Weekly Roundup, March 10th

First one of these from Rhode Island. Greetings!

First bottle of wine in the new apartment! A friend brought this bottle all the way from Germany for me and it was delicious. And yes, that is an air mattress and camping chairs in the background, aka the thing we lived off until the movers showed up. Glam life.

First bottle of wine in the new apartment! A friend brought this bottle all the way from Germany for me and it was delicious. And yes, that is an air mattress and camping chairs in the background, aka the thing we lived off until the movers showed up. Glam life.

Before we get to the links, I have some news. I just moved to Rhode Island! After a couple of months in the Midwest, I got restless and packed my bags and hit the road again. So here I am: new year, new decade, new state, new job, new company. It's a whole new thing!

Over the next couple of months, I'll wrap up all the loose articles from my time in Germany - thoughts on travel around Europe, living abroad. Then a couple of articles on moving. Then settling back into the grove - exploring New England, gossip about books and television, and worrying way too much about politics. Until then!

- This one is a little older but here we go. Wired maps first sentences of famous novels. It's pretty.

- The Oscars were almost two weeks ago but I'm finally getting around to all the drama backstage

- As for the Oscars, thanks to Vanity Fair, I just discovered this awesome Third Man theory on Best Picture which I will absolutely be consulting next year. Here is where I also note that I haven't been immersed in an awards season in two years (2016 was moving to Germany, 2017 moving to Rhode Island) and I can't wait to be distracted at the end of this year by Little Gold Men podcasts and ignore whatever shitshow is going on in the real world (and probably DC).

- Speaking of drama, Ryan Murphy is back with Fued. The Fug Girls take a look at what really matters in a show like this: the fashion of the first episode.

- Who's crazier? The eponymous Ex Girlfriend, or Diane from CheersI'll always tend towards Diane.

- Finally, politics. I was going to link to a few disheartening political links. Maybe something about the pathetic attempt at healthcare from Republicans or whatever terrible thing our Orange Furor tweeted this week. But instead, let's remind ourselves what we can do. Lately, I joined the Rhode Island Indivisible chapter. The tea party did one thing right: organize. Let's do that, but nicely and for a good cause. With facts.

Hello, 2017

We survived 2016!

It's a new year. For me, it's also a new decade (hello thirties, goodbye twenties) and a new apartment (hello Indiana, goodbye Germany). And goodbye Blog Holiday!

The Blonde Engineer is a little over a year old. As it grows, the focus continues to change and shift. This past year, I've written a lot about living abroad and traveling in Europe. While I'm back in the States for the foreseeable future, there were several trips I just didn't have the time to write about. I don't want to lose those memories or miss the chance to provide insights and recommendations on those places, so while my feet might be back on the ground, blog posts on travel will still be coming. There's also books (rereading The Stand and that will need some attention), movies, television. Occasional workplace gossip and thoughts on politics, though I'll try to find positivity where I can.

I'm grateful for the good parts of 2016 - getting to live somewhere totally new and different, getting to travel across Europe and share some of that with friends, family, and colleagues. Learning more about myself and growing as an engineer and business analyst. Parts of 2016 sucked but, hey, new year, new apartment, new decade.

Vacation over, time to get to work. What's next?

Blog Urlaub

Happy Holidays! Frohe Weihnachten!

I have literally dozens of blog posts running around in draft form regarding the end of my expat year in Germany - travel suggestions for Italy, Belgium, and Germany; write-ups on my favorite museums, parks, and churches; so many thoughts on living abroad for a year. But the next couple of weeks are going to be bananas: moving to a different content, settling in to a new apartment, celebrating holidays and catching up with family and friends. On top of all that, I turn thirty and bury my fifteen year old cat. Time, it flies.

So! Blog break. I will come back in 2017 with lots of words. I might not be in Europe any more but will still have Thoughts and Suggestions on traveling and living in Germany, not to mention all the new Hamilton tidbits floating around and all the television and movies you can shake a stick at. Until then, tschuss!


Woche Eins

New blog stuff! While I'm in here in Germany this year, I would like to have a weekly post, published Saturday or Sunday, discussing my week in Deutschland. The goal is not to have a livejournal-like post, summarizing my activities. On Monday, I discovered a new restaurant! On Tuesday, I discovered an alternate way to work! Instead, I would like it to be more of a reflection on changes, new insights into living abroad. One thing I keep reiterating: I don't want to waste this year. Not professionally, not personally, not blogally! And here is the first one!

The Neckar and my new running path

The Neckar and my new running path

Thoughts so far:

- Time: I'm really struggling with this. In the past, when I've come over here for trips, whether long (three months) or short (four days), I easily adjusted to the new time zone. The jet lag is really kicking my ass this time, unfortunately. I've been here four days and I still couldn't get myself out of bed until almost ten this morning. Since tomorrow is my first day of work, hopefully I can get back to my usual morning-person behavior.

- Run routine: This is more of a problem any time I move somewhere new - where do I run? There's an awesome park by me but you have to pay to get in. What the hell? I think, however, after about six runs over the past four days, that I've found a good path, primarily along the Neckar River. I have to say, it's a nice view and I can easily make the route shorter or longer as needed. Also, I'm in the middle of downtown; there are so many people on my run! In my apartment complex, I was always the only one on the sidewalk. Several times, people in their cars would stop next to me, just to comment on how often they saw me running around the complex. Not the case here! No one notices me - there are way more interesting people along the route than me. There's the drunk college kids, falling down in the mud. Cute dogs and crazy bikes. I'm excited for the summer, when I can run in a tank top and then settle down on the grass by the river and read a book.

