Well folks, it would appear that, at least as far as the Oklahoma City Thunder is concerned, the NBA Draft didn’t do any serious damage this year. Though a nasty “Kendrick Perkins-may-be-traded” rumor spread around like wildfire with much support from fans who simply don’t understand the man’s unique gift to the team, I can thankfully continue to wear all of my Perk gear (as far as I know) this season. Before the Draft came to a close, I wrote a heartfelt letter to the Draft addressing my concerns and issues with, you know, how it works. The post would have gone up yesterday, but then I wrote something for the Paul McCartney concert and here we are. Here’s my letter to the NBA Draft, and let’s hope I don’t have to write another one for the 2014 NBA Season. Continue reading
Ladies and gents, Sir Paul McCartney is IN Vienna. At this moment. His tour stuff is, anyway. I’m trying to play it cool and pretend like I don’t have stalker potential, but let’s face it – I do – and I’m actually having to distract myself with things to do around the apartment, like brush the cat 5 times or straighten the same vase every 10 minutes. The stadium is RIGHT DOWN THE STREET (or 2 U-Bahn stops away) from us and I’m just so excited I can barely handle it. The only thing keeping me from not running down there and jumping in the line that has not started yet are my husband’s emphatic “NO” text messages, and that’s why I’m thankful for him because in times of excitement he still remembers the importance of eating food and drinking water and not creeping on a celebrity crush.
And then there’s the whole issue of what to wear that I’m worrying about. On the one hand, I’d like to wear my light pink, deep V-neck Abbey Road shirt because it’s my favorite Beatles shirt. On the other hand, I’ve never, ever worn a shirt advertising the name of the band while seeing them/he/she in concert because, no. However, it’s not like I’m going to meet Sir Paul unless of course my dreams come true and mid-concert he taps on the mic and says something like, “PEOPLE OF VIENNA! I’just wanted t-thank you all for coming. You’re a lovely audience and we’ve got about four hours left to play. But it’s about to get real in here. Is there a Holly Kooi in the audience? Ah, ‘ello love. Come on up here and sing “I Want To Your Hand” with me. LET’S HEAR IT FOR HOLLY KOOI, VI-EN-NAAAA!” And then I get up there and Paul’s like, “You’re wearing an Abbey Road Shirt?” and I’m sorta like, “Y-y-yes….?” And then he goes, “Awesome. Uh’one-two-three-FAW!” And then we sing together for the rest of the night and are friends for the rest of
his our lives.
…Alright so I’ve daydreamed about this a few times, okay?
So yeah. I don’t know what to wear. Normally this wouldn’t be a huge deal to me as most girls in the States dress one of two ways for concerts:
1. How are you fitting into that right now?
2. She looks really comfortable.
But in Austria there’s a middle ground. The first time I went to concert here, which was last year, I showed up to a grungy, old graffitied brick back room wearing my typical U.S.-style option 2 concert wear. Within 10 minutes of my arrival, I felt extremely underdressed. Most girls were in dresses – fashionable and modest dresses – and also appeared to be comfortable without looking like they had just come from work or a couch. This was puzzling to me as I don’t think I’ve ever been able to achieve both comfort and fashion within the same outfit in my life, but I’d like to discover this middle ground for myself and hopefully achieve it tonight without rocking my bright white mom shoes for back support.
Realistically I probably will rock my bright white mom shoes for back support.
ANYWAY. The doors don’t open for another 6 hours but I’m getting ready right now. My plan is to leave the apartment in a couple of hours with my husband who will be on his way to work. I’ll get off at the stadium and scan the area. If there are already people lined up, I will immediately jump in line. If not, then… I will either go home and wait, or, sit under a tree until people start to line up, or, start the line myself 4 hours early. Anything is possible when Paul McCartney is involved.
HAVE AN AMAZING THURSDAY. Pictures will be posted when I’ve snapped out of my Post-McCartney Shock sometime tomorrow afternoon, or umm… next week. Cheers.
I am only days away from being in the presence of Sir James Paul McCartney. Days. Honestly I can’t even believe I just wrote that sentence because of how crazy it is that this day is actually going to happen. Paul will be on stage, I will be a minuscule one of thousands, but we will be in the same place at the same time, together, and that’s all I need. As well as love, because The Beatles said so.
