Tuesday, May 30, 2006

It's good to get out sometimes. Opening the windows on a nice summer day is something; letting the world come to you through a hole in the wall can be reassuring and refreshing, but somtimes you have to get out and meet things halfway. It's healthier that way. You and world can be buddies. Incidentally, I've discovered it helps to treat the world like a healthy friendship, you know, not always making some come visit you all the time; it makes all the crazy people look like clowns, and everyone else like the guy who always forgets to laugh.

It just so happens that I'm the craziest person I deal with on a regular basis, so getting out is pretty important to keeping things going, kind of like changing the oil or rotating the tires, two things I have no real clue about, but know are important if you want your car to roll anywhere other than downhill. So I went to Lübeck.

Since last weekend was Himmelfahrt, or "The Ascension" to the observant English-speaking world, I had Thursday and Friday off, which is just peachy for traveling. The plan was to head down to Lübeck, and then Stacy and I would head up to Flensburg on the Danish border look around. We had both heard it was nice, and I had been suffering under a bit of Traveler's Guilt, because I haven't seen that much of Schleswig-Holstein, even though I've been living here for close to a year, so it seemed like a good place to go. Danish hot dogs, by the way, are supposed to be fantastic. It's the preservatives the Danish government allows that gives them their flavor, or so people have told me. Mmmm, Butylated Hydroxytoluene. Yum.

Well, we didn't make it there. Oh, it wasn't for a lack of trying, I'll say that right now. No, it's just that the Schleswig-Hostein train network sucks. A lot. Getting to Flensburg up on the border would have taken anywhere from 2.45 to 3.30, depending on the mule they decided to hitch up that morning. 2.45 isn't really that bad in itself, but it's a nice slice of "Pain-in-the-Ass Pie" when you get the "pleasure" of riding in two trains and a bus, and then have to turn around and make the same trip for a second time in one day. So we decided on Rostock in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern instead, a nice 1.45 minutes away with just one change in Bad Kleinen, which, despite it's position in the middle of nowhere, proved to be a pretty big town.

In general, though, Mecklenburg is, how you say, on the ass end of nowhere. There's nothing there. Nichts. Well, OK, there are hills. And trees. They've definitely got those. It's a spectacularly beautiful place, really, but it's pretty clear that Reunification hasn't really reached the county, aside from the occasional Wind Turbine maintenance. Grass covered hills, fields of bluming Rapes, and thick forests rule the scenery between towns. The word "town" is, for lack of a better English word, used loosely here, by the way. Come to think of it, German, a language that is far more precise when it comes to assigning size to settlements, doesn't have one either. I would use "Kaff," something smaller than a "Dorf," or "village," but it's a word that foolishly assumes the existence of buildings, which immediately disqualifies it when describing Plüschow.

Wikipedia.com tells me it has 541 inhabitants, but I didn't see them. Come to think of it, I didn't see anything to inhabit in the first place; the only thing around to tell you that we were stopped for any reason other than letting a stray sheep cross the tracks was a sign on two steel posts. The town, if it exists at all, was neither hidden behind a hill nearby, nor far in the background behind a cow. And before you ask: no, I didn't see a road leading to it. There was nothing, which I guess explains the short stop.

Rostock, as it turns out, is a pretty big town with its own Straßenbahn system and paved sidewalks. It's an old Hansa City, just like Lübeck, so the old city is beautifully built, consisting mostly of narrow, colorful merchant-style houses that you can only find here in the north. It's funny to think that Rostock 600 years ago was a part of the most powerful political entity in Europe, and now it's stuck in one of the most economically depressed. Funny how things work out, isn't it?

It was, like most towns worth a zip code, flattened in the war, and the old city was nearly completely reconstructed years later, but you wouldn't know to look at it, as usual. The catherdral has a massive astonomical clock; built in 1472, it is the oldest that still runs on parts of its original mechanism, and it was fantastic. I thought about taking pictures, but I generally avoid taking pictures in churches and other religious sites since people actually worship there. It's funny, I know. I personally don't think it's any more sacred than, say, a nice tree, but other people do, so I tend to spare them from my deadly tourist hawk eye. Besides, it has a bell poured in 1290, which is just awesome. Speaking of old things, the Christian book store just around the corner from the church is in a small white-washed building built in the year 1200, but they didn't get around to renovating it until 1731. Can you believe that? Honestly. Slackers.

