Friday, June 22, 2012


It's taken me over a month to write this post.  So many elements about our trip to Europe were quite lovely, but this was one that was neither fun or cheery.  But it was memorable. Our first excursion in Munich was to Dachau, the infamous concentration camp, which opened soon after Adolf Hitler came to power.  It was was nothing like I imagined, my reaction completely unexpected.  I actually wanted to go because of my interest in WWII history and used to read about this era all the time.  In fact, I could read horrific eyewitness accounts and still sleep at night.  I realized after I graduated I somehow separated these stories from my emotions and blazed through to write my thesis.  Not anymore.

My recent experience with death has had a far more profound impact on my life than I realized.  Having actually watched someone die has changed how I view historians interpretation of these events. Literally the minute we arrived at Dachau I wanted to get as far away as possible. I found myself consciously protecting my heart and shying away from the details a German WWII historian should embrace. I looked away during the video, purposely avoided areas of the camp, and did a cursory walk through of the exhibit.  I'm still surprised by my reaction, yet I don't think I will regret it in the years to come. I did what I had to do to survive the experience and leave emotionally intact.  And oh was I happy to leave the place.

Dachau was much smaller than I expected.  Only two barracks currently stand, the remainder marked by their foundations.  The roll call area was both immense yet tiny when one imagines thousands upon thousands of prisoners lined up here. The gate was no where near as massive as I imagined it would be. I touched it with my bare hands.  The grass strip -- this drew me. This is where I found my connection.  So beautiful and so deadly.  This area was verboten!, forbidden, and any prisoner who set foot on the grass was immediately shot.  I can only imagine how many men "accidently" ventured a little too far so their souls could be free of the horror that was Dachau.  The guards could not claim distance or error. They were close enough to see the features on the men's faces. The whites of their eyes. This is not how I thought it would be. I assumed the watchtowers were taller. The area wider. It makes the actions of Holocaust perpetrators even more horrific, but that is a discussion for another time.  I purposefully stood on the grass, defiant, and like countless others before me, stood in memory of those denied the freedom to stand on this ground themselves.  

Center of Dachau.  The duel rows of Poplar trees date back to 1933.

Gate leading into the camp.  Loosely translates: Work makes you free (Arbeit Macht Frei). 
Oh, the irony.

Puzzling warning, Rauchen verboten: smoking forbidden. 
This was on the wall of the administration building, otherwise known as the processing center. I'm not clear on the purpose of this warning. Was it to further the lie this was no more than a "work camp" and make the area seem more "normal?"  

One of many watchtowers bordering the property.

The grass strip, left side of Dachau. The barracks are out of sight to the right.

Leaving my mark in the grass. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

my favorite meal in Vienna

The infamous Sachertorte.  This delicacy was best thing I ate on the entire trip!  (and we just might have gone back the following afternoon for another delightful lunch...)


FINALLY found my cafe mocha.  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find these in Austria?!

Dad giving his sign of approval. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

room pics

Hm, I'm not sure why these posted in reverse order or why the photos are so small, but without further adieu, here are photos of my latest handiwork. 

The new lamp

Gift from my aunt, and my life quote.  It's on my wall to remind me to always dance in the rain.

Close up of the comforter 

The pillow on the right started it all...

And finally, the finished look! (new wall color to follow later in the summer)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

it all started with a pillow…

How on earth could a month have passed since Dad and I were in Europe?  It’s crazy how quickly time flies.  The good news is I have crossed a task or two off my list but am still woefully behind in the blogging department.  And since I have nothing else to do with my time, I’ve added interior decorator to my list of summer to-dos.  Specifically, I am redecorating my bedroom and the upstairs bathroom.  Not at all a time consuming or (slightly!) expensive hobby all started with a pillow.  A Bed, Bath, and Beyond pillow to be precise.  You see, I’ve wanted to change my color schema for several years but never found anything I liked.  And I mean anything!  Mother and I looked at comforters galore trying to find a starting point but nothing rocked my boat.   About ten years ago I finally painted my walls white since nothing else stood out to me (the teenage inspired lavender walls had to go) , and though I’ve never been satisfied with the end result it seemed silly to redecorate since I wasn’t sure how long I would stay at home.  Recent life events encouraged me to rethink this decision, but I didn’t intended to begin quite so soon. 

Memorial Day weekend was a little difficult for me  and to get out of the house, I decided to begin shopping for  upcoming weddings I'm going to.  It sounded like a good plan, but I  struck out completely at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  They either didn't have what I wanted or I didn't like the selection.  However, at one point, I wandered over to the bedding section to check out the wedding registry selections and found the comforter.  It was me to a T: the colors, style, and price.  It eventually found its way into my cart as did a lamp and curtains.  Seems I can’t do anything small!  I still wasn’t 100% percent sold on the idea,  so I decided to buy everything so I could see them in my room.  Sometimes a girl just has to see things in person. This visualization thing only goes so far. 

Six days later I was back at BBB returning the lamp (it had a crack through the middle) and the curtains (they didn’t match).  I spent a good 45 minutes looking at window options for the current bedding and finally found something that could work. Then I went back to the bedding section to see if they matched the bedspread and found ANOTHER one I liked.  That’s where the pillow comes in.  I absolutely loved the color and design (of course, it didn’t match the comforter I just bought) and within a few minutes found another bedspread (also on sale), 2 pillows, and window treatments.  I thought I liked it better than the set I bought last week and was ready to pack it up and return #1, but when I got home I decided it was nicer than I remembered.  Which meant I had TWO sets of bedding, with TWO different looks, and had to decide which one to keep.  Gah!

So, I did what all girls do during times of crisis: turn to friends for advice!  I e-mailed my two closest friends with an abbreviated version of my saga and photos to get their opinion.  In retrospect, I overreacted, but I think I was feeling overwhelmed by how much I needed to do and the thought of making another decision related to my room was more than I could handle. Silly!  It took a few days of laying out a different comforter on my bed before I knew I wanted #2.  Even though the colors differ from my usual taste, something about the look makes me happy, and right now that’s all the matters. 

And to top it off the set I chose is called Vienna.  Perfect, huh?