Life in Germany - first impressions

Excerpts from my first week in Meersburg, Germany.

10/10/08 – Day 1

Language notes: I know and have been practicing enough German that I can now hear and understand very basic German, and speak a very tiny bit as well. However, because I took Spanish for 8 years and lived in Spain for a semester, when I'm trying to express a complete sentence in German and there are words that I don't know, my mind automatically wants to substitute Spanish words. Ich möchte el otro... what the heck is that? Germish? Spanman? Strange, that's what it is.

Odd moment of the day: Seeing a German concert of 13th graders playing piano, violin, guitar, etc, as well as singing, and one of them plays Red Hot Chili Peppers' “Under The Bridge,” a song all about the city of angels, Los Angeles, and how it's the singer's “only friend.” It would be kind of strange just hearing that over here, but especially after moving here from Los Angeles, partly because I grew to greatly dislike the city. And, of all the things I did like about LA, it's “friendliness,” or I should say lack of “friendliness,” was not one of them.

10/11/08 – Day 2

It's become clear to me that Germans are total nerds, which is awesome, because I consider myself fairly nerdly. Case in point: the Mittelaltermarkt (Middle Ages market, similar to our Renaissance fairs) is this weekend, and it's the thing to do around here. They have signs miles away from town with directions to the market, traffic is crazy around here, and a large portion of this small city is completely closed off to anyone not participating or attending. Now, of course this could all just be because it's the weekend in a town of 5,000 people and whenever anything out of the ordinary happens, everyone comes running, but I'd rather believe in the nerdliness in the hearts of all Germans. So of course we went.

One highlight was Mausroulette, which is not quite what it sounds like. It doesn't involve a six-shooter, and it also doesn't involve a wheel and a very dizzy mouse. It does involve a small circle of different colored mouse-sized houses, and a mouse dropped in the middle. Also part of the affair is a German woman with discolored teeth and wooden shoes, speaking in Mittelaltermarkt German, which even Ellen, who has been taking German for about 10 years, couldn't understand. Imagine a foreigner coming to America and trying to decipher the language of the freaks at our Renaissance fairs. “Hast thou no honor?” “Dost thou a challenge make?” You get the point.

Another amusement: Many booths were serving Bratwursts, which I found out just means roasted sausage (brat = roasted, wurst = sausage), but only one I found was serving Drachenwurst, or dragon sausage. Unfortunately, I didn't have the mental capacity to ask if they were made from real dragon, but they tasted like I'd always imagined dragon sausage should taste, and thus were fiery and quite delicious.

10/12/08 – Day 3

Sunday in a small town – everything is closed, we don't have Internet yet, there's one English channel on TV and the book I'm reading sucks. I feel cabin fever setting in, so much so that I actually succumb to watching “The Holiday” with Ellen, and only because the only other movie she has brought, “Pride & Prejudice,” I've already seen. And so has she – many, many times, including the director and cast commentary.

10/13/08 – Day 4

During an evening walk, it struck me how few people actually say hello around here. Well, not “hello,” but their German version. Inevitably I started making comparisons to people in the States. Certainly, people didn't really say hello much in LA. At least, they didn't in Venice, or near LAX... Westchester we usually had decent results. Fair Oaks has always been quite friendly, to my recollection. So it made me wonder if it's just that people who live here figure that most of the other folks they will see are tourists, or perhaps they think they know everyone in their small town and anyone they don't recognize isn't worth the effort. Of course, it's possible they just aren't generally friendly with strangers. Or maybe I'm just intimidatingly handsome.

Also, I used to tease Ellen that she was going to be “meine kleine Hausfrau.” Well, it seems more like I'm her little Hausmann. I actually folded and put away her unmentionables and ironed her jeans today. And that was after making her breakfast. And lunch. This isn't complaining, though; let's be clear about that. I don't mind in the least helping around the place, especially since I have nothing but time and she's away earning money to pay our rent. Just thought it was a fun twist of irony.

Basically, it looks like I've got myself a sugar momma for a few months. Nice.

10/14/08 – Day 5

I never realized how much we're addicted to the Internet. At least, I am. I rely on it so much for entertainment, for information, for communication, everything. It's become a common mantra around the apartment: “If we ever get Internet, we can...” Ellen needed to know her height in centimeters for her visa application (God knows why the German government would need that information, but I digress), and we tried to figure it out by our own means first (“How many centimeters are on a ruler?”) but could not. Thus: “If we ever get Internet, we can look it up!”

So I realize this addiction, yet I'm honestly okay with it. I don't worry about it like everybody else. If somehow the entire Internet collapses and ceases to exist, it will suck, but I could go on living just fine. But it's a huge help while it's still around. How else could I get all my favorite American TV shows over here, or talk to my parents for free or for pennies? And that's not even mentioning the fact that we can easily convert inches to centimeters on a whim in all those multitude of instances that we need to do that. Or, should I absolutely need to, I can find out what that movie is called that one guy was in with the cute little girl who had that line everyone was repeating for months afterward.

So, I mean, it's helpful, you know?

10/15/08 – Day 6

Ellen is definitely getting tired of me. Here's how I can tell: when I ask her “Are you tired of me yet?” she doesn't say yes or no anymore, she just smiles and kisses me on the cheek. It's okay though, it was completely expected. Anytime you've got someone in your ear constantly asking “What does that mean? Does it have something to do with food or driving?” or “Why do they do that? How weird. Do all Germans do that?” you're bound to get a little fed up after awhile, especially if that person is basically your only friend for about 10,000 kilometers and there's no Internet to take your mind off things.

Oh well, she'll get used to it.

10/16/08 – Day 7

When the sun comes out here, as rare a occurrence as that is, the birds going nucking futs. I had the windows opened just slightly when the sun came out for a few moments this afternoon, and the utter cacophony that occurred blew my mind and nearly my eardrums.
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