Another arbitrary point in time has passed, and we must now increment the last segment of our written dates. But really, it’s 2006, and the year will frame quite a few significant events of my life…my return to the States, college graduation, and introduction to the wide world of real work. I don’t like the fact that my first awakening in 2006 was accompanied by a myriad of cold symptoms, but I’m trying not to treat it as an omen…

For tomorrow I hop a train for Bad Gastein, Austria. Apparently I waited too long in reserving train seats, for my first and second choices for routes were both full from the ICE connection between Hannover and München. I managed to get a seat on one of the earliest trains, which bumps my departure time up to 6 AM from Osnabrück. Yet due to the magic of train travel (just hop on and go, no security checks, zero wait) I can actually take the bus down to the Hauptbanhof rather than walking the 1 km+ with all my baggage like earlier this break to get to the bus stop on the way to the airport…I have been totally psyched for this trip for about a month and tomorrow will mark by introduction to the Austrian Alps….sweet.

A few days ago I returned from a week-long vacation with my great-aunt and uncle Louise and Ernest in southeast England. I had a marvelous time spending the holidays with them, from seeing my first Pantomime (in all of it’s sexual ambiguity) to the annual Quality St. Christmas party. All of these events were interspersed with fine dining throughout and some delicious meals from the ever-modest Louise. On the 23rd I ventured into London again solo, and saw Westminster Abbey and the Tate Modern. Both were great, Westminster Abbey being especially spectacular. Their photo ban was a bit annoying, but surely helps preserve the incredibly rich, ancient atmosphere. On the last evening I was treated to a performance of “Once in a Lifetime,” a comedy that I truly enjoyed. It was quite interesting seeing British actors/actresses portraying Americans, complete with our accents (which were very well done and usually not over-the-top). Thanks again Louise and Ernest for your hospitality!

It’s been very quiet here in the apartment as only Christina and I are around…last night I attended a new year’s party at a friend’s apartment, which was very nice. It was just a quiet get-together with seven of us total. Just past midnight we wandered down to the street to shoot off the obligatory fireworks, which were a riot. Apparently there aren’t any restrictions on fireworks in Germany because the street was like a war zone, with bottle rockets and firecrackers going off at a chaotic rate…it seemed like every single resident was down on the street setting off fireworks, to the dismay of passing motorists! Being a bit of a pyro I had a lot of fun *mischievous grin*.

May 2006 bring everyone good health and good times!