The magnitude of this concert’s importance goes back to when I was little (in age). My parents believed in raising my brother and me on good, classic music, and thanks to them we can probably tell you each classic rock or oldies band name that pops up on the radio. Some of my favorite memories are of my brother and me in the back seat of our giant green/blue GMC van road-tripping with my parents to Tennessee or elsewhere for a vacation accompanied by a Beatles cassette tape that we listened to over and over and over again. After a while I think my brother got a little tired of listening to The Beatles everywhere we went (he’s appropriately into Rush now), but I never did. I could listen to songs like “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Money”, or “You Can’t Do That “(Actually I referred to this song as “the pot song” because I always pictured Ringo banging on a pot which years later I discovered was called a cowbell) a hundred times before I ever considered listening to something else. Another memory I have is of me setting the table while my mom prepared dinner and quizzed me over which Beatle was currently the lead singer in each song that played. By age 7 I had memorized most of their songs, deeply despised Yoko Ono, and was madly in love with the young version of Paul McCartney. (I had seen the much older version of Paul McCartney in “The Beatles Anthology” and found him to only be cute in a cute-grandpa sort of way.)
My love for Paul has never competed with any of the other Beatles. I love all of them, obviously, but to me Paul has always stood out among the others in both looks and talent. Whenever I was having a “I’m really in love with Paul” day (yes those happen(ed)), I would wonder what kind of Beatles fan I’d be had I been a 16 year old in the midst of The Beatles’ worldwide fame. Would I have been the kind of fan who ran after The Beatles in their car? Would I have screamed my vocal chords to shreds and yanked on my hair and face throughout the entire concert? Would I have been carried off by the police because I tried to crawl through their car window? Fainted and missed the entire concert? I gave this a lot of thought and eventually concluded that none of these types of fandom made sense to me. Whenever I watched “The Beatles Anthology” I was always infuriated by these count-your-blessings-lucky teenage girls who threw away their chance at being in the presence of The Beatles. I mean if my friend returned from her Beatles sighting only to report that she had spent a total of 30 seconds near them due to be thrown over the shoulder of a policeman for trying to touch Ringo’s nose, I’d be pretty bummed out. Fainting is silly, and The Beatles actually had to stop touring because they couldn’t hear themselves play (thanks a lot, ladies!). So with fainting and screaming and being arrested out of the running, what kind of fan is left? Who would I have been in 1964?
The Beatles “A Hard Day’s Night” gave me my answer. At the end of the movie, The Beatles perform “She Loves You” for an ecstatic crowd of tweens, teens, and twenty-somethings. The camera jumps back and forth from one screaming, ear-clinging girl to the next, then eventually focuses on one girl who is absolutely beside herself with emotion. She’s not screaming, she’s not bawling her eyes out, she’s not passed out on the floor. She’s just teary. She’s staring at The Beatles, and letting tears run down her cheeks. This, to me, encompasses what it is to be a true fan of a band and its music; to be so overwhelmed by the person or people in front of you as well as by the sound being produced that all you can do is tear up in response. The camera focuses on this particular girl three times, and on the third time she calls out for George right as the song comes to an end. I’m 100% certain that I will be this girl, silently crying through the majority of Paul’s concert, specifically if and when he plays “Hey Jude”, “Let It Be”, “Yesterday”, and/or dedicates any songs to John or George.
I have been dreaming of this day my entire life, and though there is currently a chance of rain and a definite chance that I will have an enormous crick in my neck and a charley horse in both of my calves the following morning from 4 to 5 hours of standing in the “General Admission” section, it will all be worth it just to be a teary-eyed fan at a Paul McCartney concert.
What kind of Beatles fan would you have been?
In September of 2012, I attended an annual women’s retreat called Frauenfreizeit, literally translated – Women’s Free Time. Frauenfreizeit takes place in the gorgeous Alps of Austria in the lusciously green town of Filzmoos. The mountain air is fresh, the rolling hills are freckled with horses and dairy cows, and the occasional yodel can be heard from a man giving tours in the town – complete with horse and buggy. In the center of the town is a tiny fairytale-like garden filled with animals – ponies, a white donkey, bunnies, birds, ducks and ducklings, and a small cat or two. In the middle of this garden lies a quaint pond, the stillness disturbed by a rickety wooden watermill that spills out amounts of water into it over and over. When the sun shines down on this little piece of Heaven, it feels as though Snow White should jump out any moment with her high-pitched notes and singalong blue birds. It really is a perfect place, especially when it can be enjoyed over a warm cup of coffee.
