And Suddenly, It Was May

May 1st, Labor Day here in Germany. For perhaps the first time since I moved here, I actually feel like I’ve earned the day off this year. I do however, feel guilty about the lack of work I’ve been doing in this space.

To say that the first four months of this year flew by would be a gross understatement. Even having a reduced workload for the last two weeks due to Easter school holidays didn’t offer me much time to spend on the internet. Or at least, not this kind of internetting. But here we are, the third short week in a row and I have a minute to check in.

It also occurred to me that for the past two Mays, I have tried to do some sort of writing challenge. I very briefly entertained the thought of doing that again this month, but there’s just no way I can muster up that kind of energy.

So what’s keeping me so busy? My new gig, aka the first full-time job I’ve had in ten years. Turns out working 40 hours a week plus commuting time doesn’t leave tons of extra time for… anything, really. We’ve been trying to plan meals out a bit better, and BV has taken over more of the weeknight cooking responsibilities. But yoga has been tricky to fit in, baking and more ambitious cooking has to wait for the weekends… you know, all those things that normal adults manage to fit around full-time jobs. I’m still trying to figure all of it out. It’s a good thing, I think, thus far.

I’m still technically freelance because German bureaucracy moves slower than a snail. I thought we’d be able to transition my work permit back in March, but when we went to my appointment, my Beamter was on vacation. Slight miscommunication there. We then spent three weeks trying to get him on the phone (as instructed, by the gal who WAS there that day), before giving up and emailing him yet again. We now have an appointment in two weeks, conveniently right before we leave on vacation. It would be nice if that week off was covered by my shiny-new vacation days, but I don’t know if it’ll work out that easily.

On the plus side, we’ll be in France. So even if it’s not paid, it’ll still be France. I cannot wait.

While everyone else in Germany seemed to be protesting, in a Biergarten, or perhaps both of those things, we had a pretty low-key day. We did some stuff around the house that needed doing, and I went out for a long walk.

Now BV is back in the spare room tinkering with more odds and ends, and I’m about to do some yoga and head to bed early. Thursdays I leave the house at 6am and no matter how disciplined I try to be, making myself go to sleep at a reasonable hour on Wednesday never goes according to plan.

So that’s it in a nutshell. Light work on Labor Day is acceptable, right?

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7 Years

Today marks seven years in Germany.

I happened to have the day off, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I’ve been yearning to do a summer Bahn-venture… something I haven’t done in ages. I decided a few weeks back that on the next nice midweek day when I was off and had nothing to do, I was going to buy myself a Bayern ticket and head down to the Tegernsee. Why there? Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve only been once and have wanted to go back ever since. If everything works out perfectly (hear that Deutsche Bahn? Perfectly?), I won’t have more than five or six hours, but that’s enough time to wander around the lake, eat  or drink somewhere with a view, and stick my feet in that bluest of water.

Did I do that today? Nope.

Why? Well, that whole stipulation I had about “nothing to do.” Due to the perfect storm of paperwork nonsense, I had more than enough to do. I have a meeting tomorrow and was woefully behind on my bs paperwork that I’ll need to bring in… not for the meeting itself but generally speaking. So, to celebrate my seventh Germaniversary, I was responsible. That’s the real way to celebrate living here, right?

I did let myself slack a bit. I slept in until almost nine, then went for a joggy walk. A quick yoga video back here, then it was into the shower. While plotting my strategy for today, I had come up with an elaborate system of rewards for myself because I’m basically one of Pavlov’s dogs, and thus also had to run down to the store.

Rose and a bottle of Sekt was in order for the evening, and I also grabbed a bag of peanut M&M’s, a container of blueberries, and a few other odds and ends. My strategy was this: for every piece of stupid paperwork (all 43 that I had to do), I got to have two blueberries, or M&M’s when the blueberries were gone.

This sounds insane, I know. But it worked. Mostly.

I brought the blueberries outside with me, but ended up having to move them into the stairwell when they actually started to cook. A couple of them burst from the heat… not exactly the cool treat I needed. The M&M’s were retrieved from the fridge when the blueberries were gone, but they stayed up at the top of the stairs where it was coolest. Plus I got bonus movement after each accomplished task. This was very satisfying.

