Saturday, October 31, 2009

Nina and I debated going to Luxembourg long enough to justify not going. I think it would have been obvious to an outsider that neither of us particularly wanted to go, but neither of us really didn’t want to go, so we kept the idea alive for a long time, while chillin, drinking tea, and the like. I did manage a feat to make me proud: I finally did a pullup by my fingertips on the door frame. I even wrote my roommate, who tried to convince me I could, to share the joy. It was a pretty big deal for me.

Then we went out to explore more of Trier, no destination or goal in mind. She showed me a funky eastern/hippie store, the equivalent of Mermaid Imports back in Anchorage, saying she thought I might like it. From the outside, it smelled like the same incense. I realized, and told her, “I think I’m less into the hippie fashion than people think.” This is somewhat unfortunate for me, because I think I can pull off the ‘Earth Mama’ thing much easier than I can ‘Sophisticated Chic’ and for much less capital investment. We skipped it and I have no regrets.

We found a sex shop, with the window display openly showing naked women and S&M getup and banana slings and strap-ons. I took a picture. In the US, a shuttered building. We found a beautiful park by an old-folks home with a really bright yellow tree bordered by old gravestones and against a dark blue stormy sky. We took pictures. Nina talked to an old woman in German about how beautiful it was, how Nina thought she wasn’t very good with German, and the woman said, “Well, I can understand you, and I’m hard of hearing!” I didn’t participate in the conversation, but I was proud that I kept up with the gist, not just the subject, of the conversation.
We stopped by the Karl Marx Haus, his birthplace. We decided to each fork over the three euros, and it was worth it! I didn’t know anything, at all, about Karl Marx. When we stepped in, I said under my voice to Nina, “So this guy… he’s like the father of communism, right?” There were no historic artifacts, but immediately upon paying our fee, we were handed the tourist’s self-guided tour sound-wand. Each room was dedicated to a different part of his life and movement, with boards of information, publications, quotes, and pictures, contemporary thinkers, all in Deutsch. There were also representative copies of some documents, like his manuscripts, wife’s diary, etc, and electronic books of Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto, in many languages. With the audio-wands though, we got a really good synopsis in English, and with Nina, I got a critique of Marx’s writing, his arguments, and philosophy. It’s so cool to have genius friends! I learned a lot from the experience, but with my useless memory and interests, here are the things that stayed: 1. His philosophy was all about the proletariat overthrowing the bourgeoisie, but he and his family lived like bourgeoisie for his entire life, outside of their means, mooching off of whatever benefactor he could talk into financing his lifestyle (champagne, porn, balls). He tried journalism out, but wasn’t that successful, so he got an Engels or something like that to have a man-crush on him and give him a stipend. 2. He had four daughters. One died right around when he did, the next committed dual suicide with her husband, and another committed suicide on her own, I think they were all dead by 1911. Isn’t that, uh, weird? 3. His philosophy is interesting and if I want to understand it, I should probably read his stuff and some Clif Notes simultaneously and slowly. I picked up some, if not correctly, from Nina. He believed in universal suffrage, which brought up women and Jews. Karl Marx sort of laid the foundation for the feminist movement, and said, well, something about human rights being a moot point and somehow that is connected to Jews. He believed that history was a series of conflicts between the masses and those in power, and each time those in power stayed in power because they acquiesced in part to the demands of the masses. Each time it came closer to the promised land: 19th century Germany. After we toured the Karl Marx Haus, we went shopping in somewhat fancy stores. We were talking about difficult body proportions. Nina said she has soccer player’s legs, porn star boobs, and supermodel arms. I have nothing skinny: my arms are guns, my legs look like a short strong fat man’s, and I have a thick (uh, good hearty German stock?) torso. Nothing skinny. Which makes shopping for me also difficult. The dress I tried on expected me to have big boobs and a big belly to go with everything else. I tried on a fabulous jacket with a military cut. Rather than making my shoulders look enormous and unladylike, it made them look purposeful and confident. The jacket was a bit too small though, and they didn’t have it any larger, so I kept my 80 euros.

We stopped by a bakery to pick up a zweibelkuchen, or onion tart, and I got a sugar-covered soft pretzel. That pretzel offered no lasting sustenance whatsoever, but damn it was good. Then we grabbed two bottles of federweisser, and headed home. I was in charge of carrying the federweisser, propped upright by my jacket in a bag hanging off my handle-bars. Between the too-high seat, too-low gear, and the fear of harming my cargo, I was not exactly a happy camper, but the ride home was short.

The zwiebelkucken was amazing. Zwiebelkuchen is made by slowly sautéing all the water out of a ton of onions and a bit of speck (thick cut diced bacon) and caramelizing the sugars, then combining it with some eggy mix and baking it like a quiche. It’s another dish I may want to try at home, except Oliver warns me that it made his entire house smell like onions for three days when he tried to do it. Nina told him, “Okay, Oliver, you don’t understand, in the States it’s a GOOD thing when your house smells like tasty food.” I think sautéed onions is a good tasty smell, but may be way too much for a lasting and lingering scent. Maybe I can do the onion reduction on my camp stove outside? The thing is, zwiebelkuchen and federweisser are made to be enjoyed together. What will I use for my federweisser replacement? I doubt I could find federweisser in Anchorage during peak wine harvesting season, much less early winter.

Then Nina and I stayed up late working on computer stuff, and all my photos got deleted off my memory card when I tried to download the pictures I had taken of her and Oliver onto Oliver’s computer. I’m bummed, because I think I got at least one good photo of them all cute with their heads close together (in short, loving for once), as well as all my photos of Krut and Nurnberg and Trier. I’m not as sad as I expected though, because that’s so many photos I don’t have to sort through now to find the good ones!
(*Actually they didn’t, but I don’t feel like going back and changing everything that I wrote. Enjoy the photos I wasn’t supposed to have.)

Now I’m sitting on a train taking me to Köln (Cologne), winding our way along the Mosel and the Rhine. It’s beautiful wine country with picturesque villages along the way. Unfortunately, none of my pictures seem to be working out well. In Köln, I’ll duck over to the monstrous cathedral 200m from the train station and check it out for a while, and get back on the train and go to Hamburg. I’m sad to leave Nina and Oliver, they’ve been my favorite part of my trip here in Germany, but they have their own lives and I have lots of Germany left to explore.
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