Saturday, January 31, 2015

1998 Summer Excursion in Germany & Big Drama (Stories)

1998 Summer Excursion in Germany

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In 1998, I was suddenly bombarded with options. I'd been wanting to go to Germany for a few years, and even had a job (at AMC Marlton 8) to save the funds to get there. I pretty much had to do the entire thing on my own because no one in my family, nor relatives, nor neighbors, knew anything about getting a passport, traveling overseas, etc. So, the only people I could as were teachers, and even they were somewhat outdated in knowledge, therefore I had to go off and find out entirely on my own, which for me, as a teenager, was entirely daunting, intimidating, and I was very nervous. It's actually not that hard, but it was a "Great Unknown" to me, which scared the Hell out of me... but, that's probably WHY I did it... If you really WANT SOMETHING, you will just do it, because it nags at your mind, and gives you emotions, like fuel.
And the BURNING QUESTIONS OF: Why? Why not? How? What if?

Not only did a I have a half tuition scholarship to attend the Summer College Program at the U-ARTS in Philadelphia, but I also was CONSTANTLY pressured by my Environmental teacher to go with them and represent my country with Vice President Al Gore at the Earth Summit in Helsinki with G.L.O.B.E. I turned this down often because it conflicted with my plans/commitments/principles.
 I had already booked my NONREFUNDABLE tickets to & from Germany to visit my boyfriend in Germany. Even tho' I was pretty "New Age" at the time, I was STILL VERY PROTESTANT. And, so was my boyfriend. When I was younger I actually thought maybe he might be my soul mate, and also that if you make a commitment you are supposed to stick to it, don't be a quitter. Typical Protestant mentality in the area I grew up in.

I also had a job at AMC theaters, which I actually loved, and very much respected my coworkers, however, by June they got new managers (insensitive draconian ass holes), and it was HELL with scheduling. No matter how many times I submitted written documentations about how I had to attend college classes daily, hours I was available, and also that I was going to Germany, the managers would just forget, and as I came in it was a constant verbal fight. (Which conflicted with my religious ideologies & principles of the time.) They would tell me: well you need to submit it in written form, and at one point I friggin' lost my temper and BLEW UP, and told this jerk Mr. R. that I had already submitted it 8 times, and even to him, to his face, in person, in his hands, and he verbally acknowledged that, but still scheduled me 8 days strait all hours of the day, and there's only 7 days in a week. That manager was so scared, because I'm usually mild mannered and calm, that he walked backwards through the backdoor of the backroom, which was actually locked from the outside, and shouldn't have any possible way to exit it, and yet her did. Not only that but they also scheduled me for summer hours in June when I STILL hadn't gone to high school graduation ceremony yet! AND, I also was under pressure to apply to be a supervisor, not just from the managers, but from the regular workers whom resented many of those whom were officially supervisors. (Then because I had an outburst and lost my temper according to my religion at the time, I felt terrible, because I had spoken in anger and frustration and therefore weak-mindedness, and I prayed & prayed for forgiveness.)

I also was under massive pressure from the U-ARTS to be in school all day, every day, not just the classes, but just to be there, and attend all the parties, even tho' I had a legal contractual & ethical obligation to work at my job, and my new managers were draconianly stubborn at scheduling me for insane hours even tho' I had classes. I was called into the Dean's office and chewed out so much, JUST BECAUSE I had the scholarship. They were angry with me for also not going to the Amusement Park Trip to Six Flags Great Adventure, and the fact that I was also going to Germany.

Everyone wanted a piece of me, and no one was willing to compromise, and each side thought they knew better, and was unwilling to be mature enough to listen, and understand the big picture. And, even when I brought up things like 'maturity', responsibility, ethics, obligations, etc. It would shut them up... temporarily, because they'd realize they were being an ass, only to start the same bull shit again. I'd also gotten so many invitations to parties, gatherings, and to hang out with people I'd always wanted to, but since I was so strapped with obligations, and unruly people I couldn't.

I was so stressed out that I stopped eating, had severe migraines, and an asthma attack and almost died, but my friend Carleo saved my life at work when I blacked out.He stayed with me, until an ambulance came. then, my mom came and took me home.

I also got death threats from my high school classmates, and my car was messed with, and I almost got jumped by a gang.


So, by the time it was mid July, I was more than ready to leave, and get the Hell out of there!

And, by the time I got to Germany, everything was entirely screwy & topsy-turvy when I got there!