Rostock is, in short, an absolutely beautiful town, and I'm really happy I made it there. So far, the Hansa City haven't let me down. Go Hansa! It's funny, but Fehmarn was where all the pirates lived who ambushed Hansa convoys as they tried to leave the Baltic on their way to trade with England. I guess that makes my trips kind of ironic.

But before I go, I would just like to take a couple minutes to say that, if you are still drunk from the night before, just stay at home, because no one wants to talk to you. Really. Go home, get some sleep, and watch some Sponge Bob on TV. Really, I don't really care what you do, just don't bother me, especially when I'm trying to cross the street.

See, this guy came up to Stacy and me when we were on our way to the train station in Lübeck and struck up a "conversation," which in this case is more like saying, "diatribe." Here's basically how it went.

GUY (In English): Hey! Hey! Are you from England?

US: Huh?

GUY: Are you from England?

US: No, we're American.

GUY: Did you vote for Bush?

US: No.

GUY: Oh, well you're good people.

If I haven't done anything else of value in my life, it appears not voting for Bush for president was it. Sad thing is, it wasn't really something I had to put a lot of thought into. Anyway, the guy went on to explain that he was an Arab, and therefore hated George Bush. It was, he said, "in his blood." I didn't go into how that expression only reenforces the whole "evil-doer" song and dance, but whatever. Long and short of it is: "We (Arabs) must fight to defend ourselves," blah, blah, blah. I disagree, but that's not the point here.

He then asked us where he were from. I should say here that being from North Carolina is great, because no one has a freaking clue where that is. Stacy, being from California, doesn't have that luxury.

GUY: Oh! California! I want to make a relationship with you so I can come to California.


GUY: Do you live with your parents?


GUY: Shit. Do you smoke weed?


It's amazing how stupid some people can be. It must take a lot of work. Anyway, after confirming that Stacy and I are, in fact, actually friends and aren't engaged in an elaborate ruse designed to decieve ourselves, he turns to me and asks: "Are you handycapped?" I don't generally think of myself in those terms, since I was born with my limp, so don't know anything else, but it's true, at least technically, so I answer:

ME: Yes.

GUY (Pointing at own head): But your emotions, they're all there? They're normal.

Well, I do tear up at the end of "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King," but what that means, I'll leave to you.

ME: Yes.

GUY: But you're not psychotic?

ME: Ummm, no.

GUY: I worked with psychotic people, and they were......


As it turns out, when the blind lead the blind they end up at crossing light, hung over, and way too self confident.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Pasta boiling away on the stove, tennis on TV, and a new post in the works; truly out of an old Dutch painting. We've had pretty constant rain the last two days, with clear, blue skies in the mornings, so I've decided to stay inside and devout my time to the construction of this pastoral scene. But the weekend's been good so far, kind of homey and laid-back.

Andreas' wife and daughters are away at church camp somewhere in the north of Schleswig-Holstein (yes, there ARE Germans who go to church), so he was left alone at home with Louis, the 1 1/2 year old, and like all fathers and sons across the entire the planet, they spent the weekend going out to dinner and generally just doing, you know, stuff. Together. Anyway, I went out to dinner with them last night and the night before, and it was nice. Suprisingly enough, Louis was really good, mainly because there was food around, and, as was the case last night, an old ship's throttle to pull that made NOISES! I know, it was too much. OK, so as soon as I saw it inside the door, I wanted to play with it too, but that's beside the point. What?! Look, it's a part of a ship, which is close to pirates, and pirates are cool. I've always had a bit of a soft spot for ships and things like that, even though I'm not a sailor at heart and have no real desire to take up the hobby. The idea, though, that's something else, the stuff good stories are made of.

Oh, dinner reminds me: the asparagus harvest is BIG news here in Germany. I'd try to think of something at home that compares with "Spargelzeit," "Asparagus Time," but there just isn't anything. Try to imagine the energy and misplaced nationalism that goes into soccer, apply it to a crop, and then you might come somewhat close. It's official start was about three weeks ago when I was in Dresden; we ended up walking through a little fest with an asparagus raffle and a "Spargelschnapps" tasting. No, I didn't drink any, but I didn't need to; the knowledge that asparagus Schnapps exists was enough. White asparagus is the norm, by the way. Oh, you can buy it green, but if you go out to eat, or eat dinner at someone's house, you'll get the pale stuff. It has a bit of a milder taste than the green variety, and it doesn't have such a strong....after effect. And unlike at home, asparagus is an entire meal. OK, not all the time, but it's pretty common to see just "Spargel" on a menu as a meal option, and get A LOT for your money, too. Andreas had it at a sea food place on Markt, and the small mountain of opaque vegetables, the obligatory potatoes, and clarified butter and Hollandaise Sauce on the side was enough to make my stomach bulge just looking at it. Me, I had fish.

