Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Face of Depression

This is the face of depression.

Robert Enke (1977 - 2009) was a professional soccer player (for Hannover 96, not our favorite team but one we favor because they are our northern neighbor), and goalie for the German national soccer team. He was strong and fought hard. But behind his smile, he also suffered from depression. Last week he took his own life.

Only now are reports emerging that this man, who appeared so determined, kind and full of life, struggled. He struggled to fulfill the expectations laid upon his shoulders. He struggled to cope with the death of his two year old daughter. He struggled to hide the dark feelings inside.

I, and the German, were both shocked and touched by Robert Enke's passing. If a man who appeared so strong had problems, who else do we know struggles everyday? How alone did he feel that he could not go on? No one should have to feel that alone.

But depression is a scary, dark secret that no one talks about. It is dealt with behind closed doors. Often society demands that you "deal with it" or "get a grip on yourself." For those who suffer from depression, this is easier said than done. No one wants to admit that they have a problem and seeking help for that problem is even more difficult.

When I think of the sorrow that was in Robert Enke's heart, it breaks mine. If you know anyone in your family or a friend who you think may suffer from depression, talk to them. Get them help. Do not let them turn away.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Making Me Giggle

Sure there are lots of thing I could blog about, such as the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall or the passage of a health care bill or the devastating suicide of Germany's soccer team goalie. Seriously, watching the news these days is exhausting.

But there are many things that are going on over here, most of which involve health issues. It leaves me tired, preoccupied and worried. Over the past week I have wanted to write, but during my free time I wind up sitting in front of the TV with a cup of tea in an attempt to turn down the voices in my head.

However, something caught my eye this morning during my coffee and made me giggle. I had to share.

Toyota is no longer the worlds largest automaker. Guess who is? Volkswagen.

So what? Why does that make you giggle, Claire? It makes me giggle because I bet that you did not know that one of the partial owners of Volkswagen is the State of Lower Saxony. That's right, the governor of the state that I live in is actually a board member. We tax payers are partial owners.

Hm. Does that mean that everything government run is bad, not competitive, threatens freedom, etc.? Or does that mean that everything run by the AMERICAN government is bad, not competitive, threatens freedom, etc.? Or does it mean that people who make arguments about government run things are just blowing smoke and do not actually do their research?

In case you are wondering, the state of Lower Saxony almost never interferes in the business decisions of the company. They let the businessmen do their jobs. However, they do make sure that the company does not ship all of their jobs to other countries and generally look after the welfare of their workers.

You know. It is good for a giggle.

Read the entire story here:

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Post Election Bash: We have no idea what we are talking about edition!

So, there was this election in the US yesterday. When I was not looking, the ENTIRE FUTURE OF THE COUNTRY was going to be decided by the governors of New Jersey and Virginia. Is it just me, or has the media gone a little overboard? Don't take my word for it however. My boyfriend, Jon Stewart, is more articulate than I.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009


Do you remember the Thanksgiving episode of Friends where Monica decides that she does not want cook and Phoebe uses reverse psychology to convince her to do it?

"That's okay, Monica. Last year wasn't so great. I think she is losing her touch."

"What! That's not true! Thanksgiving is on!"

"Monica, you will be in competition with yourself."

"That's my favorite kind!"

This was went through my head when I decided to host my second Kid's Halloween Party. This time I downloaded recipes, decided kick the food up a notch and wear my own costume. God, I can be stupid sometimes.

The decorations were similar to last year. I did jazz up the place with some orange candles. This is a big decorating step for me as I HATE the color orange. However, it was Halloween, so what can you do?

For food I baked chocolate chip cookies and spent entirely too much time decorating cupcakes. The German did his part and made a delicious pumpkin-potato soup. After reading Martha Stewart's Halloween magazine, I attempted Savory Pumpkin Puffs, puff pastry stuffed with cheese, which did NOT look like the picture. Because I was so stressed near the end, there are no pictures of the soup and puff pastry, but you can take my word for it, they were delicious!

Last year and this year I struggled to figure out activities and games to entertain the kids. They are simply too little to play classics like musical chairs and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Martha suggested a Pinata. Hm. That could work, I thought. Kids love to pound stuff. I spent two days figuring out how to put that Pinata together. It took the kids 15 minutes to tear it apart. Then they turned on each other with the stick. What is it about the best laid plans . . .

As it was last year, the party was a success; even if it did add a few grey hairs to my head. The fact that I started teaching a brand new English seminar in another town from 9am to 2pm and the party was at 3:30pm might have had something to do with that.

Naturally, Halloween is not complete without a costume. My little frog's smile makes it all worth while.

Postscript: There is no photographic evidence of me in my costume, the Buccaneer Beauty. I put on the costume and was struck with panic. I looked at the German, "Do I look like a pirate?" "Um . . ." "Do I look like a hooker??" "Well, um, . . ." I stuck it out, but made sure that the cameras stayed far away from me!