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First UFO Sighting
First of all, on the plane I saw this giant, chrome, egg-shaped, flying object outside the plane window. When I saw it, it was this very strange feeling of: WHAT THE HECK IS THAT THING? And, your mind tries to process whatever the heck your looking at, and runs through a list of ANYTHING you can think of. No, it's not this, not that. What the heck is it? 

So, I turned to the guy next to me and asked him, as we're flying over Germany and he's napping, and I said, "Hey! Look at this thing outside!" I asked him if he saw it, and the other guy, and asked them, do you see that thing too? What is it? 
And, altho' they both looked out the window, and acknowledged they saw it, their reactions were very nonchalant. "...oh yeah... huh... that's weird.." then they sat back down to nap... This reaction struck me as VERY ODD, and even as i asked other people in front of me, or behind me to look out the window, they didn't really care, and only looked to shut me up. They would look at the window, and they all confirmed that they could also see it, and that it was weird, then each person would nonchalantly sit back down and continue napping...

The objects followed a similar path parallel with the plane. I called a flight attendant, and even asked her to look out the window. So we went to an area you could walk around, near the rest rooms. Do you see that thing outside the window? What is it? How is it flying?
So, she looked outside the window, and watched it, and said she could also see it. She said it was strange, but her reaction was also still very nonchalant. Then, she just walked away as tho' nothing major had just happened. 

I thought this was the strangest thing I had ever observed. And, it struck me as incredibly odd that people reacted so nonchalantly, like it didn't matter... large chrome, distinctly egg-shaped objects don't just fly around. And, yet, there it was! 

I actually had far more freedom in Germany (unless in religious contexts/situations, more on that later in this entry) than I had in my own country (USA). I was 18 years old, but it was legal and socially acceptable to drink alcohol. No one thought that was strange, weird, shocking, nor taboo. I had originally planned to NEVER drink alcohol because I had seen how bad it was for you... in my country. 

However, I changed my view of alcohol while I stayed in Europe, because I saw how people drank to appreciate it, and also didn't excessively drink. They didn't drink just to get drunk or "get smashed". Alcohol was so common that it was in ice cream, chocolates, festivals, fairs, office meetings, etc. Yet, people only drank small amounts, and often said they didn't want to get drunk, just enjoy a small drink. 

But, I must admit, I wasn't really mature enough to really appreciate how great it was. I didn't understand wine, or anything.  However, I often enjoyed visiting village folks for schnapps & chocolates. 

Cologne Cathedral
At the cathedral in Köln in July.

Schloß Drachenfells

Here I am with my ex. I should point out, he was 85% deaf. So that was interesting...
This is at the ancient Schloß Drachenfells (The Dragon Castle), which is in ruins, and was mostly destroyed by the Allies Powers in WWI.You can also see photos of The River Rhine.

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These were shot in July... so, if you are thinking it's strange how we are dressed like it's not summer... well, funny story about that: The next day when I got to Germany, the temperature dropped to 50 degrees F. It rained, and was very cloudy for the first whole week. I had almost no warm clothing, just summer clothing, and generally Germany is hotter than where I lived in the USA in summer.

The jacket I'm wearing was all borrowed from my ex's sisters.

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By the 2nd week, the weather switched from very cold, to an extreme heat wave. I also had jet-lag sickness very badly, and also the previous stress of graduation, job conflicts, and conflicts at college, must've caused a catastrophe in my immune system, because I contracted tonsillitis, and strep throat so severely that I couldn't get out of bed by the end. I also have asthma.

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The Karaoke Channel Online Member Community
Here you can see some of the places we went. 

There are castles everywhere in Germany that they are not considered special. They thought it was strange that I was interested in them. I was also surprised at the time, at just how many folks spoke English very well.

Also, my ex boyfriend's family was religious. He claimed they weren't a cult, but if you check the definition of "cult" they actually were.

We were expected to go to "assembly" every Sunday, but also throughout the week (which we didn't).  It was an all day thing. And despite how Germany was WAY MORE OPEN AND FREE with everything, including nudity  EVERYWHERE (and sex on TV), in his religious "assembly" of people, it was quite sexist. I was not only forced to where a skirt BECAUSE I WAS FEMALE, but I was also forced to cover my head with a large long handkerchief, just like Nuns, Puritans, or Muslims, or the Dark Ages.

It was so unnerving for me, that I cried. And, I had to have my clothing inspected and approved to be acceptable attire. The people were actually very nice, and very friendly. But, the service was entirely in old Platt Deutsch which I couldn't understand. Everything was "Mein Herr Gott", "Der Herr", and "Jesus" (pronounced "yay-zooss") and the rest was all olde Lutheran German, and not High German standard.

