Friday, February 27, 2009

Life in London, part 1

Here is the way we lived in London. For about five weeks Asmus and I lived in one room. If two people enter a room and two people come out a month later, that is a good sign of the health of that relationship. Of course, Asmus was sick for about two weeks and I was ill the week after, so we weren't that annoying the entire time.

Here are shots of our temporary home in the Dalton section of the Hackney region of London.

The Living Room. The room where we spent too much of our lives. The blue thing is a futon. I slept on that and sat on there and watched television. I slept on it [That's my arm peeking out the edge.]. Asmus' back started to hurt, so he slept on a mattress on the floor. Do you love the pink television? We wanted a cheap television. We got this cheap television/DVD player for 80 pounds. It was cheap but it was the ugliest thing in the world. The best slash worst was the remote control. The entire thing featured shades of hot pink. The buttons were a darker shade of hot pink than the background. The numbers were a lighter hue than the buttons. It was awful. But I love that television. I got to watch television on a regular basis for the first time since September. I can watch television in Germany but I don't know what anyone is saying, so it is MTV and CNN an hour a day and more on the weekend. I happily while away the sick days in front of my ugly television and smiled.

This was the best feature of the house. The kitchen was beautiful. The stove was 50% bigger than ours in Hamburg. The washing machine works each time you use it. Our machine in Hamburg is kinda like a slot machine. Maybe you get clean clothes out of it, maybe you don't. The refrigerator and freezer were normal sized. I only went to the supermarket ONCE a week. I filled the freezer and we had food for weeks. The only drawback was the lack of flatware. The owner of the apartment had three forks, four spoons, four knives, and one sharp knife [It was a steak knife.]. We were constantly washing forks. That was a pain in the ass.

This was the worst bathroom that I ever had to use on a daily basis. I have used worse at clubs and gas stations. But this was the worse that I had to use regularly. This was worse than the bathrooms that I used at camp. See that round thing in the top left corner. That is a decorative lamp. There is no light bulb inside. It was used to cover up a massive lichen-like feature on the wall. I wanted to get rid of it but then I worried that it might spray deadly spores around the apartment. I hated to use the toilet. The kitchen was made over but the bathroom was from the dark ages. The tub was OK. It was more narrow than a traditional tub. When I showered, the curtain stuck to me. The room was vile.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pride & Gold

Things are moving along here.

Last Tuesday, I completed the health, food and culture pages for the March issue of Pride magazine. It is getting easier. The first
time I did it I was scrambling. I didn't know what I was going to write about. I was scrambling to get in products and books and I was scrambling to find public relations people. This month I was only desperate for a second health story. For the February issue, I scrambled for a diversity of quality books. For March I had too many.

And the wedding stuff is moving along.

I was having trouble securing a dress and a design.
Last November I decided on a style from a pattern and colors. I wanted it sewn in a lilac or bright yellow. It was going to sewn by a seamstress. Then it was going to be bought. Then it was going to be sewn by my mother. Then it was going to be bought. When nothing happened by the first week of February, I asked my mother to buy a $90 lilac dress from and a pair of white slingbacks for $40 from Macy's. My heart was set on the original dress design and these cool slingbacks from Stuart Weitzman.

But at that point, I needed something to wear. The Macy's dress and the slingbacks
were ordered and should be here next Wednesday. [Today the dress costs $67. I told Mom to get a refund for the difference in price.]

A few days ago, I found out that Mom is making me the original Dream Dress. She found a "beautiful light green" and a "bright yellow". So that is groovy as hell.

This week Asmus and I went for the rings. He had little preference for rings. As a regular American girl, I assumed my ring would have diamonds. But Germany is an understated country. Every salesgirl and random woman pushed a simple gold band. As a regular woman, I don't see tons of jewelry
in my life and I thought "why be simple?". But Asmus wanted a very small gold ring and I felt like a jerk if I walked around with a carat on my finger. So I made it my goal to get a beautiful band. So I headed to one of my favorite places on earth -- Tiffany & Co.

I am naturally a cheap person. But I ha
ve found quality products are usually produced by quality service. My former company, Hearst, gives it employees gifts from Tiffany. I have walked out of Tiffany's company flagship store ridiculously happy twice. I assumed the third time would be just as great.

Tiffany Flagship store on Fifth Avenue, the site of two glorious purchases

I was wrong.

When Asmus and I came to the store two weeks ago, the saleswoman was helpful but not very positive about anything. She didn't like the ring I chose and was not sure if it would show up by March 14. By the time I left the store, I was seduced into getting the Lucida, a classic, curvy-edged band and convinced my ring would not arrive in time for the wedding.

A week later, we were back at Tiffany's to buy. I tried on the Lucida on the right hand and the Band ring, which had a flat edge, o
n the left. This time Asmus liked the Band. I went for the Band. The saleswoman reminded me that the Lucida is a classic ring and that I should remember before ordering that the Band that I will be wearing it every day for 30 years. A) I don't want a classic. I want a nice style. B) I am 36, I don't want to be married for only 30 years. It's 50 years or nothing.

Our saleswoman did one of those "I don't know" teeth sucking when we came to the final decision. She said the ring style I chose is very rare; only 20 are made each year. Almost all of them are in Asia. It would take 3 or 4 weeks to get the ring to Hamburg. So no inscription. I asked her if it is possible to find the ring at Tiffany in New York. She said no because this style is only sold in Asia.

I thought that was odd. Before I visited the Tiffan
y for ring shopping, I went to its American website to shop for rings. That is the first time that I saw the Band.

We ordered the ring at the store and crossed our fingers that it would arrive by the wedding. If it didn't arrive in time, we would just get a "stunt" ring for the ceremony.

After lunch on Thursday, I checked the w
ebsite and there was my ring in my size. I called the American customer service. She said there was one ring in size 9 left in the United States. That ring was mine and I hungrily ordered it. Tiffany cannot deliver internationally, so it is on its way to Mom's house.

Asmus didn't care as much about his ring, so he shopped for price, rather than style. We bought his ring at Karstadt, the German equivalent to Macy's. Tuesday night, suddenly he had preferences. Since November, he just wanted a curvy piece of gold. 10k. 18k. Whatever. Tuesday night, he was Elizabeth Taylor. He tried on three two-tone pieces and decided on a beautiful ring that is more interesting than a simple, little band.

The hillarity came when we gave instructions for engraving.

We wanted our first names separated by an ampersand, our wedding date followed by the eternity symbol. The saleswoman said they could not create an ampersand. She offered us the opportunity to separate our names by two interlocking hearts. That is too dumb for me. Hearts lost their fascination for me in the seventh grade. Then she said the company could not create an eternity symbol. There was a list of possible options for engraving. One option was a horse and carriage. The machine could create a horse and carriage but not a horizontal eight?! We settled on "and" instead of an ampersand and two joined rings instead of an eternity symbol. That is why I shopped at Tiffany. I still have faith that they would find a way to get a damn eternity symbol on the inside of the ring.

Well, everything is done . . . except one thing -- Cake. Today, is the cake tasting. Yes!