked that he got my comment when we were about to land and I jokingly said it would be like the end of that movie when Kurt Russell had to land the plane and he missed the runway so he went around and landed (the larger commercial jet) on his own runway (at the small-plane airport where he was taking flying lessons). It wasn't a huge hit but I like action movies, I like Kurt Russell, and Steven Seagal was in it too, though he died like 5 minutes into the film -- but it made me feel good that I mentioned it and he got it.

   I spend a lot of time in my own company, well... me and the dogs... because I've worked from home for a while or I've been too busy to spend much time with friends, or make new ones, and whenever we move my friends get further and further away. So often I find that my comments "miss" their mark when said to others/strangers, and I get a lot of awkward half-smiles or heads shaking and shrugged shoulders.... I used to be really funny, so that sort of sucks for my comfort level hahaha BUT I guess our flight companion was about my age, or close enough, in order for the joke or comments to land right and so I was happy about it.

No Jet Lag for Me, Thanks
   Nick doesn't chat much, he listens and he talks a lot at times when he has something to say, but on flights like that he likes to just sleep. I didn't sleep. The flight was overnight so I knew, with the time difference, I was going to land in the morning of the next day and I'd want to stay up until a proper bedtime to reduce the impact of Jet Lag. I don't play that game. So I stayed awake through the flight, watching Mulan, then Stardust, then Jack Reacher, and an episode of Monk (Mr. Monk Goes to the Carnival, I think). Then I put on Phineas and Ferb because we would be landing and I just wanted something on my screen.

I will fly just about anywhere, no matter how many hours the trip is, if it's first class.
I didn't have a choice this time hahaha - First Class was full 
So we were cramped in Economy Plus but it could have been worse.

    When it was dinner time, all three of us got the same thing and that was cute. The other passenger said he'll be part of our "family" and we'll all eat the same thing, I thought that was funny. Some people are uncomfortable talking with strangers, even if you're stuck together for 8 hours like on a flight. I'm a talker... not too much, although I can talk a LOT... but I try to make people comfortable when we're stuck in the same setting or situation for a bit, so I tried to be a little sociable without probing for info (which can make people very uncomfortable haha) and without offering too much personal info (because I hate when people do that too...)

    Atom slept the whole flight, except for a little bit when he wanted more water. It was dark for most of the flight though, so that helped him sleep.

   Anyway, so here's what I do:  I know that moving ahead 6 hours will screw with my internal clock and I know that traveling and worrying about the dogs will make me even more exhausted than if I just was awake for two days. But sleeping on the plane would have messed with my sleep more because when we landed it was about 8am and the 6-hour difference meant that my body thought it should be 2am. It was a 2-hour drive to the base from Frankfurt, but we were picked up by a military sponsor (an EXCELLENT one, by the way!) so we didn't have to drive. I started to doze off on the trip back but it wasn't real sleep.

   I felt better after we ate some lunch. We couldn't check into the hotel until the afternoon, which is bullshit but I don't make the rules. Eventually we got checked in, got a room, got the bags in the room, and got the dogs all situated. I stayed up as long as I could but eventually, after showering and changing, I decided I just couldn't do it any longer and I went to sleep around 8:30pm (local). When I woke up Tuesday morning, it was 0500 so I had about 8 1/2 hours of sleep, and I felt fine. I got dressed, which made a huge difference since I could feel like I was "me" instead of the traveling me, up for nearly 2 days and covered in airport and travel germs haha. I had breakfast in the hotel and that helped a bit too but I feel much better than I think I would have if I had done things differently. I have never had Jet Lag in the traditional sense, so I'm just going to assume my way force-acclimates my body and mind to the new time zone.

Me... after a ridiculously busy Monday, several hours in the airport dealing with the dogs and luggage, an 8 hour flight with delayed take-off, and then a ridiculous trip through the Frankfurt Airport trying to get the two kennels, all our luggage, find our ride, and get to the car in the garage...

Atom travels well..

It kind of looks like any other city, like any other highway...
Except the speedometer was in KPH and people drive super fast on the Autobahn...

Atom fell asleep....

He makes my heart melt a little hahaha

Jake and Zoya finally able to stretch their legs...

Now What?
    I have two classes that started Monday. It's a long story so I'll save that for later. I have to wait for my lab kits to arrive to my APO address, but they're all on their way. There are some things I can work on in the meantime, though, so while Nick is in-processing, I thought I'd write a little bit of a blog update then get a little work done. Without a car there isn't much I can do -- it's raining and I don't want to leave the dogs in the hotel room all day, at least not until they've adjusted to things.

   This is my first time in a foreign country -- although at first, Hawaii felt like a whole new planet hahaha
I don't speak much German, but I have been studying. I've studied 10 languages, I don't think German is terribly difficult I just never had any need to learn it. Until I leave the base, however, I really don't have a need for it. I won't be staying the full 3 years anyway, assuming I get into school for 2014 (or 2015, if I miss out for next year) so the motivation to really learn German well isn't as high as if I were going to live here for 3 full years. In reality, I'll be here probably 18 months, but that's still long enough to take time to learn some decent German and we plan to travel so it gives me a chance to use other European languages that I thought were a waste of brain space until now haha... I studied them because I liked them, and I'm good with languages but I doubted I'd ever get the chance to use them so I felt this constant negative attitude about them, like they were a waste of time and brain space.

    Anyway, that's about it... I'm not going to put many updates here though. I have a private site I made for family where I'll put other things, but I messed it up while trying to transfer it to my own hosting account too soon so that may take a little fixing before it's ready for family to sign in and check it out.

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