It’s nearly impossible for me to adequately describe Karneval to someone who has never experienced it.
I could say that nearly everyone in the city dresses in costume Thursday through Tuesday. Which is true. My favorite thing is seeing someone’s 80+ year old Opa wearing a red sponge clown nose, or a granny with her hair spiked and dyed Cologne red.
Or that there are parties (OH ARE THERE PARTIES) where they play seemingly the same fifteen songs over and over again but it just doesn’t matter. There is something about Karneval music that warms my heart and makes me jump around like a fool and sway with the rest of them, regardless of the fact that I rarely know any of the words.
But in the end, it’s the atmosphere that really makes it. The smile that creeps across my face anytime I see a man dressed as a woman (why this is such a popular costume, I have no idea), random shouts of “Alaaf!” during those six glorious days, the weird traditions that I do not understand (even when they are explained to me) and all the ‘new friends’ that are made, only to be forgotten by the next day.
It’s this time of year that makes me feel like I never want to leave Cologne. (Give it a few weeks, my mind will change… it always does!)
(I made those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes myself. I’m awesome, I know)
Sometimes I have little moments where I need to step back and say to myself “Self, your life is really a lot more awesome than you give it credit for.”
Most of the time my life is pretty much the same as it would be living anywhere else: I commute to and from work 5 days a week, I go to the gym and have to force myself to do laundry and don’t vacuum as often as a woman of my age probably should. But when my weekend plans include (for example) going to Munich and not seeing a single touristy thing because I only went to hang out with my friend (and I’ve been there, done that with the tourist stuff anyway) sometimes its easy to forget how cool my life really is.
Here’s a quick recap of the best stuff that happened to me in 2012. Because who doesn’t love a wrap-up in February.
One year ago: I got my nose pierced on a whim on my birthday while on a three-week vacation in India. I would lose it in July sometime during an open-bar-at-a-wedding-induced blackout.
In April I went back to Hannover for a long weekend. I visited all our favorite spots from the year I lived there: sang karaoke, drank entirely too much beer and had a tuna melt from Henry’s.
In May I took myself on my first solo vacation, to Nice. And in June I returned to Freiburg only to have my phone stolen whilst I was sleeping.
In September we had a team-building activity in which we climbed and flew between trees many meters up in the air. I was terrified, hated every second of it, and I will never do it again.
I had many heart-to-hearts with my dear friend Kelly; some were awkward and some were not. I ran seven-tenths of a 10K through a park at night in September before succumbing to wrenching knee pain, and started wearing contact lenses in October.
I’ve already got some crazy things lined up for 2013, we shall see how it pans out!