Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ten years later - or - Celebrating a great friendship

Six months ago I swore to have my man's back, in good times and in bad. Weirdly enough the past 12 and something years seem like they have just flown by and so do the past six months. 
Last Sunday on November 2nd I was bridal gown shopping with my sister and one of the best girlfriends a girl could wish for, exactly six months after the man and I quietly sealed our lives into one life together. We decided a couple of months ago that we wanted to celebrate our wedding in Germany as well, as a gift to my side of the family. So, I went overseas at the end of August to sort some things out for that springy event next year. My parents had already scouted the location and we interviewed disc jockeys, photographers and decided on some bigger tasks. I had great time.
Two weeks ago my sister and Mara came to visit us. We had a blast! It was Mara's first time in the U.S. so it was quiet refreshing to experience everything here again through the eyes of someone who has not experienced the craziness in this country. We went to the "Walk Of Fame", the Hollywood sign. We ate burgers, cupcakes, frosting, candy cane M&M's and ranch dip. We went to San Francisco, to Alcatraz, we biked across the Golden Gate Bridge, we took 22,000 steps one day. We rented a car and drove down the coast from SanFran to L.A.. We took  a Beyonce dance class in Hollywood, including costumes, for my bachelorette shenanigans and we found the dress in which my dad is going to walk me down the aisle next year. My parents will be here in about six weeks as well and I am pretty sure it will be a different kind of Christmas than what they are used to, with all the palm trees and the sun....
Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hollywood sign


Sunset on top of the Coit Tower
Kung Fu Pandas after the Tower

Golden Gate Bridge

Sea Elephant Beach 

Santa Monica Sunset

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Peak of our Lives

A little over twelve years ago the man and I met as I was an exchange student in Dallas, TX for my senior year of High School. He made leaving impossibly and indescribably hard. This year we (well, more he) took that Gaussian function of a bell curve to its peak and sealed the deal of a lifetime. In front of six witnesses (plus today's technology-allowing cross-atlantic internet connection on mobile devices) we swore to never lose our humor. That was a month ago, two days before the day that we met twelve years ago. Perfect. We kept it quiet simple, as we are and simply quiet as well. Hehe hehe. 
In the meantime I have received my American passport, changed my status at the Social Security Administration and took another field trip to the place where you feel like you're in a Zoo of humans - the DMV. Though the SSA comes pretty close in comparison as well. 
I planned on going to Germany this summer since my parents did not make it here in the spring but since the airlines all have very inconvenient and rather pricey connections to chose from I will probably just stay here and wait for my sis and Mara to come in the fall. I am a little sad about that, but I cannot change the things I cannot control. 

the kids doing what they do best....

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Land of the Free and the Brave

Yesterday a (late) judge swore in 3,163 immigrants to become American citizens. It was quiet an event. Apparently I am not making it as big of a deal as it really is. But I guess it kind of is a big deal. Not everyone gets the chance to live and work here. America has a lot of opportunities for people that are willing to put in the work and a lot of people have lived the "American Dream" here, in this super sized country that is a melting pot of a lot of different nationalities. Some of the top 5 nations present yesterday included El Salvador, the Philippines and Mexico (#1). But let me give you the run-down. My letter said to be there at 8am, at LACC. As always, I thought we were going to be late, only to find out that apparently the 3,163 people got very interesting times to appear, like 8.03am. As I walked into the entrance an employee was so nice to point me in the right direction and I crossed the bridge to the right hall. There were a lot of people running around and the entrance section was divided into "guests" and "applicants". The line for me did not look too bad. And then I saw the end of it - a queue through another hall lining into three individual lines. Oh well, I made it through the security check and went to stand in another line. The officer at the table asked for my invitation letter and my Green Card. I handed it over and they asked a couple of questions to make sure nothing had changed since the interview. They wrote the number "36" on the letter and handed it back to me with my GC stapled and made invalid. Then I followed the crowd behind the stage, saw a bathroom and took my chance. I was not sure how long the ceremony would take. Afterward I entered the ceremony area where I was handed a packet from the USCIS which included the voter's registration, application for passport, some instructions and a letter from the President welcoming me as a new citizen. The ceremony was supposed to start at 9am and from where I was sitting I could see that the judge arrived a little after 9am and then had to be briefed. At first a lady took the podium, welcoming everyone and thanking everyone to be there. Then they honored a couple of military guys that have fought for the United States. Afterward the judge made the immigrants rise and we pledged the Allegiance. The Star-Spangled Banner was performed by a gentleman whose microphone was not working and a lady from the USCIS pretty much concluded the ceremony with two videos. The first one was Barack Obama welcoming everyone as a loyal citizen and the second one was an old video of a country singer performing a song, "Proud to be an American" I believe, or so. After that they dismissed the guests that were sitting in the back and dismissed us row by row to go to the table number that had been written on our letters as we checked in. I was sitting in the last section to be dismissed. As I got up front in the area where everyone was lined up there were some women arguing. Apparently two women had stood in the wrong line and had tried to cut the line they were supposed to be in, which the other new citizens were not having. An officer told the lady that she needed to go to the end of the line and wait and she was trying to argue. End of story, the officer told the other officer that handed out the naturalization certificates to not hand hers out to her because she could not behave. After I got my document I went outside to meet the man and one of my girlfriends who had made the drive downtown to witness my becoming an American. We drove back to the Marina and had a fantastic lunch with some of my girlfriends. We missed the ones that were stuck at work and could not make it but we will be sure to toast to this event on our trainer's night out and then later on during ladies night in May. I could not get my passport application submitted yesterday so I was lucky enough to get an appointment next week. I called about a dozen locations which all did not have any openings till mid-May till I got to the one in Inglewood and their earliest opening is next week. Overall I gotta admit it was a very well organized event, considering how many people were present. It has taken over five years for this process to climax to my becoming a U.S. citizen, and it all started based on taking a leap of faith and challenging fate as well as my luck. Here are some pictures....