Also, my boyfriend's parents had a guilty sin deemed by the "assembly". They owned a TV, literally in their closet, inside their bedroom, and would actually turn it on a few nights a week to watch the news on TV. *gasp*

My boyfriend, however, had a full library of VHS, DVDs, CDs, a home stereo system, and a car stereo, as well as a large 20 inch screen TV in his room. his excuse to justify it was because he was mostly deaf. And he "needed" all of that stuff to help him learn spoken words, and "techno music" and "electric rock 'n roll" music was "the only music that deaf people can hear" so it would be unchristian to deprive a good Christian deaf man the simple pleasure of music, the only music his hearing aids could hear.... ;) he had a ton of Hollywood dramas, action films, Rated R, Kung Fu, etc... ;)

We also "sinned" in his car... but, it's OK, because were forgiven... right? LOL

Everyone seemed to have an excuse to be a normal human being in that religious group, but kept it a hidden secret, like going to a movie, or listening to the radio... *reluctant sigh*

Ironically, when we went to visit the massive cathedral in Köln which was catholic, they teased the Catholics for being superstitious, using holy water, candles, antiquated traditions, and having statues everywhere, and that they were unholy.

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Oh, my goodness! We went everywhere! I think it's a German thing, but he actually planned out a whole schedule, typed it up on his computer and printed it out, which we couldn't do all of, and each day we did several things based on his time management.

I went to Köln, Bonn, Wupertal, Medieval Towns, Mountains, lots of castles, Amusement parks giant shopping malls, giant movie theaters, Giant CD stores, markets, restaurants, ice-cream parlors, lakes, mountains, forests, farms, villages, cities, etc. We also went to carnivals, fairs, barbeques.

You can tell in some of the photos how puffed-up and bloated I was. I was very sick. After a while, with all the extreme heat about 103 degrees plus humidity, and how sick I was, I couldn't walk. I had so much pain in my head, chest, sinuses, throat, and stomach.

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If it looks like we stepped into a Country Western, it's because we went to Elspe. Aperently cowboys, and American Westerns are popular in Europe. It was a theme park with lost of costumed people, live shows, and musicals constantly, there. We also went into a saloon.

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Birthday in a Box
NOTE :I also went to The Netherlands  with my ex. But, I will save those photos for another entry.


Part I.
I flew home still very sick in mid August, and by the time I got home I was so sick that I fell asleep on the ride to the doctor's office, in the doctor's office, on the way home, and then slept for 3 days strait only waking up when my mother medicated me, and made me drink water because it was a heat wave in New Jersey also. I was so sick I wasn't even legally allowed to drive, or work, and my mother had to take the doctor's note to my job for me, because they didn't believe I was sick.

The entire time I was sick, even tho' the summer college program at the U-ARTS had ended they would call my mom's boyfriend's home all day & night, and my father's home trying to pressure whomever answered the phone to get me to sign-up for the fall semester. After they had been such a jerk to me, insensitive, and inconsiderate, as well as unwilling to help sort out my working issues with my employer, I was fed-up with them and had no intention of attending their school to study animation in their old low-tech, 4 year school, without a scholarship, when I had already signed-up and got accepted at AIPH, down the street from them which was only a 2 year school, with the exact same degree (with option for a Bachelor's in 3 years) and the exact same teachers, with high tech, new equipment and full computer labs (plural) with new computers, 3D animation, when their school only had 3 computers for the entire University. Plus, AIPH, at the time, guaranteed job placement (which is actually BS). I would often tell them strait-up: No. I don't want to attend your school anymore, nor sign up for the fall, I am already signed-up at AIPH.

Also, the new manager assholes at AMC STILL wanted me to work despite my being sick, so I worked for about a week and a half, while my Mom and her boyfriend plus his mother packed up their home into a moving truck and moved literally on my birthday (August 27th) down to Lewes Delaware. We were so broke we had to go to a food bank to get food for 3 weeks.

On my last day at AMC (August 26th) all the younger girls were crying, and hugging me, and giving me their phone numbers, and e-mail addresses and telling me to keep in touch. However, once I got to DE nobody EVER answered my phone calls, and never called me back, nothing.I tried in vain for weeks.

But, at least my friend Carleo still kept in touch, and several of the guys.

I was supposed to start at AIPH (Art Institute of Philadelphia) in September, but the kids in the office screwed up my paperwork royally. So, I got postponed from starting until January 1999.