Up a few hills is the hotel – a typical Austrian style building with flowers pouring over every windowsill. My room came with a small balcony, and from there I could look over the town and face the enormous mountains that stand on either side of it. For meals, the ladies and I were served gourmet breakfasts, lunches, and dinners around candlelit tables next to a wall of windows for mountain-gazing. Everything felt, looked, and seemed perfect. I needed this after all; I needed free time. We had only moved to Vienna just months before, and our summer consisted of intensive language classes, culture adjustment, apartment hunting (no small feat), and relationship building. I loved the challenge of our first summer in Vienna, but it was hard, and now I finally had a chance to breathe and relax and enjoy hours of free time in a mountainous paradise.
The women’s retreat attendees consisted of 14 older ladies (mostly cute white-haired grandmas), one girl around my age, and myself. A few of us were from Austria, a few from Germany, and a few from Switzerland. Even though there were only 3 countries represented, the dialects were from all over the place and were sometimes impossible to understand (Swiss-Deutsch is the most difficult). I was intimidated by it, being a German-newbie at the time, but figured I could hold my own without a problem. The first morning as I was on my way to join the womenfolk for class, the girl who’s around my age, Krista, pulled me aside and said, “Hey, if you get overwhelmed in there and need to step outside, it’s totally okay. No one will judge you. I’ve been in your place and had to leave class a few times last year for a breather and everyone understood. Just know you’re in a safe place here.” I was touched by her desire to give me help and advice, but at the same time, I was puzzled. I had attended close to 4 months of German-speaking church already, AND my German was good enough to allow me to skip a level in class. I was a Level A2.2 speaker! That’s high enough to get by, right?
Culture Shock laughed hard in my face. Like that kind of laughter where you can’t breathe for several seconds and then suck in a huge amount of air so you can keep laughing? That’s what I believe to be the laugh of Culture Shock. Five minutes into class and my eyes were as wide as they would allow themselves to be. I felt hot, queazy, dizzy, and outrageously fatigued. By the time the discussion rolled around I had no idea what was going on other than we were having a discussion about something related to the Bible. I pulled out my notebook and began to jot down words I didn’t recognize – Dankbarkeit, Gnade, Teufel, Zweifel, Barmherzigkeit. My list grew and was three pages long in just under 20 minutes. The lady I sat next to was kind enough to help me out, though I was worried my questions would wear her out and end up something like this in the middle of class:
“What does Gnade mean?”
“Oooh yes! That word means grace.”
“Oh ok. What about Teufel?”
“Devil. It means Devil.”
“Oh… Well what about Barmherzigkeit?”
“MERCY, HOLLY. IT MEANS MERCY. THE MERCY OF THE LORD. THE KIND THAT I ASK YOU TO GIVE ME WITH ALL OF YOUR HUNDREDS OF QUESTIONS!”
“…… What was Gnade again?”
She was actually quite wonderful towards me and leaned over often to help me with definitions or to voluntarily explain to me what someone was saying. But even explanations and definitions didn’t help prevent me from physically feeling as awful as I felt. Regardless, I kept trucking along through the day and was able to experience hours of calm and relief that afternoon by the bunnies and ponies and watermill. I sat on my balcony for a while prior to dinner and took in the scenery all around me before I became vulnerable all over again. The next morning wasn’t any better, in fact it was worse. By lunch time I would’ve paid to speak English with someone. I would have given up lunch and dessert to speak English with someone. Done a dance, yodeled, whatever – I just needed English back in my life. Immediately. I planted myself at a table with some of the women I knew would potentially speak English with me, but I only did this so I wouldn’t look sad and alone at a table by myself. The ladies I knew who actually did speak English as their native language hadn’t come downstairs yet, so I watched the then dubbed “English Speaking Table” in order to be ready at any moment to pop on over and leave German behind. Unfortunately, the “English Speaking Table” filled within moments, and the sweet grandmas who thought they were helping by telling me to stay put so I wouldn’t have to get up, filled in the other chairs. One chair was left, and I stood up frantically to get to it before anyone else, but one last smiley grandma appeared, put her hand on my cheek and said, “Na, du sollst hier bleiben. Du musst mehr Deutsch lernen!” – translates to, “No, you should stay here. You must learn more German!”