Several hours later, with possibly a slight sunburn and innumerable flies killed, I finished. It’s basically a miracle. By this time, BV had gotten home, laden with  groceries for his planned dinner. Since I didn’t know how long today’s nonsense was going to take me, I had told him that dinner was his responsibility. He’s been wanting to make this Vietnamese Spring Roll recipe that he found online for awhile so this was the perfect opportunity.

Tomorrow it’ll be back to class, then off to a meeting. Same on Friday, before a little camping/bonfire party down at the Villagers’ place. We’ve also got World Cup group round fever going on, which will pick up the pace in the next week or so. There’s a lot happening right now, basically.

It feels a little trite to write all this at the moment, given everything that’s dominated the news cycle in the last week. But, honestly, I’m happy to have something to celebrate. I don’t give much of a crap about birthdays, but successfully surviving seven years here without major incident or being thrown out of the country seems like a decent thing to get excited about.

BV asked me earlier how it’s been, and that is so hard to define. There have been bad times, like the first few months of emotional fuckery, the times I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to stay, the months of slow work… those have been hard. But there’s been so. much. good. Finding our way into this relationship… that’s one. Silly things, like successfully making the first phone appointment in German, or becoming regular enough at the farmer’s market to get an extra onion or two thrown in your bag for free. Those are the small, every day victories that make you feel like you can actually belong in a place.

The language is still very much a work in progress, but I’m less hesitant than I was before. Work is work, and there’s a lot that I enjoy and a bit that I could do without. But the classes that I have at the moment will occasionally surprise the hell out of me, or someone will express their relief to have my support at juuuuust the right moment to make it that much more worth it. Those moments keep me going. I’m still on the fence as to if it’s what I want to be doing forever, but as of now, it’s good.

And the possibility. There’s still so much possibility stretched out in front of me. For example, I posted this little travel bingo template the other day on my Instagram stories…

Template via Montgomeryfest

While there’s no problem with Europe, it seems there’s still a lot to cover there and beyond. The small problem is that I’ve been looking at several places in South America and I’m now coming from the super-inconvenient direction. Whoops. It seems like there have been a lot of really good deals from the States this year, because it seems like half of my timeline has been south of the equator. But I’m going to have to wait. *sigh*

Back to German possibilities, here’s hoping that I can get in a good Bahn-venture sometime soon. Summer is in full swing, classes are impossibly unpredictable, it should be within reach. And we’ll be in the vicinity of the Tegernsee in just a few short weeks for a long weekend with BV’s parents, so maybe we can slide that into the itinerary. Let’s see.

Until then, please enjoy this photo of me… not in Germany, but in South Tyrol last month, which is not Italian but not German but not Austrian either. They can’t be pinned down. But I’m in my natural habitat here. Awkwardly smug smile, camera in hand, (low) mountains in back.

31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 25

Who was the last person to knock on your door?

This is particularly relevant due to how today began. I slept pretty badly, as our room has been a virtual oven for the last two weeks, and when I did manage to sleep, Marry came in to party on our heads. She hasn’t been coming in too much at night when it’s been hot lately, but last night she passed through several times.

As I mentioned yesterday, my usual Monday class was off today. That meant that even when I woke up in the middle of the night, I figured I’d be okay today since I didn’t have to get up at 6:30 like I usually do.

Cut to 6:45 this morning, and the doorbell rings. Who was it at such an unholy hour?

Yep, Ye Olde Chimney Sweep.

We had an appointment for this morning, but the card has been next to the door for so long that we had both completely forgotten about it. Whoops. BV flew out of bed, threw on clothes, and took off to let him in. Not the most relaxing start to the day, but at least I could go back to sleep for a bit.

In case anyone is wondering, the appointment time is decidedly NOT our choice. He comes 2-3 times a year, and sets our appointment time based on what time our landlord (the former resident) wanted. We could change it, but it’s just easier to let him come at the ass-crack of dawn and complain about it then to try to find alternatives.

Up until recently I assumed we were on the early part of his route and so that was why our time was always so absurd. 6:45 is actually late… it’s often 6:15 or 6:30. But then one day I was walking around town at about 9:30am, and saw his truck go by. I thought he’d be three villages away by that time, but it seems we’re just the early-bird suckers.