- German: I haven't interacted with a lot of people. When I'm on a run, with the Hamilton soundtrack blasting in my ears, it's easy to forget I'm in another country. But anytime I cross the boundary of my bubble - when I get groceries, grab dinner - I remember. Oh yeah, I'm the foreigner here! Grocery shopping was a new adventure as I couldn't read most of the packaging. Also, the grocery stores are arranged differently but after giving three a try, I think I found one that will work. Luckily, I'll start up German lessons here soon, which is very, very necessary. My best friend so far is the housekeeper of the boarding house. She helped me find my room on Thursday and salvaged some breakfast for me when I woke up at noon on Friday (seriously, I have never woken up that late before in my life). She doesn't speak English at all but between hand gestures we've been able to get by.

- Urban: I've never lived in the middle of a city before. I've always been strictly suburban or rural. I'll have a car tomorrow for the ride back and forth to work (the office isn't at the best location) but everything else is within walking distance from my boarding house. Groceries, restaurants, shopping. Even the train station. I took the tram to work on Thursday. Otherwise, it's been strictly walking. In two weeks, I'll move to my permanent apartment and it's even closer to the action. It will be an adventure to see how I like that, if I miss suburbia. To see if my misanthropy grows or lessens living among so many people.

The Blonde Project

My little blog is over a month old now. Woohoo!

I started the blog in early November, when my mentor informed me about BIGHAG - Big Hairy Audacious Goal. I'm not sure where the acronym came from but it's stuck with me. Her BIGHAG is way more admirable than mine. She cares about health care, thinks it's a right that every American is entitled to. Her life goal is to impact change in this arena. A BIGHAG is something you have to accomplish within six months. Something that seems totally crazy and out there but that can also probably be accomplished within that short time frame of half a year. Related to her overall goal, her BIGHAG is to talk to a decision maker. A politician or lobbyist who can impact health care in America.

Her fuzzy goal - impact change in relation to health care - manifested itself as a speaker at a major health care symposium. That was her litmus test. I know I will have accomplished my fuzzy goal when this happens! It provides her a real, tangible thing to strive for.

So what's my tangible thing? Giving a Ted talk. That's it. When I'm on a run or a long drive and killing time in daydream land, I'm giving a Ted talk or being interviewed by Jon Stewart (even now, Trevor Noah doesn't quite cut it). It's always some vague topic - being single today! traveling! women in the workplace! - but it's always me, being an expert in some thing, giving advice like no one's business.

Okay, so there's my tangible goal. A Ted talk. What can I do to get there? Figure out what the hell I want to talk about.

Sheryl Sandberg, our Saint Lean In, was on the Daily Show while promoting her book, Lean In. During her interview, she talked about how the book came to be. She had been asked to give a Ted talk about some Facebook action. Instead, she ended up talking about women in the workplace, a talk which eventually led to Lean In. Following this Ted talk, a former colleague emailed her and asked, so this is your thing now? Her response was 'yes' and it's been her thing ever since.

But what is my thing? And that's where the blog comes in. I want to commit a serious six months to writing a blog. I added a weekly roundup to the mix. The reason is two fold - one, I can stick interesting links in a place instead of just reading the articles and forgetting them as soon as I've closed the tab. Two, it gives me a deadline. Every Friday is a scheduled post. I need to create shit to put in between them. One post at least, preferably more. Something to keep me writing, especially on those weekdays after work, when I get lazy and just want to watch Netflix.

My BIGHAG isn't as impressive as a serious discussion with a policymaker but it's a start. Devote six months to a blog, putting thoughts and words out there in the universe. Going from internet lurker to internet sharer and creator. And then see what my thing is. What do I enjoy writing about? What do I have stuff I want to share about?

We are a month in, a sixth of the way there! I'm excited for the upcoming blog development. In January, I will move to Germany for a year-long assignment and the blog should take a slight shift. From serious navel-gazing to travel and living abroad. Hopefully. 

But that's where we're headed. Where have we been?

In the 35 days since I created the blog, there have been 22 posts (not including this one or this week's weekly roundup):

- Two were reactions to world events, including the Paris attacks and the recent shooting in California.

- My biggest chunk is related to books, movies, and TV - oh my, including a discussion on Hamilton, two posts on King's Dark Tower series, an overview of Master of None, a review of Royal We, and a love letter to Leonardo DiCaprio.

- A handful of posts on workplace shenanigans, including an introduction to Penis Validation, colleagues' thoughts on stretch assignments, ideas for dealing with Negative Nancies, and a few opinions on being liked.

- The final grab bag, including ruminations on being home for the holidays, comparisons of royalties and Kardashians, the points of baby and wedding showers, and where our tax dollars really go.

I'm not surprised on the emphasis on pop culture-related things though I probably expected more posts related to politics or being single in this day and age and all that.

It's nice to have a summary of the past month. I've tried writing stuff a half dozen times over the past ten years, ranging from novel attempts to journals to Google drive docs that led nowhere. I'm optimistic about the blog - there's money involved, so I'm more likely to actually do something with it, and other people, so I'm more likely to put effort in (there are three whole people besides the entire anonymous internet that know about this - my mentor, my mom, and my work BFF Renuka).

While we are off to a decent start, I'm really excited to see where this goes. Especially as I move to Germany and start to document living abroad and travel and all that jazz. Here we go!