While I'm on this whole dinner thing, I'll just say: have I ever mentioned how much fun it is to be at a table where multiple languages are used to communicate? No? Well, it's awesome. The Gymnasium here on Fehmarn does an exchange program every year with students from the French-speaking area of Switzerland, and the teachers came over to eat dinner with my landlady. They both spoke French as their first language, obviously, but they also knew German, thank God, because otherwise, dinner would have been slightly less than interesting. The little English they knew was pasted around a bit just to warm it up, but it was pretty useless. That said, it made three languages at one dinner, and that's just fun.

Speaking of fun, Germans are OBSESSED with the Wild West, "die Indianer," in particular. Before you start asking me why, I don't know. What I do know is that Winnetou, a noble Apache chief created and put to paper by Karl May, Germany's king of pulp literature, is the Alpha and Omega, THE Indian in this neck of the woods. A century of better writing and improved race relations hasn't succeeded in dulling his presence in the collective German psyche, and as a result, a huge portion of the population carries a dormant twelve year old in them that springs to life whenever it sees a feathered headress and black braids.

So I guess that explains the dancers in the town square this weekend. The Indian dancers. With drums. And flutes. And headresses. They spun themselvees around in the shadow of the Rathaus to the thump of drums and recorded wolf calls. The crowd that gathered around them was charged with an energy I can only imagine I had as an eight year old reading books on pirates and Indian tribes with my dad on the couch. They were rooted to the spot, the spirit of Karl May descended upon them, and it was good.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

After all this recent talk about Dresden and similar fancy-schmancy goings on, you might be asking yourselves: "So, like, what's been happening on Fehmarn?" Well, I sensed your pain across time and space, and I have an answer: It doesn't get dark now until 9.30 at night!

Seriously, that's big news. After five and half months of gray, cloudy weather and no sun after three to four thirty in the afternoon, having natural light for twelve hours a day is big stuff. It's like Christmas from the sky EVERYDAY. It's also produced a kind of primitive response in me that translates into an uncontrollable urge to go outside. I know, it shocks me too. What's even weirder is that I don't even have to DO anything: just being outside seems to be enough. And judging from the reactions of everyone else in town, it seems to be a universal phenomenon, a kind of weather based Pavlovian experiment that draws all the Germans into the open, despite their powerful fear of breezes and any other kind of air circulation.

That doesn't mean, though, that people won't be wearing a heavy winter jacket and a scarf in 75 degree weather. Despite what I like to call "common sense," people, especially children, seem to be uncomfortable going outside if it doesn't mean steaming slowly in their own clothes until their muscles wilt and fall from the bone like a marinated game bird. The phrase "es zieht," literally "it pulls," is a kind of praire dog call designed to warn people against some underhanded and imminent threat to their health. Apparently, any weather that isn't tropical and all around balmy is just a premature death in disguise.

Apart from improving my mood, the weather is great for coffee drinking, something that's become a quasi-daily ritual for me: a nice cup of coffee and a random yet delicious German baked good can go a long way to make any day fantastic. That, and you get the opportunity to watch flies mate. Really. I saw it a couple days ago at the bakery. I was just sitting there, minding my own business, spinning my mug between my fingers, watching the people walk along the street, when I noticed that a fly, no, two flies, were on my tray, and they weren't normal. They were attatched. From behind. Now, I know this doesn't necessarily mean that they were reproducing, but I challenge you to come up with a better explanation. Some might say that they were fighting, but flies are, as everyone knows, a peaceful race that does not know violence. They may be annoying, relentless, or even go so far as chase another insect away from a piece of garbage, but they don't fight. With this in mind, the only plausible conclusion must be that they were, in full view of all those in the bakery, engaged in sexual congress.

Just in case you were wondering, this IS what I do here, that and Star Trek. I drink coffee, go to school, and watch random species reproduce, not necessarily in that order. If I were a tourist, things might be slightly different, but I really don't have the urge to sleep in a camper in the parking lot next to school, so that's pretty much ruled out. I'm not kidding, by the way; people actually pay to come up here and spend their vacation in a parking lot. I'm personally a big fan of campers, but a parking lot? Well, at least the weather is better here than in the rest of county.