I still find the whole “we have a dedicated chimney sweep” thing to be kind of funny. If anyone had told me at 22 that this would be a consistent part of my life at nearly-35, I would’ve looked at them like they had three heads. Our house growing up had a fireplace, but I really don’t remember someone coming to clean it with anything like this kind of regularity.*

I guess this is just one of those unexpected things.

*Insert future edit here if/when my dad corrects me on this one.

*****

Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, which will possibly now extend into June to compensate for the vacation gap, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 24

Tomorrow I will…

start what looks like the first full 5-day work week that I’ve had in a hot minute. May is well and truly over, sadly.

I’m not being thrown completely in though, as my Monday morning group is cancelled for the next two weeks due to their many business trips. Instead I’ll try to get up early enough to get a walk/jog in before finishing up the paperwork I didn’t get to on Friday when my computer went on the warpath.

In the afternoon I’m off for two classes at one company (at least, as far as I know… the chances of one cancelling on me is fairly high as I got a rare Sunday email from one saying that she’s unexpectedly heading north this evening), and then back into Nürnberg for an individual lesson in the early evening. I’ve tried to restrict classes after 6pm because I hate not getting home until 8:00, but this is a short-term thing so it’s not such a pain.

Especially this time of year it’s all about getting those little extra bits in where you can. May is rife with public holidays, sure, but that doesn’t mean anything. Now in June and July many of my students without kids will be getting their summer holidays in, while the parents take theirs in August and the beginning of September here in Bavaria. Either way, my teaching schedule will pretty much be all over the damn place until then, and not many new classes start this time of year. More time to enjoy the nice weather, I guess?

Pending a train crisis, I’ll be home at 8, and then it’ll be time to figure out dinner. We skipped the usual Saturday shopping trip yesterday so the fridge is looking pretty bleak. I can either throw BV to the wolves and tell him that since he’ll be home so much earlier, he can figure out dinner, or grab some quick essentials on my way back here. The Tegut that opened up a few months ago near the Fürth train station is one of the best things that’s happened since I moved out here to the ‘burbs. Before that, there was nothing anywhere near that train station, besides the farmer’s market. That was legitimately mystifying to me. The market is great, but if you want anything besides produce, or get there too late, you were outta luck. But now, it’s a veritable paradise of goodies whether the market is open or not. Good times for all!

*****

Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, which will possibly now extend into June to compensate for the vacation gap, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 23

Note: When scheduling posts it is helpful to click “okay” BEFORE shutting the computer. Sigh.

This morning while on my walk/jog, I got to thinking about an Intro to Anthropology class I took my first semester of college. I, perhaps foolishly, thought that the intro classes would be easy, but that was definitely not the case for this professor. It was an interesting but demanding class, and midway through the semester a fair number of the students in there were struggling to keep their grades up.

The professor told us that if we wanted to help our averages, we were welcome to come to her to discuss options. One suggestion was that students could do some sort of extra project, or presentation on their experiences with another culture. A friend of mine was taking the same class at a different time, and did just that. I’m a bit fuzzy on the details here, but I think that friend had done a similar trip as I had done with my high school French class, and thought that perhaps a presentation on that could help her out. That’s a cultural experience, right?

Nope.

Not according to that professor, at least. Ouch. As much as we were in the bubble of being on an organized class trip, that French trip for me was fairly life-changing. I knew right then and there that I would 100% find a way to travel again, preferably live somewhere else if I could.

And here we are.

On one hand, I can understand the professor’s perspective. We DIDN’T have much experience of the world, or other cultures. But c’mon lady! You’re teaching an Intro to Anthropology class at a public university in northern Wisconsin… most of the students in here are barely 18, the vast majority are from this state or the one next door… how high are your expectations? If people went on vacation to Florida instead of “up north” regularly, we thought they were full-on globetrotters.

One student in my class did manage to give a presentation on his idea of a cultural experience, and I guess she found it interesting enough to give him some extra credit. He was a few years older than most other people in the class and had taken a few years off to work and travel before coming back to school. That helps. He’d worked on a sheep farm somewhere in Ireland (or maybe Scotland), for some time, and lived with the family while he was there. Not the *most* exotic thing I’ve ever heard, but at least he got the chance to talk about it.

