A Completly Partial View On Germany By A German

“I know what Germans are. They are funny people. They are always choosing someone to lead them in a direction they don’t want to go to.”

[Gertrude Stein]

Don’t worry.

This is not a post directed at quenching all of your German stereotypes. Most of them are quite flattering, so I for one would really like to keep it that way. As for the rest, the unflattering ones, ah well, you can’t have the cake and eat it, right?!

I’m not entirely sure what direction this post is going to take (and since I rarely edit, which you may have noticed, I won’t know until I finish it), so bear with me.

Even though, I’m designing this post to have the least overall educational value possible, I really can’t get by without one of those boring pull-down maps. If you are afraid a quick look at this map might reduce your remaining brain capacity or even worse drudge up long repressed memories about boring yourself to sleep in 9th grade world geography, you have my permission to shut your eyes firmly and scroll down very quickly.

Notice how small the state of “Bayern” is compared to the rest of Germany? That’s “Bavaria” our own German “Texas” (for all you American readers). This is where all the Bier, Bratwurst and Lederhosen fun is to be had. The rest of the country is basically just a useless appendage (similar to Paris and France).

[For all of you interested in tidbits of personal information about myself, I hail from the overpopulated state of “Nordrhein-Westfalen”, which is probably most famous for it’s “Karneval”-celebration, but we’ll get to that later]

The ultimate thing anybody visiting any state of this country has to be aware of, is that soccer to the average German is not a sport or a pass-time or something as idle as a passion. It’s a religion.

[sidenote: If you think you recognize a certain raised arm gesture from the black and white TV era of 1939 – 9145, let me assure you, it’s not the same thing. We tried our luck with an odd little man from Austria once and we all agree that it might not have been our slickest move, historically speaking]

If this reminds you of a friendly game of Quidditch (c’me on Harry Potter fans, I know you know what I’m talking about!), well, let’s just say don’t be fooled by appearances. There might not be a lot of forbidden spells going around, but things can get quite heated up at times. Don’t believe me? Well, you asked for it:

Granted, this isn’t a German stadium. I think it’s Croatian. Also I believe the visiting team might be English. So I’ve taken some creative liberties. Don’t we all?

[sidenote: Bengalo fires are forbidden in German Soccer Stadiums, which doesn’t mean they are not used, it just means that the YouTube material on them is pretty slim]

Where was I? Yes, soccer. Apart from the obvious stadium frenzy, which in itself might have a cult like appearance, a lot more goes into this religious devotion to the God that is soccer around these parts.

Depending on where you live the design of your home might not be up to you.

Blue and white isn’t your colour of choice? Well tough luck. Move to the next town over and try to deal with yellow and black if you prefer that.

But it doesn’t stop there. I don’t think I have to mention that you can get married in stadiums or buried on their own personal graveyards and that many a believer in soccer has named his or her first child after one of the famed players.

No, no, no. All of this is just embellishment. Forget the unspoken law of not wearing the wrong colour combination in the wrong town or not (under any circumstances) divulging high risk information (such as that you live two towns over). Never mind all of that.

via wikimedia.org

Soccer reaches out into the most sacred of sacred to us Germans and touches the most holy of holy: Our cars!

I bet you thought it was Mercedes and Beemer cruising all the way on our famed German “Autobahn” (largely without speed limits! American teens always love this part!). Right?

[Out of consideration for your eardrums, I would advise you to move your audio settings to low before watching this clip on “how to pass a truck – German style”.

Well, not if you are a devoted servant to the great God of soccer it isn’t!

Although I’m realize that the majority of you isn’t fluid in German, I think you might enjoy this educational clip on dangers of sporting the wrong colours in the wrong town at the wrong time (please jump to 0.24 to avoid unnecessary and completely useless German banking information).

So now that we’ve all agree that soccer is indeed God around these parts, let me finish up this part of my completely partial view of Germany with some impressions from our greatest religious holiday: The 2006 soccer world cup in Germany!

And it wasn’t just the Germans partaking in this religious ritual either. We had pilgrims from all over the world join in on our festivities.

Now before you get the idea that Germans are extremely religious and don’t know how to let loose and have some fun, let me introduce you to the insanity that is “Karneval”.

Karneval has it all:

The music that has you swinging on the dance floor:

Parades (including floats, candy, costumes and drunks):

Young girls in short skirts tumbling around on stages (I think the American readers would refer to them as cheerleaders):

And parties in the street (resembling Woodstock, obviously with a better soundtrack and less skin)

Oh and did I mention this craziness lasts a total of four days? That’s right. You heard me. Four. Days. Now who’s overworked, a stickler to rules and doesn’t know how to have a good time?