Which brings me to a totally unrelated topic: I sat in on the 12th grade today as Andreas did I don't know what, and gave them a little work assignment. They had to read an article on women in the German army, and I told them to write a little something about their opinon for or against it, based on the information in the text. I was supposed to give them a word limit, but I forgot, because I had to explain the assignment several times before they understood it. I'm really not sure what it was about the assignment that they didn't understand, but they kept telling me that there was no question written on the paper for them to answer, so I assume that had something to do with it. See, the German school system, or at least as I've experienced it, trains students to be totally useless if every facet of an assignment or opinion is not literally spelled out for them on a piece of paper. Sure, they "listen" to you while you're telling them what to do, but five seconds later they just look around the room and mumble in German that they don't know what the assignment is. Oh, yeah, that's another thing: they won't tell you if they don't understand something. No, they'll just descend into a kind of intellectual despair that makes Dan Quayle look like Cicero and do absolutely nothing.

When they started "working," they did some work, then went over and looked at pictures on someone's laptop. I'm sure you're asking yourselves why I didn't nip it in the bud before it got to the point of dragging someone across the room in their chair, then pretending to spank them with a giant ruler? Because I REFUSE to tell a room of 18 year olds that walking on the desks and dragging someone across the room is unacceptable; they should know that already, dammit! They're 18! It's just....you know, obvious. Everytime I've been in this class, they've acted like absolute jerks, and teachers keep telling them to "sit down," "be quiet," "don't tear up his paper," and so on, but I decided not to do that. They're not totally guilty in all this: like I said, it's a school system, or at least a school, that doesn't expect the students to be able to think, creating a population of oversized children who have no concept of responsibility, but that doesn't mean they didn't piss me off. Royally. I guess I should say now that I love most of the students at school, really, but this class happens to have the only people at school that I find personally repulsive. I can't stand them. They're 18 and act like they're 6. Sure, they're human, and so I'll give them the respect they're entitled too, but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop them from getting a "0" on an assignment if that's what they want. Go ahead, act like asses, it's your grade.

OK, I feel better. Thanks for being there for me.

So, yeah, that's what I've been doing lately.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Ta Da! As promised, I have returned once again to the side of the Information Super Highway to beg for spare change and dazzle the world with just how interesting my life is, which in this case means the second half of my Dresden entry.

Now, the last time we left our young adventurers, they had just arrived in the fair city, seen some of the sights along the river and eaten dinner, which pretty much wraps up the first day. OK, so we did some other things, sure, but I don't feel like writing about them, because, believe it or not, I'd like to write about something else one of these days.

So, the second day was, as I mentioned before, the long day in the Neustadt. Old and new cities don't always go together in Gemany, the product of about 500 years of advancements in urban development and planning, and a massive six year bombing campaign, but Dresden, again, manages to pull it off. For one thing, the New City is the oldest part of town, since it was nearly untouched by the bombing that destroyed the old center. That, kids, is what we call irony.

Anyway, the Neustadt is great. Keep in mind that that appraisal is based only on the small parts of it I saw, but since my opinions are so well informed and therefore carry the weight they do, I'd just suggest taking it to the bank and maybe buying yourself something nice with the change. When you get wiggled down into the club/old apartment sections of the city, it looks a lot like what I imagine a giant college district would look like if you constructed it out of turn of the century apartments, small clubs and cafes, plastered nearly every available surface with posters, stickers, and graffiti, then lacquered it all with that heavy European decay that makes eastern Germany so damn cool.

Poverty? Where? I just thought it looked nice.

It does look nice, too. The peeling doors, slanted side walks, stained exteriors; it's old, very old, a kind of age western Germany just doesn't seem to have. Don't get me wrong: western Germany has got some really old places that are spectacular, but this just feels different. Sorry, but I can't put THAT in this entry. The city doesn't feel dangerous, though. I guess it got that bit of advice from Berlin: "How to Look Rough, but Still Hold the Door for Old Ladies in Ten Easy to Follow Steps."

But Dresden wasn't always the hip little eastern city it is now. No, once it was one of the most powerful and richest cities in Europe, a center of music, art, theology, and gratuitous displays of absolute power and love of physical wealth. I have often wondered what it would be like to be an absolute monarch capable of manifesting even my most ridiculous fantasies into reality. What kind of buildings would I have built, what jewels mined, and what populations ground into poverty just to fulfill my deepest "needs" to make something bigger and shinier than that "totally annoying" prince two houses down. Well, thanks to the "das Grüne Gewölbe (The Green Vault)," I think I have a pretty good idea.

