Friday, January 26, 2007

Moving Day

Tomorrow is moving day. Maybe. The snow came yesterday. Of course. Although there is not much left, it is supposed to storm tomorrow. Of course. I might not be blogging for the next few weeks. Freenet and Telekom are telling us that it will take up to six weeks to get Internet at the house. Of course.

There is still a ton of packing to do and I have not finished the laundry. It is important to finish the laundry, because in Wildeshausen the washing machine will be in the basement. Because there is no direct way to get into the basement from inside the house, you have to go outside, walk around the house and down the stairs to do the laundry. In the snow. Of course. If you see a woman in C-burg walking around in shorts in February it is because I did not want to do the laundry and I just pulled out my clean summer clothes.

The New Yorker and I have rented additional office space and we are having an open house next week. We do not really have time to get artwork and stuff for the new office, so I volunteered some framed art posters that I have. After all, I have to move them anyway. As I was transporting them to the office in Smarty this morning, the glass in frames completely shattered, and I sliced my hand as I was trying to get them out of the car. Of course.

Sigh. Must go pack.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


No much happened this past week over here at Euro-American Life except the damn crazy weather. Judging by the things I have been reading in the paper, we are not the only ones having one kooky winter.

Back in December I noticed that this was not going to be a normal winter. About a week before Christmas all of the newspapers and radios reported that it was going to be "the warmest December in 1000 years." Maybe I heard / read it wrong, because my first thought was, "How the hell do you know what the temperature was 1000 years ago?!" It has been very warm. It is January 21, and I have only scrapped ice off my windows twice. There has not been a glimmer of snow in sight. Today I heard on the radio that people in Moscow are depressed because it is cold there, but they haven't had any snow. Apparently Moscow is a dreary place when is rainy, cold and dark. Snow adds to the . . . shall we say . . . ambiance.

Anyway, C-burg has not had any snow but DEFINITELY its share of rain. Today the German even commented that it can stop raining any time now. Trust me, when the locals notice that the rain is too much, then it really is.

On Thursday I had my first taste of a German winter storm, called an "Orkan ." I looked it up in the dictionary, which translated it as a "hurricane" or "winter gale." I am going with winter gale, because I grew up in South Carolina and I know what a hurricane is like (i.e. Hugo, 1989).

It was raining pretty hard and a little windy Thursday morning as I ran my normal errands (bank, supermarket, dry cleaners). As I was driving home the radio reported that all the schools in the state were closing because of the "impending storm." Huh? Dude. It's rain. I think you have all seen it before. The German sent me an SMS and told me that he was coming home and that I should stay put.

Hmm. I found this all very curious. I got home and turned on the TV. Something called Orkan Kryill was about to sweep across Germany and the entire country was under a severe storm warning. Wow. I was supposed to drive to the next town over and teach English. I called the company at 2:00pm and the main receptionist said that the lessons were still on.

When the German got home and I informed him that I was still going to drive to my English lesson at 3:45pm, he was not happy. At 3:00pm the phone rang. It was one of the participants from my English class. "Um, Claire, are you still coming this afternoon?"

"Um, yeah." By this time I was a little annoyed. I mean what was the big deal. It was just a little wind and rain. At that moment I was looking out the window. A gust of wind came by and bent the neighbors tree in half. Then there was a flash of light and a clap of thunder. Wow.

"Um, Claire, don't you drive a Smart?"


"Well, seeing as you might fly away while driving here, perhaps it would be best to cancel the lesson."

For once, I was not going to fight German sensibility. Turns out that an Orkan is really dangerous . . . but I still think that a hurricane is worse.

Unfortunately (fortunately?) the Orkan brought winter with it. There is supposed to be frost tonight and snow is in the weekly forecast. Wouldn't you know it, we were supposed to move on Friday. Keep reading. I'll let you know if we do.

Monday, January 15, 2007

My Big Fat German Wedding

Yes, Grandpa, I am feeling much better, even if I did spend the entire first week of January in bed. It took a few days for my antibiotics to kick in, but once they did . . . so long cough.

There has not been much to report (hence no new posts) over the past week. I worked some and packed some, but I have not been to the house and we STILL have not moved. This past weekend, I did get to participate in my first German wedding.

The German's good buddy, B, got married on Saturday and the German was the Best Man. I was very excited to see how different German weddings are. Some of my students scared me a bit by telling me about the German tradition of kidnapping the bride and drink shots to free her (I think something got lost in translation there). I must report, however, that German weddings are not that different from American weddings. But they are much LONGER!

In Germany you have to get married at the "Standesamt," which is a branch of City Hall. Usually only the closest friends and family go inside and watch the actual ceremony, which is surprisingly short. On Saturday the officiant went on and on about marriage being a harbor before she got down to business. "Do you B take this woman to be your wife?" "Yes." "Do you S take this man to be your husband?" "Yes." "Okay, you're married."

I was a little confused. That was it. I looked at my husband. "There was no mention of richer or poorer or being faithful and death do us part." He explained to me that those vows are only used in a church service, which is normally held a few hours after the City Hall service. Our friends, though, are not religious and therefore skipped that part. I think our friend B got out of things a bit too easy. No wonder he was not nervous. "Nope, honey, I didn't actually promise to be faithful."

We were at City Hall from 11:15 to 1:00. Then we went back to rented room at the university for soup, coffee, and cake. Because we were in the wedding, the German had to work the bar and I washed dishes. By 4:00 I was getting tired. The Groom let us go to our hotel so that we could freshen up and then at 6:00pm we met at a house/restaurant/country club type place for the reception.

