Drinks & German Charades

Hello all,

Today, I wanted to write about a little phenomenon I’ve encountered. I’m not sure if I’m entirely abnormal, but I find that, having grown up multilingual, I no longer entirely trust myself to switch from language to language accurately. They all seem to blend together, and I constantly want to substitute one language with another in the same sentence. Even when I reach a certain level of comfort, I second guess myself. During my last trip to Austria, I discovered a bit of a solution.

You see, I just need a few drinks and then my German comes out just fine. In moments of uncertainty, I don’t have a problem asking for help if there’s a word I can’t remember or simply don’t know. The not knowing is always inevitable. I mean, when you’re learning a language, who the hell covers things like “Help! The fuse blew in the basement”?

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 Sans drinks, I have a crippling fear of speaking to people like a cave woman, and by this I mean using improper grammar or inadvertently offending someone. The fully sober me will get ready to concoct a sentence, and then the voice in my head yells “THAT’S NOT GRAMMATICALLY CORRECT! Everyone in this country thinks you’re an idiot!” So I’m forced to limit my speech to disjointed sentences or one word answers. “Yes. The food is delicious. No, I’m not at all cold.” It’s quite telling that the one phrase I find myself repeating over and over in a variety of languages is “No, really, I’m full.” This can probably be attributed to the fact that I come from a group of  universally stocky people, who I’m sure secretly harbor the thought that I’m a strange human twig who’s slowly and deliberately starving themselves into nothing. No matter how much food I shovel in, they insist I need to eat more. On my European side of the family this philosophy unfortunately (or fortunately) also applies to alcohol. I can’t honestly think of another family where “You have to finish the whole bottle!” Is an acceptable thing to say to one person…on a Tuesday evening. There’s also half a cake you’re going to have to put away if you want to make it out alive. Try not to fall down on your way out to the car. Given that there are no  streetlights and a lot of ditches you can fall into, this makes this normal task about 800 times trickier. 

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One evening, after describing what an avocado was to my grandmother for a short period of time, I finally figured out that the German word for avocado was “avocado,” but with a German accent. I’m considering the 10 minutes of my life that I spent performing some sort of weird German charades a total waste. I wrangled all of my vocabulary together to attempt to relay the message: “No, it’s not a fruit, it the other thing… It’s soft, and green, and has a big seed thing in the middle. They put it in sushi!!” (Because sushi is a great reference point for people who have lived in the Austrian countryside their whole lives and still slaughter pigs in their yard.) This was all followed by me making the shape of an avocado repeatedly in the air, like it was going to help. Granted when you’re have two beers and fours glasses of wine in you, it seems really effective. 

Despite having spoken it for the better part of my life, I still find that German is not an easy language. But, sometimes, things are a lot simpler than they seem. A bit of liquid courage can help and not being afraid to fail is always a good start. 

EVA♥

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Adventures in Güssing

Hello all!

As many of you know (or might have guessed from my last post), I visited my family in Austria just a few weeks ago. My last trip was in spring of 2013, and was a bit of a whirlwind involving a van full of friends and a trek across the country. Comparatively, this most recent trip was quite a bit more laid-back, with the largest thing on the agenda being my grandmother’s 80th birthday at one of the many the local Buschenshanks, or wine taverns. The party lasted until 1am, complete with a ton of food, dancing, and live music courtesy of my great uncle Franz and his friend Rudy.

 My family’s hometown is what one might refer to as rural. It’s not out of the ordinary for people to have livestock on their property, and unpaved roads are somewhat commonplace. Cellphone service can be quite spotty, as it’s so close to the Hungarian border that you could easily stumble across it without realizing. Güssing, a relatively small town of approximately 250 households, is honestly quite hard to find on a map. But, like most of Europe, it boasts a rich history, as is evident by the ruins of the 13th century castle that overlook the town. For me, it’s always been a place to unplug and indulge in some nostalgia. I ate my favorite foods and read half a dozen books in my grandmother’s kitchen. I know that change is guaranteed each visit, as my trips have gotten so few and far between as I’ve gotten older.

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Yes, they wore lederhosen. It’s almost a requirement when playing that much polka music.