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Next Step - Pledge the Allegiance as a (German-)American

I passed my civics test and interview on March 3rd 2014. Quiet honestly I was nervous - for the first hour of waiting and then I became impatient. My appointment was scheduled for 10.50am that morning. I got up a little earlier and got my run in, had breakfast with the pups and got dressed. My moral support and I got to the building I wanna say around 10am. The invitation said one should not be there more than 30 minutes before the actual interview since seating is limited. We made our way upstairs to the stated room. I turned in my invitation and was asked to have a seat. As they called my name they took fingerprints again and a picture and sent us to a different room. There was a security officer that asked us to turn cell phones on silent and asked me specifically to turn it off when I am called in for the interview. There were some people there, some alone, some with family members and some with attorneys. People were being called into the interview rooms at random times, no patterns really. The interview officers all looked pretty relaxed and fun, some more serious. My interview invitation also stated that the entire process might take up to two hours so as the first hour had passed I relaxed a little more. I had already turned my cell phone off shortly after we sat down - after 90 minutes of waiting I turned it back on because I was sure my family in Germany was getting worried since they had not heard back from me. After two hours of waiting my support team became impatient (very uncommon for him) and he went up front to ask the officer what was taking so long. He asked him to bring my green card and he would be sure to check on me. A short wait later he came back and informed us it would take another ten minutes. It did. A more serious interview officer called me up front. we had decided earlier that we did not really want him to interview me because he looked so serious but he was actually pretty funny, just in a different kind of way. No introduction on his part, he walked me into his office. There were pictures of his family and loads of files around, crammed into a little office. He asked me to put my purse down and raise my right hand to swear to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth, also that I had filled out the application on my own. I swore and was asked to have a seat. He promised me to be very quick and have me out and done in ten minutes. We started with the civics test (argh). The ten questions (they asked you up to ten, you only have to answer six correct, they stop asking after that) were on a separate sheet of paper and he wrote down all of my answers. I missed the first question. It was a question I always missed (of course) when I had someone quiz me - and I was nervous.... Anyway, I answered the next six questions correct and he put the sheet away. Next, he asked me to read three questions about Congress and lastly I had to write a sentence he dictated. After that we went through the entire application I turned in in Novmeber. Every single question and he marked them with red marker. As we were done with that I had to sign a couple of sheets and he told me Congratulations. Made a copy of my driver license and informed me that the next ceremony was scheduled on March 14th and he was not sure if they could get me in that one since it was only eleven days away. Yea, the letter came on Friday (14th), so I get to go in April (as I had already assumed anyway). 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

What came first - the Declaration of Independence or the writing of the Constitution?

