Bahnventure: A New Record?

Yesterday BV and I really tested the limits of the Bayernticket. Long-time readers may remember my fondness for the sweet sweet deal that is the ‘Bavaria’ ticket. For new folks, here’s the deal…

The Bayernticket (and all its counterparts in the other German federal states), is a train ticket that can be used on nearly every mode of public transportation except for the high-speed ICE trains on any given day. They can be used for up to five people, and the current price is €29 for the first passenger, plus €5 for each additional person. It’s our go-to for pretty much every time we venture out of the greater Nbg area for a day trip. During the week they can’t be used until after 9am, but on the weekends it’s fair game anytime, which comes in very handy on days like yesterday.

Bright and early Sunday morning, we boarded our first train at 6:30. We went from our home station to Fürth (train 1), from there to Nürnberg (train 2), from Nbg to Augsburg (train 3), from Augsburg to Munich (train 4), and finally, Munich to Rosenheim (train 5). It sounds a tad absurd, but everything was bang on time, and we arrived promptly at 10:27. Not bad for the ca. 300km trip!

Our plan was then to pick up a carshare, as we had to get to somewhere slightly less public transportation accessible. We grabbed a coffee, then spent a solid 45 minutes wandering around looking for our car. Due to some construction work at the train station in Rosenheim, the cars had been moved to the other side of the station. While there was a sign where our car was supposed to be, it was tiny and fairly invisible until you got right up to it. It would be nice if the app with our reservation could update the location information, but I guess it’s up to BV if he wants to go all Keyboard Cat on that one.

Eventually though, we found our car and got on about our business of the day. A few hours later, we returned to Rosenheim and perused the snack options for our return trip.

Pretzels (what else?) in hand, we boarded our train at 6:30pm. Our plan was four trains, arriving back home at 11:30.

This time, it went… less to plan. Rosenheim to Munich (train 1) was fine, and in Munich we boarded a train to Nürnberg. There are several options between the two cities, but we’d have to wait another hour for the faster, 1:50 option. Instead, we got on a blissfully empty double-decker that would go over Ingolstadt and Treuchtlingen, and take about 3:30.

There were some storms in the area yesterday and while all we heard was rain slapping against the train window, there were some trees down on part of our route. We wound up having to exit train 2 in Treuchtlingen to an unplanned train 3 from there to Ansbach. Train 3 ended in Ansbach and after a 30-minute wait, it was onto train 4 from Ansbach to Nürnberg. Train 5 got us back to Fürth, and we made it to the last run of our local train (number 6) with just a few minutes to spare. Woof.

We rolled back into our house at 12:44am. Great for a Sunday night, right? Thank goodness my usual Monday morning group wasn’t planning to meet as they moved offices on Friday and we busy settling into their new digs. After 18 hours out of the house and ten hours on trains… nevermind the hiking part of the day… sleeping a bit earlier than usual this morning was not optional.

To be fair, you can’t help the weather, and we knew that this itinerary was pushing it. I still heart the Deutsche Bahn, but I also understand why BV was grumbling about “maybe it’s time for a little car” again by the end of the day. Especially after a solid display of Sunday night crazy people in the  Nürnberg Hauptbahnhof. We should probably take a few more Bahnventures though before we get too crazy with the car shopping. Got a few things in mind already…

An oldie but a goodie. 

 

5/52

2019 in Review

Whew. 2020.

I’m a bit late with last year’s recap post, but I have a good excuse. After saying that we wanted to go to Tuscany for New Year’s since the last time we went in 2012, we actually finally made it there this year. It was full of beautiful, sunny days, lots of reading, lots of relaxing, and veritable mountains of pasta. It was much needed, but we didn’t get back until the 7th and it was pretty much right back into normal life from there.

Anyone who is still regularly checking in here may have noticed that I missed my Sunday photo post last week, and while that was down to me not getting it scheduled before we left, I’ve made a decision. While I’ve enjoyed having a regular excuse to comb through my photo archives, I think I’m going to take a hiatus from them this year. Some months are just… nada. Maybe I’ll come back to them in the future, but not in 2020.

Instead, inspired by the vow of Steven over at Sunshine. Whimsy. Tacos., I’m going to attempt to write here weekly. Or at least often enough that there will be 52 entries when I look at my stats on December 31st. Let’s see how this goes!

Now, onto the recap!

January

Munich in some much-needed sun.

Part of the reason for the general quiet here, which I may have mentioned in my one or two non-photo posts last year, was that I started a new job in December 2018. I was full-time as of January. I’m still doing English training, but it’s a whole new ball game. That meant all new groups starting at once, innumerable names to try to remember, new buildings to find my way around, new everything. It was… a lot. In retrospect, I think I did alright adjusting, but going from a freelance schedule to full time was a shock. I left early, I came home late, I slept like the dead. That was about it.

About the only non-work thing I can remember about January is that we celebrated my 10 years in Europe, and one Saturday we went down to Munich for the day to replace my dying iPhone 6 battery. If anything else of note happened, please tell me.

February

A snow hike around the Eibsee.

In February I ate a lot of Krapfen* (filled doughnuts that are basically thrown at you as you walk past bakeries in the lead-up to Carnival), and at the end of the month we took a fairly spontaneous trip down near Garmisch-Partenkirchen. We didn’t think there would be quite enough snow for snowshoeing, so we just went with snow hiking. It was a good choice.

