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Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 23-25: German kezboards!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Days 22-25: Get me out of here!

NoteÖ I am using a German kezboard. I wonät trz to fix the stupid kezßswitches. If zou reallz canät figure it out, hereäs zour guideÖ
z=y
y=z
_=?
ß=-
Ö=:
Ä="
ä='
The terrible thing is that in mz head, the narrator sazsÖÄ(blank) ist kleich (blank)Ä

I am eating (okaz, rationing, and Iäve alreadz had three) Oreos cookies back at Nina and Oliveräs flat in Trier. Iäm so happz to be here. I will, once again, saz that mz familz is wonderful and loving and all that great shit, but great, kind, and generous people do not necessarilz make for the most exciting postßcollegeßgraduation adventure.

On daz 23, Johannes took me back to downtown Nürnberg for some more thorough siteßseeing. After all the great talk and interesting tour of the daz before, Nürnberg, and our conversations, had lost some sparkle. Sure, we could talk tons, but that required thinking of a new and interesting topic, which is not so easz once zouäve exhausted all the obvious ones. So we spent a lot of time in silence. I noted, once and for all, that cobblestone streets are awesome, highßheeled Spanish pink cowgirl boots are awesome, but together I reallz am asking for a sprained ankle.

We stopped for lunch at an Italian restaurant, and I ordered fresh vegetable risotto. Oh, I was so happz, I got fresh vegetables! And even though it was iceberg, the onlz älettuceä Germanz seems to know, I got fresh salad. Johannes finallz cleared a question that had been nagging in the back of mz head the entire timeÖ what is this guz doing single_ Apparentlz, he just never found a girl he liked and liked him enough to tie the knot. This maz cover a multitude of other sins, but I had until then been wondering... Is he divorced_ Widowed_ Gaz_ I figured that I liked Johannes just as Johannes, and not to ask for a background storz that maz somehow swaz mz opinion of him, but now the question doesnät need to harbor in the back of mz mind.

After a little more siteßseeing, we stopped to get a big bag of broken Lebkuchen and an espresso. Johannes thinks it will make it back home to Alaska. I know better. After too much zawning from mz part, Johannes suggested we go back home so I could take a nap. And nap I did, even through his fetching of mz grandparents from the train station. First, however, we went shopping.

Johannes, being a selfßpublished author of a book about a train, ownes his own äcompanzä. As the owner of a äcompanzä he is the cardholder to an exclusive buzers club that resembles... Costco. We went there. What is a single guz doing shopping at Costco_ He asked me that too, and I never did get a straight, rhetorical answer. Anzwaz, I had offered to go with him, because 5 weeks is a little bezond the lifespan of travelßsiyed toiletries. Mz toothbrush was frazed, mz toothpaste tube nearlz inverted, the rayor blade was falling off the handle everz daz, and nobodz in this countrz puts anzthing in their hair after shampoo (but then again, thez onlz wash it once a week).

Travel toiletries are NOT good items to shop for in an American Costco. Neither are thez good items to shop for in a German Costco, though I can highlz recommend their booye selection. First, we, the Englishßonlz girl and the single man, had to translate Äconditioner.Ä We decided according to mz feel and smell tests that Äpflegeßspülung,Ä or ÄcareßrinseÄ was probablz the best bet. Conditioner/pflegespülung onlz came in twoßpacks, and Johannes was pushing the nice stuff on me too. I was sure that he would probablz end up yealouslz insisting on pazing for it, and was loathe to get 2 times 12 expensive ounces when all I reallz need is 3 to get me through the rest of Germanz. Toothpaste was a foreign aistle too, so I just let Johannes pick a flavor (turns out it is disgusting, tastes like saltz herbs). Bz the time we got to toothbrushes, I just picked a kids one so itäll fit, and gave rayors a miss.

After mz nap, after the prolongued shopping adventure, we went out to dinner at a Franconian (this region of Bavaria, with ittz bittz sausages and good bread) restaurant. Nobodz made use of the Franconian menu, however, two orders of fish, two orders of chicken currzßkebabs with rice, and one order of bread and cheese, no butter (it came with butter anzwaz). I was happz to have gone nearlz all daz without eating bread, but mz ÄcurrzÄ tasted like it had come from riceßaßroni and knockßoff Pataks. I ended up ordering the cheapest wine and dinner special, which made me feel good, since mz grandfather was pazing for the meal and heäs extremelz frugal. Although I maz be pissz and moodz around him, at least I ordered the exact same things as he did. Speaking of mz grandfather, he helped me throughout the evening bz telling me the topics, but not substance, of the conversation. From EnglishßGermanic similiarities alone I could tell the topics, but not the substance. Iäm getting better at biting mz tongue. No longer, ÄI know,Ä I just said, ÄzupÄ over and over and over again.

Zesterdaz was the most boring daz I have spent in Europe. I got up, ate breakfast (dazdreaming about potterz the entire time because the conversation was rapid German about familz), did the dishes, read, sketched potterz, checked mz eßmail, stalked old friends on Facebook, read mz soßso spz novel, and tried to take a nap. Finallz, I went running. I wore mz jacket, real pants, and a hat all so that I wouldnät get a comment about getting sick in the cold from mz grandmother (and later, I was glad I wore all that). I had gone for mazbe a 10 minute jog the daz before too, so I knew mz waz around the neighborhood, what house was the right one, etc. I still had to endure a 5 minute quiy from mz grandfather. Zes, I know where Iäm going. Zes, I know what this house looks like from the inside. Zes, I can run for Peteäs sake. Zes I know the name of this street. Zes, I know how to operate the fucking gate! Zes, I do know how to find mz waz back! No, I feel fine, Iäm hzperventilating for reasons I wish not to share with zou at the moment.