But we don’t stop there. Oh no! About two weeks after Halloween’s passed and you are still recovering from the ongoing sugar high in the states, Germans decide to celebrate with a night of lanterns, parades, bonfires, singing and yes: Candy.

And yet, Germany is much more than beer, lederhosen, bratwurst, karneval, soccer and St. Martin.

But that, dear fellow travellers, is another journey.

For now, let us welcome Sideshow Bob and his views on Germans to take us out:

Last Night You Saved My Life – Or At Least My Sanity

“Life is a crisis – so what!”

 

[Malcolm Bradbury]

 

 

 

 

It’s tradition to start the new year with new years resolutions.

Yes, there are a couple of vices, I should kick to the curb, but I can’t really bring myself to resolve to that this year. I don’t know it just seems like a lot.

There’s one thing, however, I need to change;- desperately need to change:

“My panic-stricken worry attacks, when things don’t go exactly as planned or indeed go completely wrong.”

It really is an annoying – well for lack of better terms let’s call it – “habit” of mine.

I end up in this crazy downward spiral, that always ends with me living homeless under the bridge.

Let me give you a simple example:

“I forgot to buy the butter needed to bake a cake.”

This is what my mind does:

  • “Oh god. I forgot to buy the butter and now I can’t bake the cake. – What in the world am I going to do?!?”
  • “This is so typical! If I can’t even remember something as simple as buying butter for a cake, how will I ever be able to remember the important stuff?!?!”
  • “I won’t! That’s right! I’ll never be able to remember all the important things I need for my upcoming exam! And then I’ll flunk it and lose my job and never get the job I really want.”
  • “My father won’t love me anymore and my family will think, that I’m worthless. They will shun me and disown me.”
  • “Phil (yes, his name is Phil) will leave me for someone younger, smarter, skinnier, better organized with a better job, who doesn’t forget something simple like buying butter.”
  • “If I lose my job, my family and Phil, I will start drinking. I really will. I will become an alcoholic and then I won’t be able to find a new job and then I won’t be able to pay the rent and I’ll be evicted.”
  • “Oh and if I’m evicted and a homeless, jobless alcoholic, I will never find a new job and I will end up living under the bridge and I will never have babies.” (That to me is the ultimate threat – even worse than living under a bridge)
  • “Wow, gosh, I really have to calm down. Maybe I should bake something to calm my nerves. Oh wait, I can’t! I forgot the butter! I’m so stupid, stupid, stupid.”

The simple alternatives such as substituting butter for oil or just going back to the shop to buy some butter or asking a neighbour to borrow butter etc. just never enter my mind.

Instead of problem solving, I go into “catastrophizing-mode”. I’m not sure why, I just do.

It’s gotten to the point, where I can recognise what I’m doing but I can’t stop it.

Until last night.

Last night, I found out that you can stop me from catastrophizing.

How you wonder? Well let me show you:

My legs last night were not a pretty sight.

Not that I have gorgeous legs to start out with, but usually they are at least hairless and clean (oh yes and they are functional, but that really doesn’t have anything to do with the way they look).

Last night they were anything but hairless.

Okay, they probably haven’t been entirely hairless for the last couple of days or maybe weeks, but I didn’t look like a grizzly bear and I wasn’t wearing skirts or dresses, so in all honesty I just ignored it.

I did such a good job at ignoring it, that I completely forgot about it.

So last night I was somewhat surprised (and mildly disgusted) to see what shape my legs were in.

I should add, that I don’t do well with shaving my legs. I cut myself, I get razor burn and little bumps and my ingrown hair (yes, this is probably t.m.i. – sorry about that). In any case, what I mean is I usually get them sugared (which is basically like getting them waxed).

Last night, standing in the kitchen at 7 pm, looking at my legs, I realized there was no way I would get an appointment with any depilora in town.

Before I could start my downward-spiral of ending under the bridge and never having babies, I remembered I still had some cold wax strips in my bathroom cabinet. – Whew, safe for now!

At first everything went smoothly (no pun intended), but then, somehow, this one strip didn’t come off cleanly and left a patch of wax and hair on my right calf – Great?! No need to worry. I’ll finish the rest and take care of that later.