I wonder if I’d have enough material now to give a presentation… hmm.

*****

Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, which will possibly now extend into June to compensate for the vacation gap, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 15

Thanks to the beauty of Facebook (sometimes), I recently reconnected with my old boss at the museum in Wisconsin. We exchanged a few messages and she referred to me as “such a gypsy.” It’s been rolling around in my head for a few days now, and it seems strange to me. I mean, I’m not. At all.

She was there when this whole thing kicked off, giving me a little going-away party in her house, where the ladies that I worked with wished me well on my big adventure. And it was an adventure. In many ways, it still is. But am I now a gypsy? Not even a bit.

So what happened? I moved to Prague. When I arrived, I planned on a month for my TEFL course, and then it was a big old question mark. I opted to stay, and remained there for more than two years. Not settled, by any means, in our transient apartment of Lost Boys and Girls, but not exactly roaming.

Then I came to Germany. In less than a month, I’ll celebrate my seventh German anniversary, in which time I lived on my own for about two years, and then with BV. Two apartments, one boyfriend, one cat (SHEEP CAT), and kilometers upon kilometers of train travel. That’s as gypsy as it’s gotten here.

Occasionally I feel like I should be wandering more. Isn’t that what I left the U.S. to do, after all? And I do feel like I (with BV now in tow), do a fair amount of traveling when we can. I’m no digital nomad, but nor do I think I really want to be. Clearly I’ve enjoyed having my own space, a kitchen full of appliances, a catio for Marry to hang out on… these are all good things. And I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon. The German government was kind enough to let me stay for another three years, so I’m clear through 2020 with no worries.

But part of me still thinks of myself as the person who moved abroad with two suitcases. As I wrote yesterday, I moved in with a fully-functioning adult who came with a whole house full of his personal history. And I may have started with two suitcases back in January of 2009, but thanks to care packages from home, and the need to sometimes NOT wear something that I’ve owned for more than ten years, I now have… kind of a lot of shit. I need to start realizing that I don’t need to keep holding onto this stuff because it’s just for now and it’s all I have.

It’s been years, and I have too much shit… again. I’ve got boots that were fairly trendy when I was hitting the Milwaukee bars before I left. They are no longer fairly trendy, and they’re worn to shit. Yet they’re in the cabinet. I’ve got piles of things that no longer fit, maybe never fit, now that I look back at pictures. Ideally I’d like to list things online to sell, but how much time and energy will that take versus how much will I realistically make from it? Debatable.

The bottom line is that BV and I now have piles of things that are not functional in our lives. We are not gypsies by any means, but even the thought of packing up all this nonsense and moving it once makes me tired.

I may have moved abroad for an adventure, and I’ve had a few. At this point though, I’m more settled, and sometimes settled people need to do things like purge their closets. And offices, and ancient shoe collection, and and and. I’m a normal human here. My German may still be shit and I may be a freelancing lone wolf, but I can at least have a clean closet.

By the end of this summer, it shall be done.

*****

Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, which will possibly now extend into June to compensate for the vacation gap, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 1

Ah, May. How I have missed you. Having the first day of the month off as a public holiday really does serve as the perfect kick-off to summer. The day dawned a bit drippy and gray, but around noon the clouds parted and by mid-afternoon it was high time for a walk through the forest.

We had heard that the Felsenkeller, a great local spot, was under new ownership, and indeed it is. Previously this old barn in the forest was staffed by a fairly elderly couple, with an extra person or two helping out occasionally. They served Zirndofer beer, some basic Brotzeit staples, and a few other odds and ends. No more.

We came around from the other side of the barn today, and we heard it before we got there. That it was busy was no surprise on a day like this, but I was shocked. They’ve easily doubled the amount of tables outside, and added a tented area with sand and kiddie-sized tables. Tap beers were poured outside as well, and there was a trailer for the sausages and grill specialties. The Grüner brewery from Fürth has taken over ownership, and it’s a whole new vibe.

I’ve got nothing against them doing a brisk business on a beautiful day, but the staff running around in branded t-shirts and wires in their ears was a far cry from the old folks behind the bar. I did like the Lederhosen on a few of the staffers, but… it’s different.  As long as there’s a Biergarten under the trees in walking distance, I’m happy, so hopefully this will remain a favorite summer spot.