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I try to appreciate Güssing for what it is. It’s especially quiet and charming during the winter months, when you can find Christmas markets in just about every town in the neighboring region. While we may have high-speed internet here in the Bay Area, they have warm mugs of Glühwein and roasted chestnuts on every corner, which is a fair trade-off, in my humble opinion. It’s very much a place to reset, indulge a bit, and contemplate life(or in my case, attempt to revive some very rusty German…more on this later). It may not be the most glamorous or exotic of vacations, but it’s special nonetheless.

EVA♥

Thoughts from a Jet-Lagged Brain

Hello all!

Watch Me Juggle is back in the lovely state of California once again. As much as I enjoy my world travels, I’m happy to be back in the land of unending wifi and to-go cups of coffee. Before I essentially force all of you to look at my vacation photos, I thought I would share some of the utter nonsense that crossed my mind during my travels. While I knew before now that jet-lag existed, I never remembered experiencing it with such…intensity. Coupled with an abrupt break from an intense work schedule and the general unpredictability of air travel, it was like someone had turned the filter off of my ability to think rationally.

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Take my foray through airport security for instance. As I stepped out of the X-ray machine and moved to put my jacket back on, a TSA agent took me aside. I had had blood drawn earlier that day, and the band-aid was still firmly plastered to my arm. It was at this point the agent asked to see my bandaid. I tentatively stuck out my arm, wondering what could have aroused her suspicion so much that my band-aid was questionable. I was tempted to pull it off and hand it to her, but something about that felt socially unacceptable. While I’m on the topic of socially unacceptable behavior, a friend of mine recently informed me that people are statistically more apt to cry on planes. I’m grateful that she shared this with me, because about two hours into my flight, I found myself having the following inner-dialogue:

Brain: This movie has feelings. Cry. Now.
Me: No brain. I’m in public, and on a plane. This is not only socially unacceptable, but makes everyone, including me, uncomfortable. 
Brain: Cry now.
Me: It’s “Finding Dory” for God’s sake. Seriously?! A children’s movie about a fish— they don’t even have facial expressions! What are we crying about?! 

 

Luckily, my brain compromised, and instead allowed me to pretend I had mascara in my eyes for 15 minutes. I’ve decided that jet lag is a bit like being drunk. Except it’s not at all fun, and you have to be out in public with your grandma whilst pretending you know what’s going on around you. Let’s not forget constantly feeling like you can’t blink and might fall over.

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I tried to force myself to adapt to the time zone as much as possible. I stayed up late and had after dinner drinks in an effort to coax myself to sleep. Instead, I found myself wide awake, either reading or typing nonsense on my phone in the middle of the night. I’m just glad I saved enough of these thoughts so I could share the bizarre nonsense that is me at 1am. I hope you find them as strangely amusing as I did. So, without further ado, I give you thoughts from my jet-lagged brain:

  • I can only have one arm above my covers when sleeping. Not two. Two and the monsters will get me. None, and I will suffocate. I’m serious. It’s science…or something. 
  • When on family vacations, always sleep in a room with a door that locks. Lest you wake up with your grandmother sitting on the end of your bed asking you what you would like for breakfast or someone’s hand in your face (my mother recently pulled this and scared the living daylights out of me). When there someone who isn’t you, in your space. They can be one of two things: an intruder or a well-meaning intruder checking to see if you’re still breathing. Either way, this is not reassuring in any sense. Boundaries people. We have them. 
  • When I die, I want to be cremated and have my ashes mixed with biodegradable glitter (the kind they make out of seaweed). It would be a gorgeous and environmentally friendly sendoff. There also needs to be drinks. 
  • European churches are really intense. Sure, there’s gold and stuff, but where did all the decorative skulls come from? It’s good that we teach kids about death, but if I had been exposed to graphically crucified Jesus so much as a child I would have been slightly traumatized. Also, with all this intensity I half expect the “Shame!” lady from “Game of Thrones” to come after me at any moment. 
  • Do people’s’ ribcages move around? For example, does one side ever get stuck overlapping on the other? Because I feel like mine does, which would explain the awkward uneven sticking out it tends to do. I know there’s a lot of cartilage in there, but it’s level of pliability is questionable. It has a job that needs doing. 

And, lastly:

  • What if the Internet breaks and all my writing disappears? Must check on writing.  Must print out hundreds of pages of nonsense too, just in case. 