Well, the same thing happened with the next three strips, except it were larger patches of wax and a lot more hair. – Okay, now I’m getting slightly worried here. Am I going to have waxy, hairy legs forever?! Oh no, Phil is going to leave me for someone with smooth, wax-less, hairless legs and I am going to end up under the – Stop! Breath!

I ditched the waxing and rummaged through the bathroom cabinet until I found an old (but unused) one-way razor. – Fine. I’ll shave them this once. I’ll be extra careful. Plus everything beats hairy, waxy legs, right?!

Everything went fine (meaning only several insignificant slight cuts, totally coverable with make-up – yes, I put make-up on my legs – sometimes), until I got to the hairy, waxy patches. I know this going to sound really bad, but yes, I admit it, I tried to shave them off.

Obviously, this didn’t work. Instead, the razor got stuck to the hairy, waxy patches on my leg and I was really lucky I didn’t seriously injure myself getting it off. – “Oh now he’s definitely going to leave me! Honestly, which other woman has waxy, hairy legs with a razor stuck to them?! He can’t stay with me! He just won’t, he just won’t…”

Then something happened.

I suddenly imagined myself writing this post. Or at least a post about Phil leaving me for a younger, smarter, skinnier woman with hairless, wax-less legs, who doesn’t have a razor stuck to her right calf.

I started laughing. It was too absurd.

Why in the world should my legs remain hairy and waxy with a razor attached to my calf for the rest of my life?! And even, if – maybe I could sue the razor company? I’m pretty sure, they didn’t explicitly warn consumers, that their razor couldn’t be used to shave off waxy hair patches from your legs. At this point, I was literally laughing out loud under the shower.

  • I imagined sweet Patrice would console me and tell me about a woman’s worth and how things in life happened for a reason.
  • I could just about read Paprikas comment saying – Ah good riddance?! What could be sexier than a woman with a razor stuck to her calf – That’s dangerously sexy!
  • Angie, might tell me about an 80’s show, where they had discussed the pro and cons about razor attired legs and would I mind if she used this in her little play about virginity?
  • Erik might even find a story of his own to relate – since we do seem to have a lot of the same stuff happening to one another.
  • Worrywarts would be way too nice to remind me of her blood-shot eye and her hearing disability, but still comment in some down to earth fashion, that would send the little drama-queen in me packing!

So I did the only thing I could do.

I got out of the shower. Dried off and stuck some strips of toilet paper to the sticky, waxy, hairy part of my legs.

I then woke Phil, who was taking a nap, and told him to get ready. I showed him my toilet paper covered, sticky, waxy, hairy leg and he laughed. He thought it was adorable.

Let me repeat that:

He thought my hairy, waxy, sticky, toilet paper leg was adorable!

He didn’t want to leave me! He didn’t think less of me! He thought I was adorable!

In the end, I did manage to remove the waxy, hairy parts from my calf (simply by pulling of the toilet paper wads b.t.w.), but that, to me, is beside the point.

The point is, I finally found a way to stop that little “catastrophizing” voice of mine.

I simply ask myself:

“What kind of post would that make and what would you say.”

So, thank you. Thank you for saving my life; -or well, at least my temporary sanity.

Happy New Year!

I Am Addicted To Bed-Time-Stories By Cpt. James T. Kirk

” A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow”

[ Charlotte Brontë ]

I am not a serene sleeper.

I toss and turn, sleep talk and murmur.

I grind my teeth (I actually have a special guard prescribed by my dentist).

I wake up and get up at times and wander through the appartement.

I dream vividly and sometimes when I wake I can not fully let go of my dreams and they hang over me like a light silk veil for some time, before I am able to shake them.

Also (and this is the most important part), I am prone to horrid nightmares, that make me weep and moan in my sleep.

I guess it’s safe to say that I am not anybody’s favoured bunk-mate … .

When I was a child I tried to get rid of my nightmares by reading Steven King Novels before I went to bed.

I know this sounds strange, so let me elaborate:

"They all float down here... "

Mr. King’s fiction to me was always just that – it was unreal without even the slightest chance of it ever becoming real (horrid clowns living off of people’s souls? – Oh puhleez?!?).

So I could forget myself in something that wasn’t real and thus forget fears, aches and pains that were real to me. (You’ll have to take my word for this one, it’s kind of hard to prove or even to fully explain).

Once I got older, I got addicted to night-time-TV instead of bed-time-stories ( I know, I know, it’s not a good habit – one of my many bad habits).