The days getting longer and warmer has made me a bit itchy again this year. I’ve had a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head lately and think the time is ripe for another attempt at a writing challenge. I’ll shoot for 15 minutes per day at least again, and be putting it up here for accountability purposes. Let’s see how we go.  Day 1 down, with a mere three minutes to midnight. Strong start.

Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

Blown Cover

Ah, Germany. Most of my day-to-day interactions at this point go fairly smoothly. I can get in and out of most normal situations without incident, and only occasionally end up with two extra slices of bread (Brot) instead of two more beers (in that case, Rotbier) in a crowded and loud restaurant.

Tuesday was not one of those days.

A stand in the Fürth Market

When I came up into the Farmers’ Market in front of the Fürth train station, I was already a little bit out of sorts. I’m currently dragging myself out of bed at 6:30am on Tuesdays for one class. Though I do like the group quite a lot, it hardly seems worth it on those cooooold winter mornings. This Tuesday was especially frigid, and so on my way home I decided to go the long way around, taking a bus to an U-Bahn to another U-Bahn to my train back home. My thought process was that this way I would at least be in a vehicle the entire route, rather than taking a bus directly to my train. That would have meant at least 15 minutes of pacing the train platform in order to keep my feet from freezing while waiting for that train.

Got all that? No? Clearly, my overtired self didn’t either, as I completed neglected to realize that would delay my arrival home by 30 minutes. *headdesk*

Anyway. That finally occurred to me as I was ascending the escalator in Fürth and noted the time. Like I said… very tired. This is all a very long way of saying that my head was not functioning at this point in time, and I was already fairly confused (not to mention feeling like a dummy).

I figured the best course of action was to at least do something useful while I had a few minutes at the station, and I headed over to the market. I knew I needed broccoli and cauliflower for dinner that night, and circled around the market until I found my favorite stand. Naturally, they weren’t open.

The next stand appeared to be open, or at least stocked. However, there was still quite a bit of the blue tarp covering up one end, so I tentatively wandered around, wondering if they were still setting up for the day, or if that was just to block out the wind.

I was still in my slight daze when I was surprised to find the woman at the stand talking to me. Sometimes you can just walk in and help yourself, but if they aren’t busy, they do help you collect your goods. She asked me what I wanted and I completely blanked.

What do I want?

Cauliflower.

What’s the word?

Oh God. Rosenkohl? No, that’s brussels sprouts… shit. What is it?

Not cauliflower.

I stammered and sputtered as I walked closer to the veggies, not even seeing the stupid cauliflower. I spotted the broccoli and though, yes, that too! Broccoli! I know that word!

Of course, what came out of my mouth was a very-American sounding version of broccoli and not Brokkoli, which sounds very much how the Count on Sesame Street would pronounce the word (minus the ha-ha-ha afterwards).

The woman was just finishing grabbing my head of broccoli and turned expectantly to see if I needed anything else.

My head was still rattling through different versions of Rosenkohl when I finally saw the cauliflower. I wasn’t able to read the sign but something clicked into place and Blumenkohl finally flew out of my mouth mid-stammer. But the damage was done.

“Where are you from?” she asked in German.

America, I replied.*

“Ahhh, the best land,” she replied, in English. Knock me over with a feather.

“How long?” she asked, in German again.

Huh? Did she just ask how long? Or did I mishear her and did she ask if I want anything else? Oh God, she’s staring at me and I am such a spaz today what is happening?

“Sechs Jahre,” I venture.

“Sechs?” she looks confused. What?

Apparently I need to speak up… I repeat years.

She then asked if I was in language school, or just learned by speaking. By speaking, I answer. I would hope that actually having had lessons would have avoided this complete brain malfunction. But, who knows?

She wished me a good day, and I did the same, hustling towards my train.

Though she was perfectly friendly, I still spent the whole rest of the day kicking myself for being so tongue-tied over a perfectly normal human interaction. Everyone forgets words, right? In your own language as well as a foreign one… these things happen.