March

We stuck close to home in March. Just a few walks around town and over the slowly greening fields, and an afternoon with some friends at a craft beer festival in Nürnberg. I’m hoping it takes place again this year as it was pretty quiet, and much closer to home than the BrauKunst! in Munich, which we skipped last year.

April

Spring was upon us, and it was time for some BahnVentures. We opted to go car-free this year, and it was a lot of fun (though a bit more organizing that I usually like to do), to figure out just where we could and couldn’t get to via public transportation. One weekend we met BV’s parents in the Franconian Switzerland for his mom’s birthday lunch and a walk around Weißenohe, and on another weekend we took the train down to the Altmühltal and hiked over to Kipfenburg. I’d seen some cool pictures of the little castle hanging over the town, and it was a perfect day trip.

Kipfenburg

May

The Villager’s had very kindly invited us down to hang out for the weekend with them and celebrate Cinco de Mayo. VillageGuy’s mom comes there every year and makes tamales, and there’s no way I’m saying no to that. We all pitched in to make a tamale assembly line, and before long we had an absolute feast of Mexican goodness.

They had also gotten a huge delivery of their new bee-keeping equipment, and after everyone put some flowers in their hair, BV helped the girls out in assembling the frames.

As per usual, the day before Mother’s Day was the Open House over at the Gardener’s. We baked a few cakes to contribute to the extremely laden table, and inspected the goods for sale.

Also as per usual, we used BV’s May birthday as a good excuse for a getaway. He’s been wanting to go to the Auvergne region of France for years, despite remembering nearly nothing besides “hills and kind of volcanoes” from his childhood trips there. But hey, why not? We flew to Lyon, spent two (aka, not nearly enough) nights there, and then rented a car to tour around for the rest of the week. We will go back.

Lavaudieu, France

June

Hochlandhütte, Bayern

Itchy feet a few weeks after our vacation meant an impromptu hiking trip. We took the train down to Mittenwald, and hiked to the Hochlandhütte. It was a hair more challenging than we had anticipated for our first tour of the year, and definitely hadn’t thought we’d still find snow after the early summer weather, but we made it in the end. We even got to see some mountain goats! Again, we will be back.

Pictures of pictures of the view from Neuschwanstein.

One of my oldest friends came to visit us during the Pentecost holidays. Wanting to see as much as possible in a short time, and show her some of the Alps, we spent a few days in Franconia and then headed south. We stayed in Garmisch-Partenkirchen again, as there’s a ton to do do there, and drove over to Neuschwanstein as well. Then it was back to Munich for a day before she flew out. The American whirlwind tour, as it were.

July

The view from the Lenggrieser Hütte.

Out of public holidays, July was back to normal. Even after all these years, that feels wrong in mid-summer. Oh well. We did manage to escape one weekend, taking BV’s little brother on a promised hiking trip to the Lenggrieser Hütte.

August

What to do if you don’t have kids and thus aren’t forced to take vacation in August? Eat ice cream and drink beer.

Allgäu, Bayern

What to do if you have an August birthday and still want to escape? Learn that there’s a single train going directly from Nürnberg to the Allgäu region on Friday afternoons! I booked a last-minute decent hotel deal, and off we went. 36 was celebrated amongst the cows.

September

Südtirol, I love you so.

After last year’s entirely too short trip, we decided to join the Gardener’s and the Tuscan’s for an entire glorious week in South Tyrol. The trip was wonderful, but it was more than a little exhausting… we were going from morning til night and pretty much operating entirely in German. Though I do have to say, after a bit of a crash on Wednesday, I got on an upswing and was feeling a lot better about my Deutsch skillz by the end of the trip! And with some solo hikes with BV (aka, English time), and views like these, who am I to complain, really?

I speak very good Deutsch hier, ja?

October

Back to reality, sigh. Lots of walks around town, enjoying the last days of autumn. Also, did I mention we got bees? The Gardener gifted BV a colony for his birthday, and they’ve been residing in our garden since June or July. No honey this year, but hopefully next year. Anyway, in October we suited up in our sweet sweet bee suits, and winterized the hive. Fingers pressed that they’re still there in spring!

November

The Dorf Thanksgiving tradition continued again, with us hosting the party for ten. Another evening full of entirely too much food, a lot of laughs, and hopefully comfortable enough chairs for everyone. If not, Marry needs to step up her quality checks.

December

Pre-Christmas madness. Markets, cookies around every turn, the usual. Unfortunately we couldn’t sort out a decent day to do our usual cookie baking party with the Villagers. But they’ve relocated to Amberg where I was working on Thursdays, which meant we could meet on my last day out there and do a cookie exchange instead.

The family celebration this year was low-key as usual, just BV’s parents and brother, who all came over on the 24th for duck. BV and I had a relaxed day at home on the 25th, and on the 26th we left for ten sun-soaked days in Tuscany. Hopefully more on that to come.

Poppi, Tuscany

The view from Santa Lucia

Whew. And that’s it! I think… at least.

To summarize, here’s what IG gave me as my top nine for the year.

If you don’t follow me there, by all means, go for it! @heatherinde, and hopefully next year looks as colorful and varied as this one.

Thanks as always to those of you who read, and have continued to do so even through the quieter times here. Hope 2020 treats us all well!

 

 

 

*These are often called Berliner, but have many many many names, depending where in Germany you are. But here in Franken, they’re Krapfen.

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?

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.