I could never watch the news or shows about real wars and natural catastrophes though – those, unlike Mr. Kings works of suspense and horror – were real and thus carried within them the possibility of it happening to me as well.

So I usually watched re-runs of old TV-shows like:

Who didn't love "Winnie" ?!

Golden Girls“, “Frasier”, “Seinfeld“,”The Wonder Years“,”Roseanne

and many more.

I loved them and that was exactly the problem: I wouldn’t fall asleep while they were on or even get tired enough to fall asleep after them.

I needed something else… .

And out of the blue a night in (errr I guess) yellow-greenish armour came to saved my nights:

(drumroll)

Captain James T. Kirk and his loyal crew of the starship Enterprise

I love that the acting is either non-existent or over the top.

I love that Captain Kirk is actually a rude, womanizing loud-mouth and still saves the day.

I love the absurd and weirdly comical story lines.

I adore their inconsistencies (in this one episode they beam into a building, but can’t open an old-fashioned lock with their phaser – huh?!)

It has come to the point where I will get ready for bed and slip under my covers anxiously anticipating the first couple of notes of the starship enterprise theme music.

Yes, I’ll be the first to admit it: I am a dork!

However,

this dork

has no more problems

falling a sleep at night!

 

 

Why The F.B.I. Needs Me

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

[Theodore Roosevelt]

When I was talking about jobs and callings in an earlier post, I completely forgot about one of the main aspects in career choice: Personal Qualification.

In marketing you talk about the U.S.P. of a commodity and let’s face it: We are all commodities.

So why does the F.B.I. need me as a commodity? I mean, I meet all the general F.B.I. requirements (okay maybe I would have to brush up on the physical requirements), but what is my U.S.P.?

Well, how do they need me: Let me count the ways… .

1. Secret Identity: The one thing we all know about F.B.I. Agents is that they have secret Identities.

I figure they have some sort of intern-intel, who makes them up. Maybe that’s the same bureau, that also comes up with all those cool secret project names like “Windfall” or “Tropicana Puzzle” or something like that.

In any case, I don’t need another secret identity! I was born with it! Due to the fact, that I was born out-of-wedlock in Germany and my parents got married around my first birthday in the USA, I have two passports with two different last names. You see, complicated inter-governmental legal procedures do have their upsides. I come fully equiped for the job!

2. Blending: Ridley Scott described a good F.B.I. Agent as “not noticeable. You would never know you look at them.”

You know how some women look hotter than hell in a dark suit and dark shades? Yeah, not me!

Don’t get me wrong there’s nothing wrong with me, but I’m not the girl, who will distract her colleagues simply by crossing her legs. I’m outstanding at not drawing attention to me.

I am like one of those old-fashioned cigarette girls: sweet, charming and a perfect addition to the set-up of the room, but you’ll forget me the minute I leave your sight. Trust me, I am the perfect blender.

3. Foreign Languages: Being a half-american half-german mutt comes with the upside of being fairly literate in both those languages. I also graduated in France, so I got a bit of french to work with as well.

I know those aren’t the cool languages to speak, but I still have my hopes set on speaking in tongues one of these days and that should trump everything. Until then, I know enough japanese to show it off to someone, who has never spoken to a native in their life and that should count for something, right?

4. Working The Net: John Ashcroft thinks the makes of a good F.B.I. Agent is someone who can “surf the net and look for pages that instruct people how to make bombs.”

This is so me. I spend so much time on the internet already and a legal career comes with the general requirement of finding stuff on the net other people don’t want you to find. Also, I don’t know everybody as dedicated as me as finding great shoe deals online. So if I can find great deals in the high-priced high-heeled section, believe me I can find bomb instructions. What can possibly be so difficult about that? You just google it, right?

5. Travelling: My first time inside a plane on an oversea flight I was younger than 6 months. I have had plenty more experience with travelling after that. Not just in plains, but on trains, in cars, by bikes, on foot.

Also I tend to travel rather light for a women, at least on the way in. I’m a strong believer in the “1-suitcase-in, 2-suitcases-out-rule”, allocating enough room for souvenirs. I wonder how many cool souvenirs you could pick up as an F.B.I. Agent. I mean there is the badge for starters and then I am pretty sure the C.I.A. guys will be up for trading, too.

6. Cost: As I stated above, I already come with two legitimate passports from two different countries in two different last names, so the F.B.I. wouldn’t have to spring for new fake identification for me.