I spend a good majority of my time here trying to blend in. As much as I enjoy visitors, I hate speaking English on the train because I feel like everyone is listening. When BV and I are out and about, we tend to speak a lot more German than we do at home, specifically for this reason. Anytime I feel like my cover is blown, I feel a bit like a fraud. I’m all about pretending like I belong here, and it’s all fun and games until I open my mouth.

Blumenkohl. I had better not blank on that one again.

Whomp, there it is.

Have you had a super-simple brain fart? Tell me about it in the comments, it’ll make me feel better. Danke! 🙂

 

*Also not the best answer, I know. But it’s reflexive and comes out much easier than USA or Vereinigte Staaten, both of which I completely mangle the German pronunciations of.

 

 

Expat/Immigrant Qs

When I ran across this Q&A post earlier today on the very enjoyable blogs of Bev and Ami, I thought “that sounds like a good topic for a rainy day.” Turns out, it was a rather lovely day here but I’m home alone and have watched everything new… so there’s no time like the present!

Some people call me an expat, some may call me an immigrant, but either way I’m an American in a place that isn’t the United States. Let’s talk about it, shall we?

1. WHERE WERE YOU BORN, WHERE DID YOU GROW UP AND WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

I was born in Menomonee Falls, WI, lived in Milwaukee until I was seven, then we moved to Eagle, WI. Eagle is mostly known for its smiley-faced water tower, and that’s about it. After a stint in Prague, I moved to Nuremberg in 2011, and eventually here to the ze Dorf outside Nuremberg in 2013.

Our village has a castle, and the castle has this cool gateway.

2. WHAT MADE YOU LEAVE YOUR HOME COUNTRY

Floating in a sea of “what now?” post-college, I decided that my best bet to travel while still making money was to get a TEFL certification and try to teach English. I had no idea how long I wanted to do it for, and where I would end up going, but nearly nine years on I guess it has worked out okay for me.

3. WHAT TYPE OF REACTIONS DO YOU GET WHEN YOU MEET NEW PEOPLE AND TELL THEM WHERE YOU ARE FROM?

This has definitely shifted in the last year and change. It used to be an “okay, cool, where in the U.S.?” and now it’s a decidedly less relaxed conversation, thanks to 45. Germans have been pretty used to an American presence in most places since the end of the Second World War, so we aren’t really anything that new and exciting here. I do find the reactions of military-affiliated Americans funny sometimes, in that they’re confused by what I’m doing here of my own volition.

4. WHAT WAS THE EASIEST/HARDEST PART IN ADJUSTING TO YOUR NEW COUNTRY?

After coming from Prague, a lot of things seemed really easy. The paperwork had some sense of order to it, whether or not everything was being done correctly, was something I wouldn’t get into trouble with for a couple years though. The hardest part was not being surrounded by a group of built-in friends right from the get-go. I’ve found people here but it took some time, and if you’re not the most outgoing, social person in the world (introverts unite! Separately!) making friends here can be tricky. The good news is that once you are friends with someone here, they are sticking around. To me, that’s invaluable.

One of the first girls I met here six years ago got married in June. It was lovely.

5. IMAGES, WORDS OR SOUNDS THAT SUM UP THE EXPAT EXPERIENCE YOU’VE HAD SO FAR.

In Prague it was the sound of the tram. My bedroom window overlooked a stop where six trams stopped during the day and four at night. The drivers ring the bell every time they start so that sound is inextricably linked with Prague in my brain. In Germany, it’s a lot of things… Red trains. Red trains for days. Alpine bells, or the sound of the rooster next door crowing. The smell of roasted almonds at the summer festivals, or that smell mingling with the scent of Glühwein at the Christmas markets.

Red trains > other trains.

6. YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD OR DRINK ITEM IN YOUR NEW COUNTRY

Käsespätzle is life. Not to mention a frosty glass of whatever local beer is on tap (minus Tucher, that is).

Kirchweih libations.

7. WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU SAID “YES” TO IN YOUR NEW CITY THAT YOU WOULDN’T SAY “YES” TO, BACK HOME?

Probably spending as much time on public transportation as I do here. First of all, where I grew up there was no public transportation. If I wanted to find a public bus, I’d have to drive 30 minutes in Waukesha, and get on a bus there. Doesn’t make much sense, really. I took a Greyhound one time in college and that was enough to freak me out on the Greyhound experience. The only times I can remember taking anything like public transportation was a shuttle bus down to the Milwaukee lakefront for Summerfest, a Brewer game, or some other sort of special event. Otherwise it was all cars, all the time.

