USA

Follow-up: Welps, I guess I expected Germany to win

Despite what I wrote yesterday, until I saw that the US beat Germany 2:0, I think I expected Germany to win.

As expected, it was a tight game. There were a few calls by the referee that people are saying were against Germany’s favor (these “sayings” are especially loud over here), but ignoring the foul that occurred in/outside the box, or the foul that did or did not happen, the U.S. objectively had more shots and more ball possession. They also scored a goal other than the contended penalty kick, which would have been enough to win the game on its own.

So, it’s USA in the finals! It will be interesting to see them play against Japan, the defending World Cup champs or England. I’m neutral about whom I’d like to see. I just want a good game that ends in US victory, obviously.

Hope everyone has a good Wednesday!

PSA: Germany versus US Women’s Soccer Match

or, a short commentary on whom to root for:

See full size imageSince I’m sure you’re all well-informed about women’s soccer, and the fact that the Women’s World Cup is currently being held, I may be overkilling it with this announcement about the match tonight at 0000 BST. I just want to make sure that you’re as pumped about it as I am.

Even if it isn’t a match-up like the Men’s World Cup group qualifiers, where Juergen Klinsman, former German trainer met Jogi Loew, current German trainer, there are enough ties between the teams for tonight’s game to be tense. Just looking at the last names of the U.S. players: Krieger (which ironically means war-maker), Engen, Klingenberg, Naeher, Sauerbrunn, one gets an idea of the historical ties the US players have to Germany. I can imagine there are no mixed feeling amoungst the players about who should win, but I certainly have some.

Growing up in the US, I saw soccer as the only outlet to play a sport that allowed me to play with the guys at lunchtime and have a sort of competitive equality. Girls are quickly outmatched in any other sport. I imagine that basketball has a similar kind of appeal to girls like me, but other than that, sports are pretty separate in the US. Thus, I have a good idea of what it means to be a national player in the US and the stereotypes that go along with being a female soccer player. The US team, therefore, has my sympathies.

However, being in Germany now and having played on a German team, I learned a new way to interact on and off the field and I know how the Germans celebrate when their team wins. I kind of hope they do tonight… and then again, I don’t.

It’s not as though one team is much better than the other, either. The US is currently ranked number 2 in the world, and Germany is ranked first… but that means nothing when it comes down to the 90 minutes on the playing field. It can go either way and I’m just going to try and enjoy the game and be happy either way.

A German Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is considered a traditional U.S. American holiday. Es ist eine traditionelle U.S. Amerikanische Feiertag und wird jeden November am 4. Donnerstag gefeiert. Obwohl Thanksgiving ein Herbsterntefest ist , wie sie in vielen Kulturen gefunden werden kann, ist es besonders mit US-Kultur verbunden. O. Henry, the writer, called Thanksgiving the one holiday that is purely U.S. American, one on which one can expect anyone in the U.S. to be traveling for or hosting for. There are some problems with the origins of the holiday, as I’ve learned while getting older, but the celebration itself, other than how it’s taught in elementary schools, is removed from those origins  and for many people,Thanksgiving is a time of friends and family reunions… and about food. 

While writing, I had to remind myself that there are different experiences associated with Thanksgiving, For example, for some Native Americans the holiday represents something different than togetherness and is actually a day of mourning. Also, for many of the poor and homeless people living in the States, preparing the huge meal or spending the holiday with friends and family is difficult. But there are also many religious and service organizations who try to make celebrating the holiday possible with holiday meals and events.

Being away from my family this year, I didn’t expect to be celebrating the holiday. Aber dan… heute haben mich mehrere deutsche oder internationalle Studentin darueber angesprochen, und ich habe mich gefreut, als ich sagen konnte, ich werde es auch hier feiern. Ich war zum Thanksgiving Essen eingeladen. I didn’t know if I would be celebrating Thanksgiving this year, since it is the first time I’m not home, but my fellow VDAC American and I were graciously invited by another American in my area, and it turned out to be my first “real American Thanksgiving.”

Ever since I can remember, I’ve celebrated a German Thanksgiving. The only language spoken around the table was German because the guests were all Germans. Once or twice, there was an exception in the form of a U.S. American (other than my father) or a Polish lady, but they always also spoke German. This meant that while we were sitting in South Florida in temperatures too warm for late Fall and eating traditional southern Thanksgiving dishes (no one makes stuffing like my Papa), the atmosphere had a certain German aura that could not be dislodged. Perhaps it permeated because we don’t carry on any U.S. American traditions, like watching football afterwards, or just the euro-centered conversations that went on, but I never came back to school the following Monday the stories like my U.S. American classmates.

