[this will be a long one…]

Finally… I am back. Happy New Year to all of you and all the best wishes for 2006! I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and a fun New Year’s Eve!

I know I owe you over a week of “what’s going on in Sannie’s life” and you’ll get it in pieces. I’ll start with Christmas in Germany today and we’ll see how far I’ll get.

Christmas Eve was amazing. In the morning, I met with Silke, a friend I have known since Kindergarten. I hadn’t seen her in two years, because she’s been living in
Berlin and I haven’t exactly been around much lately… so it was just fantastic that we managed to get together for a couple of hours. We went Downtown to “Coffee Corner” and had some coffee and caught up on the latest news ;)
Time just flew by and after three hours, I took her home and then stopped by at Ira’s place since I wanted to see her again before I left. She and her parents were in the kitchen preparing the Christmas dinner and we sat down for a while to talk. At 3 p.m. I went home and helped my Mom prepare stuff for the evening as well.
I prepared little menu cards with name tags on them and decorated the table.

At 7 p.m. our guests came over. Since Nina and Dirk left for their skiing trip the day before, we were “only” 8 people total – my Mom and Dad, my great-aunt, my Granddad, my aunt and my cousin Bastian and another cousin of my Mom’s. I love having so many people over :)

We had a fabulous three course dinner with a fish appetizer, REHRÃœCKEN with celery-mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and red cabbage and after that we had BRATAPFEL for dessert. So yummy!
We always make a little ceremony out of giving each other gifts… everyone gets a gift at a time and we all participate in the act of unwrapping :) it’s always so much fun!

We had a really great evening and I was really happy that I had the chance to celebrate Christmas with my family this year.



our dinner table my parents and I

On Christmas Day, my Dad and I traditionally visit my godmother and that’s what we did this year again. After lunch time, I also stopped by at my Granddad’s place to see my uncle [my Dad’s brother] and my aunt for Christmas.

The rest of the day I spent with my parents and packing my suitcases.


I got up at 4:30 a.m. with my parents the next morning, because they left for their skiing trip that day. I said good-bye to them and then took a shower and finished up packing my bags. Marita and Jochen were so nice to take me to the train station at 7:30 a.m. – they had also offered to take me to the airport in Cologne, but since there is a non-stop train from
Grevenbroich to the airport, it wouldn’t have been worth driving out there.

I checked in at 10:00 a.m. and then walked to the gate.

My first flight was from Cologne to
Amsterdam. Then I had 4 hours connecting time in
Amsterdam which I passed with walking around and reading. Time went by pretty fast.

I was pretty lucky and very happy when I found out that I had the aisle seat in the first row of the economy class cabin – which meant I had lots of leg space :) I sat next to a French guy who was really nice to talk to. I tried to sleep for a while and I think I napped for a little bit, but couldn’t really find a comfortable position. I brought my Mom’s special pillow along, which I thought would make it easier to rest my head on, but it wasn’t. Oh well. It was ok though.

Finally we arrived in
Minneapolis. Of course, I picked the line at Immigration which was the slowest. Everything went smoothly so far. The guy at Immigration was pretty nice, but then it happened…. they pulled me out. The officer sent me over to the Immigration Service Desk. Someone sent me to get my luggage and I thought they would just do a routinely luggage check or something. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I didn’t really worry… until one of the guys asked me to go into one of their interview rooms with him.

First he was really nice, asked me what the purpose of my visit was and complimented me on my English. Then he started being not so nice anymore, asked me about the address that I put on my I-94 (our address in
Sacramento) and who Jon was. I answered honestly, also explained that we had been living together while I was on my J-1 and that I had been working with the USGS and was supposed to get a work visa, but that they had problems figuring it out. Finally I realized that they were thinking that I came to marry Jon and stay here illegally. I couldn’t believe it.
They asked me for Jon’s phone number, for his parents’ phone number and wanted to know if they would tell them anything different from what I told them if they called them. They also wanted to know my email address AND password – which I wasn’t willing to give out at first, but they told me that they were allowed to ask me for my password. I was really intimidated.

[Now you know why you received this strange email from a different email address.]

So I told them that Jon and I had indeed talked about marriage and that I was here to talk with him and his parents about the options. I also truthfully admitted that there was a chance that we get married while I am here and that this is totally legitimate, but that I know that I have to go back to Germany and apply for a spouse visa and that I do have a job lined up in
Germany starting in February.

The officer kept saying that I should better tell the truth and why I was so nervous… well, wouldn’t you be if you were interrogated like this? I told him that I know the law and that it wouldn’t do me any good to stay here illegally.

Then they left me in that room and called Jon and also talked to his Dad. Unfortunately, Jon totally freaked out when they called him and said that we were only friends and that we both had other partners. Can you imagine that!?
He was probably scared to say something that could make them send me back to
Germany and not letting me in. Fortunately, Jon’s Dad had a good talk with the officer, also explained that we’ve been a couple for 4 years, that he had met my whole family and that we had indeed talked about getting married and that he hoped we would. Obviously, that convinced the officer in so far that I was not planning a marriage for the sole purpose of immigrating to the US.

In the end, they obviously got convinced that I was not planning anything illegal, so they let me go.

They let me call Jon to let him know that I was on my way and damn, was I glad when I finally was on that flight to SFO.

I got in at midnight and there was Jon waiting for me. It was so good to see him.

We waited for my luggage [that they had searched through, too, by the way, and they had taken out my Teewurst :( but fortunately not the beer and Funny Frisch Chips that I brought for Jon.]

We were finally home at around 2 a.m. and went straight to bed. What a day.


I slept in really late on Tuesday, the 27th, since I was so tired. It was great sleeping in our bed again with Jon next to me :)
We didn’t really do much, but make some sandwiches, watch some TV and hang out. I was really jet lagged.

Thursday we left for Pahrump. It took us 8,5 hours to get there. We took I-5 down south and then had to cross the southern end of the Sierrra Nevada. We got there at around 11 p.m. – Dhevan had some pizza ready for us when we arrived and we talked some more with him and his Mom, Patty.

We went to bed at 2:00 a.m. and I slept like a rock. I was really tired from the drive.

The next morning, Jon and Dhevan got up early and rode the dirt bike outside. I slept in and we had “breakfast pizza” at around 11 a.m. Then we put the dirt bike on the truck and went out to the dry lake bed where Jon and Dhevan wanted to ride the dirt bike some more. The weather was awesome (pretty warm for this time of the year) and the view was gorgeous. I took some really cool pictures.



Jon and Dhevan unloading the dirt bike



the dry lake bed Jon on the dirt bike



Sannie in the desert


It’s amazing how deceptive the view is – everything looks so “close” in the desert and turns out to be hundred of meters away. I could have stayed out there forever…

We left after about 2,5 hours, because the dirt bike broke down and went back to Dhevan’s house. Dhevan’s family owns a pizza place, a mini-mart and a bar which is open 7 days a week, so we played some darts at the bar. We had some more pizza at around 5 p.m. and then Jon and Dhevan went into town to gamble ;) and I watched “Shrek 2” on DVD.


… to be continued ASAP!