*Insert evil Culture Shock laugh here*
What I call the “Culture Shock Snap” snapped. My face flushed red and I slowly sat back down as if someone had just told me that Paul McCartney died (which will be a HORRIBLE day indeed). My eyes brimmed with tears as I held back the angry, immature 5-year old inside of me who wanted to shout, “OH YEAH? Well… DU musst mehr Deutsch lernen!” An embarrassing comeback that would’ve been. I excused myself from the table and hurried to my room. I collapsed on my bed and cried like I did back in high school when boys hurt my feelings. I fell asleep after a while the very way I had landed on the bed – sprawled out, half in and half out of the covers. I slept for 4 hours, and the only reason I didn’t sleep longer was because of how badly my throat hurt. Thirty minutes later I was sneezing and coughing, and by dinner time I had a full blown fever. I laid in bed miserable but not all together sad that I couldn’t participate in that night’s class. Or class the next morning. Or the following night. My fever went up and down throughout the week while my sneezing and coughing only worsened. I did leave the room once to go to town in order to get myself some Vitamin C tablets from the Apotheke (pharmacy), but for the most part I stayed sick in my room. The grandmas checked on me countless times throughout each day and brought me soup and tea and bread. They would explain in German how sorry they were that of all the weeks in the year my body chose this week to get sick. I too was sorry, as I truly did want to be with them and learn, but unfortunately the only things I learned that week were the following:
How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory are just as funny in German as they are in English.
Austrian soap operas are just as strange as American soap operas.
The makers of 7th Heaven should have produced the show entirely in dubbed-over German so we could have all been spared its never-ending drama.
Hotel rooms are boring.
Why have I waited this long to take a Eucalyptus bubble bath?
On the last day of the Frauenfreizeit, I emerged from my room to sing some last songs and watch the annual Frauen Talent Show. I returned home still sick and still “in shock” but was on the path to healing. Now, almost a year later, I’m happy to report I haven’t been sick one time since last September at the hands of Culture Shock! (I was going to say that I haven’t been sick at all since last September, but then I got sick this weekend and ruined my record.) That’s not to say Culture Shock has never visited me again, but at least it hasn’t given me anymore fevers.
I despise chihuahuas. With the exception of only TWO Atlanta, Georgian chihuahuas I know personally, I can’t stand the rest. Their barks sounds like a mix between a cat’s meow and an alarm clock, their bodies are the size of a squirrel’s which means they aren’t really dogs, and honestly they’re just flat out annoying. (I feel like I should include “All opinions written here are my own” just to be safe.) I didn’t feel this strongly about the little things until I moved to Vienna where it seems like chihuahuas run the city. Seriously, they’re everywhere. I see their tiny heads poking out of purses, out of jackets, out of shopping bags. Some are spoiled enough to get their own strollers. And it’s not just women who proudly strut (or push) the chihuahuas around, it’s men too. Like large, manly, bearded men, guaranteed to crack you up every time one of them passes you by holding a bright pink, rhinestone studded leash.
Yesterday I almost drop-kicked one over a building for messing up my work and scaring me half to death. Our office has just recently installed a brand new display case outside the building and it’s my job to make sure all of the information inside is up to date. I popped outside suited up in my rain gear as the weather here is miserable, and carefully open the glass door only enough to get my hand in the window. The wind was something else, and I was afraid it would blow up into the window and send all the fliers up and away, so I very slowly moved one magnet up with my pinky while the rest of my hand held down the flier that needed to be removed and my other hand kept the door in place. I almost had the flier out when this itsy bisty black chihuahua appeared out of nowhere, nipping at my ankles and barking its fist-sized head off. In trying to get the dog away from me I let go of the glass door and all of the fliers and magnets went flying down the sidewalk. The dog’s owner finally arrived at the scene and yelled at his dog to stop attacking me, meanwhile I ran down the sidewalk yelling “Waaaaaaaaaait!” at the fliers like a crazy person. I picked up one, then two, then three, and by the time I had the fourth one in hand I looked up just in time to see the glass door on its way to swinging itself shut. I immediately pictured shattered glass and lots of trouble. I sprinted back down the sidewalk, this time yelling “Noooooooooooooo!” at the display case. I wedged my arm in between the frame and the door just as it was going to close, which hurt and further increased my hatred for the evil little dog. After a few seconds of pouting over my sad arm, I continued on with my display case job and finally had everything back where it was… ten minutes later.
So if you own a chihuahua, you’re probably a brave person. Or perhaps a patient person. Or a tolerant person. I own a cat and sometimes I don’t have the patience for him (especially when he wakes me up for food at 2 in the morning). Maybe this chihuahua was a fluke of a dog and is the only one who lives its life in constant attack mode, I don’t know. But I do know that I certainly, most positively, never ever want to own a chihuahua.