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This year, however, I picked up some wine and blackberry juice from the local grocery store, put on a dress and my nice boots with heels, and tried to get into the festive mood.

The place we were invited to was small (a typical student’s apartment) with not enough chairs and a table too small for all the good things that were to go on it… but that could of course happen in any Thanksgiving home. The guests also weren’t all American. There were us two VDAC students, the two US singer-students, a German student who will go to the US next year, a German one of the singers met on the S-Bahn once, a German whom the other singer had befriended, and another America who has been living and performing (Phantom of the Opera?!) for a year already in Hamburg. Our levels of German were acoustically scattered across the board, but it was the general consensus to speak English. Hence, my first American Thanksgiving. 🙂

Jill, our wonderful host, had prepared every single traditional dish. She said that she had been cooking since the night before, and I could believe it. I would have liked to have brought something too! But she had already said not to bring anything except ourselves and maybe something to drink.

It was a delightful evening with other guests coming and going, enough excellent food (green bean casserole, steamed carrots in honey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and turkey) to go up for three helpings, and just good atmosphere and company.

Jokes were made and politics were discussed (and then quickly topics were changed), much laughing was done, and we went around and every got to say what they were thankful for (this took a while to get everyone settled down for, since as was pointed out by various guests, it is also Thanksgiving custom to interrupt or start side-conversations). When it was my turn, I could only say how thankful I was to be there and celebrating Thanksgiving. I am also thankful to be in Germany and able to complete my MA while abroad. I have experienced so many great things as a citizen of Hamburg. My list of all the things I’ve been able to see and do gets longer each day. The last thing I said I was grateful for was technology, since without programs like MagicJack, Skype, or FaceTime, I would not be able to communicate with my family and friends to the extent that I do. Being able to talk with them and see them has made being away from them (and not getting their hugs) more bearable.

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excuse the fact that I cut Jill out; I did not know if she would want her picture on the interwebs. But look at all the great food!!!

All in all, this Thanksgiving provides me with a wonderful memory that I’ll be able to look back at with fondness. It was such a sweet experience to create a little bubble of America in the room like that.

So it was a surprise when it was after midnight and I was reminded that I had class the next day. In the States, no one would have to worry about being ready for Friday (unless one was a horrible Black-Friday shopper :p). The question of transportation home also became an issue since, while public transportation in Hamburg does run longer on holidays, Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday for the Germans.

But it worked out, since another guest and I (this guest happens to be the German VDAC student who is going to the U.S. through the exchange program next year) both needed to leave “earlier” than the others and left together. We had a nice walk through Hamburg-Altona to the bus station (there are night buses, even when the subways/strassenbahne don’t run), and she convinced me to go a little out of our way to see the Altona Hafen at night.

I am glad we did.

It was a magical ending to a beautiful evening. I’m starting to think Thanksgiving is always good if there’s some German involved somehow.

A surprisingly relevant article I found: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/nov/27/celebrating-thanksgiving-american-student-abroad

Another article I found is for English-as-a-foreign-language speakers:  http://learningenglish.voanews.com/content/american-celebrate-thanksgiving/2529775.html

I ain’t no skinny b*tch, but I also don’t have buns, hon’: Some Notes on Body Image in the USA today

There’s a movement away from wanting to be “thin” or “skinny,” and I think that’s a good thing. Yet this movement seems to be taking us to the other extreme. We have songs about big butts and magazine covers with women who can hire chefs and trainers to keep them slim, but what about the rest of us? The ones with some fat jiggling here and there, but not necessarily in “all the right places”?

This post is a sort of attempt to address a growing concern I have for the US, and I wonder how body image is addressed in Germany. While abroad, that’s one of the things I’d like to find out.

I am not going to attempt to unravel the great knot of health, fitness, beauty advice and see just what  it is that girls are “supposed” to do nowadays, because I know that  a) I am not going to unravel anything, perhaps just loosen the knots a little and b) there is nothing anyone should “suppose” to do, except for maybe be kind to others, be kind to oneself.