 

EVA♥

Life Lately

Hello all!

It’s been quite a while since my last Life Lately post. Things have been interesting, to say the least! I’m trying to navigate a new role at work, one where I get to be more creative and actually write for a living! It’s a little nutty for me to think about, because it’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for quite and yet never quite wrapped my head around the possibility. I even recently published my first blog on my company’s site here. Writing in a professional context, and writing copy more often than not, is quite the change to get used to, but I’m looking forward to learning new tricks, so to speak. That being said, I often come home with my brain feeling like a wrung-out sponge, with most of my energy having gone into whatever tasks I needed to accomplish that day. Sometimes, the idea of slapping away at another keyboard can be a little daunting. I know I’m not alone here, right?

So, when the evenings and weekend roll around, I try to hit the proverbial reset button. Not so much “flatlining,” as I like to call it, more like changing gears. I usually overbook myself and try to get as much done as possible. This past weekend, for example, I spent the majority of my time at my very first work retreat. While the weather was a bit dismal for August, the view from the coastal retreat center was pretty amazing. That, and the bottomless cups of coffee made up for the unending fog. Welcome to the Bay Area, everyone!

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My Saturday then suddenly went from cups of coffee in the fog, to champagne punch poolside in the course of a few hours. I certainly can’t complain! In all, I have to say that I really enjoyed getting to know all of my coworkers a bit better. Nothing quite says bonding experience like bunking together like you’re back in college! On top of everything else, I was inadvertently thrown into a family dinner party situation. And by situation I mean helping my parents navigate my aunt and uncle’s large going-away dinner at the very last minute. I ended up showing up late, with wet hair, and frantically eating in the kitchen while trying to somehow navigate simultaneously serving tea and socializing with everyone.  This is what I mean by overbooking myself.  In short, while things are going well, they seem a bit hectic lately, to say the leat. I’m hoping I’ll navigate everything gracefully, and not bite off more than I can chew. Hey, this blog is called “Watch Me Juggle” for a reason!

Oh, and I’ve decided to celebrate my birthday all month long. Because I can.

That is all—until next time!

EVA♥

Vegas.

Hello everyone.

As some of you might already know, I recently celebrated the last birthday of my 20s. If anyone asks, I recently turned 25. That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it. A while back, I wrote about turning 27— how 27 was my “scary” age, and how I was closer to being “almost 30.” Well…as people like to remind me, the big 3-0 is now looming, and while I feel somewhat my age, I recall yelling at my friends over the music in the club:

“This is not where I imagined myself at 29!!”

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In actuality, it was even better than what I had imagined.

I had the best time. I danced until the sun came up, had countless drinks, enjoyed the warm weather poolside, stayed in a beautiful hotel, and even won $2.19!  It’s a strange phenomenon, Las Vegas. Each time I go, I can’t imagine how I could have a better time than before. Each time, I’m surprised. The people were personable and fun; everyone did the mandatory “surprised face” when I told them how old I was turning. One bouncer even exclaimed “Aw, you’re 20, aren’t you? This isn’t a real ID. We’re letting you in? You’re not even legal!” Well played, sir.

Although I can’t imagine staying much longer than three days at a time, coming home from Las Vegas is the hardest part. It’s truly the adult equivalent of Disneyland. There are few cities that have the energy of Vegas—it’s a “choose your own adventure” kind of place. There’s a seedy grittiness to it, as well as ridiculous excess and glamour.  At one point, I watched cocktail waitresses spray over a dozen bottles of champagne into a pool full of people. You can’t make this stuff up. I won’t deny that I perhaps imagined that my life would turn out a bit differently when I was younger (homeowner, ex-pat, novelist?), but I must say that I’m very happy it’s turned out the way it has.

Happy almost-30 to me!

EVA♥

Five Things

Hello all!

It feels like the last few days have stretched on for weeks, not because they’ve been so laborious or tedious, quite the opposite! I have many life updates to get to, and while they’re all (for the most part) very exciting things, today calls for a relaxed Five Things. Before we get into all the craziness that has been my life lately (birthday celebrations, travels, job changes), I wanted to take a quick look back at the less-than crazy (even inspirational) things as of late.