To sum it up, the vault contains some of the most amazing, yet utterly wasteful, art I have ever seen. Looking at it kind of gives you a strange feeling, a feeling that comes with marveling at an entire ship, sails and all, carved from ivory, yet realizing that everyone else in the kingdom was living in cronic poverty and without political representation. Oh well. It looks nice. "Hans, bring me ten thousand pearls dipped in chocolate and dusted in gold. It's just one of those days."

Some of pieces are as old as the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, but a good chunk of it was order by King Augustus der Starke (King August the Strong) to....I don't know what. But I guess when you're the Regent of one of the richest German kingdoms and King of Poland there's not a whole lot else to do. I guess knitting would come across a little too feminine, huh?


Oh, we took a boat ride down the Elbe! Now that was all kinds of fun! It took about an hour and a half all together, and it fantastic! If you want to float lazily down a river and stare at the vineyards terraced up the hills as they slide by your boat and wave at random people bathing, this is for you! Man! It was puuurty. Not to mention relaxing.

We ate dinner at a small Russian Cafe, "Cafe Raskolnikoff." Hehehehe....Sorry, but I have to take a few minutes to let my inner English major giggle at the name. Raskolnikoff. Hehehehe. "Relax and enjoy your dinner on our unique outdoor patio and take in the cool night air while brutally murdering an old lady and her sister with an axe and succumbing to mysterious and violent losses of consciousness. Turn away your only friends and you get a five percent discount on your bill."

I had Beef Stroganoff. YUM!

And the waiters had axes on their aprons. BRILLIANT!

It all seemed really bohemian to mean, then Ted reminded me that we weren't any more that 50 miles from Bohemia itself, which is nothing but cool. Bohemia. I wonder if they all wear black turtle necks and smoke thin cigarettes. Oh, and what's cooler: the cafe was on Böhmischestraße (Bohemian Street)!

That's pretty much it, really. We did have a shorter third day, but there's not a whole lot to talk about there. OK, that's a lie, but it's not something terribly exciting to people who weren't actually there. We did stop into a really old milk bar to, you guessed it, have a glass of milk. Gosh, you all are smart! The entire place, and do mean the ENTIRE place, was covered in painted tiles of, what else, cows, farmers, flowers, and anything else that could suggest a rural setting. They had a pretty awesome cheese counter that smelled like my socks smothered in steaming mulch, but I still wished I could have bought a piece of something to take back with me, but something tells me it wouldn't have been a good idea.

And yes, it was cool, in case you're wondering. I have a huge soft spot for stuff like that, a bit of an obsession, you might say. It's right up there with old folky religious stuff from the American South, old propaganda posters, and really old folk recordings. There's just something about all that, this milk bar included, that's missing from things these days, a kind of childish enthusiasm and excitement that's been swollowed by the uninspired and misinformed, killed off by the likes of Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and Michael Moore in their quest to right all the damn time....Sorry. I went on a little tangent there. I'll have all that for another post. But I will say here that Rush Limbaugh is an aweful person. Oh, he's an idiot too, but mostly he's an example of everything aweful about our race. Other than that, he's alright. OK, I'm done. Really.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sitting in the Teachers' Lounge at school, I can't help but be struck by the contrast of the last week, meaning the contrast between Dresden and my beloved Nigh-Scandi Paradise, Fehmarn. Yes, that's right, I was in Dresden over the weekend, and although I've decided to write an actual post about it (joy of joys for my fans out there....you know who you are), I think the word "WOW" in big, fat, capital letters is a pretty good summary of the place and all the experiences that went along with it.

I left early Thursday night for Hamburg and headed out Friday afternoon with a group of Assistants (Hey, guys! You Rule! Seriously. You do.), arriving in Dresden at about six. First off, it was warm there. Really warm. I had heard that the mainland was, for some unknown reason, a lot warmer than Fehmarn this year, but since I hadn't left the island for over a week and had no idea what it was like "auf dem Festland," I stamped the information with a fat "How Much Different Could It Be" label, and filed it away in my head somewhere behind Freshman High School Geometry. So, the weather gets brownie points. Way to go, Weather!

Before I go on, I should make a bit of a personal disclaimer. You all remember those; I made one a while back talking about my own personal concept of time. Those were good times, back in the early days. Anyway, here's another one. And yes, my Psyche is that interesting.