These thoughts were brought by my runs  shortly before I left (dear radio stations: no runner should have to hear the same song twice within one workout hour) and the current hits topping the music charts. The one that come to mind (and that I’ve had to listen to most frequently) is “All About that Bass” by Meghan Trainor.

I must say that this is a totally catchy tune and really enjoyable to listen to. Some of the lyrics are even enthusiastically empowering, especially “every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top”; just the question is, to whom and at what cost?

Good lines:

“Yeah my mama she told me don’t worry about your size”

“I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
C’mon now, make it stop”

“You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along”

“I know you think you’re fat
But I’m here to tell ya
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top”

but then there are some not so good lines, like in the skinny girl bashing:

“stick figure silicone Barbie doll”

“them skinny bitches that”

There’s also some boy stereotyping about what boys “really like”:

“Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”

“‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase”

All about sex, as if that’s the magic act that validates how we look. Being happy with one’s body should not be grounded in how it can please someone else:

“And all the right junk in all the right places”

“I got that boom boom that all the boys chase”

“a little more booty to hold at night”

What we should be singing about:

Being healthy, alive… boys and girls being allowed to love any part of the body of their boy or girlfriend. There’s no such thing as universally sexy.

Rather than talking about how the body we have is/matches some set idea of what’s sexy, whether skinny or curvy, we should be saying that because it’s our body, and we live with it and work with it, we’ve learned to rock it. It’s the things our bodies can do that are important, and if we develop good habits of what we do with our bodies, our bodies will begin to reflect it.

Celebrating the things our bodies can do and the resulting confidence is what makes us sexy, no matter what the size.

Just some thoughts.

Guest-posting myself

Taking a Break- Trying something else

After yesterday’s race, I put my head into gear for thinking about what to do during the rest of this month. A lot of my considerations come from the fact that I don’t know what races I’ll be doing anytime soon (unless it’s a half-marathon in December). Since I am going away to Hamburg and entering a different university system in a different country, I don’t know what to be prepared for in regards to being involved with sports. Do they have a running club that helps fund my races in the city? Will I find some races to do there? Will I find the time to run consistently there? Ah! Kidding about the last one. Unless I’m injured, I’m always a consistent runner. What I can’t be sure about is whether I would rather play soccer every evening and whether I’ll try to weather the unusual (for me) cold and winter rain or just hop on a treadmill. 

These considerations aside, I know that I need to back off a lot on my blogging about running. I’ve been using this as an outlet to feel productive, when in reality I’m procrastinating on preparing for my MA oral comprehensive exam (and packing!). I also lost more time than necessary in preparing for yesterday’s race. While I want to continue running, I don’t need to run to the extent that I was… not that it was terribly much. And I can do less writing about it and move it to the back of the line as far as priorities go. I should be blogging more on my reading blog. So this post is a way to plan what I’ll be doing for the next month so that I don’t have to think about it (or blog about it) anymore. 

Consider this chart of the past weeks:

My home page on my runner's world training calculator. (I know it's not the best online logger... but it's my oldest running log....)

I haven’t really been doing high mileage weeks since my last injury (ITBS) a year ago. Then, I was doing 55-60 mpw that, compounded by some foolish timing of certain workouts, led to injury. 

However, now that my 5K ambition has been appeased for now, my ambitious self wants to consider training for a marathon again, and to do that I need to build a super-solid base. Now is a good time for it, because it means I have to do less fancy training and just worry about getting mileage in. The past two marathons I wanted to run were waylaid by injuries brought on by increasing distances too soon and intensity too fast. This time, I want to be patient and smart and just start building up my mileage each week with a drop (15-20% less of mileage) every fourth week. The best way to do this, I think, is to just go out and run 5.something miles each day, have a long run on the weekend and let that run make up the distance I need to be able to complete the mileage for the week. Sunday will be rest day. I’ll do weight-lifting every other day to get my core and arm muscles back into shape for longer distances–and everything that MYABR! 

The schedule will look like this:

September 8-13: 38 miles

September 15-20: 41 miles

September 22-27: 45 miles

September 29-Oct. 4: whatever I accomplish in my crazy week of exams and first days abroad! 

I’m going to return to my old habits of running in the morning and getting the run over with. That way I can use the rest of the day to study, something I desperately need to do. 

So, if you don’t see me for a while, don’t worry. I’ll be back- especially to post about how running around Hamburg will be! 

Have a good month.