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Photo: Mary Lee Shalvoy

Why is the photo so naugahyde-esque, you may ask? I recently did a photoshoot with the lovely Mary Lee Shalvoy (whose photos of my legs you can see here), and this was one of the photos I captured in the studio, moments after it was taken. It’s a sneak-peak for now, but I’m sure you’ll be seeing more official shots very soon!
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Just last week I celebrated my friend’s mother’s birthday at Dante Robere Vineyards in Livermore, CA. While Livermore might be the last place that comes to mind when you think of wine, I was so pleasantly surprised. We enjoyed a tacos and live music on the lawn as the sun set—it was such a nice evening!

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I’ve been to my fair share of festivals, flea markets, and fairs as of late. I’ve really been enjoying the art and the hodgepodge of antiques, and this wood painting (I believe the technique of wood-burning is referred to as pyrography) really caught my eye.

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I recently took a quick flight down to LA for a friend’s baby shower, that ended up serving as a mini college reunion of sorts. Following the shower, we spent some time in Santa Monica at The Misfit catching up over cocktails. If you’re ever there, dear readers, ask them for a cookie. You won’t regret it!

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My friend Stephanie is what I would call a plant fanatic. Point to any succulent you see and she would have it’s scientific name ready to go. It’s quite impressive, really, and has made me appreciate them so much more. Too bad I have a bit of a brown thumb.

Happy Wednesday!

EVA ♥

Swan Floaties & Superglue

Hello everyone!

We’ve all seen those photos. All of those “basic” Instagram girls laying nonchalantly on their inflatable swans/donuts/slices of pizza. They look incredibly effortless and cool with their perfectly tousled hair. Well…I found myself at a pool party with a giant inflatable swan this past July 4th, and I couldn’t help but attempt to be one of those girls. Unfortunately, it’s all too often in my life that things don’t quite work out the way I would hope. This was definitely one of those moments.

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So festive!

I’m going to be honest: actually getting on the swan was a challenge in and of itself. At one point, I thought I had it, only for the entire thing to fly out from under me, dump me in the pool, and land on my head. It was amusing, to say the least. Once securely on the swan, I pretended to look comfortable and begged someone to indulge me and take a picture.

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This was the one and only photo my friend Emily was able to take, before having a legitimate medical emergency. I wish I was kidding.

On the left-hand side of the pool, the pool railing was quite wobbly and broken. Not thinking anything of it, she got a bit too close while taking pictures, and the exposed metal edge of the railing dug completely into her foot. Now, in all my years of teaching, one thing I’ve had to make a concerted effort at is remaining calm. Panicking when people have potentially seriously injured themselves is never helpful, and usually just aggravates any situation. At first, I thought she had simply stubbed her toe, but when we got a look at the deep cut on her foot, I found myself suddenly repeating: “It’s going to be okay. Do you want some tequila? Let me get you a drink!!” I was trying to make myself useful, while clearly not knowing what to do at all. (I obviously take after my Austrian side of the family, who believe either Jäger or schnapps can cure just about anything.) When in doubt, take a shot…?

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Luckily, we had a few people on hand with some at-home-first-aid experience. While I was totally useless, a former Army medic at our party busted out a tube of superglue, and proceeded to actually glue my friend’s cut together. Very nonchalantly, he told us all about the everyday household items that worked wonderfully as medical supplies: duct tape, tampons, you name it. As unfortunate as the whole situation was, I’m glad we had so many caring people around. After a trip to Walgreens and a beer served in a giant horn, we were able to continue the long weekend, far away from the pool.

Keep calm and carry on, everyone. Also, when in doubt, carry superglue.

EVA♥

Girls’ Weekend

Hi all!

My friend Emily made a quick jaunt from her home in AZ to the Bay Area for work a while back, and I had the pleasure of spending the weekend with her. I wish I could say that the weather here behaved for my desert-dwelling friend but alas, that is not at all the case. However, I can’t remember the last weekend I did so many fun things! We certainly made the most of it.

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I tried…okay. My giant hand is in the shot, and such is life. What matters is that we’re ecstatic about our coffee. Also, can we also take a minute and gawk at Emily’s vintage earrings. So sparkly!

Meanwhile, outside….it consistently looked like this:

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Windy, dreary, cold buckets o’rain. But, that didn’t stop us from having a good time!

