Make Like A Tree And Leave

Very dramatic evening in the NBB household last night! Sean and I had got home late from work and were just hanging around the apartment, partaking in a little GRM, which stands for General Relationship Maintenance and is a very useful term coined by my friend Melissa's sister. It basically means the time that you sit down with your significant other and, I don't know, just shoot the breeze and catch up and find out how each other's day went and how each other's lives are going, and while it sounds like a simple concept, let me just tell you that GRM is imperative to a relationship if you don't want to end up strangling each other and appearing on the 11 o'clock news. Every time Sean and I have started to find ourselves wishing a slow and painful kidney infection on the other, it is because we haven't been doing enough GRM. Wow, that sounds exactly like something you would hear on Oprah.

Anyway, so suddenly the fire alarm goes off in the lobby of our building, and OMG! FIRE ALARM!, except eh, whatever, someone just probably burnt some toast----which is, as it turns out, exactly what happened----and three seconds later, TWO fire trucks and EIGHT firemen show up (all of them hot, I should add; how do the statistics even work on that?) and block the whole street while they unload a fifty-foot ladder and balance it against the side of our building. Since our bedroom window is on the first floor and looks out onto the street---and since we are craning our heads out of the bedroom window, because whoa, this is a lot of drama for a Thursday night, which is handy, actually, because The Office and Scrubs and Grey's Anatomy aren't on anymore----we have a pretty great view of this.

And for a few seconds it's all GO GO GO, and then the property manager comes out and says "um, sorry guys, one of my inane tenants just burnt some toast, that's all," and the firemen look sort of dejected and disappointed, but hey, they're here, right, might as well do something. So one of them goes back to the fire truck and comes back wielding a CHAIN SAW (me: no! don't do it! I'm sure she didn't mean to burn the toast!) and starts having a very intense conversation with the property manager, lots of gesticulating and everything, and then suddenly walks over to the tree right outside our bedroom window---the tree that I love, the tree that sways in the breeze and taps our window and casts terribly romantic shadows on the ceiling and makes me feel like I'm not living in a concrete jungle but a farmhouse in Kentucky---and CHOPS OFF AN ENORMOUS BOUGH.

(Bough? Is that right? It was bigger than a single branch---it was a whole ton of branches----but it wasn't the whole tree. A limb? That sounds painful, though. Ouch.)

And I swear to god, I gasped---audibly gasped---and clapped my hand over my mouth with my eyes bugging out all googly-like, because HEY, FIREMAN, THIS IS SAN FRANCISCO! Don't know if you've heard but we're all environmentally-friendly here, we don't just pull out chain saws and go CHOPPING DOWN TREES. It was just a really weird, surreal moment for my brain to process: only the other day, we'd had a miniature compost bin dropped off in our apartment with a note from the property manager that all tenants were to start composting, and then here was a dude just coming over and whacking down a whopping great tree? And this after I'd spent a day reading emails that said at the bottom "do you really need to print this email? Save a tree!"

The explanation, in case you were wondering, was that the tree was blocking one of our (very charming) fire escapes on the front of the building---which, eh, okay, I get the point, but still---and after they'd done their business, the firemen pretty much just packed up and went away and that was the end of it. But oh! My tree! My lovely tree! I'm still mourning the loss of (most of) it, and now I can see how my hardened little pebble of a city-dwelling heart has been turned all soft and San Francisco-ish, and next thing you know, I'm going to be making my own deodorant and refusing to cut my toenails because they're part of nature too. AND BUYING ORGANIC WHEN IT'S NOT ON SALE.

*******************************************************

I'm off to Berlin on Sunday morning for work and will be gone the whole week, and while I am sort of groaning internally at this turn of events, seeing as how right now I'd rather not see the inside of another airplane as long as I live, there are two magical little words hovering on the horizon promising to make everything better, and those words are "Business" and "Class." This isn't 100% guaranteed yet, so if everyone could maybe hold their breath and squeeze their eyes real tight and whisper "please, please, please" around 3:30pm EST when I'm checking in at JFK, that would be a huge help, thank you.

I'm taking my computer, obviously, so will be posting while I'm in Germany---although, in case I find myself too stuffed with wienerschnitzel and gummy bears to type, my brother Luke is going to be writing a guest post as well---and also, while I think of it, if you're familiar with Berlin, do you have any fun suggestions for things I should do while I'm there? I'm staying a few extra days so have next weekend entirely to myself, and nothing is sadder than sitting alone in your hotel room in a foreign city, or, worse, only going to the places the guidebooks say you should.

In fact, anyone actually live in Berlin and want to maybe grab a (large German) beer next week? I'm not very good at meeting new people, I'm afraid, and I'll probably spill something on you and avoid eye contact entirely, but still, it'll be a blast, I swear.

1
Brother Tom
Jun 06, 2008

Hey, remember you are doing a bit of house/girlfriend hunting for me whilst youre out there as well!

2
georgia
Jun 06, 2008

I'm tempted to fly to Germany just to have a (big, German) beer with you...and also because I love Germany with all my heart.