Those who know me should have noticed by now that I like to exaggerate, a fact that my mom (love you) never misses a chance to point out when I say, for instance, that a stack of books must have weighed a thousand pounds, and so, and so on. Now, I am fully aware that no stacks of books I own, no matter how many times I might visit Barnes and Nobles, does, nor could it ever, weigh half a ton, because, well, I'm not a total moron. But to be honest, I like exaggerating. It makes things more interesting, first off; it can make the most boring personal event funny, or at least entertaining, but more importantly, it just sounds better. "A half ton stack of books" sounds a lot better than "a heavy one," and given the right circumstances, it can be really funny. It's not lying, because the stack of books is still heavy; I've just sort of fleshed out a bit more how heavy it is, kind of given it a nice picture.

That in mind, know that I am NOT exaggerating Dresden. Sometimes, it's just good to let reality be and report it. It's generally boring to do, I agree, which is one reason why I could never be a journalist, but I have to admit that there are times when it's the best way forward. This is one of them, because the city really is that amazing.

It's not a very big town, but what space there is feels stuffed to the gills with what I'll call, for lack of a better word, personality. The Altstadt (Old City) next to the Elbe River isn't very big, and not very old, for that matter, since it was almost completely destroyed by the fire bombing in 1945, but you would never know to look at it. It's nearly completely restored to its pre-bombing state, and it is the most beautiful part of any city I have every seen in my life. Granted, I haven't been to say, Paris or Prague, and I'm as not as well-traveled as most people I've met here in Germany, but Dresden beats anything I've ever seen and makes Munich look like a kid's plastic house in a sand box.

The banks of the Elbe opposite the Altstadt is a giant green lawn that slopes gently into the river with a gorgeous view of the newly restored Frauen Kirche and the other, taller, landmarks of the District. I could talk about it for fifteen paragraphs of so, but it's kind of pointless if you can't see it, so I'll just stop right there. Maybe I'll try to put some pictures up online soon. Yeah, that's what I'll do.

The Neustadt (New City) is cool. Really. If you met it in school, it'd know all about the new independent bands before anyone else, know where all the coolest cafes are, and play five different instuments. It's a bit decayed, as all cities in the East tend to be, but not in a bad way, not like New York in a Martin Scorsese film. It looks worn, it's been places. It might have some tatoos here and there, and you suspect it might have experimented with hard drugs in the past, but it's a good town that's learned from it's bumps and scrapes. It's lively, with lots of little cafes and bars tucked away in the streets that seem to ooze "Europe" from between their stones. This is why Dresden is the happiest place in Former East Germany.

But what did I do, you ask?

It was late afternoon by the time we got to Dresden, so we went to the hostel, dropped off our bags in the room, and headed out to the Altstadt. The sun was setting, so we walked around for a bit and took some pictures, then settled down at a little German cafe and ate dinner. Mmmmm, Sauerbraten. Who would have ever thought that a meat dish with "sour" in its name could ever taste good. But it does, and it's even better with beer. OK, most things are, but German food especially, mainly because I suspect it was designed to enable longer periods of drinking.

Anyway, about halfway through dinner, these three guys walked up to our table, one riding a tiny tricycle with what looked like half a bike rim tied to the back with twine and wire, and another in an apron and what I could only hope was a pink shower cap, carrying a busted CD Rom drive and a memory stick. It was slightly odd. After "introducing" himself by kneeling by her seat, the man in the cap proceeded to try to sell his "wares" to Jess across the table. I couldn't hear much of the conversation myself, but apparently, the drive was broken, but you could, he said, plug the stick in and, I assume, save things. Um....no?

As it turns out, he was getting married the next day, and he and his two friends were out raising "Spenden für den Bräutigam (Donations for the Groom)." I assume they were going to be drinking those donations later, but I could be wrong. No, I'm not.

I don't know if they meant to or not, but they quickly became the most happening thing at our little cafe, drawing the attention of the roaming accordian player, who accompanied Athos, Porthos, and Aramis as they belted drinking songs into the heavy night air and across the Elbe.

"What's the occasion?" asked the accordian player to the man in the shower cap.

"Oh, I'm getting married tomorrow."

"Armer Kerl (Poor Bastard)." Ah, love.

The next day was the long day in town, as well as Neustadt day. I could recount everything we did, which would refresh my memory, but I'd like to keep paragraph skimming in this post to a minimum, so I won't. See, I have your best interests at heart. Aren't I nice? This is where you say "yes," by the way. There are rules. And with that in mind, I'm going to end this post here as the first part of what has turned out to be a two parter. Joy! Stay tuned! There's more to come!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Because I now have sudden wireless access in my little room, I've taken the time to put some pictures up online for everyone to look at. They're not arranged in any particular order, so READ THE CAPTIONS, and you'll be fine.


Hope you like them. I do.