I am not completely sure how expensive these fake I.D’s are. However, as I am such a nifty researcher, I did a google search and the yahoo-answer, that rated the highest, estimated the costs somewhere between $200,–  – $ 4.000,– (depending on wheter you wanted them scannable and with fancy holograms and such).

I am pretty sure the F.B.I. get’s a good deal on this stuff, but seeing as the U.S.A. is already roughly $ 14 trillion dollars in debt, I would think that every penny NOT spent is a penny earned.

7. The Ropes: I know being a special agent would come with a lot of special agent stuff, like secret handshakes and secret codes and all of that.

Well, guess what?! I was a member of the bestest detective club ever when I was about 11 years old. I was an outstanding detective too. For the entire three weeks our club existed, I only lost the key to our secret code once. How much better at this stuff can you get?!

In conclusion: I was always told my country needed me, so guess what: I’m here and I’m for hire. Come and get me!

And if the F.B.I. doesn’t want me, well maybe the C.I.A. will know a blessing when they see it… .

How about you? Are you the next Mata Hari out there? Would you look fantastic in a dark trench in an even darker alley? Or does your U.S.P. hold a different career-path for you?

Please comment below and tell me all about it!

How My Inability To Count Cost Me An Olympic Gold Medal

“You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasms”

[ Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette ]

Talking about my reality of being a motherless daughter tends to add a sad feel to most of my posts – it just comes with the topic I guess. There really isn’t a light, funny way to breach it. But that doesn’t mean that my childhood was gloomy and dark all the time.

There were some pretty funny moments and there were other moments that were not that funny at the time, but pretty hilarious looking back. Since I share so much of the serious out here, I felt it was time to share a bit of the funny too.

One thing you need to understand about me is, that I am pretty good swimmer and rotten at math. I am probably the worst numbers-person you will ever meet – well, okay everybody above the age of 9 that is. I just simply don’t get figures.

When my father went to P.T.A. meetings he always felt like he had two daughters. He got rave reviews about me from all teachers – except my math teachers. They would always subtly hint at my “special needs”.

I am convinced I have mathlexia. Nope, that’s not a word, I just made it up. I actually checked on Urban Dictionary first, but it seems like my condition is so unique it has not been defined by the general public yet. I am special!

In any case except for being awful at math I was pretty darn good at many other things. One of those, like I said,  was swimming and I would have been the next olympic hopeful if it hadn’t been for one little event that happened when I was 8 years old, that falls back on my inability to do even the simplest form of math.

The pool I trained at with my swimming team was 25m long (approximately 82 ft.) But of course, since I hated numbers, I didn’t know that. To me it was just “not as big as the really big one”.

On the day of the competition, I was supposed to compete the 25m breast stroke along with the other girls in my age group. Seeing as I outnumbered them in hight and strength, I was bumped up to the next higher age group on the day of the meet. Now instead of swimming 25m I was supposed to compete the 50m. The problem was, I didn’t know what 50m was and for some reason I didn’t ask. I figured I would just do exactly what the group before me did. Well, those were the kids that were doing the 25m swim.

Seriously up until this day I don’t really know why I didn’t ask anyone how far 50m was. Maybe because this was my first meet and I was excited, maybe because I was so scared of doing something wrong, maybe because I really am slow but just can’t admit it.

In any case I got into this water and swam the fastest I had ever swam in my life. I felt like a dolphin. I was leading by more than a length and gaining with every stride.

Then I got to the end of the pool and just climbed out of the water, as I had seen all the other girls my age do before me.

Parents, well mostly mothers as it was in the middle of the day, were waving at me frantically, gesturing me to get back into the pool.

It took me a second to understand, but then I did. With my head hot and red more from the feeling of utter embarrassment than exhaustion, I jumped back into the pool and finished my lap.

I placed 5th out of 6 girls.

I was too humiliated to speak to anybody. I just walked to the showers got dressed and walked home.

When my father asked me how my swimming meet had gone during dinner I lied. I made up this incredible story about this huge swimmer with 8 arms and legs, that beat every record out there and would probably be on the news tonight, because she was just a freak of nature and no one could have beat her.

My dad gave me a weird look, but let it go. We never talked about it again. And he never asked why I didn’t want to go back to swimming practice. He just let me drop out.

But up until this day, I know the truth, and the truth is, that me having mathlexia caused me to drop out of swim team and ultimately cost me an olympic gold medal.

-Prove me wrong!

Do you have any funny childhood stories? Little moments that might have been embarassing back than, but are really pretty cute looking back? I’m sure you do and I want to hear them all. Please comment below and share!