3
DiaryofWhy
Jun 06, 2008

I'll be in France and Spain next week, but not, unfortunately, Germany. Have fun!

4
A'Dell
Jun 06, 2008

I saw the title and then the first line in my reader and I thought this was going to be a post about you and Sean breaking up! I audibly gasped.

I am so glad to see that it was about hunky firemen (it's the whole "I work out all day and I can save you" thing) and trees.

PHEW. Much better.

5
Superfantastic
Jun 06, 2008

We did one of these tours in Berlin: http://www.newberlintours.com/nbt/ Our guide was really very entertaining and the whole thing is free, so if you're not enjoying yourself, you can always just desert. As I recall, it was about six hours, including lunch (not free).

6
NothingButBonfires
Jun 06, 2008

Oh, A'Dell! Never! And anyway, if that ever happened, I would call that post "I HATE THAT STUPID WANKER, IT'S OVER" or something. Point is: you would know.

7
Jess
Jun 06, 2008

Ugh, I feel you on the loss of your tree. My whole family has this sort of reaction to to willy-nilly tree cutting. My family has a lake cottage in Michigan and the back of the property that runs up against the road, always had these huge bushes and trees that shielded us from sight (the road leads to a trailer park, and not a terribly nice one). It was fantastic! Then one year, the electric company got it into their heads that the trees and bushes were a danger to the power lines and came and chopped everything down damn near to the ground. My parents and grandparents were more than a little upset. So many beautiful trees, just gone!
I don't live in Berlin but man, I wish you a safe, uneventful, business class flight. You have spent so much time in planes lately! Also, if you ever find yourself in Indianapolis (highly unlikely, I'm sure), I'd gladly meet you for a beer!

8
Camels & Chocolate
Jun 06, 2008

You're poor tree! That's one of the things I love most about SF -- all the greenery. And I just read a lovely article in one of the free newspapers saying good ole Gav, friend to you and me, is planting trees all over the un-tree-lined lanes. Isn't that so nice and quaint and San Francisco? I have a backyard with a LEMON TREE and some beautiful blossomy bushes. You can "adopt a tree" in South City if you would like, and I won't even charge you.

Also, your grandma? We would totally get along. Though would she chastise me for not wearing jeans? I am a big fan of the yoga.

9
Camels & Chocolate
Jun 06, 2008

Yikes, faux pas, major one. I obviously meant "YOUR" not "YOU'RE" -- I hate when I type in haste.

10
Leah
Jun 06, 2008

Whilst in Berlin, do this one thing for me: stay at the Propeller Isalnd City Lodge: http://www.propeller-island.de/rooms_neu/room_detail/15/index.php

11
Blythe
Jun 06, 2008

I wish I could come up and meet you, but I will be entertaining the in-laws. They are delightful, but still.

If you're trying to decide which touristy spots to see, I recommend the beautiful and (I thought) powerful Kaiser Wilhelm church. It is one of the few buildings left as-is after WWII destruction and it has the added bonus of having a fabulously air-conditioned church next door (key on a hot day in a place where air conditioning is apparently only for weenies).

The zoo is also very nice.

Otherwise, I spend my time there racing from Dunkin' Donuts to Schlotzky's to the theatre where they show movies in English because I am starved for low American culture and I get it where I can find it.

Enjoy!

12
Pants
Jun 06, 2008

I cannot believe he cut your tree! Reading this really makes me miss the bay area. I've been living in Utah since August...and the Utahns don't like the environment so much. For some strange reason they do not include glass recycling (only paper and metal). It's so weird. And they leave threatening notices for you about canceling you garbage collection if you attempt to recycle glass. LAME.

13
Lily
Jun 06, 2008

Oh man I am so jealous that you're going to Germany for a week. It is on my top 10 for sure. Have a great trip and just remember to bat your eyelashes at the ticket counter to assure your upgrade. Maybe wear the falsies that you had packed for Singapore. Auf wiedersehen.

14
Jenni
Jun 06, 2008

I thought the same thing as A'Dell! I held my breath as I raced through your post. Now that I have calmed a bit I will re-read it.

Although I am still a bit sad for your tree. Couldn't they have simply trimmed it? Like a soothing visit to the hair salon rather than one where they butcher your hair? Poor tree!

15
Gretchen
Jun 06, 2008

The concept of GRM is brilliant, and Ben and I will have to get some of that, because what with jobs and kids and all, we never see each other. I mean, we physically see each other, but we don't SEE each other.

I'm sorry about your tree, truly. There is a certain palm tree visible from our pool that silhouettes gorgeously in the sunset and is my symbol of So Cal. If they chopped it down, I'd be heartbroken, so I can imagine your distress.

Also: Incredibly, Newport Beach firemen are NOT hot; they're mostly very middle-aged. WTF is up with that?

16
Super Sarah
Jun 06, 2008

Berlin is my favourite European city OF ALL TIME! I love it on so many levels! If you are up early one morning I would recommend going to the Reichstag Building http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichstag_(building) and take the lift up into the dome. The views are spectacular. Warning though, you really do have to get up early, the doors open at 8am I think and the queue can be nasty, but my word its spectacular! We also did a bicycle tour with http://www.fattirebiketoursberlin.com/ and its a great way to see the city, trust me, its not even that strenuous. Our guide was an architect and had such a passion for the city. Its such an amazing mix of old and new.