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Friday’s itinerary involved delicious sushi and drinks at Prizefighter in Emeryville, where the rain let up enough for us to enjoy the patio and meet countless dogs. Saturday involved a pit stop at Trouble Coffee before popping on the freeway and heading to my favorite places in wine country. I finally got to sink my teeth into the ahi burger at Gott’s, albeit hiding from the rain with dozens of other people outside. We followed lunch up with some wine tasting at one of my new favorites in Yountville: Jessup cellars. We almost walked away with a totally indulgent bottle of port- amazing when paired with disks of dark chocolate. I highly recommend checking them out, if you’re ever in the area!

We ended the evening with drinks and dancing at Blondie’s in San Francisco’s Mission district, followed up by late-night tacos at Pancho Villa. Emily was a good sport when I dragged her out of bed early the next morning to grab dim sum at a local spot. I would like to think that her first dim sum experience was worth the early morning. Look at that expression! That’s how I feel when I get up and get to eat egg custard buns too. After eating, we zipped across town and got our nails done to start the next week off right.

EVA ♥

Five Things

Hello everyone!

Five Things is back! I’ve missed sharing my day-to-day snaps of random things that pique my interest. Photography is not at all my strong suit, but I’m aiming to get better at it. Thank goodness for the nice cameras on the iPhone 6! Without further ado, here are the latest “things”:

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I couldn’t help but take a photo of this beautiful display of flowers in a home decor store in downtown St. Helena. Real or fake? I leave it up to you.

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I recently got a chance to catch up with some old co-workers of mine on the back patio of one of my favorite spots in Hayes Valley. We each ended up ordering a different color of wine. If you guessed that the Sauvignon blanc belonged to me, you are correct!

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My world-traveling friend Rachel brought this little treat for me back from her recent jaunt to Argentina and Antarctica. While we knew it was a cookie, we had no idea what flavor. Apparently Tita is an Argentinian chocolate-covered, lemon cookie sandwich. You learn something new everyday.

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My friend Emily was in town recently, and I dragged her all over the entire Bay Area in search of impressive food and drinks. We actually ended up making two stops at Trouble Coffee in West Oakland, if for the toast alone. Pictured above is their peanut butter and honey variety, but my favorite is easily the cinnamon toast. Nom.

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Image c/o Pinterest

The boss lady and I have been pinning our hearts out on Pinterest lately, and enjoy sending each other things. The above image ended up in my messages one morning with the caption “For my traveler.”

Until next time!

EVA♥

Placerville: 6 Dogs, 2 Facemasks, Countless Mimosas

Hello all!

Sometimes you need to get out of dodge. Or, rather, get out of your dodge and into someone else’s. I recently spent the weekend in Placerville, Ca with my lovely friend Devyn, and while it’s not your typical destination town, I enjoyed the quiet woodsiness of the place.

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Welcome to Hangtown, aka. Downtown Placerville.

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(I’ll admit that sometimes I’m a horrible photographer. I left my finger in the shot for authenticity’s sake.)

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Meet Millie and Oscar

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Buddy the Great Dane

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My puppy twin: Ava

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With life feeling more chaotic than normal lately, it was really nice to drive a few hours away from the Bay Area and spend the weekend with Devyn and her family in their very spacious log cabin. For those of you that have been following Watch Me Juggle for a while now, this was the very same site where Devyn and her husband Casey were married a few years ago (I, of course, blogged about it here). We spent Saturday evening eating some delicious barbecue and wandering around the house in face masks Devyn had acquired from her recent travels in South Korea. I would like to think that the rice mask I wore did indeed give my skin a little extra glow! Not laughing while the masks were on, however, proved to be a lot harder than we thought- especially with the addition of after dinner cocktails. The six family dogs also made for some wonderful evening entertainment, and I spent perhaps too much time playing with my puppy counterpart, Ava, before bed.

We started our Sunday with a lovely brunch, complete with waffles and mimosas, and later made our way to downtown Placerville for a little sight-seeing. The neighboring area of Apple Hill has a number of wonderful wineries and the local Jack Russell brewery. Devyn and I split a beer tasting on the patio; I highly recommend their vanilla stout. It’s like dessert in beer form! It was such a nice getaway from city life, the weekend didn’t feel nearly long enough. Luckily, it’s all only a drive away! I have a feeling I’ll be back.

EVA♥