8. ARE THERE ANY CULTURAL NORMS/PHRASES IN YOUR NEW COUNTRY WHICH YOU CANNOT STAND?

Sometimes I’m amazed that Germans are able to get anything done when they spend half of their lives shaking hands. I now know that if BV and I have to leave a family gathering, it’s necessary to start that process about an hour before we actually plan to leave, especially if we have to catch a train. Give me an “Irish Exit” any day of the week, because to me, that’s better than demanding people’s attention, interrupting conversations, etc. in order to have a formal goodbye.

Additionally, I’ve found that since a good deal of my classes have taken place in more technically-oriented companies, I’ve had to hear a fair amount of “women be shopping” sort of jokes (or half-jokes) from my mostly male groups. My usual strategy is to laugh it off and give them a bit of shit for that attitude, but I’m really not a fan. I have also tried out the tactic of switching the discussion to their hobbies because guess what? All that specialized sporting equipment, all those electronic toys and gadgets you have at home? Those are not cheap, buddy. Just because you only have two pairs of shoes does not mean you are a supreme example of fiscal responsibility. Most of these guys would say that women and men are equal in their companies, and in Germany as a whole, but they have a long way to go on a lot of things here.*

9. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST DOING IN YOUR NEW COUNTRY?

Any frequent readers of this blog can answer this one, I think. Get me south to the Alps and I am a happy camper.

Hiking in Austria this August.

10. DO YOU THINK YOU WILL EVER MOVE HOME FOR GOOD?

That is a question that I have a hard time answering. Never say never is usually a good philosophy for me, but the chaotic way that things seem to be unraveling at the moment makes me lean towards no way. If something should happen that means I do have to go “home” for a period of time, that’s one thing. But after nearly nine years gone? In those nine years, I think I’ve seen enough of this way of life to make me confident that this is what I want, and what fits the life I want to live best.

The water of the Eibsee is as refreshing as it looks.

 

*Not that the U.S. is doing much better at the moment.

31-Day Challenge: Day 25

Today was Father’s Day in Germany, but since it’s conveniently paired up with the Ascension of Christ holiday, pretty much everybody has the day off.  Most men, fathers or not, typically spend this day dragging wagons of beer around while they gallivant with their friends. The ones that do spend time with their families are almost deserving of a special reward, or at least so says the internet.

Last year I remember spending most of the sunny day laying out in the garden with a book. At some point during the day, a literal tractor full of youths starting circling the village, blasting music as they drank their way up and down the streets. This year it was much quieter, so perhaps they decided to drive their tractor on over to another town.

We’re still in recovery mode from vacation, and were in thorough need of a real day off. I did a little bit of cleaning and sorting of things, and BV did some more work out in the garden. He’s now made a permanent spot for the tripod, but we’ll still need to make a real fire circle to go around it. But, baby steps. He’s also got the day off tomorrow, and the weather is supposed to be glorious for some more weekend barbecue action.

As far as I know, I have two classes in the morning, and it seems that myself and my two students will be the only people working in the country. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, as we haven’t met in a few weeks due to my vacation last week and their schedules prior to that. Also this is the same company that asked for a trial lesson during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. In my nearly six years in Germany, that has only happened once. Still weird.

The good news is though, that I’ll be done at noon, home by one, and can relax after that. I’d like to take a crack at getting the garden in order this weekend, but that would involve driving to the Gardener, and I’m not sure BV plans on starting the car again until Monday. There are worse ways to spend the weekend than not doing anything. And given how packed June and July are, we’ll be rather short on relaxation time.

As of right now, we’ve got a friend’s party, a Polterabend, and a wedding in June, then one free weekend before we leave for vacation. Chances are though, that the last free weekend will be filled with either an invitation to BV’s parents, or them wanting to come to us for grilling, and then that’ll be shot too. I know time flies when you’re having fun and all, but this girl needs her quiet time. Classes are pretty much running as scheduled as well, so not much chance of a break there. But vacation is looming and that’s what I’m shooting for. Last week was fantastic, like a little appetizer. We can get there.