So, I had to look for local work, and took a job at The Salvation Army in Rehobeth.
It was so God awful! Working there was like being in communism, and a sweatshop. And, was entirely unethical. They broke laws left and right, and constantly wanted you to donate your pay. they had a terrible work ethic, and they wouldn't hire my mother's boyfriend's daughter just because she lived in the same house as me. In New Jersey, usually people got hired BECAUSE they were friends or relatives, but southern DE was backwards.

Despite all of the unique possibilities & opportunities I had in 1998, I was say it was a needlessly terrible and stressful year. But, I got through it.... (probably because I am a strong person inside)

And even all of the best parts were always amid such craziness, and strife. I had more death threats, and circumstances in which I could've died, or been permanently injured, needlessly than any other time. When I actually think about it, I am boggled by just how much stuff I did, accomplished, overcame, endured, and got through without even knowing it at the time.
It was just like: take it as it comes.

Now that I am older, I feel it is important to have boundaries, and to know when to speak up for yourself, and say NO. But, also to stick to what you want, which is what I did. I also feel that some rigid religious ideologies are stupid.

Part II.

Second UFO Sighting
On one final follow-up on the UFO phenomena.... how can I put this? 

The following summer, 1999, I took the summer off from AIPH because my my boyfriend from Germany finally decided to fly over to the USA. So, I took the summer off, from college, even tho' I wanted to stay. He wanted to stay for about 5 weeks.

However, just before he came my mother's boyfriend pressured me so much to get a job. He also pressured my mother to force me to get a job. And, about a week before my boyfriend came, I actually got hired at a knick-nack bricka-bracka T-Shirt selling store on the Board Walk in Rehobeth Beach. Since I was raised with a Protestant work-ethic, it was a fundamental, unquestionable certainty, that once you start something ONE MUST STICK TO IT. And to NEVER BE A QUITTER. 

So, when my boyfriend came, my employers whom were Israeli & Turkish they made it known they expected me NOT TO QUIT, even tho' all of the locals whom they'd hired had already quit, and several teenaged employees also robbed the store, or just walked-off in the middle of a shift. Which put me in a spot of ethical pressure. It was a matter of principles. So, as my boyfriend came, and he was such a nice fellow, my mother & her boyfriend instantly took to him really well, and liked him so much that they actually took him all over Delaware and Maryland while I worked because he was such a funny & likeable guy. 

But, by the 3rd day he was there, they told me to quit my job. I was utterly baffled! Gobsmacked! HOW COULD YOU DO THIS? HOW COULD YOU SAY THIS? You all INSISTED that I just GET A JOB, and NOW that I have one, you want me to just dump it, cavalierly, as tho' it were nothing? Like it didn't matter?  And, then once he left at the end of the summer, there would be no more jobs, and you would pressure me still to work? from the same folks that insisted "don't burn your bridges"! So, this was a source of some tension.

My mother's boyfriend was still insisting that I just quit, and I refused. It wasn't as tho' I wanted to get that job, but I'd already made that commitment, and I was supposed to "be responsible", and mature.

Finally I took some time off to plan a trip to Washington D.C. 

Well around that time off time in July, my cousin, and my youngest brother also came down to visit and we all went for a walk to The General Store to get "Water Ice" and ice cream in Lewes. As we walked home, it was getting dark. 

And, in the distance I noticed some strange pairs of green lights. At the end of one road, a dead end road, I saw these lights, but it was just dark enough that I couldn't see down there. The sky was still twilight & multi colored dusk from sunset. 

I looked at the lights and thought to myself: When did they instal traffic lights down there? 
But, then, I thought: no that doesn't make sense, that's a dead end road. So, then I thought, maybe they were car lights... but that also made no sense, because it's illegal to have them be green, they MUST BE RED. 

Everyone else was finishing up their icecream, or water ice, and they all became quiet also. Then, I realized they were all thinking the same thing I was, so I said: What the heck are those lights down there? And, they all exclaimed: Yeah! I was wondering the same thing! 

So we got to the fork in the road, and stood in the intersection, staring at those things, and wondering what they were.

You go! No you! Nobody wanted to try and go up close to figure out what they were. I'd recently watched the film "Fire In The Sky" so the very idea of investigating strange lights hovering above the ground scared me A LOT! 