It was your typical reception. Dancing. Buffet. Alcohol. Pictures. However, there were no toasts by the wedding party and no chicken dance, but I am not complaining. On the other hand, there was also no wedding cake with buttercream frosting, which kind of bummed me out.

I was intrigued at how well Germans could dance. Waltz, foxtrot, rumba; they could do it all. Turns out that many people in this area take dancing lessons when they are in high school. Unfortunately, when the band played a normal 80s rock / dance / pop tune, suddenly not a single person in the room could find the beat. I guess Germans really do like rules and regulations. Freestyle dancing is not in the program.

By 4:00am I was a little grumpy. It was time to go home. We helped the new couple take their gifts to their apartment and got to the hotel at 5:00am. By 5:15 the German was snoring and for the first time I ever I did not care and fell right asleep.

Friday, January 05, 2007

A Little Sick . . . In the Head

I really like my doctor. He is kind and friendly and always remembers my name (probably because I am his only American patient). Unfortunately he is very difficult to get hold of. Yesterday I had to call three times to make an appointment. One time the receptionist picked up the phone and hung it up without saying hello; to make it stop ringing I guess. Can you imagine!? Dude, I am privately insured, and in Germany that means something.

Anyway, after waiting 45 minutes for my appointment today, I finally got to see my doctor.

I told him that I had a little cough. How long? Um, about a week. Fever? Well, just a small one, 37.5, but that was only Sunday and Monday. Other symptoms? Well, I can barely swallow at night and my ears and neck hurt a little. Have you taken anything? Um, cough drops, cough syrup, special tea, Vick's rub, aspirin.

He gave me the look over the glasses that I usually reserve for students who have not done their homework. Dude, I am sorry. I thought it was just a cold.

He looked down my throat and made a face. "Well that doesn't look very good at all!"

Diagnosis: bronchitis and strep-throat. Damn, I was one sinus infection away from the winter flu trifecta. I don't get sick often, but when I do I go all out.

He gave me two kinds of very strong antibiotics and an inhaler. Sadly, I cannot figure out how to work the inhaler and the German went to a Bachelor Party, so I will stick to the antibiotics for the night. Go news, I don't have to go paint the hallway tomorrow.

The only bad thing is . . . other than being and idiot and refusing to go to the doctor. . . I am bored. REALLY bored. The German is not here to entertain me and I already watched several seasons of Sex and the City and Charmed. I may have to run to the store. I could work on my English lessons for next week. . . but I am not that sick.

A Foto for Friday: Our new front door.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Things We Do For Love

Happy New Year. I know. I am late posting my Happy New Year. I will explain in a moment.

First, I want to dedicate this post to my friend Josh. I made only one resolution this year: I am not sending out a Christmas card to anyone who does not write back within a year (seriously, the postage costs are killing me). Also, I only had gotten 3 (3!) cards by Dec. 24. Wouldn't you know it, I got five more after New Year's.

Josh, a friend from grad school, is one of the few I managed to guilt with my German stamps. He sent a lovely letter about how he reads the blog (Hi!), but doesn't comment. Therefore, I am going to write this post and insert his comments for him.

[Scene: Josh and Claire sitting at the Mexican place not far from the Notre Dame campus in South Bend.]

Josh: So, what have you been up to lately?

Claire: Oh, not much. Christmas came and went and the German actually got me good gifts. However, one thing was NOT ON THE LIST.

Josh: That bastard. What was it? A hairless cat?

Claire: Um, no. Actually it was a gift certificate for 5 massages.

Josh: Hey, that is a good gift. You really do need to relax, you know.

Claire: Yes, you're right. I was actually kind of homesick at Christmas, but I went to the house anyway and painted and sanded and hung curtains.

Josh: You rock. You hate the house. I am proud of you.

Claire: Yes, but the house knows that I hate it. It made me sick.

Josh: A house cannot make you sick, Claire.

Claire: Dude, it totally did! Last Sunday (Dec. 29) I noticed a little cough. I slept all day Saturday and by Monday I could barely swallow and I have hardly slept in three days because of my "little cough." I am going to the doctor tomorrow. I think I have bronchitis.

Josh: That sucks. But the house did not do it.

Claire: Yes it did.

(Pause. Munching of chips and salsa.)

Claire: Did you see Notre Dame get thumped by LSU last night?

Josh: Yeah. I am sure you are sad that you missed it.

Claire: I didn't miss it. I watched it live on TV.

Josh: HOW? You live in Cloppenburg.

Claire: The German bought a satellite dish and some sort of chip card that allows us access to NASN, the North American Sports Network. He spent 8 hours trying to hook the thing up so that we could watch TV. As I am dying from my "little cough," I was awake at 3am. Sadly not even the game could put me to sleep.

Josh: That was nice of him. You have a good husband.

Claire: Oh, he didn't do it for me. I realized afterwards that he did it because he gets Arena and can watch soccer live on TV. Watching ND was really just guise for the German Bundesliga.

Josh: Ah! Smart man.

Claire: Unfortunately, I think that FOX may own the NASN. I want to stay as far away from Bill O'Reilly as possible.

Josh: Come on, Claire! Bill O'Reilly has some smart and funny things to say.

Claire: (starring in disbelief) How did we become friends?

Josh: Our mutual love of Ritter's Frozen Custard.

Claire and Josh (in unison): Ah, Ritter's.


PS: Josh doesn't actually advocate Bill O'Reilly in any manner. I am just hoping that it will finally prompt him to comment.