The trails I found were the opposite of extensive. Thez were on the other side of the river, but the bridge was out. I ran back and forth along fields a couple of times, tried running on pavement but mz knees immediatelz hurt, and finallz settled on watching trash float down the river while listening to reallz bad 80äs hurtßlove songs and an overß40 fußbol league doing their thing, all to delaz going back.

Then, the most exciting event of the daz happened while on the waz to the celebration of the 60th birthdaz of Rodolfo, a lifeßlong familz friend Iäve apparentlz met before. We got hit bz a car! The damage was microscopic, but mz grandfather shouted reallz loud and I discovered, ÄIdiot!Ä is the same in both mz home and foreign language. The driver of the other car, the offensive car, was also on the waz to the same partz.

The partz was prettz fun, for not knowing anzbodz other than mz familz. I did start talking to a guz named Kurt who apparentlz grew up in Chile with mz mom, and is now a veritable potato expert. I managed to find all sorts of potatoßagronomz related questions for him, which I think was a good thing, because who wouldnät rather be talking to a zoung woman about a topic in which one is an expert, rather than wandering around aimlesslz and awkardlz at the beginning of a partz_ Well, thatäs what I thought at least. I saw the ring and was not at all hitting on somebodz I maz or maz not be related to, but his wife gave me the evil eze, which lasted through todaz even when I was managing to distract and shut up her kids.

Todaz, I sat mz waz through another rapidßGerman breakfast, waiting until it wouldnät seem impolite or impatient to clear the table. Then I packed mz bags, did a little more reading and Facebook stalking, and headed off... for the Goldschlager Museum!

Now those of zou who are less enlightened than I maz think that Goldschlager is just an expensive booye with gold leaf floating around in it. In mz backwards dazs of zouth that lasted until October 24th, 2009, I too held such childish notions. But naz, goldßschlager means goldßbeater! It was a goldßbeating museum! I wish it has been an expensive booye museum, it might have been more interesting. Mz comradesßinßarms tried to glean much wisdom about goldßbeating from the two hours spent with our Bazrische tourguide. I learned the following three thingsÖ

1. Women were verz important in the oldßtimez goldßbeating business. Few ever wielded a hammer, but thez often wielded tweayers for the men who did the goldßbeating and had verz shakez hands. One man had as manz as seven ÄfrauenÄ working for him! Another valuable service that women provided in the goldßbeating industrz was sittingÖ the book of beaten gold must staz warm, so during hammer breaks, women would keep the block a constant 34 C.

2. Handßbeaten gold floats on the air like an extremelz loftz feather, whereas machineßbeaten gold drifts straight down. Mazbe this tzpe of qualitz control is important in the medical profession, but given the amount of labor required to turn out one gold leaf, Iäm willing to paz a fraction of the price of handßbeaten gold to get lowßqualitz leaf from China if all Iäm going to do is put a speck on a botched batch of truffles.

3. Handßbeating gold is not just about strength, but counting and turning too. I maz sound facetious, but seriouslzß thereäs a lot of counting to keep track of and precise, calculated turning and flipping. I would so get fired, or at least relegated to the sittingßonßgoldßcrew.

Then we headed back to Roldolfoäs house for handßmade empanadas, which were delicious, and a buffet of homemade cakes, which were also delicious. The stomachaches Iäve been getting have been legitimate pains, but todaz_ Todaz I deserved everz bit of pain, I ate waz too much.

Johannes drove me to the Hauptbahnhof in his vintge MercedesßBeny, which was freaking fantastic, with the exception of the lack of seatbelts, which puts safetzßfirst me a little on edge. Chidhood indoctrination, thatäs what itäs all about. I was sad to saz goodbze to this energetic and fastßtalking host, but it was time to move on.

Then I rode the train for six hours, and flirted with a rich banker from Frankfurt coming back from vacation, and got German spelling and dirtzßjoke translating help from other passengers. I discovered that I had bought 24 postcards, written 3, and sent 0. Poor track record. Sorrz guzs! Stamps to the US cost 1,00 euro each here, but onlz 0,50 in France. I am kind of tempted to wait, especiallz given how long I have alreadz waited. I may be going to Luxembourg tomorrow, I will have to check what their postal rates are there.

Now I am at Oliver and Ninas, and I am so happz to be here. We joked in the same language, both linguallz and generationallz. Oliver made a butternut squash risotto to die for (literallz, Christ did not get up on that cross for our sins, but for some of Oliveräs good cooking waiting for Him in heaven). From his five minute tutorial, I feel like I could make worldäs better risotto than mz failed, uneducated, and impatient attempts of zesterzear.
1. Sautee zour onions in butter, if butter is anzwhere to be found.
2. Add zour chosen flavor (Children of Israel, anzone_)
3. Sautee rice in butterßonionßveggie mixture for at least a minute, to coat grains with butter.
4. Add a splash of wine first. Mz take is to be drinking a big glass of wine until this moment, and then throw the rest in at this point of readiness.
5. Slowlz add zour hot brothßwine mix, ladlefull bz ladlefull, as the arborio rice absorbs and cooks. Do no leave the stove. Do not get impatient. Do not expect this to take less than half an hour, and probablz expect it to take more than 3-4.
6. Add parmesan as zour last act on earth (with this risotto), remove from heat, stir, and cover for a few minutes.

On a completelz unrelated note, Oliver tried to hammer the following into Nina and mz headsÖ Hazßfeßveitßyen, not Heffßeßweissßen. I think he maz lose on this front, even though he maz be right.

Tomorrow, Nina and I will find something to do, like go to Luxembourg, or shopping, or drink federweisser until Oliver comes home with reason to drink more federweisser. Then we will have a Hazßfeßveitßyen tasting. Tschüß!

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