It was still light outside, and the sky was many many colors, but those pairs of green lights were in a place just too far away, and too dark to make out anything at all. We argued about what it could or couldn't be. My boyfriend was a German Lutheran Assembly Protestant fundamentalist, so there was no possibility of it possibly being anything but cars or traffic lights, even tho' that made zero sense at all. Yet, when pressured to investigate it himself, he became so frightened with the idea that he refused. Really? Why? (He also watched "Fire In The Sky".) 

Then, all I remember is just standing there for a very long time, about 15 min just standing there, perplexed about the lights and watching them as they hovered, and moved around a bit where they were. I also remember there was originaly about 2 pairs of green lights, but by the end there were more than that. That's it. I just remember standing there, just staring at those lights, with them, just wondering what they were, and just standing there totally quiet... Like: What the heck are those things?

Then, all of a sudden, we just suddenly simultaneously snapped and decided to go home mutually, because the neighborhood was just to the right of the intersection. So, we all agreed simultaneously to do that, and did. 

I distinctly recall that there were still colors in the sky of oranges, reds, and purples... yet, as we got to the house, which wasn't even a 2 min walk it was so entirely dark and pitch black, the only thing we could see was the light from the windows of the house. Which makes no sense. That shouldn't happen at all. And yet, distinctly recall the brief walk home, in detail. yet, as we got to the house it was totally dark. I also recall walking home very calmly, blandly, and nonchalantly, as tho it was just "whatever".

And yet. everyone was so freaked out about the lights, that when we go to the door, everyone kept talking about the weird lights. And the mood was entirely different, and panicked. And they were so freaked out & disturbed about what they were. So, they wanted to go investigate what they were from the safety of a car. 

I was scared, and just stayed in the home. But, they all got into a car, and drove to the location of where the lights actually were, and NOTHING WAS THERE! NOTHING!

They were gone for a VERY LONG TIME also.I don't know why they were gone so long.

And the whole thing freaked everyone out.

Even stranger is that I personally recall the incident as taking a longer span of time, but years later when I asked them, each person recalled it as only 2-5 min of just standing there, where as I recall a very long period of standing there. Not just that, but the part where we just stood there quietly i recall as being at least 15 min or longer. 

Also, I'd completely forgotten the entire incident of them investigating it in the car until i spoke to everyone years later... and the memory all flooded back to me. 

Very strange indeed.

Bohemian Cloudy Afternoon in South Field (MA)

This was a photoshoot I did so much prep-work for. And, JUST as I arrived on location after walking all the way there, to South Field (South Weymouth, MA) these clouds swooped in and blocked the sun. The whole sky was clear, except for the spot where the giant cloud was, which WOULD NOT GO AWAY!

I was so frustrated, annoyed, and aggravated, because at some fleeting moments the sun would peek through the giant clouds. I'd rush to grab my camera, and just as the shutter would klick, the light was gone.

It was SUCH a pity because South Field was GORGEOUS that year! (2011) But, without the light, the frames came out looking depressing, EMO, morose, and I ended up looking powdery, or ashy. Yuck.

However, some folks still liked these photos. They just weren't what I personally was going for. But, that's just how "spontaneous portrait photography" goes.

I'm wearing 2 jackets, because it was rather windy. The outer coat is a reddish leather trench coat from the 60s or 70s made in Korea, which I bought from the original owner at a flea market in New Jersey in the mid 1990s. She claimed that when she was a teenager, she just "had to have it" and actually only wore it about 2 or 3 times. So, when I got it it was still in brand new condition. I think I paid about $40 cash, which was a stretch for me at the time, but she had originally spent about $300 which in the 1960s/1970s was a gigantic price. She said her father was wealthy when she was younger.

The inner jacket, with fringes is a vintage buckskin jacket, made in Italy, from Arden B. I purchased this jacket in 2002 from a local Arden B. location in the South Shore Plaza (Braintree MA). The original price on this was very high, I think anywhere from $150-300+. But, I bought it on discount in the clearance rack for about $65, give or take.

I distinctly recall being VERY PLEASED with the price, and at the time my new spouse allowed me to go shopping at will, because back then we were rather wealthy.

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The feather earrings are from "Spencer Gifts" and they have rooster tail feathers. One of them it purple and black, and the other is just black. The black feathers look green in certain angles in the light, and are attacked to black chains.

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Vintage Tribal Silver beads necklace.

The Orange/Gold silk scarf was a gift from one of the many times I lived in The People's Republic of China. It's a popular custom in China to give gifts. Silk scarves are a popular item to give.
Whenever I go back to China (since I have relatives there) I always make it a point to bring many small gifts.

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