So, seriously ask yourself the following question and try to answer it without looking up the answer online: "How many amendments does the Constitution have?" Anyone? I have my interview for naturalization tomorrow (March, 3rd 2014) and that is one of the questions on my list. I have to be able to answer six out of up to ten questions correctly, chosen out of a 100 question catalog. Hmm, yea. I am a little anxious but I have had co-workers quiz me as well as the man, I have had conversations about the questions with my clients and managers and that has helped A LOT. Some things just did not want to stick in my head but I think I am pretty well prepared now with everyone's help. The man is driving me downtown because I am pretty sure I would get lost. 
Last night we had the pleasure of attending a beautiful wedding. One of my clients tied the knot with her man and we had a great time celebrating the awesome union of the two families. My mind is focused on tomorrow so here are some pics of the last couple of weeks while I am going to watch the Oscars on TV.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Aloha in Paradise - OR - How to avoid the German traditions as an unmarried woman turning 30....

Aloha everyone in 2014. I guess this is the first blog post in 2014 and there is a lot that has already happened... Let's start with the very happy arrival of our foster-fur-child Rocky (and his mom of course), hehe. So, my sis came in the weekend before New Year's. For New Year's we were just gonna chill at home and watch movies, play with the fur babies. That did not happen since my fantastic fiancĂ© somehow got tickets for a sold-out club in Hollywood a couple of hours before it all actually happened. We had a great time, open bar, except for the fact that my sis could not understand that they turned on the lights at 2am. Welcome to L.A. Jasmin, lol. The rest of the week was honestly a normal work week for me. We went shopping on Saturday at an outlet mall with tons of sales and Sunday we did the obligatory "New Year's beach visit" - better late than never. The following Thursday it was off to Honolulu, HI for Jasmin and I. Of course our plane was delayed but that didn't mean to get upset. Hawai'i is so awesome, so relaxed, so beautiful - everyone should go there at least once in their lifetime. First thing we did after we were dropped off with our flower necklaces was go to the beach and the farmer's market, which was conveniently enough right downstairs in our hotel. The beach was right across the street from the hotel. Perfect. Friday morning we grabbed our fresh pineapple and coffee and went to the beach. After lunch we made our way to Diamond Head - on foot. That was about a 35 minute walk (at our pace) and then an hour hike up and down as well. Needless to say we took the bus back and went to happy hour straight after. The view from up there was breathtaking, we even saw whales. At night we were so tired that we went to bed at 9pm, hehe. Saturday was our birthday and we wanted to try to stay up but that did not happen. At night I woke up to a dripping ceiling and we changed rooms in the morning - higher floor, even more amazing view. Saturday at midnight we talked to my brother and sister-in-law because they had given Jasmin our birthday present and we wanted to open it "with them" - a very pretty bracelet. In the morning, after we watched some very entertaining birthday videos, we blew out our candles on our cupcakes and went out for breakfast at "Eggs n Things" on the way to the Ala Moana Mall. Very tasty. Then we walked to the mall and took advantage of all the sales, literally all of them. As we came out of one of the stores it was raining pretty bad so it was great we chose that day for shopping. We took the trolley home from there. Then we went to happy hour/birthday dindin. Sunday we went to "Leonard's bakery", the beach and the Honolulu Zoo, which was bigger than expected. We ran some errands and went to happy hour for some Pina Coladas - delicious, while we had a beautiful view of the ocean and the beach at dindin. Monday was our last day so we went to the Aquarium, which was a rarely short visit and then the beach to soak up some last Waikiki sun. Tuesday was our departure day so we got ready in the morning, were picked up almost three hours before our flight and almost got stuck in Honolulu traffic. The crew for our flight did get stuck in traffic, so again our flight was delayed. As we made it back to LAX my fiance picked us up and he had dindin and a cake for us - perfect. Here are some pics of the vacay. 

So, overall a really great vacation for our 30th birthday-escape. Wednesday it was back to work for me and Jasmin slowly had to get ready to go back to Germany on Saturday. But before that we had our housewarming/birthday party at our new place. In the afternoon Jasmin and I met with Stacey for a little photo-shoot for the Malibu Classix skates I got Jasmin for her birthday. Here are some pics of that. 

It was really fun and at night we had our party. That was fun too. We went to the store Thursday night and got drinks and snacks and had a really good time with everyone. Saturday morning at 5am Jasmin, Rockylinos and I went to the airport to drop them off for their journey to the mother-land. They made it safely and Aaron and I went to get a substitute for Rockylinos so Champy has a fur-brother from another mother. Meet Nox