17
Stephanie
Jun 07, 2008

So sad for your tree...boo on that!

As for Berlin, I am soooo jealous, but I will think happy thoughts for you re: the plane.

Ok, YES! to the Reichstag. YES! to the Kaiser Wilhelm Church. As for the zoo, ummm...if you've been to the San Fran. zoo, the Berlin zoo will only be a let down.

Of course there is check-point Charlie, which can be very interesting.if you're in to the history stuff.
On that same note, a subway ride into "East" Berlin is also interesting, just because it's still pretty affected from the iron curtain...you know

If you want some good fancy schmancy shopping, Berlin has their own version of Rodeo drive downtown (same stores,) check your tour book, can't remember the street name.

And yeah, the walking tours can be fun, and you can always ditch if you get a dud.

Make sure to get a shot of yourself in front of the Brandenburg gate.

That's all I can think of now, I'm sure more folks will come up with stuff.

Have fun!

18
Marguerite
Jun 07, 2008

Hey Holly, I'd love to meet for a beer or something, and writing down my fun suggestions is too long and complicated (I am lazy!) so send me an email if you want to meet.

19
Boulder
Jun 07, 2008

I've never been to Berlin, but I'm sure I'd have a million people tell me the same guide book places. What I like to see are the places that make it different, not only museums, memorials, and the like.

Since I watched Anthony Bourdain visit to Berlin this year on his show, I've put the beer garden where he had schnitzel, the gourmet food shop and the currywurst on my list of places I'll include for the experience. I've got a link review here for you, and I have to say that the gourmet place was like a terrific gourmet cafeteria and he just happened to select over the top kinds of things that I wouldn't bother with. The rest of the spread that wasn't mentioned in the written review looked fantastic. (Like the gorgeous asparagus that was in season.) Link: http://tinyurl.com/3ke56k By the way the writer thought currywurst was to be avoided, yet wiki says that historically it was the fast food of Germany.

Here's a link to his show's travel guide for the locations of the places he ate: http://tinyurl.com/53k6cm

In the event the "typical" doesn't appeal, he also visited the Turkish area of Berlin, and the food there looked amazing, but oddly isn't on the places he ate list.

20
Heather B.
Jun 07, 2008

Be a dear and pick me up some gummy bears, will ya? I'm cute! How could you say no to that?!

21
edj
Jun 07, 2008

We used to live in Mauritania, in the Sahara desert, and trees and any form of greenery were very sparse. But there were a few. These were viewed by the Mauritanians as a. attracting mosquitoes and b. a good source of charcoal. So they would chop them down, which drove me crazy. Once, I was so upset that I pulled over and yelled (in my very poor Hassiniya) at some poor oblivious guy who was only trying to earn a little cash for food. Not one of my more culturally-sensitive moments, but I still feel a little bit justified. I mean, why make it uglier?

22
Katelin
Jun 07, 2008

I went to Berlin a few years ago. It was incredible! Best thing was going on a bike ride along the remains of the wall...or getting horrifyingly drunk on the roof of our hostel with a very attractive crowd of Mediterranean men. You pick!

(I'm pretty sure they fill those gummy bears with crack. That is the only possible explanation for why I ate as many as I did.)

23
Nothing But Bonfires
Jun 07, 2008

Katelin, I'm doing that! The bike ride among the remains of the Berlin wall, I mean -- though, um, the other option sounds fun too.

24
sunny
Jun 08, 2008

ps: another great beer garden in prenzlauerberg called "prater". check it out!

25
sunny
Jun 08, 2008

hey there, I live in Berlin and would be happy to grab a beer with you! I can bring along a few girlfriends - just drop me a mail on how your week shapes up :)

I know a great beer garden called Schleusenkrug and they have delicious hefeweizens! www.schleusenkrug.de

To see I recommend outdoor flea markets or any markets in general to soak up the Berlin scene
www.visitberlin.de/english/berlin-erleben/e_be_shopping_maerkte.php

the DDR Museum (newly opened, concentrates on East Germany), the Jewish memorial (right next to the Brandenburger gate), a stroll through Prenzlauerberg (kolliwitzplatz area is a lot of fun, great cafes!) Checkpoint Charlie, and lastly get off at the Hackescher Markt S bahn station and walk around. Fun area!

allbest, sunny (came here from whoorl's site)

26
Diane
Jun 09, 2008

Holly - there is a great step on/off bus tour that takes you all around Berlin and you can see all of the major sites at your leisure. Things that I did and loved when I was in Berlin - Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, Kaiser-Willhelm Church and totally agree with Super Sarah on the Reichstag - view totally rocks. Also - there is great shopping in Berlin and of course food. It is a totally easy city to get around in and they have a fantastic subway system as well.

Fingers, toes, legs and eyes all crossed in the hope of Business Class for you! It totally makes the trip nicer! Safe travels!